Monday, 16 June 2014

North Wyke bird walk 8th June 2014

after an eventful day before my Grandma told me that were in for yet more birdwatching...

We woke up at around 8:30 then at 9:00 we were off to this agricultural research centre. The first few birds that lead towards the centre were bullfinches around 3 pairs along a half a kilometre stretch. The first thing though (when we arrived there) was to see if I was able to join the walk! It may sound a bit unorganised but my Grandma wasn't able to contact the leader of the group Jerry. So we asked the question and it was reluctant yes!

The first bird that I found was on an evergreen tree, a spotted flycatcher. This was brilliant as I hadn't seen a spotted fly until recently. So we got onto the walk saw a few summer plumaged greenfinches so were well on our way to a great walk...

Maybe there was a bit to much explaining on the practices that they were doing but did set the scene and gave us a background picture on the purpose of the centre. Throughout the walk we saw quite a few warblers, ranging from the blackcap to the garden also the odd chiffchaff heard calling at the tops of trees. A few treecreepers were seen, at least two and another handful of nuthatches.

Later on we saw a possible pied flycatcher fly over and a willow warbler feeding low in a small meadow. After the first walk we had lunch then decided to have one more small walk covering the last part of the complex. Again I proved chief Spotted fly spotter finding two in a tree and maybe them mating. The fellow birdwatchers were very intested in my ability for identification and that I had just started ringing. Finally we saw a male Reed bunting singing in some reeds this gave the idea that there was a nest lurking somewhere in the reeds...

What a great day out with some lovely people, I hope my Grandma and i can do it once again sometime!

Bowling green marsh June 7th 2014

I went to Bowling green marsh on Saturday 2 weeks ago and had a great time seeing two new birds! this adds to the singleton at Aylesbeare, the Dartford Warbler!

We arrived at the hide and were met by about 15 people who were crammed into the hide, searching for the Ross's gull which is a rare visitior to the UK, but what makes it more impressive is the position! The local expert at the hide Kieth birchall believed it to be a little gull for about 2 weeks, then came along a suspicious man who picked up signifiers that lead to the final identification of a Ross's gull.

Anyway... Straight away due to my Grannies "Popularity" in the hide Kieth pointed out both the Bonaparte's and Ross's to us. I an instant two brilliant life ticks from the same family! We went to find the little, which I found and was proud to hear "Good spot"!!! Med gulls, black-headed gulls and a single common gull completed the "Gullfest"! But that was not all, oh no, the brilliant summer plumaged spoonbill lingered at the back of the pool displaying its superb yellow breast.

So what a fantstic day finding three new birds and a wonderful day to match, hope other days will be as good as this one!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Aylesbeare 7th June 2014, NEW BIRD!!!

So after seeing a glimpse of a bird that showed characteristics of the Sylvia Undata ( ;) you like the intelligent language) yesterday evening my Grandma and I hopes were up. We arrived there by 11 and it was beautiful and sunny with a few birds singing and no one around the scene was set for the most elusive bird (in my opinion)! 

While walking to the "hotspot" I noticed out of the corner of my eye a small bird with a spindly stature singing and darting through the gorse... As soon as my binoculars were locked onto the target there it was, sat on the top of some gorse was a Dartford!!! Fantastic, the bird only showed for 5 seconds but was enough time to confirm our sighting. it was an adult male probably just sunbathing in the beautiful summer weather! 

While walking over to the main spot my Grandma reminded of the one yesterday, it confirmed that it was a Dartford Warbler, just sat on a dead piece of gorse. Next off we settled in at our familiar position, by the large dead stump. Again, another one popped up and as soon as I saw it I knew that it would be one of those days...

More and more turned up as I walked further along the path, soon hearing 3 at once! this suggests that they have had a great year, next thing I know though a pair fly up in a tree 5 metres away! I watched them for a minute or so but had to run back and boast my experiences to Mama as I call her! She was jealous for a second however another female popped up even closer to her, the challenge had been set best view of a Dartford!

When circling the dead stump I noticed a small bird fidgeting through the gorse, yet another Dartford this time however, I believed there to be a nest in the gorse somewhere! Throughout the day I noticed three common sites that the Dartford's were visiting, meaning there are three possible nest sites! Remember the challenge? well I had just pipped Mama with a Dartford Warbler 3 metres away singing in full voice for a minute, it was sublime! Wish I could experience this once again there's nothing quite like being by a bird that you have been searching for an accumulated 5 hours! COMMENT IF YOU KNOW WHAT I FELT!!!

Throughout the day we sighted them 14 times, we think that we saw at least five different birds! Now I don't find that too shabby... A very special day as you'll find out tomorrow after a new post...

When I have a field trip post I won't do a Bird Of The Day, Sorry!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Bird Of The Day No. 6 The Dartford Warbler


My Opinion: Now this bird has been a pest for many days now! I have been too Aylesbeare for about four days now and have never had any luck... Nearly every time we go there my Grandma teases me after seeing them and tells me about how a man recently saw 5 birds in one spot! today in fact I went there fairly late on and felt the affects of the incoming storm due to the wind and slight chill. Never the less we carried on going and walked to the prime spot for the Dartford. Straight away there was a small bird just a bit larger than wren sat on a tall dead piece of gorse, due to seeing it only for a few seconds I can't jump straight into the deep end so to speak! However my Grandma who is very honest believed it to be a Darty. Anyway, aside from the new I believe it to be one of the nicest native birds, with its beautiful pinkish colour, and slaty grey. It in my opinion is the only true sylvia warbler as it has the proper characteristics. After all the failed attempts I will still never give in to this truly wonderful selective bird.

Interesting fact: In the 1960's due to harsh winters the small warbler plummeted to only a couple of pairs since then however, it has gradually increased to a stable population.

identification: A small bird with a neat plumage including half slaty blue half pale pink. It generally sits on top of tall gorse bushes and has a harsh call. Also it has only two recognised sights: Aylesbeare and the Dorset pebble heath.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Bird Of the Day No. 5 The Bittern

Hi, sorry for not posting yesterday, didn't have enough time!

My Opinion: The Bittern is an iconic bird that has been a main part of Springwatch this year. Having found a nest new behaviours have been recorded such as eggs hatching at certain time making the success rate higher. The mother has also been seen eating one of the chicks, sadly not making it through its early years. But is this a common occurrence? Well we don't know, in fact this is the only nest captured in full colour! What makes it more amazing is the rarity of the Bittern, approximately only 100 pairs around (even though through the past years has been increasing), this makes it harder to locate the secretive Bittern! It is one of my favourite birds with its uniquely positioned eyes, incredible camouflage and tummy-rumbling call! I have only seen them on three occasions, the first was a glimpse of it moving through the reeds at WWT Slimbridge, the second flying out from the reeds in Hamwall and 3 flying up from the reeds in Marazion Marsh! I'd love to hear their call though but I'm unable to get to a location early enough!

Interesting fact: there's two different subspecies of our common bittern, one in Africa and one here, every Spring part of the Eurasian race spread to Africa. This causes a race cross over!

Identification: A small heron with a brown and black camouflage that resembles reed beds. Stays very still while on edge of reeds and eats small too large fish such as the Stickleback to the Tench. A tip is to never give in, Bitterns are very patient so need yours to match for a meeting!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Bird Of The Day No. 4 The Woodcock IT'S BACK!

My Opinion: Even though I have never seen one before the pictures show you just how pretty this bird is. It's a unique foraging wader which lives in the woodland and picks worms out of the ground. Most nights in the summer it'll fly up and do a display called roding. This is where the males are trying to display to the picky females, the better the rode the better the female. Their camouflage make it practically impossible to find it in a forest, throughout the day they mostly stay stationary, keeping safe from the dangers. The large black eyes suggest their dark foraging tactic and may indicate new habits never recorded at night...

Interesting fact: The strange eyes that are pointing upwards have a 360 degree view. This again makes it harder for the predator to catch it.

Identification: A medium sized bird, wader shaped, 20cm long bill, camouflaged brown colour and remains still, unless stood on!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Kenidjack and Cot valley, an amazing place...


Sorry for not posting yesterday, none of the birds were that interesting!

Today I am going to be talking about the two fantastic neighbouring valleys  that are situated in the beautiful south-west Cornwall. I have been going there since  I was born, and it never gets old... I have seen some cracking birds down there such as a dusky warbler down kenidjack and recently a possible Iberian chiffchaff singing in some woods down cot. But it's not all about the rarities, in fact seeing a lovely tawny owl down cot valley recently is a bonus to all the time and error I put in down there!

But why don't I go to Porthgwarra and more? Well  having two renowned valleys that don't get  checked often makes if way more interesting. Also having the first record of the yellow-throated vireo in the western palearctic is something! The changing seasons bring a great deal to the valley from winter to winter many different birds ranging in size and stature stay in thee two wonderful valleys for me to spot.

The natives are still unique like the, Chough that has recently colonised here and have started to spread, reaching Devon not so long ago. These specialised birds flock in Winter, and I have seen 16 in one flock. Peregrines also circulate the cliff sometimes sitting on rocks for hours on end, showing off their sheer beauty. My favourite however is not a single bird but all of them in Spring when they all sing in full voice with the sedge warbler towering above with its rattling voice.

Anyway thought I'd share this with you and just makes you appreciate the lucky place I am able to go to.

Comment if you'd like me to do more of these,

Regards, Alex