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CactusD's List 2011 (1 Viewer)

CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
19th February

The weather on Saturday morning was if anything even worse, with some settling snow. A morning trip to Carsington was quickly ruled out, so we went to potter around Bakewell and see if we could find anything. Finally caught up with Grey Wagtail along the river.

96. Grey Wagtail

After the lunch the weather had marginally improved (at least, it had stopped snowing), so we went to Carsington. A walk down to Sheepwash produced at least a pair of Willow Tits, and a Great Northern Diver was briefly viewed in the fog.

97. Great Northern Diver
 

CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
20th February

Today we left the baby at home with the grandparents and had an enjoyable walk down to Lathkill Dale to find some Dippers. A pair was found in the reliable spot near the waterfall. Such lovely birds! A couple of poor :-O mobile phone pics of the Dippers in location (with helpful arrows :t:) below.

98. Dipper

Then had a drive up to Wardlow via Longstone edge to have a look for Red Grouse, but more snow and no Grouse had us back home for brunch mid-morning.
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
Otmoor visits this week:

23rd February
A visit on Wednesday produced scope views of the large flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover, including some Dunlin and Snipe. Also picked out a single Ringed Plover in the Dunlin, and that's a tick for the list.

99. Ringed Plover
 

CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
25th February

Another visit yesterday had me looking for good raptors and other waders. Nothing new for the list, but I did see the Peregrine, and had good views of a female Kestrel. Got some pics too, below.
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
2nd March

After dropping off the little man at nursery this morning, spent a couple of hours birding; despite the risk of seriously gripping off my wife :eek!::-O I headed for Oddington with the camera gear to see if I could find the Little Owl in its day roost before a jaunt around the west side of Otmoor. Owl found within five minutes after leaving the car :t: :t:, in its usual perch in an apple tree. I say "usual perch" because I've been told that it's regularly been seen here for a number of years; this was my first sight of it though I've been a few times.
Also my first photos of this species! Not possible to get an entirely unobscured view, but my Photoshop skills have done their best (nothing removed, but some changes with saturation, colour balance, noise reduction, and sharpening using layer masks, all to try to make the bird "pop" as much as possible).
So there it is, my 100th bird for the year.

100. Little Owl

Nothing much of interest to report from Otmoor itself. No sightings of Bittern, Merlin, Peregrine, or more interesting waders, but did see 3 Little Egrets, a pair of Buzzards, and a pair of Red Kites.

Took about 20 shots of the Owl before leaving it in peace. Two attached.
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
Nothing new to add, but a couple of pics for you from Hyde Park yesterday, during a trip to London.
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
Many thanks for the rating, whoever it was. Much appreciated :bounce:

11th March

Anyway, a trip to Slimbridge yesterday produced some good birds, including 13+ Black-tailed Godwits, and the usual ducks. A Cetti's Warbler calling was a welcome new bird, although I won't count it until I actually see one. This may be more difficult nearer to home since unfortunately I've not heard any at Otmoor since before Christmas, but hopefully it'll be easy on Lesvos.
Below are some images from yesterday.
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
15th March

A trip to Oxford today for work was preceded by a whizz round Port Meadow to see what was about. Found 6 Redshank, a Dunlin, and a Little Ringed Plover, and as I was leaving, I heard my first Chiffchaffs of the year. I turned around and one was sitting in a bush behind me. Record shots of the (very distant) LRP and (rather closer) Chiffchaff below.

101. Little Ringed Plover
102. Chiffchaff
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
No new birds today, but another quick trip to Port Meadow this morning produced 12 Redshank, 1 Dunlin, 1 Oystercatcher, the usual ducks including still a few Pintail (no more than about 4), and quite a few singing Chiffchaffs around Burgess Field. Below a couple of pics of one in a lovely flowering Blackthorn tree. Springtime!
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
Birding this week has been limited to Port Meadow in Oxford, where I have unfortunately had nothing new to add to the list (missed the Garganey by a day :-C). But had a nice afternoon yesterday, getting good close(ish;)) views of 4 of the Little Ringed Plovers present, and some shots of the Black-tailed Godwits and the beautiful white Ruff. Some photos below :t:
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
25th March

An excellent morning's birding had us all on a family trip to Farmoor, where we had excellent views of Little Gull and Garganey, both year ticks, and in the case of the former also a UK tick, this species having been last sighted by us in Sweden in 2008. Nice views also of Gadwall and Goldeneye. A Slav Grebe was also reported, but we didn't walk down the other end to look for it, and we'd already had it for the year at Witney.
On the way home we had a quick walk down some local fields on the lookout for Corn Bunting; we didn't see any, but had good views of Skylark and Stock Dove.
It's now very bizarre that I haven't seen a Green Woodpecker. Must make some more visits to the local Grimsbury Reservoir to find one.
No hirundines, nor other warblers, quite yet, but they can't be far away now.

103. Garganey
104. Little Gull

Some photos below. :t:
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
26th March

A morning family trip to Otmoor today produced a few good birds (despite a small boy with sore teeth!! :eek!:), and we managed a very distant sighting of the female Merlin sitting on a post to the right of the first screen, viewed from the bridleway. Another bird for the list |=)|
Plenty of Great Spotted Woodpeckers about, but still no Greens :-O
Lots of other raptors about too, and we had reasonably close views of a perched Buzzard: a shot below.

105. Merlin
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
27th March

In the hope of finding a Green Woodpecker we took a trip around Grimsbury Reservoir this morning. No joy! 3:)
However, we saw quite a few Sand Martins (though not a Swallow as was also reported, nor any Wheatears). A bonus as we got back to the car was a Willow Warbler singing in a Weeping Willow tree. A guy we met at Otmoor yesterday had had a couple there, so they must be working their way north right now.
Two more species for the list:

106. Sand Martin
107. Willow Warbler

Some record shots below.
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
28th March

A walk around Grimsbury Reservoir this morning after dropping off the little boy at nursery produced my first Swallow of the year, and I was also lucky enough on this occasion to hear and see my first Oxfordshire Willow Tit. Also, another Willow Warbler was seen in the trees by the canal. I note that my first Swallow is a week-and-a-half earlier than last year's.

108. Barn Swallow
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
Finally an update after a while away from the birds (work/conference followed by heavy cold:-C)!

7th April

On my way into my office at work this lunchtime I had time for a couple of hours to look around Brandon Marsh, which I hadn't visited in some time. Turned out to be excellent indeed, since, in addition to seeing the Spotted Crake (lifer number 291:t:), I picked up a couple of other year ticks, and managed a total of 52 species plus 1 heard. Unfortunately perhaps you won't be too surprised to hear that the heard was none other than Green Woodpecker :C:C:-O - at least two were calling, but neither came into view at any point.

109. Cetti's Warbler (maybe 6 or more individuals were singing!)
110. SPOTTED CRAKE
111. Blackcap (at least 4 seen, plus lots of song)
[Green Woodpecker H] Grr!

I thought I'd be more likely to see the Crake on Lesvos (heading there next week), but with birding I've learnt to take the opportunities as they come along.
All in all an excellent morning's work.
Below are a couple of shots of the Crake, and one of a Treecreeper also. The Crake was stalking exactly the same area as last year's Bittern, in the reedy section at the left end of the East Marsh hide. Showed well for me for about 40 mins before heading into the reeds at just before 10am.
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
8th April

Another trip to Brandon this afternoon with the family produced quite an early Whitethroat. Also nice to see so many Orange Tip butterflies about. Didn't see the Crake today but didn't have long enough to sit and wait for it (though many others were staking it out).

112. Common Whitethroat

Below is a shot of a female Orange Tip. Though I'm not wild about this shot, partly because it's technically poor (should be side on, and the depth of field is far too shallow), this is my first ever photo of this butterfly, and it was after all taken with my walkabout birding gear (in this case D300/300f4+1.7TC handheld). And at least the head is sharply in focus :t:
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
9th April

No new birds today, but quite a few nice fresh butterflies about. Holly Blues in the local park among the ivy there were very flighty, but I did get some shots of Comma and Speckled Wood. Below is a macro of the latter.

I'll also use this opportunity to start a list of my butterflies for the year which I'll update sporadically. Since I'm new to listing butterflies I only have 20 species for 2010 (though that was Oxfordshire only).

So far:
1) Peacock
2) Small Tortoiseshell
3) Brimstone
4) Orange Tip
5) Holly Blue
6) Speckled Wood
7) Comma
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
11th April

A quick walk around Grimsbury Reservoir this morning after dropping off the little man at nursery produced two new birds for the list in the form of Common Tern and Sedge Warbler.

113. Common Tern
114. Sedge Warbler

Record shots of the Tern, and a Grey Wagtail:
 

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CactusD

ἀρχός οἰ&#969
Apologies for the absence, but now I'm back home from Lesvos and have almost caught up with things, here's a start at my list-cum-report for my visit.

Lesvos 14th–27th April 2011

A superb first ever visit to Lesvos produced some cloudy (and sometimes torrentially rainy) skies, some superb birding (including some unexpected birds), and some good company. Below I’ll be posting a day-by-day report with updates to the list, with a day-by-day list of birds and locations visited, with pictures as and when I’ve edited them (I have quite a few…). Staying in Skala Kallonis was a good decision, allowing me to catch up with the excellent local sites, to meet many other birders (including practising my French with the numerous French and Belgian birders present during my stay), and to contribute to the very helpful and useful Birding Log in the Pasiphae hotel. A few thanks: first to Roger & Ann Dewhurst (I think it was you!) for nice company over dinner one evening; to Bob Buckler of Wingspan and Paul Manning for help and advice on tracking down a few species; to the guides of Avian Adventures (sorry! forgot your names); and finally to Steve Dudley – who helped a great deal whenever or wherever I happened to bump into him (usually in the Dionysos in Skala, the Australia in Sigri, but often pretty much anywhere else in between!): also good fun and good banter!
A solo-birding list of 160 species for the trip surprised and delighted me. An excellent fortnight for waders and passerines; less good for raptors, but I wasn’t anywhere near to complaining!

14th April, Day 1.

Torrential rain (and hail :eek!:) from the airport all the way to Skala Kallonis wasn’t quite the intro to the island I was expecting (c. 8am-12pm!!), but I did manage to see one or two good birds along the way. The weather cleared up after lunch so I was able to explore a few of the local sites: Kalloni Pool, Metochi Lake, and the Christou River.

Just for starters, here’s the list for the day (lifers in bold): Yellow-legged Gull, Hooded Crow, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Grey Heron, White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilt, Black-eared Wheatear, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Little Egret, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Spanish Sparrow, Collared Dove, Blue Tit, Cetti’s Warbler, Greenfinch, Cormorant, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Moorhen, Coot, Chiffchaff, Little Grebe, Red-rumped Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Greenshank, Crested Lark, Common Swift, Sandwich Tern, Common Whitethroat, Greater Flamingo, Sparrowhawk, Jay, Common Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Black-headed Gull, Purple Heron, Little Crake (x3), Sand Martin, Starling, Great Tit

Wasn’t really trying very hard, and still picked up some great birds and a couple of lifers. Day-list: 44.
New for the year list:

115. Yellow-legged Gull
116. Hooded Crow
117. House Martin
118. White Stork
119. Glossy Ibis
120. Black-winged Stilt
121. Black-eared Wheatear
122. Corn Bunting
123. Spanish Sparrow
124. Red-rumped Swallow
125. Yellow Wagtail
126. Greenshank
127. Crested Lark
128. Common Swift
129. Greater Flamingo
130. Long-legged Buzzard
131. PURPLE HERON
132. LITTLE CRAKE
133. Sandwich Tern

Below is a pic of one of the stars of Metochi Lake, plus a wider early morning view inc. a Purple Heron, Moorhen, and (another) Little Crake.
 

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