Saturday 23 February 2019

Bletchingley Garden - 16th February 2019

A return to Ralph's garden where we did well again, although not quite as many birds as last time. Many of the birds were tits with a few Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Jay and a couple of Goldfinch.

Totals: 76 (15)

Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1 (2)
Wren - 0 (1)
Robin - 1
Blackbird - 3
Blue Tit - 24 (5)
Great Tit - 39 (6)
Coal Tit - 4
Nuthatch - 0 (1)
Jay - 1
Goldfinch - 2
Chaffinch - 1

Monday 18 February 2019

Broadwater GP - 13th February 2019

We joined MRB and Margaret to monitor Broadwater and actually achieved double figures. We had hoped to catch some Chiffchaff, but were unsuccessful, probably as they tend to remain in the area around the river where there tend to be more insects. We had to be content with the usual winter species, many of which were retraps.

Totals: 9 (5)

Dunnock - 2 (2)
Blackbird - 2
Goldcrest - 0 (3)
Long-tailed Tit - 3
Blue Tit - 2

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Darvic marking swans in the Colne Valley - 12th February 2019

A gentle return to ringing with Mike Reed today as we toured round the local canals and lakes, looking for swans that could be caught. We tried Black Park first and managed to catch the penn, already ringed, but the darvic 4DNO meant that she would be easily identified without being caught up. The 8F carried ring W33881 that had been fitted on 21/12/2012 at Windlesham. She was observed once in 2015 but not recorded since. It's likely that she was there, just not recorded, as we have seen ringed birds there many times, but due to the water colour never can read the full metal ring number. The cob was far too wary for capture once his mate had been caught.

The next attempt was at the canal by Fassnidge Park, Uxbridge.  Here a pair came to bread and one got ring W48064 and was fitted with darvic 4DNP.

There were a few places where there were no swans at all and others were swans didn't respond or were just too cautious.

Our last captured bird was at Little Britten Lake where an 8M with ring number W39755 had darvic 4DNQ added. It had previously had 4BQY, but had lost it somewhere, having been originally ringed at Rickmansworth Aquadrome on 13/9/2015. While there we noticed that two Canada Geese were ringed, but despite the birds both coming out of the water, the numbers could not be read in full.

We did a bit better with a Black-headed Gull with a yellow colour ring with black print. This ring could only be seen in flight, but photographs confirmed the alpha-numeric code as TL0U.

Black print on yellow is a Polish scheme

A view from a slightly different angle confirms that it is TL0U

The report from the originating ringing scheme was through the following day Polish. It took us a while to pick out our desired information and we have highlighted in red the date, location, ring number, distance from origin and number of days elapsed for ease.

Danezaobrączkowania Gatunek: Płeć,wiek: Status:
Data,czas,dokł.: Miejsce: Współrzędne:
śmieszka (Chroicocephalusridibundus) [] nieznana, pisklę niedotyczy(ptakjestpisklęciem)
2017-05-27, 0:0, datadokładna [PL MZ]WARSZAWA-URSYNÓW:JEZ.ZGORZAŁA,MAZOWIECKIE,POLSKA 52°07'23.4'';20°59'46.6'' (52,12316100;20,99627900)
Kondycja: [8]żywyiprawdopodobniezdrowy-widzianylubwypuszczonyprzezobrączkarza
Dokładnośćwspół.: współrzędnedokładne
Gatunek: Płeć,wiek:
Miejsce: Współrzędne:
śmieszka (Chroicocephalusridibundus) [] nieznana, ptaklotny
2019-02-12, 14:45, datadokładna [GB BC]Iver,BUCKINGHAM,WIELKABRYTANIA 51°31'08.2'';-0°29'24.3'' (51,51894100;-0,49009600)
DeniseLamsdell,ChrisLamsdell Okoliczności: [81]odczytanonumerkolorowejobrączki
Odległość:1471 km, Kierunek:275°, Odstępczasu:626 dni
Status: zimujący Kondycja: [7]żywyiprawdopodobniezdrowy-widzianylubwypuszczony

Sunday 10 February 2019

Fuerteventura, Canary Islands 31st January - 6th February 2019

31st January

Having arrived fairly late on the previous day, Chris announced that we would ‘just drop into the Barranco de Rio Cabras to get the Dwarf Bittern first’ before taking a look around the Salinas area. This, based on the ease with which numerous birders had seen, and photographed the bird out in the open.

But, first of all we had a walk around the headland near the apartment in Peurto del Rosarrio. A small area of bushes held nothing apart from House Sparrows, but the shoreline held 16 Ringed Plover, five Common Sandpiper, three Sanderling, two Whimbrel and Turnstone, single Grey Plover and Greenshank, plus three Sandwich Terns, with a group of seven Plain Swift above.

We then spent quite some time checking from the upper edges of the Barranco de Rio Cabras and from the path through the steep cutting. Species were good, Canary Islands Stonechat, Trumpeter  Finch,  Berthelot’s Pipit, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Great Grey Shrike (koenigi), Spectacled Warbler, African Blue Tit, Black-winged Stilt, Little Egret, Spanish Sparrow, Laughing Dove, Egyptian Vulture, Green Sandpiper…….but no Dwarf Bittern. Chris took a walk further up the barranco and flushed a dark bittern shaped bird out of one clump of cover into another while looking for warblers. The view was so brief that independently no precise species could have been known for sure, although it was surely the bird we'd been searching for. It was agreed, we would have give it a go in the late afternoon.

Canary Islands Stonechat known on the island as the Caldereta

At the Castillo Caleta de Fuste golf course the Lesser Scaup was viewable on the pool but there was no sign of the Bean Goose. We saw some Ruddy Shelduck and noticed our first Painted Ladys of the break. 

At the Salinas de Carman, we were both were a bit disappointed. The salinas were completely manmade, old certainly, but not extensive. There were plenty of visitors around the museum and the beach area, so disappointing for birds other than the confident Ravens, though it did produce the only Redshank of the trip. Four Lesser Black-backed Gull were with a small group of gulls gathering on the nearby bolders on the adjacent flat coastal plain.The Barbary Ground Squirrels were exceedingly tame. 


Barbary Ground Squirrell

A return for the Dwarf Bittern proved even less successful than the morning try.

1st February

Day two and we gave the Bittern a miss, heading instead on a lengthy drive in the opposite direction to the town park at Costa Calma. It soon appeared that the bird, an Allen’s Gallinule, had been
extremely easy to see, but the last sighting was on the 25th! Working the wooded park area, we managed to turn up the Red-breasted Flycatcher, Red-vented Bulbul and a rather difficult Yellow-browed Warbler, and fly over Cattle Egret. A Monarach was present, along with a flew flyby Greenish Black Tip and a number of Small Whites.


Paradise Park at La Laita was the next port of call. We intended to look around the botanical gardens but found that the gardens and zoo had a joint admission charge - and 70 Euros seemed a bit steep when it was already well into the middle of the afternoon. We decided, instead to have a look around the car park where we would at least be out of the worst of the wind, hearing another Yellow-browed Warbler in the tall trees skirting the adjacent garden centre. The butterflies on the wild flowers were very small and active, and proved difficult to photograph.

Broad Scarlet

African Grass Jewel

Working our way back now, a quick stop at the beach at Tarajaiejo brought no waders or gulls, too many holiday makers about, but in a small area of scrubby vegetation we noticed plenty of Painted Lady and some Plain Tiger and Monarch butterflies with singles Lang's Short-tailed Blue and an unfamiliar dragonfly.

Lang's Short-tailed Blue

Plain Tiger

Red-veined Darter

Working the Castillo Caleta de Fuste from the car we had five Spoonbills over, a total of 31 Ruddy Shelducks, that's 25 and 6 on the two golf courses, Barbary Falcon and a couple of Linnets.

2nd February

Another fruitless morning attempt for the bittern before heading onto the plains. Although the bittern again failed to put in an appearance, this really is an excellent birding site. Incidental sightings on this morning included White Wagtail, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Snipe, Buzzard, Raven (5), Hoopoe (4) and the other species seen here previously. There was a lot of activity with a group of ten or so walkers coming through the barranco as well as a party of litter pickers collecting rubbish before the temperture rose too high. No joy again.

Having found the tarmac road that spans the Tindaya Plain, we were soon seeing Lesser Short-toed Larks (c50) and Berthelot's Pipit (5). More distant views were extremely hazy and these were our only views of Houbara Bustard and Barbary Falcon today. A gravel track running off towards the coast gave us some excellent close views of some of our target species for the area.

Kestrel male

Black- bellied Sandgrouse pair

Cream Coloured Courser - eight birds including four chicks

A  Barbary Partridge was disturbed from a close distance as we worked an area around a derelict building and no longer cultivated fields. A few Laing's Short-tailed Blues were seen along with a few Clounded Yellows.

At La Oliva searching the banked fields, many of the species that are seen so frequently on Fuerteventura were present. We also saw four Black bellied Sandgrouse, eleven Hoopoe and our first Corn Buntings (4). 

Corn Bunting

A visit to the reservoir at Los Molinos at the end of the day turned up some good numbers of water birds. A Marbled Duck was sat up with a male Pintail and a Mallard before being distrubed by the arrival of twelve Little Egret. There was a little coming and going of the three Sponbill, twelve Grey Heron and twenty three Ruddy Shelduck, but the Teal (6), Black-winged Stilts (21) and Coot (53) remained on the reservoir. Other sightings were Greenshank (1), Spotted Redshank (1), Egyptian Vulture (1) and Raven (2).

European Spoonbill

3rd February

We gave the Barrnaco a miss this morning and as we headed inland and upwards we stopped at Llanos de la Concepcion to photograph the windmills, and fortuitously heard the call of Stone Curlews in the small, wall lined fields. 

Stone Curlew

We drove to the furthest point and walked the path at Vega de Rio Palmo. We had seen an African Blue Tit family party on the walk and managed some nice shots of an adult at the cafe where had lunch. Here we also heard the second of two Yellow-browed Warblers in the area, although neither were along the walk.

African Blue Tit

We walked up to Presa de las Penitas (old mud filled up reservoir). We saw Sardinian Warbler (6) here and a couple of Chiffchaff. Sardinian Warblers are present in the upland areas where slightly lower temperatures and more moisture keep the vegetation greener. Chiffchaffs occur at any altitude along the dried water courses. There was a good range of previously seen species including African Blue Tit, Barbary Partridge and a single Grey Wagtail. There were a lot of shrikes holding territories up the more gradual banks running down to the river bed. 

Great Grey Shrike (Lanius elegans koenigi)

Butterflies were easier to follow and photograph in the sheltered riverbed.

Greenish Back Tip

Green-striped White

At Barranco de Palomares we were hoping to see Atlantic Canary but had to be content with a brief flight view. There was a Blackcap singing and we also had a couple of Linnets. Bird species were, in the main, what we had come to expect and increasingly, it was the insects that tended to take our interest. It did produce a Plain Tiger, Canary Island Red Admiral, and Long-tailed Blue

Plain Tiger

Long-tailed Blue

Canary Island Red Admiral

We ended the day with try five for the Barranco de Rio Cabras bittern. Again, no luck there, although
a count of fourteen Spoonbill was our highest for the trip.

4th February

Another try for the bittern where we met three birders that seemed to think it was acceptable to lob rocks into the vegetation in an effort to force it to move. Preferring not to do that and our observations resulted in no bittern, but an unexpected Booted Eagle before heading on to the Tindaya Plains. Our main objective was to get better views of Houbara Bustard.

Berthelot's Pipit

Spectacled Warbler

Houbara Bustard

Moving on to La Oliva we made similar sightings to the previous visit with an additional nine Moorhen. On to Cauldron Hondo, a volcanic crater above Lajares. The path was steep in places with rather a lot of loose gravel. The view from the top was exhilarating, even from the plateau just before the final ascent. Chris made it all the way to the top although I was concerned about being over tired on the way down. The  descent causing difficulties due to gravel rolling down the steep pathway under each step.

Calderon Hondo

View to the west
Trumpeter Finch gave good close views along the way, 
of which there were many at this location.

End of day drop in for the bittern with no success. No wonder it's so difficult if some resort to hurling rocks at it!

5th February

We made an early start but were still beaten there a couple of birders on a three day visit. They had seen the bird briefly while walking along the lower path. Chris went down and while he was checking out the pool behind the large trees, the bird was seen to fly up the barranco and settle in a rather open area of a mature Tamarisk. 

Dwarf Bittern adult male at the eighth attempt

Having finally seen the bird, we travelled a little further up the Barranco to an area with flowing water, Tamarisk and areas of reeds. For such a promising place the birds were pretty thin on the ground and could not be easily observed as they flushed before viewing was possible. We had three Little Ringed Plover go up and three Snipe. The Chiffchaff (3) gave views, but again it was the insects that proved to be of more interest, with Broad Scarlet, Long Skimmer and Saharan Blue-tailed Damselfly.

Epaulet Skimmer

Saharan Bluetail

At Betancuria in the mountains we had a look at the convent garden and remains of the15th century church.

Spanish Sparrow

Geranium Bronze

We tried walking along the stream bed in the opposite direction finding Geranium Bronze, Lang's Short-tailed Blue, Southern Blue, Green-stripped White and Red Admiral Butterflies. A pair of Blue Emperor were very active not settling. A rather secretive warbler, reluctant to show was eventually confirmed as a Grasshopper Warbler.

Grasshopper Warbler

Southern Blue

Red Admiral

We spent time at some other points. At Barranco de Betancuria there was a flock of circa 30 Plain Swift and Barranco de Palmares turned up Barbary Partridge, Great Grey Shrike and Sardinian Warbler.

Barbary Partridge

Finishing up with Los Molinos gave a Common Sandpiper and species as per our previous visit with the Mallard and Marbled Duck absent this time.

Young male Goats head butting

6th February

We didn't need to be at the airport until around 4pm so had a couple of local places to check out.
Barranco de la Torre brought Ruddy Shelduck (2), Canary Islands Sonechat (3), Hoopoe (1), Sardinian Warbler (5), Spectacled Warbler (1), Spanish Sparrow, Chiffchaff (2), Blackcap (2), Raven (1) and Berthelot's Pipit (2). Here was also came across Blue Emperor, Epaulet Skimmer

Blue Emperor

Epaulet Skimmer

Calerilla del Espino gave one last species for the trip in the form of a family of Kentish Plover. The adults and two chicks, with a Little Ringed Plover, were on a broad strip of land between the beach and main road. We also had Sandwich Tern, Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Sanderling, Ringed Plover were also on the beach where an African Migrant butterfly was also seen to flutter by.