Tuesday, November 23, 2021

To do list

I stopped working and started birding intensively in 2015. Since then I've seen quite a few new birds, and caught up with quite a few birds that were poorly seen or only seen once birds. 

But there's a few that I haven't seen or haven't seen well since 2015, and really could and should see again. Here's the list with annotations (note doesn't include my two glaring life misses Storm Petrel and Quail, or either of the Hippos warblers, or birds that are no longer breeders eg Montagu's Harrier, Golden Oriole, or birds such as Chough which are in a specific location).

Leach's Petrel. Seen a couple at Canvey. Would like to see some more.

Honey Buzzard. - Clumber Park and one off Bempton back in the 80's. Nothing since

White-Tailed Eagle - Kent 1990's

Grey Phalarope - once in Keyhaven, 90's

Black Grouse. Once in the late 80's, again last year, but I'd like a decent view of both sexes.

Glaucous Gull - used to be regular in Yorkshire in the 80's, a couple down south, but not for a while

Puffin - regular at Bempton, occasional at Portland

Wryneck - Spurn, Portland at various times

Richard's Pipit - Wraysbury, late 80's early 90's.

Mealy Redpoll - various times in the 90's. Saw an Arctic at Aldborough a few years ago but the flock cleared off before I could pick out the Mealy's.

The list isn't as long as I thought it might be. But enough to be worth chasing.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Bet on the Bittern

To the Lea Valley with David for some photography. Firstly the Wildlife Discovery Centre, to look for Bitterns. It has lots going for it; nice clear windows, helpful staff, and a reed bed with two cuts in it that allow you to see birds walking across or going down, and best of all it actually has a Bittern. There is just one problem, which is at this time of year you are looking straight at the sun.

We do quite well, Bittern, take some photos (see above) then Water Rail, then on advice we walk up to and beyond Holyfield Farm to a flock of passerines and get 5+ Brambling, and a Cattle Egret along the way, then back to see a Kingfisher. So an excellent morning.

It struck me as we were watching the Bittern and a conversation was struck up about whether it has a preferred circuit and how often it crosses the tracks that it would be an excellent way to raise money to have a session of Bet on The Bittern. One could divide the session into 20 minute intervals, and people could place bets on whether in that time slot the Bittern was going to exit left, exit right, or stay put. I think Sky could take this up. It's a guaranteed winner.

Finally the photo. Excellent isn't it. You're going Wow DD! We knew you were going to put more effort into photos but that's a really good one particularly for someone with your photographic skills, and I'm going yes yes thanks very much all compliments on my skills much appreciated. And then you're going hang on, that's not you is it? You've nicked one of David's and claimed it as your own haven't you? And yes that is exactly what I've done. It's one of David's. You can, as always, find more of David's excellent photos here.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

They're back

I know I promised an end to rubbish photos, but .... look closely and you can see two Hawfinches.

Hatfield Forest is a traditional Hawfinch site, particularly round the Hornbeams near Bush End car park. But the early years of this century had only a few records and it wasn't until the great eruption a couple of years ago we had decent numbers. Last year there were a few in mid winter, so with numbers having been seen flying over local areas this autumn, it was time to go looking.

I'd had very little apart from 40 Siskins by the lake and 60 Redwings flying round when I saw a larger passerine slipping away over trees, and just glimpsed a long white wing bar. Not enough to tick, damn! I gave it a bit longer, and picked up one, then three flying into the tops of trees.

We know how this goes, having seen enough a couple of winters ago. They go into the tree tops then drop down slowly to the floor below, as presumably these did. I didn't go in to avoid any disturbance, and had no further views.

I've no idea how many there are. I could have seen them all in this viewing, there could be lots more scattered round. No matter, its great to have them back.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Going Nutcrackers.

A Nutcracker has been seen in Scotland. Exciting for the finder, congratulations, and good luck to those who go for it.

I was fortunate enough to see the Westleton one in 1853 or whenever it was.

My preferred order of seeing Nutcracker (or pretty much any other bird, come to that) is:

1. Find one.

2. See a few in their natural habitat.

3. Travel to see one. If its not too far and there is other stuff there.

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...