Sunday, 2 December 2012

Barn Owl and Short-eared Owls in Lancashire

December 1, 2012:
During the winter months, the low-lying moss-lands of Lancashire can be the haunt of Short-eared Owls as well as the regular hunting ground of resident Barn Owls. Other scarce raptors are also sometimes seen here.

Today, in bright sunshine, a Barn Owl and two Short-eared Owls could be seen periodically together quartering the same rough farm land in search of prey.

Unfortunately, the Short-eared Owls failed to perch within camera range.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Long-tailed Duck at Stocks Reservoir, Lancashire

October 31, 2011:
The bird was first sighted the previous day towards the eastern end of the reservoir but was always distant allowing only record shots..

In the rough weather it was often hidden  by the waves and was difficult to pick out amongst the large number of other wildfowl present which included Mallard,Tufted Duck and Pintail. Later, it detached itself and could be seen distantly diving alone for a while in the rough water. It appeared to be an adult female rather than an immature bird.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Lesser Yellowlegs at Aldcliffe, Lancaster

October 24, 2012:
The juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs spent most of its time alternating between a large flooded field near the lane end and the far northern part of a string of shallow pools about half a kilometre away. Both spots couldn't be watched at the same time. As one approached one of these it would frustratingly fly to the other, so the answer was to stay put and just wait. At either spot it was almost always distant but on one occasion it did come within 100 metres or so.

A north American bird which usually winters in the south of that continent, there have been over 400 UK records, this is about the 12th for Lancashire.

The short white supercilium not extending beyond the eye, the fine beak, the rather elegant build, and yellowish legs, can be seen seen in some of these (rather distant) photos.

Its yellowish legs are just visible

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Pallas's Warbler at Knott End, Lancashire

October 18, 2012:
After a long bleak autumn for interesting birds locally, a Pallas's Warbler arrived at Knott End on Monday (the 15th). Since then, it has spent most of its time hunting insects in and around a sycamore tree in a garden which backs onto the sea wall.

It was very elusive and fast moving amongst the leaves and branches and being so small, was difficult to follow never mind to photograph. Eventually, it came slightly more into the open for a few seconds allowing some distant photos before vanishing again.

Pallas's Warblers breed in an area eastwards from Siberia to north-east China and usually winter in southern China although small numbers can also arrive in western Europe. It was watched by quite a large group of people today. Many thanks to Chris Batty for allowing access to his garden.

Its characteristic pale cream rump, the bright yellow crown stripe and the prominent dark eye stripe can be seen.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

A Montagu's Harrier at Champion Moor, Lancashire

July 12-15, 2012:
A male Montagu's Harrier, a species which in Britain is usually restricted to the Norfolk area, was first spotted here on Wednesday, the11th, by sharp-eyed Burnley bird-watcher Graham Gavaghan. This appears to be the first-ever record for the Bowland area although the related Hen Harrier occasionally passes through. By weekend as the word spread, up to 100 watchers took up strategic positions on the narrow country roads across the moor.

The bird appeared to restrict itself to an area perhaps one mile in diameter comprising rough grassland over which it periodically hunted. This was usually at very low level, little more than wall-top height and with a twisting flight, but occasionally it would soar high before descending to another part of the moor. When on the ground it was usually hidden amongst the vegetation, sometimes for up to two hours or more, but it would eventually take flight and make a foray over the moor in search of prey.

On one occasion it perched on a broken wall and spent much time preening but most views were when in flight. It had a large area of black towards the wing tips, the arrangement of its primary wing feathers was typical (visible in the top photo), and it had a long tail and a sleek appearance. Unfortunately the bird was usually quite distant making detailed photographs difficult.

Soaring, and so arousing fears of an imminent and permanent departure

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Hobby at Brockholes Wetlands, Lancashire

June 27, 2012:
Today a Hobby was making regular circuits of the pools, sometimes banking and swerving to take insects, probably dragonflies. On one occasion (photo sequence below) it appeared to catch something much larger which so far remains unidentified.

Monday, 14 May 2012

A Common Scoter at Brockholes Wetlands, Lancashire

May 12, 2012:
A Common Scoter which arrived on No.2 pool yesterday appears to be the first record for the site. It was a rather wary bird, keeping its distance from anyone approaching, but spent much of the time diving with periods of 45 seconds or more under water. An almost mature drake, the yellow marking on its bill could be clearly seen from quite a distance.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A sunny week in Cyprus

April 22-27, 2012:
After what had been a cold and very wet winter, this week fortunately coincided with superb weather with blue skies and temperatures into the eighties for the whole time. Based mostly in south-west Cyprus at Nikoklea, much time was spent within the local area looking at several forms of wildlife with additional visits to the Akrotiri district, Cedar Valley, and the Troodos.

Woodchat, Asprokremnos

It was good to see three separate species of Shrike including six Woodchats at the Akrotiri gravel pits and four others below the Asprokremnos dam, two sightings of Masked Shrikes at Cedar valley and Akrotiri, and a Red-backed Shrike on the overhead wires at Ayia Varvara. Here also on other wires was a very friendly Little Owl whilst a Great Spotted Cuckoo was continuously harassed by up to six Magpies.

Masked Shrike, Akrotiri

Red-backed Shrike, Ayia Varvara

Little Owl, Ayia Varvara

Great Spotted Cuckoo, Ayia Varvara

At the Phassouri reed beds (Akrotiri) there were Glossy Ibises, Cattle Egrets, Little Ringed Plovers, Spur-winged Plovers, Wood and Green Sandpipers, Ruff, Coot and a single Ferruginous Duck.

Glossy Ibises, Fassouri

Little Ringed Plover, Fassouri

A rather distant Ferruginous Duck, Fassouri

Spur-winged Plovers, Fassouri

The isolated churchyard of Ayios Georgios in the desert-like habitat near Akrotiri acts as an oasis for incoming migrants and had attracted several Collared and Spotted Flycatchers as they passed through the island; there was also a Kentish Plover nearby The steep chalk cliffs at Tunnel beach were searched for raptors and produced a Peregrine along with a brief view of an Eleonora's Falcon, probably an immature bird, as it flew along the cliff face.

Collared Flycatcher, Akrotiri

Spotted Flycatcher, Akrotiri

Eleonora's Falcon, Tunnel Beach

Coastal pools near to the airport had Grey and Purple Heron perched in the surrounding tamarisks shrubs, Squaccos by the waterside with Wood Sandpipers and a Little Crake on the muddy margin. At one point an Osprey came in off the sea to be mobbed by Hooded Crows. Other raptor sightings elsewhere included a Bonelli's Eagle at Kidasi and a distant view of the recently-reported Pallid Harrier at Mandrea.

Purple Heron

Osprey harassed by Hooded Crow

Earlier in the week two Collared Pratincoles hawked for insects over stubble fields at Mandrea and on the last day one of them could be seen perched distantly on some off-shore rocks

Collared Pratincole hawking for insects, Mandrea

Collared Pratincole, Mandrea

The scrub below the Asprokremnos dam is another haven for both migrants and residents such as Cyprus and Sardinian Warblers and Crested Larks. A Stone Curlew flew through here briefly and there were also Whinchats, Ortolan Buntings and Northern Wheatear (as well as several Woodchats).

Sardinian Warbler, Asprokremnos

Whinchat, Asprokremnos

Amother friendly Woodchat at Asprokremnos