Thursday, 31 January 2008

Birdnut is back!

I am pleased to tell you that my website has finally been fixed (the only way of getting it back was to create it from scratch again).
It is the same address as before (www.birdnut.me.uk).
It has a couple of new pages (Links and News) but the Resources page has been taken off.Any comments on the new design are welcome.
Regards,
David

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Hello from me and my recent visit to Ireland.

Hey!

My name is Kane Brides, I'm 18 and from Atherton which is on the border of Grt Manchester. Been interested in birds since I can remember. My local patch is Pennington Flash but also spends lots of my time at WWT Martin Mere. I have birded in quite a few countries France, Spain, Germany and Australia and I am also a registered BTO ringer (C permit). I have worked/volunteered for the Wildfowl and Wetlands trust for 6-7 years working at Martin Mere, Slimbridge and Caerlaverock. I currently have Zeiss bins 10x42 conquest and a opticron scope + Nikon coolpix 4500 camera.

Anyhow I hope I am doing this correctly! Thought my first post would be regarding my recent visit to Ireland last week whilst looking for Whooper Swans for WWT. I was staying mostly in the Donegal area but also had trips out to Derry and Sligo again in search of swans but managed to get some nice birds along the way. Green Winged Teal, Iceland Gull, Kumliens Gull (Lifer for me), Glaucous Gull and Surf Scoter.

Also lots of other common species, nice to see Hooded Crows, Bewick Swans and also Gannets whilst on the ferry from Belfast.

Rye Harbour 27th Jan 08

There were several species reported around the Dungeness/Rye Harbour area that I thought I'd give it a go this weekend.My targets were as follows:Long-tailed Duck at Scotney GPsScaup at Rye Harbour LNRShorelark at Rye Harbour LNRWe left later than planned and only arrived at around 1:00pm despite constant badgering of my parents. We met Phil at Scotney and I knew he had seen the duck earlier in the morning from a phone call. After a quick scan I had it and got the scope on it, I got great views of it ( a female) but foolishly forgot to get a record phone-scoped video! Anyway, it was a great bird and well worth the detour (which ended up slowing the trip down by almost an hour (because of problems getting there, instead of it being a 15 minute trip. I was shocked when Phil said he saw about a hundred White-fronted and Bean Geese half an hour before I arrived, both potential lifers! We soon moved on to Rye and Phil and I went ahead, eager to catch a glimpse of the Shorelark. We soon got Stonechat (08 bird for me) and when we reached the red roofed hut that the Shorelark was meant to be around, we soon found the flock of Skylarks it was meant to be hanging around with, but unfortunately it wasn't there and after a good 15 minutes we pressed on, concerned with the ever decreasing number of sunlight hours left.There were Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers flying round, both two more year birds in the bag. Other than this there was not much of note other than large numbers of Gulls on the sea. We asked several people whether they had seen the Shorelark or Scaup and all of them said they hadn't seen the Shorelark and all but one said they hadn't seen the Scaup. One man, however said he had seen a drake and a female on the Long Pit and a Ferruginous Duck! At first I was delighted and hastily made my way over there with Phil, leaving mum and dad behind half way there. As we walked and saw Meadow Pipits and Stonechat, I thought about the Ferruginous Duck and was convinced something fishy was going on. This is not really the time of year for them and, if it was one, it was likely to be an escape.On one of the pools on the way there was a Redshank (08 bird) and some Shelduck. When we got to the Long Pits we scanned the Pochards and Tufted Ducks but there was no sign of either any Scaup or a Ferruginous Duck (though there was a female Tufted Duck with a very white vent, which may have confused the man). There were some displaying Goldeneye (two males and two females). A birder came up and asked us for help with orientating himself, half way through what he was saying a Barn Owl flying past! Quite near us too, it flew away and out of sight, by then the man had left and it came back again then flew round the back of the open barns (its presumed home) and we followed it, we got some more good views as it hunted and later on I spotted it sitting on a concrete box, it sat there for five minutes as I filmed it with my camera phone held up to the scope then flew off and that was the last we saw of it. By then it was getting very dark and we headed back, a Song Thrush sang.

video

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Slavonian Grebe - Barrow Lodge SD740381 - 20th January 2008





Only my 4th trip out this year and I was back in the house at 10.00! I think this was the easiest twitch I've ever been on. I saw it after 5 seconds after getting out the car
What a Bird - see my blog for more details - www.zacswildlifeblog.blogspot.com

Saturday, 19 January 2008

video

Very, very poor record of the Great White Egret at Pymoor! It was gorgeous, but we definitely found out why nobody has taken any photos of it.

James

Ok, it definitely wasn't this bad when I watched it on my camera...

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Various highs and a big low at Dungeness

Ok, I persuaded dad to take me down to Dungeness today because there is not much anywhere else, don't feel like having another bad experience with that darn Hoopoe and there is always something of interest down at Dunge.


I find Dungeness a highly productive but frustrating site- today it was windy, the sun was right in front of me and making the Gulls look different and I got a moan from my parents every time I requested another part of Dungeness!





Ok, lets get this over and done with, you may have read before that the following disasters have taken place involving my equipment, here is the story so far:



29th December 2007: Dad drops the D80 with the 500mm lens onto solid stone stairs as we were taking stuff to the car for our stay in Manchester.


30th December 2007 AM: The laptop crashes in the hotel, therefore disconnecting me from the birding world (other than good old Bird News Anywhere from Birdguides) and waisting £25 that we had paid for the week's internet in the hotel.


PM: I foolishly lean the tripod with my new video camera against the car, with the legs folding in,it topples over; samshing the camera.


13th January 2008: I climb up the sea wall at Dungeness with strong gales coming at my face (and tripod) from the sea. I see a Gannet and write it down in my notebook, turning away from my scope- you guessed it- the scope falls over! And no, its not just an unlucky fall, the eyepiece adjuster (glasses/non-glasses thing) come loose (AGAIN!!!!!!!!) But that is not all- the focus stops at near infinity, making it frustratingly just out of focus and sort like a double image when seawatching.





So that is the updated story!





So, I scan the sea with my now capput scope, trying to make out the distant Auks, the broken scope making it even more difficult to ID as they zoom past. One passed close-by though, allowing a positive ID and a decent focus- Guillemot. After this loads more were seen. It was impossible to see whether they had dark armpits or not with them flapping so much and the poor optics.





I moved on to the reserve, deciding to ditch the Long- pits idea because I simply had no idea where they were and whether it was alright to walk across the 'desert' off track.





The trip to the reserve began with a surprise from the visitor centre - Shag, on an island (below)! This is my first good view and a quality 2008 tick. See the videos link on the left hand side near the top of the site to see a video of this bird.



Then I was directed to some Smew and Goosander over at another island- two more 2008 birds in the bag. (Smew video on videos blog, see links).

There were a few Goldeneye around too. Other wildfowl included Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail Wigeon and Pochard.

On the way from the Makepeace hide to the Scott hide there was a male Smew just over the bank that a man pointed out.

From the Scott hide there were a few Ruddy Ducks and four Red Crested Pochards.

After this we left the reserve and as the light faded we went down Dengemarsh road, hoping for some Bewick's Swans, of course no luck. But I think I saw a Barn Owl, but I can't be sure so I haven't added it to my year list. It was a white bird flying quite rapidly, less floaty than a Gull and it suddenly stopped and landed on the ground. By this time all the Gulls were at the roost so I suppose it must have been. It didn't re-appear after it dropped down though so I couldn't confirm it- aarg.

A day of various emotions- after we send the scope off all I will have is a mighty midget scope and a pair of dirty, falling apart binoculars... oh well....

Videos on youngbirdersvideos.blogspot.com

Saturday, 12 January 2008

White-crowned Sparrow twitch (and a few others)

Got up at 5 this morning with Simeon, full of anticipation for the day ahead, and somewhat worried thanks to Jyothi who was coming to Norfolk later that day (scary, I know!), but seriously, he was hitching a lift with a guy who regularly drives 130mph on the way to get birds (Unfortunately I called Jyothi later to find that they had broken down in Slough - I hope his day had a happy ending)! Matt, Nigel and Mr Munns had all been unable to come with us, so I had a great opportunity for driving through some huge puddles!
We left before 6 and arrived at Cley shortly before 8 with a crowd of people already gathered. We managed to get a reasonable spot, and an hour later it appeared! A huge surge of people across the road ensued and we saw nothing thanks to some mysterious floating heads which appeared in view. Angry shouts erupted and the bird soon popped back in. A guy near me left as he had decent views and kindly pulled me into his space! Simeon meanwhile was kneeling on the road near the front of the pack. Suddenly it reappeared again!!!! There was less of a surge this time and we both got cracking views, leaving immediately to make space.
Next stop Walsey hills. After going to the toilet behind the obs we quickly relocated Thursday's Firecrest - best views either of us has ever had! We notified a nearby birder and zoomed off for the Laplands at Salthouse. 5 minutes later: score! One with a large flock of snow buntings showed well.
We left at 9:45 for the Great Grey Shrike at Roydon, deliberately via the White-crowned Sparrow to make people behave and move off the road (hehe!). The road seemed a lot longer. We got to Roydon and our luck seemed to be running out. However, after quite a long wait and a chat with a bearded fellow it reappeared some way off on a hill. The views were rubbish, but it was tickable and we'd seen one there before so we moved on to the Richard's Pipit at Terrington Marsh.
A short drive and a long walk later we arrived to find everyone watching Twite. A kind couple showed us where we should be looking, then relocated it for us! It was gorgeous, a much sought-after target for us, and showed very well. Picking up the Twite, we left at about 13:00. Deciding against going to Titchwell via Docking (to look for Ross' Goose) we went to Saddlebow to find ourselves a Glaucous. All the gulls were in the air, so we left immediately and stopped off at Tottenhill on the way home instead.
Tottenhill was not what it once was. No Smew, and few ducks, though we did see some gorgeous Gadwall, a Barnacle Goose and a Whitefront too, and learnt how to identify 1st winter Common gulls properly.
Wow! What a day! Possibly the best day birding we have ever had. And that's used up pretty much all of our 2008 birding-luck quota!

Year lists: James - 93, Simeon - 89

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Iceland Gull video

A video of the Iceland Gull (see earlier post) is now on youngbirdersvideos.blogspot.com. I just had to trim it off on the video due to file size etc but a slightly bigger, more streaked on the head, white winged gull comes into view- at least it looks like it has white wings- a Glaucous maybe? Doubt it. I might post that part of the video later.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Videos

See youngbirdersvideos.blogspot.com for videos from my Manchester trip- more in the next few days.

Friday, 4 January 2008

New Year, and the Honor System

I woke up in Florida on the first day of 2008. Our birding for the day was close to West Palm Beach in the form of a visit to neighbors Wakodahatchee and Green Cay Wetlands. My only lifer target of the trip, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, which were raising chicks at Greem Cay in late December, had mysteriously all vanished just before I arrived. My third instance of overconfidance in the state: one year ago I tried for an "overwintering" Masked Duck, which hadn't been reported three days before I arrived... and was never seen since. Then I heard about a nesting site for Smooth-billed Anis in April, so naturally I tried and found nothing.

But Green Cay did have some new residents: Roseate Spoonbills, and when I went I had looks at Black-crowned Night-Herons, a Bald Eagle and Lesser Yellowlegs, new birds for me at the site. Also nice was a Sora, spotted on my second visit to the site.

On the second day of the year I went local, and stopped at Okeeheelee Park by Palm Beach Int'l Airport. This is a great site for Painted Bunting, and four did appear, along with four friendly Sandhill Cranes. We also scanned the sea from Palm Beach, and turned up Brown Pelican, Northern Gannet, Royal Tern, and Great Black-backed Gull for the year, all before Herring Gull!

Then on the third of January, we went back south for a revisit to Green Cay (above), as well as Loxahatchee NWR and Boynton Inlet. Strong onshore winds brought a few juvie gannets almost within arm's reach, and the only tame flock of Ruddy Turnstones in the world was sheltering there too. Loxahatchee had wintering flocks of passerines, mostly YR and Palm Warblers and some gnatcatchers, but also with a Blue-headed Vireo and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Another eagle, a few kestrels and a Red-shouldered Hawk that was carrying a snake around made some shorebirds jittery, including Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs and a snipe.

But the best bird of the day was found thanks to the Honor System, but not the bird reporting honor system. You see, at Loxahatchee when you enter there is an unamanned booth where one is supposed to deposit $5 for parking there that day. Just as my Dad and I pulled over to pay, I spotted a dark bird sitting in a tree by the booth. My immediate reaction was hawk, but what were the chances of a darm-morph hawk? Crow also passed through my mind as I considered my possiblities, but a binocular look showed it was a hawk! It was the notorious Short-tailed Hawk, sitting in plain view for me! Photos will be uploaded to my Flickr soon (www.flickr.com/photos/birderbf). Enjoy them, and the new year!



It's your choice, but in my mind there's only one real Squirrel for the UK - RED!

If you ask me which i prefer - a Red in Cumbria in the Grey and Rain or a Grey in the Garden at Home, it's Red every time.

It's not my first Red but they are a Treat, aren't they!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Book Review and 2008 list update.

David said i can post it so...
Book Review-
A History of Ornithology by Peter Bircham Published by Collins (New Naturalist) £25
A History of Ornithology sounds like a really boring book, you know the kind, given to you by your grandparents on christmas day and it never sees the light of day again until you sell it on e-bay several years later.
THINK AGAIN!
This has without doubt, been the best birding read i have read in ages. By far this book is much more authorative and scientific then other efforts like, A Bird in the Bush ( a social history of birdwatching) by Stephen Moss. And don't be scared by the science in the book though, as it is lucidly written and clearly explained, it doesn't bog down with long winded sentences of explanation and neither does it ramble on about specific ornithologists either, a criticsm you can level about 'A Bird in the Bush' and it's covering of people like Gilbert White. That is not to say 'A History' doesn't focus on specific ornitholigists, because it does, but there is such a wide variety of ornithologists from all over the globe, mostly english, with some americans (notably swainson) and some europeans that this book really gives you a feeling over comprehensiveness.
It also features rather endearing pictures of birds from the birds book past, including field guide illustrations by Bewick, Audubon and Thorbun, portraits of the ornithologists and lots of species photographs by Rebeca Nason.
The text is well laid out and formated although the use of tables and lists is a bit annoying at the start of the book.

I'm trying really hard to think of some criticsm's for this book, but i can't. It is a must read for everyone and it's not paticularly hard to read either. 5***** in my opinion.
Ps: I really like the Robert Gillmour designed cover as well.

Today i managed to get out for a quick walk around the countryside near my home. Highlights include short eared owl, two barn owls, 2 grey partridges and a goldcrest. My list for this year is 25.

Happy New Year All!

Pennington Flash 1/1/08

Hi all and happy new year (listing),
How did you get on with your year lists, be sure to let us all know by posting yourself or putting a comment on this post with your highlights and totals.

Staying in Swinton in Manchester at the moment I am in a hotel with a huge field and bushes outside, so the first thing I did in the morning was grill all the bushes for birds and scan every single Black-headed Gull for a Med- of course no luck!

I got 17 species around the hotel and locally- we then went to Pennington Flash CP- hoping for some species like Goosander, Willow Tit and Bullfinch which would be hard to get down south.

We went to the feeding station first and there were Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Dunnocks, Robins- one of my target species- Bullfinch, Tits (including great views of my target Willow Tit and a Coal Tit). I got videos of most species with my new camera (with got badly dented the other day when the tripod collapsed!!!!! :( :( ). There were good views of Great-spotted Woodpecker at the feeding station too. There was a juvenile Sparrowhawk low through the feeding station and dead quick- it zoomed right into the undergrowth.
Someone said there was a Brambling on the right when we were at the feeding station but we failed to locate it- despite the very precise directions (sarcasm emphasised). But I located a male myself later on in a cage platform feeder with Greenfinches and Chaffinches. I got fantastic views and a video.
In the various hides Wildfowl included Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler and Wigeon. Didn't manage Goosander today (they were unmissable yesterday and the day before... typical).
We didn't go to the New hide where 'you are highly likely to see them in the right conditions'- as if! We have been going here for years in the right conditions and scanned for a good while each time and never seen them (though yesterday my scanning revealed a perched juvenile Sparrowhawk).
There were Great-crested Grebes, all the common Gulls (Black-headed, Herring, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Common Gull) and Cormorants etc on the lake. There were loads of Lapwings as usual from the hide with the wooden birder outside of it. On my stay this year I haven't seen one Snipe at Pennington though last year there were plenty.
As the day grew older the Gull numbers increased with Black-headeds into the thousands and each of the other species struggling into the hundreds... but there was a Gull species there with just one present....
In the hide with the wooden birder outside of it someone had got something and was acting all nervous trying to re-locate this Gull he had picked up in flight- he re-located it and showed me it through the scope- I knew it was an adult Iceland as soon as I saw it... what a start to the year- Brambling, Willow Tit and Iceland Gull- some quality birds! I got good views through my own scope, it was a good specimen- white head and primaries- pale grey mantle, slightly smaller than a Herring Gull. I got videos with the new video camera and phone-scoped videos. The video camera didn't cope well with the distance and it keeps making Gulls really white. I got some acceptable videos of it so I will post one onto the videos blog (youngbirdersvideos.blogspot.com) when I get home and have my mini-SD adaptor to import them onto the PC.

Please post to tell us how you got on.

My 2008 year list stands at 43 species