Category Archives: British Birds

Demons Of The Swamp Vol.3

Fans of The Cramps will get the title and if you don’t like The Cramps a. What is wrong with you? b. Why are we friends? Maybe we’re not.

Anyway, a blog post. First in a year? Does anyone still read blogs? If so read on.

Yesterday I went on my first twitch in absolutely ages. What did I twitch? A Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio, some call it Western Swamphen, I still prefer Purple Gallinule. Will it ever be accepted onto the BOU British List? I doubt it but then Chinese Pond Heron made so maybe.

Anyway one arriving at RSPB Minsmere we were soon watching Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station. I mean the Swampmonster.

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Sizewell B

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Purple Swamphen

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Purple Swamphen

After a while of watching the Swampdonkey walk round a pool a sort of purple haze descends on a man and it was time to head off to the visitor centre to buy some china tea cloths or something and a coffee and bacon butty.

Around the centre, as well as the stench of composting toilets, are lots of Buddleia bushes. These attracted a steady stream of insects and a steady stream of photographers.

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Migrant Hawker

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Migrant Hawker

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Migrant Hawker

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Peacock & Red Admiral

By now we needed to see more birds and better insects so yomped a whole 300m to look at the Stone Curlew, two adults and a chick. Can’t be too many places you can see Purple Gallinule and Stone Curlew in the same reserve.

Back towards the centre we dipped Pantaloon Bee but scored with the Beewolves and a bonus if somewhat shy Purple Hairstreak.

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Beewolf

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Beewolf

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Purple Hairstreak

We finished our day watching a pair of Honey Buzzard put on a full flight display over Westwood Lodge at Walberswick. The three lifers in the day Brian Moore’s granddaughter Rosie certainly hit a purple patch!

All photos were either iPhonescoped (still or 4K video) or taken using the camera on the iPhone 6S. Stills from video were taken using the StillShot app.

 

 

 

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Birders Flock To Colne Valley Regional Park To See Coot

Twitchers were in a flap yesterday after new leaked out via twitter that up to 1244 Coot were wintering in the Colne Valley Regional Park near London. Despite the best efforts of local birders not to get excited by over a thousand, basically, black birds the UK400/500ths broke the news embargo on their twitter feed.

A Coot Yesterday

A Coot Yesterday

IQ40 Club spokesman Barry Gagwell said he was racing to the scene and he hoped the Coots would stay around until the weekend… “it could be a very black Friday” he said. Park Ranger, Tower Hamlets said he hoped the park could cope and urged visiting birders to observe the Birdwatcher’s Code Of Conduct and put the welfare of the Coots first. Some of these birds will have come “from as far away as Tring Reservoirs” he ccommented

No-one from the UK400/500ths Club was available to talk but in a written statement received by The Drunkbirder Offices they said the President very much regretted the leak and that he was rather tired after spending days trying to get people interested in a genuine escaped American White Ibis in Kent and writing out certificates of achievement for basically driving 1000s of miles.

Izzy Wizzy Let’s Get Busy

Before you think I’ve gone all Sooty and Sweep here’s actually another blog about birds… I know, amazing! This time a celebration of all things Isabelline Wheatear from Seaton Snook near Hartlepool. Isabelline Wheatear is one of my bogey birds, a few years back I even dipped two in six days so this time I wasn’t going without news. Andrew Kinghorn kindly messaged me early morning with Colin Green, Steve James and Dave Gray also texting and The Rare Bird Network getting twitter messages out.

Bundling Minnie into the car I headed North. I arrived about 11.00 to smiling faces heading off the beach… on the beach however the news wasn’t so good. The bird had been pushed a lot and had flown off and not seen for 30 minutes. 30 minutes turned into an hour with no sign. I walked to the Snook and almost to The North Gare. No joy.

Seaton Sands

Seaton Sands

It looked like atmospheric landscapes and industry would be the only photos I took.

I decided to head back to the car, give Minnie some food and water and have a quick drink myself. On the way I bumped into Rob Lambert, newly arrived and looking chirpy. Rob’s demeanor changed as I told him the sorry tale. Undaunted he strode off purposefully to the beach.

Back at the car another birder was heading down the road and as I updated him he casually said there’s a Wheatear on that telegraph post (next to the bloody car). There weren’t any other Wheatears around, surely. I got my bins on it and asked him, why he hadn’t considered Izzy… this was it! As I set my scope up it flew the 100 or so yards back to the beach! Isabelline Wheatear! I rang Rob and left and answerphone message to then receive calls from Andrew Kinghorn and Rob to tell me what I already knew. It was back on the beach.

Once again there was a danger of birders chasing and harrying the bird so after we’d all had a good look and it had moved, I suggested to the crowd we all back off and allow it to return to it’s favoured tree stump where we could all get great views and photos. Despite one woman having to be coaxed off the log after stopping for a sit down the bird soon flew in.

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

Even Minnie managed to get in on the act and made it to Twitter!

Minnie & Me

Minnie & Me

Brotton Borough

News came through on Thursday, as I was ill in bed with the Jimmy Smitts, that an Eastern Crowned Warbler had been seen at Brotton in Cleveland (North Riding of Yorkshire). Arses! Literally…

Still not being 100% right I thought I had to risk it and thankfully Greeny was driving the next day so here goes… bung myself up and hope I don’t give the others a dose of the Brads.

Arriving early it was like a scene from Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ but in reverse as numbers started to build up and unnerve the locals.

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The Birders

The Birders

The Birders

The Birders

Soon enough though the bird was found and led by El Presidente chaos soon reigned as anxious birders crashed around the woods.

The Birders

The Birders

Finally and by staying reasonably patient I managed my first views of Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus and eventually got a few photos and i bit of video on the iPhone by iPhonescoping.

Here is a still from the video grabbed using the StillShot app.

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Finally I managed a couple of record shots with the DSLR.

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Unmasked Shrike

After almost 10 years of hurt I finally nailed down Masked Shrike for my British List… and at Spurn! It almost didn’t happen. I hadn’t really noticed that since I upgraded to iOS8 I hadn’t been getting birdnews messages from Birdguides, so on Saturday mid morning I was shocked to log on to facebook to see messages about a Masked Shrike at Spurn… arses! I sent plenty of urgent texts, Greeny and Jamesy had both gone, Archie wasn’t around he was in Norfolk. Bollocks! Suddenly a text back from Dave Hutton… he was up for the trip on Sunday. Yes! With Masked Shrike veterans Dave Gray and Archie both on board we had a car full.

Sunday morning was clear with stars littering the dark skies above Quorn as I took Minnie  out. Don’t get me wrong the County Council turning off streetlights pleases me… clear skies overnight before a twitch make me anxious. My last attempt at a Masked Shrike ended in disaster at Uttoxeter when Keith Allsop’s oh so reliable Saab 93 blew a head-gasket on the A50 near midnight back in 2004.

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The Bridge of Sighs

By the time we crossed the Humber Bridge we knew the bird was there and we were soon watching a stunning juvenile Masked Shrike. I love Shrikes, they’re my favourite genus and a new one on my British List is something special. My long range iPhonescoped shot was poor, in fact it’s a video grab that a took as the bird flicked its tail around in true Masked style.

Masked Shrike

Masked Shrike

After a while we decided to try and see some of the other great birds around but on the road we stumbled into the Shrike again giving superb views.

Masked Shrike © Dave Huttom

Masked Shrike © Dave Hutton

Here’s another shot, this time a digiscoped shot by Justin Carr.

Masked Shrike © Justin Carr

Masked Shrike © Justin Carr

In the Churchyard we couldn’t connect with the Wood Warbler or the OBP on The Canal but we had great views of the Red-breasted Flycatcher and this dancing Whinchat.

Kilnsea Churchyard

Kilnsea Churchyard

Whinchat

Whinchat

Spurn Point

Spurn Point

After a Pasty and Coffee it was where to go next. Sammy’s Point was decided upon to get far from the maddening crowds.

Easington Bound

Easington Bound

At Sammy’s we couldn’t find the Yellow-browed but another less showy R-b Fly gave us all the runaround.

Archie Plays With His Squeaker

Archie Plays With His Squeaker

Celebrating In Style... Lager Shandy!

Celebrating In Style… Lager Shandy!

 

By now we were ready for home and Archie wanted to listen to Manure demolish Leicester City on the wireless… 2-1 at half-time meant United were back… at 3-1 he was ecstatic… oh how the mighty fall!

Archie! What's The Score

Archie! What’s The Score?

With his pride having taken a battering the only option left was to join Dave and find peace in sleep… wrong!

Sweat Dreams

Sweat Dreams

Sweaty Dreams

Sweaty Dreams

A great day out with some brilliant laughs – almost all at Archie’s expense. Still he has the power to financially cripple the lot of us… what a banker!

 

Rutland Day

A post… with birds in!

Yesterday Leigh and I decided to head off to Rutland Water to have a look at the Red-necked Grebe that has been hanging about off the dam for a week or so. We’d taken Minnie Mü and had hoped for a pleasant stroll and a bit of birding, something I haven’t really done for months, although I guess in a way I’m always birding. As we approached it became clear that there was something else going on… Rutland Day. It was taking place at Syke’s Lane too. Oh well, £5 later we were parked in a field a long way from where I wanted to be.

First off we decided to travel light, camera only with the 200mm zoom, and head for Normanton Church. I’m no great fan of Rutland Water at the best of times but the amount of ignorant cyclists charging about made me want to knock one of them off. Anglian Water… how about some extra cycle lanes? We passed the Grebe by the valve tower and carried on. I had a sneaky plan to park closer later and digiscope.

Conkers

Conkers

Gone Fishin'

Gone Fishin’

Minnie Mü

Minnie Mü

Normanton Church

Normanton Church

On the way back we were treated to a fly past by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Douglas Dakota (we had seen a Spitfire and Hurricane earlier heading for Duxford before I had a chance to get the camera out).

BBMF Douglas C-47 Dakota ZA947

BBMF Douglas C-47 Dakota ZA947

BBMF Douglas C-47 Dakota ZA947

BBMF Douglas C-47 Dakota ZA947

Back at the Red-necked Grebe, I cut my losses and took a few appaling record shots as the sneaky way in from the South side has been blocked off!

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

Back at Syke’s Lane we had a wander round the show and stopped by to watch the excellent Rock and Roll band The Houndogs on stage.

The Houndogs

The Houndogs

The Houndogs

The Houndogs

The Houndogs

The Houndogs

The Houndogs

The Houndogs

The Houndogs

The Houndogs

The Houndogs

The Houndogs

Harvest Festival

Harvest Festival

Harvest Festival

Harvest Festival

Not wanting to picnic in a field we headed back to Oakham where I saw this fantastic old Pre-Worboys road sign.

Pre-Worboys Sign

Pre-Worboys Sign

Forgive Me Father

It’s been over a month since my last blog post. In all honesty I’ve just not been bothered by birding of late and even only the second County Glossy Ibis couldn’t tempt me out.

Today however a Twitter message as I finished work alerted me to a County first… a Pied-billed Grebe at Rutland Water. Well, it’d be rude not to. A quick dash along the A47 and I was soon enjoying a summer-plumaged adult. Get in!

After a few minutes watching it was time to get out the excellent Phone Skope iPhone adaptor marketed by Newpro. Clipping my phone in was quick and easy and there’s no way the phone is coming out once it’s in. The eyepiece ring is interchangeable depending on your chosen spotting scope. The fit on my Kowa 883 is perfect straight from the packaging. So, set up in seconds, I was getting some excellent results even at distance.

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All the images and video were taken at 60x magnification.

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