Wise Birding Holidays

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Hobby and Beaver

Seem to be spending all my time on Dartmoor still, but not a bad place to be surveying with the chance of a flyover Lammergeier!

Away from Dartmoor, an evening wander on nearby Woodbury Common last weekend gave some nice views of a couple of Hobby and then a late evening look on the River Otter produced my first sighting of an untagged Beaver, presumably a young animal born last year? Also interesting that this animal was in the estuary part of the River south of White Bridge, the furthest south I have seen one.

Adult Hobby

Locals watching the Beaver

Untagged Beaver River Otter, 15th May

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Garden Warbler and Marsh Tit

I spent this evening looking closely at the patch as the weather just "feels rare" at the moment! In fact it has felt like that for the last couple of days and perhaps not surprising given the amount of rare birds in country at the moment. Anyway, nothing spectacular tonight, but two species that I don't see that often on the local patch, Marsh Tit and Garden Warbler. A young buck Roe Deer was also present, chasing a mature adult around the scrapes. 

Garden Warbler

Marsh Tit  - like the Willow Tit this is now a red listed species with a greater than 50% decline nationally.
The feathers on this bird appear ruffled giving the impression of a whiter rear cheek, a feature more associated with Willow Tit.
However, the bird does show a white spot to the base of the bill, a fairly recent id feature used to separate from Willow Tit
when birds are not calling.

Roe Deer

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Grey Plover and Otters

Not a great amount of time available to dedicate to the patch in recent weeks as I am spending most of my time surveying much of South-East Dartmoor for the RSPB. Recent highlights when I have been on the patch have included Hobby, Greenshank and a lovely summer plumaged Grey Plover briefly this morning. Also great to see the three Otters continue to be seen fairly regularly.....

Summer plumage Grey Plover was a welcome sight this morning

Otters on the River Otter

Thursday, 14 April 2016


Western Bonelli's Warbler 

Common Redstart on Broom Rape

European Bee-Eater

Common Redstart and Western Orphean Warbler

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Too many good desserts at the Moroccan Hotels!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


I recently returned from leading another Wise Birding trip to Southern Morocco and as always it was a great trips stacked full of quality birds, scenery, food and people. For me, one of the most exciting parts of a birding trip to Morocco is seeing the migrants in the desert. It simply re-inforces what a tough trip "our" migrants have to endure, but also it is quite surprising just how much food and water can be found by these migrants in the desert. Of course, the specialities like Egyptian Nightjar, Desert Sparrow and Bald Ibis are always great to see too and I am in the very fortunate position of being able to see these great birds again and again. Below are some of the highlights of the trip. Hope you enjoy!

Male Levaillant's Green or "Maghreb" Green Woodpecker

The very common but always stunning male Moussier's Redstart

Female Moussier's Redstart - Be careful not to throw one of these away as a Common Redstart in the UK with a brief view!

The High Atlas views at Oukaimeden with Crimson-winged Finches and Seebohm's Wheatears for company

Male Tristram's Warblers are usually easy to find as they return to their higher elevation breeding grounds

Male Tristram's Warbler

The spectacular Todra Gorge where Tristram's Warbler can be found

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse was an unusual species for Tagdilt and my first sighting of this species here.
We had at least 70+ birds this year on the Tagdilt Plains

Thick-billed Lark - always a relief to find this highly nomadic species and one that is always at the top of people's wish lists!

Temminck's Larks are common around the Tagdilt Plains

The Tagdilt Track looking towards the town of Boumalne Dades

Brown-necked Ravens are a daily occurrence in the desert region

Cream-coloured Courser - Reasonable numbers this year and some excellent views

Male Desert Sparrow and House Sparrow - The highly adaptive House Sparrow is plentiful in the desert
region and often takes over Desert Sparrow nest sites

Male and female Desert Sparrow

Egyptian Nightjar - High on everyone's wish list and a little too easy to see these days, thanks to the local Berbers!

Desert landscape looking towards the Erg Chebbi Dunes

African Desert Warbler feeding young

Long-billed or "Maghreb" Crested Lark - This species is easily found in the Tafilalt region

Erg Chebbi Dunes near Merzouga

One of our Pharaoh Eagle Owl sites - This nest site was in a different area to the usual spot and had 4 juveniles!

Pharaoh Eagle Owl - This was a second bird near Rissani

Watching Pharaoh Eagle Owl with local guide Lahcen

Pharaoh Eagle Owl - Digiscoped

Southern Grey Shrike - The "Grey" Shrikes are always interesting to see with much work being done on their taxonomy 

Seebohm's Wheatear - Considered as simply a race of Northern Wheatear by some this 2CY bird was a migrant in the desert

Seebohm's Wheatear - A presumed adult again this was a migrant in the desert en route to the High Atlas breeding grounds

Seebohm's Wheatear - Showing the diagnostic black underwing coverts

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - This bird was seen watched down to a few feet sheltering in an Oasis during a sand storm

Western Olivaceous or Isabelline Warbler - A bigger beast than Eastern Olivaceous, with a much more chunky feel,
broader bill and thicker legs. The bird was singing too which helped!

Northern Bald Ibis - We had fabulously close views of over 50+ birds including some flying over the Atlantic!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Otter activity continues

Since returning from Morocco, it seems the Otter activity still continues with sightings yesterday evening, this morning and this evening. The Mrs and I watched three animals this evening (including Spot Lip and White Lip) for over an hour! Fabulous to watch them fishing. In contrast, the beavers are conspicuous by their absence, but plenty of signs still.

This animal was feeding on an Eel?

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Otters on the River Otter

A great 24 hours on the River Otter gave rise to our first Beaver sighting of the year yesterday evening. Great to see this animal back again, pink tagged Patricia! She appears to have lost an ear tag, but looking good! I last saw her in April 2015 and this is now the third year running she has returned, assuming it is the same individual from 2014 (the animals were only tagged in 2015).  Hopefully the start of many more sightings. It is a true privilege to have these great animals on my local patch.

This morning I headed out early to see if she was still hanging around, but I was soon distracted by a wonderful party of four Otters that I followed for a good 45 minutes. The Mrs even managed to twitch them! They were really inquisitive and very unconcerned about our presence. A great morning!

One of the first views in the gloom - very inquistive!

"White Lip" waving for the camera

"Spot Lip" just finishing some fish breakfast

"Spot Lip" again

"White Lip"

"White Lip" again