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


Nick Sismey
8 August 2008 Continued…..

Just as I was leaving their house a Red Winged Blackbird (Photo1) joined the many Common Grackles around the base of the tree.

397.Red Winged Blackbird------------------Roscoe------------------USA

Jamie and I then went in search of some food, which made us realise just how big the USA is. What we thought would be a quick drive round a local reservoir took two hours and we ended up eating in Roscoe in the end!

Having stopped half way around the reservoir, near a river, a small bird caught my eye in some tall grass, a Common Yellowthroat (Photo 2). This proved the advantage of a camera, I didn’t identify this lifer until I was back in the motel.

398.Common Yellowthroat--------------Downsville--------------USA

A Spotted Sandpiper (Photo 3) was also feeding amongst the stones where the river entered the reservoir.

399.Spotted Sandpiper------------------Downsville----------------USA


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Nick Sismey
9 August 2008

An early walk around Roscoe produced a lifer before I left the grounds of the motel, a superb Rose Breasted Grosbeak (Photo 1), only the second time I had reached 400 birds in a year!

400.Rose Breasted Grosbeak--------------Roscoe----------------USA

Quietly sitting on Marge’s porch I had only been there for a few minutes when a head popped around the front door with the offer of an early morning coffee. Thanks to Marge’s hospitality I was sitting watching lifers appear before me, coffee in hand!

A small Downey Woodpecker (Photo 2), equally as tame as the larger Hairy, came to the feeder for its breakfast.

401.Downey Woodpecker------------------Roscoe-------------------------USA

My next four birds were all lifers, with a Song Sparrow (Photo 3) feeding on the edge of the lawn, first seen through the steam drifting up from my cup, paradise!

402.Song Sparrow--------------------Roscoe----------------------USA

A few minutes later a bright orange bird flew into the top of the tree, a wonderful Baltimore Oriole, which only stayed for a brief moment before disappearing into the forest.

403.Baltimore Oriole------------------Roscoe----------------------USA

By mid morning Jamie and I decided to walk through the village and up the nearest hill. As we were leaving the last remnants of civilisation a strange call directed me towards a Scarlet Tanager (Photo 4). If ever a bird matched its name this one did, the scarlet so vivid against the green foliage.

404.Scarlet Tanager-------------------Roscoe----------------------USA

At the top of the hill, as we caught our breath, a Black Throated Green Warbler (Photo 5) was feeding its young in a fur tree. The American warblers are so colourful compared to ours!

405.Black Throated Green Warbler------Roscoe-------------------USA

More to follow.....


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Nick Sismey
9 August 2008 Continued…..

Racing back down the hill, on the edge of control I put on the brakes when a Red Eyed Vireo (Photo1), a lifer, was calling just as the road levelled out.

406.Red Eyed Vireo---------------Roscoe-----------------------USA

We did also come across a Wildlife Sanctuary (Photo 2), but there was no one around so we dare not enter.

Back at the motel we decided to explore the hill we had just been up more extensively in the comfort of the car. The road soon turned to a gravel forest track and it was several miles before we found tarmacadam again, but no road signs! We drove on blind until we reached the East branch of the Delaware River, where a narrow bright green steel single-track bridge took us onto a main road.

Just as we crossed the bridge I spotted a Bald Eagle flying along the river. Stopping as soon as I could, the bird didn’t show again, but a Great Blue Heron also passed overhead.

407.Bald Eagle---------------------Delaware River------------------USA
408.Great Blue Heron---------------Delaware River-----------------USA

We then spent a very pleasant time walking a stone filled tributary of the river, talking to some Florida based fly fisherman, skimming stones and watching Cedar Waxwings catching flies in the late afternoon sun.


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Nick Sismey
11 August 2008

Yesterday we left Roscoe for Watkins Glen to watch the NASCAR race. We lucked in with someone selling start line grandstand tickets for less than marked price and to Jamie’s big surprise we met Juan Pablo Montoya (his hero) walking amongst the huge SUV’s in the in-field before the race. He finished fourth following a huge pile up on the front straight, with nine laps to go that stopped the race for nearly an hour.

We then drove to Niagara Falls where we saw the floodlit American Falls before passing into Canada.

This morning we visited the Canadian Falls (Photo 1) where two lifers were feeding over the car park, Cliff Swallows and Tree Swallows (Photo 2), as well as Bank Swallows (Photo 3 – UK Sand Martins) and Barn Swallows.

409.Cliff Swallow---------------Niagara Falls------------------Canada
410.Tree Swallow--------------Niagara Falls------------------Canada

Also my first true Canadian Geese (Photo 4) were feeding in the car park grounds while Common Terns (Photo 5) dive-bombed the river feeding the falls.

We then left for Mississauga near Toronto to stay at a friends, Winston Yee’s, house.


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Nick Sismey
12 August 2008

The morning was spent visiting downtown Toronto including the CN Tower. While Jamie was kept busy (and smiling) touring further area’s of the city with Winston’s two young daughters in the afternoon, I persuaded Winston he absolutely needed to go on his first ever birding afternoon around the local parks!

The first park produced a Red Tailed Hawk (Photo 1), circling the main car park and drifting off over the wood.

411.Red Tailed Hawk----------------Mississauga----------------------Canada

The second park, on the edge of Lake Ontario, giving excellent views of the Toronto sky line (Photo 2), had a number of smaller lakes, where four Hooded Mergansers (Photo 3), a lifer, were feeding – thanks to the BirdForum members who identified this bird for me. Next to the car park was a large area of reclaimed land covered in Gulls and Caspian Terns, with a single very distant Killdeer (Photo 4) moving between the small pools.

412.Hooded Merganser-------------Mississauga----------------Canada


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Nick Sismey
14 August 2008

Yesterday we drove the 550 miles from Toronto to New York, the furthest I had driven in a single day, which didn’t seem too bad except for the thunderstorm we passed through, I had never seen rain like it, the car aquaplaning several times.

Staying near JFK airport we made a quick (Jamie, sat next to me on the flight home, just asked me to change “quick” to “lengthy” as he was waiting in the car!) recce to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to make sure I knew where to go the next day when I was going to make an early morning visit before the visitor centre opened. I was pleased I did otherwise I would not have known about the poison ivy or tics!

My first bird in a particularly overgrown area behind the visitor centre was a lifer, an Eastern Towhee (Photo 1). A Laughing Gull (Photo 2) also passed over on the way to the bay area.

414.Eastern Towhee------Jamaica Bay (New York)----------------USA
415.Laughing Gull------------Jamaica Bay (New York)----------------USA

Crossing the road to the East Pond a pair of Yellow Crowned Night Herons (Photo 3) were resting on the far shore of the lagoon.

416.Yellow Crowned Night Heron----Jamaica Bay (New York)--------USA

A gorgeous Glossy Ibis (Photo 4) was also feeding close to me in the shallows, oblivious of my presence.

417.Glossy Ibis---------------Jamaica Bay (New York)-----------------USA

Lesser Yellowlegs (Photo 5) were also in abundance, a far cry from the long distant drive to see the one at Cley-next-the-Sea in Norfolk earlier in the year.

More to follow.....


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Nick Sismey
14 August 2008 Continued…

Several small waders were feeding close to me in the very short grass, and thanks to the expertise from BirdForum members the first was identified as a Least Sandpiper (Photo1) and the second, a lifer, a Semipalmated Sandpiper (Photo 2).

418.Least Sandpiper--------------Jamaica Bay (New York)--------------USA
419.Semipalmated Sandpiper---Jamaica Bay (New York)-----------USA

Then it was back into Manhattan, via Brooklyn, which can only be described as two ends of the spectrum!


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Nick Sismey
15 August 2008

Our final full day in the USA and I was at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge before 6am. Initially I walked all of the way round West Pond. Out on the beach Boat Tailed Grackles (Photo1) were feeding young, the first lifer of the day.

420.Boat Tailed Grackle---------Jamaica Bay (New York)------------USA

Snowy Egrets (Photo 2) were also moving between reed beds while American Black Ducks, another lifer, mixed it with Mallard.

421.Snowy Egret-----------------Jamaica Bay (New York)---------------USA
422.American Black Duck-------Jamaica Bay (New York)------------USA

There was very little other than that at this point so I then made my way across to East Pond where a Brown Thrasher (Photo 3), another lifer, flew across the path into a tree, well not literally.

423.Brown Thrasher-----------Jamaica Bay (New York)--------------USA

Further down the bath at the edge of East Pond I met two birders, Peter and Woody from Albany, the capital of New York State. Woody had both a telescope and far more knowledge of the local birds than me so that helped greatly, Peter was on the steep learning curve of birding having only taken it up four months ago, but his life list was already over 150!

My first lesson from Woody was that the juvenile Little Blue Heron (Photo 4) is white, so that added an extra tick when I thought I was looking at Snowy Egrets, which had already been ticked!

424.Little Blue Heron-------------Jamaica Bay (New York)---------------USA

Immediately in front of us in the middle of the lagoon were several Greater Yellowlegs mixed in with a few Lesser Yellowlegs, the former another lifer.

425.Greater Yellowlegs--------Jamaica Bay (New York)--------------USA

While Peter and Woody set off for the West Pond I took another look at the southern edge of East Pond where several Semipalmated Plovers (Photo 5) were walking the edges of the mud/lagoon.

426.Semipalmated Plover--------Jamaica Bay (New York)---------------USA

More to follow.....


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Nick Sismey
15 August 2008 Continued…….

Thanks again to BirdForum members the next two birds, both lifers, were identified. The first, a Marbled Godwit (Photo1), was feeding in the shallows, the second, a Forster’s Tern (Photo 2), was being chased by a juvenile that wanted feeding.

427.Marbled Godwit-------------------Jamaica Bay (New York)----------------USA
428.Forster’s Tern--------------------Jamaica Bay (New York)----------------USA

I eventually caught up with Woody and Peter on the West Pond to see three Tricolored Herons (Photo 3) fishing in the bay,

429.Tricolored Herons-----------------Jamaica Bay (New York)----------------USA

In the West Pond Woody pointed out both Long Billed Dowitchers and Short Billed Dowitchers huddled together, best seen through the ‘scope. In the same area, on the edge of the mud a White Rumped Sandpiper was feeding, all three being lifers

430.Long Billed Dowitcher-------------Jamaica Bay (New York)------------USA
431.Short Billed Dowitcher------------Jamaica Bay (New York)------------USA
432.White Rumped Sandpiper---------Jamaica Bay (New York)------------USA

Back on the edge of the bay an American Oystercatcher (Photo 4), another lifer, made an appearance with that incredible red bill. While taking in this bird a House Finch perched for the briefest of moments in front of me.

433.American Oystercatcher------Jamaica Bay (New York)----------USA
434.House Finch--------------------Jamaica Bay (New York)----------USA

Having to be back at the hotel for 11am I had to then bid goodbye to Woody and Peter. After checking out of the hotel Jamie and I made our way through the streets of Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge and back into Manhattan. After about an hour we decided to do our own thing on our last afternoon in the USA. Jamie went to see the sights we had missed on our previous visits while I set off from West 62nd street to walk the length of Central Park including a full tour of the running track around The Reservoir.

A Northern Flicker (Photo 5) was bathing with a Baltimore Oriole in the stream leading to The Lake, it being difficult to get any photos in the shade of the trees even at 1600 ASA.

435.Northern Flicker----------------Central Park (New York)---------------USA

The rest of the park produced nothing except sore feet, until I almost got back to the same stream. As I crossed the main North/South route through the park a party of Chimney Swifts were flying in and picking insects off leaves at the very top of the trees, the first time I had seen swifts do this.

436.Chimney Swift---------------Central Park (New York)--------------USA

This was my 40th and last lifer of my holiday as tomorrow we fly home out of Newark Airport back to the UK. All in all I added 68 birds to my year list and my USA year list stands at 88, my Canada year list at 22. Not a bad showing considering. This was not a birding holiday with Jamie being an avid non-birder and so I had to just chance my arm when I could.


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Nick Sismey
28 September 2008

After well over a month with nothing new to add to my year list, hopes were high today, despite the very early start, for some good birds during the Yorkshire Belle cruise from Bridlington. DAZ joined me from near Leicester before we picked up Steve Whiteley in Ilkeston to make the 0845 sailing.

Arriving in good time at Bridlington we searched along the harbour wall for Purple Sandpiper (Photo 1 – thanks to Jessops digging the sand from out of my camera for a tidy sum!), two birds being very accommodating in the early morning sun!

437.Purple Sandpiper----------------Bridlington-----------------------England

The boat was the fullest I had seen it in the three years I have been going on these cruises, as we sailed out into a very calm bay. The first new bird of the year seen from the boat, were several Red Throated Divers flying across the distant horizon.

438.Red Throated Diver-------------Bridlington-----------------------England

Otherwise the first hour was very quiet with a few gulls and several Gannet keeping us occupied. Then a shout went up that a Bonxi was “worrying” a few first year gulls. Sure enough a large powerful Great Skua (Photo 2) soon appeared. It was not as easy as previous years to move about the boat with so many other birders on-board. With this and the less than favourable light only distant shots were possible as the bird came into view.

439.Great Skua----------------------Bridlington-----------------------England

Another 45 minutes passed before one of our target birds appeared closing in fast towards the stern of the boat, a superb Sooty Shearwater (Photo 3). It circled us a couple of times before leaving as quickly as it arrived. Later a couple of birds settled on the sea.

440.Sooty Shearwater---------------Bridlington----------------------England

During the excitement my first UK Roseate Tern (Photo 4 – only the third time one had been seen on such a cruise) of the year passed over the boat, taking my UK year list to 215. The following couple of hours were very quiet with only a single dark phase Arctic Skua and four possible Velvet Scoter (we didn’t get a good enough view to accept the sighting called from the bridge), while a Sandwich Tern followed us back into the harbour.

Following refreshments we decided to make our way to Flamborough Head where there had been a few Yellow Browed Warblers (Photo 5) the previous day. As we made our way along the road near the golf course, heading towards the tree plantation, other birders told us that a couple of birds were being reported at Bempton. We decided however to stick to our plan.

The plantation, which reminded me of a scene out of the Lord of the Rings, with various species of mature trees shading a small pond, was full of small birds including Goldcrest, Spotted and Pied Flycatcher as well as the more common tit families. The three of us together with several other birders were systematically scrutinizing every bird, hoping for a Yellow Browed Warbler.

I was lucky enough to be the first one to spot our quarry, feeding at the top of a tree, and took great delight in putting out the call. Soon all of us were on it, Steve and I giving it a high-five like a couple of kids! This was my 216th UK bird of the season.

From here we took the coastal path back to the car park where I took every chance possible to wax lyrical about being the first to spot the Yellow Browed to Steve and DAZ. We then paid a visit to Bempton where a Barred Warbler and been reported on Birdguides! The bird had only been seen for a few seconds at 1400 hours and we, with a few others, dipped.

During the trip home I continued to eulogise about the warbler, so much so Steve said he couldn’t wait to read my update on BirdForum! Hope I didn’t disappoint you Steve, see you on Friday!?


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Nick Sismey
3 October 2008

A late morning trip to Norfolk with Steve Whiteley added but one new bird to my year list, a Little Stint at Titchwell.

441.Little Stint--------------------Titchwell----------------------England

It was blowing an absolute gale down on the beach so we didn't spend long there, but did see four Great Skuas hunting in a pack!

We finished the day at Holkham watching the Pink Foots coming in at dusk, but added no further birds to either of our lists
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Nick Sismey
29 November 2008

Steve Whiteley and I met up at the Visitors Centre car park at Attenborough, at 0745 today, just as a foggy and cold dawn was breaking. The target, the recently reported Penduline Tit (a lifer) that had been spotted in the reed beds on Clifton Pond.

Once at the site, the opposite end of the pond to the hide, we joined a line up of at least 30 birders, which increased to 50 by the time the bird was first spotted, although not by me! The bird then moved right, over the reed bed towards the hide and even then I missed although it came to the top of the reeds on several occasions. Then it decided to fly over to Wheatear Field landing in some bulrushes where all, including me I am relieved to say, had some excellent views.

442.Penduline Tit-----------Attenborough----------------------England

From here we drove through thick fog, with the temperature never getting above 3 degrees, through Ashbourne and Leek to Tittesworth Reservoir where a Spotted Sandpiper had been reported.

Joining up with a couple of other birders near the Visitors Centre we made the 45-minute muddy walk round to the Dam. As soon as we arrived the bird flew across to the overflow and then started feeding right under our noses at the base of the dam, enabling us to get some great shots. I had already seen a Spotted Sandpiper in the US earlier this year, but it was a first for the UK, my 219th UK bird of the year.


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Nick Sismey
29 December 2008

Steve and I made an early start today as we headed for north Lincolnshire. First call was Covenham Reservoir (Photo 1), five miles north of Louth; a 200-acre square, featureless stretch of water, with a concrete shoreline, that must be elevated at least 75 feet above the surrounding, flat countryside – very odd! Walking the full perimeter we were amazed at the number of Redshank feeding on the algae covered waterline and varied duck species out on the water, amongst several other water birds.

While not a new species for the year we were pleased to see a Little Stint (Photo 2) feeding along the eastern shoreline, which allowed us very, very close views, in fact the closest I have ever been to the species. We hoped the Grey Phalarope had still been there, even though there were no recent sightings, but unfortunately there was no sign.

After refreshments we made our way to Donna Nook (Photo 3), where there were still large numbers of seals attracting similar numbers of onlookers. We headed north along the salt marsh, away from the madding crowd, to be greeted by a flock of at least 80 Twite (Photo 4), which was a lifer for me, my 71st of the year, and my 220th UK bird in 2008.

443.Twite-------------------------Donna Nook--------------------England

We had also been hoping for Merlin, but none showed either here or later at Rimac, but both stretches of coast had Hen Harrier, a splendid male at Pye’s Hall and a female at Rimac with a Peregrine also on the beach at the former.


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