Thursday, 29 November 2012


Hey all,

For the foreseeable future I am closing the blog, it will remain open for viewing but I won't be updating it until further notice. Its served its purpose; I've met and made some great friends in birding, I am now keener on my birding than ever before. But for a few reasons in my life right now I will not be updating the blog until further notice (if ever). I am sure I'll return.

You may get a Christmas message though!

Until whenever, Foghorn out!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Winter Geese

Sorry its been a while since my last post but I have been really busy with university work and had other things on, then trying to juggle all this with birding can prove to be a problem for the blog! But it would appear the blog is still popular so I will be keeping it on for the foreseeable future.

On the 17th of November I was over in Dumfries and Galloway for some twitching, birding opportunities were few on the day as time was against us (it is winter now). Arrived early on at Whitrigg in Cumbria to look for the Red-breasted Goose that had been found there the previous day. On arrival a familiar sight greeted me with thousands of Barnacle Geese, awesome but daunting! I set off scanning the flocks on deck while I assigned 'The Sleeper' the task of scanning the birds that were flying in. A while passed and I had checked the geese thoroughly a number of times and had only turned up a few Pink-footed Geese and a few leucistic Barnacles which were cool. I then started to scan the flocks flying in as well, didn't take long until a large flock of birds appeared out of nowhere over the horizon and started flying toward the field. They were dropping in behind the hedge, however one of the close flocks came to circle round before landing and lo and behold the Red-breasted Goose was with them. Kieran managed to get on it and we watched it fly down into the field, a few minutes later I drove around and picked the bird up amongst about 1,000 Barnacles. Thankfully the bird showed really well!

(Red-breasted Goose - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Red-breasted Goose - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

But the question I have is have I seen this bird before? I think I may have, its possibly the Scaling Dam bird returning to where it spent the winter last year (or at least near). It was an adult and so I do wonder if I have seen 2 Red-breasted Geese or just the 1. But I think I can safely say they will put this one through so have added it to my BOU list and will take it off IF it is rejected (of course).

Next was Southerness in Dumfries and Galloway, on Facebook the previous evening a photo was posted on Mike Youdale's wall of a Canada Goose type from Southerness. Opinions were asked and I jumped; Richardson's. We arrived and were greeted by a carpet of distant Barnacles where I knew the bird was (thanks to Mike Youdale), the task started of scanning. As expected the Barnacles got worked up in a nearby field and joined the already massive carpet of birds meaning the task got even harder. After about 1 hour 15 mins I finally picked the bird up amongst the Barnacles near the back end by the golf course. The golfers would be getting mega views! Though distant I could really appreciate how small the goose actually was! A fantastic looking bird and a species I had been keen to see for a while. I thought I was going to have to go to Islay to see one, though not so! Richardson's Canada Goose is part of the Lesser Canada Goose variety and is already split, as far as I am aware the great and good are reviewing the records and making a gue..I mean will informed decision as to the origin of the birds that have occurred  So no doubt this bird will be accepted as being of wild origin, probably one of the best credential mainland Richardson 
Canada Goose there has been in a long while?

(Richardson's Canada Goose - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

On the video the bird is central back, a little box does pop up in the video to show you where the bird is.
(Richardson's Canada Goose - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

OH and myself and Kieran found some Waxwings at various locations in Cumbria, but then we are all sick of Waxwing reports but NOT sick of Waxwing.

Stick around soon for some gull action, I said gull.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

More Waxwing action

Day out yesterday saw me successfully missing the Great Grey Shrike at Greenabella Marsh, though this was the first time I had ever seen 3 Barn Owls together. Views best had by throwing stones into the box I have found, OK; a bit naughty but this sort of activity wouldn't surprise me from the stories I've been hearing.   Photographers getting some flak lately, but just like in birding, some people know exactly where they are doing and others haven't got a clue! Mind you would think that if they knew a Barn Owl can hear a vole rustling in the grass they can hear someone approaching no matter how quiet they think they are being. I have witnessed this with Long-eared Owl, these birds use their hearing mostly when hunting so even if we are 20ft away and being as quiet as a mouse they know we are there. Bit of a ramble on there....

Some Waxwings at both Saltholme and the Calor Gas Pool were most welcome! Again I had a go at sexing and ageing, the latter one is easy but the former I am finding not so in some birds.

 (1st winter female, this one isn't so bad)

 (Another easy 1st winter female)

(A nice and easy adult male, plenty of red appendages, white primary tips from outer to inner web, and thick broad tail band; smart bird!)

First time I have knowingly seen an adult male Waxwing, rather stunning wing pattern. Now I have an excuse to check for Cedar Waxwing, so sexing and ageing Waxwings does have its benefits. 

A check today around Church and Vets in Washington proved that the berry trees are still chocka' (heavy laden), no doubt as always the one day I don't check somewhere the Waxwings will be found. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Bee-Eater and Waxwings the headline

This week I seem to have seen more of the Bee-Eater than the local Magpies, with the uni literally 3 mins away it is really rude not to call in and have a look-see. Anyway, its still performing well but I fear we may get a really good view very soon; if you know what I mean? Forecast not looking good and not catching nearly as much as it was last week.

I have also seen my first Waxwings of the year this year at Blaydon, I also found some this morning at Washington in the company of David Kay. Always a pleasure to find my own Waxwings, the year is not really complete without such an event! Only 6 birds present but very approachable, appearing to be all 1st year birds. I have been inspired by Boulmer Birder in regards to ageing and sexing Waxwings, now it may appear I am just thoroughly bored and trying to avoid my impending uni assignment at all costs, however I was genuinely interested to know to age and sex them.

I've always had a soft spot for them, I saw my first birds in Jarrow on the 22nd of November 2008.

So I took some of my typically wonderful photos of the 6 Waxwings today, only managed some half decent shots; surprise! So here's some general waffle, folk can correct my incompetence in comments below if I do happen to make a mistake; which is likely I am sure.

 (1st year female Waxwing - due to fairly narrow tail band, lack of deep yellow on outer webs of the primaries, 'blurry' edge to lower edge of bib, and only a few red appendages, clearly less than a male should show)

(Foreground: 1st year male; many waxy appendages, with broad yellow tail band, other photos show a clear cut lower edge to the bib. But first year due to lack of intense yellow on outer webs of primaries and also lack of white edge running along base of primaries toward inner web.
Background: 1st year female; lack of numerous red appendages with little yellow in outer edge of primaries as well as clearly a duller tail band)

(1st year male - guess work! But looks to have a clear cut lower edge to the bib as well as a broad yellow tail band)

Cool birds. Until next time, Foghorn out!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

November dawns

Busy, busy, busy right now! Spare time I have had has been spent out and about or doing extra univeristy work; the joys of final year.

Some notable highlights since my last blog post, plenty of common stuff and a few goodies thrown in for good measure. I tried to go and see the Richardson's Canada Goose some weeks ago in Cumbria and failed, though I called in and saw a local Great White Egret which was nice to see. However all was not lost from that trip, a Todd's Canada Goose was picked out amongst the Barnacles, so can I add Todd's to cat A of my British list now? Who cares? Nice bird and the fact it was a vagrant made it semi-cool.

The Little Auk passage was good but didn't last all that long, always a delight to catch up with this species in the UK. However Saturday just gone was a fantastic day, the highlights being a cracking Little Bunting and a cracking Bee Eater, on Sunday I tried for the Lesser Kestrel but despite being there for early doors the species was nowhere to be seen. Apparently a reader of this blog was one of three individuals present and managed a photograph, as to whether or not Michael F will post his photo online remains to be seen. We would certainly like to see it, seems a bit strange that the photo should be held back as the other two observers sadly didn't have any equipment to take photographs with and so cannot supply any photographs.

Anyway here are some photographs and video of the weekends stars.

(Bee-Eater - © Andrew Kinghorn)

(Bee-Eater - © Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Little Bunting - © Mark Newsome)

(Little Bunting - © Mark Newsome)

Until next time, Foghorn out!