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CactusD's List 2011 (1 Viewer)


ἀρχός οἰ&#969
Hello again all, I've decided on another list for the third year in a row.
Things *may* turn out a little more exciting this year, since we are hoping to be in Lesvos in April, and I may be in either Greece or the East Coast of the US later in the year; I also have a little more time on my hands this winter/spring, so we'll see what happens. Certainly I should manage to top the 153 of last year, and am aiming to beat the 209 of 2009; now that I have my own transport, this should hopefully be more easy. As before, and to make things even more exciting ;) I will provide pics wherever possible, usually of birds (!) with my trusty Nikon kit, and also some macros of butterflies etc. when I have the opportunity.
The big plan this year is to hoover up a number of European target birds that have so far eluded me. If I manage to get to Greece in the summer, I'm hoping for more of the high mountain species, e.g. Rock Thrush, Alpine Chough, Shore Lark. If we all manage to get to Lesvos in one piece as a family, I'll be delighted to see lots of herons, crakes, etc., which will make up for dipping on many such lifer goodies in Cyprus in 2009; more raptors would also be most welcome. And who knows what locations closer to home will bring, including from the usual trips to Derbyshire and Scotland. As before, lifers will be upper case.

Edit, end of Jan: Holiday plans have now altered slightly! Due to logistical problems of travelling to Lesvos with baby, he and mother are travelling to Scotland for Easter while I do a solo trial of Lesvos mid-April (with the hope of returning in years to come with the family): the lists of CactusD and Maenad will diverge somewhat around Easter-time - Black Guillemot and Gannet versus Krüper's Nuthatch and Little Bittern?! The family holiday is now likely to be in July instead, so no Greek mainland trip for me this year :-C but possibility of Scandinavia/Iceland? :t:

Jan 1st started out very grey and grim, but we took a tip to Brandon Marsh nonetheless; hoping for Bittern, which we knew was there, but always quite a long shot, even with the ice, so our first dip. However, good to pick up a nice range of winter visitors and residents, and not a bad start to the list; one of these days I'll manage a shot of the Reed Buntings that sit in our neighbour's trees. An afternoon walk through the local park also got me the last two.

1. Wood Pigeon
2. Starling
3. Reed Bunting
4. Blackbird
5. House Sparrow
6. Jay
7. Magpie
8. Fieldfare
9. Black-headed Gull
10. Carrion Crow
11. Jackdaw
12. Rook
13. Redwing
14. Mallard
15. Feral Pigeon
16. Common Kestrel
17. Common Buzzard
18. Pheasant
19. Great Spotted Woodpecker
20. Moorhen
21. Blue Tit
22. Great Tit
23. Coal Tit
24. Chaffinch
25. Bullfinch
26. Dunnock
27. Collared Dove
28. Lapwing
29. Teal
30. Shoveler
31. Canada Goose
32. Cormorant
33. Robin
34. Long-tailed Tit
35. Mute Swan
36. Skylark
37. Gadwall
38. Goldfinch
39. Siskin
40. Lesser Redpoll
41. Marsh Tit
42. Sparrowhawk
43. Song Thrush
44. Wren

Sorry: no photos yet!
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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
2nd January

A quick afternoon visit to Boddington Reservoir picked up the following to add, though no Grebes since the majority of the water was still frozen.

45. Pied Wagtail
46. Goosander
47. Lesser Black-backed Gull
48. Common Gull
49. Wigeon
50. Tufted Duck
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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
3rd January

An excellent morning at Draycote Reservoir today got us out quite early on the hunt for the reported Smew, a potential lifer. It was very easy to find, and posed very well reasonably close in to the bank; there was rather more unfrozen open water than I had expected. Some other birds for the list, too, and reasonable photos!

51. Little Grebe
52. Coot
53. SMEW (1 adult drake)
54. Great Crested Grebe
55. Goldeneye (1 female photographed, 1 distant male also seen)
56. Herring Gull
57. Great Black-backed Gull


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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
Slimbridge WWT, 8th January

A nice visit to Slimbridge today brought a few new ticks for the list, and one or two good photos as well. A total of fifty-six birds on my list for the day, which is pretty good; the only recorded birds I didn't see were the female smew, the lesser scaup, and a treecreeper. We've had Smew already, and at least the latter of these shouldn't be at all difficult. Still hoping to pick up some of the more common species soon: still lacking any herons, goldcrest, treecreeper, or nuthatch.

On to the list and the photos:

58. Curlew
59. Pochard
60. Pintail
61. Common Snipe
62. Bewick Swan
63. Greylag Goose
64. Shelduck
65. Greenfinch
66. Meadow Pipit
67. White-fronted Goose
68. Barnacle Goose
69. Redshank
70. Golden Plover
71. Dunlin
72. Black-tailed Godwit
74. Ruff

Some shots; light not as good as last visit, but still ok:

EDIT: I now think that the Scaup photographed here is Lesser, the same bird as in post #17! I wonder if anyone else noticed? :-O Rather confusing, esp. as both species were recorded as present that day. Thankfully, I have a record shot of the Farmoor Greater Scaup female, so will post that below later. List adjusted.


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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
And some more:


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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
15th January

Report of Slav Grebe in Witney took us there at lunchtime today. The bird was finally located down at the southern end of the lake, and was very obliging, giving excellent close views even with the continuous presence of dogs off leads - which seemed to be more irritating to the photographer rather than the subject ;)
A bonus then appeared in the form of a Little Egret in a ditch just by the A40 underpass.

75. Slavonian Grebe
76. Little Egret

increasingly bizarre now that I haven't had common birds like Grey Heron, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, or Goldcrest yet!

A couple of photos below for starters. The light was dreadful, but I was glad I had the big guns with me (D3S, and flash for the Grebe!)


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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
No further birding opportunities since the weekend, but a couple more shots of the lovely Slav Grebe from Witney :t:


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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
20th January: 3 more ticks

Had a trip out this morning to Aston Rowant for Red Kites, and also managed a brief visit to Otmoor on the way back. Fog prevented any decent Kite pics, but I did see some - will try again in more favourable conditions. Bonuses there were Treecreeper and Nuthatch, in the same tree.
No further ticks at Otmoor, but I didn't have too much time and the water seemed frozen, so I satisfied myself with some shots at the feeders: some pics below.

77. Red Kite
78. Eurasian Treecreeper (lousy record shot below)
79. Eurasian Nuthatch


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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
21st January
Otmoor RSPB

A cold but very clear day took me to Otmoor today, where I had in mind to get some flight shots of a variety of birds. Accordingly took both camera bodies with me.
Two new species for the list (in fact the first and last species I saw), in the form of Red-legged Partridge and Raven; the former were in a group in the hedge driving down to the carpark, and I was walking back down to get some shots when they were flushed by some dog-walkers. :C Hence a very lousy record-shot rather than frame-fillers! Never mind, another species for the list and another bird to try to get some decent shots of. Raven was again very distant, but loudly audible.

80. Red-legged Partridge
81. Raven

I spent the rest of my time between the feeders and the screens, shooting tits and ducks, and whatever else happened to fly past. A nice Red Kite also perched for me in the oak tree by the carpark.
Today was my first real attempt to shoot at super-high shutter speeds with the D3S, so I'm sure there are things to improve, but I was reasonably pleased with the results.

Some representative pics...


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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
and some more pics from Otmoor:


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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
27th January
Port Meadow, Oxford

Had a trip to Oxford for work today, and had a quick walk around Port Meadow in the morning to check out the status of the floods. Large numbers of Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, a few Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, and a pair of Shelduck. A couple of Dunlin amid the Lapwings, and had three Linnets moving between the trees and the flood edge along the path up to Burgess Field past the allotments.

82. Linnet

No pics today, but plenty of Slav Grebe images in my gallery! B :)


ἀρχός οἰ&#969
28th January
Port Meadow, Oxford; Otmoor
A trip out today to get some photos took me back to Port Meadow to see what was about. Light was variable and the ducks were a little too distant for decent images, but I did see a couple of Mistle Thrushes, which is a first for the year. Also four Dunlin and a Black-tailed Godwit.
Then went on to Otmoor to see what turned up at the feeders. Light pretty poor so not much time for any high action shots, but nice to get very close views of the resident Marsh Tit.

83. Mistle Thrush

Pics below:


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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
3rd February
The Serpentine, Hyde Park, London

Things have been slow of late - bad weather, illness, work, ill baby! - but I was in London for work yesterday, and in desperation for a Grey Heron, took a walk through Hyde Park along the length of the west side of the Serpentine. Fortunately the Herons were very approachable, and as a bonus there were a good number of loud Rose-ringed Parakeets in the trees - got to be the easiest place I know of to see these. Did also have a single Egyptian Goose, but I won't count that!

84. Grey Heron
85. Rose-ringed Parakeet


ἀρχός οἰ&#969
8th February

Blue sky and sunshine took me out this morning to Boddington Reservoir to try some more flight shots and to see what was about (don't visit here all that often). A pair of Great Crested Grebes swam about on the water, and Black-headed and Common Gulls flew between the water and a next-door field. Two or three Goosanders were also visible. Got some decent shots of gulls in flight, and was heading back to the car when my luck came good with two new birds for the list. First, a Stock Dove flushed from a tree; second - and more unexpectedly - a lovely pair of Willow Tits - first heard then seen - pursued one another around the bushes and trees by the carpark and road.

86. Stock Dove
87. Willow Tit

Some shots below. The Willow Tits bear interesting comparison to the Marsh Tit photo from Otmoor earlier: the WTs appear much more "bull-necked", and that light panel on the wing is clearly visible.


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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
10th February

Nothing new to report, but I had another fantastic photographic encounter with the Witney Slav Grebe, watching it fishing from close quarters. A couple of representative shots below!

EDIT: Trip to Farmoor after visiting Witney produced the female Greater Scaup. Phone-scoped record shot below. Seemingly a heavier- and rounder-headed, larger bird than the Slimbridge Lesser Scaup. Apologies for the confusion!!

88. Greater Scaup


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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
11th February

A trip around the local park with the family produced a Goldcrest; an afternoon outing to Otmoor produced a number of nice birds, including a lovely Yellowhammer.

89. Goldcrest
90. Yellowhammer

PS. A comical image of a Redwing staring me out at Witney the other day!


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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
12th February

A very nice day out at Slimbridge today with the family (cf. Maenad's list) brought excellent weather and good shooting conditions for photographs, though it was very busy and many others were also wanting good views of the best birds. Highlight for me was getting good close shots of the Lesser Scaup (I'm always wanting lower angles, but in hides, particularly at Slimbridge this really isn't that possible), and also getting a brief view of a hunting Peregrine pursuing a large flock of Lapwing low over the edge of the estuary. Plus, managed my first reasonable shots of LBBG - just an omission on my part :h?:
Best place for photographing Pochard and Pintail that I know of, with the above riders. Didn't see Marsh Harrier, Pink Foot, or Water Rail, but these should be doable later! Picked up Oystercatcher for the list too.

91. Oystercatcher
92. Peregrine Falcon

Some photos below. Plenty more to process... :t:


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Some more shots from yesterday :cool:


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ἀρχός οἰ&#969
Derbyshire Peak District, 17th-20th February

Just back from an excellent family weekend break in the Peak District visiting my parents; also an opportunity to catch up with some of the resident bird specialities. Weather was lousy, with low cloud, fog, rain, sleet, and snow :eek!: but birding was excellent, as we picked up all but one of our targets. A total of 63 species for the weekend, including one lifer, four year-ticks for me, and 8 finch species on one day, was good going given the conditions.


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18th February: Finch Friday!

Woke up in Matlock to heavy fog; was planning a trip to Carsington to check for Divers, but decided on a flying visit for Tree Sparrow, via Cromford for hoped-for year-tick in the form of Hawfinch.

Arrived at Cromford Rugby ground c. 8.15 to look for Hawfinches, and to see what else was around. No luck in the carpark around the trees, but we could see a couple of other birders down by the river, so we decided to walk past the church and over the bridge to the entrance to Willersley Castle, the location where we found them the last (and first-ever) time we've seen them. Thankfully, one duly obliged, showing off its larger size and larger bill among a small flock of goldfinches at the top of a tall tree (record shot below - poor-quality phone-scoping :-O).

93. Hawfinch

We also saw a Goosander on the river, though no Dippers as water was very high. We then moved on to High Peak Junction to see if we could find a Grey Wagtail. None seen, though there was a large roost of Pied Wagtails. Also saw the customary Little Grebes, and a few of the other usual species.
Then moved on to Carsington, Sheepwash Carpark. As we couldn't even see the water from here, we didn't even get out of the car, but some time viewing the bird table picked up Tree Sparrow, another for the list, along with Bullfinch.

94. Tree Sparrow

After lunch the weather was still grim, so chose to go to Longshaw, where we knew we'd stand a chance of at least seeing some interesting birds, from outside the cafe. Cafe wasn't open, and there were large numbers of finches on the feeders outside. These included Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Siskin, a couple of Lesser Redpoll, and finally one larger and paler, handsome Redpoll, a Mealy (which for the purposes of this list and my life-list I am treating as a split:t:)


Filling the roster of finches, we also had Greenfinch viewable from my parents' garden. All in all an excellent day for finches, then. Mobile phone pic of Siskins at Longshaw below.


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