Monday, 30 May 2011

Second half of May 2011

Monday May 16th An early start/finish at work meant we could hurtle off to Cheshire & North Wales where the previous day a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Citrine Wagtail and Broad-billed Sand had been seen. We were short of time and so headed to Conwy first, where after a 30 minute wait, the 1st summer male Citrine Wagtail finally came back into view, worked its way along the far shore and promptly disappeared again.

Distant shot of Citrine Wag at Conwy.

We then drove back towards Frodsham. While we had been waiting at Conwy, the Buff-b had been reported on the pagers, but by the time we arrived it had not been seen for an hour and a half. We stood on the bank with the wind howling in our faces, along with the odd bit of drizzle. Excellent conditions for May. We were on the verge of giving up when suddenly the bloke next to me suddenly spotted it. We had a few views until it was flushed and it flew onto the mud flats. Further brief views of it behind the reed bed, but we had run out of time and and to head off.

Thursday 26th May After missing out on the Blithfield Red-necked Phalarope (Tues are not a good night for me, and this spring quite a few birds are turning up on Tues), I went down to Doxey after work for the Spoonbill. It had been showing well all day, but the time I arrived, it had been sitting behind the island for an hour. I did see it preen briefly.

Sleeping Spoonbill behind bush - Move over Steve Seal, there's a new kid in town!

Saturday 28th May We had decided to head off for a trip today, but nothing really caught our eye, and so a small Clayhead team decided to plod round Staffs again. And we were pleasantly surprised with what we saw when we were actually expected a bit of a naff day. Two more waders were added to the fine list of spring waders in the county with a Sanderling and a s/pl Grey Plover.
And I also managed a good site tick with the wandering Black Swan

Picture by special request of the Blurred Birder.

Sunday 29th May And so on to Staffs Mega Day - a day early this year but I'm not complaining. An afternoon call from PJ sent me bombing down the A50 to the new, flash in the pan, five minute wonder pits at Uttoxeter. The water level looks spot on there this year and its certainly producing the goods this year. The bird was a fine Lesser Yellowlegs, a great grip back for us newer Staffs lister as the last one was way back in 1995 when I was enjoying my few years of rest from birding.

Monday 30th May Chris had been off all last week and had visited Westport everyday. It would have been very harsh on him today, his first day back at work for me to find something at Westport. Well I walked round in the rain from 0600hrs until 0700hrs seeing nothing. I then sat in the car for a while and scanned the main lake.

Sorry Chris

PLEASE NOTE - Apart from the Spoonbill pic, no nest box lids were lifted up during the taking of any of these photo's

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Early May 2011

Still playing catch up but here's a few pictures from what was a bit of a wader fest in the first part of May, fuelled by the mighty east wind that made birding the Pits quite unpleasant at times. Still, I managed to get a good sand blasting. Above is one of two drake Garganey that I saw, the Croxall Spotshank and an awesome flock of 8 Turnstones - all well worth the soaking we got. Westport Lake was also producing the goods. I managed to find a pair of s/pl Black-necked Grebes on the 12th May and had four Whimbrel fly over on the 17th. The first pictures of the Westport BNG's before the long lens boys had even woke up!

The Whimbrel over Westport - all in 6 seconds!

Monday, 9 May 2011

April 24th to 30th 2011

I was off for the week after our holiday to Cyprus. We did manage to have several days birding, but we wasted two of them by standing in Horton, Staffordshire looking for a reported IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF. Being up the north of the county, we managed to see Pied Flycatcher, Wood Warbler and Dipper, plus a Wood Sandpiper and two Greenshanks at Tittesworth. Frustrated by how the week unfolded, we made the most of the Saturday with a quick dash over to Lincolnshire to see the Collared Pratincole.

Then we returned to Staffordshire and started what turned into a bit of a wader fest over the next few weekends. It was all down to a strong easterly wind that made birding the dry, sun baked pits quite unpleasant, turning them into dust bowls. It was also hard to keep your scopes still, and so most birding was done on your knees. But the wind certainly produced the goods, with pictures below of Black-tailed Godwit and a partial s/pl Knot.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Clayheads on Tour in Cyprus 2011 - Saturday 23rd April

It was our last day and the hire car had been returned. I had no other option but to stay in bed. Only joking - I was up at 06-00hrs and made the 35 mins walk along the coast from the hotel to Paphos Headland. It was a glorious sunny morning again. I soon found a hole in the fence just to the left of the main entrance and I virtually had the headland to myself this morning. There was a Spur-winged Plover on the mosaics plus a Short-toed Lark - my 84th and final species of the trip. There were 5+ Wheatears and later on the Wagtails came in to feed, with a Black-headed amongst them. The Pied Flycatcher was still on the Avenue.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Clayheads on Tour in Cyprus 2011 - Friday 22nd April

Up at 06-00hrs on a beautiful sunny morning with no wind. First stop was at the Chicken Farm where we had eight Lesser Kestrels perched on the wires before they flew off over the fields for their first flight of the day. Also Corn Bunting singing.

Lesser Kestrel at the Chicken Farm

Our next stop was at Nata Ford where we had three calling Black Francolin and two Whinchat but not much else. We headed back down towards the coast again and ended up on a small road leading to Foinikas. We pulled up by the side of the road because a Roller was perched in a tree. What followed was one of those excellent spells of unplanned birding which we could easily have driven past if not for that Roller.


We had two singing Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, with one showing well and a lilith Little Owl flew onto the cliff face above us. We had two Turtle Doves and Cyprus Warbler.

lilith Little Owl

We decided to drive on, but just round the next bend I stopped to check two Swallows. They turned out to be two Red-rumped Swallows, and so we stood and watched them feeding and calling as the swooped over the valley. A Cyprus Pied Wheatear was singing, then a Spectacled Warbler started, along with another Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, and two Great Spotted Cuckoos flew over calling.

Spectacled Warbler

The road to Foinikas

We dragged ourselves away and drove down to Paphos SW where three BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATERS had been seen the previous afternoon. Unfortunately there was no sign, but we did have two Spur-winged Plovers, an Ortolan, two Black Francolins calling and many Blue-headed Wagtails.
During the day we visited the monastry at Agious Neofytos, where a fine male Collared Flycatcher was in the car park plus the ever present Cyprus Wheatears and Warblers.
We returned to the hotel at 16-00hrs and so we popped out before tea for another session. We were heading to Aspro Dam, but we soon rode into heavy rain. We decided to check the Mandria Fields instead from the comfort of our car and we were just on the edge of the rain. It was clear that it had been raining in the area for a considerable time with huge puddles on the fields and rain water running down the culverts. We drove along the beach but there were no signs of any larks or wheatears. As we came to Lark corner, seventeen Little Egrets were in flight having come in off the sea. They eventually flew inland. As we were watching these, a Black Francolin was calling and was flushed when a farmer drove past it, giving us brief flight views. Then we had a flock of seven Black-winged Stilts and Ruff coming in off the sea. It would appear that they too were flying into the rain shower and then being forced inland to get away from it. This was the first (and only ) time this week we had seen migration on Cyprus. We drove inland a little bit and had an amazing 30 Turtle Doves feeding in a field. We carried on back to the beach and carried on past he access road and headed down towards the greenhouses. A fairly large bird flew up and perched up in a bush, trying to dry itself off. It turned out to be a Great Reed Warbler, again probably downed by the rain.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Clayheads on Tour in Cyprus 2011 - Thursday 21st April

It was a damp start again to the morning and by the time we were on the outskirts of Paphos it was raining. It was still raining when we arrived at Aspro Dam and so we carried on up to Nata Ford. Unfortunately, our low fuel light came on and so we headed back down towards the coast. We returned to Aspro Dam and checked out the area above the car park, where two days ago there had been three Collared Fly and a Semi-collared. We soon found two Blackcaps and heard a Nightingale calling. We had brief views of it several times but it never really showed well. While we were stalking it, we saw a male Cyprus Warbler and then a Great Spotted Cuckoo moved through the conifers.

Great Spotted Cuckoo, Aspro Dam

We were again running out of time and so we headed down to the Mandria fields. We paused to check the fields and had two Stone-curlews and two Chukars, and there were at least two Black Francolins calling. We parked on the beach and had a Squacco over plus three Wheatears in the grass before we headed off to pursue a calling Francolin. We eventually located it in a field and slowly drove down the lane, stopping every so often. It continued to call and we knew it was in the field directly in front of us. I scanned several times but I just couldn't see it. Then I finally found it - perched up in a bush. I tried to set the scope up but it soon dropped out of sight. We also had 50+ Yellow Wagtails in a field by the side of us with one Black-headed, a Grey-headed and many Blue-headed. A Sedge Warbler was also singing plus three Turtle Doves.

Stone-curlew and Chukar, Mandria Fields
Our day trip out was along the bottom coast. At Secret Valley Picnic site we had 5+ Cyprus Warblers and two Chukars. In the Aphrodite Rock car park another pair of Cyprus Warblers were present. At the Sanctuary of Apollo, a Black Francolin was calling plus another Cyprus Warbler . At the Kourion Stadium , a Marsh Harrier flew over plus Cyprus Warblers and Cyprus Pied Wheatear were seen. At Kourion itself, we had Cyprus Pied Wheatear, Cyprus Warbler feeding young, a Woodchat, a Marsh Harrier over plus two Alpine Swifts and several Tawny Pipits.

Swallowtail and Huge Lizard type thing (answers to pls)