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Garden lifer and further winter arrivals

Back in Whitminster I had the rest of the week off to catch up with multiple jobs at home, the weather was still great. Local walks with bouts of work in the garden being the daily routine. A Coal Tit signalled the winter as it called at dusk.

On the 25th October I was clearing out the shed when I heard a Crossbill calling, stepping out I saw three large finches flying off SSW over the house with another settled in the tall Christmas tree in the garden, it also flew off over the gardens calling. Fabulous to record this species at home.

Red Admiral in the garden

Red Admiral on the pegs, Whitminster, MJMcGill

 

On 26th  October a Jay was on the feeders when it, 5 Magpies, c30 Jackdaw and a Raven began mobbing something in the trees, a Cat was high up in the branches.

My last day off saw the weather turn for the worst but I was out and about before the rain arrived, c30 Fieldfare passed through Whitminster. Down on the Severn shore I spent itme with some other wintering arrivals…

Stonechat

Stonechat, Hock Ditch, MJMcGill 3

Water Pipit

 

Water Pipit, Severn Estuary, MJMcGill

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Cornwall visit 22-23 October 2018

I had taken annual leave to look after my daughter during half term whilst my wife was away. A month or so before I was asked if we could go on a road trip somewhere so I suggested a few coastal localities. Cornwall was picked as the favoured destination so off we went.

The forecast was good and the weather glorious as we made our way to the SW peninsula, first bird of note was a sleeping Spoonbill on Ryan’s Field, Hayle Estuary, we never stopped, it was seen from the A30 as we passed!

Seeing as we were in the area I stopped at Treeve Common, Trevescan for a quick search for the Grey Catbird that had been about, it hadn’t been showing so we headed off to the picturesque valley of Porthgwarra for a walk with the dogs. This sheltered spot was ideal as it was warm and sunny so we pottered about stopping to look at birds and insects. After a stop for food supplies we popped back to see if the Catbird was showing and it was, the bird was very obliging giving prolonged scope views atop the brambles before flying towards us and diving back into cover, having seen this skulking species in the USA, I thought it best to accept the great views we just had. It looked very healthy and bright eyed and is still present at the time of writing on 27 October.

Grey Catbird, Land's End, MJM Grey Catbird, Land's End, MJMcGill

We had a nose from Land’s End before visiting Cape Cornwall where Chough’s and Gannet were the highlights and then on to another of my favourite valleys at Nanjizal to watch the sunset. We decided to head for Lanyon Quoit (remnants of a burial chamber, the remaining stone skeleton) to see the moonrise but not before spotting a roadside Barn Owl flying ‘through the moon’ along the way, this bird was near Pendeen. A good end to the day, we had run out of time so we left for our main destination on the Lizard, we were staying in Mullion. A top notch dinner and comfy room rounded off a delightful autumn day.

Next day was again sunny so we explored the nearby Poldhu Cove (Cetti’s Warbler and Chiffchaff ), Lizard Point (six White Wagtails among the Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits and we saw Rock Pipits galore). We had a great walk looking through common birds for migrants and checking the pond at Housel Bay and then headed for the Croft Pascoe Pool near Goonhilly. Sadly the wind was blowing and very strong so our intended target- the rare Vagrant Emperor dragonfly never showed, plenty of Common Darters but not quite warm enough for the larger species. We had been checking the sheltered spots wherever we went for this species hoping to find our own as a mini invasion was on.

An afternoon at Gweek Seal Sanctuary was interesting as well as the seals we saw Little Egrets, Kingfisher, 4 Greenshank and 12 Redshank on the adjacent estuary creek. Another quick stop at Stithian’s Reservoir offered a number of wetlands species, I’d never seen the water levels so low here. This was our last stop of the day before heading home.

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Late Whinchat

I was surprised to see a late Whinchat at WWT Slimbridge on 21 October, the warm sunny weather certainly helped this and any other outbound migrants to linger. An even bigger surprise was seeing it collect a bur and fly off to another spot with it, I presume to feed.

Whinchat, Four Score, Slimbridge, MJM

 

 

 

 

 

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Shetland 28 September to 5 October 2018

It’s been some time since an Anser party visited the Shetland Isles, although this wasn’t a trip related to Anser  I thought I would write some notes and share images. The party of four did include Paul Marshall PEM (who has led an Anser Shetland trip),  Jeremy Squire JJS (who visits the islands 2-3 times annually) and and a veteran of the Northern Isles Nige Warren NJW. I’ve birded many out the way places with these three lads,  I was very much looking forward to autumn birding with this laid back trio and see what we could find.

We flew Bristol to Aberdeen then on to Sumburgh Shetland. After picking up the hire car our first stop was Sumburgh Head. A few minutes later we were watching three  Orca! (Killer Whales). An awesome start to the trip and a hard act to follow.

Orca

Orca (Killer Whale), Sumburgh, Shetland, MJM (6)_edited-1

After the excitement of the whales we opted to walk up to the lighthouse where a party of 7 Barnacle Geese passed by attempting to head south, it was very gusty, they aborted. Our first Merlin of the trip also put in an appearance.

Barnacle Geese, Sumburgh Head, Shetland, MJM (2)_edited-1

28 September

Despite the continuing high winds and rainfall we birded a number of places on the West Mainland. Our first Barred Warbler find of the trip made an appearance  in a plantation at Cutts but refused to allow any opportunities to photograph it. We noted a number of species including Twite (seen daily) and Redpoll.

29 September

The second Barred Warbler of the trip appeared whilst we were watching a Melodious Warbler at Lunna. The  larger warbler flew in after a downpour and passed over our heads to join the MW in a row of sycamores for a time. The MW was rather mobile in the short time we were present and went missing after the rain so no images we obtained. A Wheatear and flock of Rock Doves (seen daily) were sheltering from the winds.

Barred Warbler #2 at Lunna

Barred Warbler, Lunna, Shetland, MJM (2)_edited-1 Barred Warbler, Lunna, Shetland, MJM (6)_edited-1

1 October

We plumped for a trip to the Northern island of Unst via Yell and were soon watching an adult American Golden Plover that had been about. At Norwick we checked the beach where a handsome Long-tailed Duck stole the show. Guillemots and the ever present Gannets provided entertainment, the latter not at all phased by the heavy seas. Our third Barred Warbler of the trip hopped about in full view at the nearby cottages.

Barred Warbler #3

Barred Warbler, Norwick, Unst (10)_edited-1 Barred Warbler, Norwick, Unst (7)_edited-1 Barred Warbler, Norwick, Unst (6)_edited-1

We recorded a number of species while birding but the main highlight of the day was a  River Warbler found by other birders.

Whooper Swan, Uyeasound.

Whooper Swan, Uyeadsound, Unst (5)_edited-1

2 October

We headed down to South Mainland to bird a few spots and catch up with some scarce reported birds, single Common Rosefinch at one site followed by two more at the extremely gusty beach side location of Boddam was followed by the Lapland Bunting at Grutness, it showed well but the two nearby Snow Buntings remained flighty. In one of the nearby Sumburgh quarries we spent a bit of time having a gander at a Marsh Warbler that had been found.

Lapland Bunting

Lapland Bunting, Grutness, Shetland, MJM (2)_edited-1 Lapland Bunting, Grutness, Shetland, MJM (5)_edited-1 Lapland Bunting, Grutness, Shetland, MJM (7)_edited-1

 

3 October

Back on Unst we had a great day in the field. Splitting up in Baltasound I located another Barred Warbler in the garden of a derelict cottage. Whilst watching this bird a Yellow-browed Warbler dropped out of the sky and began calling, Paul had another at Haligarth. We also noted a Willow Warbler. Moving on we found a Common Rosefinch juvenile at Saxaford as well as another passerine that gave us the slip.

Moving down to check gardens at Norwick we located the Barred Warbler again. (below).

Barred Warbler, Norwick, Unst, MJM (1)_edited-1 Barred Warbler, Norwick, Unst, MJM (4)_edited-1

Barred Warbler #4

This one showed well during a sunny rain shower, nice to have the two scarce warblers at the same time.

Barred Warbler, Baltasound, Unst, MJM (4)_edited-1

Yellow-browed Warbler at Baltasound, one of five we saw on this day.

Yellow-browed Warbler, Baltasound, MJM

News of a Pechora Pipit at Haroldswick came through so we headed for Laxa and put in a shift, nothing of particular note other than Blackcaps and a Ring Ouzel (JJS). We headed back to Saxaford where a Lesser Whitethroat and low fly over and calling Citrine Wagtail soon had us following after it back to Norwick. Whilst searching for it I put up both Common and Jack Snipe, JJS located the wagtail in the marsh and manged a few pics. We spent 30 minutes abut the pool in Haroldswick  for the Pechora but there was no sign. On the way back we stopped at Uyseasound and PEM spotted a Yellow-browed Warbler in one of the gardens. On Yell a brief stop at Collieson gave us another Yellow-browed and Willow Warbler were seen.

Our third Otter of the day showed at the ferry terminal.

4 October

We began the day by birding a local voe and then headed down south after news of a Lanceolated Warbler at Quendale Mill emerged, we logged a soggy Chiffchaff and a Common Whitethroat but not much else.  The nearby bay was of interest, two Great northern Divers and a few Purple Sandpipers being the highlight.

In the afternoon oOur surprise bird find of the day came in the form of an adult Pied-billed Grebe on Loch of Spiggie!

5 October

Last day birding down south, we tried our luck at Quendale again but had little to report other than enjoying the local birds.

Martin

 

 

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