Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock - Guyana 2017

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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Ashdown & beyond 18/6/17

Another long hot day out in the Sussex countryside was very successful. I started at a private site where a male Honey Buzzard and male Goshawk flew through, and then the rest of the day was spent on Ashdown Forest catching up on some newly emerged Dragonflies (namely Brilliant Emerald and Keeled Skimmer) and a few different Orchid species, and a bonus singing Wood Warbler. A cone and a flake was also very welcome.

 male Honey Buzzard - click on image to enlarge
Birds Nest Orchid
singing Wood Warbler

 Brilliant Emerald - just about make out the incurving anal appendages and the yellow frons. My first perched photo of this species.
 Heath Spotted Orchid

 immature Keeled Skimmer
Early Marsh Orchid

Saturday, 17 June 2017

River Rother 17/6/17

A brilliant morning was spent with Dad watching and photographing these superb Common Clubtail Dragonflies in West Sussex today. With sightings during the week (many thanks Simon and John) we were semi-optimistic in finding one, but to find up to ten individuals and for them to be showing so well was completely unexpected. This was a new species for me which now nearly completes the set for the UK Dragonfly/Damselfly list.

 male Common Clubtails
River Rother

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Orchids & Elegant Tern  10/6/17

With news last night of the Elegant Tern heading east into Sussex from Hayling Island, I was in two minds whether to spend the day down in West Sussex searching for the bird, or positioning myself at a decent location so I could reach the area in quick time. I chose the latter and after nearly three hours of wandering around finding a few Orchids north of Brighton, I was photographing a Beautiful Damoiselle when a phone call from Jake came through that only meant one thing, the Tern had been found by Alan Kitson, but I wasn't expecting it to have been found at Church Norton. I legged it to the car for ten minutes and raced down towards Norton.

 Bee Orchid near Wolstonbury Hill
Beautiful Damoiselle at Nyetimber Hill

The Tern had disappeared straight away but when I had just passed Sidlesham it was re-found on Tern Island, and I screeched into a parking place along the Church Norton Road and yet again legged it to the beach where mercifully the ELEGANT TERN was on view just after arrival. It was only visible when it flew up and around from the vegetated island for twenty minutes when it then decided to strongly fly off way out of the harbour and out of sight towards Selsey. For once my plan had worked, as I wouldn't have seen it if I had stayed at home and waited on news. Not that any of this mattered however, as two hours later the Tern had returned and showed nicely perched in full view.

a county first - Elegant Tern at Church Norton

I then continued the Orchid theme with 130+ Musk Orchids on the way home, and then at sunset bumped into a very vocal Roe Deer.

 Musk Orchid in West Sussex
Roe Deer near Brighton

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Splash Point  8/6/17

With plenty of Storm Petrels in Kent (unusual to be so many) in the past few days, this morning I was very confident in finding one off Splash Point despite only having seen two off here before (one in spring and one in the autumn). So I was pleased to spot one relatively close inshore only half hour from starting moving quickly east. Despite finding one quickly, this was sadly the only one in the three hours I (and soon to join me Bob Self) endured.

Totals between 07.40 - 11.10

Storm Petrel - 1 at 08.12 (less than a mile out at a guess)
Manx Shearwater - 10 (incl a flock of 8)
Sandwich Tern - 13
Gannet - 20
Common Scoter - 6

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Pannel Valley & Camber 3/6/17 - Knepp Estate 28/05/17

Having worked very long days all week, I could've done with a lay in, but I was keen to visit Pannel Valley (having not been there since the Wilson's Phalarope) at least once this time of year and thought today was probably my best chance of getting there. I left home at 3am and arrived shortly before 4am. A good range of species seen but sadly no scarce Warblers were found. I was however pleased to find a drake Garganey and a purring Turtle Dove.

Totals for Pannel are:

Barn Owl - 1
Cuckoo - 2
Garganey - 1 drk
Little Ringed Plover - 2
Avocet - 4
Turtle Dove - 1

 drk Garganey at Pannel Valley
 Turtle Dove at Pannel Valley
close enough?? Reed Warbler at Combe Haven

I quickly nipped over to The Midrips where I wasn't surprised at all to find the Black-winged Stilts had departed overnight.......they always do. I started heading home at 8.30am but stopped off at Camber quickly and happily found 47 Lizard Orchids, most of which were very robust and looking good. Closer to home I checked into Combe Haven where another Cuckoo was found but little else.

Lizard Orchids at Camber

Knepp Estate - 28/5/17

Undecided on what to do last Sunday, I soon found myself at the Knepp Estate, a site I hadn't been to before and plucked upon just to wander around and see where I ended up. I eventually found an area that hosted both singing Turtle Dove and Cuckoo, plus many species of Warbler including lots of Garden Warblers.

Probably the unexpected sighting of the morning were a flock of 16 Mediterranean Gulls flying high heading west.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Oban - Black Guillemots

Having not seen a Black Guillemot for a few years, I thought it was a must after seeing the Chequered Skipper that I popped down the road and see these lovely birds, that are nesting on the promenade wall.

Black Guillemots in Oban Harbour

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Chequered Skipper - Glasdrum Woods  23/5/17

Having come back from America and seen very little in the way of birds, my mind turned to Butterflies, and in particular a species that has always been cast to one side in previous years, mainly due to time of year as birds normally take over. The Chequered Skipper of NW/W Scotland is only one of two species I'm still yet to see in the UK, and therefore I hatched a plan for Tuesday to day twitch this butterfly. The weather appeared to be ok, with Monday being grim and working Wednesday this could be my only opportunity this year.

My BA flight from LGW arrived in GLA just before 9am, and I swiftly got through to Avis car rental and set off just before 9.30am. The journey was 2 hours, but could've been much quicker if it wasn't for the constant lorries and caravans doing half the speed limit alongside Loch Lomond. Two Ospreys circling low above the road alongside the Loch seemed a good omen.

I arrived at Glasdrum Woods NNR (situated between Oban and Fort William) at 11.30am which allowed me 2.5 hours before I had to start heading back towards Glasgow. Thankfully however, a two minute show of the sun was enough for my first Chequered Skipper to take flight where it quickly landed on some bracken and I made the most of it just incase it was my only one. As I walked the stretch underneath the power cables (now being joined by Dave Cook from Burgess Hill......small world) I must've seen another 10-15 individuals, all of which were near enough in perfect condition. The constant cloud cover with short periods of sunlight was brilliant as this allowed the Skippers to fly around but then quickly land again and be dosile enough for a close approach. Also present were a couple of Pearl Bordered Fritillaries and Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries. After many photos of the Skippers I decided to quickly head down to Oban and photograph the Black Guillemots before making my way back to Glasgow Airport for a well deserved beer. My easyJet flight back to LGW only landed ten minutes late and I arrived home at 9pm.

A very successful and pleasing twitch to one of my favourite areas.

 Chequered Skippers at Glasdrum Woods NNR
 Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Warblers of Ohio & Michigan

A short post outlining the Warbler species seen last week. A total of 29 species of Warbler were encountered, and also a drastic change in numbers of certain species was witnessed, and have been outlined below. 

The weather had a dramatic effect on the species seen and numbers present. The first half was dominated by NE winds, which although can produce, they can also halt migration further south and that's exactly what happened. However, by the 15th winds had switched to S and with the warmer weather came more birds. It seems the third week of May is the most productive, and our trip coincided with this theory, helped by the weather and the initial poor spring up until we arrived. 

1) Ovenbird - seen only on three dates and only in single figures, including one bird at Tawas Point. This ground dwelling species was difficult to pick up and no doubt some were missed. 

2) Northern Waterthrush - seen only on one date where two birds were found, which was certainly a surprise. A Waterthrush sp. was seen briefly at Maumee but couldn't be specified to species. 

3) Protonotary Warbler - seen daily at Magee Marsh but numbers never exceeded 4 birds on any visit. At least 2 birds were nest building or occupying  nests.  It's only until recently this species has been a common occurrence at Magee, thought to be a result from climate change. 

4) Black-and-white Warbler - seen almost daily but again numbers remained in single figures. A superb critter and great to see its feeding action. 

5) Golden-winged Warbler - this stonking male was seen on 15/5 and was our only sighting of this declining species. A much wanted bird for me. 

6) Blue-winged Warbler - only three adult males were found, on three separate dates and locations, with two picked up by their obvious song. 

7) Orange-crowned Warbler - only seen during the second half of the trip with our first at Tawas Point, with others at Magee Marsh, but still in low numbers. 

8) Tennessee Warbler - a single bird was found on our first full day among a decent fall of migrants, but it wasn't until late on in the trip where a few more were seen, and always caused greater interest amongst the gathered crowd. 

9) Nashville Warbler - very common during the first half of the trip and proved to be an unprecedented spring migration for this species. Numbers certainly dropped off towards the end of our stay with the last day producing just one Nashville. 

10) Mourning Warbler - four birds were found and proved to be a highlight of the trip. This ground dwelling species was typically difficult to intercept initially but thankfully we got good views. This species is normally later on then most other species migrating. 

11) Common Yellowthroat - our first sighting was on the 13th then birds were seen frequently up until we left. Daily counts just about reached into double figures. 

12) American Redstart - most days from the off we encountered only males and in single figures, but from the 17th onwards females outnumbered males and counts must have reached the 40 mark. 

13) Cape May Warbler - only six birds were found including two at Tawas Point. A very striking Warbler that kept mostly to treetops. Only occurred during a decent fall of migrants. 

14) Kirtland's Warbler - we saw three Warblers, all in suitable Jack Pine Forest in Huron National Forest. This declining species is holding on thanks to conservation efforts. We had the choice of going on a guided trip for this bird but decided to use the trusty ebird instead. 

15) Cerulean Warbler - another declining species of Warbler seen on this trip. Despite 11 birds being seen at Waterloo State RA we only found one singing male, where eventually good views were had. 

16) Northern Parula - seen almost daily in relatively small numbers. Some fine males were seen very well. 

17) Magnolia Warbler - this spectacular species was seen daily and towards the end of the trip 20+ birds were seen two days running. Could never tire of seeing the males. 

18) Blackburnian Warbler - a bird I've been wanting to see for years and they didn't disappoint. Seen daily in good numbers throughout the duration, and at times showed superbly. 

19) Yellow Warbler - seen daily in good numbers and also a breeding species around the shores of Lake Erie. Our first few days also saw many birds on passage, as numbers slowly decreased towards the end of our stay. 

20) Chestnut-sided Warbler - although seen daily numbers remained consistent throughout. 

21) Black-throated Blue Warbler - single figures throughout with females starting to be seen on our last few days. 

22) Blackpoll Warbler - first seen on the 14th at Tawas Point where only two males were present. Males were then seen frequently up until we left where a couple of females then started to arrive. 

23) Bay-breasted Warbler - seen daily in small numbers and mostly males. Over ten birds were seen in four hours on the 17th, including this breeding plumaged female below. 

24) Pine Warbler - seen only on the 14th in the dense pine forests in Michigan. Much brighter birds then shown in the book. 

25) Palm Warbler - the first half of the trip saw reasonable numbers but by the end numbers had slipped away to just a couple of sightings, and then to no sightings on our last morning. 

26) Black-throated Green Warbler - a common species where numbers fluctuated throughout. The first half of the trip saw mainly males but by the end females were encountered frequently. 

27) Wilson's Warbler - only appeared late on in our trip. Maximum numbers for a day just about reached half a dozen. 

28) Myrtle Warbler - by far the commonest Warbler during the first two days and also up at Tawas Point, but numbers significantly dropped and few, if any were seen in the remaining few days. 

29) Canada Warbler - a very much wanted bird and after a long wait we were greeted with many birds but still in single figures. A stunning Warbler and certainly a highlight.