Monday, 15 September 2014

1st winter Northern Wheatear at The Scrubs

Now, you might be saying, Wheatear at The Scrubs? What's so unusual about that?

Well, you would be right. As much as we enjoy having these migrants when they arrive, they are hardly unusual. I found this bird a couple days ago. I took a couple of record shots of this bird as it sallied from the tops of Blackthorns to catch and gobble up unseen and unfortunate insects.

When I saw it from behind I noticed how black its tail was. The average Northern Wheatear shows the classic inverted black 'T' with white tailsides and rump. This bird confused me but reading up on the literature it became apparent that 1st winter birds illustrated in my books seemed to have a similiar tail pattern. Perhaps the white tailsides of this particular bird have been unusually covered by the main black feathers. Perhaps I have always overlooked the tail patterns of young Northern Wheatears.

What do you think?

Saturday, 13 September 2014

The wonder of Falsterbo

I recently spent a very enjoyable long weekend at the Falsterbo Bird Festival, Sweden. I had originally tried to be incognito but I was spotted and asked to do a couple of last minute talks that were thankfully well recieved.

Falsterbo is of course very famous as a migration watchpoint. Indeed, although the SE winds were not deemed as productive by the resident birders, for me the migration that I saw was still pretty amazing. There were stacks of Tree Pipits, Yellow Wagtails of a couple races and plenty of White Wagtails. Hunting them were legions of migrant Sparrowhawks who swooped and speedily patrolled the stands of vegetation. Some 17,000 passed through and although I didn't see anything like that number I still managed to see at least a couple hundred whizzing through, sometimes at almost ground level.
 White Wagtails along the harbour
 White Wagtail
Dark phase Honey Buzzard escorted by a Sparrowhawk
 Milling Starlings
 Another of the many passing Honey Buzzards

A migrating Sparrowhawk

Friday, 12 September 2014

Images from Fasterbo, Sweden

 A couple of controlled juvenile Sedge Warblers
 Falsterbo Lighthouse and Bird Observatory
 Beach scene
 A coasting Honey Buzzard
 A controlled Yellow Wagtail
 A controlled Pied Flycatcher 
 White Wagtail
 Beach huts near the harbour
Hooded Crow

Monday, 8 September 2014

Wryneck and a Little Egret grace The Scrubs

A rubbish record shot of the overflying Little Egret
September 2nd will forever more be marked as the day our 2nd ever Wryneck was discovered. It was disturbed by Scrubs regular Roy Nuttall, as he walked the path intersecting what we term as the Magic Bush area at the eastern edge of the grassland. It flew up from the patch and perched conveniently on a bush allowing Roy the opportunity to revel in the glory of this lifer.

Of course, when I went looking for it just an hour later it was nowhere to be found.

Ah well, at least I saw an overflying Little Egret a couple days previously. A rare bird here.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Scrubs migrants

 Spotted Flycatcher today - our 1st of the autumn
 A male Common Redstart
A female Common Redstart

Friday, 29 August 2014

Late August at The Scrubs

10 Cormorants - our biggest flock this year
 Apologies for the long delay in writing a post on my blog. My main excuse is the all consuming work I've been involved with on the launch of the Vote National Bird Campaign. More about that another day.

The Scrubs is shaping up for a good autumn. Unfortunately, I haven't been visiting my beloved patch at all until very recently. Nor has there been that many other birders visiting during the summer, so as a consequence our year list isn't too hot.
 1st winter Starlings
 A family party of Magpies
Over the last few days we have recorded at least 6 Tree Pipits, up to 8 Whinchats and several Lesser Whitethroats. Last year in early September I found a juvenile Common Rosefinch. What's in store this September.

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Kestrels return to The Scrubs

After an absence of several months it was really good to see a Kestrel hovering above the grassland at The Scrubs the other day. Kestrels were once a daily occurance at my patch. I remember looking up into the sky one summer's day a few years ago to witness no less than nine birds in the skies hovering and generally horsing around.

That was then. Now, things are markedly different. In common with the rest of the UK my local population has crashed for no obvious reason. Perhaps their breeding site was destroyed or maybe the resident birds were killed. Who knows. But to see three in the air today that were not being mobbed by crows was a true godsend.
 Three Kestrels in The Scrubs skies
One of the birds
I hope that my sightings at my patch of this adorable falcon once again become a regular thing.