Northumberland gallery

Brother Rob and his wife Gi are over from Australia, stopping with us for a few days prior to their trip to Iceland (the country not the frozen food store!) – we’re joining them for a few days at the end. We’ve come up to Northumberland to meet up with other brother Bryan and his wife Anne, from Scotland – we’re staying at the quirky but charming country house B&B at Budle Hall. On the way up we drove through Teesdale and yesterday we did the castles – Alnwick, Warkworth, the iconic Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh. Today, weather permitting, we’re going over to Lindesfarne. As the primary purpose of the trip is a family re-union, there’s only been limited scope for birding but we have managed to see a few bits and bobs:

Black Grouse, at the same spot in upper Teesdale as last year, but only two and distant

IMG_4275

Red Grouse, easier to see, but still nice

IMG_4289

On the cliffs at Dunstanburgh, Rock Dove

IMG_4327

Kittiwake, in the rain

IMG_4376

Razorbill

IMG_4324

and Fulmar

IMG_4374

Finally a rather chilly Barn Swallow, probably wishing it had waited a while longer before migrating

IMG_4389

We’re hoping for much better views and photos of sea birds and ducks when we get to Iceland in just over a weeks time

 

 

Advertisements

Temminck’s Times Two

DSC06947

Two Temminck’s Stint, Cley NWT, May 2014

Yesterday was my first ‘duty day’ at Cley NWT since returning from our GPOG holiday on Lesbos. I was relieved to discover that,  whilst we were away, the weather had been pretty foul and that I’d not missed any really good birds, except perhaps Temminck’s Stint. However I was delighted to find that the two birds were still present, on Pat’s Pool , when I started my morning rounds. Temminck’s Stint is a scarce passage migrant in England with occasional breeding, away from their regular summer haunts in the Scandinavian tundra, in Scotland. Longer and squatter than the more common Little Stint, summer birds show a distinct pectoral band, blotchy black scapulars and yellowish coloured legs – they have a preference for feeding on drier, grassy ground. It seemed slightly strange that only a couple of days before we’d been watching another pair of these birds on the beach pool at Faneromeni!

The bird in the centre, flanked by two Little Stint for useful comparison, was a very dark looking thing – possibly due to oiling

IMG_3215

The second bird was a much more typical example, showing the longer ‘rear end’, distinct pectoral band, black scapular feathers and ochre legs

IMG_3218

 

Late Spring in Lesbos

We’ve just got back from a weeks holiday in Petra, Lesbos, with GPOG (Greater Peterborough Ornithological Group – a rather grand title for a bunch of birding/drinking mates!). We stayed at the excellent Niki Michael Studios booked as a package with Thomas Cook, used vehicles from Costa rentals and based our itinerary on Steve Dudley’s excellent book and our accumulated knowledge from previous trips. We deliberately chose a May week to catch the later arriving migrants and resident breeding species. We managed to notch up nearly 150 species during the week and several members of the party got a ‘life tick’ or two!

Some of the birds we saw:

Subalpine Warbler, male

IMG_2486

Black Stork, this one in the centre of Kalloni!

IMG_2565

An obliging Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

IMG_2656

Cirl Bunting

IMG_2840

A female Blue Rock Thrush, feeding young at Ipsilou monastery

IMG_3005

Lesbos speciality, Cinereous Bunting

IMG_3092

Another Lesbos speciality – Isabelline Wheatear, one of a couple of pairs seen

IMG_3163

Roller, one of a small influx on our last day – we saw four birds, there were probably more

IMG_3909

Another special Lesbos bunting – this one is Cretzchmar’s

IMG_3889

Olive-tree Warbler, difficult to see and near impossible to photograph!

IMG_3817

Red-rumped Swallow collecting mud for nest-building

IMG_3850

Rufous Bush Robin, also nest building.

IMG_4063

Broad-billed Sandpiper, one of three seen. This cooperative individual was at Faneromeni Beach pool

IMG_3268

Great Spotted Cuckoo – a poor picture of a great bird, well actually one of a breeding pair

IMG_3878

One of this year’s target species, a superb male Black-headed Bunting

IMG_3369

Red-breasted Flycatcher, this one was in a roadside ravine on the old Sigri to Erossos road

IMG_3492

Another Lesbos speciality – Kruper’s Nuthatch

IMG_3618

Alpine Swift, odd birds seen on several days – this one was over West river

IMG_3828

Red-backed Shrike – there was a large influx towards the end of the week, mostly males

IMG_4073

Little Bittern at the lower ford, Faneromeni

IMG_4105

Rock Nuthatch – reasonably common and widespread in sparsely vegetated areas

IMG_4184

and lastly, Spanish Sparrow – near the old Sanatorium

IMG_4199

A great weeks birding with lots to find and some really superb ‘celebrity’ species.

We’ll be publishing a complete annotated & illustrated trip report shortly.. watch this blog for details.

The Early Bird gets the.. grainy photo!

IMG_2357

Nightingale, Salthouse Heath, 1st May 2014

Having woken early – at 4.50am to be precise, I thought I’d make the best of it by going to Salthouse to see if I could hear Nightingale – a difficult species to pin down in Norfolk. I arrived on the heath soon after it got light and as I pulled the car off the road I immediately heard a Nightingale blasting it out! Hampered by the early morning mist and the fact that these birds like to sing from deep cover, I set about trying to see it. Eventually it showed briefly in the more open canopy of a birch tree and I managed to get a couple of record shots – taken at 6400 iso and 30th sec!

Nearby another Norfolk ‘year tick’ – Lesser Whitethroat

IMG_2365

and down on the coast, a fine male Wheatear

IMG_2393