Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A lack of recent posts is due to me becoming sick and tired of the length of time it was taking to organise and post blog entries due to glitches in the blogger software beyond my control.

Therefore, I have created a new blog: http://babbthree.blogspot.com/

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Local birding, Lancs : Brockholes NR LWT - 17th-22nd May 2011.

I have put c50hrs of effort in at the local patch during the past week in much anticipated weather conditions of fresh westerly sector winds, with cloud and some rain, resulting in some some excellent wader passage recorded through the site as well as some other nice bonus birds.

Wader totals:

Wood Sandpiper: At least 1 bird. There was a two day gap between sightings. I have video footage of 'both' and intend to grill them to see if I can note any plumage differences.

Little Stint: 1.

Turnstone: 19 recorded through the site 16th-22nd, inc a record flock of 15.

Sanderling: 19 recorded through during the period, inc a record flock of 8, and a flock of 6. The previous best spring total was 21 birds between 13th May and 5th June 2000. Looks as though, given enough coverage, this total will be broken in spring 2011.

Dunlin: 66 recorded flying east-west through the site. With variable numbers of grounded birds recorded, number is likely to be closer if not exceeding c100. Highest grounded count being 20 on the evening of 18th May.

Ringed Plover: 68 recorded flying east-west on 16th-17th. With variable numbers of grounded birds, number definately exceeds 100 through the site 16th-22nd.

Grey Plover: A first-summer type evening of 18th May (the only decent bird I failed to connect with).

Knot: 3, grey first-summer type birds.

Whimbrel: Several records totalling c15 birds moving through the site and departing north during the day, contrary to birds dropping in from NE and back out when feeding/roosting in area.

Arctic Tern: 5 birds through.

Common Tern: 4 birds through.

Osprey: 2 sightings: 1 on 17th (see previous blog entry) and one on 21st May.

Blue-headed Wagtail: Male on 16th-17th May (see previous blog entry). This would apear to be the first definate record for the site, though there have been 1+ female types thought to be flava in the past.

Additionally: Occasional Hobby sightings and a regular imm Peregrine.

Above & below: Wood Sandpiper - 20th May 2011. Always a great species to record on the patch, particularly in spring, this is one of perhaps two different birds this week.

Above & below: Little Stint - 20th May 2011. Only the 3rd spring record in the period 1999 - 22nd May 2011, following one on 7th-8th May 1999 and 2 on 14th May 2000.

Above: Knot - 17th May 2011.

Above & below : Flock of 8 Sanderling - 17th May 2011. This is the largest single flock to be recorded onsite to date, Aug 1998-22nd May 2011. The previous site record flocks being 6 on 26th May 2000 and 6 on 24th May 2004.

Above: Sum plum male Turnstone - 17th May 2011. 19 birds have been recorded between 16th- including a recrd breaking flock of 15 on 16th May 2011. The previous record site flock being 9 (with three Sanderling) on 27th May 2000.

Above: imm Peregrine.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Local birding: Brockholes Nature Reserve LWT, Lancs - 16th May 2011.

11.5hrs of effort on the local patch in an f4+ westerly and virtually constant heavy drizzle throughout with steadier rainfall thrown in for good measure yielded some good results.

Firstly, no sooner had I parked in the Reserve car park and opened the boot lid, I glanced around to see a large bird with brown upperparts and a clearly interesting jizz with the naked eye, flying low over the screen planting on the SE compound bund.... A low flying Osprey!

All too quickly, the Osprey continued downriver towards the M6 roadbridge. I slammed the boot shut, cranked up the Chariot and shot down the Reserve access road hitting 50mph in an attempt to head the bird off at the entrance for a record shot. Thankfully no LWT staff were onsite to witness the manic drive/slow me down.

The Osprey stopped just short of the entrance and began to fish briefly before heading back upstream, allowing me time to get the record shot. Time of sighting was 07:10-07:19. What a great start to the session.

The Wood Sandpiper remained from the previous evening, allowing me to improve slightly on the record videograb of the previous night, and was still present when I left the site at 18:20.

An Arctic Tern appeared briefly on No1 Pit at 08:06, followed by yesterday's poorly seen interesting flava Wagtail which proved to be a male Blue-headed.

At 09:20, a gargantuan flock of 15 Turnstone dropped into No1 Pit from the east, but only remained for six minutes, 09:20-09:26 and most inconsiderately flew off seconds before I could digiscope them. This flock significantly betters the previous largest flock to be recorded onsite, 9 on 27th May 2000.

At 12:04, following a Coffee in the Visitor Village, a return to No1 Pit revealed 2 grey, 2cy Knot had arrived and were resting on the eastern end of the island. Both flew west at 12:48. A pair of Common Tern briefly circumnavigated No1 Pit at 12:21.

No new arrivals were noted thereafter until a single Sanderling dropped in onto No1 Pit at 15:27, and a single Whimbrel on Meadow Lake at 18:28. I did have two sightings of a Hobby during the day.

Following my departure home at 18:30, Nick Green arrived onsite to continue observations and was rewarded with a flock of 11 Dunlin 'in' onto No1 Pit and also a second Sanderling. At least 18 Dunlin and 10+ Ringed Plover were onsite mid-evening. An excellent day on the patch.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Local birding: Wood Sandpiper, Brockholes Nature Reserve LWT - 15th May 2011.

The f4 westerlies with cloud and rain produced some nice birds on the local patch today with the first Turnstone of the spring (2 birds) seen in the morning and a splendid Wood Sandpiper (above) early evening in foul weather which eventually resulted in 'rained-up' optics. Also, a Flava Wagtail was seen very briefly in the evening was thought most likely to be Blue-headed, but not confirmed.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Local birding: Grasshopper Warbler - Brockholes NR LWT - 11th May 2011.

An absolutely brilliant 'Gropper' on the local patch.

A few offshore migrants: April 2011.

Above: Male Marsh Harrier - 8 miles offshore.

Above & below: female Yellow Wagtail - c15 miles offshore.

Above & below: 'Continental' Robin - 20 miles offshore. At 11:32AM this bird took off high NE, next stop Scandinavia. The best Robin I ever did see!

Above: Harbour Porpoise.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Local birding, Lancs: Brockholes NR LWT: 6th-12th April 2011.

Above & below: 2cy Iceland Gull - Brockholes NR LWT - 12th April 2011. Found on 'Chain Gang Tuesday' by Volunteer's Tony Parnell, Pete Bainbridge & Robin Shenton as they were working on screen building by one of the new hides on No1 Pit. The bird is the first site record and was only present for c1hr around midday before heading west with the small flock of Lesser Black-backed Gulls it had arrived with. Thanks to the newly revived Brockholes text group, a clinical twitch saw Myself, Tony Disley, Zac Hinchcliffe and Cllr. John F. Wright all sucessfully connect with it before it departed.

Above & below: A few flocks of icelandic Black-tailed Godwits have been recorded passing through the site in the past week presumably on cross country migration, largest flock size 29 on 12th April.

Above & below: A pair of Med Gull dropped in on 12th. It looks as though five different birds have been recorded in recent weeks, including a silver 'BTO-type' ringed adult.

Above: Kestrel.

Above & below: Good to see Tree Sparrows making use of the 'Totem Pole' nest boxes.

Above: Bolton legend Ricky Hoyle (right), 12th April 2011. Haven't seen him for years!

Other patch highlights following good coverage by several observers include: 2 Osprey (I have put in 30hrs so far and not connected with one yet!), Yellow Wagtail (always notable nowadays), at least 2 Greenshank, small numbers of Dunlin and a maximum day count of 12 LRP. Whilst the first Whimbrel of the year should be imminent!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Local birding, Lancs: Avocets - 5th April 2011.

These two Avocets were initially found by Pete Bainbridge at the local patch, Brockholes NR LWT, on No1 Pit at 09:00 and represent the third site record, totalling seven individuals, since the first, long overdue record in 2009. At 10:34 they flew high and were lost to view over onsite trees before I had chance to obtain a record shot, but were relocated at 13:30 a few miles to the north of the site at Grimsargh Reservoirs nr Longridge. There they were still present 15:37 at least when I acquired the record shots above.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Lancs: Iceland Gull & Kittiwake - 31st March 2011.

Above: 2cy Iceland Gull

Below: Ad Kittiwake

Preston Docks, Lancs - 31st March 2011.

1.5hrs at Brockholes NR LWT mid-late morning provided me with a yeartick in the form of 2 Swallow and also my first 2 White Wagtail of 2011. At least 50 Sand Martin were in the area, 5 LRP and 3 Ringed Plover, 14 Curlew, 2 Redshank and a Snipe, but nothing obviously brought in by the strong SW wind during my visit.

During the afternoon, a trip into Preston with my Wife provided an opportunity to call in at Preston Docks beforehand. The long-staying Juv Iceland Gull was immediately obvious upon arrival at 13:45 and a bonus bird in the form of a Kittiwake, a species I was hoping for at Brockholes earlier in the day, was also present.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Western Isles inc. Mull - 27th-29th March 2011.

Above & below: Pied-billed Grebe, Salen Bay, Mull. Three videograbs of this excellent but elusive and frustratingly mobile bird taken at 350x magnification.

Above: Basking Shark, 28th March 2011. The first Scottish record this year and only the third in UK and Irish waters so far in 2011. Common Dolphin also seen.

Away from Mull, I was fortunate to be involved with the finding of two more White-billed Divers.

Above: The first WBD - 27th March 2011.

Below: The second WBD - 28th March 2011.

Below: Great Northern Diver. A few hundred seen. One birder on Mull counted 69 in Loch Na Keal alone. How many thousands must winter off the coast of Britain and Ireland? 17, mainly summer plumaged Slavonian Grebe were seen in Loch Na Keal and a Red-necked Grebe which I saw at the beginning of March was still present very distantly in Laggan Bay, Loch Tuath. Wheatears were clearly well in with several around the shoreline of Loch Na Keal

Above: Three Razorbill & a single Guillemot.

On Mull, a pair of Peregrine are delighting birders and tourists alike at Tobermory Harbour. For those familiar with Tobermory, the birds perch on the Church by the waterfront shops, allowing brilliant views and photos in between hunting sorties, terrorising the Feral Pigeon population as they chase their intended prey low over the buildings.

Above & below: Common Buzzard.

Above: Golden Eagle, Loch Na Keal, Mull. A couple 0f White-tailed Eagles were seen on a distant nest at another location.

Above: One of two Otter stubbornly remaining on the blind side of a rock. Four Otter seen at different locations on 29th. Mull truly is the Otter capital of Britain!

Above: Rock Pipit.