Wednesday 31 August 2016

Charca de Suarez turns up a few surprises!

Tuesday 30 August

With the annual community meeting scheduled for 7pm in Velez de Bendaulla it left a bare hour to take a quick look at both , what I call, Turtle Dove Alley and the adjacent reserve at Charca de Suarez on the western outskirts of Motril.  And what an evening it turned pout to be - and not all that we had planned!Over thirty species recorded in the hour and then, following a stop at friend Steve Powell's in Frigiliana for a cup of tea on the way home, jenny had a fall which resulted in a severe head wound and possible fractures so resulting in the emergency summons of an ambulance to deliver her to the local hospital at Velez Malaga.  kept in overnight for observation and possibly a second night before she can return home, that's the end of this birding adventure resulting in me cancelling my visit to the Loja area today and the is week-end's stay down at Tarifa which would also have taken in nearby Barbate ad La Janda.  But at least the resulting injuries are not as severe as first thought so I shall have Jenny home very soon.

Turning into "Turtle Dove Alley" we immediately had a couple of Crested Larks on the road and House Sparrows exploring the first house and then, with an hundred metres or so, both Serins and a couple of male Red Avadavats in full breeding plumage with their deep red waistcoats with white spots, a first ever sighting for Jenny.  A little further on our first Turtle Dove on the road picking up grit with another pair in a roadside bush and a quartet flying overhead crossing the path of a small charm of Goldfinch.  Wonderful.  A stop at the ruined building on the corner where the Little owls had bred earlier in the year produced feeding Barn Swallows, more Crested larks and a Spotted Flycatcher.  Whilst a flock of Spotless Starlings settle on the overhead wires a Common Kestrel took off nearby for a gentle wander round the area.

On to the Charca itself and the first birds seen, very high overhead, a pair of Honey Buzzards.  This is usually the peak week for Honey Buzzard migration, hence the planned visit to Tarifa this week-end.  Reaching the hide overlooking the Laguna del Alamo Blanco we came across Steve Powell trying out his new bazooka of a Canon lens, a 500 f4 prime purchased at last week's Birdfair at Rutland Water.  I can see that future meets are going to end up with Steve, Olly and Rick Owen comparing lenses and trying to determine who has the largest so, no doubt, lots of innuendo-like comments such as mine's bigger than yours , etc!!  The pool itself had lost a lot of its water but, in doing so, created some lovely muddy area just right for waders and so it turned out.  First a Green Sandpiper then a Greenshank joined by a Wood Sandpiper with a couple of Ringed Plovers in attendance.  A small flock of White Wagtails was working the edges and then a water rail exploded from the reeds to our right to dash across the almost dry laguna.

Moving on to the hide overlooking main water of the Laguna de las Aneas the water was almost full with mainly Grey Herons of varying ages and eclipse Mallards with fully grown juveniles.  A few Common Pochard were also identified and had we had more time I might also have added the pair of Garganey that were reported to be presently favouring this laguna with their presence.  Lots of Common Coots and Moorhens along with a small number of Yellow-legged Gulls.  In addition to also finding Little Grebes and a dozen or so of Little Egrets, a single Squacco Heron flew into sight to perch on the distant bare tree immediately in front of the scientific hide on the far side.  Th e juvenile Black-winged Stilt that landed on the edge of the small island immediately in front of the hide was an added bonus.

Just time for a quick look at the Laguna del Trebol where we, in addition to more Common Coots and Moorhens, found a couple of Red-knobbed Coots including one without an identification collar. Given that also recorded Monk Parakeet, Collared Dove and  Cetti's Warbler we thought that we had had a magnificent hour and quite an eventful afternoon - but that was before the unwelcome surprise that was to befall us on the way home.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Pochard, Little Grebe, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Heron, Honey Buzzard, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper,  Yellow-legged Gull, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Cetti's Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Red Avadavat, Serin, Goldfinch.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Tuesday 30 August

Continuing the birding week this morning saw me down at the local Rio Velez in Tore del Mar with Bryan Stapley.  Being so hot  and dry of late and even arriving by 8.45 for an hour or so we did not expect much.  In that sense we were not surprised but, on the other hand, we did have some lovely views of the local Spotted Flycatchers and a most gorgeous Melodious Warbler upstream of the road bridge.

The site itself looked pleasantly green  on the river bed but the whole area was desperately in need of rain.  Overgrown young bamboos did nothing to help the viewing with our fort bird, a solitary Moorhen, almost completely hidden in the vegetation.  Nothing much else until we reached the hide near the pumping station and a time spent here produced the Spotted Flycatchers and a good number of feeding House Sparrows, Greenfinches and Serins.  A couple of Goldfinches and a Blackbird joined the mixed party and overhead a few Barn Swallows and the occasional House Martin.  No shortage, however, of screaming Monk Parakeets.and a good-sized flock of Spotless Starlings had taken up residence and a Cetti's Warbler was heard.

A walk to the beach produced nothing at sea and the lagoon looked desperately stagnant and lacking in oxygen with numerous small fish, all around 15cm long, constantly jumping out of the water. Another Moorhen, a pair of Coots and at least a dozen Mallard plus a single Little Egret with a small number of Yellow-legged and a handful of Black-headed Gulls also to be seen.  The walk back to the car added the local Rock Doves and a pair of Collared Doves.

A short detour upstream from the road bridge produced more Spotted Flycatchers along with both Crested and Thekla Larks plus a very presentable Melodious Warbler.  Before beating a hasty retreat home before the weather came completely unbearable we managed also to ind a single Cattle Egret.  Just the 2s species this morning but what can you expect in these present weather conditions and a site much in need of some loving attention and lots of rain.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Monday 29 August 2016

Montes de Malaga and El Torcal

Monday 29 August

At last, a chance to get back to Spanish birding with friends after a three-month break. Up in what seemed like the middle of the night, very black but still warm, to meet up with Derek and Barbara Etherton along with Linda Roberts at Colmenar and then it was off up the Montes de Malaga arriving at the central car park near the little museum before 7.30 where the light in the valley was still slightly muted and in the shade and a chance to, hopefully, catch up on some of the smaller passerines that seem to have eluded thus far in 2016.

The large tree on the slope opposite the car park seemed to be the favourite eating place with a couple of Nuthatches seen along with many Blue Tits and the odd Great Tit.  However, ere long it soon became apparent that this was also the feeding tree of the local Firecrests and a few Chiffchaffs were spotted in the adjacent small tree.bush.  Not so much the trio of Wood Pigeons that flew over but the noisy groups of marauding Crossbills that were to certainly be the dominant bird of this area. Next up a good-sized flock of Linnets and having seen nothing in the large tree below the car park we made our way down the steps and the short walk to the picnic area and back.

No sooner at the bottom, having seen our first juvenile Robin and an adult male Blackbird on the way with Derek and Barbara adding a Coal Tit, we came across a family party of Long-tailed Tits, always a delight to see.  Meanwhile Jenny and Derek managed to find a rather absorbed Jay busy feeding in the shaded branches of a distant tree.  Chaffinches were added and in the bare branches at the top of the above-mentioned large tree a Great Spotted Woodpecker looking for a tasty breakfast. Returning to the cars having recorded more Crossbills and Robins we found that there were still plenty of Chiffchaffs and Firecrests about along with a pair of Sardinian Warblers.

The drive up to the relatively nearby high vantage point, delicately manoeuvring our cars past the fallen tree across the track, found us looking at yet more Crossbills; they seemed to be everywhere.  A Melodious Warbler put in a brief appearance before we took the path down the valley and the help of those with excellent hearing soon managed to pick out Short-toed Treecreeper, lovely close Coal Tits and a pair of Crested Tits.  Not bad to have seen five tit species in the space of about an hour and not a feeding station in site; all in their natural habitat.  As an added bonus we watched a handsome Booted Eagle drift over and, on returning to the cars, also found a Short-toed Eagle high above us.

Breakfast called.  So having driven back to Colmenar to pick up Linda's car we stopped at ta local poligno for juice, coffee and a very tasty roll.  On then to El Torcal in the hope that it would not be too hot, too late it was, and a chance to pick up some warblers.  Not a lot of success but we did ad Black Redstart and Blue Rock Thrush along with very many Common Swifts feeding overhead and the odd House Martin.  We had already come across Crag Martins over the cliffs as we started up the drive from the main road plus the occasional Barn Swallow but no raptors.  A stop on the way up produced a Stonechat and that appeared to be it.  Linda was the only one to see the Green Woodpecker that crossed the road in front of her car as we the El Torcal turn, presumably disturbed and then put up by our two cars in front and it was she that was to see the only Alpine Swift on view.

But, as is usually the case, it all happened.  In the cars and actually starting to drive out of the car park when a Rock Bunting flew up into a small tree next to the exit and happily remained until we had all had a good view.  Similarly, a stop on the way down as a Northern Wheatear dashed across the road in front of Derek's car led to the the production of not only lots of Common Swifts but also at least a trio of Alpine Swifts and a pair of distant Griffon Vultures.  Seems almost a shame to add both House Sparrow and Collared Dove!

A lovely morning in great company and much more birding to look forward to during the rest of the week.

Birds seen:
Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Jay, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Crossbill, Rock Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Trujillo and the Monfrague National Park, Extremadura

Sunday 21 August

Another hot and cloud-free day so away as early as possible to drive over to the Monfrague National Park followed by a visit to the Arrocampo reservoir and finally back to the hostal for a well-earned sleep. A great day even if the wrong time of the year for birding (heat and dry) but at least I managed to find all my targeted birds.

Time for the Griffon Vultures Buitre Leonado Gyps fulvus to rise ans shine!

Leaving as soon as possible and before breakfast to try and get to Monfrague before the temperatures once more reached the upper thirties and beyond, I had regular sightings of Magpie, Buzzard and Barn Swallows on the journey.  A raven crossing the road was a welcome sighting as the first of a couple of Black Kites.  A stop for breakfast at El Rubio provided the sight of mass House Martins at their colony.  Next up was a Hoopoe disappearing off into the dehesa and apart from Collared Doves I actually came across a single Turtle Dove sunning itself on a telephone wire. At the long, low bridge approaching the destination there were scores of House Martins feeding over the now virtually dry river bed but, at a small pool on the far side of the road a single Black Stork took its leave as I looked over the parapet.  In addition to the House Martins, I recorded the occasional Red-rumped Swallow and even a couple of Alpine Swifts.  Finally, a few Crested Larks, the first Azure-winged Magpies of the day and a number of isolated Woodchat Shrikes before reaching my first port of call.

One of many soaring Griffon Vultures
At the Salto del Gitano on the bend of the Rio Tajo the resident Griffon Vultures were warming nicely in the rising temperature and starting to take to the skies.  Scores of vultures either soaring around or still resting on the rocks of the gorge opposite the viewing station.  In addition, many Crag Martins and a few Barn Swallows.

Following the river down to the mirador overlooking its tributary on the Rio Tietar at La Tajadilla I finally found my Egyptian Vultures along with more Griffons and a smaller number of Black (Monk) Vultures.  The wrong time of the year to make a specific visit to the area but very rewarding as I was (almost) passing on my home from the UK to Malaga.  Also seen in the area many Southern Grey Shrikes along with Booted eagle, more Black Kites and a Buzzard.  No Lesser Kestrels seen on the bullring roof at Trujillo but they were out here feeding over the harvested corn fields.

This Egyptian Vulture Alimoche Comun Neophron percnopterus is certainly looking for something!
Continuing through the Monfrague park to the end I took the motorway to the relatively nearby Arrocampo embalsa with its warm water as it helps cool the local nuclear-powered electricity station. Not the numbers of birds that you would expect earlier in the year but upon arriving a couple of Purple Herons flew over the reed bed and a male Hen Harrier, yes Hen Harrier, was seen.  The nearby hides, all locked shut but some height available on the entrance bridges leading up the individual hides, produced the sight of a trio of Great White Egrets and then on the distant water many Cormorants, a pair of Great Crested Grebes, Coots, and a couple of Little Egrets.  But very few Mallards to be seen.

This Purple Heron Garza Imperial Ardea purpurea took one look at me and was off!
A drive around the neighbouring area to the distant hides proved very rewarding with yet another very close but apparently either injure or trapped Great White Egret and later a number of Cattle Egrets and on the edge of a small pond the first Green Sandpiper then Common Sandpipers along with a pair of Little Ringed Plover and a White Wagtail.

Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba

Finally, it was the drive back to Trujillo through the country lanes and dehesas which duly produced a Northern Wheatear, Bee-eaters and, surprise of surprises, a Zitting Cisticola which hopped up out of the long grass onto the nearby fence as I reversed the car.  And remained in situ to enable photos to be taken.  A Short-toed Eagle did everything close by to frustrate me in trying to capture a shot as the traffic roared past on the adjacent motorway and finally, both a White Stork and a couple of Jackdaws over the town as I took a walk to find a suitable restaurant.

A beautiful Ziotting Cisticola Buitron Cisticola juncidis looking in magnificent condition
The drive back to Mezquitilla the following morning was without incident as I spent three hours on country roads but always with the low sun in my eyes so making bird identification of those perched on the wires almost impossible.  But the main bird was certainly more Southern Grey Shrikes.  Rounding a dip in the road and impossible to stop the car I did, however, also capture a male Montagu's Harrier and the only other additions to the previous day were a number of Goldfinches and a Common Swift.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Black Kite, Egyptian Vulture,Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Short-toes Eagle, Hen Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Coot, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Southern Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

Judging from its colouring and resting place, I suspect that this is a juvenile Griffon Vulture Buitre Leonado Gyps fulvus

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Monday 22 August 2016

Back in Spain: The Basque Country

Friday 19 August

View over Salburna from the hide

As I happily crossed the border back into Spain at 15.55 on Thursday afternoon having driven from Stamford via the Channel Tunnel and France (overnight stop in Tours), I was looking forward to warmer weather and the opportunity to see some new birds.  Just a little cloud but the promise of great things to come the following morning.  Glancing to my right at the motorway toll booth I noticed a few more cars waiting to make their payment and as I drove away I realised that the "exiting " queue stretched back a bit filling all lanes.  Indeed, it continued on up the hill and the motorway was till blocked when I reached Irun.  And so the queue continued and passing San Sebastian it was now a question of three solid lanes of traffic.  Not till I swing away, a good ten miles after crossing the border did I finally see the end of the queue and could not but help thinking that most of these cars had at least a four hour wait ahead of them.  Why?  No idea, perhaps the French were checking every single car for illegal immigrants or Brits wanting to get out of Europe!

But my entertainment soon turned sour as having found my booked overnight accommodation in an out-of-the-way mountain top chalet suggesting the Swiss Alps I discovered that the message had not reached here and there was, literally, no room at the inn.  had to hang around for thirty minutes whilst the owner arranged alternative accommodation back down the mountain in the lovely old town of Onate.  And all for free including a fabulous breakfast.  So, morning saw me on my way to Fuenmajor near Logrono taking in the reservoirs at both Ullibari-Gamboa and Salburua, both relatively close to the area capital of Vitoria-Gasteiz

The morning started well with many Barn Swallows, House Martins and Buzzards on the journey along with Collared and Rock Doves and, unlike here in Malaga province, very many Carrion Crows; they were a regular sighting.  It was very evident that even in the north water levels were down but on arrival at the large Ullibar-Gamboa embalsa I soon saw many Coots as I made my way the birding area.  All relatively quiet but the, now dry, marsh area soon produced both Spotted Flycatcher and Blackcap.  A Garden Warbler had already welcomed me as I parked the car next to its favourite bush but, apart from the Common Kestrels feeding in the neighbouring recently harvested corn fields very little else to note.

White Storks Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia
I then drove on along the track to get a view of the shallow end of the water and found some rather lovely water birds including my first Tufted Ducks in Spain this year.  Also on the water were both Common and Red-crested Pochards, Gadwall and very many Great Crested Grebes. I did see the occasional Grey Heron and Yellow-legged Gull and a handful of Whiskered Terns were busy feeding over the water.  But immediately below me feeding low down in a bush was a pair of Isabelline (Western Olivaceous) Warblers.

White Storks Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia to the left and Spoonbills Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia to the right 
The smaller, overgrown with reed embalsa of Salburua on the outskirts of Vitoria was a very different habitat.  Two good hides but I simply visited thew first which overlooked open water rather than just reed beds.  Indeed, feeding close by to my left a Red Deer made an impressive sight.  In front of me numerous resting White Storks and away to the right a similar number of Spoonbill on the small island.  Hiding behind the latter I noted a couple of Lapwing and to their right a solitary feeding Marsh Sandpiper.  In addition to the Great Crested Grebes there were a number of Little Grebes plus both Coots and Moorhens.  Black-headed Gulls to the back of the water and a good number of both Little and Cattle Egrets.

Presumably a Red Deer Cervus elaphus coming down to graze and drink
Overhead, feeding Barn Swallows and House Martins plus a smaller number of Sand Martins.  No shortage of small, marauding flocks of Spotless Starlings and even a White Wagtail put in an appearance.  Ducks included (mainly) Mallard and Teal along with a male Gadwall but the special sighting here was of a lone Golden Plover on the far bank.  Checking out the bare distant trees I found a small number of Bee-eaters and returning to the car to collect the camera I noted both a Mistle Thrush and Wood Pigeon. For good measure a pair of Kingfishers flashed past the hide and ere long it was time to move on to Fuenmayor the tomorrow's birding.

Just a chance to look at a Moorhen Gallineta Comun Gallinula chloropus
Come Saturday morning, no water at the nearby lakes but I did see a trio of Red-legged Partridges. By now, just about 9 am it was cool and cloudy and the promise of rain so I decided to cut my losses and move on down to Extremadura rather than stay a further night.  Just as well as it was solid light rain all the way to Burgos but once heading south in the direction of Valladolid the skies began to clear, the sun came out and the temperatures soared to the high thirties.  And not a  bad journey as the Hoopoe that dashed, well flopped, over the road in front of me was followed by sightings of many magpies, then Booted Eagle, Red Kite and, at last, a Raven.  Even better, as I approached Trujillo for my two-night stay, I had Rollers on the wire that, judging from their omission the following day, had presumably been away feeding during the day but returned to their respective nest boxes for the night.  The final bird was a rather magnificent Short-toed Eagle that simply refused to be photographed no matter where I tried to park the car alongside the busty road!  And that brought the total for the day up to 51 species.

Now from where had these Spoonbills Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia arrived?

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Red Kite, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Marsh Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, sand martin, Barn Swallow, House martin, White Wagtail, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Isabelline Warbler, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher, Magpie, Carrion Crow, raven, Spotless starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Thursday 11 August 2016

Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire

Thursday 11 August

The Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta were obviously feeling the wind
Brother-in-law Chris arrived yesterday afternoon and with one clear day before we all set off north for the wedding and the overnight rain now concluded, what better way to spend the morning than take the drive, just under an hour, over to RSPB Frampton Marsh near Boston back in the UK.  Approaching Spalding a Bullfinch crossed the road in front of us, first record this year, and was quickly followed by a Red Kite along with both individual Crows and a good-sized flock of Rooks.  Then it was through Frampton village and the short, narrow road to the reserve where we recorded both Collared Dove and Wood Pigeon along with Blackbird.

The first bird seen on the reserve was a solitary Heron and, once parked up, we headed for the 360 Hide aware of the great number of waders resting close to the bank to try and escape the very strong cold wind.  Well, you can't have perfect weather on every birding trip!  A dozen or so Little Egrets stood as did the larger white shapes of the Mute Swans and there must have been at least thirty individuals in the Canada Goose group.  A very large charm of Goldfinches was working the hedgerow and accompanied by a not inconsiderable number of Linnets.

Lovely to see the Linnets Carduelis cannabina on a dull, cloudy day
In terms of numbers there must have been well in excess of an hundred Black-tailed Godwits in two distinct groups plus many other smaller isolated flocks.  Again, lots of Avocets and a very large flock of Dunlin with a score or more Redshank working the edges.  At least a dozen Greenshanks noted along with a small number of Greenshank but no Little Ringed Plovers identified amongst the many Ringed Plovers.  More Moorhens than Coots but generally both in very small numbers.  However, one Moorhen had a chick on the path with her that looked to be less than a fortnight old, a very late nester - or form a replacement clutch.  But just the one so, perhaps, this individual is providing home-grown food for the gulls and or harriers!

Just  small section of the many Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa
A reasonable range of ducks with good numbers of mallard and Teal along with the very many juvenile Shelduck but only the occasional adult of the last named.  A single Shoveler was a bit of a surprise and we also noted a handful of both Tufted Duck and Wigeon.  Along with the Little Egrets and a few Herons we also recorded a pair of Spoonbill at the back of the water plus a dozen or so Cormorants and, of course, wherever we seemed to look we could always find an individual Lapwing.

Another lonely young Heron Ardea cinerea
Returning to the car we then walked the anti-clockwise circuit taking in the high bank overlooking the salt marsh and (very) distant Wash.  Very difficult to see clearly with the cold wind blowing directly in to our faces but, including a stop at the East Hide, we did find Pied Wagtail, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  In addition to the Barn Swallows feeding over the water, approaching the East Hide we also had a small number of House Martins and then a few Sand Martins.  However pride of place probably went to the handful of Golden Plover and a small number of Ruff.  A Reed Warbler flashed by as we left the hide and returned to the car followed by the Visitors Centre for a very welcome cup of hot coffee but not before a stop at the Reedbed Hide had added a Great Crested Grebe.

Whilst at the Centre we also managed to add Tree Sparrow and Grenfinch feeding on the feeders along with a couple of Goldfinches.  Then it was back to the car and home reflecting on the difference a week can make when Chris and I recorded at least a dozen more birds.

Birds seen:
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Sheldduck, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, Red Kite, Moorhen, Coot, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Jackdaw, Rook, Crow, Common Starling, Tree Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Bullfinch.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Rutland Water with Great White Egrets, Osprey and Marsh Harrier

Monday 8 August

A windy, cloudy start to the day and with time running out before my return to Spain time to make another visit to Rutland Water, perhaps the last on this visit as we are off to the grand-daughter's wedding in the north of England this Friday and next week I hope to undertake my final birding trip of this stay with a visit to Eyebrook Reservoir.  The occasional break in the cloud let through a very warm sun and, as always, no sooner had I returned home in the mid-afternoon than all cleared up to give a very warm and sunny end to the day!  But at least I managed to find my expected minimum fifty species during the visit.

Dunnock Prunella modularis in the undergrowth

As I drove alongside the reservoir and past Empingham a large flock of Rooks feeding on the recently harvested corn field and soon also both Carrion Crows and the usual hordes of Wood Pigeons.  Naturally, I was greeted in the car park by the resident Jackdaws and a first stop at the feeding station produced both a Collared Dove and Moorhen along with numerous juvenile Blue and Great Tits accompanied by a smaller number of moulting adults and a couple of House Sparrows.  A rather forlorn Dunnock appeared out of the undergrowth and then the first of a few juvenile Robins along the track accompanied by the occasional, also moulting, adult.

A still handsome adult Robin Erithacus rubecula
Eat up your worms and you. too, will grow into a handsome adult Robin!
Whilst purchasing my day pass I took a look at Lagoon 1 and recorded numerous Cormorants and Coots along with Mallards, a pair of Mute Swans, the large flocks were out on the North Arm, a single Common Tern and loads of both Canada and Greylag Geese.  Indeed, there were large gatherings of both, and especially the Canada, on most of the waters, especially those to the south.  Just the one Heron and a smaller than usual number of Lapwings.

Not so many Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula on show this week
Then it was off southwards to the Snipe Hide in search of waders.  On arrival not a single bird to be seen but a little wait did produce one Wood Pigeon!  left this hide to move over the Harrier Hide where, at least, I had a better view of Lagoon 1 and duly recorded more Mallards, Teal and Tufted Duck along with a quartet of Mute Swans and many more Coot.  Also in the area a few Little Egrets and more Lapwings but all this changed when a Great White Egret dropped in immediately in front of me to feed on the isolated pool.

All three Great White Egrets Egretta alba seen within fifteen minutes
Leaving the hide I made my way over to Lagoon 6 where, from the Tern Hide, I not only recorded both the above geese, Lapwings and Mallards but also two more Great White Egrets.  Obviously, at least three on site at the present time.  A small number of Common Starlings flew over and then a Great Crested Grebe with youngster worked its way across the water where I also picked up my first Green Sandpiper of the morning.  Just the one Barn Swallow and a handful of Sand Martin were feeding over the water.

One of at least eight Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus
Approaching the 360 Hide I looked over Lagoon 8 and noticed the single Egyptian Goose and once settled inside was able to find a resting party of about thirty Black-headed Gulls and a single Herring Gull resting immediately opposite.  Many more geese to be seen on this lagoon along with both Coots and Mallards.

All the Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus seemed to be assembled in front of the Shoveler Hide
Back to the feeding station on my way to the car park for a light snack before heading the the northern hides.  In addition to the previously seen birds I was also able to add both Blackbird and a number of Chaffinches.

Male and female (below) Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
The first hide to offer something new was the recently replaced Osprey Hide which had a Marsh Harrier drift by hassled by a Lapwing and a Little Grebe immediately below me.  Then it was on to Lagoon 4 and the well-loved Sandpiper Hide.

The quartering Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus over Lagoon 4
Better weather conditions outside (and within as a little more warmth arrived) and many more Canada and Greylag Geese to be seen along with large resting flocks of both Black-headed Gulls and Common Terns.  A close Great Crested Grebe and at the far side an Osprey had landed in the shallow waters to bathe. Wrong-way round as the Osprey was in the water and a single Egyptian Goose was sat in its nest on the pole!  First a handful of Dunlin and, using the scope, I managed to find a Ringed Plover and the known Little Stint.  A little later on I also managed to find a pair of juvenile Little Ringed Plovers and mid-water a well-grown juvenile Shelduck.  A single Pied Wagtail was recorded and lots of feeding Sand Martins over the water.

Juvenile Shelduck Tadorna tadorna towering over the adult Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Finally it was over to nearby Lagoon 3, passing a Kestrel on the way, and the Shoveler Hide where we found the large flock of Egyptian Geese and many ducks including, mainly, mallards and Gadwall but also Tufted Duck and a Wigeon.  Most exciting of all the Marsh Harrier returned and spent some time quartering this end of the reserve and giving very good views to the four of us in the hide.  Also present were at least six Green Sandpipers and a couple of juvenile Shelducks along with a few Great Crested Grebes and more Mute Swans with their respective signet families.  A lone Great Black-backed Gull landed close by unlike those on Lagoon 4 which were very distant.

This time a solitary Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
Nothing further to add other than a Magpie as I made my way back to the Visitors Centre past all the newly-erected marquees in preparation for next week's annual British Bird Fair.

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Little Stint, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Crow, Rook, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Frampton Marsh, Nr Boston, Lincolnshire

Tuesday 2 August

Mainly Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa with Shelduck Tadorna tadorna in the foreground
Weather promised to be not too good today, mainly cloudy and the chance of a light shower after 2 o'clock.  How exact can you be?  As the label says and a few spots at 2.25 so made our way back to the RSPB Frampton MarshVisitors Centre to ensure that optics, and self, stayed dry.  But not before friend Chris Bell and I had had a most enjoyable and rewarding stay of over five and a half hours.  Approaching Frampton village I encountered a large flock of Rooks plus the resident Wood Pigeons along with a pair of Collared Doves.  Then, within metres of the site, lovely to come across a pair of Turtle Doves picking up grit from the narrow country lane.  I must admit, my first British Turtle Doves for many a year.  So, having dropped the ladies off at Stamford bus station so that they could have a day in London visiting Buckingham Palace to see the Queen's frocks, I was on site just before 9 am and proceeded to the 360 hide where Chris was awaiting my arrival.  It was not until we were preparing to return to the car park that I discovered that Chris had travelled down to Boston from Worksop by train and then a taxi to Frampton Marsh.  Therefore, I drove Chris back to Sleaford on my return journey where we proceeded to collect Kestrel, Jackdaw and House Sparrow before I finally got back to Stamford and able to confirm that we had recorded over 50 species for the day.

Tree Sparrows and Blackbird note as I passed the still closed Visitors Centre, it was after all only 8.50, on my way to met Chris at the 360 Hide but I decided to make a very short detour to look in at the Reedbed Hide.  Lots of Reed Warblers to be seen on the way but relatively little visible from the hide.  A handful of Avocet, including a family of youngsters, and a couple of Barn swallows overhead. A single Ringed Plover put in an appearance and just a couple of Black-tailed Godwits along with the odd Lapwing and Mallard.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa and below with Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
So, with little to see I crossed over the 360 Hide, noting a family of Goldfinches on the way, and met up with Chris.  What a difference a change of pool and an hundred yards can make!  The waters were alive with waders, almost in every direction.  Hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits and Dunlins but try as we did we were unable to locate the currently-visiting White-rumped Sandpiper that was till about and had been found with the Dunlin less than thirty minutes before. 

Dunlin Calidris alpina with juvenile below

What to check out next as we moved from one view to the other during our long stay at this magnificent hide.  We eventually found both Greenshank and Curlew Sandpiper plus Pied Wagtail and scores of Avocet.  Eventually I locked on tot  a Ruff and no sooner seen than I must have at least another dozen.  Meanwhile, of the larger birds there were a number of Cormorants and Mute Swans along with both Canada and Greylag Geese.  A single Common Tern made a brief fishing visit to join the small number of Black-headed Gulls.  But from this hide only Mallards of the duck family were recorded until just before departure for a coffee back at the Visitors Centre I found a handful of Teal away to the right.  But I forget, there was a score or more of Shelduck, mainly well-grown youngsters of the year.  Along with a single Heron there must have been a total of somewhere in the region of two score or more Little Egrets about the reserve.  A rather special sighting was that of a Spotted Redshank at the far end of the pool near the distant East Hide busily feeding in the company of another Curlew Sandpiper.

Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta in all their glory

Working our way back for our late morning coffee break we recorded more Reed Warbler sightings plus both Sedge Warbler and a single Chiffchaff.  A lone Curlew flew overhead with its familiar plaintive, unmistakable call and, on the meadows, we had a cock Pheasant and Magpie.  Even the Reedbed Hide produced a Great Crested Grebe.  Approaching the Centre the first of a number of small flocks of Linnets and in addition to the Tree Sparrows feeding on the nuts a Wren was foraging below and in the adjacent bushes.

One of many Ruff Philomachus pugnax

Suitably refreshed we then headed off towards the high bank to make a full circuit of the reserve using the Sash Trail.  At far end before climbing to the bank top with its views over the salt marsh and distant Wash, we had more Coots and Moorhens and our first Little Grebe of the day.  Next a Common Sandpiper and then a Carrion Crow flew across the marsh being harried by a Lapwing.

Looking down on the reserve form the high bank we could see more Canada and Greylag Geese and then a pair of Brent Geese.  Many more Redshanks along with a pair of Tufted Duck and a single Wigeon.  Was the last an early returnee or a late leaver?  Chris managed to find a single Snipe and another Little Grebe on the water below and I picked up our first, two, Little Ringed Plovers of the day and a further three Curlews.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius from the East Hide
Continuing on to the distant East Hide we were surprised by how little bird life there was on the salt marsh, just the occasional Little Egret and Black-headed Gull.  However, passing Skylark was a joy to behold and then we were at the hide where we had very close views of Little Ringed Plovers along with Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit and Lapwing.  Just the one Meadow Pipit to be seen and soon, accompanied by many more Sedge and Reed Warbler sightings we were on our way back to the Visitors Centre.  Approaching the 360 Hide a lone Spoonbill flew over and dropped in and then, approaching the Visitors Centre a pair of Greenfinches on the path in front.

Juvenile Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
In addition to the many birds, mainly waders, there was also a good spread of Painted lady butterflies.

Painted Lady butterfly Vanessa cardui

And so our most enjoyable day ended and I had experienced good company from both Chris and other visiting birders to Frampton Marsh.  And in some ways the best part of all. it takes less than an hour to visit to reserve from my Stamford home so when I want a winter change from Rutland Water I can travel eastwards in Lincolnshire.

Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, Kestrel,Moorhen, Coot, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Skylark, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Blackbird, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Magpie, Jackdaw, Crow, Rook, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.