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China Birds (Nick Sismey) 2008 List (Incudes UK, China, Hong Kong & USA) (1 Viewer)


Nick Sismey
17 April 2008

An early morning walk around Hongqiao Central Park, next to the Renaissance Yangtze Hotel in Shanghai produced a Hwamei feeding young in the middle of a thicket of bamboo



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Nick Sismey
19 April 2008

With one of the earliest Typhoons for 59 years due to hit Guandong Province today I decided to stay in Shanghai until Sunday morning rather than fly down to Guangzhou. Therefore Edward Li, one of my reps, kindly agreed to take me to Binhai near Pudong International Airport, which is a vast area of reclaimed land behind a concrete sea wall. This was our third visit since 2006, and while that first visit in September 2006 was incredible, the second plus this third visit were certainly not much to write home about.

It had taken us over two hours to get there through standing traffic, although I did get to see the Maglev trains speed past at 431KPH for the first time, which was a plus!

At Binhai, the best area was just too full of water for many waders, with us only coming across one flock during the visit (Photo 1). The Black Winged Stilts and Spotted Redshanks in the photo were new-year birds and a lone Turnstone (out of shot) was my first ever in China.

258.Black Winged Stilt------------------Binhai------------------------China
259.Spotted Redshank------------------Binhai------------------------China

Over the sea wall looking along the miles and miles of concrete, keeping a muddy sea at bay, a lone Whimbrel (Photo 2) kept still enough for a reasonable shot despite the buffeting of the wind.


A Wryneck (Photo 3) then put in a surprise appearance, as they always seem to do, watching us for several minutes near the foot of the sea wall.


The birds in the largest numbers were swallows with many resting on the warm sea wall tarmac road. Amongst the more common swallows were several Red Rumped Swallows (Photo 4)

262.Red Rumped Swallow--------------Binhai------------------------China


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Nick Sismey
19 April 2008 (Continued)

After the disappointment of Binhai we headed off to a new site for us both, Gong Qin Forest Park in the North East of Shanghai, which turned out to be a wonderful place on the North Shore of the Huang Po river. While, like all Chinese parks it was full of people, it was much larger than any inner city park I had been in before. It was large enough to contain a theme park with several roller coasters, a horse riding track, a railway and several lakes. It was also true to its name and full of many types of trees.

The best bit though was the fact that there was a moat right around the park, just inside the perimeter wall with plenty of area’s un-kept that were far enough away from the madding crowd. We had to walk along the railway line much of the time to get to these areas but it was certainly worth it, with a gorgeous Narcissus Flycatcher (Photo 1) being the first bird to make me grab for my camera, the first time I had seen one since Xishuangbanna (Yunnan Province) in 2004.

263.Narcissus Flycatcher---------------Shanghai--------------------China

After spending a great deal of time watching this bird another flycatcher caught my eye some distance away on a tree, doing what flycatchers do, catching flys from a branch. Closer examination revealed a lifer, a Grey Streaked Flycatcher (Photo 2), a far duller bird than the Narcissus, by name and colour scheme but a tick all the same! Just as I was trying to get a good view of this latest flycatcher I picked up a Yellow Browed Bunting (Photo 3) feeding on the grass amongst the Tree Sparrows

264.Grey Streaked Flycatcher-------Shanghai-------------------China
265.Yellow Browed Bunting-------------Shanghai-------------------China

The day had certainly picked up by now, although it did attempt to rain a couple of times, no mind we were seeing some great birds. A little further along the moat a pair of Tristram’s Buntings (Photo 4) were moving through the vegetation with the male posing long enough for a photo.

266.Tristram’s Bunting-----------------Shanghai-------------------China

The final bird of the day as dusk fell was another flycatcher, this time a beautiful Blue and White Flycatcher (Photo 5) flitting across the moat.

267.Blue and White Flycatcher---------Shanghai-------------------China

In the end not a bad day, with a big thanks to Edward for doing all the driving at short notice! Not sure what tomorrow will bring, am flying down to Guangzhou with the remnants of the Typhoon still producing torrential rain so it looks like any birding may be out of the question. Therefore all hopes are on next weekend in Hong Kong, with fingers and everything else crossed!


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Nick Sismey
20 April 2008

Following a morning flight from Shanghai to Guangzhou I met up with another of my reps Roger Xie and an old birding friend, Lool at Zhong Shan University. She had already been birding there that morning with a couple more birders so they were just finishing lunch as we arrived.

It was extremely humid but there was no sign of the typhoon that had passed through the previous two days. A Common Tailorbird started the afternoon off. Later we saw the reason the bird carries such a name, a large neatly stitched leaf forming its nest.

268.Common Tailorbird---------------Guangzhou--------------------China

While searching for flycatchers, two Dollarbirds (Photo 1 – Top Left) caught our attention flying around the top of the trees. I couldn’t get a good photo of the Dollarbirds, or three other new birds that afternoon, as it was so dark, so I put them all together in Photo 1.


Minutes later a splendid Mugimaki Flycatcher (Photo 2) appeared high up in a tree, the first time I had seen one of these since 2006 in Guilin

270.Mugimaki Flycatcher------------Guangzhou---------------------China

In the same tree was what turned out to be a lifer, an Eastern Crowned Warbler, a nice addition to the day!

271.Eastern Crowned Warbler-------Guangzhou-----------------China

We then moved to another part of the campus where we found a Siberian Blue Robin (Photo 1 – Top Right) skulking in the darkest undergrowth. I also added a Red Whiskered Bulbul to my China year list in the same area.

272.Siberian Blue Robin----------------Guangzhou-----------------China

Our final stop in the campus was a bamboo garden, where it was reported that there were 120 different varieties of bamboo growing. They all looked the same to me, but I am sure a panda would have spotted the difference. Here I picked up two more birds, an innocuous Pale Legged Leaf Warbler (Photo 1 – Bottom Right) flicking its tail continuously and a lovely Yellow Rumped Flycatcher (Photo 1 – Bottom Left)

273.Pale Legged Leaf Warbler----------Guangzhou-----------------China
274.Yellow Rumped Flycatcher---------Guangzhou-----------------China

Just as we were preparing to leave a baby Japanese White Eye (Photo 3) caught our attention on a branch, what a great chap!!


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Nick Sismey
24 April 2008

An evening walk from the Sheraton Hotel under cloudless skies in Xian to the Fengqing Park produced a single Common Swift. There was also a male Red Throated Flycatcher in a corner of the park, but I had already seen one in winter plumage in Sanya earlier this year



Nick Sismey
25 April 2008

A short walk around Grand China Express airline’s site, next to Xian airport, produced the first Grey Capped Greenfinch of the year

276.Grey Capped Greenfinch-------------Xian------------------------China


Nick Sismey
26 April 2008

Having flown from Xian to Hong Kong last night, staying with one of my reps, Shou Ke, another rep Jason Zhang drove me to Hong Kong’s most famous birding site Mai Po. It was overcast with a gentle breeze, keeping the temperature comfortable,

On the way we had to call on Mike Kilburn, a fellow BirdForum member (MkinHK) who had kindly offered to lend me his scope, at a small village not far from Tai Po. After getting lost, and I mean really lost, a couple of times we finally met up with Mike and his wife.

Scope in hand Jason and I set off for Mai Po. As we drove down the narrow lane towards the wetland paradise we noticed several birders on the side of the road watching something in a fishpond. Many of them were from the Hong Kong Birding Watching Society. I was soon guided to a splendid Pheasant Tailed Jacana (Photo 1), what a bird to start off the day! Then came two lifers in quick succession, perched in tall grass in the same pond were several Pale Martins (split from Sand Martins), with a Pacific Swift buzzing us overhead, the day couldn’t have started better!

277.Pheasant Tailed Jacana---------Mai Po-------------------Hong Kong
278.Pale Martin-------------------Mai Po-------------------Hong Kong
279.Pacific Swift-------------------Mai Po-------------------Hong Kong

There were many Yellow Wagtails (Photo 2), Little Egrets (Photo 3) and Black Crowned Night Herons (Photo 4) around, all of which I had already seen this year, although not in Hong Kong.

A couple of Great White Egrets were chasing each other in the next fishpond, while a very tame White Breasted Waterhen posed for photographs.

280.Great White Egret---------------Mai Po------------------Hong Kong
281.White Breasted Waterhen--------Mai Po------------------Hong Kong


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Nick Sismey
26 April 2008 (continued)

Suddenly a shout went up and we all rushed over to the far side of a fishpond, there on a tree was yet another lifer, a gorgeous Chestnut Bunting (Photo 1)!

282.Chestnut Bunting----------------Mai Po---------------Hong Kong

Before my next year bird a couple more new birds for Hong Kong in 2008, a White Shouldered Starling (Photo 2) and an Azure Winged Magpie (Photo 3). While sorting out the payment, to enter the Mai Po reserve in the Visitor Centre, several Masked Laughingthrush (Photo 4) noisily made their way across the car park.

283.Masked Laughingthrush-----------Mai Po----------------Hong Kong

Signing in just before me was John, an American birder working for The Boeing Company. He had never been to Mai Po before so we teamed up, guided at times by various very helpful local birders.

Just inside the reserve, which required three more people to process our paperwork at the AFCD Nature Warden Office, a wonderful Koel (Photo 5) welcomed us through the gates, with its rapid fire Ko-el call that got faster and faster until the bird give up and then started again!

284.Koel------------------------------Mai Po----------------Hong Kong


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Nick Sismey
26 April 2008 (continued)

Just as we were walking towards the first hide, Tower Hide, which had three floors, a beautiful Yellow Breasted Bunting alighted on top of a distant tree, a lifer for both John and I. Once in the hide, which looked over a large expanse of water, with two or three grass covered islands, we both added yet another lifer, an Oriental Plover, a relatively rare bird in Hong Kong.

285.Yellow Breasted Bunting---------Mai Po--------------Hong Kong
286.Oriental Plover-------------------Mai Po--------------Hong Kong

With this particular area not being too productive, we moved on to the main lagoon, which promised many more birds with it being high tide in Deep Bay. The sight from the first hide on this lagoon blew us away, such was the shear number of birds!

Plovers were plentiful with both Greater Sand Plover and Kentish Plover walking along one of the spits, while Red Necked Stints busied themselves on the edge of the water.

287.Greater Sand Plover----------------Mai Po--------------Hong Kong
288.Kentish Plover---------------------Mai Po---------------Hong Kong
289.Red Necked Stint------------------Mai Po---------------Hong Kong

Our 50th bird of the day was a Redshank, at 1243 hours, but clearly we were going to increase this by many more ticks!

Curlew Sandpiper where gathered in their hundreds while the occasional Broad Billed Sandpiper made a appearance with their very distinctive bold white supercilium. Far Eastern Curlews were mixed in with the smaller Curlew, in good numbers.

290.Curlew Sandpiper------------------Mai Po---------------Hong Kong
291.Broad Billed Sandpiper-------------Mai Po---------------Hong Kong
292.Far Eastern Curlew----------------Mai Po----------------Hong Kong

A Little Bunting (Photo 1) suddenly appeared on a post outside the hide, another first for Hong Kong in 2008, while a Gull Billed Tern (Photo 2) was flying around overhead

293.Gull Billed Tern-------------------Mai Po-----------------Hong Kong

Another birder, who had just arrived from another of the hides we could see off to the left, gave us an overview of what was showing well from that hide. We quickly made our way round to that hide where we picked up several Little Tern mixed in with the larger Gull Billed. At the same time a Garganey (Photo 3) floated passed in front of the hide, while a large number of Asian Dowitchers (Photo 4) were feeding in their very distinctive style down below us.

294.Little Tern-----------------------Mai Po-----------------Hong Kong
295.Garganey------------------------Mai Po-----------------Hong Kong
296.Asian Dowitcher-----------------Mai Po-----------------Hong Kong

Neither John or I were sure how we had missed them, but there were also two much larger Caspian Terns (Photo 5) amongst all the birds on one of the larger spits!

297.Caspian Tern--------------------Mai Po-----------------Hong Kong


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Nick Sismey
26 April 2008 (continued)

A lady birder was down the far end of this very long hide, who was busy photographing the huge number of waders out on the scrape. She called us over to see a Sharp Tailed Sandpiper (Photo 1) amongst the plethora of Curlew Sandpiper.

298. Sharp Tailed Sandpiper---------Mai Po--------------------Hong Kong

Seconds later we were able to add another bird to our list, with several Terek Sandpiper (Photo 2) getting themselves ready to leave the lagoon for the mudflats, just over the mangrove to our left.

299.Terek Sandpiper----------------Mai Po--------------------Hong Kong

Thanks to Mike’s scope I was able the differentiate the Lesser Sand Plover from the Greater, to add another bird to the year list, my 300th bird in 2008 and before the end of April, by far and away my best ever start to a year!

300.Lesser Sand Plover-------------Mai Po--------------------Hong Kong

The lady joined us as we then made our way through the heavily fortified security fence (Shenzhen, China, is just across Deep Bay) at the edge of the mangrove and along the boardwalk to check out what was out on the mud flats. The walk was a lot further than I remembered, with a new boardwalk branching off to the right after several hundred yards of bouncing along narrow wooden planks balanced on floating oil drums, taking us to a much larger hide than the one had we continued to the left, on the board walk.

The tide had already retreated a long way out and with it so had the birds. I did manage to pick out a sleeping Black Faced Spoonbill in the distance. The photograph below of a flock (Photo 3) was as John and I made our way out of the reserve a little later. The final year bird was a lone Collared Crow (Photo 4) that briefly settled on a stick out in the mud!

301.Black Faced Spoonbill-------------Mai Po------------------Hong Kong
302.Collared Crow--------------------Mai Po------------------Hong Kong

When I had photographed the Spoonbill John and I were on a mission, as we needed to get back to the Visitor Centre before 1700 hours to claim back our 200 Yuan deposits. Although we arrived 5 minutes late it was still open so we could relax. We also picked up the Mai Po emblem on the way to the Visitor Centre, a Pied Kingfisher.

As we waited for Jason (Photo 5) to take us back to downtown Hong Kong we picked up our 82nd and last bird of the day, a Grey Wagtail. By the time Jason had picked us up I was shattered and ready for a meal. It had however been a superb day, one of my best at Mai Po, a big thanks to all who helped John and I record such a large list, to Jason for taxiing us about and Mike for the lone of his scope. The full list of birds is shown below: -

Asian Dowitcher, Avocet, Azure Winged Magpie, Black Collared Starling, Black Crowned Night Heron, Black Drongo, Black Eared Kite, Black Faced Spoonbill, Black Tailed Godwit, Black Winged Stilt, Blackbird, Broad Billed Sandpiper, Caspian Tern, Cattle Egret, Chestnut Bunting, Chinese Bulbul, Chinese Pond Heron, Collared Crow, Collared Dove, Common Myna, Common Sandpiper, Crested Myna, Curlew, Curlew Sandpiper, Far Eastern Curlew, Garganey, Great Tit, Great White Egret, Greater Coucal, Greater Sand Plover, Greenshank, Grey Heron, Grey Plover, Grey Streaked Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail, Gull Billed Tern, Japanese Flycatcher, Kentish Plover, Kingfisher, Knot, Koel, Large Billed Crow, Lesser Sandplover, Little Bunting, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Little Tern, Long Toed Stint, Magpie, Magpie Robin, Masked Laughingthrush, Moorehen, Oriental Plover, Osprey, Pacific Golden Plover, Pacific Swift, Pale Martin, Pheasant Tailed Jacana, Pied Kingfisher, Red Necked Stint, Red Whiskered Bulbul, Redshank, Richard’s Pipit, Scaly Breasted Munia, Sharp Tailed Sandpiper, Shoveler, Spotted Dove, Spotted Redshank, Swallow, Terek Sandpiper, Tree Sparrow, Turnstone, Whimbrel, White Breasted Waterhen, White Shouldered Starling, White Throated Kingfisher, White Wagtail, Wigeon, Wood Sandpiper, Yellow Bellied Prinia, Yellow Breasted Bunting, Yellow Wagtail.


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Nick Sismey
27 April 2008

By 0800 hours Jason and Shou Ke had dropped me off at the harbour at Aberdeen, on Hong Kong Island, where I met up with a number of the birders (Photo 1) that I had met at Mai Po yesterday.

The boat, organised by the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, left harbour with forty souls on board for the island of Po Toi at 0830. As well as locals there were teachers from the USA and Canada on the boat, with everyone keen to ensure we all had a good time!

The sea was quiet apart from Black Eared Kite, although just as we started to approach the island a magnificent White Bellied Sea Eagle (Photo 2) flew past, which was bettered by a lifer a few minutes later, on a small outcrop of rock about a mile from Po Toi, a Pacific Reef Egret!

303.White Bellied Sea Eagle-------------Po Toi------------------Hong Kong
304.Pacific Reef Egret----------------Po Toi-----------------Hong Kong

Landing on Po Toi, the island was extremely busy as there was a dragon boat race festival taking place. We soon moved in land picking up an Arctic Warbler deep in undergrowth. Above the forest canopy a Chinese Sparrowhawk was patrolling on the look out for migrants.

305.Arctic Warbler---------------------Po Toi-------------------Hong Kong
306.Chinese Sparrowhawk--------------Po Toi-------------------Hong Kong

Before we returned to the boat for an expedition out into the shipping lanes, looking for sea birds, I made a quick jaunt up towards the exposed headland, where I picked up a Brown Shrike (Photo 3) sharing a bush with a Chinese Bulbul.

307.Brown Shrike----------------------Po Toi------------------Hong Kong

After about an hour at sea a piece of polystyrene proved to be an ideal platform for terns (Photo 4) to rest, with three different species resting on the first, not bad considering there were only three birds! Actually it wouldn’t be until that evening, when Mike Kilburn and I checked out my photos over a Chinese meal, that we actually realised I had picked up a Roseate Tern (at rear), sharing the raft with a Common (front) and Little Tern.

308.Roseate Tern---------------------Po Toi------------------Hong Kong

Minutes later and with the sea getting quite rough, making it difficult to balance on the boat, we came across another polystyrene raft, which produced yet another species of tern and what’s more a lifer, an Aleutian Tern (Photo 5).

309.Aleutian Tern-------------------Po Toi-------------------Hong Kong


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Nick Sismey
27 April 2008 (continued)

Then the birds just dried up for nearly 45 minutes, and I could see folk all around me falling asleep. I had had forty winks earlier, when the boat was rolling at its worse, so felt a bit more alert now. I noticed yet another tern some way off on another raft. Once we got the boat to turn round and check the bird out, most of the birders were awake and ready to go again.

The bird turned out to be a Great Crested Tern (Photo 1 & 2), another lifer. I was very pleased with these two action shots so make no excuses for including both below.

310.Great Crested Tern--------------Po Toi-------------Hong Kong

Following this find there were suddenly more birds around with another lifer quickly following. Several Black Naped Terns (Photo 3) crossed over the top of the boat while down on the sea a tiny Red Necked Phalarope (Photo 4) was swimming in tight circles.

311.Black Naped Tern----------------Po Toi--------------Hong Kong
312.Red Necked Phalarope--------------Po Toi--------------Hong Kong

These birds came into view as we had changed course to that originally set as a keen eyed birder at the bow of the boat had spotted what he believed to be a frigatebird, flying with two kites. As we gained on the bird the level of anticipation increased ten fold, there had only ever been two previous sightings of a frigatebird in these waters so this would be a real coup.

Sure enough it was indeed a frigatebird, with consensus being that it was a juvenile Great Frigatebird (Photo 5), another lifer. It must have been one of the most photographed frigatebirds in history with much hi-fiving going on by all!

313.Great Frigatebird----------------Po Toi---------------Hong Kong

No one was complaining that we were 30 mins late into port, as it had turned out to be an excellent trip.


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Nick Sismey
27 April 2008 (continued)

Having thanked the organisers for arranging the day Jason was there to pick me up. Our final destination of the day was Hong Kong Park to tick off two certainties the Yellow Crested Cockatoo (Photo 1) and Rose Ringed Parakeet (Photo 2).

I have also added two of the more common birds to the list of photo’s below, the Black Eared Kite (Photo 3) and Red Whiskered Bulbul (Photo 4) as I hadn’t managed to take any reasonable photo’s of then earlier.

314.Yellow Crested Cockatoo-----------Hong Kong Park----------Hong Kong
315. Rose Ringed Parakeet-------------Hong Kong Park----------Hong Kong

Following a meal with Jason, Shou Ke, Mike and his wife I headed off to the airport to write all of this up and sort out all of the photographs. I can now crash out for the rest of the night flight home, with the knowledge that I have just had one of my best birding weekends for a long time, thanks to all of above. Time for lights out!


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Nick Sismey
28 April 2008

Arriving home, in Derby, by 0930 hours, from Heathrow, it was a quick rush round to sort everything out and then a dash to the River Derwent in Pride Park for an hours birding before my wife arrived home for lunch, to find if more of our summer visitors had arrived..

I wasn’t disappointed, both Sedge Warbler (Photo 1) and Whitethroat (Photo 2) were calling in brambles along the footpath.

316.Sedge Warbler-------------------Derby----------------------England


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Nick Sismey
02 May 08

A pleasant Friday evening led to another visit to the gravel pits at Willington, near Burton-upon-Trent, where I picked up my first UK Swifts of the year before hearing a Reed Warbler (Photo 1) in a bush close to the bank of a small pit.

318.Reed Warbler-----------------Willington----------------------England

Then it was a good walk to the canal pit to add a Curlew Sandpiper to my UK list before finally finding a Lesser Whitethroat (Photo 2) deep inside a hedge, hence the rather dark photo!

319.Lesser Whitethroat------------Willington-----------------------England


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Nick Sismey
03 May 08

Checking Birdguides, mid afternoon, indicated both Long Eaton and Attenborough were worth a visit, again the weather was fine, warm and sunny.

Just as I got out of the car, at the gravel pits near Long Eaton, I suddenly had a feeling that I hadn’t put my flash card back in my camera. Sure enough I hadn’t, so I quickly made sure I saw the two Black Terns (Photo 1) before returning home for the flash card. Back at Long Eaton the birds were so difficult to photograph as they were so far away and continually on the move. I certainly need more practice!

320.Black Tern--------------------Willington----------------------England

Next stop, Attenborough where there had been reports of a Cattle Egret (Photo 2). There were many birders searching for the bird, which hadn’t been seen for a couple of hours, when I arrived. It was sharing its time between a field know as Wheatear Field, the meadows on the south side of the river Trent and a roost in another area of the reserve.

After a while I decided to wonder around the reserve. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time as the bird flew over the river Trent just as I came into an open area along a tree lined bund between two pits. This was an all time new UK bird for me, taking my UK year list to 170.


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Nick Sismey
04 May 08

It had been drizzling on and off all day today, but was still very warm and so the occasional shower at Willington, late afternoon, actually kept you cool.

In the middle of one of the large grass fields, perched on top of some dead sedge was a splendid male Whinchat, which was far too far away to even attempt a photo.


Later, as dusk began to fall, I finally caught up with my first Garden Warbler (Photo 1) of the year, singing to its hearts content in one of the hedges down the bottom of the reserves narrow main drag.

322.Garden Warbler---------------Willington---------------------England

There was also a Marsh Harrier quartering one of the distant reed beds.


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Nick Sismey
05 May 2008

It had promised rain early Sunday morning, however arriving at the Goyt Valley north of Buxton at 0645 it was very misty but the rain had held off, at least initially.

Having just left the road to Whaley Bridge, and heading down the steep lane towards the damn, a Tree Pipit (Photo 1, taken later) was calling on top of a tree.

323.Tree Pipit-------------------Goyt Valley----------------------England

The damn was quiet, not a Common Sandpiper in sight (well my sight anyway!), so I drove over the damn and turned left, across the bridge, passed the first car park, up through the wood and parked up where some New Age Travellers were just waking from a late night. That was when the heavens opened, but only for a few minutes before all was calm again.

Walking back through the woods a male Pied Flycatcher (Photo 2) was calling, with a female (Photo 3) in attendance.

324.Pied Flycatcher-------------Goyt Valley----------------------England

Having crossed the river to the west of the reservoir a pair of Redstarts dropped from a tree onto the grass verge and then immediately crossed the road and disappeared into the wood.

325.Redstart---------------------Goyt Valley----------------------England

After five hours in the Goyt Valley next stop was the disused Danebower Quarry just into Cheshire along A54 towards Congleton. As I arrived on the narrow track on the opposite side of the valley to quarry I met a fellow birder just leaving the area, who said it was his third visit there this year without seeing any Ring Ouzels (Photo 4). A couple of minutes later I spoke with another couple who said they had not seen any either but that someone earlier had seen one about a mile along the track.

Just as I set off, not more than ten minutes after I spoke to the first guy, I heard a bird call from the other side of the valley, my binoculars picking up a male on top of the large boulders. I whistled to the couple and they got onto the bird and then I dashed back to the lay bye to see if the other guy was still there, he had left!

Back on the track the couple were still on the bird. I then made my way round to the quarry where I was lucky enough to see both a male and female, snapping some reasonable shots of the male singing.

326.Ring Ouzel-----------------Danebower Quarry---------------England

A long day, but still back home by 3pm with some good birds ticked off for the year.


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Nick Sismey
09 May 2008

Having risen at the unearthly hour of 3:15am Steve Whiteley and I visited World’s End, a moorland site near Wrexham in Wales in search for Black Grouse (Photo 1).

Having arrived at 6am it would take 40 minutes or so before we heard the first call, and then suddenly three birds took to the sky, which was especially pleasing to me as this was a lifer!

327.Black Grouse-----------------World’s End-----------------Wales

We also saw a male on the lek, although we could not get close enough to photograph it, it was still a wonderful spectacle!

Our first Hobby of the year then flew across in front of us

328.Hobby--------------------------World’s End-----------------Wales

We had earlier parked the car at the edge of a wood that descended down into a valley. As we returned to the car, in the pine trees on the edge of the wood families of Crossbill (Photo 2), with young, were sharing the pine cones with Redpoll and Siskin. While I had previously seen Crossbill in China a couple of years ago this was the first time in the UK, the Redpoll were also new for the year

329.Crossbill-------------------------World’s End----------------Wales
330.Redpoll--------------------------World’s End----------------Wales

There were several Cuckoo’s (Photo 3) calling during the morning, however it wasn’t until later that I spotted my first for the year

331.Cuckoo-------------------------World’s End----------------Wales

Although I had already seen several Stonechats (Photo 4) this year this particular bird was very accommodating as far as allowing me to photograph it!

Arriving home 12 hours after the alarm had gone off, it was a great day, with some excellent birds.


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Nick Sismey
10 May 2008

Another very early start today as David Salisbury, Steve Whiteley and I were doing a “dawn ‘til dusk” bird race, where all three of us had to see the bird for it to count. Steve was joining us for the first time, with our record to beat being 110, set in 2006.

The first bird on our list was a Blackbird at 0450, as we left the village of Manthorpe in Lincolnshire for Rutland Water.

At Rutland Water we initially birded from the car park at the Egleton based Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre and then around the actual centre. By 0520 the list was up to 25 birds with my first new 2008 UK bird, a Common Sandpiper being spotted 5 minutes later.

It would be another hour before I added another bird, a Yellow Legged Gull, to either my UK or World 2008 list, by which time our tally for the day stood at 52.

332.Yellow Legged Gull--------------Rutland Water---------------England

Having gone as far as visiting Fieldfare hide, on the south side of the reserve we then left Egleton and drove to Hambleton Wood where there was another birder already watching the Nightingales. We had a quick look in the wood, but being after 8am we were too late to hear them singing (Note for 2009!) so returned to where the other birder was and after about 20 minutes a Nightingale hopped onto the fence, our 68th bird of the day.

333.Nightingale--------------------Rutland Water-----------------England

The Osprey, at Manton Bay was our 71st bird, although it very nearly wasn’t! I was the first to get to the viewing area, near the bridge, and identified the bird sitting on the Osprey platform as a Cormorant. Therefore Dave and Steve didn’t bother checking. For some reason I decided to check again a few minutes later and formerly announced that my Cormorant was in fact an Osprey. I would live to regret my drop off throughout the day, thanks to continuous digs from Steve and Dave about my bird identification prowess!

Eyebrook Reservoir added two more birds to the day’s tally, a local birder helping us with a Yellow Wagtail, but the guaranteed Little Owl failed to show!

Next stop was Lakenheath on the Suffolk/Norfolk border via Welney. By the time we arrived in the very full car park at Lakenheath, on what was a scorching hot day, our tally had reached 77, picking up a few on the way.

Walking along the main bank with the lagoons to our right we picked up a preening Garganey, another one for my 2008 UK list.

While the quantity of new birds at Lakenheath was not high, the quality certainly was. Although we had seen our first Hobby of the day at Welney, you could not ignore the fact that there were at least 20 birds flying over the reed beds here. It must be one of the best places for Hobbys in the UK!

Down at the far end of the reserve, overlooking a very large reed bed someone advised they had seen a Common Crane 15 minutes earlier. Some 10 minutes later two flew up to add to our list.

334.Common Crane-----------------Lakenheath------------------England

This was the also the only time I took a photo worth including in this update, a Reed Warbler.

Having also heard a Bittern booming, we then camped out near one of the poplar plantations where the Golden Oriole were reported to have been seen, although not for a couple of hours. After 20 minutes the female called, followed quickly by the male. Dave surprised both Steve and I with his ability to mimic the male bird’s call, so much so that the bird was responding to Dave and came to the edge of the wood for all to see, along with the female. Although it was a brief view, the male’s bright yellow plumage stood out well against the poplar leaves. A new all time UK bird for me, and a lifer for Dave!

335.Golden Oriole---------------Lakenheath---------------------England

Then it was the short drive to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Weeting Heath where the next year bird was a Spotted Flycatcher flitting between the pine trees outside the west hide, followed by a distant, sleeping Stone Curlew out on the grass heath. Try as we might we just couldn’t latch onto a calling Goldcrest, the second time we had dipped on the bird during the day, always a problem bird on one of these trips for some reason!

336.Spotted Flycatcher--------Weeting Heath-------------------England
337.Stone Curlew-------------Weeting Heath--------------------England

Next stop was Choseley drying barns, having dipped on Montagu’s Harrier on the way, where Corn Bunting were our 90th bird of the day. We also heard Quail as well as seeing a Wheatear on the pile of rubble and a Little Owl sitting uncharacteristically out in the middle of a stony field!

Before moving onto Titchwell we continued along the road, past the barns at the top of the hill, to the first right hand corner at the bottom of the hill where there were a number of other birders. They included a friend of Steve’s who had also been on his recent birding trip to Ecuador! The reason they were all there was because of the 7 Dotterel feeding in the adjacent field, lifers for both Dave and I. What stunning birds, it was such a shame we needed to move on!


At Titchwell, Little Gull was my next 2008 UK bird, where Steve gave me an old fashioned look when I questioned whether the bird was in fact a Little Gull, my inexperience caught me out again, those dark under wings confirming Steve was of course correct!

The bird ticks came in quick and fast then with Wigeon taking us through 100 for the day.

When you are on one of these bird races you are thankful for any support from other birders, so when we came across one guy intently watching a small wader at the far end of the fresh water marsh we had to ask what he was looking at. We were pleased we had as it turned out to be a Temminck’s Stint, which we would never have spotted otherwise, an excellent year bird let alone day bird!

339.Temminck’s Stint-----------------Titchwell-------------------England

As we made our way to the beach we were closing in on our previous record of 110. We came across a couple on the path who couldn’t understand why we were doing a bird race, indicating that we were rather sad! We didn’t have time to argue so Steve and I politely made our apologies for not stopping to chat and moved onto the wooden platform at the top of the beach. The tide was out but there were still plenty of new birds for our list.

As we started to reach our previous record we realised that Dave had in fact stopped to chat to our friends on the path, so the shout went up for him to catch us up rather quickly! Once the team was back up to full strength Little Tern equalled our previous record, and was another tick for my UK year list.

Then it was high fives all round as Common Scoter took us to 111. There had been reports of Velvet Scoter but we failed to spot any. Curlew was the 112th bird before we set off for the cliffs at Hunstanton for the 113th, Fulmar resting on the sea.

The last stop, as the light was fading, was Dersingham Bog; we dipped on Golden Pheasant on the way. There, the penultimate bird of the day was a whistling Woodcock before we descended the old sea cliff onto the bog to pick up the most mystical bird of the day. Almost immediately a Nightjar started chirring and minutes later the sound of wing claps and flashes of white brought our attention to the bird, as it flew across the dimly lit bog.

A Grasshopper Warbler was also calling but the light had faded so much it was impossible to see, and the bugs were bighting so it was time to head back to the car and hope for possible owls on the way home. No luck there so the Nightjar, at 2112 hours was the 115th and last bird of a very long, hot and successful day. It was also my 194th UK bird of the year.


Thanks to Dave and Steve for their great company, I look forward to a repeat in 2009, where 120 must be the next target, and for the couple who thought we were sad, yes we may be but the adrenalin rush for that next day tick is something that should be experienced by all at least once. Having successfully motor raced all over the country for 20 years, I have experienced many adrenalin rushes, particularly when fighting for the lead or trying to knock that extra tenth of a second off a qualifying lap time. Birding can give you just that same feeling, but (hopefully) without the inherent dangers!

Our full list of birds for the day is shown below: -

Avocet, Bearded Tit, Black Headed Gull, Black Tern, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Brent Goose, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Common Crane, Common Gull, Common Sandpiper, Common Scoter, Common Tern, Coot, Cormorant, Corn Bunting, Cuckoo, Curlew, Dotterel, Dunlin, Dunnock, Egyptian Goose, Feral Pigeon, Fulmar, Gadwall, Garden Warbler, Garganey, Golden Oriole, Goldfinch, Great Black Blacked Gull, Great Crested Grebe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Green Woodpecker, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Plover, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Hobby, House Martin, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Kestrel, Lapwing, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Lesser Whitethroat, Linnet, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Little Gull, Little Owl, Little Ringed Plover, Little Tern, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Meadow Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Moorehen, Mute Swan, Nightingale, Nightjar, Osprey, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pintail, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Red Legged Partridge, Redshank, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Ringed Plover, Robin, Rook, Sand Martin, Sanderling, Sedge Warbler, Shelduck, Shoveler, Skylark, Song Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Starling, Stockdove, Stone Curlew, Swallow, Swift, Teal, Temminck's Stint,Tree Sparrow, Tufted Duck, Turnstone, Wheatear, Whitethroat, Wigeon, Willow Warbler, Woodcock, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellow Legged Gull, Yellow Wagtail, Yellowhammer.


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