Follow in Nigel's Footsteps

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Snow Bunting...

Great find by Doug Stannard yesterday at Upottery Airfield near Smeatharpe. It was very skittish as snow buntings go and it was difficult to get good views of although I managed views down to 12 ft for about 2 minutes before it seemingly disappeared into the grass.


Also present were a single wheatear, 25+ skylarks and dozens of meadow pipits.

More information available from Doug's post on Devon Bird News.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Photogenic fungi...

Another foray into the world of fungi at the weekend and more species identified...quite enjoying the ID challenge they present. Even found a couple of amethyst deceivers - one of the most striking coloured fungi I've found so far. Those shown below were all within a 30ft radius of one another on the Blackdowns near Chard:

Russula emetica (young): R. Harris
Poisonous!
Russula emetica (mature): R. Harris
Poisonous!
Laccaria amethystina (Amethyst Deceiver): R. Harris
Calocera viscosa: R. Harris
helvella lacunosa: R. Harris
Panaeolus semiovatus: R. Harris
Panaeolus semiovatus: R. Harris

The birds are more Mediterranean than the weather...

Andy Grinter managed to notch up an amazing four Med gull record at Chard res over the weekend! We've only ever been graced by singles and the occasional duo, so four in at the same time is quite something:

Two 1st winter birds with black-heads: A. Grinter
Adult and 2nd winter Med gulls: A. Grinter
Fingers crossed the storms will bring something else in over the next few days.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Few more fungi photos...

 difficult to identify than I thought! Took hours of checking in the book last night and then cross checking against photos on Google to pin these down. Still, each one's a tick, that's the way I look at it. All taken at Wayford Woods nr Crewkerne in my lunch hour yesterday:

Oudemansiella mucida (Porcelain Fungus): R. Harris

Oudemansiella mucida (Porcelain Fungus): R. Harris
Trametes versicolor: R. Harris
Mycena pura (Lilac bonnet): R. Harris
Mycena pura: R. Harris


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Fungi foraging...

Now that we are well into Autumn, I though it might be nice to start including a few fungi sightings. I've never really been into them too much for three reasons:

1) They can be incredibly, frustratingly difficult to identify!!
2) I don't eat them and have never felt the urge to know what they are because...
3) There are just too many of them. Over 2500 species just in the UK and I'm not sure I'll ever get the hang of ID'ing them.

That said, there are some that are distinctive, some that are very beautiful and if I can identify them, I'll post them on here, as it is a wildlife blog and I like to be inclusive:

Russula nobilis (Beechwood Sickener): Doug Stannard
Poisonous!
Russula emetica (or Sickener): R. Harris
Found under conifers, poisonous!
Hypholoma fasciculare: R. Harris
Calocera viscosa: R. Harris
Lycoperdon perlatum (Common Puffball): R. Harris
Lycoperdon perlatum (Common Puffball): R. Harris

They can certainly be very colourful if nothing else.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Odds 'n ends...

The only bird of note on patch in the last week or so, has been a 1st winter med gull, which has been dipping in and out (mostly out actually) at Chard res. It was pretty distant but here's a short clip of it from the 12th October and today:


Re-found a spider at the weekend, that I found on the Blackdowns last year,Agalenatea redii:

Agalenatea redii: R. Harris
A. redii: R. Harris
Quite a smart little thing with a very rotund abdomen (could be describing myself there).

Also only just got around to uploading some rock pipit video I took at Lyme Regis a few weeks back:


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Garden tick!

Surprised today to see a pristine Clouded Yellow in the garden! They do have an Autumn brood in good years when the weather is favourable and this one must presumably be a freshly hatched specimen from this year's influx:

Clouded Yellow, Chard: R Harris

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Ruddy Radde's!

I had to head to Coventry today for work and all was going as expected until I picked up my hire car at 9am this morning. A quick check on Birdguides had me changing my plans to take a scenic route via Andover, rather than the more mundane M5, M42. The reason, three little words "radde's showing well". I always carry bins and a camera, so it was an easy decision to make...I was on my way.

An hour and twenty minutes later I arrived at Anton Lakes LNR on the north-east outskirts of Andover and discovered it was still showing albeit briefly. I also discovered I could've done with my wellies but had to make do.

A short, muddy walk from the car I soon found about 20 people lined up watching a patch of willows, blackthorn, grassy clumps and dead willow-herb. Twenty minutes passed and then it called. Stems swayed around, more calls and then song! It was only about 15 feet away but could I see it? Could I heck! It moved around like a ghost, somehow travelling from one area to another without detection.

After nearly an hour-and-a-half it called again, only this time more distantly - it had moved further along the track. Myself and four others, took ourselves away from the main group and walked to where we thought we'd heard it. After a few minutes my first, brief views of it as it moved left through thick undergrowth. Then nothing for another five minutes. "showing well" it might have been early this morning but this was one difficult bird to get to grips with now! Then it called again, this time it sounded close. A willow moved, I got my bins up just in time to see it before it dropped like a stone into the base of the bush. Striking supercilium greenish brown uppers, buffy undertail coverts...and gone. Still calling though, so not gone far. After another five minutes a willow-herb swayed, bins on it again and then there it was! It climbed into view, called and flew into deep cover once more. This was the view I'd hoped for and only three of us had it. Up until this point it was like a jigsaw, if you'd pieced together all the little views you had, you'd get a radde's but no view of the whole bird. I felt relieved and incredibly lucky. I had one more brief (probably less than a second) view as it vacated the blackthorn it had flown into for a dense weedy patch behind and out of sight altogether. It was at that point I realised I probably wouldn't get another good view of it and it was time to head on. Goodbye radde's, hello Coventry - I know where I'd rather be...

Friday, 11 October 2013

No RBF but a STL...

When Andy Grinter got in touch and asked if I wanted to head towards Portland Bill this afternoon and try our luck on the long-staying red-breasted flycatcher (see post below) at Wyke Regis, I decided it was worth a look. Although the red-backed shrike that accompanied it for several days had moved on, the flycatcher had still been showing up until yesterday, so I thought we had a chance. On arrival it soon became clear that it hadn't been seen today, darn it (I wish more people would put out negative news on scarcer birds as well as positive, it would potentially save a long trip for nothing.) Still, too late to worry about that. Doug Stannard soon arrived and we spent an enjoyable half-hour or more chatting, looking at his wonderful California photos and seeing the odd bird or two, mostly stonechats, a single wheatear and a smart ring ouzel.

There had also been reports again early today of a short-toed lark that had arrived on Portland yesterday, however it had not been since mid-morning after being flushed by a walker (Doug had been the last birder to see it). Then news arrived that it had in fact been seen by someone around 1pm, so it was still about even if elusive. We headed off to Portland though by now it was raining quite heavily, which didn't bode well. On arrival we decided to take a look at the Obs quarry first, where a thrush nightingale had also been released this morning having been caught in the Obs mist nets first thing today. No sign of that either, just one or two blackcaps, a few dunnocks and a rather damp Brett Spencer. Unperturbed we headed up the track opposite the Observatory, to see if we could connect with the lark. The rain had eased but only one other birder was looking for it (Brian Stagg), and he hadn't seen it (there's a theme going on here...). I strolled further up the track and suddenly flushed a small lark from the side of the path. It didn't fly far and dropped back into a small stubble field on the brow of the hill. We re-traced out steps and slowly approached the field, it flew again - I was certain it was the S-T lark! Once again we went back on the track and relocated it about 20 metres away feeding. We managed to get closer for some great views:

Short-toed Lark: Andy Grinter
Short-toed Lark: Andy Grinter
It's toes are so short I'm surprised it can stand up.
And, of course, some video:

Short-toed Lark: Roger Harris

Great little bird and the first one I've seen for some years.

Dave Helliar managed to catch up with the S-T Lark on Saturday morning and also saw Redstart, Ring Ouzel, Whinchat and Yellow-browed warbler before getting good views of the Glossy Ibis from the north hide at Raddipole in Weymouth:

Water rail: Dave Helliar
Glossy Ibis, Raddipole: Dave Helliar
Ring Ouzel: Dave Helliar

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Yellow-browed Warbler...a first for the res

A text from Kevin Harris yesterday afternoon, had me racing to Chard res to try and see a Great White Egret that had just been reported. As I approached the reserve wood, Dave Helliar joined me from the opposite side of the meadow and we went to take a look from the hide. Alas, it had gone. This one has been reported a couple of times recently but is proving to be elusive. We left and went our separate ways, Dave back to his car on the west side of the res and me south towards Oaklands car park. I'd only walked about 20 yards when I heard a Yellow-browed Warbler call 3-4 times from the willows that edge the footpath. I turned to call Dave but he'd already disappeared! A quick phone call later and Dave joined the search. No sooner had he walked around the back of the willows, than it hopped out in front of me and called again, BINGO!

After that it showed intermittently. Good but brief views were had by Myself, Dave Helliar, Henry Squire and Andy Grinter. Dave somehow managed to get a record shot of it too, no mean feat considering how quickly it moved:

Yellow-browed Warbler, Chard Res: Dave Helliar
I cheated and took the following video grabs:

YBW: R. Harris
YBW: R. Harris
YBW: R. Harris
YBW: R. Harris
And the (very) short video clip itself, for what it's worth - TIP: don't blink or you'll miss it:


It was still present today - very vocal at one point and showing from time to time.

Isabelline Beauty...

While Dave was photographing Red-Backed Shrike and Red-Breasted Flycatcher and I was having an altogether more boring day, Andy Grinter was in west Wales for the day getting close to this little beauty:


Isabelline Wheatear, Pembrokeshire: A. Grinter
Isabelline Wheatear, Pembrokeshire: A. Grinter

Isabelline Wheatear, Pembrokeshire: A. Grinter
Along with a few of the Northern variety too.
Andy Grinter

Double red...

Red-breasted flycatcher and red-backed shrike that is. When the pair appeared within days of one another at the Bridging Camp, Wyke Regis, Dave H. couldn't resist going to see them and although they were distant, they showed well and even together at one point!

Red-backed Shrike: D. Helliar
Red-breasted Flycatcher: D. Helliar
Move in a bit! RB Shrike and RB Fly in the same picture!
Dave Helliar

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Weekend round-up...

Quick round-up from the weekend just gone - a little ringed plover was a good find for Chard res by Dave Helliar and was still there up to yesterday evening (1st October) at least.

LRP, Chard Res: Dave Helliar
LRP, Chard Res: Dave Helliar

Dave H. and Andy G. also caught up with the Common Rosefinch in the Obs garden at Portland too and grab :

Common Rosefinch: Dave Helliar
Common Rosefinch: Dave Helliar
Common Rosefinch: Dave Helliar

For myself, no such luck. Haven't had a chance to get out birding since I got back from Canada although a family outing to Lyme Regis on Sunday afternoon presented an opportunity to take a few photos.

Dunlin, Lyme Regis: R. Harris
This leggy, long-billed individual was hanging out with a curlew sand before
being flushed by a CWAD! The CS flew off but this one returned.
Presumably a female alpina on bill length.
Dunlin: R. Harris
Adult/1st winter Rock Pipit: R. Harris