Lesser Florican - August 2023

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Wednesday 30 September 2015

Shetland 30/9/15

Weather - light westerly becoming strong westerly. Day started with sun and clear skies, though developing cloud with drizzle by the evening.

This morning the weather was superb, and Hoswick being positioned where it is meant that there was little wind. I did a two hour circuit around Hoswick to Swinister finding 16 Yellow-browed Warblers, which has proved to be the highlight of the trip so far for me. Just incredible how many of these little Siberian gems are too be found here. Also lovely to see and hear skeins of Pink-feet flying south. From here on, the day slowly went downhill, dipping five Orcas, a Blyth's Reed, and then an Arctic Warbler, though a Bluethroat in between these dips was pleasant enough. I'm going to give up twitching now I think unless I need it, as I've only three days left to find something that boasts capital letters on the pager. 

Totals are: 

Yellow-browed Warbler - 25
Song Thrush - 1
Blackcap - 3
Redwing - 4 
Willow Warbler - 2
Pied Flycatcher - 1
Robin - 1
Pink-footed Geese - 113 South
Twite - 8
Bluethroat - 1 Quendale
Slavonian Grebe - 2 Weisdale

 Bluethroat at Quendale
 awaiting the Orcas that had already gone through heading north
the coastline at Levenwick

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Shetland 29/9/15

Weather - Clear night then becoming cloudy and near gale force winds, especially in the north.

Got to the north of mainland for first light hoping for the Thrush but as predicted it had gone. A real shame but atleast it wasn't a Veery. I went as far north as I could go where a large patch of iris beds kept me busy for a while. Mega news of a PG Gropper in the south got me hurtling it down there only to find it was a normal Gropper (yet more over keen observers not willing to look at the bird properly before releasing news), and then news of a Pechora got me racing back NW. Nice views of this then I just birded a couple of towns after by which time the wind had really picked up. Still, a better day and as usual, I'm looking forward to the next day. 

Totals are:
Red Grouse - 1
Yellow-browed Warbler - 15
Redwing - 3
Pechora Pipit - 1 Loch of Norby
Sparrowhawk - 1
Red-breasted Flycatcher - 1 Quarff
Twite - 4

the Pechora twitch

Monday 28 September 2015

Shetland 28/9/15

Weather - Started off foggy and calm then becoming clearer with a strengthening westerly wind.

Well, the less said about today the better. Searched literally everywhere between Lunna and South Nesting after my usual circuit around Hoswick (a fly-over Lapland Bunting being the best there) and found hardly anything. It was even hard work just trying to find a Yellow-browed, something that the lads on the west of the island didn't struggle with, with day totals of over thirty, as well as Barred Warblers and Bluethroats being found. Just to add salt into the wounds, the news of a Grey-cheeked Thrush found mid-afternoon didn't get through to me until I had arrived back at base. All very annoying!! Thankfully, an Otter decided to play ball (not literally) and pose for the camera. Lovely animals!! 

Totals are:

Yellow-browed Warbler - 5
Willow Warbler - 5
Kestrel - 2
Lapland Bunting - 1 Sandwick
Twite - 22
Blackcap - 1
Redwing - 6
Robin - 1
American Golden Plover - 1 juv Sandwick
Ruff - 3

 a superb Otter on the Lunna peninsular. Made up for seeing no birds

 Hoswick burn
 Hoswick Beach


Sunday 27 September 2015

Shetland - 27/9/15

Weather - High cloud, sunny spells, Wind SSW 2

The day started off well with finding a Common Rosefinch, a variety (though small numbers) of common migrants around the Hoswick area, but the day cleared and the birds rather dissipated, especially in the places I visited. Annoyingly I couldn't locate the Eastern Subalp and then failed on the Bluethroat ( would much rather be finding then twitching), and then right at the end of the day I decided to reverse into a ditch which left me stuck (those iris beds were just too tempting to drive past). Fortunately the locals are very friendly and I soon got towed out. Looking forward to tomorrow where I shall concentrate on eastern peninsulars, and driving primarily on the road. 

Totals are: 

Yellow-browed Warbler - 6
Goldcrest - 4
Common Rosefinch - 1 juv found at Hoswick
Teal - 1
Willow Warbler - 3
Blackcap - 3
American Golden Plover - 1 juv
Common Redpoll - 2
Woodpigeon - 14 (13 at Sandgarth) 
Siskin - 3
Robin - 1

 Common Rosefinch at Hoswick
 American Golden Plover at Sandwick
 what I needed after a long day

 my attempt at flushing small Locustellas

Saturday 26 September 2015

Shetland - 26/9/15

Weather - Wind SSW - W 2-3 Light drizzle

It felt good today as I headed out to west mainland and I soon found my 2nd Barred Warbler of the trip (I know it's not even a scare bird up here, but for a southern nancy it's slightly exciting). Yellow-browed's were once again a major feature but by far the highlight was a Lanceolated Warbler found at Dale of Walls by a local birder and over the next three hours myself and others had several flight views before it finally got to the edge of a ditch and showed on the deck for a short time. A simply stunning bird, acting like a mouse with wings!! Just wish those iris beds weren't so difficult to get into. A good day with plenty of miles walked, and gardens stalked. 

Totals are: 

Pied Flycatcher - 1 Hoswick
Redpoll sp. - 2 over 
Sparrowhawk - 1
Willow Warbler - 3
Yellow-browed Warbler - 11 
Goldcrest - 1
Barred Warbler - 1 found at Kallindale
Redwing - 2
Twite - 17
Redstart - 1 Sandness

 the iris beds favoured by the Lanceolated Warbler
very comical.....still impossible to see in this bush, though thankfully it ran our way and showed nicely.

Friday 25 September 2015

Shetland - 25/9/15

Weather - Wind WSW 3-4, occasional showers.

As soon as I docked I headed to Quendale where unfortunately there was no sign of the Thick-billed Warbler. After this I decided to stay down south visiting as many sites as I could, but only finding a Barred Warbler for my efforts. I arrived at The Orca Inn, Hoswick (my base for the duration) late afternoon where a Yellow-browed Warbler greeted me in the car park, and was later seen from my bedroom window. 

Totals are: 

Yellow-browed Warbler - 10 seen in various sites
Blyth's Reed Warbler - 1 briefly North Town, Virkie
Garden Warbler - 2
Robin - 1
Barred Warbler - 1 found at North Town
Wheatear - 3
Willow Warbler - 5 (3 at Channerwick)
Merlin - 1
Goldcrest - 2
Song Thrush - 1
Fieldfare - 2 at Hoswick

Yellow-browed Warbler

Aberdeen - Lerwick 24/9/15

Finally the time has come to go to Shetland. It only took 9 hours from home to Aberdeen, and a few fruitless hours were spent at Blackdog before catching the ferry. 

I must admit I always get excited about visiting these islands, so it was fair to say that when the news of a Thick-billed Warbler at Quendale came on the pager, I found it hard to control myself. Unfortunately the Warbler wasn't bothered and decided to bugger off. 

Anyway totals for the ferry crossing are: 

Sooty Shearwater - 1
Arctic Skua - 4
Bottled-nosed Dolphins - 3 playing around showing nicely. 

Sunday 20 September 2015

Cuckmere Haven 20/9/15

A lovely morning before work down the Cuckmere where the Grey Phalarope showed superbly. Also good to see a large flock of Wigeon flying out to sea, as well as another large movement of Hirundines.

Grey Phalarope down the Cuckmere - a real treat to see all three species of Phalarope in Sussex this year.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Seaford Head & Pannel Valley 19/9/15

About six hours walking around with lots to see this morning, especially first thing when Chiffchaffs were exiting Hope Gap at a steady rate. As the morning warmed up the Hirundines poured through heading west. Firstly Swallows, but by mid-morning these were replaced by thousands upon thousands of House Martins again heading west. All impossible to count, but a great spectacle. Good variety as well this morning but numbers remaining low for most species.

Totals are:

Tree Pipit - 1
Meadow Pipit - 75W
Whinchat - 2
Wheatear - 10
Redstart - 1
Reed Bunting - 1W (my first of the autumn)
Whitethroat - 8
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Chiffchaff - 130
Willow Warbler - 4
Sedge Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 95
Spotted Flycatcher - 6
Yellow Wagtail - 15
Grey Wagtail - 7
'alba' Wagtail - 7W
Goldcrest - 6
Siskin - 40
Hobby - 1 adult
Marsh Harrier - 1 juv at 11.50
House Martin - 1000's W
Swallow - 1000+W
Sand Martin - 10

 Chiffchaff in Harry's Bush
 Willow Warbler in Hope Gap
 Spotted Flycatcher in Harry's Bush
 male Siskin by South Hill Barn
juv. Marsh Harrier at an extreme height over South Hill Barn

This afternoon whilst watching the rugby I realised I had two missed calls on my phone from Martin Casemore. This only meant one thing and after getting through to Martin it was fair to say I was shocked to hear of the news that a Wilson's Phalarope was at Pannel Valley. The only problem, the time was 2.55pm, and I had to be at my girlfriend's kid's party in Newhaven at 6pm. Was it possible to successfully twitch and get back in time..........there was only one way to find out!! I made it in record time, ran to the hide in less than ten minutes.......saw the bird for ten minutes, ran back to the car and drove back to Newhaven with plenty of time to spare. What an afternoon, just a shame I couldn't spend more time with the Phalarope, but fortunately I have seen three in Britain before. A massive thanks to Martin for the call.

 Wilson's Phalarope at Pannel Valley - a mega for Sussex with the last record being in 1991 (I couldn't twitch this one as I was one year old), whilst the last twitchable bird was in 1987, both at Sidlesham Ferry. This bird represented my fourth in the UK, with birds seen in Kent, Hanpshire and Shetland. Another cracking county tick this year!!
Barn Owl at Pannel Valley

Sunday 13 September 2015

Seaford Head 13/9/15

A little bit of excitement this morning, but not really caused by the birds. When I arrived a couple of police cars were knocking about, and then later on the bomb squad had arrived with the army alongside for good measure. Basically an ancient bomb had been found in one of the fields, and whilst by Harry's Bush, the inevitable happened. Other than this, a Water Rail was a major surprise in Hope Gap, being seen twice on the ground and once in flight. By 10.40am, the rain had arrived and I called it a day, even though I felt something was about.

Totals are:

Water Rail - 1 in Hope Gap
Spotted Flycatcher - 6
Redpoll - 1W
Siskin - 64 incl. a flock of 50
Redstart - 3
Yellow Wagtail - 15
Grey Wagtail - 6
Whitethroat - 11
Lesser Whitethroat - 4
Blackcap - 75
Chiffchaff - 20
Willow Warbler - 4
Goldcrest - 5
Swallow - ca. 400

 army, farmer and copper......the farmer getting the best find of the autumn so far with his bomb,
 Spotted Flycatchers by Harry's Bush 
 Redstart by Harry's Bush - the other two being males
Autumn Ladies Tresses

Friday 11 September 2015

Seaford Head 11/9/15

A lovely warm morning on the head with a moderate easterly breeze blowing. Just the standard stuff seen today with five Swift probably being the highlight (though an early Redpoll was good to see), and with the weekend looking blustery, these could well be my last of the year.

Totals are:

Tree Pipit - 2
Grey Wagtail - 3
Yellow Wagtail - 65
Redstart - 3
Whinchat - 2
Spotted Flycatcher - 2
Redpoll - 1W
Siskin - 27
Whitethroat - 7
Blackcap - 70
Chiffchaff - 13
Willow Warbler - 2
Reed Warbler - 2
Goldcrest - 1
Firecrest - 2
Swift - 5
Sand Martin - 5
House Martin - ca. 1000
Swallow - ca. 750

Also photos from yesterdays morning excursion in Madrid are found below, with a re-identification on the Large Grizzled Skipper, now very much thought to be a Oberthur's Grizzled Skipper.

 Swift over Hope Gap
 Blackcap by Harry's Bush - this bird was with a flock of 32 Blackcaps in the bushes by Harry's Bush, whilst the other two flocks were in Hope Gap.
Yellow Wagtail

Thursday 10 September 2015

Madrid 10/9/15

Another stay-over in Madrid only a few miles from the airport. I visited the same wasteground area I visited in the spring. Not much change other than lots of migrating Pied Flycatchers. Another new butterfly species for me here as well.

Totals are:

Zitting Cisticola - 6 
Southern Grey Shrike - 1
Crested Lark - 1
Spotless Starling - a few groups around
Short-toed Treecreeper - 4
Serin - 1
'Continental Coal Tit - 7
Black Redstart - 1 male
Pied Flycatcher - 15

Swallowtail - 1
Oberthur's Grizzled Skipper - 4

 Zitting Cisticola - taken with my phone through my broken bins hence the very poor quality

Oberthur's Grizzled Skipper(?) - narrowed it down to four species with the markings on the upperwing resembling this species rather than Large Grizzled, Sage or Safflower Skipper. Again, taken with my iPhone so yet more poor quality.

Saturday 5 September 2015

Seaford Head 5/9/15

A very calm morning and it started off sunny with was a great relief, but sure enough the thick cloud rolled over and the place became cold and miserable with the odd shower thrown in for good measure. The area was generally quiet but there were a few highlights to mention, best being a Shag just off Hope Gap.

Totals are:

Cuckoo - 1 juv
Wheatear - 5
Whinchat - 1
Yellow Wagtail - 10
Grey Wagtail - 2
Whitethroat - 50
Lesser Whitethroat - 3
Blackcap - ca. 60
Garden Warbler - 1
Willow Warbler - 7
Chiffchaff - 6
Reed Warbler - 2
Redstart - 3
Spotted Flycatcher - 2
Siskin - 16W
Goldcrest - 2
Hobby - 1
Swift - 2
House Martin - ca. 750
Meadow Pipit - 6E
Shag - 1 offshore from Hope Gap

Yesterday a short morning visit produced the first Goldcrest of the autumn here, and a good count of 125 Blackcaps individually counted moving north up Hope Gap, Also a Firecrest present and the usual bits.

 juv. Cuckoo by Harry's Bush
 imm. Shag off Hope Gap
 juv. Siskin by Harry's Bush
Spotted Flycatcher by Harry's Bush