Wednesday 28 May 2014

Peregrine Update

Just a quick update on the city centre Peregrines; Dave Gray and I went today to check on how the pair were faring, and if we were lucky enough, to see how many chicks there were. Luck was n our side - the chicks were visible - two of them! - but  we weren't prepared for their size - they look quite big -  it looks like there parents are doing a grand job! A couple of record images below to show just how big they are.
I will try and update on how they are progressing shortly
Waiting for Mum

Two siblings together

Monday 26 May 2014

Corncrakes on North Uist

After visiting North Uist last year twitching an Harlequin Duck, I said I would return especially as I need Corncrake for my British list, so last Thursday evening, Dave Gray,Carl Baggot, John Waters and myself set off on the 10 hour drive to the Isle of Skye for the ferry crossing to Uist.  Dave was hoping for White-tailed Sea Eagle[ WTSE] around Uig harbour..... they did'nt disappoint.... as leaving the harbour, 3 WTSE were soaring over the West side of the bay!  Tick for Dave!   We were only on Uist for a couple of days, so, time being at a premium, we headed for Balranald RSPB for the Corncrake, and to Aird un Runair for any Skua passage. There were also a couple of Glaucous Gulls reported, which we did find on the beach, along with lots of Sanderlings, some Dunlin, Ringed Plovers and 4 Bar-tailed  Godwits. On the sea was a summer plumeage Great Norther Diver,Eider Duck and R.B. Merganser
Glaucous gull (1st Summer I think)

In the feilds around the reserve Oystercatchers are in good numbers as are Redshank.  Corn bunting and Twite were noted and Wheatear are all over the place
Corn Bunting

To say Corncrake are elusive is an understatement!  Carl and I had one calling no more than 5 meters in front of us and still couldn't see it.... anyway, to cut along story short, we finally connected with one on our way back to our B&B. Hooray! a tick for me! The following day, Carl and I just parked up at the side of the field, using the car as a hide, and, with patience, the birds finally broke cover enabling us to get some record images.
Skulking Corncrake
Our travels around this stunning island produced some birds of note including 16 Short-eared Owls, 3 Hen Harriers, 2 Golden Eagles, 3 white-winged Black Terns - they were a surprise! -  up to 20 Corncrake,  5 Whimbrel, and 2 Arctic Skuas. Below are a few images of common birds which are all over the island.

Calling Redshank

Ringed Plover

It was a short but a brilliant couple of days. On the way back on the ferry we had lots of Auks including Puffin, Razorbill, Black Guillemot and Common Guillemot, a raft of up to 50 Manx Shearwater and a Great Norther Diver.... and just for Dave... the WTSE put in an appearance over the headland once again. Then it was the dreaded 10 hour drive home - but all worthwhile!
Golden Eagle
The only bird we didn't see- but not the want for trying- was the Red-necked Phalarope they apparently being more elusive than the Corncrake.
Hooded Crow

Friday 16 May 2014

City centre Peregrines

For the last three months I've been involved in a survey to determine whether Peregrine falcons were breeding in Leicester city centre. Some three weeks ago, we were sure we had found a nest site, so yesterday, with the help of the city council planning department, we were given access to a building we could monitor the nest site from, and we were not disappointed! The female was at the nest and was soon joined by the male, who brought in some food. She dropped off the ledge with the food and it was then we saw the chick - the first confirmed in the City! Hopefully there are some other chicks, as the the whole of the nest site is not visible.... so we are keeping our fingers crossed!  I will try to keep you updated on their progress in the coming weeks.
Female Peregrine having a preen

Sunday 11 May 2014

Little Boxes

I was out this morning helping my mate, the Owl man himself - Mr Paul Riddle - and a good mate of ours, John Starry, who was only with us for a couple of hours to check out some of the Little Owl boxes in the South of the county. First box we checked was a good start - the hen bird was in residence with 2 chicks and 1 egg yet to hatch. We then checked out a Barn Owl site as Paul had had a bird in the area early in the week; the bird was roosting in the barn, but not using the box, which has been occupied with 2 Stock Dove chicks, so probably looking for next year for the Barnies. So on to the next little Owl site where both birds were present, and the hen bird was sitting on 4 eggs. The next two sites proved to be productive as well, with birds being in residence in both boxes and 4 and 5 eggs respectively
Little Owl and her clutch of 4 eggs

One of our boxes is just a little to high for my liking, as the slightest wind moves the trunk of the tree all over the place - but the job has to done. The hen sitting on 5 eggs at this box
                                                       Not my favorite box
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    My mate Paul does sometimes go up the ladder - but only a few rungs, then he gets scared!!

                                                         Paul being brave

On the way back home,  Paul spotted a Little Owl sitting at the entrance to a natural nest hole site - how he spots them, I don't know! He stopped so I could grab an image,  before the owl scampered back into his nest hole
Little Owl at home


Sunday 4 May 2014

Doing a good 'Tern'

Just a quick trip to local patch this morning, where I had a good walk around, but just all the usual suspects were about, including Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Blackcap. I did bump into the two Common Terns though that have been coming back since they bred here some 5 years ago. Sadly they don't breed at Brascote anymore, as the island they used to breed on can now be breached by predators, so they probably breed somewhere else now - possibly Mallory, which is close by. One bird has a ring on it's left leg, but I have been unable to read it as yet.
Common Tern having a Having a wing stretch

Then taking to the wing

Friday 2 May 2014

A County tick

On Wednesday evening Dave Gray messaged me about a Glossy Ibis that had been found at Wanlip Meadows, but was seen to fly towards Birstall just after 8 'o' clock. It was too late do anything about it, so we agreed to look for it in the morning, as soon as Dave finished his night shift. Dave went straight to Birstall Meadows, where he rang me from, saying there was no sign of the bird, so he was going to  head for Watermead  CP North next. I headed off to Wanlip Meadows, where, after about 10 minutes, I located the Ibis feeding on the pool! I gave Dave a call to let him know - he was not far away from the tower hide that overlooks the pool, and he also got good views, so after putting the news out that the bird was still about, and ringing my mate Paul who was on his way to work in Melton but did find time to call in for quick view of the bird, I took a few record images and headed home. It was a county tick for me, and a patch tick for Dave. Not a bad couple of hours!
Record image of the Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis