Sunday, 31 July 2011

Marsh Harrier photos

Its not often some superb photos of local Marsh Harriers emerge however thankfully this time they have. All images below copyright John Bridges.

Though I hadn't noticed it in the field with the bird being high up and circling around its a juvenile! You can see the pale tips to the coverts and the generally rich dark chocolate brown colour of the pumage all over the body, I saw the cream crown in the field when the bird scratched its head but never saw the upperside of the birds plumage. Shame I didn't have as good views as John and Dave must have had from the hide at Rainton. But even though it was very high up still a brilliant bird to see so locally.

A question I am left with is; because its a juvenile where is it from?

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Semi-p a welcome addition... my county list. Saw a cracking adult Semipalmated Sandpiper at Saltholme RSPB on the causeway today. Brillaint bird! Also in accordance was a Ruff and 1 Temminck's Stint. To add to that on the way down I spotted a bird high in the sky; a large raptor sp of some sort. When we pulled over I was expecting to see a Buzzard but instead was greeted by a cream crown Marsh Harrier. Got back in the car after having seen this brilliant bird and checked my phone, turns out a couple of local lads John Bridges and Dave Johnson had just had the bird fly over Rainton Meadows DWT and head my direction.

Brilliant afternoon out. Hopefully pics to follow......

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Waders - Ya gotta' love em'

People who know me fairly well will know that I am a big fan of waders, I think my interest in them is fuelled slightly by my 'twitching' tendencies and the fact they can occasionally be fairly hard to ID. I always feel that because I spend a lot of my birding time around bodies of water there is always that hope an unusual wader will drop in. Waders are a group of birds where just 1 species can brighten up a birding day, for example if your sitting in a hide and an unusual wader drops in it lifts your spirits. But if I am completely honest my fascination with waders is a puzzle because when I first got into birding I saw very few. This post is dedicated to some of the wader action I have had so far this year, I have had some cracking species from this group of birds that I enjoy seeing so much this year.

Please view all videos in HD. If unsure how to do this CLICK HERE.

One highlight of this year were the 3 Temminck's Stints that were at Rainton Meadows DWT for a fairly prolonged period during spring migration. It was brilliant to see this species so close to home and on a reserve where my enthusiasm for birding fuelled. They may not be much to look at on plumage but to me they are a simply superb bird and a real star find for local photographer/birder John Bridges and Gary Crowder.

(Temminck's Stint - © John Bridges)

(Temminck's Stint - Andrew Kinghorn)

The next highlight comes in the form of 3 Red-necked Phalaropes, sadly all 3 of these birds were seen in Norfolk and Lincolnshire but the species was a lifer for me. I had 1 at Frampton Marsh RSPB in Lincolnshire and 2 at Welney WWT in Norfolk. The first bird I saw was a little distant at Frampton but I wasn't moaning as it was a brilliant bird to see and a right stunner! Then a few days later I was at Welney WWT and whilst I was there visitors found 2 more birds from one of the hides. Thankfully I managed to see these 2 birds and had brilliant views. Another excellent bird for me and another highlight of the year. 

(Red-necked Phalarope - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Red-necked Phalarope - Andrew Kinghorn)

Whilst away in Norfolk a mate text me to inform me he had just been to see a Terek Sandpiper in Northumberland. I couldn't believe it, a bird I had missed twice in Durham! It was a wader I really wanted to see as it is somewhat unique due to its bill and it was one of the first rare birds I had wanted to really see. The bird stayed around until the day I came back from Norfolk, I got home and straight in the car and up to Hauxley NR in time to see this stunning wader. Another highlight of the year, so far this has been my favourite wader of the year. Wanted to see one for a while and thankfully now I have.

(Terek Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Terek Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

The next highlight was closer to home on pretty much the same spot I saw my first of the species; Pectoral Sandpiper. The news broke fairly late on a Saturday night and as it was I was out that night so was unable to go straight away (county list this year). The next day it was still there and after a while of searching I managed to see this stunning bird and extremely good views were had. What a cracker; Pec Sands are brilliant birds.

 (Pectoral Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Pectoral Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Pectoral Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

The next wader is rather special for me as it marks my 300th BOU British bird; Marsh Sandpiper. This species is another bird that news broke of when I was on holiday not long ago. With it being at Blacktoft RSPB it was frustrating as I knew that if I had been at home I would have been able to go for the bird. However patients and much hope later the bird stayed until I got home and then on the first weekday after I got back I went to Blacktoft RSPB and saw this stunning wader. Another cracker and by all accounts one of the rarest mentioned in this post. Marsh Sandpiper will now always be a special bird for me. 

(Marsh Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Marsh Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

Last but not a least (see what I did there) is White-rumped Sandpiper. Another brilliant bird, I saw my first on exactly the same causeway on Saltholme RSPB last year. This year I saw the bird twice and both times had good views, better than last years for sure. What a cracker of a wader to finish this post on.

(White-rumped Sandpiper - © Ian Forrest)

(White-rumped Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

Will autumn bring as good a wader as last year; Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Or will it be an autumn where that stunner of a wader evades me. Lets wait and see.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Unbelievable afternoons seawatch - 42 Storm Petrels

This is why I just love birding. This afternoon I went for some more seawatching and has cracking views of more  Storm Petrels. Below are notable species as well as some totals for the seawatch:

42 Storm Petrels
2 Great Skua
Manx Shearwaters
Arctic Terns
Common Scoters
Sandwich Tern

EDIT: I forgot to add before a cracking full summer plumage Grey Plover flew North aswell. These are truly stunning birds.

Was hard to look for anything else as I was so fascinated in looking for the Storm Petrels. Tomorrows weather doesn't look so good and perhaps a few more will pass, what a truly memorable period of seawatching. The months of seawatching for me have not began, next northerly might have to drag myself out of bed for.

Whitburn basically slapped every other county seawatching site in the face with a mighty 358 Storm Petrels today in 14.5 hours seawatching.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Cracking evening seawatch

Having missed out on the excitement yesterday of the Storm Petrels I got myself along to Whitburn this evening for approximately an hour. So I went on a seawatch from about 07.50 to 08.50. Highlights included:

6 Storm Petrels
20c Manx Shearwaters
1 Whimbrel
Skua sp. (presumed Great)

The 6 Storm Petrels were understandably the highlights and 1 was really close inshore. Got cracking if not brief views in the scope when it was really close before I took my eyes off it, also got fairly good views if not distant of the others. An incredible 123 flew past Whitburn today.

A cracking and very memorable seawatch, still I should have went on Sunday morning as a Long-tailed Skua flew past and that would have been a lifer. But not to worry, hopefully I will get Long-tailed Skua sometime this year.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Butterfly tour weekend

Hi readers, butterflies again for this post I am afraid. But as autumn draws closer and closer birds will soon be firmly back on the cards!

Went over a trip to Lancashire yesterday with a mate in the hope of High Brown Fritillary, we dipped! However I saw my first ever Scotch Argus butterfly which sat with its wings open briefly; what a stunner! Had some fab views of Dark Green Fritillary, in fact so good I got one to sit on the end of my finger for about 30 seconds. Brilliant experience. On Sunday I went back to Gateshead for round two with White-letter Hairstreak and emerged victorious as you will see below. Had the usual range of common butterflies but Wall Brown was particularly noteworthy, very fresh and clearly part of the second brood of the year. Here's the photos and as usual you can click on any image to enlarge, so enjoy!

 (Common Blue - Smarmdale Gill NR, Cumbria - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Dark Green Fritillary - Smarmdale Gill NR, Cumbria Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Grayling - Arnside Knott, Lancashire - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Peacock - Kibblesworth, Co.Durham - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Silver Washed Fritillary - Whitbarrow NNR, Cumbria - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Silver Washed Fritillary - Whitbarrow NNR, Cumbria - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (White-letter Hairstreak - Derwent Walk Country Park, Co.Durham - Andrew Kinghorn)

This is the Dark Green Fritillary I got to sit on my finger, this photo was taken before I got it to sit on my finger.
(Dark Green Fritillary - Andrew Kinghorn)

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Friday, 22 July 2011

White-letter Hairstreaks

Went to a good site in Durham today for White-letter Hairstreak butterflies today. I only managed to see 1 and got some pretty bad shots of it unfortunately. It was sitting in perfect position and just as I went to take the shot it took off and flew away. It went and sat higher on a tree leaf and got some very poor pics which can be seen below. However got a brilliant view of Meadow Brown, Small Skipper, very fresh Comma, Green-veined White, and Large White. I will return soon next week on a better weather day in the hope I see some more White-letter Hairstreaks as well as Purple Hairstreaks.

 (White-letter Hairstreak - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (White-letter Hairstreak - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Small Skipper - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Comma - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Large White - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Meadow Brown - Andrew Kinghorn)
Until next time, Foghorn out!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

A bit of a grey day

Today we had wonderful weather and I went back with a mate for another look at the White-rumped Sandpiper. The bird was still on the causeway and showing well. We enjoyed watching the bird and studying it for a while before then moving onto Dorman's Pool to look for the Grayling butterflies. We were successful and had 3, however just 1 sat for us long enough to get a good view and some photos. We also enjoyed good views of Common Blue, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, and Peacock.

 (White-rumped Sandpiper - © Ian Forrest)

 (White-rumped Sandpiper - © Ian Forrest)

(White-rumped Sandpiper - © Ian Forrest)

(Small White - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Grayling - Andrew Kinghorn)

We then checked Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park where I had good views of Small Skipper and the usual host of butterflies. On the dragonfly side Blue-tailed Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Common Darter, and Emperor Dragonfly put in an appearance. All were lifers for me having just taken up a concious interest in dragonflies.

 (Small Skipper - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Emerald Damselfly - Andrew Kinghorn)

A check of Wingate Quarry with my mate produced no fewer than 10 Marbled White, loads of Small Heaths, Small Copper, stunningly fresh Small Tortoiseshell, and the other usual suspects as well as 2 Ringlet; the only ones of the day.

So a grey day due to the fact I had a fairly grey but superb White-rumped Sandpiper aswell as Grayling, the latter being a lifer.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

July is a bad month for birds...apparently

Looks like wader passage has started with Terek Sandpiper in Northumberland yesterday, Pectoral Sandpiper at Scaling Dam in North Yorkshire today, and this evening a superb White-rumped Sandpiper turned up at Saltholme RSPB.

I couldn't resist and doing a county year list I felt it best to go down and see this stunning bird. I love waders so don't apologise to myself for twitching it. I know I am bad at videos and photos but this time I really have excelled myself and produced what I believe are the worst so far! View video in HD, you might see something that way. LOL

(White-rumped Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

(White-rumped Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Monday, 18 July 2011

300th British Bird - At last!

Today was quite a significant day for me personally as I saw my 300th BOU bird in Britain. During the second week of my two week holiday away I received news that a Marsh Sandpiper had turned up at Blacktoft Sands RSPB in East Yorkshire. I love my waders and they are one of my favourite groups of birds so I really wanted to see one of these stunning little waders. There hasn’t been a Marsh Sand in Durham for a long time, I believe the last one was sometime in the 1980’s so a long time ago.

So today I headed down with a few mates, we were alerted from a mates pager that it was still present just as we entered North Yorkshire. After a 2 and a bit more hours journey we arrived at Blacktoft Sands RSPB at about 11AM and we headed straight from the Ousefleet Hide where the Marsh Sandpiper had been seen first thing in the morning. Thankfully when we arrived people were on it already and it was showing from the viewing screen and we enjoyed brilliant if not distant views. We watched the bird for about 15 minutes or so and then it disappeared flying off to the next hide down. So we headed there, on getting into the hide it was showing on an island standing with Spotted Redshanks, Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlins and Redshanks. We enjoyed brilliant views of the bird but it was flushed! It flew around above the water with the other waders and then eventually landed again and this time it was closer and showing pretty well. We enjoyed our best and last views of the day of this cracking Marsh Sandpiper. Was brilliant to study the bird, some mental notes/observations I made:
- Nice delicate and fairly short bill.
- Small arrowhead like marking on the flanks as well as markings on undertail coverts.
- Overall size slightly larger than Green Sandpiper but bird didn't appear as “dumpy”.
- Appeared very long in the leg.
- Legs a yellowish/green colour.
- Overall bird looked like slimmer and smaller Greenshank with a delicate straight bill.

Click on any images to enlarge. Please view videos in HD, if unsure how CLICK HERE.

 (Marsh Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

  (Marsh Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

  (Marsh Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Marsh Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Marsh Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

After having our fill of this stunning bird we headed off to the other hides where we enjoyed 2 Wood Sandpipers, at least 7 Green Sandpipers, a wealth of other waders, Little Egrets, and stunning views of Marsh Harriers including one juvenile which came and sat pretty much right in front of the hide! I managed a video of a bird that was further away which I was well pleased at, hard birds to get videos of. 

 (Little Egrets - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Little Egret - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Green Sandpipers - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Green Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Spotted Redshank - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Marsh Harrier - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Marsh Harrier - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Marsh Harrier - Andrew Kinghorn)

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Armchair tick - Silver-studded Blue

A mate of mine was checking my blog last night and looked at my Common Blue photos from South Stack RSPB. I had an inclination that it might actually have been a Silver-studded Blue when I was away in Wales but being new to butterflies I just put it down as a Common Blue, the reason for this was that my photos clearly showed no silver studs. However my mate when checking my blog sent me an email and said the image I had put up was of a Silver-studded Blue! As it happens the only photos I managed to obtain of the species was the first one I saw. Having thought back to when I first saw it I kind of realise now that the odds were it was a Silver-studded Blue. For one thing it was on heathland no where near the typical habitat of Common Blue. Also when I first saw it I noted how small it was compared to Common Blue butterflies I had seen. My Dad also managed to obtain a photo of its upperwing and when comparing the shots to Common Blue it became clear that it matched Silver-studded Blue as well!

Brilliant! A superb little butterfly, just glad I uploaded the pics. Will need to go and change my last blog post now. So here are the pics of my first ever Silver-studded Blue:

 (Silver-studded Blue - Steven Kinghorn)

 (Silver-studded Blue - Andrew Kinghorn)

Compare my images to the following others of Silver-studded Blue:

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Silver-studded Blue butterfly - armchair tick!

More to come later!

Until next time, Foghorn out!

The Wanderer

No, I'm not going to break out into the song called Wanderer by Johnny Cash and U2. This is a post about my 2 week holiday away, one week in Wales and then another week in Herefordshire. I will just go through and explain notable places I went as notable things I saw. Enjoy!

Click on any images to enlarge

The first week was spent on the island of Anglesey in Wales. When I found out we (myself, Mum, and Dad) were going to Anglesey for a holiday I must confess I was quite excited as I knew one of my last common British birds could be found on the island. Sure enough on the first day we decided to go to South Stack RSPB to see the Choughs. We got out the car and walked along toward the visitor centre and straight away a couple of birds were up and putting on a display over the heather moorland just beside the impressive cliffs. Brilliant! Chough is British lifer 299! We spent a couple of hours on site, I really like this reserve and can well recommend a visit to anyone thinking of going. We saw 1 definite Silver-studded Blue butterfly, this was a lifer for me.

(Choughs - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Silver-studded Blue - Andrew Kinghorn)

Thankfully where we were staying we were fortunate enough to be near a spot that as it became obvious on a walk was good for Dark Green Fritillary butterflies. I saw quite a few on a walk I was on however I only managed one half decent photograph. Got some good views though, hard butterflies to catch up with and ID. They have this rather annoying habit of flying off at high speed away from you if you get anywhere near!

(Dark Green Fritillary - Andrew Kinghorn)

This Small Copper showed well at the Menai bridge in Wales:

(Small Copper - Menai Bridge, Wales - Andrew Kinghorn)

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Wales and the highlight has to be the Choughs, a bird I had wanted to see for a while but never had the chance. However my next week was spent in Leominster in the county of Herefordshire. Thanks to a mate who found a good site for butterflies I had a simply superb time! Nearly everywhere I went in Herefordshire and Worcester was good for butterflies, living in a northern county there are a lot of butterflies we simply don't get (yet) so it was a pleasure to see some of these 'southern specialities'. So to finish off here is a set of photos of butterfly images I took while on holiday in Herefordshire complete with the site I took the photographs, also I will provide a list of all the species I saw during the 2 weeks away. 

 (Brimstone - Monkwood Nature Reserve, Worcester - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Comma - Leominster, Herefordshire - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Gatekeeper - Monkwood Nature Reserve, Worcester - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Green-veined White - Leominster, Herefordshire - Andrew Kinghorn)

  (Green-veined White - Leominster, Herefordshire - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Holly Blue - Monkwood Nature Reserve, Worcester - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Large White - Leominster, Herefordshire - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Meadow Brown - Monkwood Nature Reserve, Worcester - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Peacock - Leominster, Herefordshire - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Red Admiral - Leominster, Herefordshire - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Ringlet - Leominster, Herefordshire - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Silver Washed Fritillary - Wyre Forest, Worcester - Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Speckled Wood - Monkwood Nature Reserve, Worcester - Andrew Kinghorn)

(White Admiral - Monkwood Nature Reserve, Worcester - Andrew Kinghorn)

(White Admiral - Monkwood Nature Reserve, Worcester - Andrew Kinghorn)

Here is a complete list of the species of butterfly seen (in no particular order) whilst on holiday for the two weeks:
  1. Meadow Brown
  2. Ringlet
  3. Small Tortoiseshell 
  4. Red Admiral
  5. Small White
  6. Common Blue
  7. Dark Green Fritillary 
  8. Large White
  9. Small Copper
  10. White Admiral
  11. Peacock
  12. Gatekeeper
  13. Speckled Wood
  14. Brimstone
  15. Holly Blue
  16. Comma
  17. Green-veined White
  18. Marbled White
  19. Small Skipper
  20. Large Skipper
  21. Silver Washed Fritillary 

Hope you enjoyed this post, brilliant trip and a one I thoroughly enjoyed. 
Until next time, Foghorn out!