Wednesday, 27 November 2013

False widow...

Despite the change in the temperature recently, there are still a lot of insects around, particularly red admirals. ..and spiders. When I opened the front door to head out at the weekend I found this one letting herself in to my nice warm house - the largest Steatoda nobilis I've ever seen. She truly was an impressive spider, even if not the most well marked example I've seen:

Steatoda nobilis: R. Harris
Birdwise things are still pretty quiet. The pair of stonechats are still present close to the house but the black redstart has not put in another appearance unfortunately. I spent some time yesterday watching the meadow pipits as they foraged around a manure heap in the field next to my house - they are such lovely birds when you get a chance to stop and really study them.

Meadow pipit: R. Harris

Monday, 25 November 2013

Western Orphean...

Pleased to say Andy Grinter managed to get to see the Western Orphean warbler in Pembrokeshire at the weekend. In his own words:

Only managed one photo. Bird was at very close quarters at times but the garden was full of apple trees and I couldn't focus, so frustrating! Very well organised, 40 birders a time allowed into the garden and after all had seen it the next 40 changed over. When I left it was said only 120 birders had turned up as no more were queuing and photographers were allowed back in again. All simple with parking in the nearby field.

Western Orphean Warbler: Andy Grinter
What a pity all twitches aren't that civilised! Not only that, Andy also managed to see one of the male two-barred crossbills in the Forest of Dean on the way back!  Cracking weekend I'd say.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Redhead at the res

The res has been heaving with numbers of birds recently including good gull counts (up to 400+ black-headed gulls), good great-crested grebe counts (40+), large numbers of mandarin (at least 10) and a fine immature redhead goosander that' been occupying the northern end of the res since 18th November:

Goosander: Andy Grinter
Goosander, Chard res: R. Harris

Another nice local surprise was this black redstart feeding around a manure heap in the fields close to my house this morning. Poor quality frame grab from about 5 seconds of video:

Black redstart: R. Harris

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Better late than never...

Back in September I led a group (on business) out to Nova Scotia. It's a stunning place but unfortunately there were no birding opportunities on this trip so I had to make do with what I could grab on the go. Although I notched up a surprising number of species, I didn't have the photo opportunities that I normally get because the group was quite large = constant monitoring and mass disturbance everywhere we went. I thought I'd post a few dodgy shots that I did get though, rather than leave them to gather dust on the hard drive:

American Herring Gull, Nova Scotia: R. Harris
American Herring Gull, Nova Scotia
American Herring Gull, Juvenile, Nova Scotia
American Herring Gull, Juvenile, Nova Scotia
American Herring Gull, Nova Scotia
Adult Am Herring Gull, Nova Scotia
3rd winter Am. Herring Gull, Halifax, NS
Hermit Thrush - one reason I didn't shoot off to
Porthgwarra a few weeks back: R. Harris
Arse-end view of a Song Sparrow!
Black duck...
Cedar Waxwing
Double-crested Cormorant
Humpback whale, Bay of Fundy
White-tailed deer, Kejimkujik Nationa Park
The trip into the Bay of Fundy was spectacular with incredibly close views of humpbacks next to the boat. If I get time I'll upload a short vid of one of them coming up next to me. Also several hundred great shearwaters, some within just feet of the boat but unfortunately they were there and gone before I could snap them with the bridge camera. 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Quiet on the patch...

There's been very little to note on patch since I got back from my week away in London. The wood pigeon movement noted just about everywhere else seems to have mostly passed Chard by, there were however larger numbers of skylark today, including a flock of 70+. Best birds at the moment though are a pair of stonechats that seem to be regular here in the Autumn and early winter.

Stonechat, Chard: R. Harris
Stonechat, Chard: R. Harris
Stonechat, Chard: R. Harris
Stonechat, Chard: R. Harris

Monday, 11 November 2013

Lyme Regis...

Lyme Regis is a place I love because I use to spend a lot of time there as a kid but normally avoid these days. Far too many people ambling around, throwing pebbles in the water, letting their dogs run riot on the beach, way more tourists than there use to be. Regardless, it is a place perhaps overlooked by birders for that very reason although it has turned up some good birds in its time - most recently a spotted sandpiper a couple of years back. I went there yesterday specifically to film the purple sandpipers that gather on the rocks off the Cobb Wall each winter and ended up getting distracted by the rock pipits hunting in the seaweed on Monmouth Beach. You would think a loner sitting quietly on a stinky beach with a video camera on a tripod would shout STAY AWAY FROM ME but no, despite obviously filming 'something' I had several people almost go out of their way to walk in front of the camera and disturb the birds. Pity about all the rubbish there though too - makes you realise how filthy are beaches are...

Rock pipits, Lyme Regis: R. Harris

The purple sandpipers were there though, nine in all. They really have a bit of character, great little birds:

Purple Sandpiper, Lyme Regis: R. Harris
Purple Sandpiper, Lyme Regis: R. Harris
Purple Sandpiper, Lyme Regis: R. Harris
Purple Sandpipers: R. Harris

Bonaparte's Gull

The long-staying south Devon Bonaparte's Gull has resurfaced again in recent weeks seeming to favour the stretch of coast between Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth. Andy Grinter caught up with it again this weekend at the former site and got some lovely shots of it:

Bonaparte's Gull, Dawlish Warren: Andy Grinter
Bonaparte's Gull, Dawlish Warren: Andy Grinter
Bonaparte's Gull, Dawlish Warren: Andy Grinter
Bonaparte's Gull, Dawlish Warren: Andy Grinter

Friday, 8 November 2013

Black Red...

Bit late putting this up on the Blog but just didn't get time before heading off to work in London this last week. A lovely black redstart photographed in Taunton by Andy Grinter:

Black Redstart: Andy Grinter

Sunday, 3 November 2013

More of the Sabines...

You can never have too much of a good thing and that's always the case with gulls as far as I'm concerned.  If I hadn't been travelling up to London today for work this week,  I'd certainly have joined Andy Grinter for a return trip to see the Sabines again.

Sabines Gull, juvenile: Andy Grinter

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Sabines gull...

This young sabines has been moving up and down the Fleet in Dorset over the last week between Portland and Cogden Beach.  Andy Grinter caught up with it today at the latter location.
Sabines Gull: Andy Grinter
Sabines Gull: Andy Grinter