European Bee-eaters - Greece 2019

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Friday, 21 June 2019

Papua New Guinea Trip - 22nd June to 20th July

Local Orchids 21/6/19

Another quiet week bird wise, so once again the Orchids come into play before my big trip to Papua New Guinea. Many of the late form of Burnt Orchids are now out at their normal location.

An unusual pink Burnt Orchid

Burnt Orchid near Seaford
Bee Orchid near Seaford

Small Eggar Moth caterpillar

The superb electric storm from Tuesday evening.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Pulborough Brooks 14/6/19

The Red-necked Phalarope had thankfully remained overnight, and so after my duties this morning I wasted no time in heading over to Pulborough for only my 2nd Sussex R-n Phal. It was a rather plain individual so presumably a male, and although views weren't brilliant, it was great to watch it spinning around continuously. A lovely bird and worth what is now a rare visit into the western territories. 

Red-necked Phalarope at Pulborough

View from The Hangar. The Phalarope 
being on the second pool.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Abbots Wood & Cuckmere Haven 12/6/19

Last night at Abbots Wood produced a pair of Nightjars in one of the open areas, but the air was cool and few moths were flying about and after a few brief flypasts that was that.

Totals are:

Nightjar - 2
Swift - 48 - a loose flock heading east towards Hailsham
Tawny Owl - 2 h/o
Nightingale - 2 h/o

This morning in the Cuckmere was once again quiet although a Lesser Whitethroat was in the seaward brambles, and three juvenile Rock Pipits were around the scrape. Sadly the ten Shelducklings have slowly reduced through the weeks, and have all but perished under the difficult living conditions that the Cuckmere has to offer.

Nightjar at Abbots Wood

presumed Noctule Bat

juv Rock Pipit - these being the first 
juveniles I've seen at this site.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Peacehaven Osprey & Elton John 9/6/19

A walk between Peacehaven and Newhaven along the cliffs was as predicted very quiet, this being the norm of the spring. Though the walk was enlivened by a surprise Osprey that was coasting westbound at 11am and was then seen to head NW. The evening was spent watching Elton John live at Hove Cricket Ground. Not that I was searching much, but I didn't see a single Swift!!

On Saturday a walk to a Frog Orchid location failed once again to produce any of these, however I was delighted to re-find the Frog Orchid x Common Spotted Orchid hybrid that my dad first found back in 2013, and had shown intermittently ever since.

Osprey over Peacehaven

Fox cub at Peacehaven

Elton John at Hove Cricket Ground

Frog x Common Spotted Orchid

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Cumbria - Orchids and Dragonflies 1/6/19

A two day trip up to Cumbria with Ian actually turned into a one day trip as the weather for Sunday was very poor, and although it wasn't great on the Saturday either, dry periods enabled us to see our main targets.

Driving through the night, we arrived at Cliburn Moss (near Penwith) at first light and set about trying to find a much desired Orchid, this being the Lesser Twayblade, a species that averages 5cm in height and blends in remarkably well to its habitat. Despite getting precise directions, it wasn't until much creeping around and bending over that we eventually found some Orchids, although we only managed to find less than ten spikes. The only interest avian wise were a couple of Crossbills that flew over.

Lesser Twayblade at Cliburn Moss
3 Twayblades in this picture

Sunrise at Cliburn Moss
Wanting more Twayblade action, our next stop was near to Kirkby Stephen, another site (and a much better one) for Lesser Twayblade. Walking to the stands of heather, it was immediately apparent that many Orchids were present, but mainly the base leaves, but after a few more minutes we started to spot some really good specimens. For me, this was worth the drive alone, but we still had more targets to notch up. A surprise sighting here were a pair of Red Grouse, that were also lurking in the heather, that was until we flushed them. A Ring Ouzel carrying food was also spotted.

Lesser Twayblades

Next up was a 90 minute drive west to Sandscale Haws where another tiny, but much rarer Orchid was in store. This did mean booking onto a guided walk as numbers this year had only peaked at around 200 spikes, where previous years have peaked at 2000 spikes. As unsociable as we both are, we tagged ourselves onto the line of keen elderlies and marched into the dunes. After some brief explanations of the dune system, after an hour we found ourselves at a small colony of the superb Coralroot Orchids. Again another small Orchid, but a superb plant and seemingly in perfect condition. The rain had gently increased from hard drizzle to rain and so we decided to find our own way back to the car, finding many Northern Marsh Orchids and a couple of Bee Orchids.

Coralroot Orchids at
Sandscale Haws

The weather was still poor and therefore we drove to dip on some unlikely Small White Orchids at Little Asby, this site being completely churned over by the cattle, and being too early it was no surprise we failed to find the only two plants that survived last year. It was great to hear a 'drumming' Snipe, and some noisy Curlews, both on their breeding grounds The weather was set to improve and so we made our way back towards where we had come from, this time positioning ourself at Foulshaw Moss. Not only home to nesting Ospreys (we saw one of them), this site is said to be productive for White-faced Darters, a species I had only seen one before way back in 2009 in the Cairngorms, and a species Ian had yet to see, and so pressure was on in the remaining hours of the day to find some.

Surprisingly even the sun came out, and with this emerged plenty of Odonata, including a minimum of two White-faced Darters (male & female). An Argent-and-Sable Moth also passed through (exciting Ian anyway), and there was a singing Tree Pipit, many Redpolls and a Red Kite also flew over.

Common Lizard

Male White-faced Darter at Foulshaw Moss

After a brief nap on a bench, I was ready for the drive home (stopped at Arnside Knott for some yet-to-flower Dark Red Helleborines) that took around six hours, not helped by the M25 junction being closer, meaning to divert through Uxbridge. Anyway a really good day seeing some very rare species, but it was a shame to come home early due to the weather.

The view from Arnside Knott, now
my third visit to this location.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Friday, 24 May 2019

Lens for Sale

I'm in the process of selling some camera equipment, one of which is the lens pictured below.

It's a Canon EF 300mm f/4 IS USM that would normally retail at £1250.00 brand new. I was using this particular lens for roughly three years before I upgraded, and therefore it is a well-travelled lens and has certainly picked up some marks and scratches along the way. Saying this, the damages have no effect on the photographic outcome.

Despite the cosmetic damages, the lens itself is in perfect working order and is certainly fit for purpose. It has had one service in its three year stay with me.

I'm looking to sell this lens at £450, this price includes the original box, both lens caps, info book and lens case. This lens was used during my Antarctic Voyage, but also many trips including Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uganda and Ohio.

If interested in purchasing, please contact me via email

See below for more details.

Three minor scratches on glass,
though having no effect on pictures.

The typical markings on the lens.

Base of lens hood has plenty of scratches.

Lens case with fully functionable zip

Original box in good condition

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Seaford Head 19/5/19

Despite promising conditions there is still nothing about, this despite several really good birds turning up in Kent and Norfolk. A Hobby and a Black Redstart were the only notable species on Saturday, whereas today the long-staying Spoonbill was the only consolation of another early start.

This afternoon a walk with Biskit  (our dog for a week) produced a showy Cuckoo at Castle Hill NR, Newhaven.

Cuckoo at Castle Hill NR