Sunday, 19 June 2011

White-winged Scoter trip

I left work on Friday at 5pm and walked through my door at just after 6 on Saturday evening, a bit of an epic journey home!! I travelled up to Aberdeenshire with 4 mates in the hope of seeing the White-winged scoter, as well as the other assembled ducks and the near-by King Eider. We reached the Murcar golf course just after 4 in the morning and began scanning through the 2000+ ducks and auks. It took some 20-30 minutes to can from one side of the main scoter flock to the other. I found 3 drake Surf Scoters and 20+ Velvets of various age groups but no White-winged. A shout went up for a possible bird just before 6 and sure enough it was the White-winged an showing closer than I had expected, in fact it was probably the closet bird being just 200 yards offshore. It showed very well allowing the head profile, bill profile and colour to be studied well, the bird had distinct brown tinge to the flanks and little white was visible under the eye. It slowly swam further out and joined the main scoter flock. At one time I had Common, Surf, Velvet and White-winged scoter all in the same field of view, best of all for a while it allowed direct comparison with a 1st winter Velvet and the differences mentioned above set it apart.

White-winged Scoter - A rather poor video grab after it had moved much further out.
Drake Surf Scoter - 1 of 3


White-winged Scoter - Top video, bird is just in front of line of Common Scoters
Surf Scoter - Bottom video

After watching the bird for sometime the rain began to fall so we headed north to add the King Eider to the sea duck tally. After a bit of searching I picked it out feeding mid channel inland from the Coastguard building.
An epic day out and as usual a right giggle was had with the boys.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Another Monday another superb bird.

I was sitting at work when I received a phone call from Jon at Minsmere, he told me he had 2 people in reception who were sure they had seen a Roller on the common at Upper Hollesley. I took the details and phoned a birding friend who works near-by and within 20 minutes he rang me back to confirm the report was correct. The news was soon broadcast and several local birds were soon on the scene. I could not make it till after work by which time the sun had came out and the bird almost glowed in the late afternoon sun. In flight the colour looked more luminescent and in some ways the flight was rather pratincole like. Though distant it oftne showed well and seemed to be feeding well, lets hope it hangs around. A big thank you to the finder Norman Thorpe for taking the time to track people down to get the news released.

Roller - Rather distant but still a cracking bird.

Rarer than the Robin or the Audouin's Gull?

Well as previously posted Sean Nikon photographed an unusual Common Tern at Minsmere 5 days after the Audouin's Gull found by John Grant. It showed more than a passing resemblance to Eastern Common Tern Sterna hirundo longipennis but from a British perspective how rare is it? Well a recent article in Birding World (Volume 24 number 5) confirms the identity as an Eastern Common Tern and also places the record as a second following a bird photographed at Seaforth NR, Merseyside in May 2010 making it rarer than the White-throated Robin and from a Suffolk perspective equally as rare as the Audouin's Gull!
Its quite possible that is the same bird so perhaps we should all be on the look out for it later in the year on its return journey or even next year. This sub-species has the potential to be a future split so I am sure if a twitchable individual is found it will prove popular. Well done Sean for picking it out and realising it was something worth further investigation.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Storming Hartlepool for the Robin

Four days off work and what happens, I go back and news of a mega breaks...sods law. I have an understanding boss so by 10:30 I was heading north for the White-throated Robin. News came in steadily for most of the journey but as we neared our destination news became less and less frequent making for a somewhat nervous atmosphere. Just as we parked up news came that it the bird was showing so off we went only to be told it had flown in to the doctors garden that had a 12 foot wall running round it and no access.  After nearly two hours the bird had still not returned to is favoured area and thinks started to look bad. Suddenly news came that some birders were watching it from on top of a van around the corder. Off we set and we were greeted with a scene more akin to the storming of a fort, people were climbing various vehicles and ladders in the hope of seeing the bird. I was literally like a rat up a drain pipe and shimmied up a lamppost to peer over the wall and saw this cracking female rooting around a compost heap. I then joined a que for one of the ladders and enjoyed views of it again, this time sunbathing in the rose patch. This has to go down as one of the best twitches and one I will never forget. The bird behaved superbly and it too will be forever engrained in the little grey cells.

You can spot me at 1 second, i'm standing under the sign with a black jacket, dark jeans and short hair. Autographs by request.

White-throated Robin - Photos by Lee Woods (Birding Suffolk mastermind)

A few moths from recent days.

I am by no stretch of the imagination a moth expert but when I am around a trap that is being emptied I am a bit like a moth drawn to a flame, I have to give them a look. I was at Landguard and Minsmere recently when they were empting their moth traps and as usual I was interested in what they had caught. As a beginner I am most interested in the colourful and big moths and am concious that I don't get to drawn in, birding is enough for me heaven forbid I go dashing of for a moth, what next butterflies and dragonflies!?

Small Elephant Hawkmoth - Landguard

Elephant Hawkmoth

Eyed Hawkmoth

Peppered Moth

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Strange nesting places

Being the "bird man" of the company I work for I am often being asked what different birds are, brought baby birds, or a left a cup with a moth in and asked to identify it. This week I have been shown a couple of strange nesting places. The first was a Robin which has nested in a roll of material and the second was a Great Tit which has nested in a cigarette bin on the wall of one of the buildings, this bird has already had to claim on its household insurance after a fire took hold in one part of the nest after a cigarette butt was inadvertently dropped on to the nest. Luckily it was soon put out with a cup of water and the chicks have now hatched.

Robin nest