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Old Sunday 12th May 2019, 09:47   #76
JWN Andrewes
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Currently deliberating whether to head over to East Yorkshire tomorrow,
Didn't go in the end. Judged the Flycatcher to be a flight risk, and with Brown Shrike records seeming to be steeply on the up I'm happy to wait for another. Quiet family morning at home, might pop out this afternoon.

Arch's year list currently on 184, way ahead of previous best at this point two years ago (168). I'm a little ahead on 192, the best I've done for over a decade!

We're also achieving the strike rate to hit 300 on the boys' UK list by the end of the year, just need to keep it up!
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Old Sunday 12th May 2019, 19:44   #77
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4 British ticks for Daniel this weekend (even one for me)! More later.

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Old Sunday 12th May 2019, 20:16   #78
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4 British ticks for Daniel this weekend (even one for me)! More later.

Rob
Oooh! Tenterhooks!

Burton Mere Wetlands is kind of our go to for a bit of laid-back duding, so it was no surprise to find ourselves there this afternoon (particularly as I’d noted over lunch that a Wood Sandpiper had decided to drop in, although we would have ended up there regardless). In spite of the large numbers of people who come to the reserve these days (compared to the olden days when I first started visiting) it never felt too crowded, as we headed out to Inner Marsh Farm Hide where the Wood Sand had been showing. No need to stake out the Lesserthroat or Garden Warbler that had been seen earlier (although we at least heard the former), got them sorted already, but we did stop at the head of the spur to Marsh Covert Hide to year tick a tree top Spoonbill. On arriving at IMF Hide we quickly clocked the Wood Sandpiper, only the boys’ second, on the far shore of the pool, but frequent checking of the Border Pool failed to reveal Black Tern; the bird of the previous few days seems to have moved on.

After Burton Mere Wetlands we took as stroll along to Burton Point, but didn’t get much; a Wheatear, Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats, a Marsh Harrier. The boys enjoy playing at the point though, so gave me a chance to sit and chill for a bit though, before heading home.
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Old Sunday 12th May 2019, 20:45   #79
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After school on Friday Daniel and I went out to Wilderness(!) - an abandoned gravel working. Here we added common sandpiper to the yearlist and shortly after had brief views of our target - a wood sandpiper an overdue British tick for Daniel. A better viewpoint revealed 3 of these elegant waders (never seen so many in Fife), plus some tardy winter visitors in the shape of a whooper swan, 3 pinkfeet and a goldeneye. A garden warbler sang invisibly. Walking back along the road gave nice views of one of the wood sands plus a black-tailed godwit. On the way home we stopped off at Mountcastle where we encountered several blackcaps but failed again on garden warbler.
Yesterday Daniel went on an outing to Edinburgh zoo for a friend's birthday. We stopped off on the way to the station and added sedge warbler to the year list and saw a nice whitethroat. He picked up his first swift for the year from the train.
Today Sue and Andrew were out in the hills again. They didn't see much apart from an immature white-tailed eagle. Daniel and I headed north...

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Old Monday 13th May 2019, 10:57   #80
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The original plan for Sunday was to head up to Aberdeenshire for our annual appointment with the king eider, terns on the Ythan and the chance to catch up with some cranes. However with Elvis still not settled I was in two minds about this. The alternative was to head to the Angus glens for a range of summer migrants plus some characteristic upland species. With various goodies around Loch of Strathbeg, including dotterel, garganey and spoonbill I opted for the ambitious notion of trying to combine the two!
The day began with garden goodies such as tree sparrow, siskin, bullfinch and treecreeper. Driving through Dundee I got my first swift of the year (rather distant, better views were had at Fettercairn). Heading into the glen, at our first stop a cuckoo was immediately audible. Sadly it was out of sight just over a ridge. However a spotted flycatcher was on the road side wires. Daniel picked up a roadside red-legged partridge, another year tick and we soon saw two more. Other birds on the way into the glen included many song and mistle thrushes, a great spotted woodpecker plus sand and house martins. Further up three red grouse were close to the road. A stop to look for tree pipit and redstart was unsuccessful but a woodcock flew up from the verge. The car park at the head of the glen was full, limiting our options, so we retraced our steps. Wheatear was the only notable addition to the day's tally.
TBC

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Old Monday 13th May 2019, 12:00   #81
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Heading north again on the A90, Daniel was able to check the latest bird news. A hoopoe at St Cyrus came with less than clear directions, so we filed that away for later. Then came Iberian chiffchaff at Tipperty... I smartly pulled into the first layby and consulted the OS map! Only just off our route and a Scottish mega (looks like 5th record) - power up the quattro!
The new Aberdeen bypass smoothed our passage and we readily located Mill of Tarty. A single birder was just leaving, but decided to accompany us back to the site. As we got nearer its chosen plantation of small spruces the distinctive song could be heard and before long we were both adding Iberian chiffchaff to our lists. We stood and ate lunch whilst enjoying good views and its remarkably distinctive song (a consistent three part song - no mixed singing here!). From here it was short drive down to the mouth of the Ythan at Newburgh. Here we spent some time, mainly watching terns - adding common and arctic to the year list but failing to find any little. Also here were a couple of whimbrel. We then stopped a couple of times at the various car parks on the way upstream. Nothing much at Inches Point, but at The Snub I had a good scan. There were plenty of pinkfeet in the field opposite but no visible cranes. At that point I picked up two large birds in the distance flying towards us. These were clearly common cranes and Daniel was soon on to them. The kept flying downstream towards us but landed out of sight behind a hump in the same field as the geese. Reasoning that they should be visible from the Waulkmill hide, we drove round and had some nice views - lifer number 2 for Daniel. A cacophony of whimbrel calls came from a flock of at least 23 which flew round and landed again.
Heading further north we called in at Slains and Bullers of Buchan - getting puffin for Daniel's year list, plus other seabirds. It was now around 3:30 so it was clear that Strathbeg was a step too far. We decided to head back south and after another failed attempt for little tern began our journey home. As we were going round the Aberdeen bypass clear directions for the hoopoe came through - "field by the visitor centre" - game on! It proved tricky to find the right turning but once at the car park we could see 3 birders gazing intently. The bird was out of view in a dip but we edged forward and it gradually emerged - Daniel's third British tick of the day. Before long it flew further away and we set off for home. A final stop in Guardbridge to add a few species to the day list including osprey and black-tailed godwit bringing us to 82 and then it was scampi and chips to celebrate. Daniel has commitments both days next weekend so we will be closer to home.

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Old Monday 13th May 2019, 12:50   #82
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What a splendid weekend away, bet Daniel was well pleased, that's a decent wee clutch of ticks! We've been quite spoiled for Iberian Chiffchaffs, with two relatively local birds in then past couple of years. I'm working next weekend, so will also be limited in what we can get out for, but the following weekend heralds the start of the whit half term, with a bit of a getaway already planned for the first few days.
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Old Monday 13th May 2019, 13:09   #83
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Daniel gets to fly solo in 2 weeks - a week's school trip to the NW highlands! Potential for some nice year ticks there.

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Old Monday 13th May 2019, 13:14   #84
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Iberian chiffchaff seems to be the 5th for Scotland and only the second mainland individual.

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Old Monday 13th May 2019, 13:38   #85
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Spoonbills are sooooo nice! At the same time they are graceful and clowns.

Would you say if their population is growing or decreasing in UK (and Continent if you have that data)?
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Old Tuesday 14th May 2019, 12:55   #86
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Spoonbills have certainly increased a lot since I started birding, but I don't know if numbers are still going up or if they've plateaued.

They also seem to be breeding at a few sites where they never used to. Not sure if they ever have at Burton, but having two routinely sitting in tree tops in the middle of the Egret colony must be a good sign. I recall there was a breeding attempt nearby at Frodsham a few years back but I may be wrong, and I'm not sure it was successful anyway.
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Old Tuesday 14th May 2019, 14:58   #87
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One of the wardens was saying that it is the first breeding attempt at Burton.
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Old Tuesday 14th May 2019, 19:17   #88
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Would you say if their population is growing or decreasing in UK (and Continent if you have that data)?
The Netherlands are the original source of all NW European Spoonbills. The numbers are still growing: https://www.sovon.nl/nl/soort/1440 (then under "Verspreiding en trends" (distribution and trends), choose "Aantalsontwikkeling" (trend). There are at least ten times as many breeding pairs as 40 years ago. The breeding success ("Broedsucces en overleving") in the most important area is dropping though, so I assume they're close to the maximum.
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Old Wednesday 15th May 2019, 10:15   #89
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Good to know. Hopefully it spreading more to North-East Europe in near future. Great White Egrets nesting first time in Finland at last summer. Hopefully - and even probably - they do that again this summer.
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Old Wednesday 15th May 2019, 11:36   #90
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Good to know. Hopefully it spreading more to North-East Europe in near future. Great White Egrets nesting first time in Finland at last summer. Hopefully - and even probably - they do that again this summer.
I understand your excitement, share it even, but find it tempered with worry when I consider the shifts in climate that are facilitating the spread of these species. Hang on to your Ptarmigans; things are going to get warm!
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Old Wednesday 15th May 2019, 16:34   #91
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I've never seen Ptarmigan or even Willow (Red) Grouse. (...or Polar Bear )
Hopefully I manage too see one of those (it's not gonna be a P.B.) this year when travelling more North. - Before it's too late cos global warming - OK, maybe they don't disappear from Finland during my lifetime. But their distribution is surely moved northwards in recent decades.
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Old Sunday 19th May 2019, 21:24   #92
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May 19th

Lunt Meadows Nature Reserve is a cracking little site. Created to soak up floodwater from the River Alt when the need arises, it’s a scattering of mud-fringed marshy pools, replete with waders and wildfowl, that I’ve almost dropped in on a couple of times while up that way but never got around to. Made a beeline there last night after work though (after driving 25 minutes in the wrong direction to grab the boys and then retracing my steps) for a spanking Stilt Sandpiper that had turned up the previous day. When news first broke, or rather when I first learnt of it, I was a pint down already and committed to an evening at cricket, and thought “typical, would turn up on my weekend in work!” On reflection though it’s the perfect rarity to turn up on such a weekend, i.e. close enough to nail in an evening, which we duly did.

A little under an hour after leaving home we were on site, getting directions from a couple of cheerful departing birders, and after a short walk we were in business. The Sandpiper was almost constantly feeding while on view, occasionally retreating into the rushes for short periods, but mostly affording excellent scope views in the fine evening sunshine. Once we’d watched our fill we walked a circuit round the reserve, with its Little Ringed Plovers, weed-dancing Great Crested Grebes and swarms of Swifts, a most satisfying Saturday evening out.
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Old Sunday 19th May 2019, 21:31   #93
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As you say, a cracking bird! Nice views as well. How far away was it (from you as observer, before the pedants get going)?

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Old Sunday 19th May 2019, 21:52   #94
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Hundred to hundred and fifty yards? I'm not a great judge of these things I'm afraid, so pinch of salt required.
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Old Monday 20th May 2019, 08:02   #95
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A more successful weekend than ours...
Nothing quite went as planned, though a badly bruised thumb meant than Daniel was free on Saturday afternoon rather than playing his cello in a concert. Perfect east coast fall conditions but things bypassed mainland Fife. We got to Kilminning as the rain stopped and visibility improved. A lesser whitethroat was a nice find but that was essentially it migrant wise. A quick look out to sea produced our first manx shearwaters of the year. I was back out there yesterday on my own (others were kayaking) and whilst I found wood warbler, garden warbler, whinchat and pied flycatcher - a nice haul - there were no bluethroats for me.

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Old Friday 31st May 2019, 19:42   #96
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May 25th: part I

A long-planned visit to relatives in Suffolk kicked off with a drop in on Minsmere. (We had hoped to collect the Baikal Teal at Eldernell en route, but it rather inconveniently decided to decamp to Yorkshire just before our holiday.) So instead we started off at the Stone Curlew field, where we encountered not only the hoped-for birds, but also a couple of local birders who suggested a spot near Westleton that we could try for Nightingale.

On then to the reserve itself, and a nice stroll round chipped in a few year ticks like Little Tern and Cat C Barnacle Geese, although some of the real highlights were not new for the year – gatherings of fine sum plum Med Gulls, a couple of Hobbies over, and best of all, finally, excellent views of a decked Bittern, appropriately enough from Bittern hide. Also plenty of Marsh Harrier activity, nest building Sand Martins, and oodles of Avocets & Common Terns.
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Old Friday 31st May 2019, 20:44   #97
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May 25th: part II

Dropped in to look for Nightingales on the way to where we were staying near Southwold. It was early afternoon, not the best time to go looking but worth scoping the site out in advance of a proper try later. Even so I managed brief views but the boys didn’t, but as it was only fifteen minutes from where we were staying so we resolved to return this evening.

Back to Westleton later, just me and Arch, and again I manage to get onto a Nightingale that he misses. Cuckoo & Turtle Dove were heard only, in spite of much searching. On the plus side, pretty sure we nailed Brown Argus (hopefully someone following this can confirm or refute), bumped into the same Fox twice, and Arch’s sharp eyes spotted a Slow Worm down under the Gorse.
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Old Sunday 2nd June 2019, 17:13   #98
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May 27th

The following day was a laid back holiday day, including walking our hosts’ dog across the nearby marshes late morning, during which we bumped into a trio of scope-toting birders, who informed us they’d had Nightingale singing a bare minute’s walk from the back garden of where we were staying! So, later that evening, we went off in search again, and yet again I got views and Arch didn’t! By the time this happened a fourth time early the following morning Arch was getting pretty ticked off, but luckily a couple of minutes after this he finally got onto it. So, back for breakfast, and the out again to walk the dog, and as so often happens, once the hard won views have been achieved the bird gives up on hiding altogether and we all had good views of one sitting out in the open!

Another bimble round Minsmere in the afternoon, pretty much more of the same, with a stop off at Westleton to look for Slow Worms on the way back; no luck found a cracking Green Tiger Beetle.
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Old Sunday 2nd June 2019, 21:12   #99
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May 28th

The journey home. After a morning of more traditional holiday-making we started heading home, my intention being to stop off at Needingworth to look for Turtle Dove and Great Grey Shrike. Things looked dicey as we approached, the weather getting grimmer by the mile, bloody rain, but then things suddenly cleared, and we arrived to sunshine and quickly located the entrance to the Hanson site (wasn’t difficult), where we could hear Turtle Doves purring, but it took a while to see one, and then only in flight. Great Grey Shrike took rather longer, but eventually we located it on the perimeter fence, dropping down occasionally to snaffle up a morsel from the turf below (a Four-spotted Chaser on one occasion, first four pics attached are of it dispatching it). We were on site for hardly more than an hour, so all in all, an efficient stop, the only other one before home being to eat (not dragonflies).
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Old Monday 3rd June 2019, 08:10   #100
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May 30th: part I

Two day Road Trip. First port of call was Wintersett, where while listening out for the star turn here we scored pretty good views of Cetti’s Warbler, no mean feat in itself. Eventually we found the right spot, and heard our quarry. Saw it too, quite quickly, albeit briefly and partially obscured, Great Reed Warbler, chuntering out its rich, loud song, the surrounding Reed Warblers sounding awfully weak and tinny in comparison. We gave it over an hour, during which it kept singing but never showed again, before heading back to the car park to continue our journey.

Arrived at Hornsea Mere about ten, and were instantly put onto the Baikal Teal as it dashed around along the shore of Swan Island, chasing the flies that were buzzing around just above the water’s surface. Gadwall and Wigeon were doing likewise, but the Teal didn't seem to be particularly associating with any other duck. Excellent prolonged views of this hyper little bundle of colour and patterns, all abstract art and energy, so pleased to have finally caught up with it.
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