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


Nick Sismey
11 May 2008

Sunday was another glorious day, except around Bempton Cliffs, where the blue sky was blocked out by dense sea fog. So much so that the spectacle of thousands of sea birds turned into a damp squib with only a few birds visible at the top of the cliffs.

The first new-year birds were Razorbill (Photo 1) and Guillemot (Photo 2), including the Bridled sub species.

342.Guillemot --------------------Bempton------------------------England

A further walk along the cliff top produced Gannet (Photo 3), but little else as the fog seemed to be getting worse.

343.Gannet ----------------------Bempton-----------------------England

In search of Puffin I then headed to Flamborough Head, similarly cloaked in fog, the deafening fog horn nearly knocking you off your feet. After a great deal of searching I finally found two white faced birds to the right of the lighthouse huddled together at the top of a grass covered island, just off the coast.

344.Puffin-------------------------Flamborough Head-------------England

This was my 198th UK bird of the year, just two off my goal. The earliest I have reached 200 birds in the UK in a year before was in September 2006, so the target is to smash that by the end of May!

Within a mile of Flamborough it was perfect sunshine again!


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Nick Sismey
17 May 2008

An evening drive to Aston-on-Trent gravel pits produced my 199th UK bird of the year a Wood Sandpiper that had been reported on Bird Guides. Being only allowed to view from the gravel pit slip road, off the A50, I usually fail to pick up any bird advertised there, so was pleased for once to hit the jackpot!

Was also pleased to hear from all of my bird watching friends around Chengdu that they are all ok after the terrible earthquake.
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Nick Sismey
23 May 2008

Spent a very pleasent couple of hours this evening along the River Trent near the village of Ingleby watching and photography a lifer that was also my 200th UK bird of the year, a splendid female Red Footed Falcon.

The bird was in an arable field across from some caves (which I had never heard of before!) called Anchor Church! The biggest battle was dealing with a heard of bullocks that took a liking to our tripods! One advantage however was that the cattle hid us from the bird which came to within 30 yards of us at times while continually feeding.

What a way to hit my target of 200 UK birds in a year. My previous record for reaching 200 was September 2006, so this beats it by some way! My record for UK birds in a year is 205, again in 2006, so that should be beatable this year!

The photo's were all taken at 1600 ASA to try and get the speed up but they are still not brilliant, more practice required!

345.Red Footed Falcon----------------Ingleby-----------------England


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Nick Sismey
07 June 2008

After a two week break, it was back to birding again today, with Steve Whiteley and I visiting the picturesque Padley Gorge near Grindleford in the Derbyshire Peak District, with it’s wonderful hanging Oak trees and peat stained stream. Arriving at 9am, this was my first visit to the area, we were in search of Wood Warbler (Photo1), which Steve had seen there a couple of weeks earlier. Redstarts and Pied Flycatcher were in abundance but it took us a good hour before we heard our first Wood Warbler. Once we had tracked it down we had excellent views, but it was so dark it was difficult to photograph, the attached the best of a bad bunch.

346.Wood Warbler-----------------Padley Gorge---------------England

We then made a quick trip to Danebower Quarry, just over the Cheshire boarder, for Steve to pick up his first Ring Ouzel of the year. As with my previous visit there were a pair of birds, but this time feeding young. There was also a number of Wheatear (Photo 2).

Next stop is Helsinki on Monday, where I have a five-hour stop over on the way to Beijing, so am hoping to make a quick trip to the Haltiala primeval forest in the city’s Central Park.

Once in Beijing, on Tuesday, it is a quick trip to BaiHe to look for Ibisbill, and then the following weekend trips out around Guangzhou.


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Nick Sismey
09 June 2008

With a five hour stop over in Helsinki (my first visit to Finland) I made a quick trip to Central Park. However it was too far to walk to the Haltiala primeval forest, it was so remote I was more worried about finding a taxi back to the airport (I would never have lived it down if I had missed my flight!) than birding, which was a shame as I am sure there was some good birding to be had.

The first bird I saw as I got out of the taxi, into a mixed woodland, was a Spotted Flycatcher and then, the first time I had seen them in June, a family of Fieldfare, closely followed by two Redwings, very strange!

I probably only walked a kilometre or so before returning to where I had been dropped off, where a kind soul helped me to order a taxi. While I was waiting for the taxi a Hooded Crow flew past, so I could at least add one bird to my year list!

347.Hooded Crow--------Central Park (Helsinki)------------Finland

I picked up a few more birds waiting for the taxi and on the way to the airport so my Finland bird list sits at 17!

Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Common Gull, Fieldfare, Great Tit, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lapwing, Magpie, Pied Wagtail, Redwing, Robin, Spotted Flycatcher, Starling.


Nick Sismey
10 June 2008

Arriving at the new Terminal 3 in Beijing, built especially for the Olympics, for the first time, colleague Yan Shen picked me up and we headed straight for Baihegu two hours away, up in the mountains; our quest, the elusive Ibisbill, which would be a lifer.

Xiaoming, a fellow BirdForum member had kindly e-mailed the best places to see the bird to both Yan and I. It was a glorious day, although typically hazy. Once in the mountains we headed for the rock strewn mountain stream. There were very few places the river ran free as the majority had been damned into small lakes.

Before we arrived at one of the designated spots, an Ibisbill (Photo’s 1 & 2) flew passed us landing just along the stream from us. Stopping the car we were able to get pretty close before it flew off again. What a bird, the fact that I had had only three hours of sleep on the flight from Helsinki were soon forgotten!


As the Ibisbill flew off another bird started to call from the bushes on the side of the mountain, a Meadow Bunting (Photo 3) being even more accommodating, I even had to switch my lens setting from 8.5 metres to 3.5 metres I got so close!

349.Meadow Bunting --------------Baihegu---------------------------China

Above the Meadow Bunting my third and final new bird of the day was feeding amongst the mountain rock flora, a Godlewski’s Bunting (Photo 4). I also added a Pheasant to my China year list.

350.Godlewski’s Bunting------------Baihegu---------------------------China

A great way to keep awake, spotting a lifer (we saw three in the end) in a wonderfully peaceful location up in the mountains. A big thank you to Xiaoming and Yan.


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Nick Sismey
11 June 2008

On the way back to the hotel, after work today, Yan Shen, another colleague Fred Li and I spent an hour on the northeastern edge of Beijing walking the fields and small spinneys. As often happens with birding there was a surprise to be had, a family of White Backed Woodpeckers were busying themselves in the trees near a small village, what a start, a lifer!

351.White Backed Woodpecker------------Beijing---------------China

Minutes later I picked up my 440th China Life bird, three Willow Tits, followed closely by a Grey Capped Woodpecker, new to 2008. We failed to hear the Indian Cuckoo or Black Naped Oriole we had seen there two years ago, almost to the day, but Beijing is spreading so fast now this area really isn’t what it used to be.

352.Grey Capped Woodpecker-------------Beijing--------------------China

However not bad for a quick hour’s birding!


Nick Sismey
Thanks first to Terry O'Nolley for also voting for my thread and his nice PM

14 June 2008

A leisurely start to the day, not leaving the China Hotel in Guangzhou until 10am, heading for Xiang Tou Mountain National Nature Reserve 120 km’s to the northeast. It had been raining in Guandong province for the last month and today was no exception. Fellow colleague Roger Xie picked me up together with a local birder I had not met before, Mr Le Weiqiang. It was another hour before we managed to find our way through the metropolis of Guangzhou to pick up “Birdman” Mr Liao Xiaodong, who I had previously met in April.

It was a further two hours before we arrived at Huzhou City in Bolou County and met up with several people who worked in the National Nature Reserve, for a late lunch.

Next stop the mountain. The heavy rain left the road impassable for our vehicle so seven of us piled into a four-wheel drive that took us a short way up the mountain before we had to negotiate the rest by foot.

Luckily the heavy rain held off for the rest of the day, light showers keeping us cool under grey skys, with the temperature still in the high twenties. Almost immediately after climbing out of the 4x4 a Crested Serpent Eagle (Photo 1) glided some distance away, overhead.

353.Crested Serpent Eagle----------------Xiang Tou---------------China

We then walked up a dirt road next to a fast flowing river swollen by the weeks of rain. All around us there were countless types of trees and bushes the whole mountain a wash of green. However there was very little else, the birds particularly very few and far between. It was another 20 minutes before we even hear another bird, a family of Chestnut Bulbuls (Photo 2) calling over the sound of rushing water.

354. Chestnut Bulbul---------------------Xiang Tou----------------China

As we moved up hill we were astonished to see a massive round, dark brown bolder, the size of a five-story building sat right in the middle of the river. It has to be the largest bolder I have ever seen. It must have been some sight (and sound) when that came down the mountain! Later we found more, this time a whole landslide of them that totally covered the river, you couldn’t even see where the river had gone!

Back to the birds: amongst a flock of Grey Cheeked Fulvettas (Photo 3) and Rufous Capped Babblers was a lifer, a sole White Bellied Yuhina, a lovely bird with green upper parts and white below, with a typical Yuhina crest.

355.White Bellied Yuhina----------------Xiang Tou--------------China

We passed several very basic manned hydro electric stations on our way up the track, including a large damn that made you think on the way down what would happen to the valley and us should it burst, with the shear amount of water coming off the mountain. Those thoughts were quickly put aside when a Blue Whistling Thrush (Photo 4) made an appearance on a rock in the river and then three Grey Treepie’s (Photo 5) called noisily from deep inside the forest.

356.Blue Whistling Thrush----------------Xiang Tou-----------------China
357.Grey Treepie------------------------Xiang Tou-----------------China

The rest of the group had left us at the top of the mountain, so Roger, Mr Le and I had to walk all the way back to our car as dusk fell, with black rain laden clouds being kind enough to hold themselves together long enough for us to get safely inside before they unleashed their package!


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Nick Sismey
15 June 2008

A 5am alarm this morning in the Xindu Hotel, Huzhou, a very good hotel considering the mere £11.50 bill for the night. Then a typical local Chinese breakfast outside at small restaurant just up the road. There were patches of blue sky but a heavy rain shower made us aware that a soaking wasn’t far away.

After stocking up on drinks it was off to another part of the Xiang Tou Mountain National Nature Reserve. This time we drove up to a very lucky (for the Chinese) altitude of 888 metres. We had to leave the people carrier a third of the way up the mountain and take the 4x4 to the top. As the 4x4 left us we started our slow walk down the mountain, initially in thick cloud. Again the birds were few and far between until we left the beaten track. Walking along one side of the many ‘U’ shaped concrete irrigation canals that criss-crossed the mountain there were more birds. Then deep in a bamboo forest we heard a Lesser Shortwing, which would be a lifer if I could only see it.

Climbing up into the wet bamboo Mr Le and I sat and waited for the bird. In fact there were two, with one making a couple of appearances as it moved across the floor of the forest. Talk about being one with nature, we looked like we had been on an all day safari when we emerged! We had been so long the rest of the group had returned to the road, but well worth it!

358.Lesser Shortwing--------------Xiang Tou-----------------China

The sun then came out and the temperature soared, just as we negotiated a switch back. Suddenly Birdman stopped having heard a Mountain Tailorbird (Photo 1), again another lifer. This was much easier than the Shortwing, although it moved so fast getting one reasonable shot was a struggle.

359.Mountain Tailorbird------------Xiang Tou-------------------China

It was another three hours before I saw my next year bird. Birdman and I had decided to take the road back while the others took the more direct, but risky, route down one of the many large hydropower water pipes. A flock of Striated Yuhina zapped across the road in front of us.

360.Striated Yuhina------------------Xiang Tou--------------------China

An hour later and with at least another 30 minute walk ahead of us Birdman and I were pleased to see the 4x4 come up and meet us. We joined the rest for lunch were I picked up my last year bird of the day, several Asian House Martins feeding above the forest canopy.

361.Asian House Martin--------------Xiang Tou--------------------China

Then it was the two-hour drive back to Guangzhou, having managed the whole day on the mountain without any rain. As we arrived in Guangzhou we hit a thunderstorm that soon had the roads flooded, the weather was back to normal!

Thanks to Roger, Mr Le and Birdman plus all from the Xiang Tou Mountain National Nature Reserve who helped us over the weekend. There weren’t many birds but the countryside and the company were both great,


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Nick Sismey
23 June 2008

A very pleasent, late evening at Ambaston, just outside Derby watching a fully summer plumaged Black Necked Grebe on the first gravel pit. Beautiful weather and a beautiful bird, my 202nd UK bird of the year.

Thanks to DaveN for spotting my rather large drop off and calling it a Red Necked Grebe when I updated this "late" last night!


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Nick Sismey
5 July 2008

Steve Whiteley (Photo1) and I had a leisurely drive over to Norfolk today, arriving at the Cley visitor centre around 10am. Our first call was at Simmond’s Scrape to look for the Lesser Yellowlegs (Photo 2) that had been around for a couple of weeks. We were not disappointed as the bird showed well, moving between the Simmond’s Scrape and Pat’s Pool, although it was never close enough to get a good photo. This was the first time I had seen a Lesser Yellowlegs since 1988 in Tobago, and was a first for the UK, taking my UK Life list to 248.

362.Lesser Yellowlegs-------------Cley-Next-The-Sea-------------England

While watching the Lesser Yellowlegs a Redshank (Photo 3) was perched very close to the hide, defending its nest.

We then drove down to the new car park along the A149 towards Salthouse and walked along the East Bank to the shingle beach. Up to five Marsh Harriers (Photo 4) were quartering the reed beds, as were many juvenile Bearded Tits.

Over the sea Sandwich Terns (Photo 5) were busy fishing to feed their young.

363.Sandwich Tern---------------Cley-Next-The-Sea--------------England


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Nick Sismey
5 July 2008 continued...

At the North Scrape four Spoonbills (Photo 1) could be seen at the far end of the scrape, with one bird unable to stand still for long while the other three showed their indifference, particularly when a heavy downpour drenched everything, even flooding the path to the hide.


Once the rain had passed and the sun returned, the black clouds over the sea giving terrific photo opportunities had I been a good enough photographer.

Our next target was the Montagu’s Harrier (Photo 2 – inset showing the male and female) near Burnham Market. We had only been there for ten minutes or so when Steve and another birder indicated there was a Marsh Harrier over the far wood. I didn’t pick up on that with my scope but another much slimmer bird, which turned out to be a male Montagu’s. The bird flew over our heads towards some tall grass where, to our surprise, a female joined it and within seconds they performed the food pass, the male some 50 feet above the female who turned on her back in mid air to receive the food. She then disappeared back into the grass and he perched on a post at the bottom of the field, allowing prolonged views of a truly spectacular bird. One of those birding moments you will always saver. This was also my 206th UK bird of the year, beating my previous record in a year of 205 set in 2006.

365.Montagu’s Harrier---------------Burnham Market -----------------England

Next stop was just along the coast at Titchwell there being nothing worth reporting at Choseley drying barns. By now it was a beautiful day although the off shore breeze was quite strong. Five wonderfully summer plumaged Spotted Redshank were asleep in the freshwater marsh, my 207th UK bird of the year. Avocets (Photo 3) were also in abundance.

Out on the beach the tide was out with four Eiders (Photo 4) on the shoreline, taking to the surf as we approached. This was my 366th bird of the year, which means that I achieved my goal of a bird a day!


A Bar Tailed Godwit (Photo 5) also headed for the marshland as we headed home after a very successful day


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Nick Sismey
19 July 2008

Thanks to the fifth person to rate this thread, much appreciated. Birding very quiet locally at the moment. A trip to New York / Toronto in early August should set the ball rolling again if there is nothing local over the next couple of weeks



Nick Sismey
2 August 2008

Another trip to Titchwell in Norfolk today, on a day of mixed weather and fortunes. The main purpose was to seek out the Pectoral Sandpiper (Photo 1) that had been reported over the last few days. Although some distance away it was showing well but difficult to photo.

367.Pectoral Sandpiper------------------Titchwell-------------------------England

Yan Shen and I then went out onto the beach, which I would later regret. In between squally showers, which saw us taking cover up against the marram grassed sea wall, a couple of Arctic Skua’s (Photo 2) were troubling several terns out at sea.

368.Arctic Skua--------------------------Titchwell-------------------------England

Back in the main hide, just in time to miss the biggest downpour, I was checking my camera when I realised that some of the fine sand off the sea wall had got into the workings. While it still took photos, several of the buttons wouldn’t work, and neither would the screen. With two days to go before my USA hols there is nothing like a bit of a mini crisis in the photographic section!


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Nick Sismey
6 August 2008

After flying into JFK airport, last night, today was Jamie (my son) and my first full day in New York. Naturally we did all the sights, including going to the top of the Empire State Building, Times Square, the Flatiron Building, Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Centre and the Madison Square Gardens. The only birds evident during this time were House Sparrows, Starlings and Rock Doves.

Mid afternoon we set off on the Metro for Flushing Meadows to see a Mets baseball game. It was hot above the ground, and still hotter waiting on the platform. Thank goodness the trains were air-conditioned!

Walking from the station past the US Open Tennis stadium the first new bird of the year was walking under the trees in the park, a Common Grackle (Photo1) with the second closely behind, an American Robin (Photo 2). My mini camera crisis was averted thanks to Simon Pank in our firm’s Media department who kindly leant me the same type of camera that I broke on the previous Saturday, my camera was already in for repairs.

369.Common Grackle-------Flushing Meadows (New York)-------------USA
370.American Robin--------Flushing Meadows (New York)-------------USA

Before we made our way to the Mets Shea Stadium we killed time visiting the Unisphere, a massive metal globe erected for the 1964 World’s Fair. In the trees near there was my first lifer a Black and White Warbler creeping along the branches.

371.Black and White Warbler---Flushing Meadows (New York)-----USA

In the Shea Stadium a Mourning Dove (Photo 3) was the only action for the first hour before the San Diego Padres hit a home run from the first pitch of the game!

372.Mourning Dove-----------Shea Stadium (New York)-------------USA

The Padres won the game 4 – 2


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Nick Sismey
7 August 2008

An early morning visit to Central Park to meet up with a fellow BirdForum member, who has asked to remain nameless, produced a good number of birds. I had to walk from our hotel, the Courtyard New York Manhattan in Upper East Side on 92nd street to meet him near the Dakota Building (where John Lennon was shot) on West 72nd.

As I was well early I spent the first hour by myself, the Reservoir producing several Double Crested Cormorants (Photo 1)

373.Double Crested Cormorant-------Central Park (New York)---------USA

As I made my way to Strawberry Fields a Northern Mockingbird (Photo 2) was feeding on the Great Lawn. A Racoon, climbing a tree (Photo 3), was a surprise while a female Northern Cardinal (Photo 4) flew into the same tree near the path.

374.Northern Mockingbird-----------Central Park (New York)----------USA
375.Northern Cardinal--------------Central Park (New York)----------USA

Once I met up with the BirdForum member we took to an unmarked track through Strawberry Fields where a Yellow Warbler (Photo 5), a lifer, was working through the top of the trees.

376.Yellow Warbler----------------Central Park (New York)---------USA

More to follow.....


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Nick Sismey
7 August 2008 Continued…

Another lifer an American Redstart (Photo 1) again high up in the trees quickly followed.

377.American Redstart------------Central Park (New York)------------USA

As we made our way to The Pond, which was covered in pungent smelling green algae, a Blue Jay (Photo 2) joined the House Sparrows being fed by local New Yorkers.

378.Blue Jay-----------------------Central Park (New York)--------------USA

While still at The Pond another lifer landed on a metal fence near us, a Gray Catbird (Photo 3).

379.Gray Catbird--------------Central Park (New York)------------USA

A lady birder then told us of an interesting bird feeding in the river that fed The Pond. After a bit of a search sure enough a Louisiana Waterthrush (Photo 4) showed itself, providing me with my fourth lifer of the day.

380.Louisiana Waterthrush------Central Park (New York)----------USA

After thanking fellow BirdForum member for his time I then walked back to the hotel and then my son and I did some more sightseeing. This time we took in the Brooklyn Bridge, Ground Zero (How big is that area? How moving!), the Stock Exchange, Wall Street and looked over towards the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park. While there I picked up a Ring Billed Gull (Photo 5) resting atop a streetlight on the waters edge.

381.Ring Billed Gull--------------Central Park (New York)--------------USA

We finished the day watching the latest Batman film The Dark Night, an excellent film, and then had to run back to the hotel, late at night, through a thunderstorm. My feet absolutely killed from the sheer amount of walking.


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Nick Sismey
8 August 2008

After picking up our Avis rental car we set off for Roscoe in mid state New York in the Catskills. After crossing the Hudson River we stopped for a short while at a scenic viewing area near Palisades. The car park was at the top of a cliff face high above the Hudson River giving unparalleled views of Turkey Vultures (Photo1), Black Vultures (Photo 2) and Osprey (Photo 3).

382.Turkey Vulture------------Hudson River (Palisades)------------------USA
383.Black Vulture--------------Hudson River (Palisades)------------------USA

Walking back to the car an Eastern Kingbird (Photo 4) was calling from a tree, while a bright yellow American Goldfinch (Photo 5) flew in front of us, both lifers.

384.Eastern Kingbird-----------Hudson River (Palisades)------------USA
385.American Goldfinch--------Hudson River (Palisades)-------------USA

Back on the Interstate many American Crows were gleaning the carriageway road of any road kill.

386.American Crow--------------------Roscoe-----------------------------USA


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Nick Sismey
8 August 2008 Continued…..

Arriving in Roscoe, a small village, Jamie busied himself on the nine-hole golf course across the road from our Motel while I wondered around close to the clubhouse, birding. As luck would have it the house (and 80 acres of woodland), next to the golf course, was owned by two keen birders Roy and Marge (they were off to Brazil birding that weekend!). They welcomed me onto their porch to view all of the birds attracted to their many feeders, situated in a large tree.

The first five birds were all lifers, with a very tame Hairy Woodpecker (Photo1) eating seeds on the branch just in front of me, while a Chipping Sparrow (Photo 2) was picking up debris off the ground below the feeders.

387.Hairy Woodpecker------------------Roscoe-----------------------USA
388.Chipping Sparrow-------------------Roscoe------------------------USA

A White Breasted Nuthatch (Photo 3) was nervously visiting one of the feeders, Purple Finches (Photo 4) chasing it away at every opportunity.

389.White Breasted Nuthatch-----------Roscoe----------------------USA
390.Purple Finch------------------------Roscoe----------------------USA

Black Capped Chickadees (Photo 5) were in plentiful quantities throughout the feeding area.

391.Black Capped Chickadee------------Roscoe-------------------USA


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Nick Sismey
8 August 2008 Continued…..

Several Tufted Titmouse (Photo 1) made the occasional visit, while my favourite birds, Ruby Throated Hummingbirds (Photo 2), the size of large bees hovered within three feet of me as they fed on the sugar feeder. They gave out a quiet “pheep”, which could be heard over the hum of their wings. What a lifer!

392.Tufted Titmouse-------------------Roscoe----------------------USA
393.Ruby Throated Hummingbird------Roscoe--------------------USA

Roy then just happened to mention that there was a Cedar Waxwing (Photo 3) sitting on a cable round the side of the house, of course I was soon stood below the bird with my camera. Lifers have never been so easy and so tame!

394.Cedar Waxwing-----------------Roscoe----------------------USA

Back on the porch a Dark Eyed Junco (Photo 4) was just a couple of metres away sharing its time between the ground, porch and the tree.

395.Dark Eyed Junco---------------Roscoe----------------------USA

Walking around the large stretch of lawn between Roy’s and his sisters house a House Wren (Photo 5) was busily feeding young in one of the many nest boxes, another lifer.

396.House Wren------------------Roscoe-----------------------USA


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