Golden Eagle in Wales

As usual, when I am visiting Wales sometime during the morning I will check birdguides for the latest Ceredigion news. Yesterday I was excited to see 
Golden Eagle    Ceredigion    Pont-rhyd-y-groes
I straight away enquired of my welsh in-laws where the said village was and was pleased to find out it was just 10 miles away.  It turned out to be 12 so took 25 minutes on the Welsh winding roads. On arrival there were no birders in sight, in fact there were no people and I had very little to go on apart from the village name.  I decided to try and glean some more information from the finder and dashed home to e-mail him.
It was late afternoon when he replied, so I decided to try again the next morning.  Ten o clock found me outside "The Miner’s Arms" in Pont-rhyd-y-groes. 
The Miner’s Arms – Pont-Rhyd-Y-Groes, Ceredigion, Wales 30th January 2011
The landlord was most helpful and explained the direction the bird had been seen from previously. A little later "Irie" arrived, the local who had taken some of the great pictures that now can be found on birdguides. More birders arrived and for an hour we all stood waiting in hope, seeing the odd buzzard or Red Kite.  "Irie" then located the bird in the distance and we were all chuffed to finally get views, although distant, of this fantastic raptor.
Golden Eagle, Pont-Rhyd-Y-Groes, Ceredigion, Wales 30th January 2011
A Distant shot of a very large bird, the best I could do I am afraid.
Read this thread for some interesting notes and varying points of view.
and many thanks to "Irie", his enthusiasm was infectious.
Mark C.


Little Owl at Hook with Warsash

   This morning I visited Hook with Warsash where I found the hide windows jammed solid by the hard overnight frost.  Not that there appeared to be too much to see from the hide because the hide scrape was completely frozen over.  At the sea wall I found the tide to be high and an icy slush lapped against the sea defences.  Although it was rather chilly it wasn’t cold enough for the sea to freeze.  I concluded that the slush must of represented ice, from the previously exposed foreshore, that had been lifted off by the incoming tide.  

   Due to the icy conditions at the scrape the harbour contained a large number of wildfowl that were widely dispersed.  Wigeon was the most numerous duck but there were also Teal, two male Shoveler, a pair of Gadwall, a pair of Pintail and five Brent Geese.  

Ringed Plover and Dunlin, Hook Spit – 30 Jan 11

   Links Scrape was also completely iced over.  As I made a note of the handfull of species that were present two male Pintail circled the scrape to land.  However, one of them aborted and headed off West. 

Male Pintail, Links Scrape – 30 Jan 11

   The bird of the day was a single Little Owl in the line of oaks opposite Beam Cottage.  I was fortunate to spot the Little Owl because shortly after I picked it out it got harassed by two Magpie and flew out of view.  Although the location is a regular haunt of the species I didn’t record a single Little Owl at Hook with Warsash throughout 2010. 

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Red-breasted Goose at Chilling

Managed to slip away from decorating for a few hours this afternoon. I was keen on the Red-breasted Goose that has been present at Chilling for the last week or so; hoping also that a few Waxwings would still be in the area. After parking at Thatcher’s Copse I walked along the concrete road to Brownich Pond. Unfortunately the Waxwings were not to be seen, likewise with the Bittern at the pond. Whilst overlooking the sluice I bumped into Graham Barrett; who had just seen the Goose fly up from the shore onto the main Chilling field. Glad to say he walked to the field with me and after a few minutes he had the bird in his scope. A great bird for a local(ish) patch and all the better for being an unringed bird. All the Geese, which numbered around 750 birds were busy feeding, especially the Red-breasted which rarely lifted it’s head for the twenty minutes I watched. On several occasions the birds took to the air before landing back in the same field to feed. On one of these movements they came to within a 100 metres or so of the coastal footpath so I nipped away to get a shot. Rather pleased with the image although I had to crop it quite a bit due to the distance. I walked back to the car via the concrete road but again no joy on the Waxwings.

Red-breasted Goose, Chilling, 30 Jan 2011

Red-breasted Goose, Chilling, 30 Jan 2011

Steve Copsey

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Seabirds in the Channel

I have spent the last three weeks onboard HMS York, my temporary mobile home for the next couple of years. We have spent the three week period in the channel off the coast of Devon and Cornwall doing a spot of training and exercising before we deploy to the South Atlantic. To say I have been busy is an understatement and I have had little time for birding during the 16-18 hour days I have been working. That said I made the occasional visit to the upper deck and noted the few birds around. I did not have a camera with me and the shots below were all taken at Bempton Cliffs back in 2007. These cliffs are in Yorkshire so I guess as I am serving on the counties ship it is fine to put them together. All pretty standard fare with Black-headed Gulls the most common bird when we were close inshore; the gulls being replaced by Gannets and Kittiwakes as we went further out. A number of Auks were seen at distance and all appeared to be Guillemots. We are now back in Pompey for a few repairs and a spot of maintenance before deploying. Once we have departed UK waters I will hopefully update the blog every few days.


Black-headed Gull




Steve Copsey

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Confiding Waxwing at Brownwich

   This afternoon I returned to Brownwich, where I hoped to connect with the Waxwing that had remained in the area since my last visit a week ago.  I was not disappointed as nine birds showed superbly on my arrival in the hedgerows beside the concrete road that heads West out of Thatchers Coppice [SU5203].  The Waxwing were not phased by the occasional vehicle that passed within a few feet of the hedgerows that the birds were perched in and provided a superb photographic opportunity. 

Waxwing, Brownwich – 28 Jan 11

   When not perched in the higher branches the Waxwing flew down to feed on the berries of nearby bushes or dropped down to drink from the water filled tractor tracks in the adjacent field.  

Adult and first-winter Waxwing, Brownwich – 28 Jan 11

First-winter Waxwing, Brownwich – 28 Jan 11

   On my return to Thatchers Coppice three hours later the flock had increased in size to at least ten (probably twelve) birds.  Since there are still plenty of berries in the road side hedgerows, there is every chance that the Waxwing will continue to remain in the area. 

Catkins, Brownwich – 28 Jan 11

   My next stop was Brownwich Pond.  Where the Bittern had shown last week there was just a pair of Mallard and a Tufted Duck.  However, twenty metres to the left, in an area completely devoid of reeds, the Bittern emerged on the other side of a mesh fence.  It adopted a presumably hunting posture that it maintained for a good ten minutes with its head low and just above the water.  It then moved off in to deeper cover. 

Male Mallard and male Tufted Duck, Brownwich Pond – 28 Jan 11

Bittern, Brownwich Pond – 28 Jan 11

   Other highlights included four Knot on the foreshore at the outfall from Brownwich Pond, seven Bar-tailed Godwit on the foreshore a little East of Solent Breezes and the Red-breasted Goose amongst ‘Brent’ on the cliff top arable. 

Chilling arable (looking East towards Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower) – 28 Jan 11


Good Birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Diseased Brown Trout and Marsh Harrier along Titchfield Canal

   This afternoon I walked the length of the Titchfield Canal.  The water level was very high and South of the recently raised section of canal path it had burst its bank in many places. 

   The highlight was a female Marsh Harrier that drifted over the ‘Frying Pan’ reed bed at Titchfield Haven.  Although a little distant it clearly did not have the dark underwing coverts typical of a juvenile. 

   Other species of note included a Barn Owl, six Pintail (five male and a female on Posbrook Floods), 100+ Lapwing and a pair of Bullfinch. 

   A short distance South of Hammonds Bridge I came across the 18" Brown Trout photographed below that was covered in a fungal growth. 

Brown Trout, Titchfield Canal – 23 Jan 11

Brown Trout, Titchfield Canal – 23 Jan 11

   Although lethargic and in poor condition it did still have a bit of life left in it.    

Brown Trout, Titchfield Canal – 23 Jan 11

   Unfortunately I met a chap who had seen another fish with the same fungal infection further upstream.  Hopefully the disease is not too widespread. 

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (open)

Red-breasted Goose, Bittern and Firecrest at Brownwich, Hampshire

   It was always my intension to visit the Brownwich and Chilling area today after work and that certainly didn’t change after reports of an un-ringed Red-breasted Goose and flock of Waxwing in the area yesterday. 

Brownwich Pond – 21 Jan 11.  The Bittern is the small, pale blotch in the middle of the photograph on the far bank left of the reeds. 

   On route from Thatchers Coppice car park I stopped at Brownwich Pond in the hope of connecting with the Bittern that had shown well earlier in the day.  On my arrival at the weir, located in the southeast corner of the pond, I spotted the Bittern immediately with the naked eye.  Although a little distant the bird was in full view on the far bank.  It preened, stretched, dabbled at fishing and performed the ‘sky pointing’ posture typical of the species during the twenty-five minutes that I watched the bird.  It has been a long wait to finally get the ‘patch tick’ but it was well worth it in the end.  

Bittern, Brownwich Pond – 21 Jan 11

   After enjoying the Bittern I walked South to the cliffs where I found the Red-breasted Goose amongst c450 Brent Geese on the water close inshore. 

Red-breasted Goose amongst Brent Geese, Brownwich Cliffs – 21 Jan 11

   After several minutes the birds took flight and landed back on adjacent cliff top arable in two flocks.  There the 450 birds effectively disappeared in an undulation at the eastern end of the field.  Apart from a little calling you would of been oblivious to the presence of so many birds close by.  However, the geese eventually came back in to view and the Red-breasted Goose showed really well.  

Red-breasted Goose amongst Brent Goose, Brownwich Cliffs – 21 Jan 11

Red-breasted Goose amongst Brent Geese, Brownwich Cliffs – 21 Jan 11

   Although I dipped on the Waxwing I was treated to superb views of a Firecrest on my return to Thatchers Coppice.  The Firecrest and a Treecreeper moved through the woodland amongst a mixed tit flock. 

   All in all I had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon at one of my local patches. 

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Smew at Blashford Lakes

   Having never had Smew in Hampshire I thought it was about time that I pulled my finger out and went to see one of the possible three that are in the county.  I decided on the Blashford birds and arrived at the reserve as the hides were being opened.  A brisk walk to Rockford Lake and after scanning through the hundred of ducks that were present, I finally found the redhead just off the corner of the island at the back of the Alice Lisle Pub.  The Smew was far too distant for any images so here’s the best I could do. 

Cormorant, Blashford Lakes Hants
   A quick stop at the top of Portsdown Hill for my local patch and I was nearly blown off my feet as the wind gusted from the south. Home beckoned and mulligatawny soup with warm bread, happy days.
Mark C.

Hampshire Moths Conference 2011

   This afternoon Tony and I went to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Moth Conference 2011.   After the usual welcome and opening remarks by Dan Hoare we were treated to four excellent presentations. Firstly a review of the year given by Tim Norriss, this concentrated on certain species and their status within the county.  He also mentioned some of the rarer and more unusual moths found throughout the year.  This was followed by an introduction to Micro moths by Mike Wall.  This explained the evolutionary history of micro moths from the oldest known in the Jurassic period.

A break for tea and then Tony Davis gave a talk on a year in the life of a Moth Conservation Officer.  This was a chronological breakdown of the main conservation projects that had taken place in 2010, starting in March and proceeding through the year to the winter work parties. The last talk was from Dave Green and was ‘Gardens for Moths’ and in particular the different gardens that Dave had lived in throughout the county.  His story of the fake owl to deter birds from his moth trap was a highlight.

   An excellent afternoon of moths which sent all away desperate for the warmer evenings and the prospect of lepidoptera to come.  If you have any interest in moths then visit the fantastic HantsMoths webiste, a must for information of moths in general and their status in the county.

Poplar Hawk Moth, Portsdown Hill 09 August 2009
   I have attached a picture of the first and only hawk moth from my garden at the base of Portsdown Hill.  This was found in the trap on it’s first outing and left me slightly spoilt, expecting such delights every time the trap was put out.  Lets hope for a few more in 2011.

Golden Plover, Greenshank and Red-breasted Merganser on the River Hamble

   Due to a day of heavy and persistent rain, that has fallen on already waterlogged ground, I opted to walk along the gravel footpath on the eastern side of the River Hamble at Hook with Warsash this afternoon.  Despite the gloomy skies and brisk south-westerly wind I managed to dodge the worst of the rain and I even spotted some blue sky as I headed back to the car.  

   The highlight was a flock of 250 Golden Plover that twisted and turned in the air before settling on the western shoreline of the river. 

Greenshank amongst Wigeon and Teal, Bunny Meadows – 14 Jan 11

   Other highlights included four Greenshank, Buzzard, two Rock Pipit, sixty plus Redwing, a swirling flock of several hundred Dunlin, three Little Egret and a female Red-breasted Merganser. 

Female Red-breasted Merganser, River Hamble – 14 Jan 11

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Bullfinch at Manor Park

This morning we were at Manor Park before the sun come up in the hope of getting the nets up before the local thrushes were on the move.

A few early birds such as Blackbirds and House Sparrows were followed by a few Redwing but not in the numbers that were in the fields around the animal pens. In total over 500 birds, mostly Redwings and Fieldfares were present with small numbers of the other three common thrushes. We persevered through the morning but in total only colour ringed nine new Redwing. The colour ring combination can be seen below please let me know if you see any of these birds.

We are not to be beaten and next time at the farm will find us trying to think like a Redwing and net a few more birds than today.

Redwing (ringed), Manor Park Country Farm 9th January 2011

Our last bird of the day was a corker and Issie had the pleasure of ringing this fantastic male Bullfinch. 

Bullfinch, Manor Park Country Farm 9th January 2011
Mark C.

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White-tailed Eagle in Hampshire

Managed to pop down to Downton this morning to hopefully connect with the juvenile White-tailed Eagle that has been around the area for a day or two maybe longer. I missed this bird by a whisker when it passed through Titchfield Haven before Christmas. I also missed the North Hants Eagle a few years back so this would be a county first for me. I spent an hour or so along Hordle lane and got chatting to a few faces I recognised including Martin from the Gilkicker group and Dave Wallace. Just as I was beginning to get a bit twitchy and worried, I picked the bird up flying in over the tree line from the south, with a few corvids in tow. It then dropped low and perched in a dead tree for a few minutes before circling around the area and heading back south. As it circled a Common Buzzard joined the Corvids to assist with the hassling. The Eagle did not seem overly worried and why would it. I managed a few shots as it came nearer but unfortunately the sky was an overcast lead grey so I knew the bird would be dark and silhouetted. I have placed a few images below. Two have been lightened to show a few more of the bird’s features.

White-tailed Eagle, Downton, 8 Jan 2011

In company with a Common Buzzard and I assume a Jackdaw by the size

This could be my last entry for a while as I have decided to pop away on a Grey Funnel Cruise Liner until the weather gets better!! Hopefully I will get some entries off whilst away so keep looking. A great bird to bow out on though.

Juvenile White-tailed Eagle, Downton, 8 Jan 2011

Same image as above but not lightened.

Steve Copsey

Firecrest at Hook

After wrapping up my time at HMS Collingwood this morning I was back home and looking at the clearing skies at half eleven. By midday I was at Hook with Warsash under a leaden grey sky! The story of the winter for me so far. I walked around the harbour at high tide and the only reward was a single Little Grebe on the water. On the inside of the harbour wall I had 72 Wigeon strung out around the scrape. The links were rather quiet as well but at least the links scrape provided more quantity if not quality. 20 Shelduck were in company with similar numbers of Canada Geese and 60 or so Lapwing were roosting at the back of the scrape. 7 Common Gulls were loafing on the water and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull joined them. A party of Black-tailed Godwits flew in and landed on one of the islands as I enjoyed a brew. Still no Hudsonian among them. The heavens then opened and that was the signal I needed to put the camera away and head back. I walked up towards Christmas House and was more than happy to come across a Firecrest feeding by the path side ditch. A few Goldcrest were also feeding along with a small flock of Long-tailed Tit.Black-tailed Godwits, Hook Scrape, 4 Jan 2011Robin, Near Christmas House, 4 Jan 2011Firecrest, Near Christmas House, 22 Dec 2009

The Firecrest shot above, was taken near the road bridge just over a year ago. The area around Christmas House always seems to be a reliable spot for wintering Firecrest. Whether or not this is the same bird as today is anyones guess, but it does look similar.

Steve Copsey

Mottled Umber – first moth of 2011

   Last night I left the back room light on all evening in the hope that it would attract a moth to the window.  Unfortunately I had no luck.  However, as I was brushing my teeth I noticed a large moth come to rest on the outside of the bathroom window.  I grabbed a plastic jug and on my third attempt, with tooth brush hanging out of my mouth, I managed to scoop the moth into the house through the narrow open window.  I was very fortunate that the moth kept coming back after my first two failed attempts. 

   The Mottled Umber was not just my first moth of 2011 but it was a ‘New For Garden’.  The specimen had bolder markings than the one photographed by Mark in an earlier posting dated 2 Jan 11.    

Mottled Umber, Fareham Garden – 3 Jan 11

   On future mild evenings I’ll have to leave the bathroom light on instead!  

Good mothing,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Bearded Tits at Farlington

Had a morning stroll around Farlington Marshes yesterday with Sid Lawrence. The main aim of the visit was to get White-fronted Goose and Pink-footed Goose onto Sid’s Hampshire List. Glad to say that the aim was achieved but the Geese as with my last visit were a little distant, but having a scope with us did enhance the viewing experience! The morning started as every morning seems to have started over the last week or two, dank and grey. It was unfortunately, under these conditions that a Peregrine Falcon decided to fly over the lagoon and out into the harbour relatively near to where we were standing. I took a few shots but they were very dark and silhouetted. However I have lightened it a little for the blog although that does make the image which to be fair was not brilliant to start with a little more grainy. Fortunately the weather improved as the morning progressed. As expected we had good numbers of Brent around the marshes. Probably in the region of 1500-2000 birds, also the usual numbers of ducks and waders. Unfortunately some of the smaller islands in the harbour were not totally covered by the high tide so many of the waders such as Grey Plover, Knot and at least twenty Avocets were still quite distant. At the Deeps we came across a pair of Bearded Tits that put on a good display for the two of us. I managed a few shots but unfortunately neither of the birds ever came out of the reed stems for more than the odd nano second. Sid had another Hampshire tick though so he was pretty chuffed. I will have to get him out more!Peregrine Falcon, Farlington Marshes, 2 Jan 2011Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Farlington Marshes, 2 Jan 2011Shoveler, Farlington Marshes, 2 Jan 2011Bearded Tit, Farlington Marshes, 2 Jan 2011

Steve Copsey