A super video by Pete Hines of the Western Orphean Warbler in St. Brides, Pembrokeshire (South Wales) this weekend.
Monday, 18 November 2013
Sunday, 17 November 2013
This bird was a bird I missed last year and I regretted it highly. That was a bird that was caught and ringed at Hatlepool Headland and was only seen that day before it was believed to have died having looked weak and ill that day. After 31 years, I didn't quite believe I would get one back this soon when one appeared in a private garden in St. Brides down in Pembrokeshire. I couldn't make it for a couple of days but managed to get down exactly a week later after it was first seen (although access wasn't arranged until the 5th day.
I went down with Chris Jones and Kev Smith (who drived - Thanks Kev) and got down there for an hour after first light. It has just been seen on arrival and therefore spirits were lifted. It was a further hour and a half before there was any sign of the Orphean Warbler again, but when it did show it showed very well feeding on the apples and pears in the garden.
You would think it would move on soon, but there is so much food available in the garden it may rethink. Let's hope that if it does decide to move on, it moves on before the cold spell hits us. There was a lot of discussion on this bird on whether it was an Eastern or a Western Orphean Warbler with the latter later on being confirmed through imagery and video. With it's bright white iris, and contrasting facial features with a white throat and slate-grey head and darker ear coverts, the main features pointing more towards Western was a more brown-coloured back than the grey of Eastern. Also, it's breast and underparts were a stained strong buff in colour. White has also been noted of being restricted to the outer tail feathers, again, pointing towards Western Orphean Warbler.
After, we visited the old airfield in Dale where we saw up to 9 Lapland Buntings. This was followed by a trip to St. Justinian where a lovely Great Grey Shrike showed well from the car.
It was surprisingly my first visit to Pembrokeshire, and exactly how I imagined it to be, it was stunning with some classic beautiful Welsh coastal views.
With all the excitement of the Western Orphean Warbler in Pembrokeshire, I didn't consider anything else this weekend until Scott Reid gave me a phone call on Friday evening. Serin's are ridiculously hard to catch up with anywhere in Britain and usually are just 'fly-overs' on the south coast. Myself, Scott and Mark Payne (who drove) set off early on Saturday morning. On arrival, we immediately got brief but good views of the Serin perched in a nearby bush.
|Serin - Flamborough|
The little finch was very slightly and covered many laps of the field (south of Millenium wood in the village) popping up at all ends of the weedy field. Luckily it fly to the top of an ash tree (distantly) but still gave good views allowing a quick photo opportunity and gave us a chance to study the plumage of the first year male.
|Serin - preening|
Monday, 11 November 2013
After a slow start, myself and Zac H teamed up and looked for the reported possible Stejneger's Stonechat candidate on Hightown Dunes. We didn't have a clue where we were going as the dunes expanded about a mile in both directions but Zac said 'left', so we went left. The highlight 2 stonechats, but nothing of the possible Stejnegar's (which is a possible second for Britain).
Following a McDonald's and a fair bit of time wasting watching Pink footed Geese and trying to string Bean Geese, we decided a Pied Wheatear might be worth a shout. So we set off for some pits in Nottinghamshire. Setting off from Liverpool, we knew that time wasn't going to be on our side, the sun was already on its way down. Providing we have no delays we were on target to reach the site with 15 minutes of sunlight remaining.
We got there in good enough time to see the bird giving superb views. I had forgotten my camera but luckily my phone can manage a suitable record shot.
|Pied Wheatear - Collingham Pits|
There are usually a couple of records annually of Pied Wheatears in Britain with the main bulk being recorded on the East coast. The presumed 1st winter bird is quite a cold-brown colour with a hint of scaling on its back. The warmer breast feathers were also evident. In flight, the tail feathers were more varied as I had imagined with less white restricted to the outer edge.
...and to end of a bit of education, here's the attempted string, a Pink Footed Goose that stood in orange paint earlier that morning!
|Orange footed (Pink Footed in disguise) Goose|
Saturday, 26 October 2013
It's not everyday you come back from Barcelona and find a Hoopoe on your patch especially after not seeing one in Barcelona! The bird was favouring the small inlet area that feeds into the main river, just south of Rhyl cycling club. To begin with, it was very flighty and at times, wasn't seen for a good while. Eventually after 45 minutes or so, it showed itself and all the birders that had arrived got to see it.
Zac H and Ros G made it down in good time to see it and Zac managed a decent shot
|Hoopoe - Rhyl (River Clwyd) Taken by Zac Hinchcliffe|
It appeared to be quite a pale bird. Maybe a first winter bird? Eastern races are suppose to be paler too... A superb bird for North Wales and of course the patch list!
This lovely adult winter Med Gull was also on the river just before I found the Hoopoe
...and working back in time even more, a lovely Grey Phalarope has been present on the pool at Gronnant. Luckily it's stayed a few days to allow me some good views this morning... It was firstly reported as a Red-Necked but was later re-identified as a Grey.
Sunday, 13 October 2013
Friday, 4 October 2013
Another visit to the patch on the River Clwyd today just feel short of 60 species with the Glossy Ibis still up there attracting some of the visitors. The bird showed well on the Rhyl side of the River Clwyd. The bird fed in the fields and whilst I was there came down to the river itself for a drink and a preen.
|Glossy Ibis - River Clwyd|
The Ibis seems to be very settled and has occasionally associated with the Little Egrets, it wasn't too bothered about the Peregrine Falcon that dive bombed a Black Headed Gull just ahead of it.
3 Wheatears, a Raven, many Teal, Wigeon and a host of waders kept me entertained in the time I was there with 3 Bar Tailed Godwits, a Black Tailed Godwit and a handful of Dunlin
One of the things that was slightly harder to miss was this Common Seal relaxing on the bank just South of the railway bridge at high tide. Never come across one down here before but it certainly was a treat after getting a soaking walking from the car!
Thursday, 3 October 2013
Finally my patch gets a decent bird but of course it wouldn't be me that finds it, but the local caravan owner located on the Rhuddlan end. A super find though! I've often thought, it can only be a matter of time before the Clwyd marsh picks up one of these exotic birds. After a bit of a run-around, I finally connected with the bird and after realising I'd left the camera in the car (after the initial rush).. The bird showed relatively well at the Rhuddlan end out on the marsh with 4 Little Egrets but easily dropped down from time to time into little inlets.
|Glossy Ibis - taken with the phone!|
Friday, 20 September 2013
A bird that is reported and seen to be so elusive, a bird that is known for its secretive ways, a bird that is probably a lot commoner than others believe, but due to these factors, opportunities are rare reflecting its rarity status. A Great Snipe was reported last Saturday evening at Kilnsea, near Spurn (East Yorkshire) and with a clear night ahead and its departure earlier that evening than expected, I turned down a lift to get there for first light... It was long gone, I had visions of the bird never to be seen again! That's what I thought anyway, of course the inevitable happened and I received a wonderful picture message from Scott and multiple texts from the guys who got there for first light..
Make or break, I tried to convince myself it wouldn't stay for the day (yes it was settled and not moving), I tried to convince myself that it would fly off ahead of the low weather front that was fast approaching (of course it wasn't going to; it's a Snipe - they love the rain!). I then tried to convince myself that I was overdrawn (No, I wasn't)... Okay, put it out of my mind and check the Clwyd... Not much about, a couple of Knot as best, and in gale force winds and a broken tripod, it wasn't being my day!
Soon enough and after a few more texts later, I was off heading for Kilnsea... 3 hours later I was watching a Great Snipe within feet of me, at times down to inches. The bird got the award for the best views a bird could possible give of the year but I achieved the most pathetic attempt to get decent picture of a bird when you couldn't really get much closer. I usually digi-scope the majority of my shots and can achieve some good results until now...
The bird showed a lot more barring than a Common Snipe and has a lot more white on the underparts and sides. It has a slightly shorter bill than of a more familiar Common Snipe and a slightly more contrasting head pattern.
The bird was present throughout Sunday and Monday but was very sadly found dead on the Tuesday morning at first light and looked to have been killed (most likely by a cat). Migration is a battle taken by all birds and we've just witnessed a tiny fraction of birds (along with the Needletail's sad end) a result of the dangers birds face whilst on the move.
The bird to remember, that's for sure!
Wednesday, 4 September 2013
A slightly late post but things have been rather hectic lately with work and birding (the latter, a good thing). A juvenile Dotterel gave superb views last week allowing to get within feet of this well marked individual
This is the first time I've seen a Dotterel 'on the deck' as my previous sighting that also happened to be on the Orme, was just a fly-over a couple of years ago. Therefore I was rather keen to get down to see this one.
The Great Orme regularly gets annual records of Dotterel with the majority within the first few weeks of May. The habitat is ideal and not too far away from what they would breed in.