Wednesday 27 May 2015

Can't stop Twitching

My last post was about our twitch to the Scilly Isles for the Great-blue Heron, and I thought that might be the last of our travels for a while and we would settle down to some patch birding closer to home, trying to find some migrants locally, but May was to be another memorable month, starting on the 3rd with an Hudsonian Godwit down at Meare Heath in Somerset. It had been there for a few days, but as always, with other commitments, I couldn't make it 'till my good mate Steve James called me and said that he and his partner, Emma, were going for it on Sunday, and would I like to join them?  Could I be a gooseberry for a day??..... course I could!  and I accepted his offer. So, after an uneventful journey down to Somerset, it was just a short walk to where the bird was being seen, amongst a flock of Black-tailed Godwits. On joining the 70 or 80 birder already there, we bumped into our good mate from Warwickshire - Adam Archer - and his partner Nadia. (Did I mention gooseberry?) Anyway, Archie soon had us on the bird, although it was sometimes difficult to get decent views.  Emma and Steve went off for a wonder around the reserve and I stayed to try and capture some images - which was not easy considering distance involved and not helped by the bird hiding in amongst the Godwits (and any other excuse I can think of). A few images are below

The bird is middle bottom of the image note the darker under wings

On our way home from the Godwit, Steve noticed that a male Summer plumage Red-throated Pipit had come up on the news services, and was showing well in sheep fields at Chisworth, in Derbyshire; We both needed it, but had no plans to go...... until the following morning, the 4th of May, when Steve called to say he was going for it and he would pick me up if I wanted to go. Once again the trip was uneventful up into North Derbyshire, and,  two hours later, we were watching this stunning male Pipit. It was close by when we arrived, but decided to go and feed at the back of the field with some Meadow Pipits and Wheatear; It didn't come any closer while we were there -the image below is heavily cropped, but I think you get an impression of the bird.

Mid May, and the Greater Yellowlegs had turned up at Titchfield Haven in Hampshire. Now, after a week, the bird seemed quite settled, so I made a few calls to friends who either needed it or just wanted to go see another; Steve James needed it so he was my first passenger,and  Brian Moore who had already got it on his list, but was happy to see another said he would like to join us, so, leaving at stupid o clock (as usual), we arrived at 8.30am at the reserve. The bird had sometimes been sighted from the coast road, so having parked up, Brian got out of the car, picked up his bins to scan the Godwits that it was associating with, and the first bird he saw was the Yellowlegs!... even the birders that were already there hadn't seen it, as it was tucked in below them! This is what twitching should be like - out of the car and the bird right in front of you!.... or would that be boring?..........probably!!!  After an hour, off we went for some well needed breakfast, and after filling our bellies, we went back for another look at the Yellowlegs - but it had flown on to the reserve. Below are a few images of the Yellowlegs. Now, first of all I'm no photographer - I'm just a birder with a camera - and also I've just purchased a 2x converter from my mate Paul, and have certainly got to get used to it!. Anyway, enough excuses for the images! Also on the news services, there had been a Bonaparte's Gull frequenting Chesill Bay which is in Southampton, so not that far away and  we decided to go it. (None of us 'needed' it, but it is always nice to see another one)

We traveled the 12 or so miles to Chesill Bay and found the area where the Gull seemed to favour, but we spent well over 2 hours here before Steve spotted a small gull flying towards us, which did the decent thing and landed on the water, giving us time to confirm the ID - it was Bonaparte's Gull   -and a Black-headed Gull landed close to the Bonaparte's, which gave us an excellent size comparison, Sadly, it was too far away for any images though. All in all, a good days birding, with two N.American birds in the bag - and just to say - that neither the Hudsonian Godwit or the Red-throated Pipit were were seen again the days following our visit, so Steve and I had seen them and got two ticks by the skin of our teeth!  I can only conclude that the month of May was a great month for twitching for Steve and me........and its not over yet!
As always thanks for stopping by!!!

Friday 1 May 2015

That was Scilly

When the Great Blue Heron turned up on the Scilly Isles, I really never gave it a second thought - even though it was a BOU tick, and  only the second for Britain - bizarrely found by the same birder who found the first one in 2007 (Ashley Fisher). Don't ask me why, but even for all the rarities that the Scillies turn up, it's never had a pull for me, but last week a mate of mine, Brian Moore, asked if Iwas interested in twitching the Heron - and asked if I knew anybody else that was interested in going? After a few calls, it seemed that everybody had got work or other things planned, so last weeks' trip was put on hold until this week, when other people were available; after a few more calls, Steve James said he was up for it, so at stupid o' clock on Tues evening, the three of us were on our way to Penzance in readiness for the 9.15am Scillonian lll crossing to St Mary's. The ferry left on time, so we would be on the island at mid-day;  the bird had been favouring Bryher, and sometimes Tresco, but it had done the decent thing and had taken up residence on St Mary's at Lower Moor. After an uneventful crossing, with only Fulmars a few Auks, Kittewake and lots of Manx Shearwaters to note, we checked the news services which said the bird was perched in an Elm tree, close to the school, so we jumped into a taxi to save time (we were on the 4.30pm ferry back). After an hour walking up and down a path where the elm trees, as we didn't know where the bird had been seen from, we decided to walk around to the ISBG hide at lower Moor. Before we got into the hide though, a couple of birders just coming away from the hide confirmed the heron was on the pool. I made a quick call to Steve as he was at the other end of Lower Moor, and it wasn't long before all of us were having stunning views of this huge heron.  It all went too quickly, and before we knew it we were on the ferry, heading back to Penzance. It was my first time on the Scillies - but certainly won't be my last! It was a great twitch -  a long way to go I know,  but these things have to be done................he said tongue in cheek!!!  Below are a few images of the Great Blue Heron

                                                Leaving St Mary's
Just passing St Michaels' mount on our way back into Penzance

As always, thanks for stopping by to read my blog!
Until my  next 'adventure' !