Thursday, 31 March 2011

Cyprus 23rd-30th March

A family holiday to Cypurs offered the chance of not only a bit if early sun but also a bit of birding as well. Staying in Paphos I was able to do local birding and hiring a car for a couple of days allowed a bit of exploring further afield. Most days consisted of an early morning walk around Paphos headland, which most days held a range of migrants. With rain the first couple of days migrants were more obvious at the start of the week with numbers and range of species decreasing as the week went on. Other sites visited included Aspro dam, Baths of Aphrodite, Smiyies trail, Mandria, Paphos Sewage works, Akrotiri Salt pans and surrounding area and Kensington cliffs. Highlights for me included a Finsch's Wheatear at Smiyies trail, 3 Great black-headed Gulls on Aspro reservoir, Cyprus Warbler and lots of Rupells  Warblers. A total of nearly 100 species was logged during the holiday and its well worth its place as a early spring holiday destination.

Black-eared Wheatear

Black-headed Wagtail - 1 of a number of races seen.

Male Blue rock Thush, several seen around Paphos headland

Cretzschmars Bunting

Cyprus Wheatear

Great Black-headed Gull - 2 of 3 present.

Hooded Crow - Numerous

Hoopoe

Female Isabelline Shrike - Paphos headland

Isabelline Wheatear

Kentish Plover

Little ringed Plover

Lizard sp.

Northern Wheatear

Ruppells Warbler - Just outside the apartment window

Spur-winged Plover

Tawny Pipit

Yellow Wagtail (flava)

Yellow-legged Gull

Crested Lark - ever present

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

fog bound

With a heavy vale of fog for most of the day a lunch time birding session was out the window, so i headed in to saxmundham. Waxwings were calling towards the back of waitrose but unfortunately I couldn't see them.
Hope to get some info back on the Lesser black-backed Gull at minsmere on Saturday, looks from the type of ring that it is most likely a bird from orfordness.
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Monday, 14 March 2011

Damn and blast

Well simply I wasn't looking hard enough, well done to Dave for finding the Penduline Tits at Minsmere that I suspected would turn up!! As compensation I had a lone Waxwing fly overhead as I walked in to Saxmundham for me lunch.

Saturday 12th - Minsmere

Today I took a walk around Minsmere in rather pleasant early spring sunshine and what a difference a few days of sunshine and a change in wind direction makes. Birds were calling all around the reserve and the Red-throated Divers on the sea seem to have progressed a bit further towards summer dress with the hint of their red-throat patch coming through. A Chiffchaff the was calling strongly from the dunes was probably a true spring migrant and bounced from bush to bush with its typical tail pumping jizz. The black-headed Gulls on the scrape had increased in number with 300+ birds present with 5 very smart Mediterranean gulls mixed in. The assemblage of larger gulls contained just the one Yellow-legged, but a few colour ringed Herring and Lesser black-backed Gulls.
Ringed LBB Gull

With the sun out I was a bit more optimistic of perhaps stumbling across a Penduline Tit but alas drew a blank. The 2 Snipes seem to have done a bunk and were not seen in front of Island mere. 2 Nuthatches feeding on the feeders near the work centre hark back to days when they used to be commoner in years gone by.

A couple of people have asked about the familiaris race (Northern) treecreepers I was talking about a couple of posts ago. These are the nominate form of our British Treecreepers, and are found in Northern Europe. Little information on the status of these birds is scant but a look at some of the galleries show this race has a frosty appearance with clean white underparts, extending to the undertail coverts and vent. The supercillium is pure white both in front of the eye and behind and the ear coverts lack any buffyness. The following link show a gallery of such birds. http://www.tarsiger.com/gallery/index.php?lista=ok&species=76290&family=&sp=search&lang=eng&manner=&sel=2&sex=0&age=0&year=&photo=&pic_method=0&pic_type=0&country=&place=&order=lisays_paiva+DESC&sel=2

With the continued good weather spring migrants are liley to become ever present over the next few days.

Great crested Grebe

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

mobile upload test

This is just a test to see if its possible to update blog from the field. Not sure if it would be much use but you never know!
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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Sunday 6th March - Minsmere

It seems ages since I have actually had a days birding, yes I have chased gulls and had the odd lunch time visit to various sites but to be honest its mostly been working on the bird records for South-east Suffolk. I decided it was time to get out in the field, so I headed to Minsmere to see what I could find. I had a couple of objectives, the first was to study any Treecreeper I came across as I have a bit of interest in familiaris race(Northern) Treecreeper and having seen a photo on Birdguides of a possible example taken at Minsmere recently (http://www.flickr.com/photos/38929823@N08/5462450686/) I was keen to keep an eye out. The other was rather optimistic but I was keeping half an ear out for Penduline Tit, its getting to that time of year and Minsmere does have a bit of history with this species. I started with a walk around the scrape, and as its been a while since I have been around the reserve it was a bit of a shock to see the north wall devoide of scrub. This area has been cleared to stop any potential species nesting and being disrupted during structural work on the north wall later in the year. The sea held good numbers of Great-crested Grebes, some of which were displaying on a rather lumpy sea, and some close Red-throated Divers. A scan of east scrape reveailed little in the gathered gulls and waders were thin on the ground with a Turnstone being the highlight. A few more weeks and things I suspect will be a lot different. The levels held good numbers of Dunlin and 2 Ruff, whilst south scrape continued to host 3 red-head Smew.
Whilst walking through the woods a couple of Treecreepers were spotted but all seemed to be of the British race, showing buff undertail coverts and a buff wash to the ear coverts. The familiaris race birds show consistently white underparts with little buff colouration of the undertail coverts, and a white supercillium and ear coverts. I'm sure this species is over looked and searches of galleries on various sites seem to indicate that potential birds have been photogrphed around the UK this winter.
At Island mere hide the reed-mace was unsurprisingly Penduline Tit free! 2 Snipe showed very well in front of Island mere, one being of a typical brown ground colour and the other a greyer toned bird. I wounder if these greyer birds are faeroeensis race birds that breed in Iceland and reportedly in some on some of the outlying Scottish Islands.

Common Snipe (faeroeensis?)
Greyer Snipe, note pale ground colour to breast and weaker face markings.

Common Snipe

Browner of the 2 birds. Warm ground colour and bold dark headed/face markings.

Common Snipe (faeroeensis?)
Again note colder appearance and whiter strips running down back and whiter edging to scapulars and coverts.

Common Snipe
Bolder markings on this individual with the fringes of scapulars and coverts having a yellower tone.
Interestingly both birds exhibited a tendency to "bob" much like a Jack Snipe but perhaps less strongly. Beware!!

video


On the mere several Tufted duck were presnet and a lone red-head Smew was activly fishing. At the far end a distant Scaup species got the grey cells active. It was on its own and actively feeding. At first it seemed small and the black on the nail varied in size depending on pose, I wished it would swim closer but it decided to head in to a hidden area. Later it emerged with a female Tufted duck and the smaller size of the Tufted Duck was evident and together with a wide obvious black tip to the bill a Greater Scaup it was.