Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tern Fest!!!!

Sooty Tern, Cemlyn, Anglesey, 23.07.05 © Will Bowell

During the weekend in Wales, we enjoyed something of a Tern fest at Cemlyn. As well as the Sooty Tern there was also an adult Roseate, breeding Arctic, Common and Sandwich Terns. Today a few more Tern Galleries have been added to our Bird Gallery at www.wanderingbirders.com. Click on the photos of the birds for their galleries.
Roseate Tern, Cemlyn, Anglesey, 23.07.05 © Josh Jones
Arctic Tern, Cemlyn, Anglesey, 23.07.05 © Will Bowell

Keeping track

Regular visitors to our blog can now keep track on what's new on our main website by clicking on "latest website updates" in the right hand bar.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bee munchers and mucky Terns- all in a weekend's work for the wandering birders

Its only been a chuffin' week since it was commented on here about our lack of long haul twitches we have been on this year, but along comes the next weekend and to prove they are like buses, two come along at once! Mungus!

The first one was the inevitable, unmissable long drag to
Anglesey which not only scored us Sooty Tern but also bagged us Storm Petrel (a tart's tick we both needed!) and a bucket load of year ticks. You can read about our wild Welsh weekend (complete with pictures!) by clicking here.
Sooty Tern, Cemlyn, Anglesey, 23.07.05 © Josh Jones
Sooty Tern, Cemlyn, Anglesey, 23.07.05 © Will Bowell

Today, on the kind offer of a lift from Chris Orders we headed to the West Country near Hereford where we had learnt over the weekend that Bee-eaters were breeding. Over 3 hours after setting off from the Deepings we were enjoying our first scope fulls of Bee-eater as it sat on a hawthorn. Top notch! A long drive but well worth it for this British tick for us all!
European Bee-eater, Hampton Bishop, Herefordshire, 25.07.05 © Josh Jones

This rainbow coloured pair apparently have two chicks inside their burrow on the banks of the River Wye and since this watch point has only just started being advertised this weekend, there wasn’t much of a mid-week crowd today, but a constant flow enjoyed this extremely rare sight in Britain.

They were very active hunting near constantly, but occasionally resting on favoured perches allow for Josh to nail it even though the light was absolutely shocking. Sometimes its easy to forget how much magnification digiscoping gives you compared to DSLR but today was a classic example of when digiscoping is best and even Will resulted to it- but didn’t do nearly as half as well as Josh.

European Bee-eater, Hampton Bishop, Herefordshire, 25.07.05 © Will Bowell

Click here for our Bee-eater Gallery.

The drive home took a painful four hours but well worth it and thanks to Josh’s navigation it didn’t take any longer.

Our thanks goes to Chris Orders for the taking us- ta mate (as ever!)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Invasion of the larus sp: melanocephalus and flying Carrots!

Proper long haul twitches for the Wandering Birders seem to have been a rare event this year (some might say 'as rare as bird's teeth'), with most of our twitching taking place in our native East Anglia. Both of us are very much reliant on the ever generous lifts from our parents and local birding pals so getting to see some of the 'big ones' can be quite challenging.

The recent Sooty Tern was very tempting with the Wandering Birders planning a trip to Anglesey for some weeks already, but alas we didn't succumb for this mega rarity. As the old adage goes 'one good Tern deserves another' and a report of a presumed Lesser-crested Tern at Cromer on Saturday 16th morning seemed far more obtainable than the other ultra rare Tern that others had ticked off during last weekend.

However, the Tern had flown off in the early hours and couldn't be relocated, so Will headed off to work in the hope the bird would be relocated the following day, and Josh headed for a year tick in the form of a yank- Pectoral Sandpiper- a scarce and regular visitor to Norfolk and the UK in general.
Pectoral Sandpiper, Welney, Norfolk, 16.07.05 © Josh Jones

Few waders are as confiding as Yanks, but this one seemed to be the exception that proves the rule as it hung at the back of the scrape in front of the main hide. This was Josh's 6th Pec Sand in the UK (all in the last 3 years) and he did well to get these excellent shots of this ace adult.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Welney, Norfolk, 16.07.05 © Josh Jones

More photos of this bird by Josh can be found here.

After adding Pec Sand to his ever growing year list, Josh headed towards North Norfolk to try his luck at relocating the orange billed Tern. Arnold's Marsh at Cley NWT is a well known top spot for rare Terns and it seemed likely that the bird could turn up there; alas it didn't, although an hour after Josh left the site, the Tern did fly along the coast, towards Blakeney Point from the east! Josh found a single Little Stint in with the 200 odd Dunlin and Med G
ull at Salthouse- this species seems to be doing extremely well this year with birds at particularly every site along the East Anglican coast!

Saturday night saw Josh and Will make plans with Will's Dad, Ray, to head for Cromer and sit it out until the bird flies over the pier. An early start wouldn't be necessary as we needed to make sure the bird would still be present.

A lousy night's sleep was soon broken for Will with a phone call at 6.40am from Bedfordshire's bright young thing and ace bird finder, David Roche, who called to alert him that the Marsh Sandpiper briefly reported in the wee small hours the previous
morning at Minsmere RSPB in Surffolk was back! A quick text to Josh saw that he too was awake and plans were quickly made for the potential of a double twitch, depending on the Tern.

The flying Carrot was reported at Cley and Cromer at something past silly-a-clock and by 9.15am we were on our way to Cromer. The traffic was awful and very slow approaching Kings Lynn and Cromer we had to take several detours to avoid being sat in a hot car going no where fast. A call from John Furse told us the Tern's day hang out place had been located and the bird was at Waxham sitting pretty on sea defences!

Sunday drivers are surely one of the most annoying breeds
of driver to encounter on an urgent twitch where speed is of the essence?! Today was no different and the combination of slow drivers and long thin Norfolk roads meant that full pace could not get us the tick and we would have to hope it would wait for our slow arrival. We only just managed to park near the bird and late comers had to park on the main road (if you can call it that) making it a long walk for the prize on offer.

Our arrival coincided with John's and we ran to the beach, where we could see the gather twitchers and more importantly the rocks offshore that the Tern was on! Insurance ticked from some distance we headed to where the beach was closest to offshore rocks (still some 450 yards away!). The Lesser-crested Tern was sat among the Com
mon and Sandwich Terns and showed superbly for it's admirers, occasionally taking flight when disturbed by idiots on fast things on the sea.Lesser-crested Tern, Waxham, Norfolk, 17.07.05 © Josh Jones
Lesser-crested Tern, Waxham, Norfolk, 17.07.05 © Will Bowell

Too distant for DSLR, Josh kindly allowed Will to use hi
s digiscoping set up and they both got some pleasing result considering the heat haze and distance. Will also managed some poor records of it in flight to prove that it has a grey rump (as oppose to white i.e. Elegant Tern). Most if not all those present were now convinced the bird was indeed a Lesser-crested Tern and soon reports missing out the 'presumed' were coming from pagers and mobiles.

Lesser-crested Tern, Waxham, Norfolk, 17.07.05 © Will Bowell

More photos by the wandering birders of this bird can be found here.

This bird was extra special for the Wandering Birders, especially Josh as it meant he had reached the hallowed 300 mark on his UK list at the age of 15 years old! And what a special bird to reach it with- only the 9th Lesser crested Carrot ever to reach our shores and not only that, one that was proving tricky to catch up with! It is a very impressive achievement to reach 300 at 15 years old- here's to 400 by 18!

Also on the sea defences offshore were a Whimbrel and two juvenile Mediterranean Gulls. Yet more evidence of the strong increase of Med Gulls along this year came when (after some persuasion from John- thanks!), Ray drove the Wandering Birders towards Minsmere and going through Great Yarmouth we had a superb adult low over the A12!

Minsmere was packed out and apparently 15 minutes prior our arrival the flippin' Marsh Sand had flown off towards West Scrape. After walking all the way round the reserve to West Scrape we were about to call it a day when a Bittern flew up. During the chaos of everyone trying to get on the Bittern, David phoned Will with news that the Marsh Sand was back viewable from the public hide.

The West Hide emptied pretty quick and brief but excellent scope views of another lifer from the Public Hide were supplemented by brief views from East Hide. Another lifer for both the Wandering Birders and a cracking way to finish a fabulous day!

Thanks as ever to Ray for driving after a week that saw him cover South Africa and Spain! Also thanks to John and David for the constant flow of gen! Much appreciated as ever!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Gallery updates

Regular visitors to our wandering birders homepage will have noticed we have recently updated and revamped our Moth Gallery, this is in preperation for when our Moth Traps are in action later in the month. The Galleries have been split into Trapped Moths, Moths attracted to house lights and General Moth Gallery (i.e. Moths seen when out and about). We have also added new Moths to these galleries.

Grey Dagger, Langtoft © Josh Jones.

The Butterfly Gallery has also been updated with a Marbled White and Essex Skipper photo. Our Bird Gallery now features a whopping 113 British species and is growing all the time so well worth visiting regularly.

Please bookmark www.wanderingbirders.com

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Barnack Hills & Holes

Marbled White, Barnack Hills & Holes, 14.07.05 © Will Bowell

With Chalkhill Blues just out down south I decided to try my luck at Barnack Hills & Holes in a brief morning bike ride. Unfortunately there was non, but Marbled Whites were everywhere (see above pic) but as usual they were playing hard to get. Click here for more Butterfly pics.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Norfolk action 10/7

Last weekend saw Josh craftily bag the KP at Breydon Water (see below post), so with nothing to go for (other than a certain Tern on Anglesey which we had no chance of getting for!) there was nothing for it- the KP could no longer remain an embarrassing gap on Will's list, it had to be added today.

Like any bird, the longer you leave it the more likely you are to fail so there was an of anticipation as Will entered Chris Order's car. They eventually got to Great Yarmouth North Beach where the bird had been found to hang out during high tide at 11am. At first there didn't appear to be any birders about but a glance through the heat haze saw three pairs of binoculars trained towards the same area. They had to be on it!

Meanwhile Josh was well on his way to Cley with 15 Crossbills at Sandringham along the way. It was a pretty quiet day for JJ, but flyover Crossbills at Titch, Arctic Skuas and Yellow-legged Gulls kept him entertained. He was also extremely lucky to get this shot of a Bittern at Titchwell.

Bittern, Titchwell, Norfolk, 10.07.05 © Josh Jones

Back at Yarmouth, Chris and Will had reached the twitchers but soon learnt that the KP had just flown. Confusion reined as no one seemed to no which direction it had actually flown. After a brief search of North Beach Chris and Will happened across 4 Med Gulls. Armed with cameras at the ready they quickly approached these scarce Gulls but were quickly called back by a birder armed with a dog whistle, indicating the KP was back!

A quick run to the spot where more twitchers had arrived and they were on the bird and a lifer was bagged for both. Unfortunately, Little Terns and fellow beach users ensured that no one could approach the bird at close quarters, but everyone enjoyed good scope views as it sat on a shingle bang and hunkered down in the loafing Little Terns. Below is a shocking record shot taken in the heat haze at some distance!

Kentish Plover, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, 10.07.05 © Will Bowell

The Little Terns were loafing in large numbers on the beach.

Little Tern, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, 10.07.05 © Will Bowell

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Norfolk Wader Duo, 3/7

On Sunday, Josh and his Dad decided to have a day out together (something they haven't done for a while!) in Norfolk. First port of call for them was the Kentish Plover that had been present on Breydon Water. However, it hadn't been reported so far on the day, and it was a bit of gamble going. Luckily, the gamble paid off, and the Kentish was found feeding by the main channel from the south wall, by the rugby club.

Just before ticking off this bird, Josh had received a phone call from Will who had received a phone call from David Roche, who had just found an adult White-rumped Sandpiper on the freshmarsh at Titchwell (phew!), and so the plans for a relaxing day's birding were trashed by this find.
By mid-afternoon, Jones senior and Jones junior had ticked the bird off, and it was the younger Jones' second British tick of the day. The bird was enjoyed in the company of Titchwell volunteer warden Marc Read. Then it was on to the Lifeboat pub where a relaxing (and well-deserved) pint was to be had.

Meanwhile, the other half of the wandering birders, Will, was at home. He fortunately managed to get a lift off local birder Chris Orders to the White-rumped, which they enjoyed until it flew off at about half-seven that evening, never to be seen again.

Yet again, Norfolk comes up trumps!


Friday, July 01, 2005

It's a Moth Trap! Part 1.

.....or is that a Crazy Frog Trap?!

Over the past few days Will and his Grandad have been busy making two Moth Traps for the wandering birders. Both are at the above stage, so not quite complete.

Whilst taking the above photo Will disturbed this fella who is living under the boards outside his back door (there until our new path is built).

Common Frog, Deeping St James, Lincs, 29.06.05 | © Will Bowell

Hopefully the moth traps will be up and running in a few weeks.

Unfortunately the Frog is now in very much an ex-frog as it accidentally got squashed under the board.....R.I.P Crazy Frog.