Monday, 22 September 2014

Masked Shrike!!!

On a dull, miserable Saturday morning I went through my usual routine of checking what birds were around both locally and across the UK (using Twitter and Rare Bird Alert). My heart stopped... the day suddenly became very much brighter indeed. A Masked Shrike had turned up at Spurn! To say I was excited was an understatement. This was only the third time this species had ever been recorded in the UK and here it was in my home county. Now all I had to do was to convince my Dad to get to Spurn and see this fantastic little bird.

Sadly I couldn't get there on Saturday but thankfully I convinced my Dad to take me on Sunday. We arrived at Spurn at around 2pm, we parked in Well Field and headed of to find this absolute mega! As soon as we reached the spot the Masked Shrike was immediately on show. What a little cracker! It was quite distant but nice scope views obtained. I was just about to look through the scope at it when it suddenly flew of but thankfully it came much closer! It showed very well and I was so pleased to see such a fantastic little bird. Below the Shrike there was a Roe Deer sitting down in the grass. We watched this cracking bird for quite a while and after we went to try and see the Red Breasted Flycatcher opposite the churchyard.

Masked Shrike and Roe Deer
When we reached the spot of the Red Breasted Fly we only had to wait about 5 minutes before this awesome bird gave brief but nice views, we saw it well 2 times and a few times more briefly but it was still a nice bird to see. After we went to look for the Barred Warbler which was opposite the Crown and Anchor but despite waiting for quite a while we had no luck but we did get a cracking Pied Fly in the Crown and Anchor car park.
Pied Fly
We then decided to try and go to see the Olive Backed Pipit. On our way we spotted a Wheatear which showed well on some rocks near the path.
When we got to the Olive Backed Pipit spot we asked a couple of birders if they had seen it and one replied not for a good hour so we waited a while but it didn't appear so we went to the Canal Scrape Hide to see if we could see a Jack Snipe. When we got to the hide a man pointed out a stunning Jack Snipe to us, he was hiding behind some reeds but occasionally he came out into the open. A little while later someone else spotted another Jack Snipe but this one was a little further away. In front of the hide there was a close Common Snipe feeding and 2 Wheatears.

Jack and Common Snipe

Sadly we didn't have much time left so we decided to have a quick check in at Sammy's point to see if there was much around and we spotted at least 2 Redstarts, a Willow Warbler and loads of Meadow Pipits.  


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Spurn Migration Festival 2014

On the 5th of September me and my Dad at around 10am set of for the Spurn Migration Festival. The drive was around 1hr 30 minutes and at around half past eleven we arrived at the B&B in Patrington. The mig fest was from the 5th to the 7th of September.

Day 1
As soon as we found our room we dropped our bags of and went straight to Spurn but firstly we decided to have a look in Kilnsea Wetlands as we heard there was a few Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers somewhere on the wetlands. When we had reached the hide there was no sign of the Stints or Curlew Sand but there was some Med Gulls among the Black Headed Gulls. After quite a while of waiting we didn't feel to confident that we were going to see them but thankfully my Dad spotted 2 of the Little Stints to the far left of the hide and we decided that they would be better viewed from the gate as you came into the wetlands so we went over there and had cracking views of these fantastic little waders! First lifer of the trip!

Little Stint
After that brilliant start to the trip we headed of to the Crown and Anchor pub area to meet up with Rob Stokes who had later seen a Wryneck down by the rocks near the pub, we tried to re-find it but sadly we had no luck. We then had a good walk up to the Warren which turned out to be fantastic. When we were walking up to the Warren Rob spotted a very nice Spotted Flycatcher on a small dead bush. While we were watching this bird I saw a bird fly on to a branch just below the Spotted Fly and it was a cracking Pied Fly which also showed very well.
Spotted Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher
A little bit further up the road we spotted our first Whinchat of the trip.

We then reached the Canal Scrape hide where we saw a Redshank and 4 Common Snipe. When we were walking out of the Canal Scrape area a bird flew straight in front of us, I got a good look at the bird and shouted Wryneck! It then flew into a bush where it was a little elusive but what a great bird to see, I was really pleased to finally see a Wryneck as it is a bird I have always wanted to see.

Near the Warren there was a small pool where we saw Reed and Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff and a Whitethroat. Meadow Pipits were in massive numbers, everywhere you looked you could see one. At the Warren we didn't see much so we went back to the Crown and Anchor area to look for the Wryneck. We saw some Birders behind Cliff Farm so we went to have a look and just on the rocks only a couple of feet away from the path there was a Wryneck! This one showed much better than the other one, it was incredibly close!

In the garden of Cliff Farm there was a Redstart and a Pied Flycatcher.
Day 2
Today we started of at Sammys Point in Easington as there is tons of bushes for migrants. There wasn't to much around other than a few Chiffchaffs but suddenly I then spotted a distant Skua flying over the Humber, Rob then confirmed that it was a dark phase Arctic Skua! The third lifer of the trip!
After that we went to Kilnsea Wetlands in hope of finding the Curlew Sandpiper. When we arrived we were straight on the Little Stints again and a few minutes later Rob spotted the cracking moulting adult Curlew Sandpiper!
Curlew Sandpiper
We then moved on a little further to Beacon Ponds were we spotted Pintail, Wigeon and a Wheatear plus I spotted a late Swift flying over.
We then headed to Cliff Farm to see the Barred Warbler. We only had to wait around 5 minutes before this awesome warbler was giving great views around the trees and bushes at Cliff Farm.

Barred Warbler
After we heard that some ringing was going on nearby so we went to have a look and we saw Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart and Meadow Pipit being ringed! It was very nice to see them in the hand. We then met up with Mike Buckley and after we went into the Crown and Anchor to have a drink and a chat. A little while after we said goodbye to Mike as he had to go. nice to meet you Mike.

Meadow Pipit

Spotted Flycatcher
After we had a look in the Canal Scrape hide where we had fantastic views of Redshank and Yellow Wagtail.

Yellow Wagtail
Later in the day we had a walk to the point but we didn't get to far as we didn't want to miss the hog roast which was on at 6pm but we did get the chance to scan through a big flock of Waders where we spotted 3 Little Stints and a couple of Sanderling in amongst hundreds of Dunlin. A little while later a Peregrine flew over and lifted all the Waders which was an amazing sight. We also spotted Whinchat, Wheatear and a few Gannets.
On that night we went to see Mike Dilgers talk in Westmere Farm which was great and the hog roast was also very nice.  
Day 3
Today we started by having a little look out to sea but we didn't see much other than a few Meadow Pipits coming in off the sea. After that we watched a Tree Sparrow and a Chiffchaff being rung. We then had a walk down to Cliff Farm where we spotted tons of birds. We spotted a couple of Lesser Whitethroats, loads of Whinchats, Reed Buntings, a Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers.

Whinchat and Reed Bunting

Lesser Whitethroat
Further on down the path my Dad spotted a couple of Curlew Sandpipers on the Humber and then next to Cliff Farm we saw 3 more Curlew Sandpipers.

Curlew Sandpiper
We then went to have a look for the Barred Warbler and while we were looking we had nice views of a possible Siberian Lesser Whitethroat. The Barred Warbler also showed pretty well.
Barred Warbler
After we heard there was news of a Wryneck at the Caravan park. We spent about half an hour looking but we had no luck. Later on we had a drink and a bun in the Blue Bell Café. After that we went back to the cars and said goodbye to Rob as it was a long drive for him. It was really nice to meet you Rob. About 30 minutes later we were told that the Wryneck at the Caravan park was showing well so we rushed down there and as soon as we got there we were enjoying brilliant views of this super bird.

By now it was just about time to go home but we had one last check in Kilnsea Wetlands for the Little Stints and they were showing well, a really superb bird. This time there was 3 of them. As we were about to get in the car to go home I spotted a big bird of prey fly from behind the car park, I got my bins on it to confirm it was a Hen Harrier! What a great way to end the trip on, it was constantly being mobbed by Meadow Pipits and Corvids

Little Stints

Hen Harrier
After a superb few days birding it was time to leave Spurn. It was nice to meet some great people and it was fantastic to see some top birds.  

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Menorcan Birding Trip 2014

On the 8th of August we set of for a couple of weeks in Menorca and while we were there we were hoping to do some birding. One of the things I was most looking forward to was trying to find a Scops Owl as my Mum told me that there was quite a few in the hotel grounds. Most nights we heard them and after if we just waited a while we saw them and on on night I managed to get really close to one, its amazing how small they are!

Day 1
On our first birding day we had a couple of mile walk down by a rocky area near the beach where we spotted lots of Sardinian Warblers. About half way along my Dad spotted a big bird circling distantly over some hills so I looked through the bins and comfirmed that it was a White Stork! After a while it flew further away so we continued on walking where we came across 4 Crested Larks which was a first for me! Also around the rocks lots of Stonechats were flying about. A bit further on my Dad spotted a Shag sitting on the rocks just next to where the Crested Larks were so we went to have a look where we got very close to it, I felt like I was back on the Farnes again it was that close lol. On the way back we had about 3 Bee Eaters fly over.

Day 2
This day we had another walk down the rocky area but we didnt see much other than 2 familys of Spotted Flycatchers and one of the Juveniles showed very well.

Spotted Flycatcher

Day 3
Today we finally managed to hire a car so we raced of to S'Albufera nature reserve. On the way we spotted lots of birds of prey such as Booted Eagles, Egyptian Vultures, Red Kites and lots of Kestrels. Also we saw about 10+ Woodchat Shrikes sitting on lines as we drove to the reserve. When we arrived we shot straight up to the first hide where we didn't see anything unusual other than a few Great Reed Warblers flying past, a couple of Sardinian Warblers in the near by bushes and a turtle in the middle of the lake, I am unsure of what the turtle species is so if anyone has any suggestions leave it in the comments section please.

Turtle of some sort
After we moved onto the next hide where there wasn't really to much of note other than a Great Crested Grebe. A little walk further up the reserve brought us to a viewing platform where I first heard the call of a Bee Eater and then moments later one flew right over our heads and then a few seconds later lots more started flying over, I reckon about 50 flew over! I only managed one decent shot of them as I was to busy watching these cracking birds.
Bee Eater
After that amazing sight my Dad then spotted a distant Osprey sitting on a post in the middle of the water! Moments later the Osprey flew of the post and flew across the lake where we got some nicer views of it.

A little while on the Osprey became more distant so we continued scanning the lake where my Dad spotted a island full of Black Winged Stilts also just behind the island there was about 4 Little Egrets, I think there was about 40 or maybe more Black Winged Stilts on the island but they were quite distant so I couldn't really tell. We then left the viewpoint and continued our walk around the reserve where we didn't see much else other than a Booted Eagle.
Day 4
Today we went on a long walk which took around 1hr 30mins. We didn't see much on the walk but when we reached our stopping point we found this little area which looked pretty good and more or less as soon as we walked in we spotted a juvenile Woodchat Shrike sitting on top of a bush, I kept on creeping a little closer to it where I managed pretty nice views. Later on I spotted another Woodchat Shrike, this one was an adult and very distant and by time I got close to the spot if flew of.
Woodchat Shrike
Afterwards we moved on where we spotted a couple of Audouins Gulls on the beach which was a nice surprise.

Audouins Gull
Day 5
This was our last birding trip of our holiday and we were hoping it would be a good one. We headed of to look for this nature reserve but as you probably know directions aren't our strong point so in the end we didn't find the reserve instead we did some birding on a golf course and surprisingly it was pretty good! When we went in we first had a look at a little lake which was at the entrance of the Golf Course and I couldn't believe it there was 3 Ferruginous Ducks on it, another lifer for us, there was a pair and a single male, they all showed pretty well at times.
Ferruginous Duck
After we moved on further into the Golf Course where we spotted several Spotted Flycatchers and Sardinian Warblers.

Spotted Flycatcher
When we got quite a way round there was a few small lakes hidden behind reeds but you could just see through them to see if there was anything on the lakes and there was a female Red Crested Pochard on one of them! Almost straight after that we spotted an Osprey which was being mobbed by Bee Eaters which was awesome to watch. Further on we spotted a Woodchat Shrike which hid amongst the bushes and then a few minutes later we had a Hoopoe fly right over our heads! A great looking bird.   

That was my last day in Menorca and what a nice days birding to end it on.