Thursday 30 August 2018

Pacific Golden Plover - but at a great cost!

Thursday 30 August

Just the three of us for this month's Axarquia Bird Group visit to the Guadalhorce at Malaga with Linda Pheasant and Mike Kinchington joining me on our quest to see if the visiting Pacific Golden Plover was still gracing us with its presence.  Lots of local House Sparrows about upon arrival and no shortage of Sardinian Warblers as we made our way to the footbridge.  No sooner had  I entered the bridge than I saw a Kingfisher fly low across the water to the far bank and, at the same time, A single Little Egret up stream and what looked like a dreaming Grey Heron on the eastern bank downstream.  Both Barn and Red-rumped Swallows in the air above us, but very few in number, and, naturally, an assortment of the resident Rock Doves/Feral Pigeons resting under the motorway bridge.

Making our way towards the eastern arm a small flock of Spotless Starlings passed over and, in the distance more Sardinian Warblers and a handful of Goldfinches feed on the track.  Having already recorded Pallid Swift we now seemed to see more Common Swifts above us and fairly regular passages of passing Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  At this point we also got our first of the morning fly-pasts by the local, raucous, marauding Monk Parakeets.

Distant Dunlin Calidris alpina with Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

Arriving at the Laguna Casillas there seemed to be very little bird life other than the  very good number of Coot.  But then a single Moorhen and the sight of at least five Mallard and a couple of Little Grebe.  Later, it would appear that the grebes also had a couple of youngsters.  The Little Egret arrived to feed away to our left and a very voluble Cetti's Warbler announced its presence.

Lots of juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius on the wader Pool

Next to the Wader Pool with a Hoopoe crossing the track in front of me and, fingers crossed, the target bird, a rare visiting Pacific Golden Plover, might still be on site after two weeks or more.  No such luck, looks like the bird knew I was on my way and decided to move on before my arrival!  Lots of Little Ringed Plovers on the "beaches" and thirty Black-wing Stilts counted.  The juvenile Lapwing was still present and, in addition, we managed to find a couple of Dunlin as well as the odd Ringed Plover.

Juvenile Lapwing Vanellus vanellus with Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

A considerable time was spent at this hide checking every nook and cranny and patiently awaiting our special bird if it was still on site.  Collared Doves came and in the far distant trees we had both a resting Purple Heron and a pair of Peregrine Falcons.  Shame the latter moved as soon as I raised the camera, even if it would have been a distant shot of maybe 200 metres.  Having duly noted the newly-arrived Greenshank we moved on to the nearby old river, Rio Viejo, passing a small flock of Greenfinch on the way.

A very distant resting Purple Heron Garza Imperial Ardea purpurea
Here the water looked much lower and all seemed very dull at first sight.  I eventually picked out more Black-winged Stilts and then a few Kentish Plover and a pair of large waders at the very far end, possibly Ruff as not the long beak of either Godwit or Whimbrel.  Nearer to me a pair of Curlew Sandpiper but then, on the next spit away, a large plover walking towards the water's edge.  At first sight just about to say Grey Plover until a closer look through the scope revealed our target bird, the long-staying Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva.

I've heard of people fainting with excitement but the discovery of the Pacific Golden Plover seemed to coincide with something wrong with me.  Both Lindsay and Mike were able to zoom in on our bird but I certainly now felt the worse for fair with what seemed a dizziness and very uncomfortable feeling in the stomach.  So bad, I did not even feel strong enough to actually try for a record photograph but rather sough a tree against which I could rest.  End result, Lindsay helped me back to the hide so I could sit and recover but having come across a visiting warden he agreed to take me back by car to the entrance.  So ended my morning and after a short rest I made my way back to Mezquitilla.  Much better now and can only put it down to, perhaps, tiredness, lack of sleep following a late night and early departure this morning.

Meanwhile, Lindsay and Mike stayed on for a little longer and were pleased to observe a pair of Kingfishers, presumably at the Laguna Escondida.  So many thanks to Mike and Lindsay for their company and support and here's to next time - but without the little trauma!

If only the camera had been ready ten seconds earlier and you would have seen a true pair of Peregrine Falcons rather than this Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto

Birds seen:    
Mallard, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, Lapwing, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Greenshank, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

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

Huetor Tajar with John Wainwright

Wednesday 29 August

Despite all the recent hot weather I see that my friend John Wainwright is taking every opportunity to visit some of his local patches and keep up to date with the latest bird movements. these past few days he has been concentrating on the area around Huetor Tajar as can be seen from the following report.

Huetor Tajar  22nd - 29th August

Hot, Hot and even Hotter!!!

Due to having to take Jenny down to physio every day, I have had the opportunity to sit for a while along the stream at the back of  Huetor Tajar.  It has been a mixed week with masses of House Sparrows, Greenfinches and Goldfinches about.  Several sightings of Bee-eaters moving through and even a Golden Oriole coming into the walnut tree under which I was parked.

A very strange sight was a Common Magpie literally attacking a Collared Dove, which took shelter in a tree but was quickly dislodged by another Common Magpie and the chase continued into another tree where I lost sight of the birds although their "cha-ka" could be heard for a while.
Azure-winged Magpies were in good numbers as were the flocks of Spotless Starlings, rising up from the verges every time a vehicle passed them. 

A family of Great Tits and a couple of Chaffinches were the next visitors to the walnut trees and then a Great Spotted Woodpecker came in but must have spotted me as it was only there for a few seconds.

What little water there was, was visited by Crested Larks, Serins, a White Wagtail with a nice addition being a single Little Ringed Plover.  Two Moorhens were noted throughout the week, although a small local dog seemed to have fun chasing after them.  On a fence several juvenile Woochat Shrikes were logged as were Corn Buntings and the odd  Blackbird, while in the stubble behind huge numbers of Woodpigeons were feeding. Also, a Brown Hare was seen here.
Barn and Red-rumped Swallows  as well as House Martins were feeding over the stream and fields here.

As we came back into Salar we noted our 24th Little Owl was dead, this is only in a three year period (we never counted them before that).  A Short-toed Eagle was at rest on a pylon top and a Black Kite was seen soaring over the asparagus fields.

Thanks John for some interesting information. 

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

Saturday 25 August 2018

Back in Spain for the final full day

Saturday 25 August

The lovely wetland of Laguna Pitilla, Navarra

Interesting experience last night at my mixed dormitory for six persons in a small hamlet just south of Zubiri on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees.  Beautiful accommodation to cater for those hardy soles undertaking the grand walk but the guest was a miserable, ugly old so-and-so.  On the other hand, I had the whole room and en-suite to myself and great value st 15 Euros plus 3 for the sheet and 2 for the towel hire!  With Red Kites and Magpies along with a White Wagtail I also took the opportunity to pay a visit to the high reservoir at nearby Eugi which produced a solitary Great Crested Grebe.

But this morning the clouds had cleared and it promised to be a lovely day, too hot in fact and the temperature over 35C when I arrived in Daimiel at about 6pm to check in to a lovely clean and comfortable hostal.  Off by 8.15 and a quartet of Magpies on a roundabout as I passed through Pamplona on my way to Navarra's Laguna de Pitillas.  Time to spend over two hours here at a lovely reedy site with lots of water.  Alas no Great Bittern but rather surprised to find three Mute Swans.  Informed that a pair turned up about four years ago and remained to breed and the site now holds a resident population of ten.   Lots of Coots and ducks were mainly Mallard with a few Shoveler and Common Pochard.

Beneath me I had "ticking" Bearded Tits along with both Reed and Great Reed Warbler and also managed to record a single Willow Warbler.  Entering the site at an old, closed restaurant there were a number of House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings plus a juvenile Grey Wagtail but the first bird recorded on the approach road was a Buzzard.  Also on the water both Little and Black-necked Grebes and then a handful of Gadwall at the far end of the water.  Numerous Barn Swallows feeding over the water and adjacent fields along with a plentiful supply of Sand Martins.  Two Kestrels recorded and, finally, a female and two juvenile Woodchat Shrike.

Adult Woodchat Shrike Alcaudon Comun Lanius senator with one of its three youngsters
With a long journey ahead of me time to press on and make my way south-west via the outskirts of Madrid and then south for the overnight stop at Daimiel.  Hardly had I left the site and reached the main N121 road than a Golden Eagle passed low over the road in front of me and whilst trying to make a safe stop noticed that it was followed, strange impressions one gets when driving and watching at the same time, by a Booted Eagle.  Not five minutes later a pair of Carrion Crows on my side and then a Red Kite on the other,  Naturally, there was the usual sighting of Wood Pigeons during the long drive.

Birds seen:
Mute Swan, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Golden Eagle, Red Kite, Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Bearded Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

Laguna de Navaseca

Black-headed Gull gaviota Reidora Larus ridibundus
Once booked in at the hostal and case deposited, etc I took myself off to the nearby Laguna de Navaseca.  Straight down to the bottom hide only to discover that all had dried up on the right but some very interesting birds exposed in the shallow water to the left.  Whilst you could not miss the many Coot and Black-headed Gull it was the Glossy Ibis that caught my attention.  A scan with both binoculars and scope produced a number of Lapwing plus small numbers of Dunlin, Common Sandpiper and Black-winged Stilt.  Net up a Ringed Plover and whilst looking through the scope a Black-bellied Sandgrouse walked through the resting birds on the dried mud to drink at the water's edge.  Too late for a photo as the bird was up and away as soon as it saw my slightest movement.

Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus
On the water a good number of Mallard with a few Shoveler and, eventually, a female Red-crested Pochard with a four small ducklings. Over the water feeding Barn Swallows which led to me locating a number of both Collared and Rock Doves to add to the local Wood Pigeons.

Green Sandpiper Andarrios Grande Tringa ochropus
Round the corner at the bottom hide I found a score of Glossy Ibis along with three Green Sandpipers and a couple of Snipe.  It was amazing to see the number of very young Coot and White-headed Ducks so these birds were, presumably, late breeders.  The same was also true of the many Little Grebe on site.

Lots of Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus on show at Navaseca

Once on the track oat the back of the water I could see the large number of White-headed Duck and also recorded both Crested and Short-toed Lark on the path along with Spotless Starling, loads of these birds about, a single Stonechat and Goldfinches.  Looking across the water I was able to see the rear end of a Purple Swamphen working the margins and many Moorhen.  The water also had a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls and, in the far distant corner hidden from previous view, a trio of Flamingo.  It was also here that I found at least six Little Egret and later counted nine perched in a dead tree at the far side of the laguna.

Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua

Back to the start, and finding a Little Owl on the old ruined barn, and a look at the water from the main hide where I found a Red-crested Pochard with her young and a couple of fishing Common Tern.  A Marsh Harrier was quartering the reed bed on the far side and I finished the day by discovering to where the adjacent road led.  Not only to the water treatment plant but a further hide overlooking the far end and here, conveniently perched on a wire, a couple of juvenile terns which I suspect might be Whiskered Terns.  I shall need to study the photograph to confirm - assume I have a reasonable shot of same.  so less than a couple of hours duly produced 36 species.

Female White-headed Duck Malvasia cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Glossy Ibis,  Little Egret, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Stonechat, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

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

Friday 24 August 2018

Birding in Holland: Day Two

Wednesday 22 August

The National Park Oosterschelde near Zuidkaap

Another wonderful day in typical Dutch countryside and this time exploring the bird sites north and south of the National Park Oosterschelde - basically, the Schelde estuary since recovering after the disastrous floods of 1953, the same floods that decimated the British east coast. Up and down the dikes with the road sometimes on top but mostly behind and protected from the sea. A wonderful experience for those trying to understand the meaning of a "polder."  All this visiting polders, I even said to Marieke that we were undertaking a "poldering" only to discover that there is already such a verb as used in the Dutch Parliament when the heated debates get under way!

Hundreds of waders driven across the sea dike by the rising tide
Once in the area we headed off to Zuidkaap but crossing the dikes as the tide pushed the birds up from the beaches we soon had many sightings of Black-headed Gull, Little Egret and Lapwing to add to the Crow, Jackdaw and many Wood Pigeons already seen.  The Mute Swans were lovely top see but then, approaching Bruinessi, an Osprey so close to the car you felt that if we let the window down the raptor might have joined us for a light snack rather than a choice fish!  But, as always, the bird appeared on a narrow stretch of road with no stopping place and traffic behind us.  No sooner had we turned the corner and the next road produced a quartering Marsh Harrier.  From here on we to see very many Lapwings and Carrion Crows along with regular Grey Herons and Magpies.

We spent some considerable time looking at the pools on the land side of the sea wall and with the sea racing on towards high tide we were able to witness not just the birds already resting on the small lagoons but the regular arrivals for the sea side of the dike.  Lots of Greylag Geese but also a score or more of Barnacle Geese along with a handful of Egyptian Geese.  A few Mute Swans but at least a score of Spoonbill and a small number of Little Egret and Grey Heron.  Mainly Mallards but we also recorded Shelduck.  Not so many Coots and Moorhens but loads, hundreds, of Oystercatchers.  A few Redshank and also Herring Gull present but then hundreds of Curlew taking a good, long sleep.  Also good to record Great Black-backed Gull.  A Meadow Pipit put in a brief appearance by way of a change form the Barn Swallows feeding around us and always the occasional Cormorant to be seen..

Barnacle Geese Barnacla Cariblanca Branta leucopsis
Plompe Toren and Burghsluis produced a small number of birds and it was certainly interesting looking at the tower of a previous, long gone church now standing out like some sort of sentinel lighthouse but we did add a Green Sandpiper.  Once on the southern side we stopped for a lovely lunch in Wissenkerke (I had the starter of mussels and they took some eating so goodness knows how many would have been on the plate if it had been the main course!) and Marieke noticed the feeding House Martins.  This was a village completely lost to the above floods and since returned to its former glory. Then on to the local hide.  But no hide any more.  Looking out over the water we had a couple of Common Tern, Teal, both Little and Great Crested Grebe and around us feeding Barn Swallows.  More Kestrels seen during the day than I have seen for a long time.

The delightful site at Colijnsplaat
We eventually found our last site at Colijnsplaat and, at first, felt quite disappointed that the whole area seemed now to be a giant reed bed.  But closer inspection revealed clear water further along and this really turned up trumps, fortunately not of the Donald variety, including about 30 Ruff and a similar number of Spoonbills
A large flock of Spoonbill Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia

Also present were a few Gadwall in with the Teal and Mallard plus a small number of Black-tailed Godwit and a handful of Dunlin.  Interesting to suddenly find a small flock of Canada Geese which were revealed when a score of Barnacle Geese took to the air but also leaving behind the Greylag Geese.  Then the distinct call of a Water Rail below us near the water's edge, a bird that was to be quite persistent so almost certainly a juvenile demanding food.

Barnacle Geese Barnacla Cariblanca Branta leucopsis and accompanying waders
A great day with some wonderful scenery and as we started our way back through the dikes to the main road a Buzzard flew up from the ditch immediately next to the car to become our 44th species of the day.  Then, once again, the long drive home and the the thought of packing in readiness for an early departure towards Spain on the morrow.

Spoonbill Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia accompanied by Canada Geese Barnacla canadiense Branta canadensis and waders
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Barnacle Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Dunlin, Ruff, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow.

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

Birding in Holland: Day One

Tuesday 21 August

Yesterday was a day of recovery following the long drive from Lincolnshire to Wuustwezel in Belgium including the Chanel crossing from Dover to Calais.  Mind you, this did nit stop Marieke introducing me to the joys of an electric bicycle so that we could cycle up to her local patch and then take a 5km walk through the woods and fields including the sight of one of this year's successful Goshawk nests.

Typical reed site
Today Marieke drove to a well-known area for Purple Herons, our target bird for the day.  Somewhere north of the Belgian border and about 40 km inland from Rotterdam, we started at Zouwen Dijk, a lovely, dense reed bed.  No sooner had we got out of the car than a Purple Heron flew left to right whilst on the opposite side of the road we had a quartering Marsh Harrier. This site also turned up lots of Lapwing, Barn Swallows, Mute Swan and then the arrival of a pair of White Stork and a couple of passing Cormorant.  Also present were Wood Pigeon  and Black-headed Gulls.  Next it was round to the far side of the area having driven through one of many towns and villages named "Sluice" where we picked up a young Buzzard and then three others circling above.

Record shot of a very distant Buzzard Busardo ratonero Buteo buteo

A walk to the hide and on through the meadow produced Great Crested Grebe, Teal, Gadwall, Mallard and Moorhen on the water.  Reed Warblers were calling as were both Goldfinch and Coal TitKestrels overhead and a small number of Greylag Geese along with a couple of Egyptian Geese to add a little insipid colour.  Marieke saw and heard both the Blackbird and Robin before one, then two more, Jays slipped across the path in front of us.  Whilst in the hide a quartet of Black-tailed Godwit flew across the water and over us.  Before leaving the site we also managed to add Mute Swan, a rather delightful Song Thrush, single Chaffinch and the first of the many Grey Herons that we were to encounter during the rest of the day.

White Stork Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia
The drive back took us along the top dike overlooking the River Lek; all very pretty and delightful little villages hugging the banks.  Finding a lane running parallel to the river but one road back, we were able to check out the very many small dikes that seemed to be positioned about every 100 metres.  Lots more Lapwing but, having stopped to check the Grey Herons, we were able to add a second Purple Heron.  However, best was to follow as walking back to the car it was not so much yet another hovering Kestrel but a Goshawk passing over and giving a good silhouette.

Adult Great Crested Grebe Somormujo Lavanco Podiceps cristatus with well-grown young
From here we made our way to Schoonhaven to cross the Lek on the little car ferry.  Whilst waiting for the roll-on ferry to arrive we looked over the side of the road and were amazed to find 50 plus Egyptian Geese resting on either bank or nearby water and a similar number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

The followed  most beautiful drive down one of the well-known "green roads" as it it followed the meandering River Vlist; absolutely wonderful and well worth the experience with out sight of any birds.  But we did in fact add Rook, Jackdaw and Starling and the most common sight throughout the day the large numbers of Carrion Crow and Magpie plus, on this occasion, very many Herons and Coots.

Never seen so many Egyptian Geese Ganse de Nilo Alopochen aegyptiaca in one flock; musthave been over 50
Birding done for the day so we made our way to Gouda where we were able to enjoy the old market square and some beautiful old buildings - as well as both sampling and buying some of the local produce.  Then it was on the Marieke's family summer home on the lakeside at Reeuwijk where we were able to sit and watch the sun go down along with Marieke's brother.  Wonderful end to a lovely day albeit we still had a ninety minute return journey to Wuustwezel.

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, White Stork, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Goshawk, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Reed Warbler, Coal Tit, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

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

Monday 20 August 2018

Platier d'Oye, Calais, France

Sunday 19 August

All packed and cleared away in Stamford so time to start out on the long journey back to Spain via Belgium.  Arriving early at Dover (as instructed because of the expected queues but nothing about!) was asked if we would like to catch the earlier ferry to Calais rather than Dunkirk at no extra charge so gaining 45 minutes.  With a Spanish plated car had not the heart to inform the very friendly and helpful ticket clerk that we were actually heading east rather than west.  But never mind off we set for Calais with a swell on the Chanel and dense low cloud but, at least, dry.  Whilst aboard the ferry Marieke pointed out that she knew a great little wetland site just outside Calais and with no one awaiting our arrival in Belgium we certainly made use of the opportunity, hence our arrival within thirty minutes of disembarking at the Platier d'Oye.

View of the Platier d'Oye from the large hide
Interesting little site, well much larger during peek migration and at high tide driving the waders inland, to find some interesting and surprising birds with a mist surprising final tally of  thirty species before taking our leave for the long drive up beyond Antwerp towards the Dutch border.  Mainly two groups of Mallard in the far scrape which contained some water but a closer look also revealed both Moorhen and Coot.  To our left a couple of Little Egret and, here I was somewhat surprised, a couple of Cattle Egret feeding at the feet of the Highland Cattle.  Naturally, there was no shortage of Wood Pigeon and also a number of Crows and Magpie feeding on the field.  Shooting presumably restricted judging by the number of Pheasants seen as we searched the fields.  Barn Swallows overhead and then the first of at least three Common Kestrel.  A White Wagtail was working the edges of a ditch when Marieke found the solitary feeding Curlew.  On this occasion just the single Mute Swan but certainly wonderful to watch the Hobby fly past close to our hide.

Mainly Mallards Anade Azulon Anas platyrhynchos on show
Meanwhile, on the pool behind us, we had House Martins overhead and a good gathering of resting Black-headed Gulls and, using the scope, also located both Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Driving east for about 1000m to the next hide we passed another White Wagtail and then discovered that the hide itself had been partly destroyed by a recent fire.  The small pool behind held a few Greylag Geese and a selection of Mallard and hybrid birds suggesting a domestic collection.  On the other hand, we did have a Common Sandpiper working the edge.  Checking out the main water from the damaged hide we found a trio of juvenile Shelduck along with Teal and, on the edge, both another Common Sandpiper and a Ringed Plover.  In the field beyond we could also see a number of Crow and more Pheasants.  But there was also the sight of another hide so on we drove.

Just the two Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta on site
This third hide gave a better view over the water and fields seen from the previous so confirming a number Greylag Geese plus many Crows.  We then had a flock of Jackdaws fly across and to our right a small flock of feeding Common Starling.  Closer inspection then revealed a number of Lapwing along with about half-dozen resting Cormorant.  Naturally, as we left we also found nearby House Sparrows and Collared Doves with our final species being a number of Rooks above their rookery.  All very interesting but we now had to make our way back to the A16 motorway and a couple of hours driving pocking up an over-flying Grey Heron soon after our departure..

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Pheasant, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Hobby, Moorhen, Coot, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow -legged Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow

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

Saturday 18 August 2018

Birdfair, Rutland Water 2018

Friday 17 August

Along with many thousands of birders form all over the country, and beyond, I attended the thirtieth annual Birdfair at Rutland Water near Oakham on the opening day accompanied by my Belgian friend, Marieke Berkvens.  This is also my local patch and less than fifteen minutes away from our little house in Stamford but on this occasion the journey took us two minutes short of the hour such was the traffic making its way to Rutland Water from all over the country.  Perhaps everyone wanted to attend the first of the three days.  As usual Birdfair was well supported by every trade and connection that had any connection with birding, no matter how peripheral - including all sorts of catering!

Working our way along the main Stamford to Oakham road we were able to watch an Osprey quartering the water to our left and then, following the lengthy queue, eventually work our way round the "showground" itself with all its various marquees and various outlets.  Lots of lecture theatres on this occasion with a very full and exciting programme and, perhaps it seemed, a representative for just about every country in the World representing every continent.  There was New Zealand, India, Argentina, Falkland Islands, Christmas Island, Australia, most African and American countries and, I think, every country in Europe.  If they have birds and birding then somewhere there will be a bird company.  Then, of course, there were all the birding magazines and periodicals, clothing, accessories, every make of binocular and telescope plus cameras.

For many, of course, it is the ideal venue to meet friends and colleagues and generally have a good natter and form networks.  Bird tours are booked, new equipment purchased , problems (as in my case) resolved, etc.  My new Swarovski binoculars have never seen right so a visit to the company stand confirmed I was right, binoculars taken for a free repair and to be returned to Spain in about three weeks.  Readers may have noticed the comments made about my new bridge camera and the RAW image problems I was having.  A visit to the Canon specialists then solved this issue, what an idiot I felt when the first problem resolved and even a suggestion as to what  might be the best download solution.  Two out of three so over to the Bird Journal stand re the update on my recording program and ask if possible to record both Spanish and British sightings but not have the totals combined ion the sum,arty.  Interesting response form the designers so there might be a new update in the future and, in the meantime, I have a solution for the present tome.  All is going just swimmingly well - and even the weather was perfect.

A Birdfair would not be a Birdfair without the people.  You are always bound to bump into somebody you know, whether it be a friend from distant parts or a fellow birder met on a previous visit here or abroad.  In my case, along with Marieke, we were able to make contact with other birders from Spain and members of the Andaluicai Bird Society with a good representation from our Spanish professional guides including Jose Luis Sanchez, Niki Williams and Simon Tomkin, Manual Morales - and apologies to any I have missed out.

"Andalucia Wildlife Guides" stand with Jose Luis Sanchez Balsera back left
Next up was our Treasurer, Janet Dixon, who had travelled down form Lancashire with nearby neighbour and another ABS member, Sue Hogg.

(From left) Marieke Berkvens, Janet Dixon and Sue Hogg
Then we came cross fellow UK member of the Society, John Cantelo.  A few years ago I discovered that both John and I had attended the same grammar school in Southampton, even lived within a mile of each other, and whilst speaking with John, who had already met Marieke out in Spain, along came fellow Spanish member Alvaro Peral.  Shame I did not get much time to speak to Alvaro as, at the same time, well know television presenter Chris Packham walked by and stopped to peak to a couple of people standing next to us.  At this point I mentioned to John that I was pretty sure that Chris, too, had attended the same school.  Only one way to settle that question, wait till he had finished his conversation and make contact.  All conformed albeit by the time he attended the school it had become a Sixth Form College.  Three "Old Tauntonians" gathered together at Birdfair with me being the grumpy old man and Chris the youngster - 'nough said!

Old Tauntonians John Cantelo (left), Chris Packham and RNW

Exhausted, tired and in need of a rest Marieke and I finally left the site to drive round, via Manton Bay and the Osprey's nest, to Lyndon Top so that Marieke might get a better perspective of Rutland Water.   Entering the lane down to the car park we had make quick use of the break or the county would be one hen Pheasant short!  Lots of birds on both the water and nearby rocks to our left including Canada and Greylag Geese, Mute Swan, Black-headed and Great Black-backed Gulls, Moorhen, Coot, Little Egret, Cormorant, etc whilst feeding on the provided seed hoppers we had numerous Blue and Great Tits along with Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch.  Better yet, both a male Reed Bunting and Tree Sparrow put in an appearance.

From here we completed the circle round the water before heading back to Stamford and the next big decision of the day, where shall we eat tonight?  Then, of course, comes the start of the return journey back to Spain on Sunday morning and the thought of some Spanish birding in the Pyrenees and Damiel, not to mention sites in Belgium with Marieke, before reaching Mezquitilla.  No sooner back than the Axarquia Bird Group will be meeting at the Guadalhorce in Malaga on Thursday 30 August,(will the Pacific Golden Plover still be about?) and the drive down to Tarifa the following day in readiness for, hopefully, seeing a great migration sight as the raptors pass over.

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Osprey, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

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

Thursday 16 August 2018

Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire, UK

Wednesday 15 August

With rain forecast for the intended visit day, Thursday, we made the trip a day earlier.  In the event my Belgian friend, Marieke and I had a fabulous day out and, yes, it did rain heavily on the Thursday morning.  (Looks like we might be in for some damp underfoot weather when we visit the annual Birdfair at Rutland Water on Friday!)

The Wash from the new Visitors Centre
Less than two hours away from Stamford (why don't I make this trip more often?) we were greeted by a single Magpie and the first of many migrating Barn Swallows overhead. The outward journey had already produced both Rook and Common Starling so we were very much looking forward to catching up with the reported visiting Spotted Crake at the the reserve.  But first a welcome cup of coffee and a shared cake of very rich and gorgeous taste!  The short walk down past the haven to the Wash Viewpoint produced Black-headed Gulls and the first Redshank of the morning along with a hovering Kestrel.  Immediately above the small raptor was a single Common Swift.  Both Little Egret and Wood Pigeon were recorded along with at least thirty Common Seals Phoca vitulina resting on the top of a narrow drain as the tide made its way out and not to return for another four hours.  In the far distance we could see a steady passage of small waders along the shore of the Wash.

Back to the car park to collect telescope and camera and then head off along South Marsh Road towards the dunes and beach.    A stop near Bean's Hole to look at the activity in the small trees produced a couple of lovely Willow Warblers before resting at the view point overlooking the Shorebird Sanctuary.  From this vantage point we found a trio of Oystercatchers until panning left (north) which revealed that there must have been well in excess of a thousand of these delightful pied waders but nothing in comparison with the 5000 plus Knot that continually moved south along the coast.  On the water's edge we also recorded Sanderling and Turnstone and then the first of the  Sandwich quickly followed by Little Terns.  Also on the beach, so tempting to jump in for a paddle, both a single Cormorant and Curlew and a few Herring Gulls.  But we had not yet finished for reaching the end of our walk before heading inland up Mill Hill we also came across a small flock of about fifty plus Black-tailed Godwit.

Mute Swan Cygnus olor
Passing a number of Goldfinch, mainly juveniles, and some Linnets we arrived at the hide overlooking The Mere.  Now we eagerly expected/hoped to get a sight of the visiting Spotted Crake.  Two birders already in the hide who reported that the bird had put in an appearance less than ten minutes previous and that they had managed to get photographs.  And so we settled down to wait whilst, at the same time, noting what else was on the water.  A pair of Mute Swans with three well-grown cygnets, Little Grebe also with three youngsters, both Coot and Moorhen with well-grown young and, of course, a couple of Mallards and even a female Teal.  A Carrion Crow passed over at the back but still no sign of a crake after forty minutes plus and, getting on towards 2.30, we were now both a little on the hungry side.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis (adult above and two of young below)
A Snipe took up residence right in front of the hide giving excellent views.

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinango

Time to move on and take the inland track on the east side of West Dunes back to the main car park recording both Jackdaw and another Magpie on the way.   A quick comfort break then the short drive up to the Beach Car Park from where we collected everything necessary before heading off to the northern hide overlooking Tennyson's Sands and the large, freshwater pool in front. Here we enjoyed our picnic lunch whilst checking out the many birds, mainly a mix of Black-headed Gulls and Avocet but also Cormorant, more Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Teal, Mallard and a handful of Lapwing.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Then the good and the bad news!  Looking way south we could see a mixture of birds on the southern water so the promise of more to come when we visited plus the bonus of, whilst looking at the reed edge, a Water Rail wandered out for a short look around before disappearing from whence it had come.  Bad news?  We were joined in the hide by a couple who we had previously met in the Mere Hide and informed that within ten minutes of our departure the Spotted Crake had put in a very short appearance, measured in seconds, but very clear as only about three metres distant.  Isn't that just the way of birding!

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus with Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
The visit to the hide overlooking water of Jackson's Marsh was very profitable.  Hardly had we arrived and seen at least a quartet of Snipe than we added a Greenshank along with both Canada and Greylag Geese.  Lots of Avocets and Black-headed Gulls and a few more Lapwing and Teal.  A passing Marsh Harrier put everything up and when all had settled back down again we could see more Black-tailed Godwit along with a handful of Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper.  Not only were we able to also find both Shelduck and Tufted Duck but also a Yellow-legged Gull.  A lone Pied Wagtail worked the beach below us as a Meadow Pipit flew over and, at the northern end of the water, we also identified a trio of Common Tern.

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
Time I think to call it a day given that we still had a two-hour return journey so back to the car, passing a male Chaffinch on the way, to lose everything apart form binoculars and camera and one last check of The Mere for that elusive Spotted Crake.  It was not be our day but we did have a passing Sand Martin and on returning to the car added Collared Dove.  Then it was the drive back along the point adding both Blackbird and House Sparrow to give a final tally of 53 species.  So ended a very enjoyable day at a truly beautiful site.

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus with Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Little Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Swift, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Willow Warbler, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Linnet.

More photos:

Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba yarrellii

Redshank Tringa totanus (juvenile to the right)

Female Teal Anas crecca

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

Sunday 12 August 2018

Rutland WaterDunnopck

Sunday 12 August

The rains have come at last.  Absolutely through it down last night and again this morning - as forecast for the East Midlands.  It stopped mid-morning so took the car to the local garage o collect a morning paper then continued on to my local patch at Rutland Water to undertake some more experiments with the new camera and had an interesting ninety minutes before returning home and the la5test light rain.  Hopefully that's it for the present o that we get some dry weather from mid-week to help make the visit to the Annual Birdfair more enjoyable and also a day out at Gibraltar Point near Skegness before setting out on the long car journey back to Mezquitilla.

Both Wood Pigeon and Heron as I approached the North Arm and although the water appeared quiet there were good numbers of Greylag Geese and Mute Swan with a few Egyptian Geese and the usual local Cormorants.  (I would add that all birding this morning undertaken with just the trusty binoculars.) A handful of Great Crested Grebe and a score or more of Coot along with Mallard, Wigeon and Gadwall made up most of the smaller water birds along with at lest three Little Egret.  On the far bank a number of resting Black-headed Gulls.  Just the single Moorhen noted.  A few House Martin were feeding over the water as I left to make my way to the main Visitors Centre.

Driving along the connecting lane to Eggleton a couple of Crow in the first field and then at least twenty Jackdaw before seeing a couple of House Sparrow and Collared Dove as I passed through the village. 

From the Visitors Centre only a few Coot to be seen but a Great White Egret on the far bank was a lovely sight.  In front of me a handful of Mallard and about the same number of Tufted Duck. Sand Martins from the nearby artificial nesting site were feeding over the water.  Only Black-headed Gulls to be seen from the Larus family. 

A stop at the feeding centre where I intended to use the camera proved disastrous.  For some reason all the feeders here remain completely empty so the only bird that eventually explored the area was the Dunnock with at least three present. 

Dunnock Prunella modularis

On round the back of the water via Manton Bay passing a single Magpie and a large flock of Rooks to make a stop at the Lyndon Centre where I found far more activity.  Here the feeders had been kept topped up and were being regularly used by Blue and Great Tit with mainly youngsters, and more of the latter, taking advantage of the available food.  Ere long they were joined by both Goldfinch and Greenfinch along with the occasional Chaffinch and just beyond a riving charm of at least fifty Goldfinch, including very many juveniles, were feeding on the thistle seeds.  Just the one moulting male Blackbird but out on the water and nearby good-sized flocks of Canada Geese and Mute Swan plus both Greylag and Egyptian Geese.  Many Cormorants along with Coot, the occasional Moorhen and a small number of Mallard.  

Distant female Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

A couple of Osprey drifted past to add to the single bird seen from the main Visitors Centre but neither landed on the local nest.  I was informed that 27 Osprey had returned this year with eight successful pairings raising young and a further pair, almost certainly both young birds attempting their first breeding, which produced a single chick but was found dead on nest and very much under weight (800 rather than about 1300gms) when the nest was checked.

Even more distant Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

In addition to Black-headed there was also a small flock of Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the far bank and then, right in front of me through the glass, a rather lovely Common Whitethroat.  Soon after a Chiffchaff put in an appearance and a handful of Barn Swallows was seen over the water before the final, 38th, bird of my short visit was a Common Starling feeding on the feeders. 

Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis seen through glass

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant,  Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Osprey, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch.

Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris on feeder

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