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

Saturday, 3 January 2015

New Year Listing on Bikes 2015

It has become a bit of a tradition since moving to Budleigh Salterton, that me and the Mrs have tried to see/hear as many species as possible within the Budleigh and Exe Estuary area mostly using bikes as our transport. With the weather forecast for New Year's Day not looking great, we opted for the 2nd January instead and it turned out to be a good move with a calm sunny day!

Our final tally broke all our previous attempts and was a very respectable 97 species of which only four were heard only (Green Woodpecker, Dartford Warbler, Fieldfare(!) and Tawny Owl). Amazing really, considering this was all within just a 7 mile radius of Budleigh Salterton. 

The day started with Blackbird and Herring Gull and ended with Woodcock and Tawny Owl. We hit 70 Species at just after midday and then had a good run of species around Exmouth and Budleigh before finishing on the East Devon Commons. 

Highlights included: Egyptian Goose, Black Redstart, Slavonian Grebe, Red-throated Diver, Cirl Bunting, Yellowhammer, Dartford Warbler and Blackcap
Notable misses included: Kestrel, Treecreeper, Cetti's Warbler and RL Partridge.

One day we shall break the 100 mark!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Sidmouth to Budleigh Salterton

Went to Sidmouth today for a day out with the folks and the Mrs and then walked back to Budleigh. A lovely day despite the cold wind.......

Looking east towards Sidmouth

Ladram Bay

One of three Purple Sandpipers, Sidmouth



Female Cirl Bunting