Thursday, 30 October 2014

Another week another Shag!

After a gap of seven days (yes a week) the Shag reappeared, I don’t know where it has been hiding in the meantime but it was a welcome repeat. It had been rather a quiet walk around with just a couple of Redwing to speak of. The on the small pool another reappearance with the two Red-crested Pochard seen for the first time in three days.

The Shag was ridiculously close sat just off the disabled parking bays, unfortunately it was late, but at least one person managed to get there before dark, fortunately he had a camera – take a bow Steve Haynes.

Shag – Steve Haynes

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Wednesday 29th October

I have been around the Reservoir a lot recently and this morning there was still a Common Sandpiper present the Red-crested Pochard weren’t to be seen but they were there on Monday, I think they are commuting! Also today were a couple of Raven. This week has seen a scattering of Meadow Pipits but I have had no more than half a dozen at any one time.

Monday saw a Peregrine spending the late afternoon making sure the gulls didn’t get to settled. Also there was a Chiffchaff with the Long-tailed Tit flock.

Where did I find the time?

I cannot believe how little time I have since I was set free. On Thursday night I found out there was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in Cornwall. I dismissed going for it, but Joy insisted that we go and spend a couple of days in Cornwall (something we try to do most years). After the life changing events of last Friday I though you know what, lets go for it.

We got up early and with no real urgency we made out way down the M5. We hadn’t got much past Exeter when we heard the bird had made it through the night – someone must have helped it. (Gladis Knight!). We arrived at Porthwarra at about 11am and it was murky with a combination of low cloud, fog and a steady drizzle. We followed the directions and three birders one of whom looked familiar appeared out of the gloom. Mr Archer looking like an extra from The Hobbit with full beard but minus axe. He put us on the correct bearing as with the visibility being that poor a compass was called for.

We eventually came across the crowd or gathering, the bird wasn’t showing and you could tell who had seen the bird and who hadn’t – the one’s that had were all talking – rather loudly! I managed to bite my lip for a while but eventually I turned round and asked if the bird was deaf, as I rather hoped that it was as I wouldn’t quite mind seeing it! Sarcasm just went over their heads and they carried on talking away!!!

Eventually after an hour a birder around a 100 yards away started waving and we made our way round to where he was standing and enjoyed great views of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo at one point it landed on a dry stone wall and just sat there for a minute of so. Joy really enjoyed it and gave me a peck on the cheek! Bob Duckhouse one of my flatmates from Shetland was there as well, unfortunately the rain returned so we made our way back to the car park.

We had a walk in Nanquidno valley then we went to Pendeen but the winds were wrong so with daylight at a premium we went to Drift where we walked to the hide and had good views of the female Ring Necked Duck.

We had booked a hotel room for the night at the Penzance Hotel. B&B normally costs £65 for two so at £85 I thought it would be a bit more comfortably. It was great, the staff couldn’t do enough for us there was an excellent restaurant and the breakfast was excellent. I will be staying there again.

The next day, we birded around the Hayle Estuary seeing a couple of Firecrest and a Lesser Yellowlegs plus a variety of other birds. Then we slowly made our way back stopping at a site in Devon where we saw Dartford Warbler.

We arrived home early evening having enjoyed a great weekend.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Porthgwarra, Cornwall

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Thursday 23 October

Spent the morning at Ladywalk, didn’t really see much but it was a pleasant morning. This afternoon Joy and I took a walk around the Reservoir, it didn’t look promising with one sailing boat and a speed boat out on the water. We were about a quarter way round when a Cormorant caught my eye, I pulled up the bins to see a Shag the domed head and long slender bill were obvious, but the small size was what attracted me to it. Almost immediately it took flight it looked like it landed near the car park so we carried on. About half way down the Shag flew past us and disappeared over the trees flying east parallel to the railway line until lost to view. We checked out the small pool but it wasn’t there, but the two Red-crested Pochard were present on the raft in the corner.

I was hopeful of a seabird this week but Shag wouldn’t have been in my personal top ten. I am not sure but I think it might well be a new species for the Reservoir, I will look into it. It is certainly a new species for me.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tuesday 21st October

At a bit of a loose end today! I spent a pleasant morning around the reservoir. The wind was gusting a bit and at first I had the place to myself. On arrival six Skylark flew overhead but that was the only significant sighting apart from the two Common Sandpiper that seemingly don’t want to leave.

On the small pool were 120 Tufted Duck and the two Red-crested Pochard, I also ran into a tit flock seeing Treecreeper, Coal Tit and Goldcrest.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Monday 20 October

Last Friday saw me turn 58 plus probably more significantly unemployed/retired no sure which as yet. So it is safe to say I could be doing a bit more birding from now on. It also explains why I was such a stroppy mare on the Shetland trip – sorry lads – stress does funny things, including putting me off the beer!!!

There have been a couple of Common Sandpiper on and off now for a fortnight and the two Red-crested Pochard were still present this morning. A Swallow was seen yesterday.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Saturday 11th October

Up early and round the reservoir early. The two Red-crested Pochard were still present and there were two Common Sandpipers. A single Chiffchaff was seen but little else.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Thursday 9th October

Had a text yesterday from Steve Haynes that there was a Red-crested Pochard at Shustoke, I didn’t have time to walk around and the bird was tucked up out of sight. I tried again this morning and didn’t see the bird – again though I didn’t have time to walk around.

There are a tremendous number of Coot at the moment, the week before I went to Shetland I counted over 550 and there appears to be more now.

I saw several Swallows passing through this morning and a group of 19 Shoveler. Hopefully I will get over later this afternoon.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Shetlands 2014

Saturday 27 September
Good first day with Arctic Redpoll, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Wood Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler all seen. The flat was good the Fish and Chips even better. Bed early knackered.
Arctic Redpoll

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Sunday 28th September
Took the ferry via Yell to Unst birded the Norwick area. First up was a Temminck’s Stint basically the back of it as a Photographer got too close and flushed it. Then with a bit of a gale blowing Wryneck on the beach we had a search for other migrants but apart from Brambling it was a little quiet. Next stop produced a Common Rosefinch.

Stopped at a cafe for a coffee just after we had ordered – news broke of a Swainson’s Thrush two miles away. Hastily drunk coffee then great views of my first tick of the year. We were all buzzing on the way back we stopped at Yell to search for a King Eider – no luck the light was really poor.

Swainson’s Thrush

A few familiar faces, the Swainson’s twitch

Monday 29th September
News broke of a Yellow-rumped Warbler near Virkie, we headed down there but it was not seen, the weather was really poor with drizzle most of the day. The Captain and I headed back to the flat for a coffee joined an hour later but the rest of the crew. As the weather cleared up a little we went in search of a Barred Warbler eventually we saw the bird quite well.

Tuesday 30th September
Last night news broke of a White’s Thrush so we were up early(ish) we all had great views of this bird in a walled garden as it fed out of the wind. As we were driving away news broke that yesterdays Yellow-rumped Warbler had been relocated at Grutness we were heading in that direction and were only a couple of miles away. There were less than a dozen people present when we got there and had stunning views as it fed in yet another walled garden. Went for breakfast at the Airport then I don’t remember now what we did for the rest of the day, frankly it didn’t matter!
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Wednesday 1st October
A return visit to Unst stopping off at Yell where we dipped the King Eider again. On Unst saw Eastern Sub-alpine Warbler but in the wind it must have been wishing it was an Alpine Warbler. Its not going to be happy when it finds out Unst isn’t anywhere near Africa! Had great views of Barred Warbler as it was chased around by photographers the sight of a dozen middle-aged to old men crouched down inching forward to get closer was funny, the sound of the creaking bones was enough to flush the bird. The Captain got a brief sighting of a rather elusive Rustic Bunting which I may or may not have seen as a bunting like bird flew over me. As I was peeling an Orange at the time it was a missed opportunity. We also had reasonable views of a Marsh Warbler.

After an interesting day we tried for the third time for King Eider, this time success, but the bird was distant and the strong wind didn’t help.

Thursday 2nd October
Had a search for a Little Bunting today, I saw the bird briefly on the ground before it took flight, there was also a Yellow-browed Warbler here. Stopped at a cabbage field where the eagle-eyed Julian found a Richards Pipit, but although there were loads of birds in the field but the wind kept the birds low.

In the afternoon we saw a Pectoral Sandpiper in the south of the Island.

Little Bunting

Friday 3rd October
We went for and had much better views of the Little Bunting then birded around the Voe area for a while. We went back to the flat again for lunch and decided to search for a Corncrake on the west coast. We got there and searched either side of the burn but didn’t see the bird.

Back at the car Bobby D’s pager said there was a MEGA on Shetland but the message had broken up, no-one else had any phone reception so we headed back to civilisation to find out what was going on. As I appoached the main road Julien in the back screamed out “******* H*** a ********* Siberian ******** Ruby*******throat at ******* Levenwick” I have never heard such language!!!!

The next 10 minutes happened rather fast, “left, left, left, 1st gear, 2nd gear, 3rd gear two seconds later 80mpg and 4th gear. Two minutes later “**** we are going the wrong ******* way” Much slamming on of brakes, reversed into a gateway and headed back the way we had come. Parked up and over the next two hours some brief – some good – some tremendous views of my second tick of the week a stunning SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT.

Back at the flat we were all buzzing and I had my first drink of the week – well it had to be done!! If you can’t have a drink after a bird like that you never will!!!!

Saturday 4th October
This was the worst day of the week with heavy rain falling we didn’t do a lot but bored we headed out to search for a Rose-coloured Starling but all we got was wet. Late afternoon it started to brighten up and a report of a Pallid Harrier got us out again. Not for the first time this week we were in the right place at the right time as the Pallid Harrier was at the north end of Tingwall Airport – we were at the south end. A couple of minutes later we were watching the bird. We still had time to fit in a Bluethroat before dark – another good day!
Rather distant Pallid Harrier

Sunday 5th October
Our last day we were up early and some of us cleaned the flat! We had another try for Rose-coloured Starling this time with success. An act of kindness from Tom who drove down to pick The Captain and I up as we had wandered off in an attempt to locate the bird, which turned up where the car was parked. We then went back for and got really good views of the Siberian Rubythroat then with our time on the islands running out we headed to Sumburgh were we saw Jack Snipe, Lesser Whitethroat and another Yellow-browed Warbler. The flights when to plan and I was sat down at home just after 10pm.

Rose-coloured Starling

It was a cracking weeks birding without the crowds, I really hope Shetland stays like that, but with birds like this is seriously doubt it!!