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July 2018

July 2018

Dominated by the heatwave, it’s perhaps been better to look for insects than birds but I can ignore our avian friends.

23rd

Having only seen one in the spring at WWT Slimbridge, it was great to kick off autumn passage with this juvenile Wood Sandpiper while I went about my work.

Wood Sandpiper, juvenile, Top New Piece, MJMcGill (21)_edited-1

24th

We are heading for peak Green Sandpiper time around the scrapes at WWT Slimbridge

Green Sandpiper, Tack Piece, 001, MJMcGill

 

25th- My first Small Red-Eyed and Emerald Damselfies of 2018 were on the WWT Slimbridge reserve.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly, 50 Acre, 002, MJMcGill Small Red-eyed Damselfly, tail, 50 Acre, MJMcGill

 

Emerald, 50 Acre, MJMcGill

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Filed under: Birdwatching Diary
Author:

Martin

at 1:05 pm

Copenhagen weekend 1-3 June 2018.

Kalvebod Faelled and looking across to the outskirts of Copenhagen

Hopefully developments won’t encroach this fantastic place.

Amager Kalvebod, Copenhagen

 

 

Coepnhagen development, Kalvebod

Red-necked Grebe- probably the star bird on this ‘city’ break.

Red-necked Grebe, Kalvebod Faelled, Copenhagem, MJMcGill (35)_edited-1

This wasn’t an Anser trip but thought I would share the following notes that may be of interest.

Birthday gifts are always nice, my equally travel loving wife had set up a budget weekend to treat me to a new destination. Denmark was the only Scandinvian country I hadn’t visited and whilst a few days doesn’t really qualify, I was pleased with an opportunity to spend time among Danes and immerse myself in a little of the ‘hygge’ lifestyle. We flew from Bristol with easyjet, the flight was delayed for a time which was pain as we had hosts waiting to hand over keys etc. Bristol Airport  checks, scans and boarding area was a very smooth experience and relaxed. The flight out would’ve been fine but for a few members of a rugby club on a stag do, the minority choosing to swear and make various loud and continuous comments for the duration, the older and what you assume would be more responsible members of the party did little to curb the ‘clubhouse jive’. We were glad to get off and hoping the Danes would experience better manners from them.

Stepping out at the airport to glorious sunshine and hot weather we jumped in a taxi to make up some time and was dropped at the apartment home we were staying at for two nights. Mats and Thea rent out a room through the Airbnb  website and we were welcomed by Mats. We didn’t see him for the rest of the weekend and only met Thea on Saturday night as we and they were out and about or working.

With no time to hang about we readily took up the offer of the loan of their bikes, we were going to hire but no need. Less than half an hour of arriving we were on our way toward Copenhagen city centre taking the ‘green’ route. We visited many of the well known sites and explored easily on the excellent and safe cycle lanes.

A few species of bird were seen but the parks in town were interesting from an odonata point of view, although I was pick-nicking I couldn’t ignore the Downy Emeralds and other dragonflies out enjoying the sun. A wonderful wild park (Amager Fælled)was the final stop on the bikes before heading back at dusk. This wet scrub and grassland area was an amazing space for peace and wildlife, sadly it seems it is threatened with development. A Cuckoo gave us great views as we cycled the paths.

Back at Slusholmen it was noticeable that Common Gulls were about the apartment blocks, these ‘floating’ homes were not quite as is seems due to each one being an island in the sea channel. The gulls were vocal and fairly tame. We walked out across bridges nearby bar and enjoyed the music, atmosphere and a cold beer or two before heading ‘home’.

We were up and about in the morning and took the few steps to the rather healthy cafe across the ‘canal’. We sat outside to eat the granary rolls, pastries and drink coffee and fresh pressed juice to die for. This ceremony  was to be repeated the next day. Replete and keen to explore another huge wetland reserve on the bikes.

Kalvebod Fælled is quite simply a brilliant nature reserve.

We spent much of the day exploring the paths and trails across the country and along the seawall, a lunchtime excursion to a restaurant in Viberup (Lille Kongleund) was the only detour and it didn’t disappoint. The food was great but the Honey Buzzard and Tree Sparrow flocksreally topped it off.

The birds seen include the following…

Mute Swan- seen about the harbours in Copenhagen and in numbers on the wetland reserve.
Greylag Goose- 1000s in the wetland reserve area, also seen flying over the city.
Barnacle Goose- flocks of 100s seen on the wetlands with small parties heading N over the city.
Shelduck
Mallard
Gadwall
Shoveler
Teal
Tufted Duck
Eider- many creches and groups of females on the coast.
Pheasant-introduced birds
Little Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Red-necked Grebe- very common at Kalvebod Faelled. I eventually traced the gallinule/rail like calls to this species, interesting to see them breeding in narrow ditches and all pools.
Cormorant
Grey Heron
Marsh Harrier
Common Buzzard
Honey Buzzard- a male flew over the restaurant at Viberup mobbed by other species.

Honey Buzzard, Viberup, Copenhagen, MJMcGill (18)_edited-1
Hobby- one feeding on odonata over the marshes.
Water Rail
Moorhen
Coot
Oystercatcher
Avocet- dozens
Ringed Plover
Lapwing- large colonies stuffed with young on the wet grasslands and marshes.
Turnstone- one at Kalvebod Faelled
Wood Sandpiper- one heard at Kalvebod Faelled
Black-tailed Godwit
Snipe- displaying birds were drumming overhead.
Ruff- three flew past us near the hides of Kalvebod Faelled
Black-headed Gull- a few darvic ringed birds around the city harbours and parks, too busy to nail them!
Common Gull- seen  (and heard) about Copehagen
Herring Gull
Sandwich Tern- seen along the coast.
Common Tern-about the city park ponds and lakes.~
Caspian Tern- 2-3 fishing the coast and deeper water along the seawall of Kalvebod Faelled.

Caspian Tern, Kalvebod Faelled, MJMcGill

Stock Dove
Woodpigeon
Collared Dove
Cuckoo- singing and showy birds seen and heard at both Amager and Kalvebod Faelled
Swift
Skylark
Woodlark
Swallow
House Martin
Tree Pipit
White Wagtail

White Wagtail, Kalbod Faelled, Copenhagen, MJMcGill (5)_edited-1
Yellow Wagtail- recently juveniles of  the presumed flava race
Thrush Nightingale- singles heard singing on scrubby tree covered banks and motorway embankment on the way to Kalvebod Faelled. A few singing and one showing at Amager Faelled.
Redstart- one singing from a clump of trees at Kalvebod Faelled
Black Redstart- seen and heard around Copenhagen including outside our apartment.
Wheatear- one at Kalvebod Faelled among the cattle.
Whinchat- a pair along the ditches in the open areas of Kalvebod Faelled.
Fieldfare- breeding birds in the Amager Faelled park.
Whitethroat- many seen.
Garden Warbler- heard.
Blackcap- many seen and heard.
Lesser Whitethroat-3-4 seen and heard.
Reed Warbler-heard.
Marsh Warbler- seen and heard in Amager Faelled park
Great Reed Warbler- a scarce bird in Denmark but one male singing and showing brilliantly at Kalvebod Faelled.

Great Reed Warbler, Falbod Faelled, Copenhagen, MJMcGill
Willow Warbler- a few heard.
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Bearded Reedling-seen and heard along the seawall embankment of Kalvebod Faelled.
Magpie
Jay
Raven-2
Hooded Crow- seen around Copenhagen
Starling
House Sparrow- the Ivar Huitfeldt, Langelinie park column statue was releasing sparrows from her heart!

Copenhagen statue, sparrow release, MJMcGill
Tree Sparrow- small flocks along the roadside scrub at Viberup.
Linnet
Reed Bunting

Green-eyed (Norfolk) Hawker at Kalvebod Faelled.

Green-eyed Hawker (Norfolk Hawker), Kalvebod Faelled, MJMcGill (1)_edited-1

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Filed under: Trip Reports
Author:

Martin

at 9:12 am

Notes from a January weekend in Madrid

I’ve actually landed at Madrid’s Barajas airport on many occasions but was always Extremedura bound.  Soon after collecting a car or minibus I was out on the road and skirting around the city on the way to the famed birding destination or returning via the scenic Sierra de Guadarrama on the way back. Madrid was a long overdue visit so my wife and I booked a weekend trip. We used public transport and walked many miles about the city and parks. Tired legs and aching feet needed regular intakes of ‘fuel’, the tapas culture is a great excuse to stop for a while to replenish your energy levels. The food didn’t disappoint, we carefully searched out suitable venues and menus which was all part of the fun. We visited some of the historical sites including the Museo del Prado. The urban environment offers wildlife experiences, there’s no way I would ignore any creatures or birds that might show up.

Saturday 20 January

After having a nose at the huge Atocha station with it’s indoor tropical garden we had breakfast, the first Black Redstart (a male) of the trip was hopping about outside the station entrance and confiding Magpies were numerous, they are everywhere. Interesting to see other nationalities photographing them with their smart phones. Visiting other sites along the way we walked through the city and stopped at a small garden, Jardin del Principe del Anglona. The berry trees on the roadsides attracted squabbling Blackcaps and Blackbirds and in the garden, a singing Serin.  With more sightseeing we found ourselves in the Parque de Oeste only to find the cable car was closed for repairs. It wan’t a problem, we walked on to the destination of Casa de Campo, a large area of heath land park west of the river, once a former royal hunting ground.

Among the first birds noted at the park were Chiffchaff and Great and Blue Tits, it was impossible to ignore the introduced Monk Parakeets that fly noisily over the streets of the city and gather in the parks. They demand attention and if nothing else are fun to watch but may have a negative ecological impact. A party of c20 Tree Sparrows and Great spotted Woodpecker were also noted, a visit to the lake found it completely drained, I scanned the puddles and mud in hope of waders but only Black-headed Gulls were present.

Sitting outside a cafe we had the parakeets for company whilst we enjoyed the mild weather and a coffee. Moving further into the park more Black Redstart on the south facing slope plus Robin and Stock Doves. A few Iberian Green Woodpeckers were hopping about and allowed close approach as did couple of Short-toed Treecreeper. We walked through the park as the sun came out, more Chiffchaff and a few Chaffinches were along the stream as we made our way toward the Metro station. If you’re using public transport and short of time, this is the wildest of the parks and well worth a visit, hop of at Lago Metro station and do a loop of the park, apparently not the place be after sunset though.

Iberian Green Woodpecker Picus viridis sharpei with Magpie, Casa de Campo

Iberian Woodpecker and Magpie, Casa de Campo, Madrid, MJMcGill

Iberian Woodpecker, Casa de Campo, Madrid, MJMcGill 001

Iberian Woodpecker, Casa de Campo, MJMcGill

We stopped to enjoy a smart Hoopoe near the station for a time then boarded the train heading back into the city for museums and a sunset drink in Plaza de Santa Ana , a good night out in the city followed.

Hoopoe Upupa epops (south side of the Casa de Campo)

Hoopoe, Casa de Campo, Madrid, MJMcGill (4)_edited-1

Sunday 21 January

The Jardin Botanico was opposite our hotel, breakfast was taken at an adjacent cafe and we sat outside in the sun, welcome blue skies and warm temperatures with a few Stock Doves, screechy parakeets and other folks for company. Having pre-booked tickets for the Prado it was going to feature at some point but the weather was so pleasant this ended up be the only part of the day that we spent indoors. A great walk through the Retiro park added a party of eight White Storks as they flew through low heading north. I heard Iberian Green Woodpecker call and noted a few more Short-toed Treecreeper and a few Mallards on the ponds, two Black Swans were not of wild origin. A Red Squirrel bounded across to spend time licking sap from a tree.

Red Squirrel, Retiro Park

Red Squirrel, feeding on sap, Retiro Park, Madrid, MJMcGill (3)_edited-1 Red Squirrel, feeding on sap, Retiro Park, Madrid, MJMcGill (9)_edited-1 Red Squirrel, feeding on sap, Retiro Park, Madrid, MJMcGill (12)_edited-1

 

Our wandering took us back to the city centre for lunch in the sun drenched Plaza Santa Ana where another large flock of White Stork circled overhead. The park lured us back for the afternoon, it was glorious and the warm 19-20c temps made it feel like a spring day, just what we needed to see out the day and wrap up my birding opportunities for the weekend.

If visiting Madrid I’m sure it possible to record a large number of species, the nearby Sierra is super, a car hired for the day with add numerous species to a visit. Further research may reveal this trip is possible with public transport, worth a punt if you’ve got time. Martin.

Short-toed Treecreeper, Retiro Park, Madrid

Short-toed Treecreeper, Retiro Park, Madrid, MJMcGill

Spotless Starling, a few were seen and heard singing about the city and parks.

Spotless Starling, MJM

 

 

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Filed under: Birdwatching Diary
Author:

Martin

at 7:50 pm

North Norfolk 8-10 November 2017

Ruddy Turnstone at Salthouse

Turnstone, Salthouse, MJMcGill

 

Our party of six set off for Norfolk early morning arriving in the county a few hours later, our first stop, Cley next the Sea. We made a short stop at the Cricket Marsh at Cley NWT, Brent Geese being the attraction, searching through the flock Dark-bellied Brent soon revealed a Light (or Pale) bellied Brent but not the Black Brant (or Pacific Brent) that had been around. Other birds could be seen in the distance with Marsh Harrier being particularly obvious, a Stonechat used the telegraph post strainer wire as a handy lookout nearby.

A stop at the Cley NWT visitor centre allowed us to enjoy a hot drink and scan over the marshes. Lots of Wigeon and Teal were on the scrapes with three or more Marsh Harriers in sight at any one time. A walk along the East Bank to the sea followed stopping to scan for a Grey Phalarope that had been seen in the preceding days. Waders noted included parties of Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Grey Plover and Redshank. A gathering of gulls contained a first winter Caspian candidate. Seven Eider flew close inshore heading N along the beach, another flock of 13 followed on a bit later, the drakes looked superb.

Turning our attention to the beach shingle it didn’t take long to locate a flock of 43 Snow Buntings, in flight they were very much a blizzard in the blustery wind. Flocks of Wigeon, Brent and Teal also ploughed through into the head wind, no doubt heading for favoured wintering areas. A few Common Scoter, a Gannet and distant divers also passed by. A scan over the marshes gave us a flock of Ruff but these and the other birds present were very mobile.

We searched headed back to the visitor centre and carefully scanned the marshes from the viewpoint, fortunately, although distant I was able to locate the busy Grey Phalarope on Simmond’s Scrape as it manically fed among the other wetland birds. A couple of Little Stint were also picked out.

Finding ourselves back at the cricket marsh we once again tried our luck searching through the Brents, best bird was a Barn Owl that Chris spotted, it gave us sunset views with the famous windmill beyond, this rounded off the day nicely. We made our way back toward Hunstanton where we were to stay for the next two nights.

9 November

After breakfast we were on Hunstanton cliffs by 0920am watching the busy visible migration as 1000s of birds streamed down the Wash Coast. The majority were Starlings in their 1000s, Chaffinches in their 100s as well as Lapwing, Teal and Wigeon in over the sea. Lesser Redpoll, Brambling and Siskin were also seen. On the sea a Red-throated Diver or two, a few Great Crested Grebe,  a Guillemot, Red-breasted Merganser and Common Scoter were added to the list. The local Fulmars put on a good show, no effort needed in their mastery of flight, the strong wind helped.

At Choseley Drying Barns we managed to locate Corn Buntings, flocks of Fieldfare, Blackbirds and Redwing and a flock of 400 Golden Plover but the Dotterel that was seen a couple of days before had clearly moved on.

At Titchwell RSPB the usual winter gathering of ducks were in evidence with large flocks of Golden Plover arriving on the fresh marsh, we headed straight to the sea to catch the top of the tide getting close views of two Bearded Tit and a Chinese Water Deer whilst on the way. It was a good move, two Long-tailed Duck fed close by with their characteristic long dives beginning with wings open in readiness to fly underwater. Another female flew in and landed a little further out. A Red-throated Diver gave good scope views, other species noted included Guillemot, 12 Common Scoter, 7 Red-breasted Merganser, 12+ Great Crested Grebe and a Slavonian Grebe.

The beach was busy with Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit and Turnstone. A Red Kite made a nice change from Marsh Harriers. As the tide dropped we watched waders on the saline scrapes as well as Little Grebes and a Little Egret fishing. Ringed Plover, Grey Plover and Curlew were enjoyed. Back at the visitor centre we took a lunch break and watched Coal Tits on the feeders.

Black-tailed Godwit at Titchwell, RSPB

Black-tailed Godwit with shellfish, MJMcGill

Burnham Overy was our next stop, Barnacle Geese were recorded as well as a handful of Pink-footed and small numbers of Greylag. Driving and stopping a bit further on added a Great White Egret. In the Harbour at Wells next the Sea we saw Brent Geese, Little Grebe and saw another hunting Barn Owl over the fields.

As we returned toward Hunstanton the plan was to call in at a few sites, first stop was a very quiet Land Anne’s Drive at Holkham, nothing of note other than the usual Egyptian Geese in the fields. A sort stop overlooking Burnham Overy again revealed a similar story. No sign of any large flocks of grey geese at all.

Our final sunset stop was at Thornham Harbour, a Barn Owl flew across the road but never stayed around for all to see. On the exposed seawall we realised and welcomed the fact that the wind had dropped, it was calm and still so we simply enjoyed the wildness of the area and the atmosphere.

10 November

We were greeted by another windy but sunny day, another session at Hunstanton cliffs we again used the seaside shelter as a windbreak but there wasn’t much happening on sea and no vis-mig to speak of. With the tide on the way we headed for Thornham Harbour again, Curlew, Redshank and Bar-tailed Godwits fed in the creeks as the water crept in. We located a flock of Twite in the saltmarsh, they obligingly lined up along the fence, 17 were counted before they made their way back to the saltmarsh seeds. Not wanting to be cut off by the tide we moved on leaving the many bird species of the area to carry on with feeding.

Twite at Thornham Harbour

Twite, Thornham, MJMcGill Twite, Thornham Hbr, MJMcGill Twite, MJMcGill

A few short stops to scan in the same places as yesterday didn’t add anything new to species recorded so far so we ended up back at Cley next the Sea. The Brents flew off as we arrived so we went to the beach car park at Salthouse, a tame party of Turnstones waited for us on the shingle allowing close views and photographs. The sea was pretty wild and viewing difficult in the strong wind, a Gannet and Guillemot the pick of what we could actually seein the swell. A flock of 1000+ Pink-footed Geese fed on the hillside nearby.

Another go at locating the Black Brant ensued and this time successful, it gave itself up but not easily. The Snow Bunting flock were also feeding in the fields probably having had enough of the windy conditions.

Various options were mooted to finish up our day but as a group we plumped for a goose search inland, I drove what is normally a reliable route for Pink-feet but there were none, driving a long way inland near to Flitcham we got lucky, a huge flock of Pink-footed Geese were settled with more in the area. A careful scan revealed an orange legged Pink-foot and a smart Tundra Bean Goose that promptly sat down.

Pink-feet

Pink-footed Geese, MJMcGill

Nearby at Abbey Farm we added Grey Partridges, a Red Kite and Tree Sparrows as dusk set in, a decent finale as these species were ‘requested’.

Thank you to Bettie, Barbara, Chris, Anita and Ruth for joining me.

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Filed under: Trip Reports
Author:

Martin

at 7:19 pm

25 October 2017 – Shags on the Severn

Two juvenile Shag came as a surprise on the R. Severn on such a calm and sunny day, three Grey Heron, Little Egret, Kingfisher and a Great-spotted Woodpecker that flew high south down the estuary, it was reluctant to cross the water. Dozens of Red Admirals were also migrating S down the estuary.

Two juvenile Shag over the Severn

Shag, juveniles, Hock Ditch, MJMcGill Shag, juveniles, Hock Ditch,2, MJMcGill

 

I watched these birds follow the shore until they cut inland toward Frampton on Severn. Subsequently checking Townfield Lake just after midday I managed to relocate them close to the shore but they flew very soon after due to a succession of gunshots. A dark ‘creamcrown’ Marsh Harrier flew over the lake and headed SE.

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Filed under: Birdwatching Diary
Author:

Martin

at 8:01 pm
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