29/06/2022 RSPB Bempton Cliffs, Bridlington

Turkistan Shrike (Red-tailed Shrike): This Turkish delight otherwise known as a red-tailed shrike was relocated just down the main track to the reserve and was reported late into the evening, so thinking there was a good chance it had roosted in the same area I started to hatch a plan. 


Leaving at 2.30am arriving at around 5am, and picking Gary up on the way up we made good time and arrived just intimate for the rain! 


Only light showers that soon cleared up, but it seemed to have kept the bird out of sight and perhaps under cover. As the clouds thinned out, the rain stopped and it warmed up a bit the bird came out and started to hunt, for bees. 


Split from Isabelline shrike to a full species in its own right its a pretty rare bird and there were plenty of top twitchers who had made the same early Strat with the hope of connecting with it.
 

21/06/2022 Smithy Fen, Tottenham, Cambs

White Stork: These iconic birds have been extinct in Britain as breeding birds since 1416. But very recently they have  finally been reintroduced as breeding in the in Knepp Estate in Sussex. 

These successful breeding birds are now spread further a field and are often found away from Knepp across the country. So when an unsigned bird turns up folk tend to get twitchy. 




The origins of this bird may be unknown but one can assume or at least hope it's a wild bird. There has been one which was accepted last year in the same area of Cambridge so this bird has  every chance. 



Also not too far from the Cambridge border was this very smart hoopoe at Hixworth, foraging in the horse paddocks south of the impressive Church of St Nicholas.


10/07/2022 Pennington Flash

Egyptian Goose: Egyptian goose were introduced to England nearly 3 hundred years ago and became a favourite waterfowl during the Victorian times when full-winged freely breeding colonies were established on the lakes of such estates as Blickling, Gunton, Holkham and Kimberley. 
They have over many years dispersed over comparatively large areas it is not only confined to Norfolk feral populations and can now be found across the south of England. So when a pair turn up on a local waterbody it's always a highlight to see.
Two birds have made Pennington Flash their temporary home, enjoying the spoils that the car park area has to offer, with dozens of families coming down to feed the ducks and geese.
Both were very tame to a point where you could almost pick them up and both looked at home next to the local Canada geese and mallards. 
Egyptian geese are doing really well across England, in fact the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust reports that the county holds over 90 per cent of the national population of some 900 birds. 
Attractively marked, particularly in flight when distinctive white wing-coverts are revealed, Egyptian geese draw attention to themselves in the coming months with noisy displays and fierce territorial fighting both afloat and ashore.

 

02/06/2022 Loch Grudie, Strath Brora, Highlands

Short-toed Snake Eagle: Wow, just wow! 

OK the picture is rubbish, a burry mess of pixels and heat haze, but this represents another of my UK firsts for me, and one hell of a brilliant bird. 



Osprey: With news being slow to come out due to the bird being first sighted during a vantage point bird survey, presumably due to the sensitivity to the project and clients involved I was just happy that news was put out in full with location details. 




We moved pretty quickly once the bird was pinned down and began to be regularly seen coming out of a roost in a plantation woodland on the far side of Loch Grudie. 




Black-throated Diver: Leaving at 1am and arriving at 9.30 Steve T and I bumped in to yong Oscar Puls and then traversed the steep hill toward the watch point together. Out of breath and sweating we arrived with seconds to go before the bird lifted off out of the tree line and took to the sky, before flying around and out of site. 
We waited for it to return before time got the best of us and were forced to leave, but despite the short views of the bird and the long journey home I had a smashing day. 

A good laugh in car with a top bloke and a day spent with several fishing osprey and a black-throated diver. Very nice indeed. 

29/05/2022 Bickershaw Country Park, Leigh

White-tailed Plover: WOW....I never thought I'd see a white-tailed plover in Greater Manchester, or in Wigan no less, and definitely not 4 miles away from my front door!
Gordon Newman, local birder who regularly patches Bickershaw expertly found the bird  on the eastern side of the site on New Water Flash. By the time I arrived there were already a gaggle of local birders enjoying the local mega. 
There has been some records in the north west including Seaforth in 2010 and Leighton Moss in 2007, a very rare bird indeed. 


28/05/2022 Worth Marsh, Kent

Eleonora's Falcon: It seems like every year when the hoby returns there are unconfirmed sightings of Eleonora's, almost to a point where I've just stopped taking notice.   
Missed identified and over enthusiastically called out only for it to be confirmed as an Eurasian hobby or just reported as a fly over. We've all be waiting, hoping and in some cases praying that a bonyfied, nailed on Eleonora's gets pinned down and crucially photographed!

Reports came out on Thursday while I was surveying in Shrewsbury and reluctant to take the trip post survey on Friday morning on my own, without other folk in the car to share the fuel, I had to wait until Saturday. 
The decision was made to leave at 5.30am and to arrive between 10 and 11am, although I was skeptical and keen to get here for fisrt light our plan worked well as the bird remained stationary all morning at a distance until it was warm enough to hunt for flying insects.    
As soon as we arrived the bird was hawking over our heads coming within 20 meters or so, we were blown away! 
This nature reserve is outstanding, firstly let me give a big thank you to the RSPB staff and volunteers who organised the traffic, opened up new car parking areas and were calm and friendly even when booking two selfish toggers who took it upon themselves to jump over a fence into a restricted area.
Red-footed Falcon: Worth Marshes is a huge area of reclaimed farmland dominated by open landscapes and wetland habitats, containing small wooded pockets and wet marshy areas, ideal for dragonflies the main food source of these small falcons. 
A female red-footed falcon was also here feeding on the dragonflies, this was a spectacular individual, with a pale head.  The RFF was perched on nearby telegraph wires flying off and catching its prey before coming back to feed. 

Really nice to see. 





Hobby: Several hobby were about too, and it was great to see some side by side  views of the Eleonora's and the hobby. The Eleonora's being a larger bird with longer wing compared to its small cousins.  Thanks to Malc Curtin for the driving and the other lads for the company. this day will love long in the memory.  

15/05/2022 Elton Reservoir, Bury

Spotted Sandpiper: I couldn't resist another visit to Elton res and with another sunny day in the forecast and the baby out with Dawn for the day I thought I would have another go at the spot sand. 
With a full car park and dozens of dog walkers  and day trippers out in force I wasn't holding out much hope, especially when many of the dog walkers were allowing the dogs to run across the shore and into the water.  






Eventually I tracked down the group of birders who were watching the bird foraging on the western shoreline.  The bird would get regularly flushed, disappears and then return. 
I managed to crouch down hidden behind the trees and waited while the bird walked right past me within a few feet. 


Definitely worth a second visit.