24.9.16.

Saturday…Dull and Grey with light rain…13ºC.

I decided today to go for the Lesser Grey Shrike at Jennycliff, Mount Batten, near Plymouth. The Lesser Grey Shrike is a bird I have dipped on twice. So I was starting to call this my Bogey Bird. Both my previous attempts have been in Norfolk. So it’s cost me a bit of petrol money in the past.

I started out from home at 3:30am, with the sat nav telling me it would take 3 hours 45 minutes (a lot more petrol money). When I arrived, I was helped out by seeing 2 birders walking from a car park with scopes. So I unpacked my gear quickly, and tried not to let the birders out my sight. Luckily only 200 metres from the car park, the 2 birders put their scopes up and started to scan the area. I asked them if they were local, both answered yes. The one guy had seen the bird go to roost the night before, and was looking in that area. After about half an hour it popped up on top of a Hawthorn tree, the tree was perched on the side of a sea cliff. I must admit it was yet another Bitter Sweet Day. Like most of my lifers this year, this Shrike was distant….In fact I’m starting to wonder if I’ve run over a Black Cat…or maybe I’m just going through an unlucky period of my bird photography. It does make me wonder…when just the day before, this Shrike was perched on a fence post, and people were sitting on a bench only 10 feet away from it.

I would like to thank Paul an Ex Royal Navy Commando, who kindly gave me great views of the Lesser Grey Shrike through his scope. Also telling me about many of the buildings in the area, and about the Naval Ships/Boats anchored in Plymouths natural harbour. In fact it help kill a couple of hours, of Shrike-less viewing. The bird did not show again for me, so when it started to rain, and happy to get this Life Tick and Record photo, I decided to head home early.

Distant Record Photo…Note the Black Forecrown, and Pinkish flush to it’s belly. Now I’ve seen this stunning bird, I really want a better photo…

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Another disappointment is that I did not take my other camera to take some of the Royal Navy’s vessels, and also give me a wider angle for the scene I was looking at. I did take a few photos of some of the surrounding buildings with the big lens, which made it such a special place to bird watch in. Shame about the scaffolding on the castle…

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Great setting for a wedding, but not a Nice Day for a White Wedding. I could just make the Bride out by the Marquee …

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These guys were keeping a close eye on the Naval Vessels….

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Like I say…I was disappointed with my Shrike photo, but don’t get me wrong…I’m overjoyed to add this stunning bird to my Life List…Number 311.

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18.9.16.

Sunday…Really starting to feel cold early mornings now, but the temperature did get up to 20ºC.

Had a trip over to Belvide Reservoir today, to see if we could finally spot the Black-necked Grebe. Both me and Ken had missed it on our last couple of visits. Early morning was really misty, and we stood little chance of seeing the Grebe. Luckily as we were sitting in the Gazebo Hide, the mist cleared to a beautiful sunny morning, just in time for the Black-necked Grebe to pass in front of us…

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Must have been a very itchy day again. With a young Moorhen and a Great-crested Grebe having a scratch. I always love to see Rails and Grebes feet…

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Also had some nice sunlight in Gazebo Bay, where a few Great-crested Grebes were diving…

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Tufted Duck…

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Black-headed Gull…

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Good numbers of Comma seemed to be all feeding on Blackberries…

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Red Admiral….

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Message for Ken, it appears we did see a Pintail. With reports of a couple of Pintails at Belvide, we thought we had come away without seeing them. On closer inspection of these (Heavily Cropped) photos, I noticed the green speculum surrounded by the lighter wing bars. Also the obvious long neck and pointed tail. The 2 other birds in these photos are a Shoveler and Wigeon. In fact these are the 3 last birds in a flock of Wigeon…

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With the Pintail added, thats 51 species for the day. Thanks Ken for the trip tick list…

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The next photo is probably my favourite from the day. It’s great to photograph the rare birds. But just as good to photograph a common bird, doing something unusual. Like this Coot covered in Duckweed. I love the little Duckweed Cap…

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13.9.16.

Tuesday…Sunny Morning, 25ºC.

Had a nice walk over HC this morning. Checked out the Wardens Office, and found what I think is a very dark White-spotted Pug, with hardly any white spots, to confuse things even more….

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Always amazes me how Moths which are attracted to lights, don’t really mind landing in amongst Spider webs. Note the different sized shed skins of a spider…

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I think this Ichneumon Wasp is Opheltes glaucopterus…

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Also on the wall was this Forest Bug….

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Autumn really does seem to be showing it’s colours in certain areas of the Common now. With this well worn Small Common blending in nicely…

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Although not identified yet, I did see quit a few Leaf Mines round HC…

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It was also nice to see young Heather shooting up in the sandy areas of the Heathland Corridor…

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The Honeysuckle now has it’s last flowers and it’s 1st berries…

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I don’t think I have seen this variety of Tachnid Fly before. It’s called Tachina fera…

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Good morning for butterflies, with this Red Admiral picking a nice place to land, on the beautiful flowering pink Heather….

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Comma were the most numerous butterflies this morning with at least 10 spotted…

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Also seen were a few Speckled Wood…

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Silver Y also on Autumnal vegetation…

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Common Darter….

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Unidentified Moth….

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12.9.16.

Monday..Overcast and 19ºC.

Although I could recognise the Baird’s Sandpiper Saturday, and put it on my Life List. There was little chance of even a record photo. So today I was determined to go back to Upton Warren and get at least a record photo of this Vagrant from North America/Siberia. This time the bird was nearer, but still distant. Also with the low light conditions, I was really happy to get at least a handful of photos. Note the pale spot above lores, and long primary feathers projection…0z6a3091

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Not a great photo, but this does show the flattened oval shape of it’s body…

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A distant comparison shot with a Ruff. I think this highlights how small the Ruffs head is, compared to it’s own body. The Baird’s Sandpiper’s head is almost as big…

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I was always told not to play with my food. This Common Sandpiper played with this Larva for ages, before it finally swallowed it. It must have took some time to stop it wriggling…..

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11.9.16.

Sunday…Sunny and 25ºC.

Me and Ken decided on another trip to Rutland Water. I really need trips like this at the moment to get used to my new Camera body. The more birds I see, in different situations and light the quicker I get used to the position of the new switch placements.

Statue of Heron unveiled by Sir David Attenborough…

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Good numbers of House Martins flying high over the water…

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Jackdaw…

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Male Migrant Hawker…

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Looking into the sun doesn’t really make for good photos. But I quite like how the light is shining through the wings of this Great White Egret…

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There were 4 Green Sandpipers all on the same Lagoon…

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Great White Egret having a preen….

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Just after it’s preen, it had a nice feather ruffle…

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Lapwing…

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Migrant Hawker…

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Sedge Warbler gave us the briefest of views in amongst the reeds…

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A 2nd Great White Egret joined the 1st one for a preen, this time on a Tern raft…

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Not long after the one above landed, the 1st Great White Egret took off…

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Red Admiral on fence panel…

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Black-headed Gull…

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Little Egret searching for a place to land…

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I know there is a national shortage of Small Tortoiseshells this year, but Rutland Water certainly has a fantastic population…

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Another empty scrape…Yes you’ve guessed it…yet another Peregrine Falcon. This one really distant…

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We saw 4 Greenshanks today…..

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Common Darter having a rest on one of Rutlands Benches…

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We spotted 2 distant Whinchats, at 1st we thought it was one bird flying along a small row of bushes. We thought it kept popping up in different areas to quickly. Then seeing the 2 together explained the reason…

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There were loads of these Rams/Sheep around the hides. I think this is a good idea, to keep the vegetation lower..better chance of seeing Water Rail (which we did see for a split second)…

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I don’t think I have ever seen a Little Egret have a bath…

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All cleaned up…

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Little Grebe…

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Juvenile Great-crested Grebe…

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Great Day! Although the light and hazy conditions made it tricky at times. We beat the bird count from our last visit to Rutland by 3. 62 last time…65 this time…

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Thanks Ken for Statue and Tick List photos!

 

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10.9.16.

Saturday….Dull Grey and Rainy…14ºC.

Me and Ken had a trip to Upton Warren today, to see the Baird’s Sandpiper. Nice to have a lifer so close to home for a change (Only year tick for Ken, but a great year tick). This bird was number 310 on my life list. I knew the bird was distant and with the gloomy conditions, I did not bother to take my camera. There were at least 30 birders crammed into the upper and lower deck of the Flashes main hide. But once I had space to get my scope set up, we could see the bird quite well. I always like to pick the main features of a bird out, and you could make out the light patches above it’s lores. Also the squashed appearance is notable, even at that distance. Because we thought we probably would not get any better views, we decided to call it a day, and let other birders have a chance in the hide.

On the way home decided to check out for Moths at the SWT HC Wardens Office. Only moths of note were a Snout, and this Yellow Shell, which was obviously lost. (Thanks Ken for the photo)…No camera for me today…now thats a 1st for a while…

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6.9.19.

Tuesday…Muggy and Grey…25ºC.

Me and Ken had a trip over to Belvide Reservoir this afternoon. With it being dull and grey, plus really muggy conditions in the hides, it didn’t make for good conditions for photography. I think I’ve only been that sticky in a hide, when my family visited s’Albufera in Majorca.

Common Darter…

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We thought this adult Common Tern would feed the juvenile with the fish. But the adult decided to eat the fish itself….

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We seem to be getting a lot of Peregrine Falcons disturbing the birds on scrapes we are watching lately. I don’t actually think the Peregrine was interested in the Coot, but the Coot was taking no chances. Never seen so much water splashing as it passed over Coot…

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A couple of Common Snipe gave us good views…

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