My decent(ish) finds in Feb 2012: 1 Yellow-browed Warbler Carnon Downs 04/02, 1 Water Pipit Carnon Downs 04/02, 1 Smew Loe Pool 01/02

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Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The ups and downs of twitching

I have to admit, I’ve never quite understood the appeal of following directions on a bleepy grey box, just to stand amid a crowd of over-excited, bearded, middle aged men. Then again, getting up at six in the morning to stand amid a field of cows in the cold, wet rain or sea-spray is just as nonsensical: each to their own I suppose. In fact, one could even argue that the former at least offers a reasonable probability of encountering something unusual , even if the “unusual” is as likely to be some bizarre aspect of human behaviour  as anything else. However, it’s been quite a long time since I’ve done anything remotely resembling twitching, and as such, it’s been quite a long time since I witnessed such bizarre behaviour.

Nevertheless, today saw me “twitching” a Dusky Warbler on the local patch.  It was hardly a twitch as for the first 15 minutes or so, I was the only person there. Nevertheless, after about 10 minutes  I found it, and was watching it when along came three bearded, middle-edged men. I casually mentioned that I was watching it and they casually mentioned that their bleepy grey box told them it was by the entrance to the farm track and so they set off to look for it there rather than where I was watching it. Curiously, they didn’t see it and soon gave up and set off to search for some cranes and white-fronted geese instead. Although viewable for most of the morning from publically accessible areas, in their wisdom they thought it better to march straight across several privately owned fields in order to see them.  They didn’t as far as I know, but their departure coincided with the arrival of said geese, evidently flushed, and also a cracking 1st winter Pallid Harrier. Their departure also coincided with the arrival of two local birders in the shape of Andy and Dougie both of whom were afforded excellent views of said harrier.

I’m not quite sure what the moral of this story is. It’s not often three birders that rarely stray from their patch are treated to a combined total of nine patch ticks (if you count sub-species), two lifers (or UK ticks at least) and three self-found tick in the space of 20 minutes, so perhaps the moral is go twitching more often? Andy and Dougie graciously awarded me the kudos of finding the harrier, but methinks they are just avoiding the paperwork:-)

Edit: occasionally there are some additional perks to twitching (see here). 

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Black-headed Bunting

A few record shots of the Black-headed Bunting we found on Shetland.

Copyright Dan Chaney

Copyright Dan Chaney

Copyright Dan Chaney

Copyright Dan Chaney

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


I'm just back from a week on Shetland with Dan Chaney and Mike Duckham. We stayed at the north end of Yell and spent our time birding Yell  as well as Fetler and Unst. The team did fairly well finding Black-headed Bunting on Unst, a UK record 3 American Golden Plover together on Fetler, co-finding Fetler's first Pallid Harrier with Brydon from Shetland Nature and the usual supporting cast of scarcities including 3 Hawfinches, 2 Barred Warblers, a Pec Sand and umpteen Yellow-browed Warblers.  I'll add some photos of the Bunting in due course, when Dan gets round to sending them to me and also do a more detailed trip report. In the mean time, I'd love to hear from anyone else who has good photos of the bunting as it would help the submission process. Finally - big thanks to Dougie Preston and Brydon for the local gen.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

White-rumped Sandpiper

Found this about a mile from my house. A few record shots below.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Crap record shots of a decent bird

I stumbled across this on the way back from Windmill Farm today. I seem to have a habit of stumbling across birds when driving back from Windmill Farm. One of these days I'll actually find something when I'm not in the car. Another of these days I'll get a a decent photo.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Thailand, Australia and a Hoopoe on the patch

Welcome back readers. Sorry for not posting for long, but I've been away and very busy since returning. Below are a few snaps from my trip from Thailand. Not many bird photos I'm afraid, but I managed some better ones from Australia (scroll down). I also scored Gurney's Pitta and Spoon-billed Sandpiper. You can download a full trip report for Thailand here. I haven't done one for Australia, but I'll leave you with some video footage of Superb Lyrebird. How many species cab you hear it imitate? Can you spot the Eurasian Blackbird in there?

Since returning, I've felt a bit birded out, but I did as the Spring season approaches, I'm slowly gaining the enthusiasm again. I went out to the Lizard today for a stroll around Windmill Farm. Driving back I saw a Hoopoe, which was very nice. It flew across the road towards Predannack Airfield.

Thailand (from top to bottom): Pacific Reef Egret (Koh Phi Phi), Scaly Thrush (Doi Inthanon), Dragonfly and Spider (Doi Inthanon and Khao Pra Bang Kram) sunrise and sunset (Doi Inthanon), Hill tribe kids near Chiang Mai.

Australia (from top to bottom): Rainbow Bee-eater and Bush Bronzewing  (near Bendigo), Koala (French Island), Grey Butcherbird, Laughing Kookaburra and Rainbow Lorikeets (Mornington Peninsula) and Wallaby and Superb Lyrebirds (Sherbrooke Forest).

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