Champions of the Flyway!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

East is east - finally

Icterine Warbler

At last, long promised and finally legitimate easterlies on our little stretch of the east coast today..... more to follow, but a few migrants from a long and enjoyable day in the field for now.


(yet another) Osprey - my fourth this spring so far here

Grey Plover - beautiful

Friday, May 25, 2012

Temminck's Stint, Filey - 25th May 2012

Faith restored and redoubled, courtesy of this accommodating little beauty basking in the warm sunshine this morning. Well worth all the recent fruitless effort, and then some. More to follow anon.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Agonda beach, Goa

Ok, so we've been back a few months now, but - after more than 200 posts from our round-the-world extravaganza (mostly between May 2011 and March 2012 in the side menu, if you've a few weeks to kill) - I'm almost done; well, on here at least - there'll be more in other shapes and forms to come.

White-cheeked Barbet

Here's more from the immediate area surrounding our guest house on Agonda beach in south Goa - an idyllic spot which proved tricky to move from (especially with so much good birding within five minutes of our room). We eventually did, however, and a wonderful day in Cotigao (a superb reserve about a half-hour from Agonda) will feature here anon.

Ashy Woodswallow

female Asian Koel

Ashy Prinia

not to be messed with

Black Drongo

Greater Coucal

warm water = hours swimming per day


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Filey, 12th - 18th May 2012

Not the most auspicious of weeks, it has to be said, but in the spirit of completeness, here goes. The 12th and 13th were at least often bright and even occasionally even quite mild in sheltered spots, but with a deathly westerly airflow, notable birds were at a premium.

On the latter date the Dams held a singing Reed Warbler (personal first for the year), a showy Cuckoo, a Wheatear which dropped in out of the grey, pairs of Teal, Gadwall and Shelduck and plenty of hirundines and Swifts.

Which may not sound particularly mind-blowing, but everything is relative, and compared with the following few days, it seems a veritable bounty. The best of the rest of the week (admittedly with curtailed sessions in place of the usual daily circuits) involved odd Eiders, a female Common Scoter and up to five Great Crested Grebes in the bay, the usual healthy showing of common warblers in suitable habitat, and single figures of Purple Sandpipers still out on the Brigg.

a strong pink flush to the underparts of the Swallow on the right

Through the 17th, the winds swung gradually away from the west and, tantalisingly, into the east; still cold, still bleak, and still damp, but with possibilities at least. No happy endings this time round though, with concerted patch bashing through the haze of a cold on the 18th providing nothing but a few Wheatears and other common migrants.

And so back to London for a long weekend, with conditions remaining promising for drift migrants for the next couple of days at least. Let's see how long my nerve holds; no news is good news.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Filey's Got Talons

Not the best of conditions for either raptor passage or photography, but the same small area by the clifftop here in Filey produced a respectable bird of prey species list on the 10th - a pair of Short-eared Owls, Sparrowhawk, Osprey (all pictured), plus Peregrine and Kestrel. When a warm airflow eventually comes, there'll be a more impressive roll call, but in the meantime, it beats watching (or having) a telly.



Friday, May 11, 2012

Filey, 8th - 11th May 2012

Short-eared Owl, 10th

Showers overnight and a southerly airflow for the 8th - a second consecutive day of southerly winds being a rare occurrence so far this spring - brought modest returns, with visible migration evident but few grounded migrants; the highlight was a cream-crown Marsh Harrier high and in off the sea, while other notables included high flying flocks of corvids (mainly Carrion Crows), Yellow Wags, a Whimbrel and Hirundine migration that very much stole the show.

Another photo of another Wheatear - not why, but why not

Personal counts of 650 Swallows, 290 House Martins and 200 Sand Martins were doubtless a fraction of the true figures moving through in an impressive, constant flow, and the wire fence along the north cliff was often weighed down with dozens of birds taking brief rests; and as could be seen when scanning from higher ground, birds were moving along at least several different main flightlines. Hence, 'thousands' is probably the best (if somewhat downplaying) description of numbers.

A Cuckoo circumnavigating blissfully unaware tourists

The morning of the 9th was pleasantly mild and sunny with a light easterly, and a wander around the south side produced limited results, although a Cuckoo along the cliff path and a Garden Warbler singing at the bridge were both firsts for the year. Plenty of other common migrants were evident, with up to 50 Swifts and a good scattering of warblers - most notably Common Whitethroats, seemingly occupying all available habitat. The afternoon became gradually cooler, cloudier and breezier (from the east), but the best of several hours on the northern circuit were three Common Sandpipers together on the rocks below Carr Naze.

Common Swift - uncommonly magical

And so to the 10th, a day of clashing weather systems and changing conditions; once again, the entertainment was incoming and overhead (as opposed to in situ), and the sight of two fresh-in Short-eared Owls instantly patrolling the cliff edge was a pleasure, especially when one promptly caught breakfast and then staged a close-up fly by for good measure.


Hirundines continued to plough through, with all three species reaching double figures again as well as other common migrants in small numbers (including six Wheatears on the Naze - the majority at least being new birds based on plumage and sex). However, it took til early afternoon for the highlight of the day, which appeared low over the top scrub before disappearing over the cliff-edge - an Osprey, the second of the spring, and always a thrill.

Osprey, 10th

So May thus far has been pretty hard work, with circumstances, in common with April, being far from advantageous; generally messy conditions, ascendant low pressure systems and a lack of any sustained southerly airflows has somewhat curtailed possibilities so far. Although, it being spring, there have been highlights on most days, and all it takes is a change in the weather for something special to happen.....


Barnacle Goose (belatedly), Filey Dams, 4th