Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Kazakhstan

A bit different this week as I have just returned from a brilliant birding trip to Kazakhstan. Nearly 200 species logged in eight days. We covered a wide range of habitats from desert to steppe to high mountains and all in glorious sunshine…


Here's a small selection of the birds seen...



Lammergeier and Long-legged Buzzard, two of the twenty-one species of birds of prey seen (although pick for me was a magnificent Saker falcon).

It's also a great country for shrikes with five species seen. Turkestan Shrikes were particularly numerous...

but my favourite was Long-tailed Shrike...


The mountains were particularly good. The Great Almaty Lake lies at about 2500m...


The really sought after species here is a unique wader, the Ibisbill. They are hard to spot as they mimic the colours of their habitat but we were lucky enough to find one...


The Juniper and Tien Shan spruce forests around the lake held birds like Himalayan Rubythroat...


and Eversmann's Redstart...


and higher (up to 11,000 feet) we found Himalayan Snowcock, Guldenstadt's Redstart (hopping around in the snow!) both Mountain Finches and both Altai and this superb Brown Accentor...

There were also some very familiar birds but of the local subspecies such as this bactriana race Magpie with it's extra long tail...

this very pale and well marked 'hafizi' form of Nightingale 

the 'halimodendri' form of Lesser Whitethroat...

and this cracking Masked Wagtail (the same species as our Pied Wag)


and plenty of birds we are familiar with but showing particularly well like Temminck's Stint...


and Nightjar...


Hard to choose a favourite but one candidate would be White-winged Lark as it was such an unexpected find...

If you ever get a chance to go, grab it!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

12th May


The year list continues to slowly grow. I had Swift over the river last weekend and the first ‘screaming’ ones yesterday evening with about ten birds over the house. This Garden Warbler was singing by the river at Morton last Saturday…


They are a scarce breeder in the parish and seem to be almost exclusively confined to hawthorns by the Swale.
The Yellow Wagtail is one of my favourite summer visitors. Nationally they have declined significantly but they keep a toe-hold in the parish, mainly in the sheep pasture along the river. Like a lot of birds they have been late in arriving but I had a pair today…



And I also added Common Sandpiper, although it was so flighty that I only managed this single very distant shot…

Also along the river I had six Cormorant, a Little Egret, four Oystercatchers, four Corn Buntings, three singing Reed Buntings but only two Whitethroats and a single Willow Warbler…


As well as a few common Birds of prey with eight Buzzards..


four of these were in a ‘kettle’ with a Sparrowhawk and Kestel…


Sunday, 6 May 2018

6th May


Another beautiful day today, with light south-easterlies I really expected a significant arrival of summer migrants but still no real sign of this. Highlight was this cracking Tawny Owl roosting pretty much out in the open in the Magic Garden.


Yesterday John and Beryl came and set up their mist nets in the Garden. This reinforced the view that birds are very late with only a single Whitethroat, three Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs  and three Willow Warblers representing the summer visitors. This Willow was carrying a ring which wasn’t John’s so will be interesting to see where this has come from…


Two of the Blackcaps were ringed here last year…


In fact there were about a dozen re-traps in all, including three birds caught in succession who were carrying sequential ring numbers from last year. Not sure what the odds on that would be!
But this Treecreeper was unringed…


As was this Goldcrest…



In the end it was an early finish as a breeze blew up and turned the nets from virtually invisible…

To impossible to miss…

I can’t talk about yesterday without mentioning the Tour De Yorkshire which came through the village yesterday.  what a fantastic event…





Sunday, 29 April 2018

29th April


Summer migrants continue to dribble in. I had the first Whitethroat, and four singing Lesser Whitethroats, down Greenhills Lane yesterday and my first House Martin over the garden this morning. The church Swallows are now back but numbers of most species are still mainly noticeable by their absence.
There are no waders on the move either which is a pity as there is a short window where the parish flood pools look optimum for drawing birds in. As it was two pair of Shelduck were the only birds on there along with a couple of pairs of Lapwing…


David, the owner of the Magic Garden, was given a trail camera for Christmas and I have finally got round to setting it up for him. Having seen all those wildlife documentaries where they use them to rediscover rare species there was a real sense of excitement when I first plugged it in. Not exactly some elusive big cat but interesting nonetheless and shows the potential for discoveries.




Sunday, 22 April 2018

22nd April

Despite a week of warmer weather summer migrants are still slow to return. Only Chiffchaff have arrived in any numbers…


With barely a handful of Willows so far singing in the parish…


…Together with a smattering of Blackcaps. Although Swallows have been seen intermittently since early April any local nesting birds do not seem to have made an appearance before today when a pair of birds were twittering around the stables. Other arrivals today included Lesser Whitethroat, with at least one bird singing down Greenhills Lane, and Chris had Garden Warbler near the river.

Butterflies are also starting to show with Small Tortoishell, Comma and eight Peacocks seen in the Magic Garden including this ragged one…


Yesterday I went to Langton Bridge to see the fascinating, if slightly unnerving, sight of Lampreys spawning. Just on the upstream side of the bridge were a total of about 75 individuals. You could see some suckering on to stones and turning them over. Unfortunately photography was extremely difficult with my cheap camera (and without a polarizing filter) but you can just about make them out…



There was also a large trout here, a Barbel and a small shoal of what I think were young Grayling?

Friday, 6 April 2018

6th April


Large areas of floodwater south of the village again this evening. Birds on here included a record count of 22 Shelduck…


These flying birds included calls I have never heard before, high pitched almost passerine like.
I also had only my third parish records of both Gadwall (four birds) and Shoveler, a drake and this female…


A pair of Teal and eight Tufted Duck…


Plus Two Little Egrets…


Six Curlew, 120 Fieldfare and around 150 gulls including 40+ Common Gulls…


This gives just a small indication of how good the village must have been when it had managed flood meadows here and there were wartime reports of large numbers of wildfowl on the floods.



Sunday, 1 April 2018

1st April

Birding can be a cruel hobby. I had a text from Tracey and Russ Palmer that they had three Hawfinches on their bird table. I dropped everything to run across but the birds had just departed. And to show it wasn't an April fools trick he had managed these photos through the kitchen window...




Great addition to the parish bird list but I am very jealous!