Thursday, April 23, 2009

Missing Purple Heron (again)

I missed a Purple Heron today. One spent the day sat in the South East Corner of the West Warwick Reservoir. I passed just a few yards from it, but there was a train carriage, a fence, and a large reservoir bank between me and it.

It's not the first time I've missed a Purple Heron. A few years ago (August 16 2006 to be precise) I was driving towards Portland Bill when I was held up by a car reversing out of Culverwell. Fortunately it pulled over to the side shortly afterwards and I carried on to the bill. It was only when I bumped into the driver later that I learnt they pulled over to look at a Purple Heron standing in a field - the first and so far only Portland record.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter birds Weymouth

1. Radipole, pm, Friday 10 April. Bearded Tit – 2 m and f. Just quick views, but sightings this time of year tend to be unusual. 2 Marsh Harriers, both brown ones, but i think one may be an immature male. Sedge Warblers, and a Willow Warbler. Swallows and Sand Martins.

2. Lodmoor morning Sat 11th. The main sighting was 3 possibly 4 pairs of Oystercatchers. Also a Green Sandpiper, a Barwit, just 2 BHG, several Willow Chiffs, and Linnets.

3. Radipole Sat 11th pm. Back for the Marsh Harriers. A Sparrowhawk f over, and House Martins in number. Reed Warblers too.

4. Portland Sunday 12th am. Very dull and birdless early doors, apart from lots of Willow Chiffs. A return with the family later produced lots more willow Chiffs and at last a female Redstart.

5. Monday 13th. StoneyBarrow Common. I left the long lens at home to take some scenery, and inevitably a pair of Ravens spent the morning riding the breeze just over our heads.

Weymouth photos

Photography was the theme of the Easter trip to Weymouth. I made this decision roughly half way down the M3 when I realised I’d forgotten my scope. And this time, I'd concentrate on some of those difficult shots of birds in bushes. Taking pictures of large water birds is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Canary Wharf birds

As the more dedicated of you may recall, I used to work at Canary Wharf. Three years from 2004 - 2007. I saw very little there - after all, its a monument of glass, steel and concrete with some apologies for plants dotted round the estate. I assumed it was a dead loss from a birding point of view and never had cause to change my mind,

I was, according to this article (birdguides subscribers only), completely wrong. The author, one Ken Murray, twigged what I completely missed; that the main tower of Canary Wharf lit up at night could act like a lighthouse, and pull in migrants from and wide. The list is truly astonishing.

According to the article,between 2001 and 2006 the following were seen: 3 Blyth's Reed Warblers, Booted Warbler, Red-Backed Shrike, 2 Wrynecks, 3 Icterine Warblers, a Melodious Warbler, a Barred Warbler and supporting casts of Firecrest, grasshopper Warbler, Wood Warbler, Pied flycatcher etc etc. Then there's the ones that got away - glimpses and best guesses of Eastern Willow Warbler, Aquatic Warbler, Paddyfield Warbler, Great Snipe, Thrush Nightingale, Asian Song Thrush.

I know from my own lesser experience at the scrape that finding a spot, wondering if it will be good for birds and then finding that it is, is amongst the best experiences birding has to offer. Its what makes birding something different to going for a walk with a pair of binoculars. To do this on such a scale as done here is something most birders can only dream of. Full marks to the birders concerned for a wonderful story.

Shelduck at the scrape

A pair of Shelduck have been on and of at the scrape. I caught up with them this evening from the train. They are my kind of bird - big, obvious, and sit out in the open.

By my reckoning that's eight species of duck on our puddle in total.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


1. In Toronto again, and the Ring-Billed Gulls were around the Station. The call is quite distinctive; higher pitched and more of a yelp than a Herring Gull, like someone has trod on their feet.

2. Back at the Scrape; lots of Gadwalls, a pair of Teal, not much else.

3. Center-Parcing again in Thetford Forest. If I heard one Siskin I heard a hundred. We had a Mallard nesting by the chalet with 10 eggs. Very hard to see - we had to drop a bike on it to find it. When it went off, it covered the nest in down, making it completely invisible. Do Mallards have a down-covering gene? Or do they have a problem solving gene? Or do they have a learn from Mother gene?

4. Chiffchaff, obviously, but nothing else for me yet this spring ...

Commonly Spotted Orchids

We are fortunate in the UK in that the commonest orchids are also amongst the most beautiful. I spent a morning photographing some on the lo...