Saturday, 24 September 2016

Western Swamphen Alkborough in the bank for ron

So having dipped the Western Swamphen the day it left Minsmere I've been watching it during it's stay at Alkborough Flats in Lincolnshire. As I've stated before I have this soft self imposed two hour twitch rule and with Swampy now 200 miles from home I'd need to break that rule if I wanted to see the swamp monster.

Today was that day so I collected the Jims and drove up the A1 arriving at Alkborough Flats for 7am after the uneventful 3 hour drive. We quickly found the "first hide" and plotted up with two Kent birders hoping for the target to reveal itself. Five Spoonbills entertained us along with numerous Spotshanks, Avocets and Blackwits and a couple of Greenshanks all of which repeatedly took to the skies when the Marsh Harriers appeared. We sat it out in the hide until noon without seeing the target and with no reported sightings elsewhere on the reserve we feared a second dip. Before leaving and after a light lunch we plotted up at the end of Sandpit Lane with another couple and viewed the square pool only to find the bird walking the fringe of the pool. Just the five of us saw it but I quickly put news out and then watched as the hide below emptied as the twitch moved up the hill to join us. Now some thirty birders strong all we needed was for the bird to appear again but it had other ideas and went missing for the next three hours.

We left before it was refound but were happy for the guys left behind that it did eventually reveal itself to them. Now all we need is for the bird to be accepted but lets face it if Chinese Pond Heron can make it then this must have a good chance.

Onwards and Upwards!

Spoonbill over Shovelers
All five of the Alkborough Spoons
Take Flight
Year list now 264  Life list 376
with Swampy added as pending.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Wheatear exodus

It's always great to see the first Wheatear of the year as they arrive in the spring and great to see them gathering for the mass exit too. I hope these guys do well on their epic migration and look forward to their return next spring.

Wheatear at Landguard

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Wheatears and Wagtails at Landguard

A nice morning at Landguard NR in Suffolk where the place was alive with Wheatears, Willow Warblers and Wagtails with both Yellow and Pied in the dozens feeding and getting ready for the off.

Pied Wagtail at Landguard NR
Wheatear at Landguard NR
I found a couple of Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat before fly overs from both Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. Common Tern and Turnstone put in an appearance but otherwise things were quiet but enjoyable.

Willow Warbler
Common Buzzard
Lesser Whitethroat
Common Tern
Ticks are getting difficult to find now and the year list remains static at 263

News now in of a Tawny Pipit at Dunge if only I'd had headed that way this morning I might have connected with another bird on my thus far "dipped list" 

Monday, 29 August 2016

more images of the Baird's Sandpiper at Reculver

Dunlin (left) and a Baird's Sandpiper (right) 
Baird's Sandpiper Reculver
Baird's Sandpiper Reculver
Baird's Sandpiper Reculver
Baird's Sandpiper Reculver
Baird's Sandpiper Reculver
Baird's Sandpiper Reculver

Dunlin and Baird's Sandpiper at Reculver
Dunlin and Baird's Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper with Dunlin 
Sad to see the bird has moved on but maybe it's relocated to Oare Marsh with a possible reported there today.

More images from Kent at the weekend

Little Stint, Dunlin and Baird's Sandpiper
Little Stint
Little Star Stint
Little Stint (my new best bird)

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Baird's Sandpiper at Reculver

We decided on a trip to Reculver this morning despite knowing we could encounter trouble with the M20 being closed. We set off at 5am and arrived at Reculver towers around 6.30am. With a pound in the pay and display we set off along the sea wall for the mile or so walk to Coldharbour Lagoon.

Little Stint and Dunlin
Little Stint
As we reached the pool three birders had already set up and were watching the Baird's as it mingled at close range with a Little Stint and two Dunlin. The four birds entertained us for the next couple of hours ignoring the stream of birders, dog walkers and cyclists. The Little Stint at times stealing the show as it came even closer than the Baird's which was in itself far from shy and retiring.

Baird's Sandpiper at Reculver

Baird's Sandpiper

As we walked along the footpath we had a surprise late year tick with four Whimbrel and noticed a single Wheatear, two Common Sandpipers, three Sanderling along with a large group of Turnstone and Ringed Plover. Both Pied and Yellow Wagtail numbers were building.


After a successful twitch we headed over to Dunge where a drive down Gallaways delivered good views of six plus of Whinchat and Wheatear. Another Wheatear was seen along the road to Dunge and another on the beach so numbers are picking up. Things were quiet with reports of Wood Sand and a Glossy Ibis on the reserve the main highlights. A Kestrel posed for the camera before we left with the year list nudged along to 263.


Friday, 26 August 2016

British birds list UPDATE

I put together a quick review of the state of play in British listing last April and it was quite interesting to do so I thought I'd have a quick review a year on and see where we now stand.

As of the June 30th 2016 the official BOU list now stand at 603 so in the year since no fewer than seven firsts for Britain have been accepted.

Firstly the Alder Flycatcher in Cornwall 2008 was accepted. (597)

Moltoni's Subalpine Warbler was officially split and accepted as a new species (598)

Northern Harrier accepted as an official split from Hen Harrier.  (599)

Yelkouan Shearwater was added as the official 600th species although the first record dates back to 2008 with one seen off Berry Head in Devon being the now accepted first for Britain. (600)

Azoean Yellow-legged Gull accepted from a record in Cornwall from 2008 (601)

Chinese Pond Heron from Hythe, Kent in 2014 (602)

Slaty Backed Gull at Rainham in 2011 (603)

Of these sadly I connected only with the Pond Heron and memorably dipped the Slaty Back ten miles from home!

visit   for more detail

Of these 603 species

585 sit in Category A
(Species in Category A have been recorded in an apparently natural state at least once since 1 January 1950.)

8 sit in Category B
(Species in Category B have been recorded in an apparently natural state at least once between 1 January 1800 and 31 December 1949, but have not been recorded subsequently.)

Ruddy Shelduck last recorded in 1946
White-faced storm Petrel last recorded in 1897
Egyptian Vulture last recorded in 1868
Spotted Eagle last recorded in 1915
Eskimo Curlew last recorded in 1880
Great Auk last recorded in 1840
Pallas's Gull last recorded in 1859
Red-necked Nightjar last recorded in 1856


10 sit in Category C
(Species in Category C, although introduced, now derive from the resulting self-sustaining populations)

Ring-necked Parakeet First recorded in 1969 now over 8600 pairs in the UK
Little Owl First recorded in 1758 now over 5700 pairs in the UK
Golden Pheasant Introduced in the 1870's less than 100 pairs remain in the wild
Lady Amherst's Pheasant Introduced in Bedfordshire in 1890 less than five birds remain
Common Pheasant Introduced in medieval times with an estimated population over two million.
Capercaillie Re - introduced in 1837 less than 1300 birds remain in Britian
Red-legged Partridge Introduced in 1779 and now over 86,000 territories in the UK
Ruddy Duck First recorded in 1949 but due to constant culling less than 50 birds now survive.
Mandarin Duck First recorded in 1866 and now numbers over 7000 wintering birds
Egyptian Goose First recorded in 1898 and now numbers over 3000 wintering birds