Thursday, 31 December 2009

UK Picture of 2009

A close run poll this year with a hot contest between the Waxwings and Barn Owl for top spot. The Waxwings eventually winning by just two votes! Thanks to everyone for taking part and following the blog.

The Waxwings were taken on New Years Day 2009, an awesome start to the year. For 2010 I'm planning to stay in Shropshire for a bit of a bird race to start the year - no Waxwings yet but hopefully a few birds to kickstart the year!

Wishing you all a brilliant New Year, with plenty of great birds, hope to see you whilst out and about......

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Priorslee - Caspian Gull!!

More than a bit of excitement yesterday with news of a Ring-billed Gull plus (a few days later than I predicted) TWO adult Caspian Gulls being reported at the lake! I Managed, together with a few of the locals to get over and see one of the latter during the afternoon but no decent images to speak of!

A return during lunchtime today eventually turned up possibly the same bird out on the water....

A brief flight onto the ice thankfully allowed a glimpse of the primary tip pattern - almost identical to the earlier Stubbers Green bird see in November

On the ice, sadly with other Gulls obscuring a clear view but enough of the typical features visible to clinch Caspian Gull.

A Pink-footed Goose by the Severn at Leighton added another year tick to bring, without too much fuss, a final County year tally of 169. Quite happy with this, considering I've concentrated most of my efforts elsewhere this year!

Monday, 28 December 2009

Barrow Lodge - Velvet Scoter

Was I up for another dose of Crakewatch? No! Shropshire was not even on the agenda today with an golden opportunity to see a bird, rarely seen at close quarters, a first winter Velvet Scoter, spending Christmas on a small stretch of water at Barrow Lodge, near Clitheroe, Lancs. Yvonne was up for it too, so we left an icy VP for the frozen North?

Fog nearly put a dampener on proceedings too but we knew the Scoter had been seen earlier in the day and once North of Manchester, the fog lifted revealing blue skies and with a snow covered Pendle Hill dominating the landscape - we reached the destination....

50% coverage of ice still left the Scoter with quite a bit of water to feed from - it was certainly wary of human presence! Photographs were guaranteed by sitting quietly behind cover and waiting (basic fieldcraft!) A couple of birders plus a photographer or two chose the open bank approach but eventually I got them on board....

Preening and looking very relaxed about it!

Diving for the local speciality down below!

Why is the Scoter happy here? The abundant supply of freshwater mussels certainly ensured it has plenty of food and gave plenty of photo-opportunities!

A close up of another tasty billful before swallowing whole - we watched it dispatch at least 20 of various sizes (mostly huge). Presume they are crushed in the gizzard before digestion?? I'll settle for mine boiled and dressed with garlic!

Another great day to remember with quite an amazing bird - probably my last travelling of the year too!!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Picture of 2009 (UK final poll)

(Please Note - current posts during December will appear further below -after the Picture of the Year selections)

Here are a final 'Top Twenty' favourite pictures (in no particular order) taken during 2009. This includes the top three Shropshire birds - congratulations to the COMMON SNIPE who just pipped the Willow Warbler and Peregrines by a single vote, it was a close run thing though!

You will find an voting box to the right, to keep things simple and by popular request simply check the FIVE pictures you like most! (click thumbs to open a larger image) FIVE votes maximum only please! (Only one voter is possible per PC sorry!)

I make no excuse for including TWO Grey Phalarope pictures!!

I will let this poll run until December 31st and then YOUR No 1 Picture of the Year will be declared on New Years Day....

Have a fantastic Christmas and here's wishing everyone great birding in 2010!

Picture 1 - Waxwings - Chasewater, Staffs (January)

Picture 2 - Cattle Egret - Powderham, Devon (February)

Picture 3 - Penduline Tit - Paignton, Devon (March)

Picture 4 - Ptarmigan - Ben Macdui, Highland (May)

Picture 5 - Parrot Crossbill - Abernethy, Highland (May)

Picture 6 - Knot and Godwit take off - Titchwell, Norfolk (June)

Picture 7 - Willow Warbler - Stiperstones, Shropshire (May)

Picture 8 - Peregrine food pass - Shropshire (June)

Picture 9 - Marsh Harrier - Norfolk (June)

Picture 10 - Grey Phalarope 'droplets' - Crosby Marine Park (November)

Picture 11 - Rock Pipit - Marazion, Cornwall (September)

Picture 12 - Little Stint - Marazion, Cornwall (September)

Picture 13 - Baird's Sandpiper - Marazion, Cornwall (September)

Picture 14 - Leach's Storm Petrel - Stewartby Lake, Beds (September)

Picture 15 - Barn Owl - Parkgate, Wirral (October)

Picture 16 - Shore Lark - Felixstowe Ferry, Suffolk (October)

Picture 17 - Short-eared Owl - Salthouse, Norfolk (October)

Picture 18 - Grey Phalarope 'close up' - Crosby Marine Park (November)

Picture 19 - Common Snipe - Venus Pool, Shropshire (October)

Picture 20 - Mediterranean Gull - Mumbles, Swansea (December)

Leucistic Fieldfare at Telford Crakeaway!

An unusual event got 'the lads' together today - a reported mega by Paul King (Little Crake) - in Shropshire!!?? Whilst I'd love to share some images with you.... It was a 'no show' for any of the assembled local and travelling birders at a section of the disused canal near Apley Castle, Telford.

A few of these....

and a couple of Water Rails was all there was to be seen over a three hour long vigil!

The only real interest of the day was a partly leucistic Fieldfare in the adjacent field. Never quite close enough and shooting through a thorny hedge didn't help but at least some distant record shots of this unusual bird were possible......

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Stubbers Green - Ice and Iceland

After a pretty unproductive Saturday - checking out the Meres, VP and Priorslee (BNG still there) a decent bird was called for! A long haul was knocked on the head - (glad about this as the Gower Gyr didn't show!) and I opted for a drive over to Stubbers Green with Andy (so he could tell me all about the Gyr he'd had the previous day!!)

Another good Stubbers Green Gull had been about recently and it was an icy scene which welcomed us mid-morning....

We'd just got out of the car, when the Iceland Gull flew overhead! It joined the rest of the Gulls in the middle of the ice covered pool - they were all giving the grassy bank a miss! Nevertheless, it was showing quite well (irritatingly with it's back to us most of the time) and a fair distance away......

Fleshy coloured black tipped bill, pale iris and quite uniformly marked wings and tail - characteristic of a 2nd winter bird.

After a brief flight which I missed, it was relocated and went walkabout amongst the other gulls....

A bit of a wingflap....

A running take off - showing a clean pair of heels....

and it was way back to the tip.... (where the Caspian Gull presumably was?? - didn't see this bird at all although it was reported in the afternoon)

Shame it was too cold to hang about and wait for it to return!!