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.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Autumn has dawned at The Scrubs

I feel terrible having neglected The Scrubs for so long this summer. I guess aside from not being around a lot recently I've also been a little depressed of late what with the current threats represented by the Mayor's Office, Transport for London and HS2. 

There's a another new threat in the shape of a music festival that is planned for September - right in the middle of the migration season. Most of the  local people are against it but alarmingly, there are some that are for it. What they don't realise is that there could be potentially thousands of festival goers trampling the habitat. Furthermore, once you let one lot in The Scrubs will be opened up as a being on the circuit.
One of today's two Whinchats
 Tales of woah aside, this morning's visit to The Scrubs was highly fruitful. I saw a couple of male Whinchat in the grassland. These birds were the earliest returning autumn migrant Whinchats on record on my patch.
A female Reed Bunting
 Four Swallows were unusual for this time of year but the best bird was a brief flyover Common Tern - our first in perhaps three years.
Meadow Pipit
Life goes on at The Scrubs and the good birds just keep on coming. I always live in hope that the armageddon that lies ahead for the site is not as complete as it promises to be.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

MadBird Fair 12 - 15 June 2014

The MadBird Fair (Madrid Bird Fair) was the first of it's kind in Madrid and indeed, was a birdfair after my own heart as it was totally urban. It was free to enter for the general public and had the usual blend of optical, tourism and arts and crafts.

My role was to give a talk on urban birding. I felt embarrassed not being able to speak Spanish. In reality, I had a proper interpreter relaying my poor gags to the assembled Spanish crowd. Although feeling like I was speaking at a UN gathering the talk was very well received. I loved the talk and loved being at the Fair under the hot Madrid sun.

I can't wait to go to next year's MadBird - if I'm invited!
Madrid is a magnificent city

 The attentive Natalia, one of the organisers. She looked after me beautifully!
 My good friend, the delectable Vanesa Palacios from Extremadura Tourism
 Vanesa's last slide at her talk
 Some of my assembled crowd
 Around the fair
 Part of a marquee
 Not tons of people but it was still generally well attended

 A Spotless Starling in a nearby park
A immature Green Woodpecker of the soon to be split Iberian race

Monday, 7 July 2014

Meadow Pipits in June

Meadow Pipit with food
 I'm ashamed to report that I have hardly been to my beloved patch recently. In my own defence, I have been mega busy plus by the time morning comes I'm just too knackered to even consider opening my eyes, let alone get out of bed!

But on the few occasions that I managed to tip out of bed I was able to witness adult Meadow Pipits bringing food to their unseen young. I'm hoping that at least three pairs successfully bred. It was great to see them though. I always feel a sense of pride as well as contentment when I see evidence that breeding has occurred.

It's now early July and already I may be too late to see the fledglings being fed. By now, they are buzzing around looking indistinguishable from the adults. By the end of the month our population starts to thin out. By the end of August most of our birds have disappeared and some days we don't find any at all. By mid September the migrant Meadow Pipits begin to arrive with the odd Tree Pipit. On thee occasions in the past we were even lucky to find Richard's Pipits!

Anyway, I hope that I will be able to wake up early more often to enjoy my glorious patch.
A male Linnet 

Monday, 16 June 2014

TUB Tours: Speyside Tour Scotland 2014

Earlier in the month I led a tour for just one client around Speyside and Black Isle, fairly nearby north of Inverness. The idea was for him to clean up on the Scottish specialities. Seeing as it was early June we had missed our golden opportunities to see Capercaille and lekking Black Grouse. Added to that, the weather during our five day stay wasn't the best. But despite the disadvantages we still managed to bag over 100 species including beauties like Ring Ouzel, Ptarmigan and Dotterel.

We dipped on Crested Tit (although we may have heard them) and Scottish Crossbill. We based ourselves at the famous Grant Arms Hotel in Grantown-on-Spey near Aviemore and Loch Garten.

One of our favourite spots was Lochindorb, a large loch some 10 miles away from the hotel. We found some interesting birds there like a lone Pink-footed Goose amongst the hundreds of Greylags, Merlin, Redpolls and best of all a hunting Hobby one evening - a scarce bird this far north.

A great time was had on this trip. Come and join me next year!
 Lochindorb - our local patch
 Families of Greylags on Lochindorb
 The gorgeous Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms
 A male Ring Ouzel on the Cairngorms
 The house that has the best view in the world!
 Female Yellowhammer
 Male Yellowhammer
 Red Grouse
Slavonian Grebe

Species list

Black-throated Diver
Great Crested Grebe
Slavonian Grebe
Little Grebe
Grey Heron
Mute Swan
Pink-footed Goose
Canada Goose
Tufted Duck
Red-breasted Merganser
Red Grouse
Red-legged Partridge
Ringed Plover
Common Sandpiper
Black-tailed Godwit
Black-headed Gull
Common Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-back
Great Black-back
Common Tern
Sandwich Tern
Wood Pigeon
Collared Dove
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Sand Martin
House Martin
Meadow Pipit
Tree Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Ring Ouzel
Sedge Warbler
Willow Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher
Great Tit
Coal Tit
Blue Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Carrion Crow
Hooded Crow
House Sparrow
Reed Bunting

106 species