Sunday, 20 December 2009

Wader Weather
I have really enjoyed the cold turn in the weather and the incredible snow falls of the last few days. My car is stuck in the snow & has been since Thursday night when the blizzard began. So I have enjoyed birding and photography on the Deben Estuary in Woodbridge, just a 5 minute walk from home. Freezing temperatures did cause a bit of pain whilst stalking the waders at high tide, but no pain no gain I guess! I have now recovered from a nasty lung infection & am loving being back out in the field - where I belong ;-)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Reflective Times
I have been office based for the past couple of weeks working on book & agency images but managed to get out for a very enjoyable afternoon excursion to Norfolk on Thursday. For an hour or so before dark (2.30-3.30 pm) the light was wonderful so I concentrated on different reflections and silhouettes with some very approachable Coot and Little Grebes.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Eastern Delight . . .
The last week saw me on a twitching marathon with great views obtained of the Red-flanked Bluetail at Minsmere, Brown Shrike in Staines & best of all, the Eastern Crowned Warbler in South Shields. Although none of the three birds produced good photographic opportunities, I enjoyed excellent scope views of all of them. The Red-flanked Bluetail was my second having enjoyed good views of Deryk's bird on the NW cliffs on Fair Isle at the end of September 2004. The Minsmere bird was characteristically illusive, staying deep in the quite extensive sluice bushes but did show well at fleeting intervals & was occasionally chased by an irritated Robin. The Brown Shrike was a bit distant when I turned up but thanks to Pete Newton who I met there, I enjoyed great scope views, my camera staying firmly on my shoulder. Friday saw a massive 5 hour twitch to South Shields with Alan Bull and Phil Harris. What a pleasure it was to arrive at the site & be able to immediately connect with the bird from the cliff-top. We had expected it to be a good bird but nothing prepared us for what was surely one, if not, THE best bird we have ever seen - it was a real mega - eastern delight, full-frame in the scope, but as you can see here, not in the camera! It was a happy 6.5 hour trip back to Suffolk, topped off with a late indian take-away.

'Scottish Birds' Front Cover Image
I was thrilled to have the front cover image of the September 2009 issue of Scottish Birds with a Barnacle Goose close-up. This is the second issue of the 'new' Scottish Birds journal, incorporating Scottish Bird News & Birding Scotland & published by the Scottish Ornithologist's Club. I had the cover shot in the first issue with a Long-eared Owl taken on Fair Isle. For more information on Scottish Birds, the SOC & for subscription details please click here: SOC

Thursday, 8 October 2009

A is for Arctic . .
A few shots from a great day on mainland Shetland yesterday. . . .

Monday, 5 October 2009

Blyth's Reed Warbler
Fair Isle - 5th October 2009
Our last day on Fair Isle turned out to be the most productive birding day we had encountered for our entire visit! A Blyth's Reed Warbler was found by Alan & Chas in the crop strip at Lower Stoneybrek first thing before they departed on the plane at the end of their Autumn trip. I photographed this bird out in the field & it was later trapped & ringed to confirm the ID. There were clearly many more migrants about with a Reed Warbler (trapped & ringed) at the Chalet, many Redwing & a few Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroat, Brambling etc in the light SW'ly winds & sunshine - a beautiful day. Whilst looking for the Blyth's Reed Warbler at Lower Stoney with several others including the 2 AW's & Deryk who had arrived post Sheephill, a Warbler jumped up onto the wall briefly in front of us. We all raised our bins expecting to see the Blyth's Reed Warbler but were amazed to suddenly be staring at a cracking RIVER WARBLER!!! What an fine, classic, streaky individual, fully out in the open & facing us, it's tail flicked up showing a great profile before it darted into the crops & remained illusive thereafter. A fantastic British tick for Phil & I & a great bird to end our Fair Isle trip with. After grilling the Eastern Savi's Warbler in Da Water the day before (my second on Fair Isle), it was a real treat to see both a classic River & a Eastern Savi's & the various differences between these two often difficult individuals.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

October Pechora . . .
The Pechora Pipit showed a little better today around Burkle garden (what a great garden tick for Deryk!), Kenaby crop & Quoy. It was later ringed in Burkle garden (another tick for Deryk!) and remained deep in the cabbage crops at Quoy late into the afternoon. The Common Rosefinches had found each other & spent much of the day in Kenaby crops well as Burkle garden. Whilst out in the afternoon in the SE I had my first Fair Isle Song Thrush & Redwing of the Autumn as well as being amused by Quoy pigs chasing Pink-footed Geese out of their territory.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Vegetable Pechora
Another day of strong NW winds and intermittent heavy showers. The recent quiet spell was broken mid morning by news of a Pechora Pipit at Kenaby crop and a frantic run for the red flagged car. Although very elusive and flighty it did eventually show well enough for all to see and enjoy! A great find Chas & Steve! I spent much of the afternoon in the south of the Island searching for rares & the Pechora. I found a Common Rosefinch (images below - different one to yesterday which is now sporting a ring) & Garden Warbler in Kenaby crop mid afternoon & had a Merlin & several small flocks of Barnacle Geese. The Richards Pipit frequently put in an appearance throughout the afternoon in various locations and is very mobile. Other highlights today included a Pied Fly which was trapped and ringed, as well as a Blackbird and a few Chiffs and Willows.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

A Rosy Day . . .
A much better day today as the wind had dropped & sunshine prevailed. It was really enjoyable to be out & there were clearly more birds in which gave everyone a much needed boost. I spent the morning on the south-west side. A Slavonian Grebe was in Hesti Geo (pictured below). After clambering up Malcolm's Head I photographed Fulmars in flight & had a few Chaffinch & 10 Snow Buntings followed by a Common Rosefinch (pictured below) Blackcap & Chiffchaff at Quoy. Phil caught a NW type Redpoll in Burkle garden in the afternoon & I birded the East cliffs which produced little, a Merlin, 20+ Snow Bunting & several Linnet being the highlights along with many Golden Plover & Pink Feet/Greylag flocks. Phil & Simon trapped & ringed another Lapland Bunting (pictured below) at the Chalet late afternoon & a Pintail was noted with Wigeon on Da Water. Yesterday's birding highlight was the first Redwings of the Autumn. Lachlan returned to School in Lerwick & we were joined by our friend Martin Culshaw who had successfully twitched the Taiga Flycatcher & Sandhill Crane as well before arriving on the afternoon plane for his Fair Isle week. Needless to say our alcohol consumption has just increased tenfold! - lets just hope the birds do the same! ;-)

Saturday, 26 September 2009

A Westerly Weekend

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Return to Fair Isle
Arrived on Fair Isle yesterday morning through howling Westerlies, which seem to dominate the weather forecast predictions for the next ten days! Before Fair Isle, we had a days birding on mainland Shetland, with Pied Fly, Redstart, 3 Common Crossbills & Barred Warbler at Vidlin followed by delicious soup and bagels at the Peerie Cafe in Lerwick. Later we enjoyed a meal out at the Sumburgh Hotel with Helen who we stayed with in Toab. We were pleasantly surprised to get onto Fair Isle at all yesterday given the foul & worsening conditions but we were soon catching up with friends, drinking tea & pondering on the weather & what delights we might not be seeing this autumn visit. In between afternoon showers we caught & ringed a lone Dunlin on the scrape with Alan Bull & Peter Stronach & later at night the boys 'dazzled' waders including Curlew, Ringed Plover & 2 more Dunlin. Today, the westerly winds had died down in the morning but the conditions worsened again throughout the afternoon. The few birds noted this morning included up to 6 Lapland Buntings, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Whinchat, Richard's Pipit, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whooper Swan, 5 Linnet. I photographed Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Lapland Bunting & Chiffchaff.
Great to be back here!!