Thursday, December 29, 2011


So seen as everyone else in Bloggerland is summarising their year I thought I'd join in.

This year saw me discover my own proper patch at my Uni lakes and so allowing me to find my own birds!

Talking of finding my own birds I managed a whopping 42 self found ticks! Of which 8 were lifers! Highlights being;

Ad Caspian Gull at Rainham, bit dodgey but a first winter at Bartley last week made it proper
Family party of Whooper Swans on a Scottish Loch- STUNNING!!!
Black Tern on my Uni lakes with an Osprey on my first day back from Easter- WAHOOOO
Wood Sandpiper- 2 on my Uni lakes
Water Pipit- at Frampton RSPB whilst watching 7 Temminck's Stints!
Quail- just like everyone else!
Great Shearwater, Sabine's Gull and Pom Skua in Cornwall, seawatching 'self found ticks' always feel like cheating, although a Roseate Tern flypast was immense!
Little Stint on my Uni Lakes in late autumn after chasing round a flying stint after there were semi-p's everywhere, still stonking!
A new coastal patch (hopefully) added Black Redstart and Snow Bunting
Bean Goose and White-fronted Goose, like everyone else I just strung some flyovers...

And my self finding highlight a Rough-legged Buzzard at Donna Nook, you just can't beat it can you?!

What will next year bring? A self found BB rare? (isn't this how everyone finishes their yearly summary?)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Popped down to Upton this afternoon, not much of note bird wise but good to be back!

Some more photos with the new camera attached below, shame the light was rubbish!

ISO: 400
Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec
F stop: f/2
distance to subject: 30ft

ISO: 400
Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec
F stop: f/2
distance to subject: 30ft

ISO: 400
Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec
F stop: f/2
distance to subject: 30ft

ISO: 400
Shutter Speed: 1/160 sec
F stop: f/2
distance to subject: 30ft

Monday, December 26, 2011

Canon S95

Got a new camera for Christmas, the Canon Powershot S95.

Had a play around with it today and its brilliant! Here's a few shots I managed in the awful light today with my dodgey old Kowa TSN-2 will hopefully be upgrading this and getting a proper digiscoping kit in January for my 21st.

ISO: 400
Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec
F stop: f/2.8
distance to subject: 750ft

ISO: 400 
Shutter Speed: 1/25 sec
F stop: f/2
Distance to subject: 20ft

ISO: 400
Shutter Speed: 1/25 sec
F stop: f/2.8
Distance to subject: 50ft 

 ISO: 400
Shutter Speed: 1/60
F stop: f/2.8
Distance to subject: 1500ft
 ISO: 400
Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec
F stop: f/3.2
Distance to subject: 40ft
 ISO: 400
Shutter Speed: 1/320
F stop: f/2
Distance to subject: 30ft

ISO: 400
Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec
F stop: f/2
Distance to subject: 40ft

Not sure I like Photoscape that I'm using to edit the photos or maybe its just my editing skills!

I've added some detail underneath each photo, any advice appreciated! Will keep posting on here my efforts and hopefully I'll improve as I keep practicing!

Also present at Bittell today were 2 interesting 2w gulls. One I am sure was a Yellow-leg and the other I think was an large NW argentatus type, poor photo of the second bird attached

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


At the start of 2011 I got bored and made 25 predictions of rare birds that I thought might occur in 2011. Out of these 25, 16 have occured not a bad hit rate! Those 16 were;

Bufflehead (1w female, Cornwall)
Pallid Harrier (Millions of juvs & 1 ad male Norfolk)

Greater Sand Plover (ad male Highland)
Upland Sandpiper (juv Scilly) 
Marsh Sandpiper (ad Lincs same East Yorks, ad Kent and Norfolk)
Ross’s Gull (probably stringy Cumbria bird but oh well) 
Roller (adults in Suffolk and Mull)
Crag Martin (brief Dorset bird)       
Veery (1w on Muck!)
Pied Wheatear (females in Gloucs and at Spurn)
 Pechora Pipit (Foula, Gulberwick in same garden as Rubythroat! and trapped on North Ron)
 Rose-breasted Grosbeak (brief 1w male on Orkney)
 Pine Bunting (fem Shetland and prob on Scilly)
Yellow-breasted Bunting (Foula)
 Black-and-white Warbler (1w female, Scilly)
 Northern Waterthrush (long stayer, Scilly not bad predicting this pair!)

Of all these birds I managed to see... 1!

Birds predicted but haven't occured yet;
 Little Bustard 
 Black-winged Pratincole 
 Black-billed Cuckoo 
 River Warbler 
 Desert Warbler 
 Rufous Bush Chat 
 Black-eared Wheatear  

Still time?!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Northern Harriers

Seen as I'm on reading week from Uni, thought I best do some reading/research!


This got me thinking about the 2w male Northern Harrier that was kicking around Tacumshin not long ago and how at first glance it could be dismissed as a 2w Male Hen Harrier. 

Searching through Surfbirds I quickly found photos of the Doncaster 2w male Hen Harrier taken by Ron Marshall who has kindly granted me permission to reproduce his images here. 

                                                                    © copyright Ron Marshall

As you can see obviously a non-adult male harrier, but why is it cyaneus and not hudsonius? By comparing photos of the Doncaster bird and male Northern Harriers from the US, I'll try to highlight the differences with the help of some brilliant images courtesy of Bob Steele

Doncaster bird © copyright Ron Marshall

Male Northern Harrier © copyright Bob Steele

Comparing these two photos the two birds look fairly similar, darker headed appearance and brown flank barring. However further photos show;

                                                          Doncaster bird © copyright Ron Marshall

                                                    Male Northern Harrier © copyright Bob Steele

These two photos show the extent of black on the underside of the primaries and how it varies from one (sub?) species to another, with cyaneus showing extensive black reaching a lot closer to the underwing primary coverts. The line of black could be described and being parralel with the wing base on cyaneus and diagonally away from the wing base on hudsonius.

                                                             Doncaster bird © copyright Ron Marshall

Male Northern Harrier © copyright Bob Steele

These two photos show how the Doncaster bird has dark tips to the upperwing coverts similar to adult male hudonius, however note the black patterning on the top side of the primaries. In cyaneus the primaries are black through to p5 whereas hudsonius only to p6 (with only a small black tip on p5). Also note the extent of the black, in cyaneus it extends right up to the upper primary coverts but in hudonius it only reaches it in p10 showing grey bases to the primaries from p9 onwards.

Male Northern Harrier © copyright Bob Steele

As can be seen in the above photo ad male hudsonius show barring on the tail feathers, ad male cyaneus do not show this, however 2w male cyaneus do which can be seen on the Doncaster bird here although this is a lot more faint than hudsonius

(So would that make this cyaneus a 3cy due to the barred retained outer-tail feathers?)

So although it seems the Doncaster bird is indeed a 2w cyaneus, how many ad male hudonius have been overlooked as 2w male cyaneus?! Hopefully not too many!

I've never been lucky enough to see a hudsonius, so info here taken from various books and internet searches! 

Many thanks to Bob Steele and Ron Marshall for allowing me to use their photos on this post.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Some pictures from a day around the North Lincs coast on Wednesday starting at Donna Nook, then Saltfleet then ended the day at Tetney Lock. Highlight finding a Rough-Leg wahoooooooo

Shrike was in the bush on left amazing close views!

Seals are awesome!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Today was an ace day, travelled to Northumberland for first light and saw Greater Yellowlegs and Grey Phalarope at Hauxley NR, then headed off to Marden Quarry where the 1w Lesser Scaup showed nicely amongst a whole array of 'interesting' wildfowl! 

Then a quick stop at Boldon Flats saw some stunning White-fronts really close to the road! No sign of the Nightingale at Whitburn CP, so  we headed down the road to Marsden Quarry to do some proper birding! 

What an cracking place! Habbo looks spot on and its had some birds over the years! After 15mins of only seeing one Blackbird we picked up a Swift over the quarry top!!! 13th November and a Swift! Luckily it stuck around and allowed us to have great prolonged views, but the conditions were rubbish! Thick fog and no light but the bird seemed really brown and blunt wing tipped, in the end we erred on the side of caution and think pekinensis could be a good shout! A Sparrowhawk gave a scare when it went for it! But it evaded capture but dissapeared off just as the light was improving! Hopefully it will be relocated in the morning! Whilst watching it we had a large Pipit go over call once and dissapear into the fog, further attempts to track it down were fruitless!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Benny Hill

Check out this

Isabelline Wheatear at Spurn, 5th November. Bird had a feeding circuit of about 200m and would constantly move up and down the beach, the crowd of 50+ twitchers would follow it up and down getting brief views at each end. We stood by post 33 and it would land right in front of us each time allowing for cracking views! Thought I'd put this video together to show how funny it was, they must have gone back and forth about 6 times in the hour that we stood there for!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Possibly my last post, although long dark nights might change that

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Gonna get a new scope, any recommendations on make model and where to get one?

Monday, October 24, 2011




để các bờ biển, sự bùng nổ

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spurn Pic

Seen as I am too lazy to upload my own pictures here's one that Jack Ashton-Booth sent me

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rock Pipit

Today I had a stint fly in at Hes East after a bit of excitement and a run around manage to nail it as a Little.

yeah record shot!
 Then whilst videoing it had a Rock Pipit flyover, flew over several more times and showed on the deck several times briefly and even managed a sound recording of it here

Monday, September 19, 2011

Curlew Sandpiper

Popped out for a quick bit of birding this morning so decided to go to Upper Bittell Reservoir where 2 juvenile Curlew Sandpiper had been seen this morning.
After a quick check of Lower Bittell where a Wigeon and a weak attempt at stringing a Ferruginous Duck were the highlights.
Arriving at the dam at Upper it shocked me how low the level of the reservoir was. I've never seen it this low and thinking about it now I should have taken a photo of it!
Anyway a small flock of waders was on the far shore at a range of 13 miles and the 2 Curlew Sandpipers picked out. 

Honest it is a Curlew Sand!

Anyway after checking the gulls and the rest of the banks where nothing much else was, we headed home.
So why did I go and see 2 Curlew Sandpiper at 1,500ft range?

Who knows, answers on a postcard!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Today involved getting up early and heading to Shenstone to look for the juv Black Redstart thats been kicking around there for a while.

Arriving fairly early 06:45 we waited about 30 mins until we managed to see the bird. Initially picked up at some distance it eventually came a lot closer and showed really well. Right nice bird and I've only seen 1 before! Shocking.

Borrowed, thanks

Apparently its a juv as it was fluffy and spotty when it first turned up, I couldn't see why it was one today! Pale wing panel was a feature I wasn't expecting but being a complete novice with Black Reds a quick google shows that female types can show this.

Borrowed, thanks

Photos of the actual bird here seen as I couldn't be bothered.

Also; 2 Goldcrest, 9 Meadow Pipit over, 2 Jay and Grey Wag over.

Nice year tick and was back home by 08:30!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Having not being able to get down to the lakes since Monday my first chance was this evening so I headed down  to see what was about.

Pulling up by the western flashes a quick look up shows a largish wader but my bins were still in my bag! Quick panic to get them out and get on the bird (whilst thinking poss Whimbrel) get on the bird and its a cracking juv male Ruff!

This is my 18th sp of wader in under a year of watching my University lakes! (missed Knot and Black-tailed Godwit)

definition of a record image not what they call record shots on surfbirds

By the time I'd set up the scope, had a look at the bird and then realised I'd left my camera at home! The bird then flew towards the Wood Sand pool. Quick move and the bird was showing well feeding away. Great big stunning thing.

Walking along the main lake a juv Little Grebe was on part of the main lake, only my second record on site.
5 Tufted Duck plenty of ducks, geese and gulls going over and 3 Common Sands on the main lake.

!!! Hes East mega

Grey Phal will have to wait till tomorrow

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Right time to sort this blog out!

Went to Cornwall for bank holiday weekend, drove down Thursday 25th night and did various seawatches between Pendeen and Porthgwarra up until Tuesday 30th August. Birds seen from seawatching included;

Great Shearwater- 7 (lifer)
Sooty Shearwater- 245+
Balearic Shearwater -47
Manx Shearwater-upto 10,000 in one morning at Pendeen
Roseate Tern-1 (ad)
Storm Petrel- 14+
Sabine’s Gull-1 (1s)
Med Gull-5 (juvs)
Pomarine Skua-4
Bonxie- 18+
Arctic Skua-27+
Chough- 2

Overall very nice seawatching highlights personally being Great Shearwaters, a stunning intermediate morph Pom with spoons, large numbers of Sooty Shearwaters, self finding an ad Roseate Tern and Chough flying past about 15ft away.

Basking Shark-2

Never seen Basking Shark before so was great to see one really close at Pendeen.
Quick early afternoon visits to Drift Resv, Marazion and Hayle Estuary produced

Little Stint-juv
Curlew Sandpiper-juv

Good selection of waders but we missed finding the Baird’s Sand by a day!

Quick detour one afternoon to the Lizard to see the Black Kite, great views of it flying low over a field and even catching a vole!

Then on way home stopped off in South Devon to see some lovely Cirl Buntings by third lifer of the trip and then stopping off in Somerset to try and see the Spotted Crake and Great White Egret at Shapwick Heath NNR. Spotted Crake didn’t show but Great White Egret did which was my 4th lifer of the trip.

Since getting back from Cornwall birding has mainly involved going down Hes East pretty much every day to see what I can find down there. So far Little Stint, Garganey, Whinchat and 2 Raven are all new for the site along with Knot which I missed out on.

Went for a seawatch one afternoon at Filey after a Fea’s had gone past Flamborough, but quiet wasn’t the word! Several Arctic Skua, Purple Sandpiper, Whimbrel and a juv Med Gull were the only real highlights.

Had an afternoon twitch up to Greatham Creek where the ad Sharp-tailed Sanpiper showed well! Then further on up the coast to Whitburn where we dipped American Golden Plover and Bonaparte’s Gull, however nearly 1000 Golden Plover on seaweed covered rocks were nice and an ad Med Gull that Ollie thought could have been a hybrid but I think it was just a runty winter Med.

Life List-288
Year List-230
Campus List-115

Semi-palmated Sandpiper is slowly getting closer and hopefully it will be relocated at Blacktoft soon!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


So my last post on here was on 16th July, so here is a post...

Well maybe tomorrow, have seen some good birds recently. Including 2 local megas on the patch in last 2 days, intrigued? Tune in tomorrow (unless I just go birding instead)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Honest Mistakes


Greetings All This morning, I heard a summary of a study re: perception.Students (college, I believe) were asked to follow a jogger and count how manytimes he touched his hat. This was done to simulate a police officer followinga criminal and focusing on whether a weapon was in hand or evidence discarded.The jogger and student ran past a loud fight between three people near theirpath. Even in daylight, FIFTY PERCENT of the students did not notice the fightin any way. Furthermore, many (most?) of that 50% were CERTAIN there was not a fight they ran past. Bear with me, I will get to the frontiers of ID part. Another study that I read some time ago -- and I might get somedetails wrong, but the message is well ingrained – looked at the effect ofclothing on racial identification (again, this was done with regards to policework). A white man was dressed to fit the stereotype of an inner city African-American male. The man walked past the test observers. SKIN COLOR WASNEVER VISIBLE. A large percentage ofobservers stated with certainty that they saw a black man, and that they actually sawthe skin color. So, if one ties these two studies together (and I’ve seenother studies similar to the second one regarding recognition of other people) acouple interesting conclusions arise: As birders, we probably only accurately note those marksthat we truly focus on. If we have prior knowledge of/experience with thespecies, the other details may well be filled in automatically by our brainsbased on what we expect to see, which may not necessarily match reality. Far worse, our brains may notrecognize, NOR EVEN BE CAPABLE OF recognizing that those other details werefilled in, not actually observed. Therefore, totally honest reports may well beinaccurate, even though the observer is “certain” that particular details werepresent. When documenting rarities, especially those seen relatively briefly,it might be worth stressing which marks were specifically focused on. We probably use context much more often than we are willingto admit. In Colorado, when driving through a town on the eastern plains, aChaetura swift flies by and most observers (myself included) would enter it asa Chimney Swift. In reality, we probably have not seen enough to make thischallenging ID with certainty. Since moving to Colorado, my brain is in “thisis where I live mode,” which for the prior 20 years was Washington. Alas, I nowlive in Colorado. During the first couple months here, this subconscious effectcaused me to initially misidentifying birds. Now, with context better ingrained, those types of errors are much less frequent (the rumors that I called a duck an alcid are ALL LIES I tell you :o) In any case, being aware of these factors may help us avoidmisidentifications, and I hope some of this information is new and interestingto Frontiers subscribers. Best Wishes Steven Mlodinow

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Some shocking photos of the near ad YLG that was at Hes East the other day