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Jonny721's Yearlist 2019 (1 Viewer)

Jonny721

Well-known member
Monday 3rd June - Hebden Bridge

Not how I had planned on starting the month, my first dip on a lifer of the year! A Roller was found deep in the peak district yesterday evening and since this was kind of on my way to work I decided to give the area a search this morning. As expected it proved to be an enormous area to search and unfortunately there was no sign of my target. This was always going to be the most likely outcome however as this is a species I am yet to see anywhere I had to give it a go! There were a few consolations however, the woodland in the valley was packed with birds including a singing Cuckoo and my first Spotted Flycatchers of the year, whilst up on the moors a few male Red Grouse were displaying and calling. These were both species I expected to see in Scotland anyway but still nice to get them ticked off beforehand.

225. Spotted Flycatcher
226. Red Grouse
 

Jonny721

Well-known member
Sunday 9th June - Flamborough and Fairburn

With Scotland and Norfolk trips just round the corner I was planning on doing as little driving as possible over the weekend, although the male Black-headed Bunting at Flamborough that had lingered into it's third day was certainly tempting me. Fortunately Sophie was also keen and didn't take too much persuading to drive the 3 hours across to the east coast where we arrived just after midday in glorious sunshine. A short walk down the footpath towards Old Fall where we joined the assembled crowd watching the gorgeous male Black-headed Bunting (British lifer #353) feeding atop one of the hedgerows. In the sunlight the yellow body and chestnut back really shone, contrasting with the black on the head, a fantastic looking bird. Views were a little distant through the heat haze but fortunately the bird continued feeding in view for an extended period of time, nice to get a lifer after dipping the Roller at the start of the week.

Back towards the lighthouse an unassigned female Subalpine Warbler had been showing occasionally in the golf course willows at the top of the cliffs. We plonked ourselves down on the grass opposite it's favoured patch of willow and rose and along with a few others waited for the bird to show. A Lesser Whitethroat flitting around the area caused a few false alarms and it took over an hour before I noticed a smaller bird creeping around a patch of brambles higher up on the slope above the willows. Through the scope it took over a minute of watching it before I got a conclusive view, the pale-peach underparts and the white moustachal stripe showing nicely. I managed to get Sophie and a few others onto it before it disappeared deep into a large bramble thicket from which it didn't re-emerge. This is only my second Subalpine Warbler following another unassigned female at Spurn in autumn 2013. I am hoping that this bird will have it's call recorded or DNA taken to ID it to species level (Western is the favoured choice at the moment from others), but for now I am happy to have it on my list as Subalpine Warbler sp. If later in the year I see another Subalpine that is identified to species level then that shall replace this bird on the list rather than becoming a new tick.

With a report of an Alpine Swift briefly over North Landing filtering through the crowd of warbler watchers we retreated up to the cliff top incase it happened to head towards us, and this also gave us a great chance to view over the sea and the mass of seabirds offshort. Kittiwakes were making a fantastic racket from the cliffs whilst thousands of Auks were on the water just off the head, scanning through which produced at least 4 Puffins, always a pleasure to see.

Since the Swift never appeared (it later transpired it had flown off north) we grabbed a late lunch in the cafe then started our journey back west, calling in at Fairburn Ings on the outskirts of Leeds on the way. After a bit of a walk and some searching we managed to locate 2 of the breeding Spoonbills amongst the heron/egret/cormorant colony on The Moat, looking spectacular in their breeding finery and nice to actually see one awake! Even more of a highlight for me however was a Puss Moth that Sophie found on one of the fence posts along the path, my first ever.

227. Black-headed Bunting - British lifer #353
228. Subalpine Warbler sp
229. Puffin
230. Spoonbill
 

Jonny721

Well-known member
So Scotland beckons tomorrow for 5 days, 2.5 days on the west coast then 2.5 days in the cairngorms. The 15 potential yearticks (with my predictions for how likely we are of actually seeing them) are:

Blue-winged Teal (10%, seems to have left)
Black Duck (75%)
Velvet Scoter (75% if we stop off at Musselburgh on way back on Sunday)
Capercaillie (25%)
Black Grouse (20%)
Ptarmigan (75%)
Golden Eagle (50%)
White-tailed Eagle (75%)
Corncrake (10%)
Dotterel (50%)
Crested Tit (50%)
Ring Ouzel (80%)
Redstart (80%)
Parrot Crossbill (50%)
Scottish Crossbill (25%)

I am currently sat on 230 species for the year meaning if I manage 9 or more of the above then I will beat my previous highest British yearlist of 238 from back in 2013! Keep an eye on this thread to see how I get on...
 

Jonny721

Well-known member
Wednesday 12th June - Scotland Day 1/5

Blue-winged Teal (10%, seems to have left)
Black Duck
Velvet Scoter (75% if we stop off at Musselburgh on way back on Sunday)
Capercaillie (25%)
Black Grouse (20%)
Ptarmigan (75%)
Golden Eagle (50%)
White-tailed Eagle
Corncrake (10%)
Dotterel (50%)
Crested Tit (50%)
Ring Ouzel (80%)
Redstart (80%)
Parrot Crossbill (50%)
Scottish Crossbill (25%)

Posting from Ardnamurchan this evening with limited internet so apologies for the briefer posting. We arrived near Oban late morning with the weather sunny intervals but a strong wind blowing from the north. We spent till early afternoon looking for insects; the wind scuppered our chance of Marsh Fritillary at an exposed site but we were much more successful with Chequered SKipper at Glasdrum Wood, my 53rd British butterfly species!

We then took the quick ferry crossing at Corran and headed onto Ardnamurchan itself. We had barely driven a mile along the road from the ferry when Sophie spotted the unmistakable bulk of a White-tailed Eagle flying low over the loch! We pulled in very quickly and realised there were 2 individuals flying together over the loch giving great views. This was one of our top targets for the trip so to get it this easily was amazing!

We continued along the road as it changed from double to single track into Strontian, a veritable pilgramage for birders in the last few years to see the resident drake Black Duck (British lifer #354). We quickly located the bird feeding on the river just downstream of the second bridge in the company of a drake Mallard, a very handsome looking individual that gave some nice views as it swam past us.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent at a few more sites between Strontian and our accommodation at Glenborrodale. The sun did disappear after a while which meant we failed to find Northern Emerald dragonfly near Salen, although another Chequered Skipper was some compensation. We managed a third White-tailed Eagle for the day at the Garbh Eilean Wildlife Hide and are now waiting to see if any Pine Martens visit the garden of our accommodation this evening...

231. White-tailed Eagle
232. Black Duck - British Lifer #354
 
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Jonny721

Well-known member
Thursday 13th June - Scotland Day 2/5

Blue-winged Teal (10%, seems to have left)
Black Duck
Velvet Scoter (75% if we stop off at Musselburgh on way back on Sunday)
Capercaillie (25%)
Black Grouse (20%)
Ptarmigan (75%)
Golden Eagle (50%)
White-tailed Eagle
Corncrake
Dotterel (50%)
Crested Tit (50%)
Ring Ouzel (80%)
Redstart (80%)
Parrot Crossbill (50%)
Scottish Crossbill (25%)
Storm Petrel

Another great day spent exploring the Ardnamurchan peninsular. With no specific targets to look for today we started off at Ardnamurhcan lighthouse, the most westerly point of mainland Britain, for a seawatch. The wind was blowing strongly from the north so we found a sheltered spot by the foghorn station and settled down for an hour or two. Manx Shearwaters were the main feature of the watch with well over four-figures wheeling about offshore in big feeding flocks, an amazing spectacle. Auks were moving past in good numbers and we managed to pick out 5 Puffins and a Black Guillemot in amongst the commoner two species. Best of all though was a Storm Petrel that I picked up as it powered it's way north into the wind at mid-distance, giving nice scope views for several minutes. This was a lifer for Sophie and a year-tick for myself and Ash (my first since 2015), and was not a tick I was expecting from this trip.

From here we slowly made our way back east along the peninsular, stopping to walk along the gorgeous white sand beach at Sanna Bay. Birdwise we found a pristine Black-throated Diver on one of the inland lochs, 3 White-tailed Eagles at various points along the coast, multiple Cuckoos and Whinchats on the moors and singing Wood Warbler at Glenborrodale RSPB.

Unfortunately despite a couple of attempts at each we weren't able to find any Golden Eagles or Otters, but hopefully we will have a couple more chances at the former in the next few days. From speaking to locals it transpires that the Corncrake that we had an outside chance of hearing at Kilchoan has not been heard for over a week now so we definitely won't be connecting with that species, one off the potential target list.

The mixed forecast for tomorrow means a change in plan. We will no longer be heading north to Loch Maree to look ofr dragonflies due to the rain and wind, so instead we will head straight north-east up to the Nairn and Findhorn area before dropping down to Aviemore late afternoon. Several targets could fall...

233. Storm Petrel
 
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Jonny721

Well-known member
Friday 14th June - Scotland Day 3/5

Blue-winged Teal (10%, seems to have left)
Black Duck
Velvet Scoter (75% if we stop off at Musselburgh on way back on Sunday)
Capercaillie
Black Grouse (20%)
Ptarmigan (75%)
Golden Eagle
White-tailed Eagle
Corncrake
Dotterel (50%)
Crested Tit
Ring Ouzel (80%)
Redstart (80%)
Parrot Crossbill (50%)
Scottish Crossbill (25%)
Storm Petrel

We spent yesterday late evening sat by the window of our accommodation on Ardnamurchan waiting for the local Pine Marten to come and visit the peanuts on the birdtable, as it had failed to appear on Wednesday night. Well after about an hour of waiting it bounded into view and spent several minutes gorging itself a few metres away, amazing views of an amazing animal, a lifer for the other two and only the second for myself. We then went for a night drive for the very slim chance of encountering a Wildcat but as expected no luck, although we did have multiple Roe and Red Deer and a Tawny Owl.

Our initial plan this morning was to head north-east across the country to Nairn in the hope of finding the King Eider that has been frequenting the area recently, then head down to Aviemore. Unfortunately news came through early that the Eider was back at it's favourite haunt on the Ythan Estuary, a bit too far for us to go this time, so we changed plan and headed straight for the Cairngorms area. A slightly longer drive than anticipated as predictably we kept stopping at various sealochs, mountain ridges etc for a scan which produced a few new species for the trip (Greenshank, Red-breasted Merganser etc), and at Loch Insh to see the pair of Ospreys which both showed well near the nest.

Next up was the well-known Eagle hotspot of Findhorn Valley, or as it has been christened by myself on earlier trips Find-nowt Valley as I was yet to see any eagles there! The car park at the end of the valley road was full of vehicles with plenty of birders looking but they reported that there hadn't been any sightings of the Eagles for a while. We set up the scopes and settled in for a long watch which is what it proved to be, indeed I was starting to think I was going to miss this species on the trip. After over an hour of waiting (at least it was sunny!) Sophie spotted a moulting adult Golden Eagle gliding along the ridge above the car park heading purposefully up the valley, managing to get all the assembled watchers onto it as it passed high overhead!

We spent the rest of the afternoon in the Loch Garten exploring the pine forests and their associated fauna and flora. After tea however we turned it up a notch, heading to a secluded undisturbed area of woodland where I have found Capercaillie in the past. I didn't really expect to see any this time round as we stuck to the paths but after a little while walking around there in the middle of a clearing was a male Capercaillie feeding! Views were distant but it was amazing to watch this massive bird slowly working it's way through the tall grass. Nearby we heard the tell-tale trilling call of a pair of Crested Tits, though as often is the case with this species views were limited to obscured tree-top glimpses. Still, great to bag both species in a short space of time. On the drive back to Boat of Garten we fluked a fly-over Woodcock.

Photos will follow sometime next week when I have the time to sort and process the better ones.

234. Golden Eagle
235. Capercaillie
236. Crested Tit
 
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Jonny721

Well-known member
Saturday 15th June - Scotland Day 4/5

Blue-winged Teal (10%, seems to have left)
Black Duck
Velvet Scoter (75% if we stop off at Musselburgh on way back on Sunday)
Capercaillie
Black Grouse
Ptarmigan
Golden Eagle
White-tailed Eagle
Corncrake
Dotterel
Crested Tit
Ring Ouzel
Redstart
Parrot Crossbill
Scottish Crossbill
Storm Petrel

Not all days go to plan...

After a hearty Scottish breakfast at our B&B near Aviemore we packed up and drove round the east side of the Cairngorms to our first site of the day, the large pine forests at Ballochbuie. This forest holds populations of all 3 Crossbill species so these were our main target of the day. Unfortunately despite my best efforts I had not been able to procure a decent microphone for work for recording their calls, a crucial tool to ID individuals to species level, so we would have to do our best with field views alone. We ended up unearthing two Crossbill flocks during our time in the forest; one was a family group of obvious Common Crossbill however it was the second group that proved more interesting. We only managed to get scope views of one individual in this group, a female that immediately set alarm bells ringing with a large stocky structure, particularly a huge bull-neck and head. The bill looked on the small side for Parrot but knowing these features are variable we took a series of photos and videos for later review. Later we reviewed the footage and sent it to some local experts who confirmed the bird was definitely a Scottish/Parrot with the bill size favouring the former, but of course identification couldn't be certain without sound recordings. Like the Subalpine warbled conundrum the previous week I have seen Scottish Crossbill before but never Parrot and since our bird was definitely one of the two species with identification favouring Scottish I am happy to include it on my yearlist, albeit I would love to go back sometime and get a load of recordings!

Moving on we spent the afternoon climbing Glas Maol, a short(ish) but steep in sections walk to the summit from the car park at the Glenshee Ski Centre. In 2015 I did this climb and lucked on to a female Dotterel on the summit plateau as well as multiple Ptarmigan, so I was hopeful of seeing the latter this time and maybe the former. Well this is where things started to go wrong, as despite a thorough search we failed to find any birds of note on the hilltop or during the walk to and from, even the resident Ring Ouzels were hiding! A few Mountain Hares provided a small bit of consolation on the way down.

In an attempt to save the day I decided to take us down to Loch of the Lowes late evening in the hope that we might be lucky with the resident Beavers. The mammal excitement started before we even reached the reserve with a roadside Sika Deer doe, a lifer for the other two. On the reserve itself we made for the observation hide and couldn't believe our luck when after just 10 minutes a Eurasian Beaver appeared on the opposite shore and proceeded to show for nearly 15 minutes, swimming and munching on a birch branch! An unexpected mammal lifer for us all and a great end to a tough day.

237. Scottish Crossbill

Photos to follow soon.
 
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Jonny721

Well-known member
Sunday 16th June - Scotland Day 5/5

Blue-winged Teal
Black Duck
Velvet Scoter
Capercaillie
Black Grouse
Ptarmigan
Golden Eagle
White-tailed Eagle
Corncrake
Dotterel
Crested Tit
Ring Ouzel
Redstart
Parrot Crossbill
Scottish Crossbill
Storm Petrel

Our final day in Scotland and after a long few days the plan was to simply drive home to Blackpool without any stops along the way. This changed slightly however with the news that the (or one of?) the Blue-winged Teal that had been found near Glasgow the previous day was still present, so we diverted to Frankfield Loch and arrived just after 11. The Teal was immediately pointed out to us however it had managed to choose the one place on the whole lake to fall asleep where it wasn't viewable, behind a couple of awkwardly positioned dead branches. A wait of 45 minutes ensued before a passing Mallard handily gave the Teal a little kick which flushed it out onto the open water, giving us a chance to take in the fantastic plumage of a drake BWT. This was Sophie's 5th lifer of the trip (following Black Duck, WTE, Storm Petrel and Scotsbill). With that it was time to continue the long drive home.

So overall how did we do? I managed 1 of 2 potential bird lifers (Black Duck but no Parrot Crossbill) and 8 yearticks, meaning I am now equal with my highest ever yearlist of 238 species! Of the 8 targets that we missed we did not try for Velvet Scoter, Black Grouse or Corncrake in the end, meaning just the 5 dips for the trip, not too bad a result.

Away from birds I was thrilled to see Chequered Skipper butterfly for the first time, one of my three main targets for the trip, and of course the Beaver really rounded off the week on a high. 1 Bird lifer, 1 Butterfly lifer and 1 Mammal lifer is a great return! Photos to follow tomorrow.
 
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Jonny721

Well-known member
A few photos of some of the more interesting birds seen on the Scotland trip...

Black Duck - Strontian
Wood Warbler - RSPB Glenborrodale
Golden Eagle - distant bird in the Findhorn Valley
Capercaillie - an even more distant bird near Grantown-on-Spey
Scottish Crossbill - a very pixelated video-grab of the female bird from Ballochbuie

IMG_8037.jpg IMG_8161.jpg IMG_8203.JPG IMG_8221.JPG WhatsApp Video 2019-06-15 at 19.08.19_Moment.jpg
 

Jonny721

Well-known member
And the non-bird highlights from Scotland...

Hairy Dragonfly - a female at Shian Wood, an isolated population exists in that part of Scotland
Chequered Skipper - one of at least 5 at Glasdrum Wood
Pine Marten - visiting the bird table at our accommodation
Red Squirrel - one of 3 in the Findhorn Valley
Eurasian Beaver - a poor phone-scoped record shot from Loch of the Lowes

IMG_7964.JPG IMG_8002.JPG IMG_8190.JPG IMG_8216.JPG D9IQboUXsAAUo6A[1].jpg
 

Jonny721

Well-known member
Monday 17th - Tuesday 18th June - Norfolk & Lincolnshire

A long drive from Scotland to home on Sunday morning was followed by another long drive from home to Norfolk later that afternoon, to attend a bat training course for work. The course proved to be fantastic, being based at the University of East Anglia with a trip out to the village of Swanton Morely on the Monday night which produced a mammal lifer for me in the form of a single Serotine Bat (amongst larger numbers of Natterer's and the two common Pipistrelle species).

Being in Norfolk in June I knew there was always going to be a chance of a rarity turning up, and so it proved when news broke mid-morning on the Tuesday of a Black-winged Pratincole at RSPB Frampton Marsh. With the course finishing at 4 I had plenty of time to drive to the reserve, via dropping a colleague off at Norwich station first, arriving at 18:15. A trickle of observers arriving back at the car park was however an onimous sign and it turned out the bird had flown off strongly heading north just 15 minutes beforehand, nightmare! I waited a couple of hours as the rain intensified but the bird failed to re-materialize, a thoroughly miserable dip. I had already booked a couple of days off work to stay down and make the most of Norfolk, so I headed off to my overnight accommodation near Kings Lynn hoping that the Pratincole would return in the morning...
 

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