Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Ham Wall RSPB - 16th August 2017

To be honest, with school creeping up on me, I completely forgot about this. Two weeks ago, on our way back from Cornwall, we stopped off at this reserve.
On the way there, I spotted a few Buzzard, Hobby etc and another bird which I'm about 80% sure was a Honey-Buzzard, somewhere between Okehampton and Taunton. From a moving car I'm not saying anything confidently though. 
When we pulled into the car park at Ham Wall, I saw a new mammal for me. A Stoat darted across the car park, towards the longer grass. As we reached the first viewing platform, a single Reed Warbler darted around and a few twitchers said that a Great White Egret was skulking around, as was a Bittern. Though we saw neither at this point, a Kingfisher flew by and several Little Egret were fishing. As we walked on, I got an incredible 1 second view of the Glossy Ibis flying off into a channel about 200m away. There was also a pair of Marsh Harriers circling over that area, possibly the cause of the Ibis' departure. However, another Great White Egret flew in from the East. 

Great White Egret
Marsh Harriers

Great White Egret
Stonehenge with a Starling
The light was so poor I couldn't get any more decent pictures. We left soon after, after seeing a bittern fly into the reeds. On the way back to London, we drove past Stonehenge where a few common birds were seen. 

The day after, while filling a feeder up in the garden a few alarm calls alerted to me to a Sparrowhawk. The Sparrowhawk alerted me to another raptor much higher up, slowly drifting North East. With only a pair of binoculars, I could make out the orange cap and broad wings of a Marsh Harrier, a nice surprise. Since then, barely anything has been seen bar a few final Swifts and Swallows heading south. On the 27th, while playing a cricket match at Cheam cricket club, another first for me flew over calling - a single Yellow Wagtail. 

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Cornwall - Day 7, Rame Head Peninsula, 15th August 2017

The last day in Cornwall was spent in the village of Kingsand and the Rame peninsula. With a 5 hour journey back the day after, we settled for staying closer rather than going to St Ives. We reached Kingsand for about 11, where we hung around for a bit. I spotted a few Tern a fair distance off the coast, and also a small pack of Dolphins. 

juv House Martins
When we arrived at Rame, a Willow Warbler popped out and a few Linnets flew off. After talking to a few Coastguards, we walked on and saw 3 Raven, 9 Gannet, 2 Fulmar, 2 Shag, 3 Cormorant and 4 Swallow. A possible Dartford Warbler avoided being a first for me, and a pair of Goldfinches fed on thistle. A family fishing party of Gannet dived distantly. 

When we started to walk off, a Lesser Whitethroat flew along a hedge and obviously another Stonechat appeared. 

Meadow Brown

juv Stonechat
There were plenty of Linnet, and butterflies with 5 Wall Brown, common species and a single fritillary which flew by rapidly. As we reached a clearing, I heard a bird singing and spotted it from the top of a hedge. A nice surprise with a nice voice was a Cirl Bunting, also a life tick. I saw several in Spain last year (an incredible week in Aracena - north of Sevilla- was very rewarding with 99 species seen.) After a few seconds it flew over us, towards dense scrubland. 

Cirl Bunting
Fortunately, 3 Swift flew overhead - some of the last of the year. At one point this little beetle scampered across the path. 

Bloody nosed beetle?
As we crossed a field, another Whitethroat evaded the camera. On the church this caterpillar was climbing up the wall. 
White ermine moth caterpillar?

When we left, a Kestrel was hovering very nearby and dived and hate something - it was hardto tell what, but looks like a cricket?


Kestrel and ex-cricket?
A nice last day in Cornwall. With a 5 hour journey back, there was bound to still be something to see!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Cornwall - Day 6 +7, Padstowe and Looe

With it being a cold, damp day, we hung around for a bit then went to Padstowe for a little while. Nothing spectacular; a few Turnstone were knocking around and a whole pile of gulls were on the islands. I've always found gull ID tricky, and there was a gull which looked small in comparison to the rest of them, which I've left in. I'd appreciate any help with the ID.

friendly Robin



gulls etc.
The day after was pretty dull, and we only went back to Looe for a bit where the local birds were around. 
Little Egret

Little Egret
However, 2 surprises happened afterwards. Firstly, when we left the town about 3 km on I spotted 3 Egrets fly low over the road into the fields, then up and North. My initial thought were Cattle Egret,and 2 were seen near Bodmin the following day. Nonetheless, they could have been Little Egrets flying towards the river so I'll have to wait to add that record - the first for Beddington Farmlands only hung around while I was here! Secondly, in an evening journey a Tawny Owl flew very low across the road and a possible Nightjar also flew above the car in front of us. 
The last day, before our journey back was to Rame Head Peninsula, where I hoped to see some good birds. 

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Cornwall - Day 4, Marazion and Penzance Pelagic, 12th July 2017

Although we hadn't been able to book one of the Mermaid II boat trips along the coast, we managed to book their pelagic out to sea in the hunt for sealife and birds - this was a day I had been waiting for ever since the seabird arrival a month or two ago. We set off mid-morning, and took a diverted route towards Truro then along the coast to Marazion. After walking to St Michael's Mount, and seeing a Shelduck flying off, we were walking back when a large group of waders flying towards the beach caught my attention. I walked towards them and was still 50m away until some tourists (typically) spooked them, only allowing me a few decent pictures. 
Among the group of 60 strong were c.40 Ringed Plover, 8 Sanderling, 10-15 Dunlin and also a single Black-tailed Godwit. 
There is one bird slightly confusing me - it looked similar to a Curlew Sandpiper type bird, but also similar to Dunlin. I would appreciate any help with ID. (Picture 6+8)  

Black-tailed Godwit etc.


Sanderling, Dunlin and Ringed Plover

Ringed plover (ad + juv)


Dunlin (back) and Sanderling?

Dunlin and Sanderling

Dunlin (front) and Sanderling/Dunlin?
Later on, after a horrible Cornish pasty, I came back and a few of them were feeding not too far away. Then I spotted another new bird which was a Rock Pipit. Not one but around 10. The last picture was an incredible bird - it is an uncropped picture, as the bird came and sat within 3 metres off me, with an inquiring look!

Rock Pipit

Rock Pipit

Rock Pipit

Rock Pipit

Rock Pipit
We wandered into Marazion Marsh for about 20 minutes, where there seemed to be Stonechats everywhere, as well as Linnets, Sedge Warbler, Buzzard, Kingfisher, Kestrel, a few Beautiful Demoiselle and a caterpillar. 

Sedge Warbler

Cinnabar moth caterpillar?
At 4:30pm, we were ready at the quay to start the 3 hour voyage towards the ocean in the hunt for some good birds. We left at precisely 5pm. En route, I was easily able to add to my awful seabird list with Gannets flying past and diving in numbers, while Fulmars followed the boat. With the boat frantically bobbing out it was very difficult to get any good pictures throughout the trip unfortunately, so I mostly stuck to observing the birds. 
Eventually, I spotted the first Manx Shearwaters of the trip too; unfortunately there were only 2 Common Dolphins seen. 2 Sooty Shearwater flew past, along with a Cory's which I missed.

Manx Shearwaters (heavily edited!)

Manx Shearwater
When we were out and off to sea further, the first Storm Petrel made an appearance and a Great Skua began swooping in and out of the waves. 

Great Skua

Great Skua
As the journey progresses, 2 Great Shearwaters came through, and 40+ Storm petrel danced on the water as well. A surprise Black Tern came fishing as well. 

juv Black Tern
An hour went by, and more Storm petrels continually came in. The skua entertained us further, while eyes searched through the birds looking for the Wilson's Petrel. Eventually a 'bigger petrel' was sighted. We finally got our bird. 2 Wilson's Petrel flew around 20-30m from the boat for 5 minutes, while all the other seabirds continually dashed in and out. A great experience with 8 species I'd never seen before added. Sadly I barely got a picture worthy of being posted of a Petrel, let alone the Wilson's Petrel, so I can't really tell from my pictures which bird it is. 

Wilson's Petrel

Fulmar, Storm Petrel and Wilson's petrel (higher on the image, on the right)


Gannet (nearly got all of it!)

Sooty Shearwater (barely)
An excellent day birdwatching. On the way back 2 Whimbrel flew past, while the Fulmars and Gannets followed us back. 
On the journey back, I was shattered and fell asleep. A mistake - my dad spotted a Barn owl sitting on a '40mph' sign. That was the only Barn Owl seen on the trip.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Cornwall - Day 2, Lantic Bay & Day 3, Lansallos. 10/11th August 2017

With it being a nice, sunny day for a change, we walked around our local coastline - Lantic Bay. With it being such an incredible year for seabirds, I was hopeful to add something to my woeful seabird list - this doesn't even include Guillemot or Gannet! When we left, there were Swallows overhead everywhere and a Corn bunting sat on a hedgerow beside the fields. There were a few fields especially good for butterflies, with Meadow Browns, Heaths, Ringlets, Gatekeepers, Blues, whites and a possible fritillary as well. Two buzzards circled, one juvenile which persistently hovered over the cliffs, which made me stop for a second as I knew Rough-legged Buzzards hover more.

Meadow Brown


Meadow Brown with an odd right hindwing. 
We walked on, past a group of cows when I heard a cracking sound which I had never heard before, but a sound all-too-easy to know. Finally! For the next half an hour 2 male, 2 juvenile and 1 female Stonechat were seen along the walk.

m Stonechat

m Stonechat

m + juv Stonechat
A Yellowhammer, 2 Whitethroat and a Lesser Whitethroat were also seen. On the coast were a group of Shag and Cormorant, lots of gulls and a diver sp. which flew along the coast, but I couldn't identify it. Eventually 2 Common Seal swam towards the rocks too. A male Sparrowhawk spooked nearly everything at one point. 



Common Seal

m Sparrowhawk
After going further on, my sister spotted a small bird which appeared to be 'flycatching' at the top of a tree. However, it does just look like a Chiffchaff. 


My sister was on a role, and then spotted this warbler from about a mile away but it also looks like a Chiffchaff.
There was also a moth which I got a rubbish picture of. 

Later on in the afternoon, we went to a beach at Polkerris where a Kestrel attended to a nest on the cliff, a few Buzzards hung around as did a few Raven.

Small White


(hovering) Buzzard

With Friday being a crap, rainy day, there were barely any highlights bar a 5 second return of the hawkmoth and a few Yellowhammer.