Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Birding NE Minnesota

My dad and I birded all over NE Minnesota in search of boreal forest birds and were rewarded with four life birds-Great Gray Owl (pictured below), Spruce Grouse, Iceland Gull, and American Three-toed Woodpecker. To see photos of my trip go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/backpackingbirdwatcher/

Monday, 22 February 2010


Hi everyone, sorry I forgot to introduce myself on my first post. My name is Liam and I live in Seaford, East Suusex. I am 14 years old. I have known a bit about birds since I was about six, but until I was twelve I just went out twitching a few things around Sussex and was only really interested in Raptors and Waders. I first got really interested after a trip to Australia, where the bird life is absolutely fantastic!! It is mainly because of that trip that I have managed to get a world life list of 548 species, but I have also been to Cyprus, Mull, France and on the Pride of Bilbao seawatching recently, and to America when I was seven. I'm going to Canada this August when hopefully I can get my life list up to 700. The best bird I've ever seen is definitely Cassowary in Oz, but over there I also saw Superb Fairy-Wren, Kori Bustard, Brolga and Papuan Frogmouth, which were all fantastic. My favourite british bird is probably Waxwing or Bee-eater, but if I'd seen one in Britain it would be Golden Oriole without a doubt! I haven't found many rarities, but have found a few local rarities around my local area, including Montagu's Harrier, Goshawk, Waxwing and Cattle Egret. The rarest bird I've seen in Britain is White-crowned Sparrow or Green Heron, and the rarest bird I've seen in the world is probably either Cassowary or Feas's Petrel. I go birding most often around Seaford, where you can easily get to the South Downs, two river valleys, an excellent seawatching area and a coastal headland with good numbers of migrants passing through every autumn. However I don't see notable birds around here that often, so most of my posts will be for when I go away on trips elsewhere. For more info see my blog.

Thanks for reading and good luck to everyone out there

All the best

Liam Curson

Gigrin Farm Kites

A few shots taken at Gigrin Farm in wales over the weekend. Stuning views of the Red Kites and the Black Kite just made the day.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

A 'Hello'

Hello folks. You've probably noticed that hitherto this occasion I haven't posted in this blog. This is because I'm currently trying to get up to date with my own. When I finally do get up to date, which I can happily say won't be too long now, I'll make sure I post in here more regularly. In the meantime, I just thought I'd post to introduce myself .

I'm Joseph Nichols (Joseph N on Birdforum), and I'm a very keen 15 year old young living in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Ever since I was a young lad at the age of 5 I have been watching and enjoying birds in a big way. With age of course, my ability to birdwatch has improved considerably and with that too my British List and my Life List. My life list in the world currently stands at just below 350 species (347), with 2 trips to South Africa and others to countries such as Portugal, France and Spain in the past providing me with over a 100 species that I haven't seen in Britain. My British List, if I was to be honest, matters more to me. It currently stands at 228 species, which I think is reasonable for someone of my age. A good number of rarities are amongst these 228 species, of which the rarest was a Greater Sand Plover at the Ythan Estuary in 2008. This bird was one of those species that looked completely out of place, and not where it was supposed to be, hence why it was only the 13th record for Britain ever. Last year, a Stilt Sandpiper at the Loch of Strathbeg in early July came in as the second rarest bird that I'd ever seen, with only 18 records of this bird ever in the UK. These were both great birds to see. Some other rare birds that I have seen, all of which I have taken great pleasure in seeing, include Great White Egret (although this species is gradually losing its vagrant status), Glossy Ibis, a few Snow Geese, Ruddy Shelduck, King Eiders (female and drake seen but on different occasions), Common Crane, Dotterel, White-winged Black Tern, Short-toed Lark, Bluethroat, Icterine ,Yellow-browed and Pallas's Warbler, Ross's Goose, Richard's Pipit and Red-backed Shrike. In the coming years, I hope to see more rare birds, as well as some of those rare breeders. My current year list, as you may have read on the competition, is at 113 species. For me its been an absolutely fantastic year so far, probably my best start ever. I've already had 4 lifers this year. These lifers have are amongst my highlights this year, which you can see on this very page.

Whilst I do take interest in the listing aspect of birding, I also really enjoy watching birds and other wildlife on a whole; I would hardly call myself a 'twitcher'. In my opinion, its a blissful experience to escape from the hardships and repetition of everday life and find yourself out amongst copious amounts of birds, witnessing nature's marvellous spectacles. I also love just how ubiquitous birds are (they're always there for you to see in other words) and how unpredictable birding is. What are you going to see, and in what way will this effect you? It's just very excting! I get out birding regularly with my Dad , very rarely leaving it more than a few weeks between birding outings. I tend to visit three local patches by the names of Girdleness, the Ythan Estuary and the Loch of Strathbeg, all of which are fantastic in their different ways. Girdleness sticks out into the sea and is great for seawatching and looking for migrants, the Ythan Estuary is good for waterfowl, whilst the Loch of Strathbeg is the same as the Ythan Estuary but better, providing more rarities and a wider range of species than the Ythan. I have also done a reasonable amount of birding in England, where I visit relatives annually. I also occasionally go birding in other parts of Scotland.

That is just a brief introduction to my birding experiences and adventures. If you want to find out more and would like to read about my birding days out, please visit my blog at this link:


Cheers folks, and I'll start posting more in here when I get up to date with my blog. In the meantime, I'll be keeping an eye on how you guys are getting on,


The French Invasion!

Despite the title, this was not a daring rescue mission to defeat the Nazis in WW2; unfortunately we were about 65 years too late for that! Instead, this was a birding trip (bet you didn’t see that one coming!!). Others along on this trip were Chris Lowmass (who was kind enough to use his minivan to ferry us all around, Dick Gilmore, Neil Greenaway, Chris Davis, Jon Curson, John Luck, and Sid, whose surname I sadly can’t remember!). So the Eight of us travelled to Dover in the darkness, driving along bumpy roads while attempting to get some sleep! Two Barn Owls were seen around Camber at around 05:00, but I was asleep at the time, even more annoying because one was about 20 yards inside Sussex, and would have just counted a county year-tick! The first species seen by me was a Herring Gull caught by flashlights in Dover Harbour at about 06:00. Once it was reasonably light and we were all reasonably well-fed on the full-English served on the ferry, brief sea watch was in order, where we recorded Kittiwake, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Back-headed Gull, Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe and Purple Sandpiper (on the rocks at Calais Harbour), taking the species list for the trip up to ten, of which I had seen eight, (I missed the Purplie as well as the Barn Owls.) In Calais Harbour Docks, we added Feral Pigeon and Starling, taking the total list up to twelve species. Traveling to our next stop was fairly productive, Woodpigeon, Kestrel, Coot, Fieldfare, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Grey Heron, Grey Partridge and Moorhen made the total 23 species by about 07:30. The Grey Partidge were an interesting note, we saw several coveys of this supposedly ‘English’ Partridge by the side of the roads throughout the day, indicating they are doing much better in France than Britain. Adding to the Irony, we did not see a single French (Red-legged) Partridge all day!! Our first stop was a Gravel Pit near Dunkirk (dunquerque if you are in France). Here we added Chaffinch, Mallard Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Goldeneye, Lapwing, Meadow Pipit and two magnificent Whooper Swans! These two were obviously the main highlight of the stop, although it was also good to see displaying Goldeneye throwing their heads back, practising for when they left this French Gravel Pit for Scandinavia(or perhaps Scotland?) Once again we hit the road, and added Carrion Crow to the ranks before us, which now stood at 36 species. Our next stop was another pit, by the side of a motorway, which overlooked several miles of farmland. From here, Pintail, Mute Swan, Skylark, Buzzard, Robin and Curlew were added, with the final highlight a beautiful ringtail Hen Harrier quartering the fields behind the pit. Our species list now stood at 43 birds. On the road again, Lesser Blackback and Magpie were added, while at our next stop, Dunkirk Harbour, virtually the first bird we saw was a beautiful male Black Redstart. Elsewhere in the Harbour, we quickly added Oystercatcher and Turnstone, and would have done had we not already encountered Great Crested Grebes, which were very numerous here. Neil soon spotted three Slavonian Grebes, the first of at least ten we recorded in the harbour, while he followed up this shout with a Red-necked Grebe. Shag, Black-necked Grebe and Black-throated Diver then fell down in quick succession, and a walk/drive 6 miles along the spit on the side of the harbour revealed Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Snow Bunting, Red-breasted Merganser and more good views of Goldeneye and Slav and black-necked Grebes. Redwing was added in some coastal scrub near Dunkirk, while travelling a few miles along the coast to a pier, where we hoped to see Purple Sandpiper, didn’t work, but Eider, Brent Goose and Rock Pipit took our list up to 62 species. We then hit the road again for an hour or so, a period lightened up when Dick spotted a Crested Lark walking across the middle of the road. Chris wasn’t able to stop in time for everyone to see it (I only just woke up at that point!), but he hurriedly reversed until everyone had a brilliant side-on view of one of the rarest resident birds in Northern France! Our final stop was Platier D’oye, a reserve run by the Frecnh version of the RSPB, where we added Greylag, Barnacle, White-fronted and Canada Geese, Sparrowhawk, Snipe, two very pale Ruff, two very distant Smew (1 duck/1drake), one Dunlin, several Shoveler and finally a Water Rail scurrying along the back of one of the scrapes. 74 species and counting! Finally, in a last look around, we ventured onto the beach, where we saw House Sparrow and Great Tit in the dunes and a Redshank on the sandy beach. 77 species, not a bad showing. However, it became 79 soon after, with Gannet and Razorbill seen from the ferry as we left Calais, and I caught up with the Purple Sands seen by a few people as we entered France. Chris Lowmass’s record on one of these trips was 82, and we could easily have beaten that if it wasn’t for some terrible bloopers, including Blue Tit!!!!!, Goldfinch!!!!!!!, Linnet, Stock Dove, Little Egret, Pheasant, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Wren!!!!, Stonechat, Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Jay, Rook, Greenfinch!!!!, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Bad Weather and Few Birds

My year so far has been much less productive than pretty much everyone on this blog! The weather has been terrible and the birds are few and far between where I live. Right now it is -5 degress farenheit (minus 20 celsius) and we have had lots of snow this winter (more than any other).

The other day I was going to see my lifer American Black Duck but I had to cancelled because of bad weather so I am feeling pretty bird deprived right now! I can't wait for spring and all of the birds it brings.

The only good bird I saw this year was a Prairie Falcon near the town that I live in. Here is a photo:I hope the weather stays nice because next week from Wednesday-Sunday I am going to be in Northern Minnesota looking for birds! That's all for now.