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Old Friday 1st February 2019, 11:46   #26
JWN Andrewes
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January 28th

A quick post school foray to Parkgate to try for Barn Owl & Bittern proved successful. We stationed ourselves at the south end of the town to be able to check for Bittern flying in to roost in Little Neston reedbed to our south, and got distant views of one at around 16:50 doing just that. We could also scope the action taking place off Old Baths Car Park off to our north, and could see at least three (possibly four) Short-eared Owls (including one dogfighting with a ringtail Hen Harrier) as well as a single Barn Owl. The views on offer to those gathered at Old Baths must have been spectacular. Stonechat, Marsh Harrier & Great White Egret also made appearances.
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Old Sunday 3rd February 2019, 12:41   #27
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That's exactly how a quick outing should go - hit the targets and lots of bonus quality!
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Old Monday 4th February 2019, 08:55   #28
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Nice. Rather more successful than our targeted outing yesterday in search of twite. No sign in biting wind but we did add peregrine to the year list. Also got purple sandpiper for Daniel's year list plus enjoyed the amazing spectacle of the scoter flock in St Andrews Bay.

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Old Saturday 16th February 2019, 15:54   #29
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February 3rd

A bit late on writing up, but it was an unremarkable day out really. Not without some nice birds though, kicking off with a Hawfinch in the gloomy dawn at Llanrwst; nice to get this species at a new location for me.

Best of the rest was good views of Brent Geese at Inland Sea and a couple of Hoodies at Holyhead Macdonalds (which I hadn’t forewarned the boys about and were met with much excitement). Other than that just bog standard yearlist fare up and down the North Wales coast, missing out on Slavs in the Penrhos area and getting to the Bangor Red-necked when it was just too far out to clinch.

Then a post school foray on Monday over to World’s End which yielded no Grouse of either species but gave nice photo ops for Beluga going over!
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Old Sunday 17th February 2019, 14:33   #30
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Nice to see familiar birds (Hoodie).

What is it on that other gooses beak? Line?
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Old Sunday 17th February 2019, 17:41   #31
JWN Andrewes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warixenjalka View Post
Nice to see familiar birds (Hoodie).

What is it on that other gooses beak? Line?
The Hoodies, I'm pretty sure (although I've not read anything to support this) come to Anglesey from over the Irish Sea, rather than down from western Scotland. The day before we saw these two, thirty five were seen at South Stack, heading out to sea, presumably back to Ireland.

It's algae dribbling from the Goose's beak, they were troughing away on it (see attached).
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Old Sunday 17th February 2019, 17:48   #32
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February 17th

I’ve been kind of putting this one off, given our ill fortune trying to all get views of the Kingsbury Dusky, but today I bit the bullet. Given its wayward habits and high dip potential I was mighty relieved when, after barely any wait at all, the Leigh Blyth’s Reed Warbler gave itself up, foraging low in its favoured bramble bank, calling occasionally. Over a forty minute period it showed three times and we all obtained decent views, although it never sat still enough for thorough scrutiny (or photos, evidence attached!)

Our next target was Taiga Bean Goose, one of which seemed to have been reasonably faithful to a Pink-foot flock at Eagland Hill. Unfortunately, on arrival, there was no sign of any Geese, and quite a few people were out on the fields (not birders I don’t think, farmers maybe, or shooters). I wasn’t really up for spending several hours seeking out Goose flocks to scan through, so given the absence of the Eagland Hill flock we decided to go and look for other stuff.

First off, Bewick’s Swans, with a couple of small parties recently reported nearby off Moss Lane near Upper Thurnham. It seemed that the two small parties reported hand banded together, as we found a herd of ten north of the road, with a few slightly larger herds of Whoopers dotted about too. We stopped here to nose-bag for a bit, and in between sausage rolls I glanced up to see a Hare sitting in the middle of the road! Nice bonus!

Various options of what to go for next, but the boys’ choice was Waxwing, two of which had been hanging around Scotforth, a southern extension of Lancaster. Off we go then, quickly located Lentworth Drive and started scanning tree tops. In trees opposite number 30 was the suggested venue, but no joy here, so I suggested the boys let off steam in a nearby playground, and while they hit the climbing frames I patrolled the road looking for Waxwings. After half an hour with no sign we decided to head off, so it was back to the car and off we go. A few hundred yards up the road I caught sight of a familiar silhouette out of the corner of my eye, hit the brakes, and there, in a small berry tree, were the two Waxwings. I checked the house number so I could report it correctly, and it was number 30! Hang on, thinks I, that was way back down the road wasn’t it? No, turns out Lentworth Drive segues seamlessly into Claughton Drive half way down; I’d been staking out the wrong number 30! Still, no harm no foul, Waxwings in the bag, off we go again.

One last stop on the way home. Tempted by reports of up to 40 Water Pipits at Warton Bank we swung by that way, but drew a blank. Someone on site reckoned they only really turn up back end of the day, pre roost sort of thing, which seems reasonable given the high numbers involved. We ended up settling for Great White Egret & a couple of ringtail Hen Harriers out on the saltmarsh and a year tick Cattle Egret showing well in amongst a load of Littles in a cow field on our way out. Today it felt like, after a couple of false starts, we properly started the year.
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Old Sunday 17th February 2019, 18:12   #33
JWN Andrewes
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Quote:
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In theory the 16 “easiest” birds to target are -

Taiga Bean Goose
Cory’s Shearwater
Leach’s Petrel
Montagu’s Harrier
Rough-legged Buzzard
Common Quail
Dotterel
Pectoral Sandpiper
Grey Phalarope
Pomarine Skua
Little Auk
Yellow-browed Warbler
Red-breasted Flycatcher
Red-backed Shrike
Richard’s Pipit
Lapland Bunting
With Blyth's Reed Warbler coming in as first tick of the year I can lose one from the original 17 required to get over the line. I have chosen White-winged Black Tern. With half term on its way hopefully we can move things on a bit further.
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Old Sunday 17th February 2019, 18:21   #34
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Boys' half term just coming to an end without all that much to show for it. On Friday we all headed to Perthshire with the hawfinches at Scone giving themselves up readily (20-30 seen) along with 2 nuthatches. We then headed into the hills where we only managed to add red grouse and red kite to the year list. Despite good conditions no black grouse or scarcer raptors.
Today Daniel came with me on my WeBS count. We stopped off at various set aside fields around St Monans where the undoubted highlight was a flock of 103 corn buntings! The wind picked up during the WeBS count but the wintering whimbrel was a highlight along with the long staying water pipit.
Opportunities look limited for the next couple of weekends.

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Old Tuesday 19th February 2019, 05:12   #35
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Quote:
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It's algae dribbling from the Goose's beak, they were troughing away on it (see attached).
That's a relief.
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Old Monday 25th February 2019, 15:26   #36
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February 25th

Half term is finally here, but with commitments this afternoon and no targets within local striking distance I decided that our best use of the morning would be an attempt on the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers at Moore. We were not disappointed, when after a couple of brief views we finally got to watch a pair in full pursuit, spiralling round the trees at break neck pace, yelling away, between bouts of fluttering display flight, I’ve never been treated to such a comprehensive performance from this species, it really was outstanding. So quick when they were on the go that I could barely follow them in my bins, let alone catch them in the camera. After a while an extra male joined the party and they moved away into the woods. After staying quiet for a bit one started drumming, but try as we might we couldn’t locate it, and when it finally went quiet we headed off to the feeding station to look for Willow Tit.

No Willows, but a brief visit from a Marsh was nice, then it was back for second helpings of the Woodpeckers, eventually getting visual lock on a drumming bird that I managed to get a couple of record shots of.

Later in the week should have a couple of full days to play with. Just hope that there’ll be something to target within striking distance (Shetland is a bit far I’m afraid)!
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Old Wednesday 27th February 2019, 10:10   #37
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Nice lesser spots. I Also spent a big part of Sunday out looking for them in and around Sherwood and woolaton park but to no avail. Did get a nice Great Grey Shrike at Clumber though.
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Old Wednesday 27th February 2019, 18:21   #38
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They are so much trickier to see these days. It is almost with some disbelief that I think back on the days I used to regularly encounter them while out walking my parents'dog in their village, or in the grounds at work near Chester. Such a shame.

Currently out on a trip, fast food tea followed by night in a Travelodge. Two ticks down already, potentially another tomorrow. Write up in due course.
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Old Friday 1st March 2019, 07:50   #39
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February 27th: part I

A decidedly contradictory day today, thanks to the glorious weather. The roads of North Norfolk have acquired something of a familiarity over the years, and driving them today in bright sunshine, cloudless sky and above all warmth, it felt like we should be on the trail of Montagu’s Harriers, Kentish Plovers, Turtle Doves and the like. As it was the day’s avian fare was flavoured by an altogether different season. It started with Arctic & Mealy Redpolls at Sculthorpe Moore, visiting the feeders and hanging around to give excellent views, although like a tool I spent so much time snapping the Arctic that I didn’t get any Mealy pics! On up to Holkham next, where we were greeted by a Red Kite low over Lady Anne’s Drive and a couple of Egyptian Geese, both year ticks, as well as a Muntjac going about its business. We headed out towards the saltmarsh, a couple of Grey Partridge clattering off as we passed, and before long we were heading off towards the roped off area recently favoured by Shorelarks and by now I was seriously regretting wearing a coat, I was roasting!
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Old Friday 1st March 2019, 10:23   #40
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February 27th: part II

We scanned the saltmarsh as we went, picking out mostly Meadow Pipits, but also a rather littoralis looking Rock Pipit, before we fetched up just shy of the roped off area where we found a small gathering of birders admiring, and considerably outnumbered by, the Shorelarks. Eighteen Larks in total, they shuffled their way past, just a few yards off (arriving birders, us included, were consistently scanning too far away in initial attempts to get on the birds). They were (to quote Sam) stunning, and we spent quite a while watching them before heading back to the car and on to Titchwell.

We grabbed a quick lunch at the café at Titchwell before heading off on a nice birdy walk to the beach. The roll call of masses of Brent Geese, small flocks of Knot and Golden Plover, and smaller numbers of Grey Plover & Bar-tailed Godwits all serving to remind us that this was a winter birding trip, despite the hot sun beating down. The Med Gulls and Avocets seemed a much better fit to the prevailing conditions. By the time we reached the beach much of what was on the sea had drifted off into the haze, a scattering of Great Crested Grebes, Red-breasted Mergansers & Goldeneyes just about identifiable, but little else of note. Over time though, bit by bit, I managed to find some of the more interesting stuff; a trio of Slavonian Grebes; near them a Great Northern Diver; further on a couple of Red-throated Divers were accompanied by a single Black-throated. No Red-necked Grebes in range though. On the way back to the car a Water Rail gave itself up to good views in the ditch near the car park.

Off to Holme Dunes next, a site I associate with dipped megas (Ruppell’s Warbler & Yellow-breasted Bunting). Never seen anything here, and in keeping with this today the sea was ungenerous. We had some luck on the drive out though, with a perched up Short-eared Owl giving excellent drive-away views. On one of the attached photos you can see the differential dilation of the pupils, one small in sunshine, the other larger in the shade! A quick stop at the golf course gave us Stonechat in the scrub, Ringed Plover & Sanderling on the beach, and a small group of Eider out on the sea. Last year tick of the day were Fulmars at Hunstanton, before heading down to Kings Lynne where we were overnighting.
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Old Friday 1st March 2019, 10:55   #41
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February 28th

A very different day dawned on Thursday. Cool and misty, even when the sun burned the mist off it remained hazy, a chill in the air enhanced by a stiff breeze. Time to layer up. I decided to put off looking for Rough-legged Buzzard until later in the day, raptors can be late risers, and I fancied trying for something with a better chance of success first, get something out of the day early before settling in for a long, potentially fruitless wait. So Eldernell on the Nene Washes was first port of call. Over a score of Roe deer were out on the washes, nine the biggest single group, which burst into a run at one point, spooked by something I guess, but I couldn’t divine what. A little further on we spied a trio of Common Cranes in the middle distance. Easy peasy, job done.

On then to Thorney Toll, where under a grey ceiling of cloud we scanned the area for large raptors, but with no success. The site description on RBA didn’t really tally with what we were seeing on the ground, leading to doubts as to whether we were even in the right place. The still relatively low sun and blustery wind hampered viewing conditions and further diminished my optimism and enthusiasm, so after about an hour I decided to decamp, resolving to return either here or Holme Fen for another go later in the day.

Frampton was our next destination, and it proved to be a truly fabulous place. Huge numbers of Brent Geese & Wigeon, plenty of other wildfowl, good scattering of waders, Dunlins & Ringed Plovers covering some of the short turf areas of the marsh, Ruff stalking amongst them, great flocks of Golden Plover, getting up and wheeling and whooshing round from time to time, a couple of Spotted Redshank augmenting the ranks of their less elegant Common cousins. The boys had their first ever views of dancing Great Crested Grebes (they were duly impressed), but they missed the boxing Hares I saw on a scope-scan of the distant marsh. Best of all, in one corner of the marsh, the long staying Long-billed Dowitcher. Brilliant. The chap who picked it up also proved to be a valuable source of information regarding the Thorney Toll Rough-leg. We had been close to the right location after all, and so, now in possession of first-hand gen, we headed back into Cambridgeshire.

To no avail, worse luck. Picked up a few Common Buzzards, one even hovered for a spell, but year tick Stock Dove was the best we managed in a near two hour stake-out before we called time and embarked on the four hour drive home. A slightly downbeat ending it’s true, but not one that detracted at all from the fact it had been a truly splendid trip.
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Old Monday 4th March 2019, 14:11   #42
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Good stuff once again. Last weekend Daniel and I had a couple of targeted outings. On Saturday persistence paid off and saw us add Greenland whitefront to the yearlist, while Sunday saw us get him snow bunting for the yearlist after a couple of prior dips. No outings this weekend as I've been away with work. However yesterday Daniel was racing cross country down in Lothian. He remembered that we had seen shorelark there (John Muir Country Park) a couple of years ago and duly found one (two have been there this winter) without bins! Proud dad moment.

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Old Monday 11th March 2019, 09:02   #43
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Not ideal weather for getting out at the weekend, however Daniel and I did manage a couple of hours yesterday. After a bit of hard work I tracked down a few twite in a linnet flock at Kingsbarns - tricky in windy conditions. Rather easier was adding gannet to the year list - plenty moving offshore.

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Old Sunday 17th March 2019, 15:36   #44
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March 17th

Just a morning out today, but that’s all we needed. Arrived at Conwy RSPB in bright blustery conditions, before opening time and no other birders present. Finding the Grey Phalarope presented no challenge at all. It was merrily pottering about, mostly within a small mixed gathering of feeding Gadwall & Shoveler. It broke off for a short period to preen on one of the small islands before resuming feeding. We enjoyed the show for twenty minutes or so before heading off up to the coast, mildly surprised that by quarter to nine we were still the only birders to have stopped by; I would have thought that a Grey Phal would have proved more of a draw. A visit to Little Orme to look for early Wheatears proved unproductive on that count, but several Fulmars playing on the wind and a bunch of Grey Seals loafing on the shingle at Angel Bay were good to see. We looped inland on the way home, to Llyn Bran, where the Ring-necked Duck was an easy score. I can’t help wondering if this is the same bird that was seen at Conwy and Burton Mere Wetlands last spring, returning to the region.
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Old Monday 18th March 2019, 15:25   #45
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Having seen the weather items on the news showing massive flooding in the area it was perhaps not that surprising that you were the only hardy souls out and about in the area.

Although having only visited the RSPB reserve a couple of times during a family holiday to Conwy a few years back it really is a great place and seems to be picking up quite a good reputation. Cracking GP.
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Old Monday 1st April 2019, 19:10   #46
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March 30th - April 1st

Saturday

After a lazy morning and a pre-booked afternoon, we finally got down to Burton Mere Wetlands late afternoon. The Stork had moved on by then, we never really stood a chance as it was only available while we were otherwise engaged. The boys managed to year tick Beaded Tit (I’d seen them already on a previous visit without them), and we all enjoyed our first Sand Martins and swallows of the year, before heading over to year tick a rather distant Long-tailed Duck on the border pool, as well as enjoying point blank views in glorious evening sunshine of Wigeon Shoveler and Pintail. A Marsh Harrier over the reeds and a Short-eared owl by Reception rounded our visit off nicely.

Sunday

A brisk family stroll after a nice Mother’s day breakfast out took place at a new site for me, Pencloddiau Hill Fort, recently reported venue for several Ring Ouzel. Well short of the favoured area for the birds we had four low over calling. I say we, Arch managed to miss them, and we couldn’t relocate them either, about which he was somewhat dischuffed, so Ring Ouzel moves to 2019’s unfinished business file.

Monday

God bless BST. Barely into it and we’ve already smartly executed our first post-work twitch of the year. Idly checking the bird news just after seven this evening only to see that there were two Black-necked Grebes on Gresford Flash. Well, that’s mighty doable – “Boys! Car, now!” – ten minutes later, bam! On the year list! Cracking little cuties they were too. May well go back for seconds in better light, although the next few days’ forecast is a bit grim.
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Old Tuesday 2nd April 2019, 10:25   #47
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Daniel and I had a short outing on Sunday morning. Nothing much on local wetlands though shoveler was new for the year. A local goshawk site then produced the goods. A flock of 20 whooper swans heading north on this morning's school run was nice.

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Old Saturday 13th April 2019, 10:26   #48
JWN Andrewes
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April 6th & 13th

April 6th

Evening run up to World's End, Black Grouse at the usual spot, but with two cars taking up the best spots we didn't have that comfortable an angle to view from, plus the light was against us and the birds rather distant, so we didn't linger; we've seen them so much better in the past, and doubtless will again. Further on at our Ring Ouzel spot we picked up Wheatear & Peregrine for the year, but no get-back Ouzels for Arch...

April 13th


... until this morning, when we dropped in while out and about on an otherwise unproductive bimble about looking for early migrants. A male swooped into a small tree we were passing and sat quietly for a few minutes before continuing on its way.
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Old Monday 15th April 2019, 10:45   #49
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A few year ticks for all the family from a week in the Lake District. Ring ouzel, raven and wheatear on the fells, osprey, swallow and sand martin lower down. A trip to Leighton Moss added marsh harrier, great egret, spoonbill, avocet, marsh tit, willow warbler and blackcap, some of which are rather hard to come by in a Scottish context!
Yesterday I led a trip to Ruddons Point and Daniel accompanied me. Highlights included summer plumage black-throated diver, red-necked and Slavonian grebes annd our first sandwich terns of the year. Moving on to Elie we had excellent views of the black-necked grebe, now in almost full summer plumage.

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Old Monday 15th April 2019, 12:18   #50
JWN Andrewes
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April 14th

We did a quick drop in on Burton Mere Wetlands yesterday morning. Year ticks in the form of Willow warbler, Blackcap, House Martin & Yellow Wagtail. The last were showing distantly from a jam packed Bunker Hide. Took us a while to get a position from which to scope, and even then views were distant & brief. Good job the birds were obvious & yellow; didn't manage to get any of the water Pipits, but to be honest, what with the crowds, we didn't give it as long as we could. Some Ruff beginning to come into decent plumage and half a dozen or so Med Gulls also on the main scrape, but no sign of any Little Ringed Plovers. Also saw a Brown Rat under the feeders, and Arch spotted a Bank Vole scurrying around in the leaf litter near Reception.
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