Lesser Florican - August 2023

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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 matt.eade@yahoo.co.uk

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

Thursday 16 May 2019

Splash Point 16/5/19

Well after missing the magnificent flock of ten Pomarine Skuas that got tracked from Selsey to Splash Point in 1hr 40mins (I was at work....this may come as a shock to some readers), I was relieved to see nine Poms up until dusk, with a flock of six that flew along very close inshore.

Selsey deservedly dominated proceedings with a count of 37 Poms (I think), whilst here at Splash Point a day count of 19 Poms was counted. Once again, this goes to show just how unpredictable Pomarine Skuas are, which makes this game even more exciting......or from my perspective today, annoying!

Totals between 16.10-20.30 Wind ESE-NNE 2:

Pomarine Skua - 9 (10 seen before my arrival by Derek Barber)
Sanderling - 30
Turnstone - 1
Red-throated Diver - 2
Common Scoter - 50
Grey Plover - 2
Brent Goose - 2

Six Pomarine Skuas passing only
a few hundred metres offshore

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Splash Point 15/5/19

A very short seawatch after work this afternoon was extremely quiet, although upon arrival Derek was watching a Pomarine Skua that was sat distantly offshore (bringing up my 25th Pom for the spring, hardly anything to be pleased with) . Presumably due to so few Poms in the channel today, this was the Pom seen off Selsey at 13.40, and thankfully it was lazy enough for me to see it.

Totals between 16.25-17.25 are as follows:

Pomarine Skua - 1
Arctic Skua - 2
Bar-tailed Godwit - 62
Whimbrel - 12

Whilst out running on Monday, a Clouded Yellow and two Spotted Flycatchers were seen behind Peacehaven.

Over the weekend it was again very quiet, although on Sunday I completely lucked into another Pomarine Skua, again seen off Selsey whilst I was still on the plane, and upon arriving at Splash and setting up my scope, the bird flew through alongside an Arctic Skua. Seawatching since Wednesday has been utterly dire and it feels like the end of the spring season is upon us.

On Saturday, I was delighted to see the Spoonbill in the Cuckmere, and the first one I've seen with any kind of crest in the Cuckmere for many years.

Distant Spoonbill in the Cuckmere

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Splash Point 8/5/19

Dad's birthday once again coincides with a reasonable seawatch. I had predicted a Tern day for today a few days ago, and I'm pleased to say this came true. Just after first light Tern flocks could be seen, but it soon died down for maybe an hour or so. However once a heavy band of rain had passed through it all went a bit crazy, with very large Commic Tern flocks passing, with each flock seemingly holding onto the odd Black Tern. Then something very dramatic happened. Josh next to me started counting a flock of Black Terns, and when the numbers started to get into the 20s my excitement levels rose somewhat. The mega flock of Black Terns soon arrived and consisted of a massive 36 individuals, this tight-knit flock being one of my top moments in seawatching anywhere.

Other than the odd Pom and semi variety of Waders, it was a fairly average seawatch, but Tern days are often the best for delivering such dramatic instances such as the above.

Sadly after a superb eight days off, back to work tomorrow.

Totals between 05.00-13.00 - Wind SE 3 to SW 4:

Common/Arctic Tern - 1940 (some decent Arctic flocks moving high inland)
Little Tern - 4
Black Tern - 76
Bar-tailed Godwit - 8
Dunlin - 13
Gannet - 203
Common Scoter - 41
Sanderling - 8
Sandwich Tern - 47
Redshank - 2
Arctic Skua - 12
Manx Shearwater - 3
Knot - 19
Pomarine Skua - 4 (2@ 07.01; 1@ 11.27; 1@ 12.19)
Great Crested Grebe - 2
Red-throated Diver - 5
Grey Plover - 7
Whimbrel - 19
Tufted Duck - 1
Great Skua - 3
Red-breasted Merganser - 2

A stonking Pomarine Skua
that came through when the murk rolled in
36 Black Terns passing close in.
Although watching a flock of 22 Poms chasing
 two Kittiwakes back in 2008 was 
my ultimate Splash Point 'moment', this is a close
run second. 

Tuesday 7 May 2019

Splash Point 7/5/19

I started the day up Seaford Head as there was no wind. All I could find were two Wheatears, a flyover Yellow Wagtail and a new Garden Warbler in.

After the school run, I set up down Splash alongside Richard who had started at 05.30, and we held on until 18.00 although there was little to show for the efforts, although a ridiculously 'spooned' Pom went through early afternoon.

Totals as follows:

Common Scoter - 60
Sandwich Tern - 60
Arctic Tern - 22
Common/Arctic Tern - 219
Whimbrel - 38
Bar-tailed Godwit - 37
Little Tern - 17
Black Tern - 2
Grey Plover - 1
Red-throated Diver - 5
Arctic Skua - 5
Pomarine Skua - 2 (10.47 & 13.47)
Gadwall - 1
Sanderling - 8
Black-throated Diver - 1
Great Skua - 1

Pomarine Skua

Monday 6 May 2019

Kerkini Lake, Greece: 3rd - 5th May 2019

Below are some images of species that weren't included in the previous posts. In total over the three days I found 112 species of birds (3 being lifers), as well as 13 species of Butterfly (weather not very conducive for these) and maybe five species of Orchids.

In all, the trip cost around £250, that's with staff travel flights (£28 return), car hire (£75 incl. insurance), accommodation (£140) & food costing just £13 (pasta and luncheon meat for dinners only plus basics for lunch and breakfast). I only used three-quarters of fuel over the trip, not bad for a Hyundai i10.

It was a very successful but also relaxing trip (apart from the hike up to the Bulgarian border), mainly as the area is so quiet and devoid of people; birds are everywhere, especially Nightingales, Golden Orioles, Bee-eaters and most other species that are rapidly declining here in the UK. I feel further exploration in this area is a must for future years.

Top ten birds for me are as follows:

Lesser Grey Shrike                                                       Roller
Lesser Spotted Eagle                                                    Spur-winged Plover
Levant Sparrowhawk                                                   Common Rock Thrush
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear                                     Eurasian Eagle Owl
Penduline Tit                                                                Masked Shrike

Red-backed Shrike

'Black-headed' Yellow Wagtail

Two Great White Pelicans &
2 Dalmatian Pelicans

Curlew Sandpipers

Green Underside Blue

Toothed Orchid

Pink Butterfly Orchid
(taken with my phone hence the quality)

Sunday 5 May 2019

Kerkini Lake NP, Northern Greece 5/5/19

I woke up to the sound of a strong breeze outside and so I was in no rush to rise. When I did a short while later, I went to check the very local Penduline Tits that Ellen & Phil (from Ringmer!!) had kindly told be about last night. Although the light was too poor for the camera, the charismatic pair showed off their incredible nest at close range. Wishing not to disturb them I left them to it.

Plan for the day was to head to the Bulgarian border (by road this time) to some riverine forest. Along the way I pulled over to check where I was, and a Roller was on some wires near the car, and further looks produced seven Turtle Doves on the same wire. I wasn't too sure what to expect at the forest, but I parked up in a very isolated location and managed to find a disused track into the dense strip of Poplars and Beech. Bird activity was thankfully very high and it wasn't too long before I found a nest hole belonging to a pair of Middle Spotted Woodpeckers. They didn't like me so again I left them to it. I was getting a tad bored with the track and wanted to get back on the road, so I took the (unwise) decision to head back to the road via what turned out to be a swamp. Despite much traversing across streams and getting my shoes covered in swamp, I returned to the original path. This may appear to have been a waste of time, however during the pointless exercise I found a stunning male Semi-collared Flycatcher in full song.

Now out of the forest my next plan was to walk some tracks on the adjacent hillsides, not just for the birds but also for the Orchids and Butterflies in the area. The weather was suitable for the latter, and just up the road I found a suitable track. I spent a few hours here mainly because it was very good. At long last there was an abundance of Eastern Subalpine Warblers, an Eastern Orphean Warbler showed nicely as it sang on top of a dead tree, whilst overhead a couple of Short-toed Eagles cruised over. I also managed to find some giant Lady Orchids, but most impressive for me was a perfect Knapweed Fritillary, this being a new species for me. There was also a Glanville Fritillary and many Queen of Spain Fritillaries that had surely just emerged as all were very fresh, as well as some interesting Blue butterflies.

After a lengthy time here I drove back to Lake Kerkini to once again bird the NE section, and it was excellent. Whilst parked up overlooking some grassy islands I noticed a superb Spur-winged Plover. Around it were no less than 18 Wood Sandpipers, and once some rain had passed, three immaculate summer-plumaged Curlew Sandpipers joined the party. A couple of Coypus were also in some reedy areas. A male Lesser Grey Shrike performed nicely before I called it a day. I still had to dry my shoes and so I tied them to each wing mirror, and were partially dry after the half hour drive back to my hotel. With them still wet, I walked bare foot to the Penduline Tits with ease before retreating quickly as a huge thunderstorm was approaching.

Highlights for today:

Dalmatian Pelican - 50
Pygmy Cormorant - 20
Spoonbill - 42
Great White Egret - 10
Scuacco Heron - 15
Night Heron - 3
Short-toed Eagle - 3
Spur-winged Plover - 1
Curlew Sandpiper - 3
Wood Sandpiper - 18
Whiskered Tern - 4
Turtle Dove - 10
'Black-headed' Yellow Wagtail - 3
Roller - 1

Middle Spotted Woodpecker - 2
Eastern Subalpine Warbler - 5
Eastern Orphean Warbler - 1
Semi-collared Flycatcher - 1
Penduline Tit - 4
Masked Shrike - 1
Lesser Grey Shrike - 1
Hawfinch - 10

Coypu - 2
Brown Hare - 1
Brown Squirrel (yesterday) - 1


Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Fire Salamander

Eastern Subalpine Warbler

Masked Shrike

Spur-winged Plover

Wood Sandpiper

Penduline Tit

Penduline Tit nest

mating Chapman's Blues
Lacks any underside forewing cell spot.

Common Blue
Cell spot on underside forewing 
clearly visible

Knapweed Fritillary 
A very fresh and bright individual

Knapweed Fritillary
(lacking any black dots along the central
 underside pale segments)

Glanville Fritillary

Lady Orchid

Saturday 4 May 2019

Kerkini Lake NP, Northern Greece 4/5/19

The day dawned cloudy and it stayed like that for the rest of the day bar a half hour period where it was baking. Read on further down to find out what the conditions were on top of a mountain pass!!

I concentrated the morning around the NE corner of the lake as trip reports have consistently said how many more birds there are. This was very true and I enjoyed the morning finding a host of good birds, and stacks of them to. European Bee-eaters, Nightingales and Golden Orioles were just everywhere and such a joy to see. A large congregation of Pelicans were gathered along the river, and out of a Poplar tree sang a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. My first of many Cuckoos of the day turned out to be one of those rufous individuals, an absolutely cracking bird.

Moving further down the lake I kept on hearing Penduline Tits but photographing them was extremely difficult. Out on the lake were some Whiskered Terns, and along the shoreline were lots of Sqaucco Herons and Wood Sandpipers. What was encouraging was coming across two migrating flocks of Turtle Doves, one group containing 12 birds.

Once I had completed that side of the lake, I walked the hillsides at the southern end to try for Olive Tree Warblers, but despite trying I couldn't hear any, maybe its a tad too early, although the last and only one I saw back in 2010 in Lesvos, was in April. There were plenty of birds (a trio of Masked Shrikes were the best on the ground), and raptors at last were well represented here with a few Lesser Spotted Eagles, displaying Levant Sparrowhawks, a Booted Eagle and a presumed pair of Honey Buzzards, whilst two Black Storks circled the area several times. When the sun did come out, Dragonflies were found and of most interest to me was a Common Clubtail.

It then started to rain and so I headed back north on the west side and came across a good looking bank that had a minimum of four species of Orchids, but with my book at home they will be un-identified until I get back.

Now this is where it all went a tad crazy, with the afternoon getting on and having seen most of my hoped to see birds. I love walking up mountains, and I love knowing what's on the other side them. So I ascended with the car to the highest point I could, but then I had a gruelling hike, firstly up a woodland stream as no other paths were around. Once I had cleared the treeline (after finding some awesome Fire Salamanders) I then had to slip up the scree rocks to where it then turned into prickly vegetation, but after a long hike (with no food and three gulps of water!!) I had made it to the Bulgarian border, and got the confirmation text from Vodaphone. It was however very cold at the top and with only a Whinchat of note along the border, I retreated downhill quickly, and somehow only a few scratches was all I had after. I don't think I was allowed where I ended up, as the highest peaks either side had guard towers present, but thankfully unoccupied. A terrific experience, but very random and completely pointless as I went to Bulgaria last year, but Eade tours are never without a crazy moment. The most disappointing aspect to this hike was receiving a phonecall from my hotel when I was above the tree line stating my room had been changed. At the time I was really looking forward to another jacuzzi bath, and although my new room was bigger, it lacked the bubbles and soothing massages, but with this major downfall, it had been another excellent day here in northern Greece.

Highlights for today:

Dalmatian Pelican - 30
Red-backed Shrike - 5
Scaucco Heron - 20
European Bee-eater - 200
Levant Sparrowhawk - 3
Eastern Orphean Warbler - 5
Penduline Tit - 5
Tawny Pipit - 3
Spoonbill - 2
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Whiskered Tern - 6
Wood Sandpiper - 20
Turtle Dove - 18
Woodchat Shrike - 1
Masked Shrike - 3
Honey Buzzard - 2
Booted Eagle - 1
Black Kite - 1
Lesser Spotted Eagle - 2
Black Stork - 2
Tree Pipit - 1
Rock Bunting - 6 (hike)
Common Rock Thrush - 1 (hike)
Whinchat - 1

European Bee-eaters performing 
nicely today.

Black-headed Bunting

Great White Pelicans

A cloudy sunrise at Lake Kerkini

Sqaucco Heron

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

A very young Eastern Orphean Warbler

Vagrant Emperor

Common Clubtail

Good numbers of Turtle Doves today

Fire Salamander

Common Rock Thrush

Starting position - the top ridge
just out of view from the ridge in front.

Nearly at the top

Looking into Bulgaria from the border