Saturday, 22 April 2017

NDC - Re-visited

Never an ordeal to visit.

Haydn had informed me that he'd seen a flock of Corn Buntings on Good Friday as I was leaving on Thursday! I've been watching here for 30 years...with the odd break of course. I've never seen CB at NDC.

Despite a late finish I was up early (for me) and on site by 9.  I made my way down to Garganey hide. Plenty of expected summer visitor bird song. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat (I even managed to SEE one well).

Then  heard it...jangling keys!!! Only one bird...but that's enough.

NDC LIFE - 152

I texted Haydn with the news and thanked him. He was on his beloved Skipwith Common but he said he'd "tear himself away" for a chat. We swapped stories of recent holidays and dreams of future trips. Maybe the cold northerly wind and 8c had something to do with it!

I also added Long-tailed Tit (65), Great Spotted Woodpecker (66), Linnet (67) plus a hunting Barn Owl (68) that was on view for over 30 minutes in front of the Geoff Smith hide...


I saw it make at least 3 kills...down the hatch!


My final addition was a big surprise...Red-legged Partridge (69)!? Common on the adjacent arable land but a rarity on the Carrs. Only my third record. Dry conditions?

I was hoping to get another view of the "pale" Peregrine but it was a no show. I intend to visit at least once a week before May is out...

Thursday, 20 April 2017

NDC - a proper visit

I needed a decent session.

I arrived at 10am and stayed until 4pm. The weather was still cool (10c) but it was dry and visibility was good. A few warblers had arrived and were singing away heartily. I recorded Chiffchaff (5), Willow Warbler (3), Blackcap (3) and Lesser Whitethroat.

Onto the hides. I decided to have a stretch with the lad and we made our way down to Garganey Hide. I'd been keeping an eye on what was arriving nationally and I was hoping something "good" may have arrived here. I opened the flap and started to scan.  I love the view here. A natural flood meadow and there's always more to it than meets the eye.

Today however something met the eye immediately. The hoped for Black-tailed Godwits! 60 of them. Having to travel back these days my visits are obviously fewer, so I was chuffed to bits to connect with these lovely birds as they used NDC as a staging post. I've seen a few decent flocks over the years but you have to be lucky. This fact was emphasised as they departed high to the north within 5 minutes of finding them...




A great start.

Other highlights of the morning were a distant Buzzard, four Oystercatchers, 2 Lesser black-backed Gulls, 6 Yellowhammers and 2 Stock Doves. The most pleasing aspect of the morning though was the presence of at least 10 pairs of Lapwing on territory. I never tire of watching their amazing aerobatic, rolling and tumbling display flight and their amazing "pee-wit" call is just something else. Right up there on my list of favourite species.


I returned to the Geoff Smith hide for lunch.

Nothing else of note was seen so early afternoon we returned to Garganey hide. Alas, no Garganey today nor Black-necked Grebe but a Little Egret was a nice addition to the day list. The birds had seemed agitated a few times during the morning which can mean the presence of a raptor. On this occasion this theory proved to be correct...

Peregrine
I enjoyed another hour before departing to the sound of the Curlew.


Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Greylag Goose (Anser anser)
Greater Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
European Teal (Anas crecca)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Lesser Black-backed_ Gull (Larus fuscus)
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus argentatus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Stock Dove (Columba oenas)
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
House Martin (Delichon urbicum)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca)
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)
Great Tit (Parus major major)
Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)
Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

55 species seen. Year total 63

Phil had a nice encounter with a pair of displaying LRP the other day...



Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Back to basics...with a Village LIFER!

There's a lag-time with my postings at the moment but I'm doing my best to catch up!

For the record I HAD to post evidence regarding my RED KITE sighting. My word...was it really April 3rd!!!


Pleased I managed to "grab" something as I pulled the car over and scrambled for my gear. An important sighting...for me.

Yesterday I made my first visit to "old hive" which is situated towards the southern end of my Village patch. I was soon watching Sand Martins...lots of them...


I estimated around 100 birds were present. Uplifting.

Then a familiar shape in the hedge...


...then the plough...

Wheatear
My early morning walk had definitely kick-started things British again!


First Swallow this morning and 4 Song Thrushes singing in the Village.

Cyprus Summary - Photo summary

Contrary to my general beliefs I've decided to post a "photo log" of certain sites in an effort to complete my report...and enable me to start my British Spring!!!

Anarita Park - A well known Birding location to the NE of Paphos. Below is a brief summary and a few of remaining photos taken at this location...

Looking South towards the Med'
 
I visited this sprawling site on at least a dozen occasions. I like to think I'm now VERY familiar with it for future visits! I saw some great birds here. Below are a few of my remaining images.

Lesser Kestrel on the approach road...



Rock Thrush...


Blue Rock Thrush...


Isabelline Wheatear...


Cyprus Pied Wheatear...


Little Owl...


...and a few from Zakaki Pool, Limassol.

View from the hide...


Baillon's Crake...


Little Crake...


Penduline Tit...


Night Heron...

 

Black Francolin...
 
 
Ferruginous Duck...
 
 
Lesser Whitethroat...
 
 
Hope you enjoyed them. Can't go on forever! Last post tomorrow.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Cyprus Summary - Troodos

This was my first trip up into the mountains. At over 5,000ft it's an impressive height and contrast with my wanderings thus far.

We'd been waiting for a settled spell and it had arrived. It took us about 90 minutes to reach the village. We parked (all free) and had a coffee overlooking the conifers. I thought I might sneak a Crossbill. I didn't!

Again, I'd been fortunate with my timing as a PINE BUNTNG had been found by Matt Smith the previous day. He'd kindly given me directions so we found the spot and adopted our usual tactics. I searched while Louise read...


It was still a bit fresh in places...


My first sighting of note was...a Mistle Thrush...


A local resident but can be hard to catch up with. t flew over our spot and landed high in a conifer across the road. Three hours in the area failed to produce a sighting of the PB but I did add Pallid Swift, Jay, (Dorothy's) Short-toed Treecreeper and Coal Tit...


A distinctive bird I think you would agree. Another visit to the café produced a surprise sighting...Lance Degnan! A shout of "Alan" alerted me to his presence. He was enjoying a nice fish lunch with his wife. We had a brief chat and then left them in peace.

It was late afternoon now and the temperature was dropping...fast!  One last look around the square. Crossbill is a bogey bird for me. I still "need" it for my ABA list. I've looked for it all over the States, in suitable areas of course. I'd really enjoyed our day and was very impressed with the area. I scanned again...was it a mirage?

NO...


BIG moment for yours truly this. You can spend a LONG time looking at the tops of conifers in vain! I remember looking for Hawk Owl in Alaska. Found one on the last day!

Definitely a large-billed race...and as Bill Stacey informed me "I've yet to see a red one"!


I savoured the moment and hopefully FULLY appreciated it...


Friday, 14 April 2017

Cyprus Summary - Go East?

I must admit my technical problems on this trip are causing me some problems regarding my summary. I'm aware that time is marching on and it's in danger of becoming "less than topical". I will persevere. Good job there's no British migration yet!!

Tonight I want to concentrate on the Eastern sites...

Achna Dam - This reservoir is on the border between Turkish and Greek Cyprus. There is much evidence of manned defences. My target was White Pelican which would be an addition to my Cyprus list. Fairly common in the Autumn but unusual in Spring. I made two visits. The first a whistle stop effort for the WP while Louse was in the Mall! Our second was far more leisurely.

Our view on arrival...


You can just make out the raft. Guess what was sat on it this time...


Not everybody's cup of tea but an impressive beast nonetheless. The Cormorant thought so!


Plenty of preening...


Time to leave and try and find the shallow end access.  Not easy. Fortunately I'd eventually managed to find a way last winter and things thankfully hadn't changed. We negotiated our way down the
(fortunately) dry path and had lunch. Excellent habitat here. A decent selection of waders were present including Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Spur-winged Plover, Little Ringed Plover (c10)...


Black-winged Stilt and Little Stint.  then noticed a Pipit that looked interesting. It was very distant but eventually it came (slightly) closer...

Water Pipit
The weather was set fair, so we spent the afternoon here. Nothing else of note was seen...until we were packing up to leave. A wagtail appeared, common in Cyprus BUT special to me. I give you Black-headed Wagtail...



The bird was right by the car and totally unconcerned by our presence. Really chuffed to see this beauty so well...even Louise was impressed!


Our second eastern venue was Oroklini Lake. A superb wetland area just to the east of Larnaca. It has a tower hide giving panoramic views over the area. Last winter I was lucky enough to see White-headed Duck here. Red-crested Pochard and Spur-winged Plover were present and a nice group of Cattle Egrets lingered...


...and more Flamingos of course...


Time to head West...

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Cyprus Summary

I checked out another couple of sites locally on the morning of the 12th. Firstly Timi Beach near the airport. The habitat looked good for migrants and access was easy in the car. I managed a few Isabelline Wheatears (fairly common on passage in Cyprus)...


and excellent views of the elusive Chukar...


Next it was time for my first stroll around Paphos headland. I knew this area well from my trip last winter. I'd seen Greater Sand Plover then but I wanted another peep. I only found (eventually) a single bird. I wondered if there would be any sign of summer plumage, there wasn't...



After breakfast we were off to Limassol and "My Mall"!!! Well, to be more accurate Louise was! This shopping utopia is conveniently placed at the start of Lady's Mile on the Akrotiri Peninsular. Nice! Unfortunately, we had chosen today (Sunday) because the forecast was poor and boy did it live up to it's billing! While Louise was in retail heaven I was praying for a break n the torrential rain. Of course there wasn't one, in fact at one point I was seriously concerned I was going to get stranded as the pools overflowed.

I survived to bring you a few "atmospheric snaps". Bad weather can mean good birds...if you can see them. What might I see through the steamy windows? Not a lot to be honest! Then...there it was...


Then two more...


Amazed I recorded anything through a gap in the bushes in the darkness and pouring rain! I decided to head down to the southern end of the pool. I wasn't going to hang around as the water levels were rising ...FAST!  I scanned and scanned...then there were seven...


Quite a distinctive jizz!

A youngster
So there you go. A wonderful hour with an iconic species... I know...a Gull! It somehow gives off a tranquil vibe, even in foul weather! Needless to say this was the end of today's birding. I picked the boss up and we headed for Paphos.



N.B. I've posted smaller images to keep things tight but they can be enlarged by clicking on them.