Sunday, 31 January 2016

CYPRUS 2016 - Day 4

Gremlins last night, so here's the next instalment.

Better weather...and better Birding today. Don't get me wrong we've had no rain and mainly blue skies but the wind has been a bit fresh. Today 17c blue sky and light westerlies...lovely.

Early breakfast and off to the Akrotiri Peninsular. Plenty to look for. We found our way eventually to Zakaki Pool at 8.30. There's a large Mall just up the road, so that's were I dropped Louise off for a good 3 hours of retail therapy. There was even a Costa!

Back to the Marsh and adjacent canal. I use the word canal in the loosest possible terms as construction has decimated it. It now consists of a small series of short channels. However I still managed to find a Bittern, Penduline Tit, Green Sandpiper, Black Kite and a couple of Snipe. No luck with the PIED KINGFISHER though.

ext it was time for a trip down Ladies Mile.

The Avocet was still present.

I managed to decide on one Armenian Gull and 10 Little Stints...

Also 5 Kentish Plovers...

and 12 Dunlin.

Down the bottom end I had a token attempt to access Bishop's Pool but gave up due to the lack of time and target species. I did see 5 Robins and a couple of Chukars on the approach road.

On the way back to pick Louise up at 12.30 I stopped off again at Zakaki Pool for 30 minutes. Still no PK but I had great views of a Moustached Warbler. It was time to leave. As I walked back to my car I saw a small bird flit to the ditch by the side of the path. Another Stonechat. Nope...

Extremely pleased to find this elusive species albeit without a Bluethroat!

We moved onto to Episkopi, which is west of the Akrotiri peninsular. Curium to be precise. Nice spot and very birdy. Lots of Sylvia Warblers disappearing into bushes! I sneaked a Sardinian...

Plus a Zitting Cisticola or Fan-tailed Warbler to me...

No sign of the hoped for LL Buzzard though. An excellent bonus though came in the form of a group of Woodlarks (c10)...

We finished off at Kensington Cliffs. Another site for L.L.Buzzard... I keep trying! Again no luck but I had a very pleasant hour down by the cliff edge. Only one Griffon Vulture was noted but it was kept company by a Peregrine...

Can you see them?

A bit closer...

Then one of each...

Friday, 29 January 2016

CYPRUS 2016 - Day 3

An unusual day today. Started and finished locally with a ride out east in the middle of the day where virtually nothing of note was seen! Still I continued my quest to check out as many sites as a (hopefully) leisurely manner.

My first scan was at Menou pools for the reported Ruddy Shelducks but they weren't present. The first notable species of the day was a group of 7 White-fronted Geese at the Sewage's 5 of them...

they spent the day in the adjacent fields before returning at dusk. I also found 5 Ferruginous Ducks. Unfortunately they were way over the far side but I managed to grab a record shot of 4 with a Gadwall and a Shoveler...

Next some migrants. 3 Swallows! No big deal I'm sure but it was nice to see January! As I was leaving I noticed a Pipit fly up into a bush...Red-throated. It was time to head back for breakfast.

Today we were travelling east towards Cape Greco to try a few sites. As we reached Menou Pools I decided to have a quick scan to see if the Ruddy Shelducks had dropped in. No RS but as I parked some decent sized birds flushed from the marsh...

Fortunately they landed close by...

Stone Curlew
I reckon there were at least 10 birds present. Great birds and always a thrill.

I reckon we spent around 4 hours east of Larnaca before giving it up and returning to the local area. I stopped off briefly at Oroklini Marsh and I'm glad I did as there were 5 Med' Gulls in front of the hide. The hide unfortunately faces South so the birds are backlit. Still, here's a couple I like...

The Stone Curlews were still present on our return.

I scanned the individual pools for the special Shelducks but still no joy so I headed for the hide for the last hour to see what might come in to roost.

It was soon going up for 5 (sunset 5.10). A small roost of ever-changing Gulls was present but I couldn't see anything "unusual". A female R.C.Pochard was notable.


Another scan.

Out of nowhere...again, way over the far side...TEN RUDDY SHELDUCKS...

Another example of why I love my hobby. In a word...SURPRISE!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

CYPRUS 2016 - Day 2

Back down South of the Airport at dawn. Still a bit chilly but hey...I'm on holiday, so lets get on with it!

I spent the first half hour with the magnificent Flamingos...

I had a Sandwich Tern over the sea but no luck with the reported Ruddy Shelducks. I did manage to find 2 policeman who questioned me for 15 minutes. I guess things are hyper-sensitive around the Airport at the moment.

After breakfast we headed for Orokini Marsh as I was hoping to see the White-headed Ducks that had been present for a while. A Cyprus rarity. Using the trusty Gosney guide I found it no problem. an excellent reserve with 2 hides. The northern one was excellent with many species on show, unfortunately not the WHD! I did have a Black-tailed Godwit though, which is notable for January apparently. I only had flight views as it moved off North.

I the tried the southern hide. We missed the entrance and we turned around on a patch of grass. Glad we did...

Spur-winged Plover

There was nothing on view from this hide except the 2 SWP that flew back onto the marsh. Lucky!

We then spent a couple of hours up at Achna Dam but nothing of note was seen. At least we managed to find an access route...eventually.

As we had to pass back through Larnaca I had the last half-hour back in the hide at Orokini. Glad I did as I managed to connect with a pair of Red-crested Pochards and a White-headed Duck. The latter due to Colin Richardson. It was nice to meet him following on from his help by Facebook and e-mail.

Here's a couple of dusk record shots...the WHD photo is particularly bad...

It was after sunset (5.20)

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Cyprus 2016 - Day 1

Armed with my Gosney guide I was out early this morning at the Meneou Pools just NE of Perlovia...the location of our eHotel. Just co-incidence you understand. We had a few teething problems...e.g there was no heating in our room (a bit nippy in the evenings) so we got a free upgrade to a Garden Villa...nice!

This was my first view...

Thousands of Greater Flamingoes!

Including encouraging numbers of first year birds...

then gone...but not flushed...

Onto the Sewage Works hide. Thousands of Shoveler, Teal and Mallard with a few Wigeon. Also, plenty of Black-necked Grebes.

After breakfast we headed for Limassol. The targets were the 2 rare Kingfishers, namely PIED and WHITE-BREASTED. I gave both a respectable amount of time but didn't get lucky with either.

I did find an early migrant however on Lady's Mile...


Sunday, 24 January 2016

Last sesh

Tomorrow will be taken up with holiday organisation so I tried to target "most likely" species to add to my year list.

I finally added RTD (P.89, S.53) at Easington cliff. Driving through the Village I checked on the wintering appeared in the same spot after 10 minutes. It was far too dark (again) for a decent pic. The surprise of the day came in the form of 2 Brambling (P.90, S.54) while I was waiting for it to show.

Still no luck with R.L.Partridge but I did add Yellowhammer (S.55) to my Spurn list on Peter's lane...

I hope to post some highlights from my Cyprus trip, hopefully the Wi-Fi signal will come up to the mark?

There are 2 rare Kingfishers present at the moment. PIED is annual but there has been less than 20 records of WHITE-BREASTED. Hopefully at least one will be present on Wednesday! 3 White-headed Ducks at Oroklini Marsh are also notable.

Time will tell...


My Op is on the 7th April. I intend to make the most of my free time until then. After that...who

Saturday, 23 January 2016

A few more?

Snipe hunting this morning. Limited coverage due to present state but no luck with either.

I'd tried for the Turnstones at With' a couple of times with no luck. This morning my luck changed...

I also searched for local Med' Gulls without success. I did manage a couple of surprise immature Lesser Black-backed Gulls (P.88, H.51) however.

3 more sleeps to Cyprus!

Friday, 22 January 2016

2015 Stateside review

Bleak here today.

There was a report on the pager of a Hen Harrier down Snakey lane. I gave it an hour mid-afternoon but no luck.

As you know I'm quite keen on the odd twitch/chase. Click this link to find out the top ten MEGAS in the ABA area in 2015. Number 3 was our Robin!!!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Nice trio

I decided to try "the runnel" this morning to the north of the village. Hip was sore but it could be worse...much worse!

As I reached the sea I could see something VERY interesting on the beach...

Shag (P.85, H.46)

I've no idea if this is "normal behaviour" but it follows on from the tail end of last year when plenty were seen along this section of the coast, many landing.

It soon moved south...

Great bonus bird!

I made my way the short distance to the Llamas. Bud was doing what Dogs do and BINGO he disturbed some birds feeding in the tussocks. Meadow Pipit, Skylark...SNOW BUNTING!! (P.86, H.47)

The bird climbed high above the beach and headed South. It circled for a while and then started to descend. It was coming back my way! Closer, closer then down...right in front of me on the edge of the cliff...

Things were going well. I sent a text to Gavin and Phil to let them know and then started to head back to the car. Gavin had seen a Stonechat (H.48) a couple of times in the same area. So it was worth scanning the clifftop fields and runnel. Not usually a difficult species to find, with it's habit of perching high for periods on the vegetation. After around five minutes of looking south into the sun I found it.

More luck...

An excellent morning.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

BLACK BRANT - different location

A brighter day today. I tried for Rock Pipit (P.84) at Skeffling and finally found a couple. The BIG bonus though came shortly afterwards as I took Bud for a short stroll. I could see a group of around 50 Brent Geese in the first field east of the car park. I wonder if the rare cousin is amongst them?

It was...

Not far from Spurn granted...but still, it's a Skeffling tick!

After a quick trip to Tesco before dusk I nipped my lad down to the cliff for a last blast. Having a dog makes you go places you otherwise wouldn't AND gets you birds. As I approached the cliff I had a Grey Partridge (H.41) in the headlights!

I wonder if I can find a Glaucous Gull on the Patch tomorrow? There's one at Hornsea.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Back to Birds

Grim day today, weather wise . RAW!!!

Must have tweaked the hip in all the weekend excitement, so I decided to rest up and update my year lists. It also gave me the opportunity to review what I still might/will see during the Winter period.

Winter 16
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)
Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)
Goosander (Mergus merganser)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)
Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata)
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)
Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Sanderling (Calidris alba)
Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus)
Lesser Black-backed_ Gull (Larus fuscus)
Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus)
Common Guillemot (Uria aalge)
Razorbill (Alca torda)
Little Owl (Athene noctua)
Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus [spinoletta])
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
Coal Tit (Parus ater)
Common Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)
Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)
Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)
Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea cabaret)
Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
Lapland Bunting (Calcarius lapponicus)
Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis)

Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra)

Plenty to go at!

Monday, 18 January 2016


No apologies for a non-birding post.

We made it over to my Mother's in Bury around 7pm and took her out for a meal. I left the ladies in bed and was out of the house by 8am yesterday. It's OK looking at Google Earth but it still pays to get "on site" to suss out a decent vantage point to view/photograph the train.

I wanted to try and get some shots of the famous loco going over the River Roch on the Seven Arches. It took a while but I finally found a place to park and walked the short distance to the bridge...and waited. Many memories of my youth flooded through my mind as I waited in anticipation.

First came the Lancashire Fusilier...

The wait continued. Hope it's not broke down! I'd popped into the town centre just before 9 and it was bedlam I could see the train by looking over the wall by the station. There were at least a dozen coaches present. I reckoned there would almost certainly have been a delay with all the hullabaloo. Still Bud was getting plenty of exercise.

Then 2 familiar noises, first the eerie whistling noise of the train on the track. Then the puffing noise of the engine. Still no view because of the trees. Then, there it was...

A great personal moment to see the world's most famous locomotive going over a local landmark. Could have done without the diesel following but necessary as it heated the carriages apparently. A minor quibble.

Back home to meet the family for lunch. My eldest lad, his wife and mt grandson had made the trip from Leeds.

The next challenge was to try and find a suitable vantage point for all of us to see the train! Again, not easy in these "health and safety" conscious times. Many viewpoints that I remembered from my youth had either been fenced off or bricked up. The FS was doing 4 runs during the day from Rawtenstall through Bury to Heywood and return. Another issue was there was no turntable at either end so it was only facing forward from Rawtenstall to Heywood! It was scheduled to go through Bury at 12.50...facing forward. So off we set around 12.30. I'd tried the town centre bridges but the walls were too high. 

I then noticed a ramp to a car park.

It fortunately lad down to the track side. Perfect! Another enthusiast informed me that this spot was the site of the old Knowsley Street Station that I frequented as a young lad. Pass the tissues.

It wasn't the most salubrious spot for the family but they're good sports. My enthusiast friend also informed us that it was running late. No matter, we were wrapped up. It shouldn't be long. 

It wasn't...

Made up with this image. I couldn't have wished for more. In full steam coming out from under the bridge with the Whitehead Clock Tower in the background.

An unforgettable moment.

If you made it this far, thanks for listening...

Saturday, 16 January 2016 what it used to be?

Added Yellowhammer this morning on Snakey lane.

Over to Lancs this afternoon in preparation for a special day in my home town of Bury. Not birds this one (you may want to leave at this point).

No, it's something I used to do as a young boy. It was an era of transition from one form of power to another. Got it?

It has special significance, as I'll see it on the same routes that I used to watch over 40 years ago. Can't wait.

I give you the Flying Scotsman...

Friday, 15 January 2016


Another Thrush started the day today up at Out Newton...

I gave the sea 30 minutes but saw nothing of note. A passing Redshank was a nice Village year tick.

It was a glorious day. You've got to love a high pressure in Winter. Blue sky and no wind if a bit nippy!

I was hoping this would be the day when I finally caught up with a rare subspecies that was frequenting the area. As I pulled into Kilnsea Wetlands car park I could see a decent number of Brent Geese feeding on the island adjacent to the hide. I wonder?

I made it past the first opening without flushing them. As I approached the hide I could hear the birds. There were a few gaps in the screen but fortune was with me and I made it into the hide. The side window was iced up however! Nothing else for it. I slowly opened the flap and there they were...

I reckoned on around 100 birds in various plumage's. I began to scan through them. There it it's had it, now it's disappeared?

The group were feeding actively and constantly changing position. Good fun though.

Eventually, I had it...

Always special and very fortunate to catch it so close on a sunny, clear last!!

A couple more...


Thursday, 14 January 2016

Local stars

Great start today in more ways than one. Firstly, no rain as forecast. Secondly a great Village year tick. Bud seemed to be keener than normal to relieve himself so I pulled over just as I left the Village. Bingo...Mistle Thrush...

A decent Patch tick to be honest. A bird you sort of (hopefully) just come across.

Down to Kilnsea Wetlands then. Another bonus was a perched Barn Owl at Out Newton which unfortunately disappeared before I could get a shot. Once there I headed for the hide. The Slavonian Grebe was still present but distant. The male Goldeneye was far more accommodating...

I also had a distant Short-eared Owl hunting near Beacon Ponds...

I left around 11.

The weather was deteriorating. I had a drive down Snakey lane on my way home and I'm glad I did. I'd seen a group of Geese on Sunday morning but I didn't have time to stop as I had to pick Bud up from the kennels. This time I looked more carefully...

Excellent local records.