Wise Birding Holidays

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Hen Harrier Woodbury

The weather has been pretty awful since returning from Ghana. A late visit to the Commons this afternoon revealed a Hen Harrier around Woodbury Common late this afternoon, presumably the same juvenile that has been around since last month.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Hen Harrier and Cattle Egret

Spent an hour on the cliffs above Budleigh early this morning with the Mrs, in the hope of some Woodpigeon movement. Several hundred Woodpigeon were recored, but no huge numbers. However, more interesting was a very distant Egret picked up by the Mrs, sat on top of a tree on the cliff top. It was a long way off, but I just managed to get some distant pics before it flew off inland that would seem to confirm it was a Cattle Egret. Birds moving overhead included Siskin, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, Linnet and a single Brambling.

This afternoon a look on Woodbury Common was very worthwhile with a ringtail Hen Harrier and a Merlin.

Very distant Cattle Egret - Combination of short bill, short neck and size in comparison to
Carrion Crow would seem to fit Cattle Egret

Hen Harrier - Woodbury Common

Hen Harrier - Woodbury Common

Hen Harrier - Woodbury Common

Hen Harrier - Woodbury Common

Thursday, 1 November 2018

St Martin's, Scilly 22 - 29 Oct 2018

I love the Isles of Scilly. Ever since I first visited with birding mates in October 1989, I have returned (almost without fail) every year since, mostly October but also during the Spring and Summer too.

One thing is for sure, the birding scene has definitely changed since I first visited the islands and of course the autumn weather has dramatically changed too. In my opinion, the later you visit in October the better the chance of finding something unusual. 

What I like about St Martin's is it has bags of potential and yet it is very under visited by birders. I have seen some great birds on St Martin's over the years including Cream-coloured Courser, Snowy Owl, Pallas's Warbler and Isabelline Shrike to name just a few! 

During our stay, me and the Mrs were the only birders staying on the island for much of the time and in my book that is just fine! No mega this year, but stunning scenery, very relaxing and a feeling of anticipation that the next field you look in, could just have the biggie! Maybe next year.......

St Just from the Skybus

Beautiful St Martin's looking from Higher Town back towards Lower Town

Little Bunting - Seen on the cricket pitch for just 5 minutes before it flew off with Meadow Pipits!

Goldcrests were present in very small numbers

Great Egret - A very rare bird on Scilly but will presumably become more common.
This bird was mostly seen on St Mary's And Tresco, but was a nice surprise on St Martin's at Higher Town Bay for an afternoon

Great Egret - St Martin's 

Great Egret in the St Martin's sunshine!

Higher Town Bay looking towards the Higher Town Quay

Yellow-browed Warbler - seen almost daily from our accommodation near Sevenstones

European Reed Warbler - It was a bit of a skulker but eventually gave reasonable views to confirm it was nothing rarer!

The Sevenstones Pub is the only Pub on the island with a fabulous view from the terrace

The view from the Day Mark at the eastern end of the island

Sunrise over the Eastern Isles

Male Brambling - small numbers appeared in with the chaffinches after northerly winds

Fieldfare - Small flocks of 30+ birds appeared after the northerly winds

Redwing - feeding on the beach at Lower Town

Siberian Chiffchaff - This cold toned Chiffchaff didn't call but seems to fit a Siberian Chiff on plumage

Merlin were seen on most days including 2 birds hunting together
targeting newly arriving passerines similar to an Eleonora's Falcon strategy

Merlin - Juv/Female

The north coast taking the brunt of the northerly winds

Sunset over Samson

Song Thrush - The resident birds are so tame in contrast to the migrants that are very shy

Rainbow at the north end

Whinchat - a late bird on the 28th October

Woodlark - an uncommon and certainly not annual species on Scilly.
 This bird was seen daily at Little Arthur Farm or the Cricket Pitch Fields

Grey-cheeked Thrush - A bird that had relocated from St Agnes to St Mary's on the day we left St Martin's allowed me just
enough time to see it before boarding the Scillonian. This was my 4th GC Thrush in the UK and all have been on Scilly
in 1990, 1991, 2008 & 2018

Grey-cheeked Thrush - You looking at me!

Longships Lighthouse from the Scillonian

Common Dolphin - Just!

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Dartford Warbler and Grey Catbird!

Best bird on the patch this morning was a Dartford Warbler and only my 2nd record for the patch with the last being in the same area on 20th October 2015.

After checking the patch, news that yesterday's Grey Catbird at Land's End was still present soon prompted a quick decision to head west! We arrived by just after 1pm and spent a very enjoyable few hours watching this American vagrant in glorious Cornish sunshine! It was typically skulking but with patience showed well on occasions and it was great to hear it calling too! The pain of my visit to Anglesey in October 2001 (the location of the last British record) was soon forgotten!

Grey Catbird, Treeve Moor, Land's End

Grey Catbird, Treeve Moor, Land's End

Grey Catbird, Treeve Moor, Land's End

Grey Catbird showing off the red vent

Grey Catbird, Treeve Moor, Land's End

Grey Catbird, Treeve Moor, Land's End

Dartford Warbler, by Budleigh Golf Course

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Barn Owl Again

Another glorious sunny calm day today and unsurprisingly no migrants of note. However, it was great to see the Barn Owl again. Such a rare sight on the patch as it floated around hunting in the early evening sunshine. I still remember my very first Barn Owl as it hunted in the early morning over Cley Marshes by the Windmill, on my 14th Birthday! A great couple of days thanks to my parents taking me away for a birding break where I also saw my first Great Grey Shrike on Kelling Heath and Shorelarks on Blakeney Point. 
Happy Days!

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Barn Owl and Whinchats

Finally the weather cleared today and a bright breezy afternoon produced around 10+ Wheatears, 3 Whinchats, 50+ Meadow Pipits in the Top fields and a constant trickle of hirundines. However, biggest surprise for the patch was a Barn Owl hunting early (presumably as it hasn't been able to due to the recent poor weather) and a bird I rarely see on the patch. Always great to see!

Barn Owl hunting near White Bridge

Juvenile Whinchat near the Aquaduct

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Ring Ouzel

A pretty miserable day in terms of weather, but I was determined to get out this morning and I was glad I did. A calling Ring Ouzel alerted me to its presence as it fed in hawthorns near White Bridge and it then vanished just as the rain set in. Certainly a surprise in terms of the date with autumn records more typical in October.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Pallid Harrier, Woodbury Common

A great find by friend and local birder Matt Knott this evening. 
A well deserved find as always. Much better photo and story on Matt's Blog HERE

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Spotted Crake still on the Otter

I haven't had a great deal of time for the patch during the last few days, but good to see the Spotted Crake is still around this evening, now present for 3 weeks.