Friday 25 November 2011

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 20 November 2011

The first visit for a couple of months, turned out to be a bit of a disaster. Whilst setting up in the willow carr/reed area, we could not find one of the stakes to secure one of the guys to. All seemed to be going well having got a 60 and 40 up, then whilst setting the MP3 player, the 60 guy that was missing it securing stake shot out and the net collapsed (empty) into the reeds. Whilst trying to re-erect the net, the speaker box started emitting a thick amount of grey smoke, which resulted in every cable's insulating casing burning off and I have no idea whether the amplifier or speaker will be of any use. A later attempt to set up another 40/60 nets, resulted again, during setting up, two different pegs coming out, this time with the net ending up in a bramble and other debris. After this you sort of get the hint - pack up and go home, to try another day, so we did! We only managed eight birds in the carr/reed area after managing to get those nets to stay up for a hours or so.

Wren - 2
Goldcrest - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (2)
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit - 0 (1)

Monday 14 November 2011

Garden - 13 November 2011

Garden ringing is quite infrequent these days, mainly as it is a small area it does not take long for the net to put off visiting birds to the feeders, so we often prefer not to bother and have them still come in, but we decided to give it a run today, with again not much coming in after mid morning, though it was a fairly mild day again. We managed to entice a couple of Goldcrests into the net, a bird we only occasionally see in the garden and have only caught four others.

Goldcrest - 3


Goldcrest -2
Blue Tit - 0 (1)
Goldfinch - 4

Black Park - 12 November 2011

Our second ringing visit to this site on a warm misty morning. Things started well with a catch of 11 Lesser Redpolls at set up, but after that it was a fairly quite session with only 25 birds being processed, with 13 Lesser Redpolls in total.

Lesser Redpoll - female

Robin - 1
Goldcrest - 10 (1)
Lesser Redpoll - 13

Norfolk 5 - 6 November 2011

On the Saturday we decided to head for Titchwell, which turned into a bit of a leisurely meander after spending some time looking for the Yellow-browed Warbler, which give one of us good, but brief views and the other a flight view as it flew over our heads. Pink-foots were flying over in several flocks, a few Red-throated Divers on the sea, also a few Little Gulls, with lots of Gannets and Common Scoters on the sea. A single Avocet, three Spotted Redshanks, 500 plus Golden Plovers, with more coming in at dusk and a single ring tail hen harrier at roost.




Black-tailed Godwit

Sunday saw us heading towards Cley, mainly for the Red-necked Phalarope, which again disappeared for the day, being present the day before and on the following Monday. As the sea had a strong onshore blow we headed for the coastguards and spent a while watching the sea. Many gannets were going by, along with Little Gulls and Kittiwakes, with constant flocks of differing duck species flying north along the coast, including several flocks of Eiders. Three Great Skuas went by and a single adult Pomarine Skua flew up the beach and landed on the Eye field where it spent most of the day. Later a Little Auk was seen in the surf along the shoreline. The reserve still held five Avocets and a single Little Stint was seen. A visit to Blakeney Fresh Marsh afterwards gave a good brief view of the Cattle Egret chasing a cow around the field before it flew back out of sight into a ditch, before we headed off back south.

Spain 23 - 29 October 2011

We decided to give a week near Jerez a try. October half term is not my favourite time to go birding in the Med, as a previous week at this time of year in the Camarague, compared to Spring, was relatively quiet, and this was true again to a certain extent, missing the summer Herons/Egrets, Terns and passerines. Our main hopes were for Marbled Duck and Crested (Red-knobbed) Coot. The coot we had seen in Cape Town, but apart from using a few sources for sites to visit, I did not really do much background work on either species. We did not see either, although a visit a week later seen by the local bird club at one of the sites we had tried, they had ten Marbled Ducks there, so that was a bit of a bugger. Neither are especially common, though a bit of post visit research seemed to suggest the duck is becoming a little more common and obviously the Coot has been introduced to one or two places, i.e Mallorca. A run through of the highlights for the week are as follows:

Sunday 23.

First visit was to Bonanza Salt Pans. They were full of waders and we saw most of the European species, with twenty being seen, and the only common exceptions being Ruff and Wood Sandpiper. Other birds of interest were 36 Great White Egrets, 17 Black Storks, a single Booted Eagle and Osprey, seven Caspian Terns and a few flocks of Lesser Short-toed Larks.

Second visit was to Laguna de Tarelo, an old sand pit that was supposed to be good for White-headed Duck. with the possibility of the two target birds. This is the site where two weeks later 10 Marbled Duck where seen. We saw a few White-headed Ducks, but not in any significant numbers, Purple Gallinulle and a few Night Herons.

Next stop was a quick look around La Algaida pine woods, which are adjacent to the laguna. This is a biggish area which once contained Azure-winged magpies, which by all accounts are now probably no longer found here. Nothing exceptional was seen, quite a few Black Redstarts were present, Short-toed Treecreeper fairly common, with a single Dartford Warbler.

Afterwards a visit to the Monte Algaida Salt pans produce four Black Kites, a single Red Kite, two Ospreys and a Raven.

Monday 24.
The day started with heavy rain and strong wind, so after some misconception which 'Osborne' site was the one that was open to tours and then difficulty finding the one it was, we missed the English tour and spent late am on the German tour, visiting the vaults and Sherry tasting. Afterwards we dropped down to thensea front at El Puerto de Santa Maria, where we saw Mediterranean Gull, Sandwich Tern, Sand Martin, Swallow, and Red-rumped Swallow, plus a probable Crag Martin. Later by the bull ring we saw a Common Swift and again, another poor sighting of what was probably a Little Swift.

Yellow-legged Gull

Tuesday 25.
A trip down to the Tarifa area in an area of farmland just inland from the beach provided views of a flock of about 10 or more Lesser Kestrels, Bonelli's Eagle and the first Griffons of the day. We then went up to the road that runs from Valle del Santuarion back towards the main Tarifa/Algeciras road, and parked up at a view point where we had at least 50 odd Griffons, three Bonelli's Eagles and a single Booted Eagle and a House Martin. The area was full of Black Redstarts. We also had a couple of sightings of Two-tailed Parsha and Long-tailed Blue, none settling to photograph.

Cattle Egret

Afterwards we headed further up theValle del Satuario, cutting across to Los Barrios past the Embalse de Almodovar, where in one of the groves near by a cow had died and an extremely large flock of Griffons, 200 plus, had assembled, but extensive checking failed to reveal any Ruppell's. A single Serin was here. Unfortunately whilst we were there the farmer turned up in a JCB and removed the dead cow, which did not appear to have been opened up yet, appearing only to have some removed fur so far. A shame really as I am sure the Vulture numbers would have got higher during the afternoon if left insitue.

Griffon Vultures

Wednesday 26.
Driving north from Jerez towards Los Palacios y Vilafranca we had a single Short-toed and Bonelli's Eagles. At Los Palacios we quickly checked out the La Laguna de la Mejorada, which really only had a flock of Zebra Finches, plus a single Black and Red Kites. We then spent a couple of hours driving around Brazo del Este which contained numerous, if not thousands of Cattle Egrets, single Squacco and Purple Herons, large groups of Glossy Ibis, over 500 White Storks, a couple of Black Storks, three Booted eagles, a single Merlin and at least, if not more, 15 Marsh Harriers, a couple of Yellow Wagtails and a single Willow Warbler.

Cattle Egrets

White Storks

Lesser Black-backed Gulls, that gather here due to the
American Crayfish that are plentiful in the rice fields

Marsh Harrier

Thursday 27.
We spent the day in Seville. The gardens around the Plaza de America and Espana were full of Ringed-necked Parakeets

Friday 28.
A run out to some of the Lagunas around Jerez, first of all to Laguna de Medina, which is probably the best and easiest to visit due to the boardwalk and hide that has been created. despite much effort and Coot checking, only Eurasian Coot could be seen. A few Red-crested Pochards were on the Laguna, with a single Short-toed Eagle and Black-shouldered Kite overhead, Bluethroat, juvenile Penduline Tit and Reed Warbler were seen.

Moorhen in a bush, if only Crested Coot had been so easy.

Afterwards a visit to Laguna del Taraje was less memorable, as viewing across the water was only from odd vantage points over a barbed wire fence as you walked along a muddy track, which made this site a bit frustrating. The only European Starlings were seen here, as opposed to the numerous Spotless Starlings seen elsewhere during the trip. a couple of Black-shoulder Kites were present in a dead tree.

Saturday 29.
We decided to revisit the Laguna de Medina, and on route we managed to see our first Iberian race of green Woodpecker at Manchon de Hierro. The laguna no longer contained any red-crested Pochards, most of the Black-necked Grebes had gone, but a couple of White-headed Ducks had turned up. Despite a bit of checking, again no Crested Coots could be found, but two Bluethroats, a male Penduline Tit and four Griffons were seen. Afterwards a time filling drive around the road to the Salinas de Santa Maria produced a couple of Ospreys and eight Caspian terns, before the flight home.

View across from Manchon de Hierro, showing two different
scenes, with the impact visually, that wind turbines cause.