Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Acrocephalus arundinaceus and Phylloscopus ibericus

The question is - any idea what these 2 latin bird names are? Well.. they were once again 2 birds that turned up and both were birds that I hadn't seen in Britain before.. The first is a Great Reed Warbler that turned up at Straw Bridge Ponds in Ilkeston near Derbyshire and the second is an Iberian Chiffchaff that turned up at Potteric Carr YWT near Doncaster.

This year I am going all out and trying to see 300 different species of birds in Britain. This is going to be acheived by not being able to drive. Therefore, every rare bird that turns up I need to take advantage of and twitch in order to reach my target.

Still being based in Bangor, this was my starting point. I left Bangor at 6:02am and after changing at Crewe and Stockport, I finally arrived at Doncaster at 9:40am. A short taxi journey and I was at Potteric Carr reserve - 20 mintues later and after a long walk to 'St.Catherine's field' where the bird had been showing, there it was sat in the top of a tree singing it's little head off! Tick!
It was now getting on for 12:30 in the afternoon so another short taxi journey back to Doncaster station and a change at Sheffield and then onto Langley mill train station arriving at 2:40pm. The plan was to walk the 7 miles from the train station - which is exactly what I did. The weather was glorious sunshine and I was absolutely sweating in my jeans, but finally after an hour and a half of constant walking I reached the ponds, only to hear the Great Reed Warbler singing away on the furtheset pond from the car-park. A short walk round the first pond, under a dis-used railway bridge and there were 4 birders staring into the tiniest patch of reeds you have ever seen. Somewhere in there was the bird.. It soon showed and what an absolute stonker! Tick and job done!
I watched the bird for about an hour and then was kindly offered a lift back to the train station by a birding couple in which it was greatly appreciated! Arrived back in Bangor at 10:22pm and sat down in my room with a 12inch ham and pineapple pizza and collapsed into bed after a long and tiring days twitching!

Maltraeth CES site

It's that time in the day when the sun is at its strongest and so after having a sunbathe in the back garden for an hour or so, it was time to go indoors and do some much needed blogging..

During my first year at Bangor I have been involved in Steve and Rachel's CES Ringing site. CES stands for {Constant effort site} and this runs throughout the summer up until the end of August. There are several birds monitored during this ringing project and so far we have had a great start. Unfortunately I have only been able to make 1; maybe 2 of the 5 visits that have been done so far this year. From what I have seen from my 1st visit, it is a great site with lots of scrub, reedbed and alot of potential. I recently have had an email from Steve with the totals from the CES site and from what I can see we have had a wide variety of species with just under 300 birds being ringed..

Sparrowhawk, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song thrush, Grasshopper warbler, Sedge warbler, Reed warbler, Lesser whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow warbler, Long-tailed tit, Blue tit, Great tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Lesser redpoll, Bullfinch and Reed bunting have all be mist-netted and ringed at this site.

I had a nice surprise one morning when I had a text from Steve to say they had caught a Great Reed warbler at the site - unfortunately I didn't make this session so sadly I missed this great bird. I have attached a picture from the bird in Spain so to show you folks what it would have looked like. I have managed to see a Great reed warbler this year in Britain but more on that later..
I am hoping to make the next visit at the end of this week before I go away for the weekend..

Monday, 21 June 2010

Oriental Pratincole - what a twitch..

Every year in Britain, at least one species of pratincole turns up and in most cases, I am unable to twitch them. The only pratincole species I have seen in Britain was the Black-winged Pratincole at Martin mere.. This was to change when news reached me from Jason stannage that a newly found Collard pratincole was infact a 'mega', that of an Oriental Pratincole! This had only occured in Britain 5 times according to Rare Bird Alert. This bird was showing extremely well at Frampton Marsh RSPB on the North-east coast near Boston. Soon after the birds ID was confirmed, several of my mates twitched the bird and saw it and every opportunity that became available I was busy..

This bird was one that I was going to twitch and so - on Tuesday 11th May I set off at 5:14am from the station at Bangor - my only day off during the week. A change at Crewe, Derby, Nottingham and I soon arrived at Boston at 11:09am. On arrival, the bird came on the pager and it was all go.. A short 5 minute taxi journey and I was steaming down the path towards the East hide at Frampton Marsh RSPB. 15 mintues later and the bird was in view and on my yearlist - what a stonker!!

I watched the bird for a good hour or so and in that time managed to snap 300 pictures of the bird in which only 18 were decent. Other birds seen included 500+ Dark-Bellied Brent Geese, 4 Little-ringed plover and 4 summer-plumaged Curlew sandpipers. I was later informed that I had walked past another yeartick - a drake Garganey in which I need to get soon..
I left Boston at 3:44pm and arrived back in Bangor at 10:22pm. A grand total of 12 hours and 33 minutes on trains..


At the start of April I got off to a flying start.. Very little birding was done in April due to revision for my exams..

Although mentioned before; my trip to Catalunya in North-east Spain with Alex Jones and Stephen Menzie for 9 days - 31st March - 9th April is something I will remember forever. A total of 192 species were seen, with a grand total of 6 lifers for myself. Alex however gained over 50 new lifers..

I suppose seeing my first Sand martins, Swallows and House martins of the year at Conwy RSPB on the evening of 19th April, was something every birder looks forward to each year. The sky was full of them and always a welcome sight in the spring. Large numbers of White wagtails were also seen during the month.

A trip to the Great orme and Conwy RSPB on 23rd April proved productive with Tree pipit, Yellow wagtail, Swift, Reed warbler, Sedge warbler, Whitethroat and Lesser whitethroat all being first for the year! Grasshopper warbler too.

The final bit of birding that I managed to fit in during April, was our monthly sunday field trip with our Southport RSPB group in which myself and my dad lead.. This time it was upto Dunsop bridge and Abbeystead in the Trough of Bowland where delightful birds such as Pied flycatcher and Dotterel were seen.

That about sums it all up really.. As you can guess from this, on arrival back in england after coming back from Spain, I didn't go birding for at least a week or more as I was all birded out - literally..

It's about time

Good afternoon all blog followers..

The first thing I have to do is apologise for the continued lack of posts over the last few months. The reason for this is due to the fact that I have literally not stopped since the beginning of May. However at the end of May, I had my end of semester 1 exams which put the stress levels up to the max as you can imagine. It was a hell of a relief when they came to an end.. Other matters that have been keeping me busy include one hell of a lot of birding, a few twitches here and there with some being successfull and some a total disaster, yearlisting, a few fishing trips and weekend's birding away. Honestly, since I finished my first year at Bangor univeristy on May 25th, I have not had a day free..

Over the next few days, all that I have been doing over the last few months will be revealed so bear with me and you will see just what a busy time I have had...