Sunday, 12 June 2011

Work on Monday as usual!

Cheque books back in pockets, the Brown Booby is a Gannet.

First birders arrive on St Mary's for the Booby...No ladder required

As has been seen this week the top listers are having a bonanza at the moment, this time the ladders can be pushed aside and the cheque book birders out in force. The first arrivals at the dump on St mary's Scilly for the Brown Booby
Good luck lads remember your sleeping bags (great Blue Heron could strike again)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

It's not my real ladder?

It's my step Ladder !!
It's been a funny old week, stuck at work all week,a good bird 270 miles North and evidently one that provoked much discussion amongst birders and non- birders.
White throated Robin at Hartlepool was always going to attract a big crowd and many were certainly not disappointed going by the photos and video.
Back home I had to make do with a local Toucan that was in a nearby garden only viewable over the fence with a ladder. This made me think about obscure moments in my somewhat sporadic ( recent years) twitching times.

I remember attempting to see a Corncrake on Scilly in 1985 which was only viewable through a tight angle into a field and surrounded other hopeful birders I decided that as a result of short stature I'd be able to see the bird by sticking my head between the bars of the gate and twisting my head and bins to the side to look along the furrows. This was fine until a bright spark started to open the gate with my head still stuck in it!

Secondly whilst running for the Northern Oriole on St Agnes, Scilly I managed to come face to face and was almost run over by a tractor, possibly the only vehicle on the island with a very irate farmer!

This was nothing though compared to the birder that I saw run over in Hugh Town running for the ferry for the Hermit Thrush. As he bounced off the bonnet of the old ladies car she seemed somewhat bemused that he simply got up, and limped off towards the quay!

Twitching is a funny old game and yes we're all a bit nutty but we enjoy it and as a result I've made loads of great friends and had some great days out in the field. The Golden winged Warbler twitch was a day to remember especially when the double decker bus blocked several hundred birders views...........simple solution, driver turned his engine off as the bus couldn't proceed along the road and lots of birders climbed aboard to get more height to view the gardens. Another surreal moment of a birder swimming across to another island on Scilly to look for a Rough leg, or Pete Milford getting caught by the tide in Norfolk and swimming back to shore with his bins tied to the top of his head.

It's a peculiar pastime but so are many others whether it's driving several hundred miles to see a concert, a a moth in a fridge, a racing event or even a field where a caravan is pitched down and you wake up to the smell of bacon all around and toilet tent zips!!

It's whatever you enjoy

Must remember to add ladder to my Xmas list !

Monday, 6 June 2011

The story of the Old Bin Lady and the Dainty Damsels

Long long ago, on a far away island named Sheppey, lived One man and his blog but not so Far Far away another bridge was built over to the Island of Sheppey which alleviated the summer and bank holiday traffic problems caused by any boat taller than a canoe and the ceremonial lifting of the bridge. Such isolation from the mainland brought with it a rich variety of habitats and a flourishing set of pools situated next to the new bridge which could now be available to that new breed of birder, the damsel hunters!

John and Gill Brook made the discovery of the decade when a little known species of Damselfly, Coenagrion scitulum was rediscovered in the UK following the loss of the species from Essex in the 1950's associated with the floods

Saturday morning found me and a few other Odonata followers attempting to track down this enigmatic species and in so doing we were amongst a small but growing group able to once again witness this cracking but 'subtle' species in the UK. Two males were found and another different male (based on abdominal markings on the Sunday). Hopefully the two photos show many of the 'key' features for this species but I will certainly return to hopefully see more. This was my 45th UK species of Odonata and with two still in Scotland and another in Ireland, the magic 50 is getting nearer.
Size wise they really do live up to their name, and the markings on Segment 2 of the abdomen plus the 'long' pale pterostigma give them a slightly different appearance to puella.

Yesterday evening, there was a shout from the garden from the missus 'what's this moth in the bin' ...................!

It's the Old Lady, or as in this case the BIN LADY. First one I've seen this year and another great addition to a fantastic weekend of insects. I spent Saturday with Lou down at Hamstreet with Steve Whitehouse and friends seeing loads of moths, probably 30 new species for me, including the wanted Scarce Merveille de Jour, Red necked Footman, Rannoch Looper (part of a large influx), Lobster, Pale Tussock, Ingrailed and Purple Clay, Pine Hawk Moth, and loads more, cracking stuff!

I also saw a few birds this weekend including this Little Tern....

IRANIA good luck to all

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Twenty years ago today. Bridled bliss

Twenty years ago today, I heard about a sum plum White winged Black Tern at West Thurrock, Essex and being a bit short of cash, time and generally being tight I decided to attempt to see if I could see the bird from Greenhithe, Kent ! In attempting this long distance spotting across Old Father Thames I bumped into Paul Larkin who I informed that maybe we should try our luck out at Swanscombe, I knew the security guards and access was granted to the riverfront.

On arrival the White winger was showing incredibly well just offshore from the jetty at Swanscombe and sadly in those pre digital days I didn't have a camera at hand, but I did have a rather large and heavy mobile phone!

Just as I was on the phone to Andrew Moon at Birdline South East I noted with Paul another tern coming towards us just offshore, dark above, pale below. I knew it was either a Bridled or Sooty but which one?

a phone call to Andrew solved any ID problems followed by several expletives!! The bird fed just offshore from us for a while, the mobile was hot with calls from others in Essex that could see us watching the bird!

BRIDLED TERN, a real mega then it was off upriver towards the Dartford Bridge and lost to view. Later on I found out that several birders connected with it, a second for Kent, first for LNHS and it was later at Hanningfield, Essex.

A memorable day and I still remember Paul's parting words.....................see you in BB

Sure enough our names did appear in the BB report for that year

Happy days !