Sunday, February 14, 2016

Ring and chog

Had a very nice trip down to the southwest. Lest Norwich Friday morning. My first stop was at Bray GP (Berks) for the Ring-necked Duck that took up residence there. The bird was showing staright away in the pit by the M4 with some Tufted Ducks. Great looking bird! And a WP tick for me... 

 Ring-necked Duck

The bird was lovely but I did not enjoy watching it - this pit is fenced off and surrounded by trees, so I had views of the duck mainly through branches. But there was lots of passerines there - many Redwings and few Fieldfare, and bird numbers of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll. But I had no time to linger there - I had another ringed bird waiting for me.
My next stop was at Blashford Lakes (Hampshire), where I met up with Dave, my host from CHOG. We didn't have to wait long for the Ring-billed Gull to arrive to the roost. We had OK scope views but photography was very difficult - combination of distance (maybe 300 m?) and dim light. Anyway, even in these terrible record shots it is sort of identifiable - heavy bill, pale mantle tones, faint white tertials crescent:

Ring-billed Gull - adult

And in this image it is possible to see the limited white mirror on P10:

Another fine gull there was this 2nd-winter Caspian Gull:

Also 3 Med Gulls joined the roost. This site was really good - Slavonian and two Black-necked Grebes, Goosanders and Goldeneyes, pretty good. And the gull roost is impressive.
In the evening I gave a talk to CHOG in Bornmouth, so quite many friends from Hampshire Bird Club joined as well. I really enjoyed the talk and I hope the audience enjoyed it too.
This morning I met up with Dave, Dave and Chris. The weather was pretty foul so we opted for seawatching off Milford-on-Sea, or rather watching the sea because there were few birds. We did have a Black-throated Diver and two Red-breasted Mergansers but very little else. A few Med Gulls were playing around on the promenade:

After a couple of quiet hours of watching an empty sea we decided to brave the weather and bird around Keyhaven Marshes. In recent days the marshes held Long-billed Dowitcher and Long-tailed Duck but the weather was so bad that we didn't see much. Even the locals complained about the weather ('near-impossible conditions' they called it).
And then it was the long way back home.
Many thanks to CHOG and especially to Dave for inviting me and for the warm hospitality. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Consolation prize

I am pretty devastated these days by the Rough-legged Buzzard celebrated by all possible Israeli birders but me. It's the third record but I missed also the previous one back in 2012. So I tried to console myself with some dodgy ducks. Last weekend I tried the Green-winged Teal found by my mate James at Ransworth Broad. I was there with Libby and the weather was horrible and the pushchair had a flat tire, and there were only few teal around, so no luck. This afternoon I tried my luck again, this time the Portuguese-ringed individual on the Blyth estuary. This individual sporting a nasal saddle was ringed in Portugal on 15 January 2015. Driving down the A146 there was a huge pre-roost of several thousand Rooks and Jackdaws near Thurton:

Arriving at Blythburgh, I wanted to hit myself for not checking the tides (Israeli habit - no tide in Israel) - the tide was out and all the ducks were roosting in very distant groups, scattered across the mudflats. I parked by the White Hart Inn and started scanning from the carpark. Took me some time but eventually I got on the bird. Shit views - it was dark and windy, and the bird was very distant. It was just about identifiable with max. magnification of my scope, but hey, enough for a WP tick... I scrambled to get the digiscoping kit together but by the time I was ready the roosting teals woke up and waded down into a depression and out of view. Shit. Not even a record shot. I will try again in better conditions.
So now the teal was in the bag and gone I had some time to look around. In fact I had driven past this fantastic site several times but never had a chance to check. Today it was packed full with birds. There was a huge roost of gull, mainly Common Gulls - around 1500! Including a couple of heinei-type things. Also a Med Gull among them. There were less than 200 large gulls, nothing interesting I could see. Lots of shorebirds on the mud. most impressive was a gathering of 180 Avocets.