Wise Birding Holidays

Friday, 29 January 2016

MINNESOTA - Taster

Thought it was about time I put up another good pudding, as it has been a while! A recent trip to Minnesota allowed some sampling of this beauty - Bread Pudding with Pumpkin Syrup and Ice Cream - Lovely. A day after taking the pudding photo, I saw a Wolf from the very same Diner window whilst drinking coffee. It trotted past immediately above the top of the ice cream! More to follow....

Bread Pudding American Style with Pumpkin Syrup and Ice Cream 

One of the amazing Wolf encounters on another day




Saturday, 9 January 2016

House List soars to 71

A pretty foul day in terms of weather, but 3 Blackcaps in the garden were nothing to be sniffed at. However, it was the Mrs who pulled it out of the bag whilst I was working on my laptop - Brambling - Get in!
Brambling in the garden - Species number 71

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Purple Sand and Great Grey Shrike

A day of sunshine after numerous days of storms and constant rain made for a nice change today and therefore it was certainly a day to get out! Highlights today were two Purple Sandpipers on the patch boosting my Patch Work Challenge points (more on that later!) and a Great Grey Shrike on Woodbury Common (off patch). The shrike had been found by Dave Murray on nearby Bicton Common earlier in the day. Based on the elusive behaviour of the last two years GG Shrikes on the Commons, who knows where it will turn up next!


One of two Purple Sandpipers on the rocks below Otter Head

Great Grey Shrike - Woodbury Common

Sunday, 3 January 2016

New Year Bird Race 2016

In true tradition, the Mrs and I headed out today to try and achieve seeing/ hearing the magic 100 species in a day that has so far eluded us in previous years. 

Sadly, the weather was against us with heavy rain and strong winds from first light until mid morning. However, despite this we still managed a very respectable tally of 97 species. Rather frustratingly, the exact same figure as last year!

We ditched the bikes this year, due to the weather but still focused on the usual area all within just a 7 mile radius of Budleigh Salterton.

Highlights included:

Great Skua off the mouth of the Exe
Firecrest on the Otter
Brambling, Cirl Bunting and Yellowhammer in mixed flock
Short-eared Owl and Woodcock on the heath at dusk to the sound of calling Dartford Warblers - DWs always seem to be very vocal at dusk.

As usual, there were embarrassing misses which included:
Green Woodpecker, Black-tailed Godwit (but plenty of Bar-tailed Godwits!), Knot, Treecreeper and Raven

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Hen Harrier and Brambling

A couple of local birding highlights over the Christmas Break...

Hen Harrier - East Devon Heaths

Male Brambling - Otterton STW

Monday, 28 December 2015

SRI LANKA: Week 1

I have recently returned from a Wise Birding tour of Sri Lanka focused on finding endemic birds as well as terrestrial and marine mammals and other wildlife. Despite having some unseasonal heavy rain during the first week which made birding tricky, it was a successful trip. Below are some highlights from the first week of the trip which covered the coast near Colombo, the Highlands of Nuwara Eliya and the Horton Plains and the wet zone forests of Kitulgala and Sinharaja.

Greater and Lesser Sandplovers - In addition to the obvious bill size differences, also note the pale legs of
GSP and the very steep forehead of LSP

Lesser Crested Terns with Greater Crested and Common Tern

Gull-billed Tern

Shikra - a common species throughout Sri Lanka

Stork-billed Kingfisher - a localised species

Yellow-eared Bulbul - an endemic species found in the Highland areas

Zitting Cisticola - Horton Plains

Sri Lanka White-eye - an endemic found from mid to high Hills

Great Tit - there are currently 34 sub-species recognised in the world following HBW taxonomy. The subspecies in Sri Lanka is
P. m. mahrattarum and is part of the "cinereus" group forming the grey-backed and whitish bellied birds

Ceylon Tree Nymph - endemic

Green Garden Lizard - endemic

Sri Lanka Kangaroo Lizard - endemic

Hill or Pacific Swallow - as the name suggests found in the Highlands

Female Asian (Western) Koel - a common species throughout Sri Lanka

Spot-winged Thrush - an endemic species more often heard than seen in the wet zone forests

White-faced Starling - an endemic species found only in the wet zone forests

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch - a forest species

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie - confined to the wet zone forests 

Sinharaja Forest - a Biosphere Reserve

Juvenile Changeable (Crested) Hawk Eagle - a very common and approachable raptor

Black-capped Bulbul - an endemic species 

Male Asian Paradise Flycatcher - Two morphs occur in Sri Lanka including the stunning white morph

Toque Macaque - endemic

Purple-faced Leaf Monkey - endemic

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher - an uncommon resident

Brown-breasted Flycatcher - an uncommon winter migrant

Ashy-headed Laughingthrush - endemic and gregarious in the forest

Grey-capped Emerald Dove - a beautiful and shy species of the forest found throughout Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill - endemic and found in both the wet and dry zones

Green-billed Coucal - endemic to the wet zone forests and preferring dwarf bamboo

Sri Lanka Junglefowl - a fairly common species throughout found in both the wet and dry zones

Pete and a Sri Lanka Junglefowl at Sinharaja

Ruddy Mongoose - the commonest of 4 species of mongoose

Palm Squirrel - a very common species throughout

Snake sp - Sinharaja Forest

Female Sri Lanka Spurfowl - this endemic species has always been considered one of the toughest endemics to find until recent years.
This bird was viewed from a local residents kitchen window near Sinharaja!

Male Sri Lanka Spurfowl - this endemic species has always been considered one of the toughest endemics to find until recent years.
This bird was viewed from a local residents kitchen window near Sinharaja!
Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot - this tiny endemic parrot is easily found at fruiting trees within the forest and forest edge

Sri Lanka Frogmouth - The female is rufous and the male is grey

Sri Lanka Green Pigeon or Pompadour Green Pigeon - a common endemic species found in forested areas throughout Sri Lanka

Serendib Scops Owl - first discovered in 1995 by its distinctive call, but not seen until 2001.
Still an incredibly difficult bird to locate at day roost, but thanks to local guides there is a good chance of finding one

Pete having Ceylon Tea at the Blue Magpie Lodge, Sinharaja Forest
Leech - birding the wet zone does involve befriending leeches, though only in low numbers