Monday, 30 July 2012

Pectoral x 2 + Caspian Tern

Sorry for no postings for a while, I've been busy with other things and birding! I've been out quite a lot (as is usual) and so can't cover everything (as is usual), so I'll just go through some of my personal highlights.

Seawatching over past few weeks has been poor for me with Puffin and Manx Shearwaters being the only notable highlight, but a day out in Northumberland (rare for me now) produced good views of my first Arctic Skuas of the year and some dot-Roseate Terns on Coquet Island. I saw a Pectoral Sandpiper in the 18th of June at Greatham Creek, do you not feel robbed if you don't see one at least once a year? Anyway it performed well in diabolically blowy conditions! The same day a Caspian Tern in Norfolk was nagging me, a species I've been droning on about for a few months now. They are notorious for being very mobile and staying twitchable for the whole of about 10 minutes so it was a surprise to see this bird although mobile still present. I couldn't resist and the next day saw me driving down during the forsaken hours of the morning to Sheffield then hopping cars and onto Norfolk with Tom.

We arrived at Breydon Water RSPB and parked in the ASDA car park turn 7ish. No sign.... urgh, the groans started. Another one to wait years for, but I thought it would be best if we moved onto Buckenham Marshes RSPB in the hope of connecting. On the road back down to Buckenham Marshes RSPB the new broke it was still present on the small pool to the east of the windmill, panic set in. Some 20 mins later (its a long walk from the car park!) we were nearly there when over the broad I picked up what was clearly a large tern, as it came closer it was evidently the Caspian Tern. Get in, I punched the air with joy. The bird went missing for around 10 minutes before literally appearing out of nowhere and descending back onto the small pool where it was favouring. On deck it was good to be able to study it properly and really enjoy it for the beast it was! Although nice on deck it came into its own in flight, from behind as it flew over toward Strumpshaw Fen RSPB to feed it reminding me of a Gannet, not in terms of plumage just the flight style. Not quite like a Gull and more elegant like a Gannet, made a mental note of that for future reference, you never know! I made extensive notes on the bird, but they are long and the images are pretty much self explanatory so I'll whack them up below. We also had cracking views of a Barn Owl and Hobby, I also got Egyptian Goose for my 'Birds seen sitting on a post in Norfolk' list. I was overjoyed the Caspian Tern performed well and it was a real treat indeed, mega!

(Caspian Tern - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Caspian Tern - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Yesterday (29th) I made an evening visit to Castle Lake DBC to see another Pectoral Sandpiper, this time far better views were obtained and was a pleasure to watch it wading about in front of the Durham Bird Club hide, the reserve is truly excellent and surely its a matter of time before a mega is found here. I have seen 2 Pectoral Sandpipers together here in the past which was pretty awesome! 2 Common Sandpipers in the same area was good to see and flock of Snipe was most welcome. Today I was down Saltholme RSPB and this time the birding was pretty good, the last few times I have been down its been really dead and pretty hard work to see anything! 2 Marsh Harriers and another White-winged Black Tern being the obvious highlights, nothing much else of note apart from 2 Little Gulls.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Pembrokeshire & Worcestershire

Last Saturday I came back from holiday (as you know if you read my previous blog post), it was a family holiday and so birding and butterfly opportunities had to be curbed a bit. Which is more than understandable, I had already sort of decided my targets and these were Chough and Wood White butterfly. Pembrokeshire provided me with my first target in the form of at least 4 Chough, after having all but given up all of a sudden quite a few turned up and one bird gave mega views in flight and acceptable views on deck. I think these are great birds, lovely glossy back and distinctive appearance makes them easy to pick out. Very graceful compared to the other local corvids which can usually do no more than fly along the cliff face unlike the master of the cliffs the Chough. It was interesting to note they really don't like to associate with any other corvid species, I can't say I really paid much attention to this when I first saw them last year. I dipped a Rose-coloured Starling (frustratingly) but did have great views of Raven from where we were staying and Red Kites put in appearances on a few occasions.

(Chough - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Chough - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Next was Herefordshire, I will not slag the county off as its a beautiful place but the birding is pretty terrible. The Cream-coloured Courser really was an exception and a one off. With this in mind I switched my sites to butterflies, I had some good ones as usual; White Admiral being one highlight and of course my long awaited first sighting of a Wood White after having dipped them last year twice, only to find out the reason I had is they have been extinct on the reserve for some years! DOH!

(Wood White - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

So a successful and overall enjoyable holiday. 

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Sunday, 15 July 2012


To avoid being robbed by all and sundry I kept it under the hat that I was going away on a family holiday, hence the inactivity of my blog over the past two weeks. I will do a post regarding my holiday away in Pembrokeshire and Herefordshire but there was little to report in terms of birds, especially in the latter county!

As soon as I was back I was straight down to Teesside to see the Red-crested Pochard, it isn't the  most stunning bird I have ever seen but it wasn't all that bad. It was certainly better looking than last Autumns dreadful eclipse Blue-winged Teal. The Pochard performed well but distant on Saltholme East, my eyes could bare no more so I thought a 30 minute seawatch of Hartlepool might produce the odd shearwater. However nothing at all was produced, just the local birds knocking about offshore and way out a small flock of Common Scoter north. Yesterday evening was most enjoyable with a BBQ and then a Storm Petrel, nice with a spicy sauce (joke - don't panic).

(Storm Petrel - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

This afternoon the weather was looking about as good as its going to get this week with sunshine and cloud, I couldn't resist a trip with camera to Bishop Middleham quarry to snap the Durham Brown Argus, or Northern Brown if you want to be 'proper'. Nothing much else on site other than Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Large Skipper, and Ringlet. Stacks of Northern Brown Argus, never seen so many.

(Northern Brown Argus - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Large Skipper - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

I then headed off to Wingate Quarry to see if the Marbled White butterflies were out yet, thankfully they were out but not as many as there were last year. I seem to recall that last year I was basically tripping over them at this site and yet this year there doesn't seem to be as many. An array of other butterflies at this site including my first Small Skippers of the year and Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Large Skipper in attendance. 

 (Meadow Brown - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Small Skipper - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Marbled White - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Until next time, Foghorn out!