Tuesday, 24 March 2015


Last week with a birding mate, I found three Water Pipits in an area where I have had birds in previous years, in fields north of White Bridge. One of the birds is a cracking summer plumaged bird which I managed a record shot of, but despite a couple of repeat visits I have failed to get any half decent photos. They are extremely wary and do not allow close approach. At least one was still present yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon(23rd March), Steve Waite kindly let me know that a visiting birder had reported 6 Water Pipits on fields south of White Bridge. I had some free time so headed out and could only find a group of 6-7 Rock Pipits in the area. There has been a small group around for the last few days, but they have been feeding around the wet fields and scrapes, perhaps more the feeding habitat you might expect from a Water Pipit. However, on scanning the flock, I was immediately drawn to a much greyer headed bird than the other Rock Pipits it was associating with. The bird also seemed to show fairly prominent wing bars that on my first views I even wondered if it was a Water Pipit. I spent quite some time watching this bird and the more I watched it the more I became interested and I suspected it might possibly be a littoralis Rock Pipit (Scandinavian Rock Pipit). I don't have any recent experience of these, but it certainly seemed to show some littoralis features with a fairly obvious grey head and mantle, prominent supercilium behind the eye and a very subtle peach wash to the upper breast. I managed some really dodgy video through my phone, but annoyingly didn't have the correct attachment with me, hence the shaking and black vignetting!

Below is the video with the odd still included in the video. Would be happy to hear others thoughts.....

Summer plumage Water Pipit 20th March North of White Bridge

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Better late than Never...

Finally, after having been present for at least four months, I actually made a proper effort to try and see the Penduline Tits at Darts Farm which coincided with a little shopping at Cotswold Outdoors!
Two birds showed well and were calling fairly regularly too.
These birds have been photographed so many times and far better than I could manage, but just for the hell of it, I thought I'd post my best efforts in a half hour visit today.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Horse Whisperer - Aylesbeare RSPB

Helen and I had a very enjoyable weekend with our good friends, the Butcher family last weekend. On Saturday, we visited the Aylesbeare RSPB Reserve where Nigel was keen to check on one of his GPS collars that has been fitted to one of a small group of ponies that graze on the reserve. 

Despite having the exact GPS co-ordinates at our finger tips just minutes before leaving the house, it became quite a mission for "Team Butcher" to actually locate the animal as we all battled across boggy ground to finally locate the pony. Luckily, we had Nigel the horse whisperer on hand and we soon caught our first proper look at the very healthy looking pony that has been named Richard, after the Assistant Reserve Warden.  

Richard's GPS collar is collecting useful data that can be used to work out grazing management for the future of the reserve. 

Nigel Buther - Horse Whisperer with Richard the Pony

Richard's GPS collar

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Another successful trip to Spain's Sierra de Andujar

Just returned from another Wise Birding Holiday Iberian Lynx and Eagles Tour.

Iberian Lynx - 12th Feb 2015
Spanish Imperial Eagle - 10th Feb 2015

video with the iPhone 5s and the Swarovski 65HD telescope

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Bulgarian and Romania Goose Recce

I have recently returned from a short break to Bulgaria in search of the spectacle of thousands of wintering Red-breasted and European White-fronted Geese. We spent two nights in the vicinity of Duranulak Lake Ramsar Site in NE Bulgaria. Then due to the mild weather and lower than usual numbers of geese we ventured further north into Romania near Tulcea. Despite the low numbers of geese we still enjoyed a fantastic Eastern European spectacle as three species (Greylag, White-fronted and Red-breasted) arrived at a Steppe Lake in small flocks at sunrise. The noisy Caspian Gull colony, an adult Great Black-headed Gull and Dalmatian Pelicans were also a constant distraction.

All in all, a great short break with 100 species recorded in total including Sombre Tit, Syrian, Grey-headed and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, 25+ Long-eared Owls, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Long-legged and Rough-legged Buzzards and many Hen Harriers.

I shall be organising a similar short break in Feb 2016 through Wise Birding Holidays - Details on website soon.

European White-fronted Geese, Romania
Red-breasted Geese and European White-fronted Geese, Romania

Greylag, RB and WF Geese, Romania

Red-breasted and European White-fronted Geese, Romania
Sunrise at the Steppe Lake, Romania

soemmerringii race Jackdaw, Romania  
White-tailed Eagle and Wind Farm, Romania

Bit of culture! Russian Church in Romanian Village

Wetland Reserve near Varna, Bulgaria

Sombre Tit, Bulgaria

Male Syrian Woodpecker, Bulgaria

Longe-eared Owl, Bulgaria

Caspian Gull, Romania

Caspian Gull Colony, Romania
Dalmatian Pelican, Romania

Great Black-headed (Pallas's) Gull, Romania

Pygmy Cormorants, Bulgaria

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

EXMOUTH: Long-tailed Duck and Brent Geese

A pleasant afternoon on Exmouth Beach......

Dark-bellied Brent Geese

Female Long-tailed Duck

Female Long-tailed Duck

Female Long-tailed Duck
Female Long-tailed Duck

Monday, 19 January 2015

Distant Dozing Ducks at Dozmary Pool, Cornwall

Some more bird survey work in Cornwall today allowed a bit of free time before the start of the survey, so I headed to nearby Dozmary Pool which in recent years has hosted a drake Lesser Scaup. I did a little bit of research to try and find just how many consecutive winters Dozmary Pool (on Bodmin Moor) has hosted this Nearctic duck. It seems a drake bird has been present every winter since at least 2008, though it would seem a 1st winter drake was present in the winter of 2012, so difficult to confirm  exactly how long a bird has actually been returning?

Sleeping adult drake Lesser Scaup with Tufted Duck

Drake Lesser Scaup ready to flap!

Revealing one of the key features: a sharp definition between the bright white secondary bar and the grey primaries

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Garden Mega!

This strongly marked Blackbird has been hanging around in the garden today. Must admit when I first clocked it with the naked eye, I did have to run for my bins! Almost Sibe Thrush like with that supercilium and it even looked blue in some lights! It was quite skittish often being hassled by the other blackbirds, hence the best photos I could get were through the window! Great looking bird......

Is that a Sibe Thrush in the garden!? Looks Sibe Thrush in colour here. Shame it lacked the barred undertail from this view!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Sierra de Andujar, Iberian Lynx and Eagles Tour Jan 2015

I have just returned from another great Wise Birding tour to Southern Spain in search of the Iberian Lynx. I really love this area of Spain and despite being in the enviable position of having seen Iberian Lynx on many occasions over the last few years, the cats always leave me wanting to return for more!

The weather was fantastic for our four day stay and so were the sightings. We had an incredible 9 separate sightings of at least 3 different animals and some very close encounters. In addition to the obvious stars of the show, other highlights included Spanish Imperial Eagles, Golden Eagle, Black and Griffon Vultures, Azure-winged Magpies, Crested Tit, Rock Bunting, Iberian Grey Shrike, Spanish Ibex and more!

Following the successful completion of the tour, Wise Birding Holidays donated 200 Euros to the ongoing work on a nearby estate. This involves managing Lynx habitat and creating artificial rabbit warrens to boost the recent crash in the rabbit population, on which the Iberian Lynx is so dependent.

This is definitely the time to see Iberian Lynx as it is the mating season and animals are calling a lot which makes locating them easier. Due to the great viewing at present, I may run another trip in Feb/March - so please contact me if interested.

Iberian Lynx, Sierra de Andujar

Iberian Lynx, Sierra de Andujar - different animal to above

Iberian Lynx on the prowl
Iberian Lynx habitat

Crested Tit

Spanish Ibex, Sierra de Andujar

Sunset over Sanctuario Virgen de la Cabeza
Iberian Lynx by tour participant, Andy Stanbury
Spanish Imperial Eagle, Sierra de Anduj
Iberian Lynx, Sierra de Andujar
Iberian Lynx by tour participant, Andy Stanbury

Spanish Imperial Eagle, Sierra de Andujar