Tuesday 30 July 2019

How not to succeed at Fishing; an Osprey's Adenture

Tuesday 30 July

First you find a suitable fishing water which meas a high advantage position when studying the water below.

Too far away, move somewhere closer.

Time to take a closer look down below

 No luck?  Fly up and take another look befiore trying again.

That looks promising.

 Here we go, over the top and down for breakfast

No luck again.  I think I'll have to sit down for a while and re-think this fishing palava.

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Life of a Blackbird

Tuesday 30 July

First you raise your brood then they expect to be fed day and night!

Where's my dinner?
At last.  Thanks Mum.
No second helpings?

Just when you think it's time for a rest along comes the wife, whispers sweet nothings in your ear and then suggests starting all over again!

Now i wonder where he's hiding this time?
Where have you been?  I've been waiting here for ages.
About that new family we've been singing about

What do you mean you've got a headache?

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Rutland Water

Rutland Water for fishing Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Tuesday 30 July

Rain forecast for 10.30 so made sure i was up early and over at Rutland Water by 6.55.  So early all gates still shut so had to park on the verge of the entrance lane.  Straight to the feeding area in the hope of an early morning visit by a Great Spotted Woodpecker but not to be. I had both Collared Dove and Pheasant and a couple of exiting Chaffinches as I took my seat.  In came the first Blue Tit along with both House Sparrow and Dunnock and then, wonder of wonders, a single Marsh Tit.  Just a few seconds on the nearest feeder before disturbed and moved to the rear feeder but, again, just for seconds before departure and too quick for me to get the camera out and a quick record shot.  But still a lovely sighting.

The morning had started well wit a good number of Mute Swans on the main water as I drove past and no shortage of either Carrion Crows or Wood Pigeons.  However, as I turned into the last lane leading to Egleton I saw the gathered masses on the recently cropped field to my right, there must have been at least 250 Greylag Geese.  Presumably the birds had been here since first light as I noticed many making their way back to the main lagoons, especially Lagoon 4, in the next hour or so.  A Jackdaw sat on top of the church spire and a Magpie crossed the road in front of me.  A further corvid was recorded when I left the above feeding station to take a look at the gathered Rooks in the trees to the back of said station.

So on to the Sandpiper Hide overlooking Lagoon 4 with just a cursory stop at at the Redshank Hide.  This first stop confirmed my worst suspicions that indeed there had been a great increase in water levels so not expecting to find a lot of wading territory on any of the other lagoons, Lagoon 4 being the most likely to have some shore line.  How right I was.  Wading territory but not a lot of birds apart for resting Mallards and Lapwing and a dozen or more Little Egrets.  Both Little and Great Crested Grebes were recorded along with very many Black-headed Gulls, Coot and a number of Mute Swans and Canada Geese.  (As I was departing I started to notice the arrival of more and more Greylag Geese from their nearby arable feeding.)

Whilst I picked out a quartet of Teal and a single Redshank being harassed by one of the Lapwing, the main attraction was the distant "blob" on top of the pole beyond the Osprey platform.  No scope with me today (less to conceal should the rain come early) I knew that the bird was an Osprey and the subsequent photographs were to prove me correct.  Then the bird disappeared as I searched the rest of the lagoon to reappear on the nesting platform.  Not only nearer but then the decision to go fishing so was able to see a couple of unsuccessful approaches and attacks; perhaps this was one of this year's youngsters?  More photos on a separate blog I think.

Osprey Pandion haliaetus
My final visitors were a couple of Common Sandpiper and a single Egyptian Goose that wandered over the spit just opposite the hide. 
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus

Leaving the hide a small bird was disturbed at the foot of the entrance path by a landing Blackbird and I was able to follow it to a large tree near the nearby exit gate.  Bins picked out the bird as a handsome Bullfinch and it remained partly concealed whilst I tried out a distant shot with the new Sony RX10M4 camera. [See footnote re previous large equipment.]
Partly concealed male Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula

The Shoveler Hide overlooking Lagoon 3 revealed just how much the water level had risen this past week with no island just in front of the hide and very many ducks and Coots further out.  It certainly looks as if the autumn arrival of both Mallards and Coot has started as no there ducks were identified apart from the handful of Teal in the shallow water to my left.  Along the grassy level behind the hide a pair of Blackbirds were posing and appeared to be in the process of pairing up for, presumably, a new clutch whilst in the same tree a Garden Warbler did its successful best to conceal itself from the attention of the camera.

Female Blackbird Turdus merula

The Smew Hide produced a very high level Lagoon 2 and even the breeding platforms seemed to have been detached albeit  a small float did contain a Common Tern and below me a Moorhen drifted by and was greeted by her single youngster.  At last the sight of the local Sand Martins feeding over the water around their artificial nesting bank.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo

It was only when I visited the Lapwing Hide that I found the Tufted Duck along with Common Pochard who all seemed to have taken to the main water of the South Arm albeit sheltering just off the north of Brown's Island.  This was also the only water to produce a few Gadwall.

Ghostly Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus drifting by from the Crake Hide

So, time to make my way back to the Visitors Centre, assuming that it might be open by the tine I arrived, but first, at the last moment, a decision to just pay a quick return visit to Lagoon 4.  Approaching  the Sandpiper Hide along the entrance path I noticed the movement in the bushes opposite and was delighted to be rewarded by a family of Whitethroat.  Once back inside the hide I also found that a couple of Common Starling were resting on top of the Osprey pole and at the side the Great Black-backed Gulls were now visible.  Leaving the hide, the Whitethroat had been replaced by a small charm of Goldfinches.

Great Tit Parus major

Nothing new at the feeding station other than  an adult female feeding her young Blackbird and a Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus on the prowl looking for food that has fallen from the feeders so a quick call in at the Visitors Centre to confirm that there were still resting Cormorant on the water of Lagoon 1 outside.  A quick tally before setting off home and so missing the coming rain confirmed that I had recorded 41 species in my two-hour stay.

Young Blackbird Turdus merula
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Osprey, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Marsh Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch

Lapwings Vanellus vanellus looking for somewhere to rest on Laggon 3
Brown Rat Rattus norvegicuson the prowl after dropped seed

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

[FOOTNOTE.   Whilst I have been able to sell most of my Canon photographic equipment, I still have two large lenses for anyone interested. Both f5.6, the 100-400 IS USM lens was valued at about £350 by London Camera Exchange on my Derby visit so make a sensible offer and the 400 Prime should be worth a similar figure.  Both are Mark 1 models not the latest releases.  They will accompany m back to Spain.]

Monday 29 July 2019

Frampton Marsh, Boston

Monday 29 July

So much for an early arrival when I found myself stuck at Tallington level crossing for fifteen minutes and then, just as I thought we were away at last, down came the barrier for another complete five minutes.  Eventually, I arrived at RSPB Frampton Marsh on the outskirts of Boston at 9.50 but, at least, I did have the joy of seeing a Red Kite on the way to Spalding and a further two individuals as I approached Frampton.  The narrow lane leading up to the entrance also produced Crow, Magpie, Wood Pigeon and Blackbird, all of which I was to see again during the course of the long morning.  Weather wise, the wait at the level crossing enabled me to remove my jumper so it was shirt sleeves and shorts in lovely warm, sunny weather with only a little broken cloud.  But very windy when exposed up on the bank overlooking the saltmarsh.

Frampton Marsh Reserve seen from the high bank. Note the Visitors Centre to the far right and Boston Stump (Parish Church) to the left

Straight to the far car park near the saltmarsh having first checked in a the Visitors Centre to see what might be about at the moment.  Informed that plenty of Wood sandpipers around along with Little Stint and the "rarities". However, most were obviously early morning sightings as I only found a single Wood and Green Sandpiper along with a handful of Common Sandpipers.  Not even a Spoonbill on the reserve and the Dowitcher and White-rumped Sandpiper appeared to have moved on - or been driven on by yesterday's awful weather.The scrapes grassland held a small, tight flock of Black-tailed Godwit and on the western side a few of the breeding Avocet with now quite well developed youngsters.  Naturally, Coots and Black-headed Gulls about but then it was time to walk the high banks westwards. 

The main flock of Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa

All very quite and at the end of the waters a small number of both Greylag and Canada Goose along with family parties of Shelduck.  Carrying my large, and heavy, scope I soon found a few "hiding" Lapwing and then the pleasure of a couple of distant Ruff.  Towards the back of the water a trio of Little Egret and the constant movement of the large flock of Common Starling.  Just before setting out on the return walk to the small car park below the steps I also managed to find a couple of Ringed Plovers and the first of the morning's Sky Larks.  Finally, searching the saltmarsh I eventually found a resting Kestrel atop a fence post way out from the bank.
Distant record shot of the Ruff Philomachus pugnax

Making my way back to the car I spent a little more time checking the waters either side of the road and on the eastern side noticed the handful of Shoveler in amongst the few Mallard.  A Reed Bunting had been picked up on the fence wire as I came down the steps and now I had a Reed Warbler to my right and a couple of Redshank to my left.  The Black-tailed Godwits were still very much huddled together as a Pied Wagtail flew across them and on over the road in front of me.  But to my left the Great Crested Grebe seemed to have found some special fish.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus with freshly caught breakfast

Back at the Visitors Centre activity of the feeders was very much centred on the feeding Golfinches including many juveniles yet to moult into their red faces.  Just the single Greenfinch but also a few House Sparrows and a visiting Collared Dove along with a Blackbird.  Out on the water I managed to add a Moorhen and had a good view of the adult Black-necked Grebe along with its single, well-grown chick.  A number of Mute Swans and more Greylag Geese and the occasional Lapwing and Avocet nearby.

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

The hedgerow path took me to the ponds at the far end and the viewing site for the visiting Turtle Doves and, sure enough, no sooner had a I stopped at the signpost reading "You are standing in the best place to see the Turtle Dove" than I looked along the hedge to my left and their, sitting quite contentedly in a bare tree, was the Turtle Dove.  On the larger reservoir I had a quartet of Teal and as I made my back to the "hidden" path I looked to my right and finally saw my first and only Wood Sandpiper.  No sooner seen than it seemed the departing Green Sandpiper also wanted its name down in the notebook.  A female Blackcap crossed the path to rest in a neighbouring bush and then a Robin.  On the left a lovely sight of a posing Dunnock but too dark for the camera - as if the bird would wait that long anyway!

Once back at the Visitors Centre I picked up the small scope and continued on the the 360 Hide.  Once ensconced and ready for my picnic lunch it became even more obvious that the water levels were much higher and the birds far fewer.  Another Black-necked along with a Little Grebe and more Little Egrets, Canada and Greylag Geese.  A small number of Mallard but plenty of Coots and the occasional Lapwing by way of variation.  To the right of the hide a single Ruff was busy feeding and, again, plenty of Black-headed Gulls to be seen but also my first Tufted Duck of the morning.

A short stop at the Reedbed Hide produced more Lapwing and another Ringed Plover along with a Great Crested Grebe with a single, well-grown but still "humbug" youngster in tow.  On the far side I managed to find a single Oystercatcher and a at least three Common Pochard on the water.

Young Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus still in "humbug" plummage

Returning to the Visitors Centre for a final look and even more Barn Swallows feeding around the building, I found a Blue Tit on the feeder along with a foraging Dunnock.  Nevermind the Goldfinches and House Sparrows, I was delighted to watch a Common Whitethroat in the neighbouring bush and even managed a record shot through the glass.  With a final total of 48 species and the weather becoming too hot and humid it was time to set off back to Stamford.
Record rearview shot of the Whitethroat Sylvia communis through the window
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Little Egret, Red Kite, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Sky Lark, Barn Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, House sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Sierra de Maria with Dave and Friends

Wednesday 17 July

It may be "out of season" for Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group but you can't keep a good birder tied to the house.  Given the opportunity, we will all be up and away and Dave was no exception to the rule.  I could certainly have done with his Hawfinch sighting.

Wednesday 17 July:  Sierra de Madre

Gilly and I took Sarah Groves with her cousin Kelly to Maria today for a non official trip.  In fact both Gilly and I forgot a notebook!  We met up with Mary Taylor for a coffee before heading to the chapel.  On checking the mountain ridge I found a Mum and child Ibex silhouetted against the skyline.  Later saw a male. 

Distant adult and young Ibex Capra pyrenaica (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
 Lots of activity by the water trough, including a pair of Hawfinch.  

Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
Also seen were Melodious Warbler and immature Subalpine Warblers

Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta
Had a number of Griffon Vultures flying over plus both Light and dark phase Booted EaglesWoodchat Shrike, Crossbills and Coal Tits in Garden.  Family of Melodious Warblers at far end of lower walk.  Not a lot at the farmhouse.  At the water trough we had Iberian Grey Shrike and Short-toed Lark.  No sign of Lesser Kestrels at hamlet, only Northern Wheatear.  At La Piza, not many birds feeding; Crossbill, Chaffinch and Great Tit.  Stars were a family of 5 Jays.
Two of the family of five Jays Garrulus glandarius
No total as no list! Great days birding in amazing company!

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information