Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Sardinian Warbler at Porto Cristo Novo

The ubiquitous bird of the area. These were seen and heard everywhere, including this one that again was seen every morning in a tree outside our apartment. The 'scratchy' song was very obvious, similar to that of its cousin, the Common Whitethroat and by the end of the week it was somewhat ingrained in our minds!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Crossbills in Mallorca

These two Crossbills, male and female visited the tree outside our apartment a few times during the week. On the majority of occasions they were seen feeding, but on one visit I noticed that they were collecting material in their cross beaks. Maybe birds nest at different times in Mallorca, but it did seem a bit early to be collecting nesting material at the beginning of October.

I was so focussed on watching and photographing the birds that I didn't notice until going through the photos at home that there is a green insect close to the male. I think that it is a Praying Mantis, the second one of our trip.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Booted Eagle at Porto Cristo Novo, Mallorca

Lisa and I have been away for the past week, a very welcome break to the sunny island of Mallorca. This was strictly a non birding holiday, it was time for us both to relax and unwind, but I still managed to take my bins and camera!

I was under strict instructions not to go running around the vicinity on the look out for all things feathered, but birds were encountered on our saunters around the area close to our apartment which was the small village of Porto Cristo Novo on the east coast of Mallorca. The 'best' bird encountered was this Booted Eagle, a new bird to us both and was seen riding high in the sky (approx 500ft) on some thermals looking for its next meal. The bird in question was the pale version, there are two morphs with the other being a darker version and although I wasn't certain on the I.D. at first, when I studied my Collins it was obvious that the bird in question was the pale morph Booted Eagle. Nice.

The photos are heavily cropped, but hopefully you can see the slightly lighter and barred flight feathers that is one of the identifying features. More photos of a few more of our feathered friends will follow, but as I have said, this was definitely not a birding holiday.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Masked Shrike at Kilnsea

This last week has been a bit twitchy for me. An extremely rare bird was reported last Saturday (20th), a third record for the U.K. in the shape of a Masked Shrike. This bird is normally found in North East Greece, West and South Turkey and Southern Israel, but had found itself in the small hamlet of Kilnsea in East Yorkshire, close to the Spurn peninsula. Everybody went as soon as they possibly could, Sunday the 21st seemed to be the most popular day and over the week the reports and the photos kept appearing and I was well and truly gripped with tales of the bird showing down to 30 ft, but I just didn't have any time to make the 3 hour one way trip. That was until Sunday just gone. I had some very rare free time and so managed to talk Lisa into accompanying me on this twitch.

The long journey was uneventful and we arrived at Kilnsea and managed to grab the last parking space, dodging past numerous birders on their way to the shrikes haunt. The bird had moved field during the morning and so we followed the hoards to this new site. The bird was seen straight away perched in a very distant hedgerow, at least 400 m away, but the white blob was very obvious against the dark of the hawthorn hedge. The scope views were excellent, the bird always on the move, hunting craneflies and grasshoppers. It was most certainly not being as accommodating as the previous week and never coming very close and also disappearing over the other side of the hedge frequently. The closest it ever came during our 6 hour vigil was about 200 m when I managed to get some truly awful record shots, which have been heavily cropped and are below.

The twitch was then shattered by the appearance of some locals who started to ride a miniature motorbike around the field, going right up to the hedge in question and unsurprisingly spooking the shrike which promptly disappeared. Grumblings were made, but we discovered that these locals had permission to be in the field, something that we had not (unbeknown to most of us there). Lisa and I left at this point and had a very pleasant meander around the vicinity until we thought that we had better start making a start at the 3 hour return trip.

As I have stated, this is only the third time that a Masked Shrike has been recorded in this country. They have all been juvenile/first-winter birds, with the first being at Kilrenny in Fife for 17 days in Oct 2004 and the second being a one day wonder on St.Mary's on Scilly in Nov 2006.

A great bird and a very welcome 'tick'.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The serenity of a Swan

Swans do make a good subject for a photographer numpty like me. They are big and tend not to swim or fly away at the first sight of you, enabling a close proximity between subject and photographer. This young Mute Swan was one of 4 at Baston Fen the other day, feeding on the river which lies alongside the nature reserve.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Lesser Grey Shrike at Shingle Street, Part 2

You're looking the wrong way!
As promised, the rest of the 'better' photographs from my recent 'twitch' to Suffolk. Digital photography is a wonderful thing, enabling me to take over 500 photos and delete the vast majority of 'dross' to be left with these few slightly better than 'dross' images.