Cory’s in the Canaries and Manx’s in Madeira

We headed north from the Cape Verde area and we were soon in the vicinity of the Canary Islands. The first bird of note was a single Red-billed Tropicbird which Tony initially picked up on the surface. As the ship approached it took off and circled the ship once before flying off into the distance. One of the expected species around the Canary Islands is Cory’s Shearwater and we were not disappointed, as first we came across a trickle of birds and eventually bumped into a couple of large feeding flocks containing 100’s of birds. Cory’s Shearwater breed in decent numbers (I believe around 20-30,000 pairs) around the Canaries, they especially like the high inaccessible cliffs that the islands offer. I always enjoy my interactions with Cory’s Shearwaters. The main reason being that generally when you come across the birds, a small number will always give the ship a fly by (resulting in better images – hopefully) even though they are not an habitual ship follower.

Red-billed Tropicbird 1a, Canary Islands, 17 Apr 2015

Red-billed Tropicbird, Canary Islands, 17 Apr 2015

Cory's Shearwater 1a, Canary Islands, 17 Apr 2015

Cory’s Shearwater, Canary Islands, 17 Apr 2015

Cory's Shearwater 2aa, Canary Islands, 17 Apr 2015

Cory’s Shearwater, Canary Islands, 17 Apr 2015

Cory's Shearwater 4z, Canary Islands, 17 Apr 2015

Cory’s Shearwater, Canary Islands, 17 Apr 2015

Cory's Shearwater 3a, Canary Islands, 17 Apr 2015

Cory’s Shearwater, Canary Islands, 17 Apr 2015

Cory's Shearwater 5, Canary Islands, 17 Apr 2015

Feeding Flock of Cory’s Shearwaters, Canary Islands, 17 Apr 2015

A day or so later and we were stationed off Funchal, Madeira waiting for the boat transfer. Cory’s Shearwaters were again evident. This was expected as the Madeira Archipelago holds the highest number of breeding pairs in the Atlantic. We also came across decent numbers of Manx Shearwaters, another local breeding species as well as small numbers of Macronesian Shearwaters. Unfortunately the latter were not too keen on coming overly close to the camera. There’s always next time.

Manx Shearwater 1, Madeira, 18 Apr 2015

Manx Shearwater, Madeira, 18 Apr 2015

Manx Shearwater 2a, Madeira, 18 Apr 2015

Manx Shearwater, Madeira, 18 Apr 2015

Atlantic Sunrise, 19 Apr 2015

Atlantic Sunrise, 19 Apr 2015. That’s the last shot from my time on the Protector.

Steve C

 

Cape Verde Shearwater, Bulwer’s and Fea’s Petrels in the Central Atlantic Ocean

Forgive me, but again, I’m skipping into the past a bit here. Back to April of last year to be precise, when Protector was making passage north from Rio de Janeiro to Plymouth. The time taken was approximately 3 weeks and we had no stops, but in the course of the passage we did pass reasonably close to the Cape Verde Islands and the Canary Islands. We also met up with a boat near Madeira to drop some personnel (including Tinders) off for a flight home. I’ll cove the Canaries and Madeira in a future post. To be fair birds were pretty few and far between for much of the passage, with peaks as you would expect as we neared some of the breeding islands. The first image is of a Bulwer’s petrel. One of three seen in the tropics. I never find these petrels over obliging and true to form the heavily cropped image below was the closest any of the three came. I am sticking my head out with the next species and saying Arctic Terns. I should be better on Tern id and maybe one day I will be ! These birds just had the gizz for Arctic and after looking in the guides that is the species I will plump for. As always please feel free to slap me down if I have it wrong. The lower image is a little easier on the id scale. This bird being one of ten Brown Boobies seen near Cape Verde.

Bulwer's Petrel 1a, Central Atlantic, 11 Apr 2015

Bulwer’s Petrel, Central Atlantic, 11 Apr 2015

Arctic Terns 2, Central Atlantic, 12 Apr 2015

Arctic Terns, Central Atlantic, 12 Apr 2015

Brown Booby 2, Cape Verde Islands, 13 Apr 2015

Brown Booby, Cape Verde Islands, 13 Apr 2015

I am reasonably happy with the identification of the Cape Verde Shearwater, a bird I have seen a couple of times, but again not overly close. It appears darker than Cory’s and has a slimmer darker bill, coupled with duskier underparts. The suns position could have been better but you can’t have everything.

Cape Verde Shearwater 1, Cape Verde Islands, 13 Apr 2015

Cape Verde Shearwater, Cape Verde Islands, 13 Apr 2015

Cape Verde Shearwater 2, Cape Verde Islands, 13 Apr 2015

Cape Verde Shearwater, Cape Verde Islands, 13 Apr 2015

Cape Verde Shearwater 3a, Cape Verde Islands, 13 Apr 2015

Cape Verde Shearwater, Cape Verde Islands, 13 Apr 2015

The distant Fea’s Petrel below was seen the day after we left the vicinity of the Cape Verde Islands. Followed on the 16th by a Leach’s  Storm Petrel, we had seen a steady trickle of this species over the last few days numbering around 30 birds in total, including 8 birds on this day. On the same day we had the unmistakable shape of a Pomarine Skua. Always a great bird to see passing the ship.

Fea's Petrel 1a, Central Eastern Atlantic, 14 Apr 2015

Fea’s Petrel, Central Eastern Atlantic, 14 Apr 2015

Fea's Petrel 2a, Central Eastern Atlantic, 14 Apr 2015

Fea’s Petrel, Central Eastern Atlantic, 14 Apr 2015

Leach's Storm Petrel 1, Central Eastern Atlantic, 16 Apr 2015,

Leach’s Storm Petrel, Central Eastern Atlantic, 16 Apr 2015

Pomarine Skua 1, Central Eastern Atlantic, 16 Apr 2015,

Pomarine Skua, Central Eastern Atlantic, 16 Apr 2015

Steve C

Spotted Flycatcher along Fareham Creek

Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to go ‘birding’ of late, in part due to my priority being to make the most of the opportunity I have this year to run a moth trap at my work on Portsdown Hill.  The 40W Actinic Heath Trap has produced some great records including a probable first for Hampshire – tbc.  However, for my first day of leave yesterday I took a stroll along Fareham Creek to Wicor.  The highlight was my first autumn migrant of the year in the form of a Spotted Flycatcher that showed brilliantly perched high up on a dead branch of a riverside tree.  I opted to just admire it through the binoculars not expecting it to remain static for so long but I did eventually get my camera out and managed a single burst of three shots before it flew off.

Spotted Flycatcher, Fareham -5 Aug 16

A single Common Gull on the mudflats nearby was also noteworthy.

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

Yellowhammers and Fieldfares at Olden: Norway

Just a quick round up of the other ’land’ birds seen during the Azura cruises. A visit to Olden in July 16 was a first visit to this small village. The wife and I made the trip up to the Briksdaal Glacier, about 15 miles away. The journey on the coach gave us some spectacular scenery and the river side walk up to the glacier was also very rewarding. To be more accurate the Briksdaal Glacier is just one of what I believe are 16 arms of the Jostedalbreen Glacier. All forming part of the Jostedalbreen National Park. The walk up takes about an hour at a gentle pace with lots of waterfalls and rapids to see en route, plus plenty of flora if not enough fauna. I did hear Blackcap, Willow warbler and Wren in the adjacent woodlands but saw none of them. That said it is another site that is well worth a visit if you are in the area. The walk back down is much easier with the bonus of big eats and coffee in the local café.

Briksdaal 8

Briksdaal Glacier, July 2016

Briksdaal 6a

Briksdaal Glacier, July 2016

IMG_0857

Briksdaal Glacier, July 2016

Briksdaal 5

Orchid, Briksdaal, July 2016

When we returned to the ship, Jo went back on-board for a chill out session, but with two hours to sailing I went for a walk along the river that runs out of the glacier into the Fjord where the ship was moored. On a small lake I did see a number of Red-breasted Mergansers but they were too distant for even a record shot. Both House and Sand Martins were hunting near the river and barn Swallows hawked over the adjacent fields. I heard a number of yellowhammers singing but did not get overly near one until the heavens had opened. Still the bird did not seem overly bothered and continued in good voice. A few hundred metres down the road I had another singing bird and below in the field were a number of Fieldfares and White wagtails.

Yellowhammer 1, Olden, 6 July 2016

Yellowhammer, Olden, 6 July 2016

Yellowhammer 2a, Olden, 6 July 2016

Yellowhammer, Olden, 6 July 2016

Fieldfare 1a, Olden, 6 July 2016

Fieldfare, Olden, 6 July 2016

White Wagtail 1, Geiranger, 7 July 2016

White Wagtail, Geiranger, 7 July 2016

The last image is of a Barn Swallow that I managed to capture in a local park in Stavanger. Once again Jo and I had enjoyed pretty much a full day wandering around the town sightseeing and with an hour left before sailing I nipped up to a local park I saw when we entered. I heard Nuthatch and Greenfinch, but it was the swallow feeding alongside the wood edge that I was happiest with. Probably the best shot I have taken of the species in flight.

Barn Swallow 1a, Stavanger, 8 July 2016

Barn Swallow, Stavanger, 8 July 2016

Steve C

Ring Ouzels in Myrdal, Norway. Gripped Off by the Wife

On the 5th May 2015, Azura tied up alongside in the small harbour town of Flam in the Norwegian Fjords. We knew from looking at the web previously that one of the “essential” things to do in Flam was catch the Flamsbana, the mountain train which runs from  Sea level at Flam up to Myrdal at 867 metres above sea level, where it connects with trains to Bergen and Oslo. The journey is spectacular and was voted the best train journey in the world by the Lonely Planet Guide in 2014; I’m guessing the Portsmouth to Southampton South West Train Service was not included on the list.  

Jo at Flam 2

Flam Harbour

Flamsbana Railway 6

The Flamsbana Railway Train, the scenery is pretty stunning whilst you’re still sat in the station.

Flamsbana Railway 2

A view from the window

Anyway back to reality, the journey lasts about an hour passing waterfalls, stunning mountain top scenery,  and passes through a number of tunnels before emerging into the snow covered surroundings of Myrdal. The train then waits in the station for maybe 15 minutes before heading back down to the coast. I talked my missus round into waiting for the next train in an hour or so. “This will give us chance to explore the delightful village of Myrdal and experience the delights of the wonderful looking station buffet we have seen advertised on the web darling”. (Not forgetting the chance to maybe bump into a bird or two). Although I think I forgot to mention that last bit. We waved the train off as it started its return journey and it was at this point, as the train descended back to Flam that my master plan began to unfold.

Flamsbana Railway 3

The train leaves, marooning us in Myrdal for an hour or so

Bergen Train

The Bergen Connection

I did have the full intention of exploring the village but unfortunately within seconds of walking off the platform and heading down the  footpath we discovered that the snow was around three feet deep. This coupled with the fact that the village was pretty much closed, (some of the snow drifts were half way up the front doors) curtailed our exploring. “Never mind love, let’s go and sample the delights of the buffet” I said. So we headed along the platform to find that the wonderful looking station buffet was closed until June.  We peered through the windows and gazed at what we could have ‘won’ but instead had to settle for the vending machine in the foyer. £4 for half a cup of super strong gipping coffee was not in the original plan. Still the sun was shining so we decided to stroll arm in arm down the platform and admire the views from the station.  We did actually witness a couple of small avalanches as we waited for the train. A sound like a distant gun shot would be the trigger to scan the slopes for moving snow.

Myrdal 3

The bike hire shop was not open for business. Note the mini avalanche in the background.

Myrdal 4

Myrdal

Bird wise (about time I here), my luck finally changed as I first heard a Fieldfare which alighted on a nearby chimney  and was quickly followed by a male Ring Ouzel. Initially also on one of the village roofs, not too far from the Fieldfare before flying to the only bare patch of earth in view where it started to feed.

Fieldfare 1, Myrdal, 5 May 2015_edited-1

Fieldfare, Myrdal, 5 May 2015

Ring Ouzel 1a, Myrdal, 5 May 2015_edited-1

Ring Ouzel, Myrdal, 5 May 2015

Ring Ouzel 1b, Myrdal, 5 May 2015_edited-1

Same shot as above, a little closer

Ring Ouzel 2a, Myrdal, 5 May 2015_edited-1

Ring Ouzel, Myrdal, 5 May 2015

Unfortunately the views were pretty distant but still, two good birds in the bag. The hour quickly passed by without any more bird action, so just before the train was due back in I nipped off to the loo as the Norwegian Nescafe had passed pretty much straight through me. I returned to find my wife with camera in hand and a big smile across her face. She then went onto inform me that just as I disappeared into the gents, a pair of Blackbirds had flown onto a nearby house roof and commenced to frolic around with each other; just flying back off into the hills as I re-appeared from my ablutions. She went onto to say one of them looked a bit funny as it had a white patch across its chest ? I looked at the back of the camera to find what I expected, several decent images of a Ring Ouzel pair !!!  I had to chuckle, but to be honest; I was pleased that at least one of us managed decent views of the birds. He says through gritted teeth.

Ring Ouzels 1, Myrdal, 5 May 2015

Ring Ouzels, Myrdal, 5 May 2015. Photo courtesy of Mrs C

Ring Ouzel 3, Myrdal, 5 May 2015_edited-1

Ring Ouzels, Myrdal, 5 May 2015. Photo courtesy of Mrs C

 

Steve C

Oystercatcher, Fieldfare and Sjokolade in Gerainger, Norway.

My last post from Gerainger shows a few more of the local species. As we walked through the village I saw a pair of Oystercatchers feeding on the foreshore. On the return one bird (which was sporting a ring) was in a very picturesque orchard feeding on earthworms. Fieldfares were the commonest thrush, just out numbering the local Blackbirds. Common Gulls were just that around the harbour area, especially so as the ship turned and it’s thrusters churned up the water.

Azura in Geiranger 1

Oystercatchers, Gerainger, May 2015

Oystercatcher 1, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

Oystercatcher, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

Oystercatcher 2, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

Oystercatcher, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

Oystercatcher 3, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

Oystercatcher, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

Geiranger 2

Oystercatcher Orchard, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

Fieldfare 1, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

Fieldfare, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

Common Gull 1, Geiranger, 7 July 2016

Common Gull, Geiranger, 7 July 2016

Common Gull 1, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

Common Gull, Geiranger, 7 July 2016

The shots below are taken around the village of Gerainger, In particular the Sjokolade (chocolate) Shop. My wife particularly enjoyed their hot chocolate drink, which came as hot milk and you mixed in your own buttons.

Chocolate Shop

Chocolate Shop, May 2015

IMG_0974

More buttons please, July 2016

Colourful Roof, Geiranger

Chocolate shop roof, May 2015

Bend Over Mother

Bend Over Mother

Geiranger 1

Waterfall on the local river, May 2015

Steve C

 

White Wagtails and Renault Twizys in Gerainger; Norway

On the same stretch of river as the Black-bellied Dippers, I also came across several White Wagtails, Motacilla alba. As you would expect they were very busy catching insects in among the rocks as well as fly catching above the river itself, pretty much behaving as a Grey wagtail might. Which I thought I could also see along the same stretch of water but It was not to be.

White Wagtail 1, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

White Wagtail, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

White Wagtail 2, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

White Wagtail, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

White Wagtail 3, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

White Wagtail, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

I can fully recommend the walk from Gerainger Village up to the Fjord centre. A steel walkway has been constructed along the river with viewing platforms overlooking the waterfalls; a really well engineered project. Needless to say, the nearby mountains and associated viewpoints are also well worth a visit.

Fjord-Centre, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

Fjord-Centre, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

Eagleview 2

Looking down to Gerainger from Eagle’s View, July 2016

Dalsnibba 2

Looking down to Gerainger from Dalsnibba, 1200 metres above sea level, July 2016

IMG_0952

My wife “loving” the Renault Twizy. The preferred mode of transport for the mountains !!

Azura in Geiranger 2

Azura in Geiranger, May 2015

Steve C

Black-bellied Dipper in Gerainger: Norway.

I’m rather conscious that the blog has been lacking updates lately. My excuse is I have been away for the best part of two weeks; you better ask the other two why they’ve been loafing. Anyway I’ve delved back into my archives and found plenty of previously unseen material. Okay so it will jump around a bit chronologically but you can still (hopefully) enjoy some half decent images. This first set features a Black-bellied Dipper, this being an alternative name for the sub-species cinclus of our familiar (White-throated) Dipper, gularis.  “Or is our Dipper a sub-species of Cinclus“? Anyway I photographed several birds on the local river in Gerainger, a small village in the Norwegian fjords which I visited with my good lady last year on the Azura; one of the P&O fleet.

(Black-bellied) Dipper 11a, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

(Black-bellied) Dipper, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

(Black-bellied) Dipper 7a, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

(Black-bellied) Dipper, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

(Black-bellied) Dipper 8, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

(Black-bellied) Dipper, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

(Black-bellied) Dipper 4, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

(Black-bellied) Dipper, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

(Black-bellied) Dipper 3, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

(Black-bellied) Dipper, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

(Black-bellied) Dipper 1, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

(Black-bellied) Dipper, Geiranger, 4 May 2015

Steve C

Yellow-legged Gull in Hook Harbour

Had a quick walk around the Hook loop yesterday morning. The weather was mostly overcast but for a ten minute window of sunshine. The sunshine window being short as quite a strong cool breeze was blowing along the coast, fortunately it did coincide with my walk along the harbour wall where I could see a couple of gulls feeding in among the seaweed. I got the bins on the nearest bird and was happy to see that it had yellow legs, admittedly not Gibraltar bright yellow, but a slightly duller off colour. Still yellow they were, so I was quite pleased with the sighting. The sun was shining quite bright at this stage and I assume this was the reason as to why, when compared to a nearby Herring Gull, I could not see much difference in the back and wing colour. Once the sun had retreated back behind the clouds, the darker shade of grey was more apparent, but it still did not jump out as me as I have seen in other Yellow-legged Gulls. Maybe my eyes are deteriorating more than I realise!
As I mentioned it was feeding relatively close to an adult herring Gull, but it always appeared a little nervous and subsequently moved away, when the distance between the two fell below a yard or two. Obviously I was hoping for as many side by side angles as possible to look at the difference in back and wing colour.
A great sighting and my first Yellow-legged Gull on the loop for a good few years.

Yellow-legged Gull 1, Hook with Warsash, 11 July 2016

Yellow-legged Gull, Hook with Warsash, 11 July 2016

Yellow-legged Gull 3, Hook with Warsash, 11 July 2016

Avoiding the Neighbour !

Yellow-legged Gull 2, Hook with Warsash, 11 July 2016

Comparison of shading, this image not appearing to show a great deal of difference. (To my eyes at least).

Yellow-legged Gull 4, Hook with Warsash, 11 July 2016

Comparison of shading, this image does appear to show a marked difference. (To my eyes at least).

Steve C

Herring Gull: The story of GC60562

Driving back to Mark’s house we passed through the well known tourist attraction of Devil’s Bridge. Just on the way out of the village, I spotted a number of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls in a roadside field. I could see one of the nearer Herring Gulls was sporting a darvic ring. I managed a few quick snaps of the bird and when we got back I showed them to Mark on the back of the camera.

Herring Gull 1, Devil's Bridge, 4 June 2016

Herring Gull, Devil’s Bridge, 4 June 2016

Herring Gull 1a, Devil's Bridge, 4 June 2016

Within minutes he was rattling away on his email and later in the evening we had a reply from Peter Stewart of the Severn Estuary Gull Group:


 

Mark,
Thank you both very much for this sighting, last seen over your way in 2015.
I am attaching it’s history file. It was ringed on Stoke Orchard landfill
site in 2007 and one of 269 gulls we caught that day. Your sighting is
8 years and 172 days after it was ringed. As it was an adult when ringed
it’s true age is unknown but at least 13 years old.
My thanks again and best wishes,
Peter

The Severn Estuary Gull Group

Recapture History

Blue BNL

Ring                    Age/  Capture

number         Type                       Date      Init        Details

Herring Gull

GC60562          N      10    Ringed       15/12/07  SGD Stoke Orchard Landfill Site,     Gloucestershire. 51.56N 02.06W

O    10  Sighted        18/12/07  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

3 days)

O    10  Sighted        20/12/07  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

5 days)

O    12  Sighted        15/02/08  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

62 days)

O    12  Sighted        07/03/08  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

83 days)

O    12  Sighted        07/01/09  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

1 yr 23days)

O    12  Sighted        13/01/09  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

1 yr 29days)

O    12  Sighted        04/02/09  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

1 yr 51days)

O    12  Sighted        18/02/09  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

1 yr 65days)

O    12  Sighted        06/11/09  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

1 yr 326days)

O    12  Sighted        04/12/09  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

1 yr 354days)

O    12  Sighted (R)   09/12/09  GRA Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

1 yr 359days)

O    12  Sighted        21/01/10  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

2 yrs 37days)

O    12  Sighted        10/12/10  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

2 yrs 360days)

O    12  Sighted        31/12/10  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

3 yrs 16days)

O    12  Sighted        18/01/11  JDS  Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (16 km, SW,

3 yrs 34days)

S     12  Sighted        01/08/15   CB   Aberystwyth Harbour, Ceredigion (145 km, WNW, 7 yrs 229days)

S       12    Sighted           04/06/16 MC/SC Devil’s Bridge, Ceredigion (128 km, WNW, 8 yrs 172days)


Many thanks to Peter for providing the information above, it is always interesting to find out a birds history. Who knows, the bird may well be seen around the area for years to come.

Steve C

Ospreys at Cors Dyfi

We left Ynys Hir around mid-afternoon and headed up the road to the Dyfi Osprey Project. The project which started in 2009 is run by the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust run project. We had an enjoyable hour at Cors Dyfi with both Ospreys being seen during the visit from the very impressive, recently constructed viewing platform.  We also had a number of smaller birds such as Siskins and Redpolls. The site is well worth a visit and hopefully it will only be a matter of time before Ospreys spread out into the nearby countryside. See link below for further info on the project.

Cors Dyfi Ospreys

Osprey 1, Cors Dyfi, 4 June 2016

Osprey, Cors Dyfi, 4 June 2016

Osprey 2, Cors Dyfi, 4 June 2016

Osprey, Cors Dyfi, 4 June 2016

Cors Dyfi Viewing Platform

Cors Dyfi Osprey Viewing Platform

Redpoll 1, Cors Dyfi, 4 June 2016

Redpoll, Cors Dyfi, 4 June 2016

  Steve C

Wood and Willow Warblers at Ynys Hir

As I mentioned in the last post it was rather quiet when we first arrived at Ynys Hir. To be fair maybe the first week of June was a fraction late for the full dawn chorus. No doubt plenty of the breeding birds were already busy with the business of raising a family. That said as it warmed up we did get more bird song. Blackcaps, Garden Warblers and Chiffchaffs were all in good voice, but the overall winner had to be the Willow Warbler. Probably every 100 yards or so producing a new bird bursting into song. The bird photographed below wasn’t singing. As you can see it was busy feeding a family. I watched it flit from a patch of scrub to the same part of the fence line on three occasions. The third time being the one where I just stood still near the fence and the bird duly flew in a few minutes later. It would feed in among the deep grass at the fence line, pop up onto the wire before departing back with it beak full of food. I actually over exposed the shots due to wrong camera settings, (nothing new there), so I have toned them down. The colour though is original, the bird was as stunning as it appears.

Willow Warbler 1, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Willow Warbler, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Willow Warbler 3a, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Willow Warbler, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

When we got back into the wood we had our only Wood Warbler of the day. The bird was not singing fully, but as with the Willow Warbler was busy taking food to a nest. We watched for about 15 minutes and every couple of minutes the bird would fly in to a perch near the nest, it would then sing the first part of its song, (the coin spin), before flying down to the nest itself. We were not sure if the bird was maybe the adult male coming in to feed an incubating female. Possibly letting the female know it was him approaching. We could not understand why he would sing if he was feeding chicks and alerting potential predators to the nest position.

Wood Warbler 1, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Wood Warbler, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Wood Warbler 2, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Wood Warbler, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

We also had several Pied Flycatchers in the wood but none were too keen on having their picture taken. A quick snap of a female, the best I could manage. The Reed Bunting was not as shy as the Flycatcher and happily posed for a few shots on one of the boardwalk rails.

Pied Flycatcher 1, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Pied Flycatcher, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Reed Bunting 2, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Reed Bunting, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Reed Bunting 1, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Reed Bunting, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Ynys Hir 1

Iris Pseudacorus at Ynys Hir

Ynys Hir 3

Iris Pseudacorus at Ynys Hir

The last couple of shots are of Hawk Moths. A local group had set up a trap overnight and when we returned to the visitor centre they were showing off their night’s captures. I have to say I was very impressed. There was literally 100’s of moths in the trap. Including three or four different Hawk Moth species. No doubt Slasher will give a full brief in due course………Not !! Don’t know if I’m qualified to say it; but Good Mothing.

Poplar Hawk Moth 1, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Poplar Hawk Moth, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Elephant Hawk Moth 1, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Elephant Hawk Moth, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Ynys Hir 2

The Mothing Group, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016. Note Slasher deep in moth dits to the left.

Steve C

Grass Snake at Ynys Hir

We were up bright and early on the Saturday morning, arriving at RSPB Ynys Hir just before seven.  The woodland behind the reserve building was rather quiet so we quickly headed down towards the Breakwater Hide. As we walked through a small marshy area adjacent to a hide which was temporarily closed, I spotted a Grass Snake on top of a mound of reeds; maybe it’s nest? It was still rather cool and this enabled us to get a few snaps without the snake disappearing into cover. That said, the Grass Snake was aware of our presence, but we kept a sensible distance so it did not feel threatened. Always a good day when you come across a British Snake out in the open.

Grass Snake 1, Ynis Hir, 4 June 2016

Grass Snake, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

The image above was on the way out to the Breakwater Hide and thankfully on our return it was still basking and had also changed position slightly.

Grass Snake 2, Ynis Hir, 4 June 2016

Grass Snake, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Grass Snake 3, Ynis Hir, 4 June 2016

Grass Snake, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Grass Snake 4, Ynis Hir, 4 June 2016

Grass Snake, Ynys Hir, 4 June 2016

Steve C

Netted Pug on Portsdown Hill and Buttoned Snout in Fareham Garden

The recent highlight from the 40W Actinic Heath Trap, paid for by the Tax Payer, I operate at work on Portsdown Hill was a single Netted Pug.  It is an extremely smart moth, particularly for a pug.  The species has only been recorded a handful of times annually within the county.  Unsurprisingly, it was a ‘lifer’ for me.

Netted Pug, Portsdown Hill – 9 Jun 16

My eleventh record of Light Feathered Rustic (nationally scarce B) was also notable.  It was an extremely fresh specimen despite it being towards the end of the species flight period.

Light Feathered Rustic, Portsdown Hill – 13 Jun 16.  The eleventh specimen.

Back at home the recent highlight has been a single Buttoned Snout.  It is also a nationally scarce B species and was yet another ‘lifer’.  Considering the specimen would have hibernated over the winter it was still in pretty good condition.

Buttoned Snout, Fareham Garden – 8 Jun 16

Good mothing,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

Red Kites feeding at Bwlch Nant yr Arian

We left Borth Bog around two in the afternoon and half an hour later pulled into Bwlch Nant yr Arian. This has been the site of a Red Kite feeding station since the late 90’s. This was only my second visit, (the first with a digital camera). It really is a great spot to see Kites. Very scenic and the new visitor centre and café is well worth a visit. The only cost is a couple of pounds for parking so exceptional good value considering there was at least 150 Red Kites on view. At three o’clock sharp the feeding started and the Kites which had been loitering in the vicinity for the last half an hour were soon diving down on the offerings. I know there are pros and cons to the feeding of the birds but it was nice to see just how many families were watching and on the whole the kids were very excited at seeing the birds, as I said a great spectacle and well worth a trip if you are in the area.

Nant Yr Arian

Bwlch Nant yr Arian

Red Kites, Nant Yr Arian, 3 June 2016

One minute to three

   Conditions on the whole were pretty good and in the end I managed to shoot off around 700 images. My only issue, (other than which of the many birds to aim for) was the need to over-expose for birds against the sky, whilst not forgetting to revert back to normal exposure for birds against the trees and hillside. Needless to say I managed to muck up a good percentage of the shots. That said I got a few decent images and hopefully now I will be visiting the are more often, I can hone my skills on future visits. The images below are all of Red Kites taken on the 3rd June at Bwlch Nant yr Arian so I won’t label them individually.

Red Kite 3a, Nant yr Arian, 3 Jun 2016 Red Kites 2, Nant yr Arian, 3 Jun 2016 Red Kite 2a, Nant yr Arian, 3 Jun 2016 Red Kites 1, Nant yr Arian, 3 Jun 2016 Red Kites 4, Nant yr Arian, 3 Jun 2016 Red Kite 5, Nant yr Arian, 3 Jun 2016

Red Kite 10, Nant yr Arian, 3 Jun 2016 Red Kite 7a, Nant yr Arian, 3 Jun 2016 Red Kite 12, Nant yr Arian, 3 Jun 2016

 Steve C