Monday, 30 April 2018

Back in the game

Busy weekend over at my Mother's. She's developed a problem with her eyes. Hopefully it can be sorted out quickly.

Today I searched hard for a lingering Pied Flycatcher in the Village. No luck but I did add Blackcap (H.71) to the year list. Mid-afternoon found me down at Sammy's point in a near gale force northerly. I DID get a glimpse of a PF (P.106, S.75) but it was far from satisfying. On the return walk I heard the tell-tale call of a lone Whimbrel (S.76)...

A lone Avocet was a surprise...

A report of a Wryneck on the road near the car park was definitely worth checking out. My hopes weren't high and nothing was seen. I was going to head back but  remembered that a PF had been seen at Cliff Farm earlier in the day. I parked up and tried the sheltered Crown and Anchor bushes. No joy.

So, across the road to view the Cliff Farm garden. First scan...a black and white bird on a wall...

Great stuff!

To see one of these stunners on migration in Spring is ALWAYS special. To see one feeding at close quarters along the road by Kew was more than I could have hoped for.

A few more...

A poor day weather wise but if you look hard enough, there's always something to brighten your day...

The merry month of May is upon us tomorrow. Let's hope it's a good one. I'm starting mine at Duff...


Thursday, 26 April 2018

A two-pronged attack

I woke to a message informing me a Nuthatch had been seen by Mick Turton in his Easington garden. Another potential Spurn area tick! I arrived to find Richard Boon already in place with a cuppa. I joined him and Mick and waited...and waited. I gave it a good do but alas it wasn't to be. Maybe next time? However I did have some luck as this beauty sailed over Mick's garden...

Red Kite (P.101, S.69)
I spent the afternoon down in the Kilnsea Wetlands/Beacon Ponds area. A calling Cuckoo (P.102, S.70) was a good start as I stepped out of the car. I headed for the hide. Rick Swales was in position. He told me he'd had a good look around but hadn't seen it. We had a reminisce about how certain species occurrence patterns had changed over the years eg Buzzard, Little Egret and Avocet. Next a scan from the blind...

Greenshank (P.103, S71)
I then made my way up to Holderness field but still no sign of the "swallow". Onto Beacon Ponds...a wader hopped along the waters edge...

Common Sandpiper (P.104, S.72)
I gave it a good hour checking all the swallows but the star never appeared. On my return I checked the screen again. Glad I did...

Curlew Sandpiper (P.105, S.73) One of two present.
The whole area is now starting to look a picture as it greens up. Much promise of some great days to come.

A Red-legged Partridge (S.74) on the way home finished off a cracking day...    

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Holmpton Ring Ouzel!

After doing this and that, I decided to have a wander down to the cliff. Expectations weren't high...they never then, you won't be disappointed...right!?

It was a pleasant temperature with a light westerly wind. I scanned the horse paddocks. The high water table has left the ground soft which s great for feeding thrushes. Mistle Thrush is always a notable sighting in the Village and a fine underrated bird to boot...

Plenty of Blackbirds present (c10) and I counted 4 Song Thrushes. Maybe there would be a late Fieldfare or Redwing? I circled the area and found my first Whitethroat (P.100, H.69) of the year.
Another scan of the paddock. The local girls arrived to tend the horses which obviously flushed the birds. However within 5 minutes they had resumed feeding and there was an addition...

Ring Ouzel (H.70)
I texted Richard and Gavin. I then decided to move to the other side of the paddock to get the sun behind me. Fortunately the bird remained in view enabling me to get some better photos...

Really chuffed to "find my own" in the Village. A precious sighting. Low expectation but high satisfaction...

Richard arrived but the bird was flushed by the girls again. It flew high over the bushes calling and wasn't relocated.

Catch up

A few images for different reasons from recent times...

Firecrest at Kilnsea Wetlands(6/4)...

Buzzard on Snakey Lane...

Mute Swan (3) on Snakey Lane (Holmpton MEGA!!!)

Late Fieldfares (c100) at dusk just south of Village...

Garganey drake at Kilnsea Wetlands...

Six of the eighteen Avocets present at Skeffling recently...

Oystercatchers on the cliff top at Holmpton...

Sand Martins (c100) at Old Hive...


Monday's plan changed when we were up on Skeffling bank getting our exercise. News of a Red-rumped Swallow just down the road pricked my ears up. Not only a superb bird but a potential Spurn tick to boot!

Most records are "fly-bys" but this one appeared to be lingering? As I left Kilnsea Wetlands car park I could see a group of Birders scanning the area. News came over the radio (always handy) that the bird was over Westfield Farm, a quick scan and I had my tick, albeit distantly. The bird then disappeared from view. I decided to get a higher vantage point and headed towards the flood bank at Beacon Ponds. As I walked the path the bird flew over my head and onto the Wetlands!!

I then saw Steve Webb who was coming the other way. He'd also seen it shoot over in the strong wind. Another 15 minutes went by but we couldn't relocate it. More birders arrived and then moved on towards Holderness Field. Another message over the radio..."RRS over Holderness field". Five minutes later we were all enjoying superb views of this stunner as it hawked for insects at close quarters.

It even landed on the fence briefly at one stage...

Spurn 302

Tuesday we did make it along Skeffling floodbank as far as the Welwick Marsh Gate. I was rewarded for my modest effort with 6 Avocets and 8 Whimbrel.

The afternoon produced an unexpected Mistle Thrush in the cliff top paddock.

This morning found us at Out Newton early doors walking North towards the Village. As I pulled up a lovely Yellow Wagtail greeted us...

I also added Curlew and House Martin to the Holmpton year list (68)

I've updated my totals (Swift would bring up the Patch ton nicely!?) here's to a bird-filled Spring?

Sunday, 22 April 2018


Got my breath back now...just!

No regrets. It was well worth the trip to try for such an iconic bird. I scoured as many bays and pools as my pins would allow.

Arrived home around 1am Saturday after an eventful day regarding travel. I'd managed to get a flight at 2.55 (I gave the boat a miss) but I didn't hear any planes during my morning search? The weather was superb on St Mary's, so there was obviously fog at Lands End.

Chaos at the airport as ALL passengers had to wait in the departure lounge!!! Luckily...scheduled flights remain. Mine was 2.55pm and the fog had just cleared. I sneaked rather sheepishly onto my plane only 15 minutes late!

Maybe next time...

Thursday, 19 April 2018

BELTED KINGFISHER - Negative news!

Brief one tonight...a bit tired!

Gave it a good go this afternoon but no sightings. It was great to be able to try on the Fortunate Isles...even though they're not what they used to be... apparently 🤔

It was also good to see some familiar faces... namely Andrew Kinghorn, Chris Bromley and Sam Viles. I also bumped into Mark Halliday and his partner in Porth Hellick seaward hide. They're on for 2 weeks and saw it yesterday.

I'm staying overnight and having another go tomorrow. You never know in this game...

Porth Hellick Beach

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

What a BELTER!!!!!!

MEGA Scilly BELTED KINGFISHER St Mary's flew over Porth Hellick towards Carn Friars at 12.19pm

Memories of 2005 when I received a MEGA text while I was watching this species...IN TEXAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe, just maybe...I'll "get it back"?

Nice write up of yesterday's fun on Scilly Spider Blog (see right hand column).

...and so it begins...

No news yet (9.05)...

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Mystery visitor

Met Phil at 7 in Kilnsea Wetlands car park. We had a walk up to Beacon Ponds in search of Garganey, no luck but a male Blackcap was nice as was a couple of Swallows.

A quick look on KW on our return produced...a pair of Garganey!

Next was a walk west from Skeffling car park. The sight of 18 Avocets was wonderful.

After lunch with Louise I rejoined Phil at Easington gas terminal. Our search for Ring Ouzel proved fruitless but a couple of Wheatears were performing well on the rip-rap. My first of the year.

We decided to have a look along Snakey for Grey Partridge. Just as we got there...a message...

White Stork circling Skeffling

We arrived promptly. No sign. Another message informing us it was no over Easington! As we headed towards the village we spotted it drifting low back towards Skeffling. The next 15 minutes was like a sketch from Benny Hill as we tried to get decent views.

It finally drifted off towards Patrington.


First thought...escape. By far the most likely scenario..but you should never presume...I was once told!

There been birds in the past that have had a Spring wander from their "home". This could well/will be the outcome. I got a tweet off another Birder showing a bird with a red ring on its leg.

There was no sign of a ring on our flight pics but as pointed out in another tweet it could well have been hidden.

Either way, no big deal and still nice to see floating over the Patch.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Spring has sprung!?

Fantastic beach walk in glorious sunshine with Louise and Buddy this morning. Springtime at last.

Thick fog by 1pm lol!

Friday, 13 April 2018

Cyprus 18 - Summary

Well, that's the end of another birding adventure and it was a blinder!!! It turned out to be far better than I could've hoped and that's saying something! It ticks all the boxes for us...

  • Great weather - only had any significant rain on the last day. Temps in high teens to mid-twenties. Plenty of SUNSHINE!!!
  • Solid infrastructure - excellent road system including an almost empty Motorway!
  • No language problems - all signs in English
  • Insect issues low - only had one encounter with mosquitoes.
  • Paphos has many bars and restaurants and a beautiful harbour area.
  • Two excellent Malls (for the good lady) and decent supermarkets for self-catering. 
  • Oh and the birds were pretty good also!!!
March is the ideal time to go IMHO. It gets us away from the dreaded British winter...which is on-going as I write! The island is quiet, tourist wise, yet migration has started and as seen below you've a great chance of seeing some rarities. Sure I miss some "later" species but that doesn't bother me as I like to be back for our migration...if it ever starts!

I thought I'd do a summary of the highlights...with a few pics...

Firstly Ruppell's Warbler. I was keen to get decent views of this stunning Sylvia and I managed to connect at Timi beach...

I'd never seen a Red-throated Pipit in summer plumage...until this trip...

There were some stunning Yellow Wagtails. None better than the Black-headed...

Last year Bill Stacey pointed out a fly-over Bimaculated Lark. This year I got a much better view...

One of the absolute highlights was seeing a male CASPIAN PLOVER down to 10 yards at Mandria from my car...

The most exciting chase was definitely the Cream-coloured Courser. What an elegant bird this is...

The super-lemon Citrine Wagtail was a stunner...

Catching this chap on the last day was a real bonus...

Rock Thrush
Top billing has to go to the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater as it was a Lifer for me...

Not a bad haul!

Other memorable moments included...the spectacle of swarms of Yellow Wagtails of various races. Three male Pallid Harriers at close quarters was definitely memorable as well as quality views of various Wheatears.

Extremely pleased and fortunate to re-find Caspian Plover, Cream-coloured Courser, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Rock Thrush, Blythe's Pipit plus "ocularis" White Wagtail and probable Caspian Stonechat. The next step is to FIND something!!!

Full list - (Cyprus ticks in red)

Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas Penelope)
European Teal (Anas crecca)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Garganey (Anas querquedula)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
Chukar (Alectoris chukar)
Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan mauretanicus)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)
Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)
Bonelli's Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus)
Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Black Francolin (Francolinus francolinus)
Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii)
Caspian Plover (Charadrius asiaticus)
Spur-winged Plover (Vanellus spinosus)
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos)
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei)
Baltic Gull
Heuglin's Gull
Armenian Gull
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans [argentatus])
Caspian Gull (Larus argentatus cachannins)
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)
Rock Dove (Columba livia)
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius)
Little Owl (Athene noctua)
Common Swift (Apus apus)
Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)
Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba)
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus [superciliosus])
Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra)
Bimaculated Lark (Melanocorypha bimaculata)
Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla [cinerea])
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Wood Lark (Lullula arborea)
Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
House Martin (Delichon urbica)
Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)
Blyth's Pipit (Anthus godlewskii [campestris])
Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)
Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba)
"Ocularis" White Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail (Montacilla flava)
Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)
Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola torquata maura)
Caspian Stonechat
Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)
Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
Finsch's Wheatear (Oenanthe finschii)
Cyprus Wheatear (Oenanthe cypriaca)
Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica)
Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)
Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis)
Blue Rock-thrush (Monticola solitarius)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti)
Fan-tailed Warbler [Zitting Cisticola] (Cisticola juncidis)
Moustached Warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon)
Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca)
Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata)
Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
Rüppell's Warbler (Sylvia rueppelli)
Cyprus Warbler (Sylvia melanothorax [melanocephala])
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Great Tit (Parus major major)
Coal Tit (Parus ater)
Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus)
European Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)
Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
Hooded Crow (Corvus corone cornix)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis [domesticus])
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Eurasian Serin (Serinus serinus)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)
Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)
Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
Cretzschmar's Bunting (Emberiza caesia)
Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra)

Trip 139  Cyprus 205

Some obvious omissions here but it wasn't about "seeing them all". I was more than happy with how it panned out. In fact...I was ecstatic!!!

Cyprus 18 - Day 20

...and the final day!

Our flight was at we had ALL day.

A large pipit had been present at Mandria for over a week (I hadn't seen it)...and the general consensus was Richard's. I was there at dawn until 9. At 8.55 the bird flew in. It remained distant in the grasses and I didn't get anything conclusive photographically. However, I DID pick up certain features through my scope that put me in the Blythe's camp. Again...time will tell.

Time for our last Costa at Paphos Mall. I'd just found a seat while Louise ordered. Message from Ian...

Rock Thrush male seen this morning at Paphos Archaeological Site!!!

5 minutes away. This time I played it (relatively) cool. I didn't mention it to Louise and we enjoyed our coffee and apple pie (strongly recommended).

I then broke the news to her and she said she was fine strolling the Mall while I nipped down the road. It was the day before Good Friday and things had become far busier...all part of the master plan. It was also approaching noon and the temperature was 25C. I have to admit I didn't fancy my chances when I saw the queue of coaches parked by the site!

I paid my entrance fee and started the long walk to the Amphitheatre passing crowds of grockles including hordes of kids. The heat was radiating nicely of the ruins!? My heart sank when I saw the Amphitheatre awash with young lads playing soldiers! I sat on a nearby wall under a tree to cool down...and get my breath back.

After around 15 minutes the chaps moved on and the area went relatively quiet. I started to scan the area. Unsurprisingly not a bird in sight! Behind me was a large area including more ruins that was cordoned off. I remembered back to the start of the holiday when a Blue Rock Thrush had hung around in this area for a few days. I wonder?

I started to scan again.'s another one of those moments...

Rock Thrush male at 80yds
Another special bird in special circumstances.

I walked around the perimeter hoping the bird wouldn't be spooked by passing tourists. Although it obviously couldn't have been that never know. Fortunately, it remained in the same area, allowing me to get some more shots of this stunning species...

My first view on reaching the other side of the area...

It is there!
Over the next 30 minutes or so I enjoyed the company of an iconic bird...all to myself. This was another example of our secret world. I even mentioned it to a few passers by who showed limited interest. To each their own...this was bliss for yours truly. What's not to like?...
We all hope to have a great last day...I was certainly having one...

I returned to the Mall elated by my experience.

I decided to spend the last afternoon over on the Akrotiri Peninsular again. There had been a report yesterday of an unusual White Wagtail, possibly of the Siberian race "ocularis" at Akrotiri Marsh. It had been seen at the western end. Again, this is a large area...but it was worth a try. Victor Tjernberg and his group had looked for 3 hours in the morning with no luck. I gave it an hour but no joy. The weather wasn't great now with the wind picking up and the odd shower. We'd been VERY lucky throughout the holiday though. I decided to head for the hide. This was one area that was much improved from last year.

Another species that I missed last year was the Squacco Heron. Not this time. I struggled to get an image through the reeds but eventually managed a couple...

There were five birds present altogether.

A small flock of Garganey was also hiding in the reeds...

I counted 8 males and 3 females and this was my closest encounter with this smart duck on Cyprus. I then got a better view of the gorgeous Squacco Heron...

Still no sign of the "wagtail".

There were some manure heaps at the rear of the scrape. Wagtails like manure heaps! Without word of a lie I trained my scope on one of them and this was what I saw...

Not great but conclusive I feel. You can clearly see the stripe through the eye and the large pale patch on the flank. I'd re-found the "ocularis" White Wagtail!!! A first for Cyprus and possibly the WP. I let as many people know as possible then I had to leave to pick Louise up and head for the airport. I'd connected with 5 minutes of my holiday remaining. What a last day!!! Victor and Jane managed to make it before dusk.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Cyprus 18 - Day 19

The best sighting of the day was the first. It was Mandria again. I wanted to see if the Turtle Dove had a had...but again it didn't linger. However, another bird was present in the half-light...

Always a good find.

I checked the coastal fringe but nothing unusual. Worth balancing the Wheatear books with a smart male Northern...

We spent the day checking areas east of Paphos but nothing else of note was seen. That's OK. We ended up at the beach bar...again!