Birdbrain Stuff

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Soil Hell to Mixenden

At 1030 hrs the Hill from Hell really gave me a good paggering for about 15 mins. It was freezing and a WSW gale blew snow horizontally at me. I had no choice but to abandon the session and head for Ogden and I think I was in shock for a couple of minutes. Just a Kestrel, Blackbird and a couple of Meadow Pipit to show for that ordeal.

Ogden Res was more forgiving. This pr of Crows appeared to be a bit too ambitious with the Heron. The Common Sandpiper count doubled upto 2 birds although distance and movement prevented any photo opportunities. Couple of Chiffs and a few WW were singing.
Along the Golf Course were c9 Meadow Pipit and at the bottom were 3 Wheatear, one of which gave itself up for the camera. Also here was a Curlew overhead.

Stod Fold to Mixenden Res produced a Chiffchaff, pr Stock Dove, Swallows and Jackdaws. The pick of the day came at the Big Hedge - a Garden Warbler singing lound and frequently but never fully showing itself.

The water was quiet with just a pr GC Grebe and a LBBG briefly. Other players: Goldcrest, Pied Wagtail, Coal Tit, 4 WW including this rather grey looking individual.

What started out as a nightmare eventually developed into a pleasant dream.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Nature Red in Tooth and Claw

Today was a bit of a saga and right now I don't feel as if I've got enough days left on the planet to tell it, so here's the gist.
Saw this Crow predate a duckling and gobble it down in a breath

Soil Hill Racing Pigeon Pink ring GB14 N 62013

Birds SH - Ring Ouzel, Whitethroat, f Blackbird, pr Lapwing, f Wheatear, Curlew, Mallard, Moorhen, 3 Stock Dove, c14 Linnet and residents.
Ogden Res -  Common Sandpiper, pr Jay, Tufted Duck, pr Kestrel, Curlew, Red Grouse, Grey Heron, 1 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, several WW, plenty Chaffinch, some Goldfinch.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Back to the South

Started off with an unexpected garden tick at the back - pr Canada Geese flying low over BD Mills, heading due S.
Checked the trailer park field area for Wheatear - nowt. A single Swallow and 3 Skylark so down to the valley. Nuthatch, GSW drumming, Green Woody. Migrants represented by a few more Swallow, 2 Blackcap & c5 each of WW, Chiffs.
DW nailed a Wheatear up Roper Lane on Friday, so I thought I'd give the adjacent fields a try. I went up OGR to find a couple Meadow Pipit, 1 Skylark, 3 Swallow and a missing dung heap.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Back To Reality

Thought I'd get it over with and had a crack at Soil Hill and Ogden this am before realising I'd got no energy left so aborted and returned home after finding Ogden quiet with just WW and Chiffchaffs singing. The first UK WW for me this year was singing across the road as I opened the front door. Soil Hill kindly provided both UK firsts of Wheatear - a female and Ring Ouzel - both males. One of these was down the N slope in the bushes there, t'other was on the mounds. In fact I also got first local Swallow of the year too and in entertaining circumstances - it was mobbing a female Sparrowhawk circling of the Ned Hill track. Soon after another 3 Swallow flitted around just above my head. Also Linnets, Lapwing, Curlew, Pheasant, Meadow Pipits and Skylark and my first Woodpigeon(s) in 16 days.

On a sad note, I went down the N slope of the hill in the hope of early Sedge/Grasshopper Warbler and managed 3 Roe Deer but none of these birds. The chance of getting them has been decreased by the fact that another big patch of rushes/sedges/whatever has been erased and the red portakabin pond filled in.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Final Session Manavgat

Riverside 23 Waders over E calls heard mebbe Spotted Reds/Redshank will check. Immediately followed by 5 Wood Sandpiper. Even though the grotpools are almost all now attended by lorries and bulldozers I still managed another Great Snipe at close quarters. Others here: RB Shrike, Little Bittern, Moorhen, Graceful Prinia, many Hirundines and a surprise Willow Warbler singing. Crossed over the road to the old filter beds and got RB Shrike, Gt Reed Wblr, c13 Glossies (Ibis not Starling hehe). Wood Sands are off the scale; Im sure could release a caseful at home providing customs fall asleep. A Greenshank was fresh in otherwise it was as per yesterday although I will have to check on an odd Dunlin sized one. A fine female Sparrowhawk over the hotel grounds completes a memorable trip. All I need to do now is ensure a steady supply of tranquilisers for local birding home - rivetting eh. Almost forgot just after the riverside Gt Snp a Cuckoo flew across in front giving good views.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Really Quiet Walk

After breakfast I knew I was in no state for a big push so I did the beachside of the Manavgat river which isnt a  cakewalk. It was dire with 3 LRP having a domestic the  highlight. This did improve dramatically as I resorted to taking shots of YLGs the gull billed gulls were upstaged by 9 GULL BILLED TERNS! These circled 3 times and sped off E up the coast.
That was it I had a quiet trudge back with just a couple of chortling Spectacle Bulbuls and siren alarming Cettis to appreciate. Will try again after lunch...
Orphean Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Woodchat + Redback Shrike males 10 inches apart. A dark female nervous f Wheatear possible Pied but I wouldnt put my name to it given the brief views.
I went back to the old filter beds visited yesterday it was hellish trying to nail 'em. However I have not yet abandoned the listing illness fully so here goes.                                      
1 ea of Redshank + Common Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper, c26 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Dunlin, 2 Ruff plus the larger types mentioned previously and Im almost certain theres a missing one.
A none bird highlight was a 1.5 metre all black snake basking on a rubble heap. It snuck off as soon as it saw moi and I had  no chance of picking it up.
Also 1 White + 2 Flava Wagtails and of course a Little Bittern flushed at 5/6 feet.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Quiet Walk

Today was going to be spent idling mebbe a swim or 10 minutes on the heavy bag before she did breakfast (Les Dawson joke) and I was amazed to find my boots camera and bins had forced me outside where there are birds to be seen.
They took me down to the riverside after producing Pied and Spotty Fly, Spectacled Warbler and  a host of Blackcap not to mention a checker upper. This was a large warbler behaving oddly in trees; I suspect Gt Reed but why  is my foetid mind suggesting  Thrush Nightingale? You may mock but believe me lack of sleep gets you like this.
A bird needing no scrutiny flew up from one of the  grot spots at rivers edge - GREAT SNIPE. Did I forget to say at 5 feet?
This was followed by 60 Glossy Ibis, 7 Little Egret  with them and another RB Shrike. There was another influx of Swift and a few more Whinchat and oh yes a Little Bittern had to show up grrr. Lets see if the tea time stroll brings me some peace...
It brought a repeat performance of Ibis, Egrets, Squaccos and Purple Herons flying around in circles. 2 Woodchat, 2 Corn Bunting + Whinchat, 8 Wood Sandpiper + 1 White Stork. I got a few photos out of this lot too.
As I headed back I got yet another trip tick and what a cracker it was especially as I got it on the camera. A nuclear meltdown blue male Roller was on some wires when it wasnt chasing a locust which it caught and ate in front of me.
Magic our Maurice!

News From Queensbury

Received from Ian Bruce on 19/04 who reports a SPOONBILL flying between Clayton Heights and Queensbury last Wednesday.
He also saw a large raptor just after 4pm 19/04 over Catherine Slack heading toward Halifax.

Thanks Ian, I would have jumped for joy at the Spoonbill.
Yes I do mean Long legged Buzzard - dont get many of them in Queensbury!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Wetland Spot Revisited

Im on autopilot now and found myself up breakfasted and out of the hotel by 0725 hrs. A large raptor sailed overhead which must have been LLB he or she put in 2 more appearances later.
Migration is down to a trickle now but it was still interesting with a couple of newbies showing up. The Sand Plover species wasnt apparent but the pr Pratincole flew overhead calling. 5 Stone Curlew were the first newcomers keeping up the tradition of appearing on all my visits here. However an overhead Spoonbill broke the trend by being a first timer.
Im so wrecked that there are a couple of waders I need to check on. Luckily I got some photos so Im hoping I can confirm Curlew Sandpiper...Yup confirmed.
Also 5 Snipe, 6 Dunlin, Marsh Sandpiper, and others from the previous visit.
Elsewhere were 6 Short Toed Lark, c13 Tawny Pipit, 4 Wheatear species either f N or BE (see how blase you can get).


Pics frm camera later meanwhile...

I would rather have a full bottle in front of me than a full frontal lobotomy.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Mixed Morning

I walked  down the local route to the beach side of the river which is still a hike. Halfway along I turned round as it was quiet with just a pr LRP, 1 N Wheatear, 1 Slender billed and YL Gulls seen.
A raptor came in off the sea and went right overhead taking me by surprise. I am fairly sure it was Black Kite but will just eliminate Marsh Harrier so I can sleep (fat chance).

The walk around the local riverside scrub and pools paid off big time as I got 2 trip newbies together: Red Backed Shrike and a lifer Barred Warbler. Yes all you old sweats its taken me all this time! Collins Field Guide actually links these 2 species as habitat sharers under BW.
Others: 2 LRP, 2 Great Reed + Reed Warbler, pr Graceful Prina, Kingfisher, 25 Little Egret in a tree.
Im taking Whinchat off the shit list and replacing it with Little Bittern. I saw another 4 of the swine today. 
Rain  or lack of it is on the list too; I want the wader pools healthy for my next trip.

Fab Friday

Fri 17/04 Did the big slog to where the Manavgat river hits the Med reminiscent of Spurn Point. First off a Cuckoo newly arrived then 5 Short toed Lark and 3 Tawny Pipit. 3 Teal/Tufty size duck went down into the hinterland so I resolved to find the draw especially when 11 Glossy Ibis followed suit later. Meanwhile the much desired Gull Billed Tern turned up a pr heading N. They were soon followed by a pr of calling Curlew over E. The resident Long Legged Buzzard flew E only to return some time later and a pr Raven put in an appearance. Then it was time to search for the new aqua attraction especially as the old filter beds were dry and the tide was up. It didnt take long, I wish Id made the effort in previous years as my gob was well smacked! A pr of Collared Pratincole stunned this prat as they performed overhead even permitting a couple of photos. The conjoined pools were awash with waders and confusion reigned until I got my eye in (15 minutes later the other followed suit). The star of the show could be a lifer as it was a Sand Plover sp. I got some distant photos and subject to further scrutiny it appears as Lesser. Even if it turns out as Greater its still a much welcome third sighting. I havent got the time or energy to mention how the rest of the session went so briefly: 10 Wood Sandpiper + Commons, 2 Spotty Redshank, Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, BW Stilts, Little Bittern + Egrets. Just before I almost passed out with debilitation I managed a newly arrived Quail on the way back to Hotel Geriatrico.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


The minute I thought of this title a Little Bittern flew up from a bush 3 metres away but comparatively this am was quiet. I met a couple of English birders who agreed while we compared notes. Thanks for pointing out the Cormorant btw. Others: 3 spurwinged, 4 med gull, 2 sandwiches (no tea 😢) 1 slender billed, 1 little gull, 1 ea purple h and glossy i, 3 squacco and the usual riffraff ( what makes me think I'll regret that?)
Oh well back to it...
pm session- its cool, Im whelmed again. After another deadly start I visited a riverside pool about 130 metred long by 25 wide. Its like someone dumped Soil Hill in it and a bulldozer was working there. Nevertheless: Common Sandpiper, 2 LRP, Little Bittern and a Wood Sandpiper that allowed unbelievable camera exploits. A Smyrna Kingfisher flew across the river and a White Stork sauntered overhead close by. To cap it all on the way back I flushed another junior bittern and screwed up a chance of  a photo of Masked Shrike.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Falcon Lanner, Kestrel, Kestrel Lesser, Buzzard, Buzzard Long-legged, Harrier Marsh, Raven, Crow Hooded, Heron Grey, Heron Night, Heron Purple, Egret Little, Heron Squacco, Plover Little Ringed, Plover Spur Winged, Lark Crested, Bunting Corn, Bunting Cretzschmars, Pipit Meadow, Pipit Tree, Wagtail White, Wagtail Flava, Martin House, Martin Sand, Swallow Barn, Swallow Red Rumped, Swift Common, Swift Alpine, Swift Pallid, Blackbird, Sparrow House, Sparrow Spanish, Warbler Reed, Warbler Great Reed, Warbler Spectacled, Nightingale, Warbler Orphean, Warbler Sardinian, Tern Caspian, Tern Black, Tern Sandwich, Gull Yellow Legged, Gull Little, Gull Mediterranean, Gull Black Headed, Gull Slender Billed, Pipit Tawny, Sandpiper Green, Sandpiper Common, Lark Short Toed, Wheatear Northern, Wheatear Finch's, Wheatear Black Eared, Flycatcher Spotted, Flycatcher Pied, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Warbler Grasshopper, Prinia Graceful,
Bulbul Spectacled, Whinchat, Kingfisher, Warbler Savi's, Jay, Tit Coal, Tit Great, Dove Collared, Coot, Moorhen, Grebe Little, Warbler Cetti's, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Snipe, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Cuckoo Great Spotted, Redstart, Ibis Glossy, Stonechat, Teal, Mallard, Wheatear Unk nown, Stork White, Wryneck, Black Winged Stilt, Sparrowhawk,

c88 species 15 April Missing isabelline wheat, black redstart, gull billed tern, ortolan, stone curlew, cormorant.


Those readers who follow my exploits overseas will know my grasshopper mind is unable to complete involved reports at the best of times so all 6 of you may now jump for joy as I am opting for the random rambles route.
To the 7th fan no longer with us Im sorry but I can no longer afford bribery payment.

Ive compiled a list in .csv format in order to upload to a spreadsheet and sort alpha wise at home. Hopefully blogger should allow an upload of both it and .wav files thus allowing a smug afterglow after the effort of tapping into this tormenting technotool.

Ive come to hate Whinchats; this place is full of them and they know just when I am feeling trigger happy with the camera. Then just as I depress the plunger off they flit, flushed down to the next post bush etc.
Up until 2 days back I was getting more Black Eared Wheatear than Northern which have just trickled through. A couple of Pied are on the sheet with Isabelline yet to make it. Pride of place though has to go to an impressive male Finch's which my photos will not do justice.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Help me please Im being inundated with migrants and cant handle the scores of passerines that keep harrassing me. Ive also lost my way again with contact modus operandi so pse  forgive me those that are involved.
Meanwhile wheres that pesky Lanner gone and I hope that Masked Shrike leaves me alone today

Monday, April 06, 2015

The Sunny South

Mon 06/04 mid afternoon. Went for a walk in the sunshine and misjudged the heavyweight coat I was wearing. When I returned the bird count was pretty gash, and I lost about 3lbs of myself somewhere out there in Shibden.
The fields down at Cross Lane were quiet apart from 1 Pied Wagtail, 2 Meadow Pipit and a returning Linnet which matched one singing up at the corner of HCL and Giles Gate Lane.
A pr Canada Geese have found the pond at the end of Green Lane.

Shibden Head had a pr Jay, GSW and singing Chiffchaff plus a few other woodlanders. Lots of Flutter Byes about too but the walk best remembered for the orange ball in the sky I s'pose.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Three Time Loser

This morning, Easter Sunday up by Raggalds at 0807 hrs. 1 each Pied Wagtail & Lapwing was all. Similar birds to Sat around, meaning NO Wheatear.
I went down Old Guy Road and was slighty buoyed up by c7 Singing Skylark and the fact that quite a few Greenfinch had been chuntering away throughout the hike.
Lest I forget, after solving Inspector Montalbano's problem last night on TV, I managed a distant Tawny Owl hooting in t' Parish.

Saturday 04/04 a more springlike day and cause for cautious optimism with an E'ly breeze. 2 Lapwings and a Pied Wagtail on RF.
This time there were 4 birders up on top of SH in the afternoon but the result was the same - NO Wheatear. Refer to BS post for the species report and exclude the Herring Gulls which I missed - there's a surprise.

Good Friday - my fault for going out, I must be lacking some basic mental faculties. Misty or Foggy, call it what you will - couldn't see Raggalds Flood and Soil Hell was down to a few yards visibility. Meadow Pipits, Skyarks, that's it.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Slow Down South

Finally some Spring weather in total contrast to yesterday. However it didn't have any influence on the fields down the road apiece, they were empty. So I decided to try my hand at the woodland and dropped into Shibden Head, which was nice and boggy. This action brought me another overdue annual - Chiffchaff not one but 3. All were singing, two in close proximity to each other.
Also c50 Jackdaw, 2 each of Jay & Green Woodpecker, 3/4 Goldfinch and low numbers of other expected.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Winter Marches On

April 1 and what a fool to go out, but not doing so for 2 days was driving me sane.
RF 1030 hrs. Full of water but not a single bird seen.
Soil Hill - Grey Wagtail having a quick aerial swipe at a Kestrel, before dropping down to Ogden. 4 Pied Wagtail, displaying Skylarks, quite a few Meadow Pipits. I missed the Buzzard kindly phoned through by JL.
I met this interesting critter which seemed as puzzzled by me as I was by it.

Ogden Res- Cormorant, Common Gull, Song Thrush, 4 Canada + Barney. Nuthatch, Treecreeper, quite a few Coal & Gt Tit. Nothing to hang around for so I went down to...

Mixenden Res - c12 Meadow Pipit & pr Pied Wagtail. 1 each of LBBG & Tufted Duck (m). 6 Mallard, 2 Canada Geese. An unusual sight of 3 Treecreeper, one of them working a wall. Goldcrest and Blue Tits.

Local Finch's Wheatear?

I was contacted today by the dowager Clarissa Eloise Thunderball Snert, Algernon Snert's great grandaughter. Making a rare reappearance in Queensbury after visiting the family mausoleum in Small Page Fold, she donned her souwester and with her dog, Pilot set off in the teeth of a gale up to Soil Hill.

Traquet de Finsch

"Nigel", she screamed down her ear trumpet at around 09:55 hrs, as I was contemplating entering the Mole-Rat look alike competition. "Finch's Wheatear by the Old Mistle on Soil Hill!" Courtesy of a chartered Sopwith Camel, I was up there in no time at all to catch a glimpe of a bird showing the features in the library picture above. Finch's is one of the easier near and middle eastern Wheatears to pick out owing to the extended white from head down to rump. 

Heart pounding we chased down to where the bird had hopped, down the W slope, flushing a pr of Greater Sand Plover as we did so.
"Hold on", I yelled "This can't be right, I can stand the winds being in the wrong direction but...check todays date!"