Friday, 31 August 2012

Hooded Birder: non stop tick machine

I was sorely tempted this morning by the news of a Honey Buzzard near to Eyebrook Reservoir but didn't rush off for it as I reasoned it would be long gone by the time I got there. An hour later however, when news broke of a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope at Rutland Water I wasn't going to be dissauded and quickly jumped into the motor and headed over!

An hour-and-a-bit later I was safely parked in Shoveler hide feasting my eyes on my third lifer in a week! This was an especially sought-after tick as I'd somehow missed the last one at Rutland (despite being on the reserve that day) and as I needed it to complete my trio of Phalaropes seen in this country, just need a Wilsons to turn up in Leicestershire now and then I'll have all three within the county too. Interestingly, the bird from Frampton Marsh (I very nearly twitched that yesterday) seems to have disappeared overnight, indicating to me that this is the same bird!

**Edit: Frampton Marsh's bird has been seen today (Saturday) as has the one at Rutland so it's definitely a different bird!

Unfortunately during the time I was observing the bird it was favouring an area of floating weed at a pretty extreme range for any of my photography equipment so we're firmly in "worlds worst rarity photograph" territory im afraid. That being said, scope views were excellent and I went away happy once the bird disappeared during a fag-break at about 2.30pm. Besides the Phalarope a few Dunlin and Ringed Plover were on Lagoon 4 and I saw a family party (5-6 individuals) of Stoats on the way back to the car. Very nice.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Glossy Ibis!

I don't really know what came over me this morning. Firstly, I awoke, of my own accord, at 4am. Secondly, I did not feel any inclination to roll over and go back to sleep. Thirdly, I thought, "it's only two hours until dawn, lets go twitch something!". So, after a quick look on the interweb to see what had been reported within driving distance I settled on the Ouse Washes RSPB reserve where a juvenile Glossy Ibis has been loitering for about a week now. I'd been too lazy (or otherwise-engaged, I can't remember) to go for the first ever Leicestershire record at Rutland last year so this was a potential lifer for me!

So off I went, arriving on site a few minutes after dawn with a brace of Barn Owl sightings under my belt from the drive there. Not wishing to mess about I headed straight to the area it was reported from yesterday (Grose Hide) and had a shufty. I actually made a rather large error at this point as instead of looking at the 50+ strong group of Little Egret close infront of the hide I began to scan the furthest away areas, somehow expecting the Ibis to be miles away! Ten minutes later I decided to have a better proper look at the masses of Egrets and quickly found the Ibis in-amongst them - the quarry had been nailed and it wasn't even 7am yet!

Edit: I've noticed that my report of the Ibis sent to birdguides yesterday was the first to be published for the UK that day, this has never happened before! Take that....everybody.

As the Ibis was staying loyal to its favoured area (quickly returning if put-up by a Marsh Harrier) I decided to just have a sit for a few hours in Grose Hide and see what else was about as there was certainly plenty going on and as I had the hide to myself it was all rather peaceful and relaxing!
Over the next few hours I tallied (all from Grose Hide);

1 x Glossy Ibis (boo-yaa)
3x Marsh Harrier
1x Hobby
1 x gorgeous Whinchat
18 x Yellow Wagtail (mainly juvs)
13 x Garganey (managed to pick out 13 eclipse drakes, suspect there were far more)
4 x Greenshank
22 x Snipe
6 x Ruff
2 x Common Sandpiper
4 x Blackwit (over)
1 x Kingfisher
2 x Green Woodpecker

Not a bad mornings work really, especially as I was back in Leicester for lunchtime! Here, have some dodgy photos, the light was truly aweful for photography today - bright, low and behind the target first thing which then slowly progressed to dull and overcast......

Flash-mob of egrets


Ibis sat on a post

Ooh look there's a Snipe in this one too

Ibis about to fly away

told you so...

only to reutrn back to the post moments later!

this was pleasing...

very pleasing....

so pleasing that three separate images are being posted....

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Odds n ends

Just a few bits to catch-up with today;

Yesterday when it was nice and sunny I managed to get a couple of images of the Smooth Newt tadpoles in the garden pond. It had been obvious for a number of years that we had a healthy breeding population of newts in the pond but this is the first year I've managed to see any of their offspring. Maybe I wasn't looking properly before but there are certainly plenty present at the minute!

Sticking with the garden theme the Bullfinch are still present in force, with at least 10 individuals being seen each week. The juveniles are starting to moult into their adult plumage which again, is something I've never noticed before. I need to start paying more attention I think!
Sorry about the shoddy image but it was dull and rainy at the time... I shall have to get the hide up soon and go for a better one.

Finally, this evening turned out to be really quite nice after the rainy, turd of a day we'd had here in Leicestershire so I headed out, first to Frolesworth on the hunt for any of the Pied-Fly/Whinchat/Redstart that had been seen in the area recently but it was very quiet in the end and almost nothing was seen, perhaps I'd left it too late in the day. The light was rapidly disappearing by the time I rolled up at the Little Owl site from the previous post but the two juveniles from last time were quickly located close to the nest tree and a few images were rattled off (the last two with the aid of a hearty flash and redeye reduction afterwards on the editing software!);

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Spotted Crake!

I'd been yearning to have a dig at the Spotted Crake at Birstall Meadows over the past few days as it would have been a full-fat life tick but things kept getting in the way until yesterday when I was put off going by a general lack of sightings, leading me to think perhaps it had buggered off...

Which leads me to this morning when I received a text from the lros news service indicating there were now two Crakes present...this pushed me over the edge and I soon got my arse into gear and headed over to Birstall!

I think one of the main reasons why I hadn't headed over sooner was that Crakes are notorious for disappearing for hours upon hours but today couldnt have been simpler really....short walk from the car to the crowd of observers, of whom included Dave Gray and John Hague, the latter staying to help put me onto a Crake when one showed which was very nice of him, although he did raise a false alarm that turned out to be a Water Rail, the nerve! It wasn't long however until a proper Spotted Crake appeared - it truly is satisfying on a biblical level when a life tick occurs in your home county!

Mission accomplished, John went on his way whilst I spent the next hour-or-so Crake watching, in which time I'd imagine that the Crake(s) showed for no more than 5 minutes in total but by my reckonings thats good going! Fairly confident I saw two birds aswell - never got both in the same field of view but one bird appeared paler than the other.

Didnt manage an image of one so you'll have to imagine a Crake roaming around at the back

Also today I finally got round to doing a bit of Owling, finding a couple of juveniles at one site that were a first sighting for me this year - I suspected breeding as there was a pair tightly holding the territory in question earlier in the year but this was the first sign of any juveniles, not a moment too soon either as they were almost fully grown! One posed nicely for me (albeit in poor light conditions) so a couple of images were obtained;


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

As promised...

The Hooded Birder went birding yesterday!

As previously indicated I went out with my mate Jack and after a casual mid-morning start we quickly feasted our eyes on some Ozzas from Manton Bridge at Rutland Water, skillfully saving ourselves a yomp down to the Lyndon Hides before we headed eastwards in search of some better weather. The better weather was thus found at Nene Washes Rspb reserve where an enjoyable walk along the bank was had in some nice sunshine.

Ended up getting some good views of Marsh Harriers and a Red Kite sat on a post, along with distant views of three Common Crane. All of the mentioned species were new for Jack so he went home happy and it was only the second time I'd seen Cranes myself so I went home happy too.

Pretty distant Red Kite

Even more distant Common Cranes

Monday, 20 August 2012

Hooded Birder returns

Hello again! Sorry about the extended blogging lethargy but in my defence many individual factors have added up over the past few weeks to result in a lack of blogging;

1. Olympics - I must admit that I found the Olympics jolly good fun and even found myself staying at home to watch rather than going out birding! Particular highlights for me included Mo Farah running like the Border Agency was after him and female boxer Nicola Adams who should have won gold for her personality alone. Hooded birder actually went to an Olympic event - one of the womens football quarter finals at the Ricoh Arena! We got lucky with the draw and got the Team GB vs Canada game which was good but unfortuantely the ladies went and got stuffed 2-0, which was bad.

2. Hooded Birder actually spends some time working (volunteering to be precise) now - Its everso easy to find some time to get out birding when you're a student who has 8 hours of lectures a week and an aversion to, well, further study so it has come as quite a shock to my birding system! I shall be starting at Rutland Water come September as a Trainee Reserves Officer and in preparation for that I've been volunteering with the team over there a couple of days a week to get my eye in so-to-speak.

3. Birdfair - For the past week alone somewhere between 9 and 11 hours of the Hooded Birders day has been spent on the Birdfair site, initially helping to prepare the site and then being part of the site team over the Birdfair weekend. Despite the early starts and late finishes it was an enjoyable experience (at this moment my aching feet would disagree), most exhibitors and punters were very friendly and grateful that the fair was on at all (there were fears of a cancelation due to waterlogged site) and the fair seemed to go well, with only a few minor hitches!

Now I'm bored of waffling so I'll post some photos from the last few weeks, all taken on the galaxy;


Site office gets delivered

Marquee 4 before there was anything in it

Swarovski tower and the worst nightmare of every volunteer - laying fake road

Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar taken on Saturday (it was still there along with two companions on Sunday) down the side of Art Marquee

Privet Hawk Moth

To final orders of business - I can exclusively reveal that the Hooded Birder will be going birding this very day! My good non-birding friend Jack has got the week off work and we'd long arranged to go out today so he doesn't "spend all week on his arse at home playing Call of Duty". Now calling him a "non birder" is actually doing him a bit of a disservice - he's got a burgeoning interest in natural history, has been out owling with me on several occasions, aided in the counting of Buzzards the other week on the way back from Yeovil and described, with undisguised glee, his first encounter with a Kingfisher at a local sand-quarry the other day!
So today, because I can't be bothered to drive to Norfolk, I'll probably take him to see something thats got a high chance of trying to murder something else whilst we watch it, the Ozzas at Rutland would be a good bet! Then perhaps Crane hunting on the washes, they're also suitably impressive!