Ghana has to be one of my favourite African countries and I have been lucky to have visited this great country on at least five occasions when guiding. It is a fabulous country with so many great birds and the people are always so friendly. The one bird that most people associate Ghana with has to be the amazing Yellow-headed Picathartes or Rockfowl. It lives in the forest and builds a mud nest on rock faces within the forest. It bounces around as if on springs, its feathers look like they are made from silk and that glowing orange-yellow head is simply stunning! There is a true magical feeling associated with this bird and I love returning to see it time and time again.
|Yellow-headed Picathartes, Ghana Jan 2017|
|Yellow-headed Picatahartes, Ghana Jan 2017|
February: USA, Minnesota, The Owl and the Pussy Cat
Most people who know me, accept that although mostly obsessed with birds, I also have an obsession with mammals too, particularly the cats! The Canada Lynx was high on my to see wish list for some time and over the last couple of years I have put a lot of research and effort in trying to see this amazing cat. Minnesota seemed to be the place and thanks to much appreciated local help from friend David Johnson and good friend Andy Stanbury we have been successful for the last two years. The views this year were just incredible! I am already looking forward to this year's trip and I hope it will be a success rate of 3 out of 3, but we will see! My other obsession is owls and Minnesota is certainly the place to see these stunning birds in a winter wonderland, as we did in February of this year.
|Great Grey Owl, Minnesota Feb 2017|
|Canada Lynx, Minnesota Feb 2017|
March: UK, Lyme Bay Humpback and Morocco's Migrants
Whilst in Minnesota, I heard about a Humpback Whale that had been seen close inshore off Slapton in my home county of Devon. This was a rare event for Devon and I was relieved that it was still present in March when Helen and I spent a great evening watching it along with many others. There is a detailed account of this and many better photos from local birder Mark Darlaston HERE
|Humpback Whale, Slapton Devon, March 2017|
Morocco is a country that, once again, I have been lucky to have visited on at least 6 or 7 occasions mostly guiding. This year I led a tour for friend Josele Saiz of Boletas Birdwatching. It was a little different to my normal tours, as the primary focus was photography and I was a little nervous as I wasn't too sure what to expect in terms of the clients. In fact it was one of the most enjoyable tours I have done to Morocco and as it turned out everyone was a keen birder with photography as more of a secondary requirement, which was just perfect. A great bunch of people too!
|Finding what appeared to be a female Lesser Scaup at Mansour Reservoir was exciting and the 7th |
record for Morocco. The bird was always frustratingly distant. Thanks to Tony Davison for some of these photos
|Desert Wheatear, Tagdilt Morocco March 2017. A species so synonymous with Morocco |
and I quite like this photo. It was a photography tour after all!
|Egyptian Vulture, Bega Morocco, March 2017. This bird appeared from nowhere during a sand storm. |
It highlights just how exciting Morocco is during migration. You just never know what is coming next.....
|Pallid Swift, Mansour Reservoir, Morocco March 2017. Swifts are always difficult to photograph, but on |
this particular morning a number of swift species were hanging in the wind and low to the ground.
|Bluethroat, Begaa, Morocco March 2017. This is what Morocco is all about to me, and that is migrants! |
They are simply everywhere and you never know what is going to appear out of the next bit of habitat.
April: Spain, Iberian Lynx and Western Sahara Birds & MammalsI regularly visit Spain for Iberian Lynx trips and have seen them in all months between November - May. This year I led an Australian group keen to see Lynx and this female Lynx strolled across in front of the flowering Lavender just metres from us all.
My first trip to the Western Sahara was as exciting as expected. A great place if you are interested in the Western Palearctic region and some amazing landscapes with numerous highlights, including Sand Cat!
|Iberian Lynx, Sierra de Andujar, April 2017|
|Me in Oued Jenna, Western Sahara, April 2017|
|Male Sudan Golden Sparrow with Desert Sparrows, Oued Jenna, April 2017. |
Not the best photo in the world, but it gives you a feel for just part of the 100+
Desert Sparrow flock that a small number of Sudan Golden Sparrows were associating
|Lesser Egyptian Jerboa, Aousserd Road, April 2017|
|Horned Viper, Aousserd Road, April 2017. On one particular night we saw at least 6 different individuals|
May: UK, Lundy Island Manx Shearwater Survey and River Otter Beaver