Sunday, 28 September 2008

Rustic Bunting - Walney Island, Cumbria - 28th Sept 2008.

An extreme rarity in NW England, this Rustic Bunting at South Walney Bird Observatory simply had to be twitched. I'm unsure how many records there have been in the NW region, but this I think is a first for Cumbria and the species has yet to be recorded in Lancashire. Perhaps the only NW records are on Bardsey or Calf of Man?? - I'd be interested in knowing.

The Rustic Bunting showed well as it fed on seeds on a path by the Obs (above), but as far as my digiscoping efforts were concerned, there was always something obscuring the view, mainly a fence as can be seen in the videograbs of the bird. A little cracker nontheless. Whinchat and Stonechat also frequented the same area.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Stilt Sandpiper - Campfield Marsh RSPB, Cumbria - 24th Sept 2008.

A quick late afternoon dash up to north Cumbria and the Solway for only my 2nd Stilt Sandpiper, a delightful juvenile, which was frequenting a tidal pool on the saltmarsh. A fem/imm Merlin flew across the road nearby.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Local birding: Brockholes Wetland LWT - 21st Sept 2008.

A truly memorable afternoon on the local patch with the best Hobby I have ever seen, a superb, stunning juvenile present for the fourth day and showing down to four metres at times as it specifically targeted Common Darters flying in tandem. This was followed by truly stunning views of the Hobby perched in Boilton Wood........... What a great bird!

Tony Disley obtained the images below through the scope:

Whilst watching the Hobby a large Raptor gave tantalising views low to the north of Boilton Wood, just above the treeline then dropped out of site prompting some speculation as to the species. Very shortly it reappeared, gaining height, and was quickly identified as a juv Honey Buzzard. The bird headed south at 14:30 over Boilton Wood and over the site on a north-south heading.

Montage below by Tony Disley:

Against the grey sky, brief scope views before reaching for the camera suggested a dark morph juv, but lightening in photoshop shows the bird was more mottled beneath.

Off the top of my head, this latest bird, hot on the heels of a dark morph bird yesterday, represents the 14th site record 2000-2008! - A truly amazing statistic! - The site has been underwatched this past week, surely these are not the only two birds to have passed through?

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Dave & Bernie Bickertons 25th Wedding anniversary Celebration - 13th Sept 2008.

A great night was had by all at Rishton Cricket Club to celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of East Lancs Birder Dave Bickerton and his wife Bernie.

From centre clockwise: Bernie Bickerton (front), Margaret Breaks, Dave Bickerton, Tim Davie, Janet Davie, Pamela Aspin, Bill Aspin, Bill Berry, Tony Disley, Brian Breaks and Councillor John F. Wright.

And another one so as to ensure everyone is caught in a good pose in at least one of the photos.

Story of the night went to Greater Manchester birder Chris Fog, a wedding day guest back in 1983, who recanted how attending the wedding cost him an inland Leaches Petrel on Hollingworth Lake, Rochdale......Thats birders for you :-)

Sunday, 7 September 2008

East Coast: Cleveland & Co. Durham - 7th Sept 2008.

The first decent east coast fall of the autumn on Saturday 6th Sept, saw Myself, Dave Bickerton and Bill Berry hastily arrange a days birding for the following day to indulge in some drift migrants.

Departing Blackburn at 07:00 we had intended to go directly to South Gare, but the discovery of a Greenish Warbler at Hartlepool saw us change plan and we headed directly to the Headland for a check of the area, and to try and find out where exactly the Greenish site, West View Cemetary, was.

Arriving at Hartlepool, the pager informed us that an Icterine Warbler had been trapped somewhere on the Headland, so we made our first stop the Bowling Green nr the Doctors Garden. This was a great decision as no sooner had we got out the car that we were told the Icky was still being processed in a garage-cum-ringing-hut just around the street corner, so we hurried round where in-hand views of a fine Icky was had.

Icterine Warbler - Olive Street, Hartlepool, Cleveland - 7th Sept 2008.

The Icterine Warbler was released and 30 minutes birding in this area produced 5 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Redstart, Willow Warblers, Garden Warbler, Blackcap and a Wheatear.

Then followed a fateful decision to do a spot of seawatching, which produced very little except Kittiwake, Sandwich Tern, Eider and Gannet, and cost us another in-hand Icterine Warbler at the same location as the first!

A walk to the Sycamores at Borough Hall saw good numbers of Willow Warbler in the trees, 2+ Pied Flycatcher and an excellent Wood Warbler, whilst a flava Wagtail was noted overhead. The concensus amongst locals was that there were many fewer birds than the previous day, when 100+ Redstart were present on the headland, but for us the was migrants were plentiful enough to keep us more than interested!

With better directions to West View Cemetary and news that the Greenish had been seen again, we made the short car journey there where we failed to connect with the very elusive, non-calling Greenish in 1.5hrs. Another Wood Warbler, 20+ Willow Warbler, 1 Pied Flycatcher and male Redstart were noted in the Sycamores.

It was now midday and a phone call to a friend in-situ at South Gare revealed that no scarce migrants had been found there as yet, but there were pleasing numbers of common migrants.

A decision was made to head further north into Co. Durham, with the main target bird a Subalpine Warbler at Trow Quarry north of Whitburn, but since the initial report no further news had been paged out, but we still decided to head that way.

Forty minutes later we arrived at what we thought was Trow Quarry, and began to work the wrong area of cover, a small group of very stunted hawthorns atop a mound surrounded by rank grass. This proved worthwhile and very enjoyable as 3 Redstart, 3 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 4 Willow Warbler were noted in this very small area. Delightful!

A local birder then walked up and pointed us in the right direction. A few hundred metres away was the depression of Trow Quarry, a superb migrant trap with weedy areas, sycamore, Hawthorn and Elder against a small former quarry face.

More migrants were immediately apparent; Pied Flycatcher (above), 5+ Redstart, several Wheatear, Blackcap, Willow Warblers and two Common Whitethroat, soon followed by the absolutely delightful Subalpine Warbler which gave very nice scope views on+off for the next hour.

Subalpine Warbler - Trow Quarry, Co. Durham - 7th Sept 2008.

Whinchat was added to the day list, as was a Wryneck as it fed on a distant cliff face.

Having feasted on the Subalpine and other migrants, we then dipped the second Greenish Warbler of the day, nr the Doctors Garden in Whitburn. Two Spotted Flycatcher were the only migrants of any note.

Now approaching late afternoon, we began to head south and a check of some random bushes at Seaton produced two Redstarts.

Shortly afterwards, the pager alerted us to the discovery of a GREAT SNIPE(!!), seen three times in flight on South Gare! I had only ever seen one before, at Sammies Point, Spurn, in May 1989..... 19 long years ago!

We arrived at the Gare at 17:53, pulling up by a small gathering of birders. Scope out of the car I began to walk over when suddenly they all raised their 'bins' in unison.... The Great Snipe had been flushed and was in flight...... I ran over and immediately got onto the bird with my 'bins'.... Although not close, bulk, mode of flight and dark underwings were apparent.... unquestionably a Great Snipe! What good fortune! - The Snipe landed out of sight behind a ridge so I and others went over in an attempt to relocate the bird, but no joy was had in the next hour, though I did flush a Wryneck from my feet in the process, as well as a few Wheatear.

And there ended another memorable autumn day on the east coast.