Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dog days

Birding is dog-walking at the moment. The usual circuit of fields, river, and park. And the usual birds; regular Grasshopper Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, and Lesser Whitethroat, and then the usual peckers, finches, and other common birds.

Hang on! Cetti's Warbler? Didn't this used to be a rare bird? And now its an unremarkable sighting, almost expected from wherever there is a scrubby wet spot. Its not inconceivable that there are three breeding pairs in a three-mile stretch along the river, and there could be more.

How is this going to end? They appear to have survived a very cold winter without any problems. Do they just keep on expanding throughout the UK until they are as common as Collared Dove?

Here's a blur that is just recognisable as a House Martin.

Job Done

D#4 finally threw away his stabilisers, got on his bike and rode away.

They can all ride bikes

They can all swim

job done.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This year's crop

Took the zoom lens on the daily dog walk, and by a careful process of stalking (ie being deafened by the loud persistant calling) came across some young long-tailed tits. Elsewhere it was just the usual, the usual being a Cetti's Warbler singing from the overgrown field - warbler number 9 on the list for the field this year, and Lesser Whitethroat singing in Pishiobury Park.

No sign today of yesterday's calling Cuckoo.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

About time too

There are many mysteries in life. Top of the list recently has been why has a boggy field with a proven ability to attract migrant waders had no waders to speak of throughout April and May. Well that got answered today by virtue of having a Green Sandpiper - probably the commonest wader here historically - and a Redshank, which I believe is a first for the site (Lower Sheering Scrape).

I wasn't the only one pondering big questions. Here's two local inhabitants presumably pondering the big question of what on earth are they doing in Sawbridgeworth.

a few other local residents posed for the camera.

I went back an hour or so later with the scope. The Redshank had pushed off, but two Yellow Wagtails made a spectacular but brief appearance.

PS - have updated the list of birds seen walking from the house. Currently on 78 with most Summer visitors now in. Hobby and Spot Fly should take it to 80 fairly easily, then its hard work

Thursday, May 05, 2011

King's Meads' waders

King's Meads is a small reserve between Ware and Hertford. Recently its enjoyed a happy coincidence of a gorgeous stretch of mud and wader passage. A quick visit today had 2 Wood Sandpipers, 2 Greenshank, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Snipe, 1 Redshank and a few Lapwings.

The reserve is small, so views were excellent. As is often the case, its the supporting cast that outshine the star attractions. The Redshank looked terrific in its pristine spring plumage, and the Ringed Plover were displaying and distracting. The Wood Sandpipers were looking fairly dumpy and well fed. Here's another Dipper special.

Also present were c20 Swifts, and a selection of warblers, ducks, and hirundines.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Local Rarity

The local grapevine worked exceptionally well today when a pair of Ring Ouzels were located at Stansted Airport Lagoons by Mike this morning. I popped in early pm and was put onto the pair by Graeme - thanks to both.

The pair were grubbing round at the base of some willows on the bans of one of the lagoons. It was impossible to see them from the same bank without taking a risk of spooking them, so I connected with them from the other bank. The photo is poor even by my standards, but it was taken at around 100 metres.

Also present a Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpipers, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, and a Swift.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

BarWit Spectacular!

A weekend hit-and-run to Weymouth with D#1. Via the New Forest, which would not bother this blog if not for the fact that I nearly trod on an Adder. Small, just a foot long, but brilliantly black-and white, and quite nippy motoring across the grass. Thanks D#1 for aleerting me to that one ...

Portland on Mayday morning - just an hour's sea watching. I stuck myself on the end of a line and notched up a Pomarine Skua and 2 Arctic Skuas, with a cast of a few small flocks of Bar-Tailed Godwits, a couple of Whimbrel, some Commic Terns, and some close in Gannets plunging into the sea which I always find spectacular.

I find all my experience of sea-birds away from the sea is completely useless when faced with distant migrating birds going past a headland. The skuas leave me struggling, and whilst I can appreciate after the event that the Pom was steadier and more direct, and others did get the full cutlery on this one, I find the most reliable id feature is call. Specifically the excited call of "Pom!" that goes up when a Pom appears, and the slightly deflated "Arctic" that goes up when an Arctic appears.

On to Ferrybridge, where a roadside stop had about 100 Bar-Tailed godwits, many in deep russet finery, and a Whimbrel. Further out on the water line were 3 Little Terns.

Finally Lodmoor, and some spectacular close-ups of waders. The full list was:
Bar-Tailed Godwit - 27
Black-Tailed Godwit - 1
Whimbrel 2
Common Sandpiper 2
Dunlin 1
Grey Plover 2
Oystercatcher 2

and an adult male Whinchat - surely a candidate for the world's best bird - hopping around on a dry area.

The Barwit movement of the last two days is well documented elsewhere. deep rich russet birds are surely one of our most spectacular birds and it was great to get close views of some today.

I held my Powershot up to the scope and clicked away more in hope than in expectation. Here goes ...

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...