Snow Petrel - Antarctic Ocean 2016

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Friday, 27 February 2015

Tenerife 23rd - 27th February 2015

A very successful and short trip to this small Island. Birding was very easy and all the targets were pretty simple to see. I flew in with my beloved easyJet (arriving in the evening of the 23rd and leaving at lunchtime on the 27th) and hired a car from Goldcar Rental. I stayed in Puerto de la Cruz for three nights, but only had two full days birding, which in my opinion was more than enough time, as I managed to see all the targets, which include the hopeful future splits.

Before leaving the airport I had already picked up a lifer - a CANARY ISLAND CHIFFCHAFF. This species turned out to be the commonest bird on the island.

Day 1
Pigeons were my main targets so I set about seeing these first thing, then moving on to a known site for nesting Barbary Falcons. A route then taking in view of Mt Teide was next seeing a few more endemics before descending back down to the hotel. 

Mirador de Lagrimona
LAUREL PIGEON - 4
BOLLE'S PIGEON - 1 sat next to a Laurel Pigeon. 
Kestrel 
ISLAND CANARY - 5
tenerife Blue Tit - 4
Cory's Shearwater - 10

Punto de Teno
BARBARY FALCON - 2
Cory's Shearwater 

La Lajas
BLUE CHAFFINCH - 10+
Island Canary - 20+
tenerife Great Spotted Woodpecker - 2
CANARY ISLAND GOLDCREST - 1

Ruiz Gorge
Sparrowhawk - 3
tenerife Blue Tit
tenerife Robin - common

 Blue Chaffinch at La Lajas picnic site - stunning bird
 Laurel Pigeon - note the white tail band
both Laurel (left) and Bolle's Pigeon. The dark-pale-dark tail pattern on the Bolle's is just visible.

'tenerife' Blue Tit
 La Lajas Picnic site - site for Blue Chaffinch
beautiful view from above the clouds of Mt. Teide

Day 2
After yesterday's great success seeing all but two of my targets, this morning carried on the same way. The morning was spent where the Laurel Forests meet the Pine Forest, before again taking another look at the Falcons. A short seawatch was had before packing it in and returning to the hotel and chilling out around the town, only to be interrupted by 2 superb Barbary Falcons displaying right in front of me. A brilliant display. 

Chanajiga
Chaffinch sp. tintillon - 8
PLAIN SWIFT - ca. 50
Canary Island Goldcrest - 3
Sparrowhawk - 1 female
Blackcap - 1 male
tenerife Blue Tit - 6
tenerife Robin - 4

Punto de Tino
Barbary Falcon - 2
Cory's Shearwater - 100 in twenty-five minutes
atlantis Yellow-legged Gull - 20

Mirador de Lagrimonas
Laurel Pigeon - 10 in half hour

Puerto de la Cruz
Barbary Falcon - 2 showing superbly
Senegal Parrot - 1
Ring-necked Parakeet - 4


 'Canary Island' Chaffinch - what a beauty
 distant Barbary Falcon
Canary Island Chiffchaff

 Barbary Falcon site - dangerous road though with rocks falling close to me on occasions

 Chanajiga - mid morning a large flock of Plain Swift were feeding above the distant ridge
Punto de Teno


Sunday, 22 February 2015

East Sussex 22/2/15

A nice day spent in the east today seeing some nice bits. Also popped into Kent for the usual species. The day started off with superb clear and calm conditions, but I retired the day mid afternoon due to the strengthening winds and eventually heavy rain.

Bexhill
Snow Bunting - 1 male showing well

Pett/Winchelsea
Velvet Scoter - 7 flew in from the west and landed just offshore. 
Common Scoter - ca. 30
Bearded Tit - 1 male 

Long Pit, Rye
Slavonian Grebe - 1 
Black-necked Grebe - 1
Scaup - 1 drk

Northpoint GP
Ruff - 4
Mediterranean Gull - 2 adults

Scotney GP
Little Stint - 1 at Kent end
Scaup - 1 drk

Dungeness area
Red-crested Pochard - 1 drk 
Whooper Swan - 1
Bewick's Swan - 53

 male Snow Bunting at Bexhill
 drk Red-crested Pochard at Dungeness
buy a new van!!


Saturday, 21 February 2015

Cuckmere, Beachy, Newhaven 21/2/15

Spent the day with Dan and Mike Booker with nothing much to get too excited about. An adult Mediterranean Gull was yet another surprise in the Cuckmere this morning, with the Glauc putting in another brief show. The Gull flock has been decreasing daily since Thursday. 

Lower Cuckmere
Glaucous Gull - 1 juv still
Mediterranean Gull - 1 adult summer
Gadwall - 3
Barnacle Geese - 5
Redwing - 1

Belle Tout
Tawny Owl - 2

Newhaven
Jack Snipe - 2

Friday, 20 February 2015

Lower Cuckmere 20/2/15

After seeing nothing down Splash Point and then on Seaford Head, I again visited the Lower Cuckmere with a fully charged phone hoping yesterdays highlights were still present. I soon found a first-winter Caspian Gull having a wash on the pool. It thankfully flew and landed among the other Gulls continuously preening. Difficult to tell whether its the same bird as yesterday due to a couple of features not matching up, but maybe this was due to the rain today.

As I was about to leave, the same Glaucous Gull flew in and landed on one of the many floods, and it stayed put until I left. The Glauc does seem to appear at high tide.






first-winter Caspian Gull in Lower Cuckmere - thankfully the phone behaved today
good to see the return of this beast - Glaucous Gull

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Lower Cuckmere 19/2/15

A walk down the Cuckmere late morning was had with only one main focus.......Gulls. There was a large assemblage of large Gulls in the usual spot. The first few scans produced nothing, until out of nowhere a large white-winged Gull flew across my view. It was indeed a juvenile Glaucous Gull but it stayed less than a minute before taking off and gradually drifting eastwards.

Soon after I found a superb first-winter Caspian Gull, and for once it was in front of the main group, in full view and in perfect light conditions. However, my stupid phone died for no apparent reason, and annoyingly I couldn't get it going again, despite me throwing it at the ground in anger a couple of times. So below should be a set of full frame Caspian Gull shots, but unfortunately the Glauc is all I could capture. Other then all this and the very short staying Glauc, a very productive visit.

Totals are:
Glaucous Gull - 1 juv 11.36-11.43 then flew east
Caspian Gull - 1 first-winter for half hour before flying SW
Yellow-legged Gull - 1 adult
Barnacle Geese - 5 still
Gadwall - 2 along main dyke



juv. Glaucous Gull in the Lower Cuckmere - unfortunately all pretty much the same pose and same quality........rubbish. Taken with iphone (when working) through the scope in blustery conditions. A shame it wasn't a few inches to the right.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Scotland 18/2/15

A non-birding trip up to Inverness with Paula and Leo has produced the following. Back tomorrow morning. 

Lecht Ski Centre, Moray
Red Grouse - 20
Snow Bunting - 1
Raven - 4

Fort Augustus
Crossbill - 10 
Goldeneye - 1 drk on Loch Ness

Inverness
Red Kite - 1
Dipper - 4
Goosander - 1 redhead 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Splash Point & Cuckmere Haven 16/2/15

A short seawatch was semi-productive this morning, but a walk down the Cuckmere after was a complete waste of time. 

Splash Point: 8-9am, SSW 2
All birds flying East unless otherwise stated. 

Red-throated Diver - 69 + 14W
Brent Geese - 22
Auk sp. - 51
Razorbill - 21
Mediterranean Gull - 4
Great Crested Grebe - 6
Shelduck - 1

Saturday, 14 February 2015

The New Forest - 14/2/15

A great day out with Adam spending the majority of time in the New Forest. The weather wasn't ideal but thankfully some great species seen including some fantastic displaying from a number of Goshawks. Also briefly visited Blashford and Lower Test Marshes with nothing exciting seen.

The New Forest
Goshawk - 6 (5 male and 1 huge female)
Hawfinch - 10
Brambling - ca.50 including some very smart males
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - 1 male drumming
Crossbill - 9
Woodlark - 2

Blashford Lake HWT
Long-tailed Duck - 1
Goosander - 1 drk
Lesser Redpoll - 1 male




male Goshawks from Acres Down. Some very impressive displays seen today including their 'roller-coaster', slow deep wingbeats, some extensive white undertail coverts being puffed out and every now and then a male and female were latching talons and descending together. A fantastic sight to watch, and all great scope views.


Saturday, 7 February 2015

South Africa - A final roundup

Twenty-five days spent in this extremely safe and wildlife rich country proved to be my favourite trip to date. I planned it all myself (with help from 'where to find birds in Southern Africa')  and everything worked out superbly.

The trip cost no more than £2000 which included all flights, accommodation, two weeks volunteering on the game reserve, car hire and food/drink. 

Considering only my first five days were full on birding days, whilst the other days mainly had other priorities, I notched up a respectable 292 species, of which 34 were lifers. Also something I'm proud of is the 14 Lark species I saw. 

All posts have now been updated with pictures so please keep scrolling down.



Friday, 6 February 2015

Mammal List - South Africa

The list below indicates the species I saw during the 25 days. An impressive 41 species seen, and noteworthy species are highlighted. 

Savanna Baboon
Vervet Monkey
Southern Lesser Bushbaby
Cape Hare
Scrub Hare
Tree Squirrel
Woodland Dormouse - youngsters found inside our beds at Makalali
Brant's Whistling Rat - two pale-morph just east of Pofadder
Bat-eared Fox - a real highlight. Pairs seen near Brandvlei and Koa Dunes. 
Black-backed Jackal
Slender Mongoose
Yellow Mongoose
Small Grey Mongoose - one at Augrabies
Meerkat - family seen at Port Nolloth
African Civet - spotlighted at Makalali
Spotted Hyena
Cheetah - only a brief encounter
Lion - three known prides seen
Leopard - one showed superbly in a tree
African Elephant
Rock Dassie
Cape Mountain Zebra - three at Table Mountain NP
Plains Zebra
White Rhino
Warthog
Hippo
Giraffe
African Buffalo
Greater Kudu
Nyala 
Bushbuck
Waterbuck
Blue Wildebeast
Impala
Springbok - common at Akkrendum
Klipspringer - one at Sir Lowry's Pass
Steenbok
Sharpe's Grysbok
Common Duiker
Red Hartebeast - two at Table Mountain NP

As well as the above, other highlights came in the form of two Chameleons and obviously the Great White Sharks, which again I had the pleasure of getting up close and personal to.

 Leopard 
 Bat-eared Fox.......awesome
Chameleon

Western Cape, South Africa 2/2/15-6/2/15

The last five days of my trip was spent with my brother in the Western Cape. It wasn't strictly birding but still some good birds were seen, including one lifer.
Add on to this diving with Great White Sharks, being on top of Table Mountain, going to the most Southern tip of Africa and chilling out with African Penguins made these last days of my adventure truly memorable.

Sites and species are listed below with only noteworthy species included. 

Cape Point/Table Mountain NP
African Black Oystercatcher 
African Penguin - 400+ 
White-necked Raven
Cape Gannet
Cape Siskin
Cape Sugarbird

Gansbaai - L'Agulhas
White-chinned Petrel
Whiskered Tern
Denham's Bustard
Kitlitz's Plover
Cape Longclaw
AGULHAS LONG-BILLED LARK - 2 at Agulhas NP
Cape Francolin
Red-capped Lark

Sir Lowry's Pass
Orange-breasted Sunbird
Cape Sugarbird
Unfortunately we didn't walk far enough for the Rockjumpers.


 African Penguins
 Cape Mountain Zebra
 Cape of Good Hope
 Blue Crane
 Cape Longclaw
 Agulhas Long-billed Lark
 Great White Shark


 Orange-breasted Sunbird
 Cape Francolin
looking west from Sir Lowry's Pass


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Abel Arasmus Pass, Mpumalanga, South Africa 1/2/15

Today was a free day so I hired a car with a couple of other volunteers and decided to visit the Taita Falcon site only an hour away. However, in my two visits that day, no Falcons were on view which was a shame, but thankfully I saw them on my previous visit in 2011, so I can just about get over not seeing them this time round. 

Other than this, we visited Echo Caves and stopped at some cultivated areas which produced the following: 

Red-chested Cuckoo
Purple-crested Turaco
Southern Boubou
White-winged Widowbird 
Yellow Bishop
Diderick Cuckoo
Rock Martin
Red-winged Starling

This morning (2/2/15) just before leaving the game reserve a family of Bearded Woodpeckers showed well as well as a stunning Black-headed Oriole