Monday, 31 October 2016

Third Time Lucky ?

Having endured two dips (the first one with everyone else seeing the bird) in Dorset and the West Midlands with Hume's Leaf Warbler I succumbed this afternoon and made my way down to Middleton in the Gower to see if my luck would change.

Martin Bell kindly phoned with more precise directions just as I was starting out. Found a car park space straight away about 20 yards from the six-bar gate Martin had told me to go through. I found myself in a small field with trees and bushes all around. A tit flock came through with a few Goldcrest for company but I could not pick up anything more exciting.

After about 20 minutes a lady walked past the field and asked if I had seen the birds. When I said that I had not she said the best viewpoint was in her garden which was next to the field. She was going to see someone up the road but give me directions how to get into her garden and the best place to view from.

In the garden lots of finches were seen with at least 2 more Goldcrest with some Blue and Great Tits. Suddenly right above me there appeared a small bird in a small willow type tree. Very dull underneath and then when it turned one whole wingbar and a pale supercilium were observed. As quickly as it appeared off it went and worked it's way through an hedge only giving very brief glimpses.

I was nearly 100% sure it was the Hume's but wanted better views. 15 minutes later it reappeared in the same tree, it was so close I needed my reading glasses and it also called. Being that close meant I could actually hear it and having played the call before I left home I was confident I had got my bogey bird at last.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Hunting of the Snark

Shrikeless but have had an interesting time the last couple of days in its pursuit: 25th at the Neuadd, beautiful misty morning, winter thrushes crashing through the pass, scots pine and beech below the lower Neuadd dam full of birds occasionally raiding the rowan below, during an hour stay; fieldfare [c600], redwing [c150], mistle thrush [c30], blackbird [c35] and a single beautiful adult male ring ouzel. Also on the walk in, lesser redpoll [3], more than I had all last winter. On the 26th at the Neuadd weather had improved so fewer birds the best was a single woodcock flushed between lower and upper reservoirs. Garwnant has been horrific, half term, people and dogs everywhere, the dogs I can handle and get on with, say no more. The best was a barn owl, same place as last year, I can't say I flushed it, it just slipped from the conifer and casually looped back over the top and disappeared. The hen harrier, usual place flitting between Greater Glamorgan and Powys this evening. Oh hum, zero on the scree and no shrike!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Garwnant

I found this slime mold near the north plantation and it's been id as Muilago Crustacea Plasmodium and very smart too.

 Mink scat on the forestry road and a long way from the river.

 Yellow Staghorn fungus

I found this caterpillar later and thought maybe Ruby Tiger any ideas please, found 3 in field over by Robertstown.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Shrike




With news that the Great Grey Shrike had returned to Garwnant, plus the Otter had been showing well early in the mornings at Llwyn Onn, myself, Phil and Martin Bevan met up about 7:20 am on the west bank of the reservior. Unfortunately it was a no show from the Otter, but the res did hold 10 Mallard, a drake Teal, 3 GC Grebes and 2 Little Grebes.We were also met by one of the friendliest Robins we have met with this bird pecking at Bevans boot and taking crumbs from his fingers.

As we left the res, a Merlin flew over.

The walk up to the north clearfell didn't produce the shrike in its favoured hunting area from last winter but eventually Phil picked it up close to the main track.

video

Phil phoned Mike, who was at the visitor centre car park, who rushed over but the shrike dissapeared before he connected with it. Despite searching the Shrike could not be relocated.

A couple of fly over Crossbills were the only other birds of note, though there was plenty of Redwings and Fieldfares flying around.

After the others left I walked round the north east side of the res hearing, but failing to see, Willow Tit.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Today at Llyn Fach

Ages ago, I promised Carys, the warden of Llyn Fach, that  come the autumn, I would try and show her and any of her volunteers who wanted, Ring Ouzel. Keeping my promise, we met up there this morning and spent a couple of hours watching from the moraine.
There were a couple of dozen Fieldfares (my first of the season), a few Blackbirds and just a single Redwing, all busy stripping the berries from the Rowans. It was interesting to watch them, as they constantly flew to and fro, between the Rowans and the clump of semi mature conifers, half way up the cwm. They would fly out of the conifers to the Rowans in singles and small groups, feed for a couple of minutes and then dash back into the cover of the conifers. They were obviously wary of raptors and limited their exposure time in response.

We had been there an hour or so, when scoping the Rowans for the umpteenth time, I saw a male RZ fly from one of them and into the base of a small spruce and out of sight. Carys kept her bins on the spruce, while I scanned the Rowans for more, but there were just FF in them. After several minutes, she saw it fly back out and I got onto it as it flew back to the Rowan and showed well, as we enjoyed admittedly fairly distant (but closer than Craig Cerrig Gleisiad usually provides) scope views of it.

Other species seen included Raven (1 pair) Goldfinch (charm of around a dozen), Stonechat (two families) Cormorant, Wren, Bullfinch, Goldcrest, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Crossbill (heard only).

Monday, 17 October 2016

Local


A single greenshank was the best on show at Llwyn-onn this morning, very vocal, skittish and occasionally chasing fry in the shallows. On Sunday evening Pontsicill reservoir gull roost just slipped over a 1000 birds with; herring gull[935], lesser black backed[65] and black headed[10].

Spurn Point

A couple of shots from yesterdays trip,  a place I've always wanted to go to. I found it a great place with birds everywhere and the birders and wardens very friendly.
 This is  Eastington where the birders had to wait before seeing the Siberian Accenter
Old Church yard where we saw Pallas's Warbler and Yellow Browed Warbler
The pub carpark.
 Saw this sign and thought one of these would be a great bird to end the day but sadly no joy.
Local Weather Forecast


 We found 4 Knot and two had tags and I am trying to find out where their from.

We sit in the hide for a few hours from the rain and boy did it rain.
 Phil found this male Redstart trying to hide from the rain


Cracking place and cannot wait to go back.

Siberian Accentor

Just a few record shots of the Siberian Accentor taken in very poor light on Sunday morning. Martin Bevan, Martin Bell and myself actually started out late on Saturday evening for the long and extremely tiring day out to Easington in Yorkshire. Well worth it to see this little gem from the east. Supporting cast included Pallas Warbler, Yellow Browed Warbler, Shore Lark, Mealy Redpoll, Brambling, Ring Ouzel and Firecrest and huge amounts of Goldcrest. There was also a Radde's Warbler and Dusky Warbler around but we could not connect with them.

A fuller report might come later when we have recovered from lack of sleep.



Lost Falcon

Hi my friend has lost his Falcon in Brecon, it's a Peregrine Saker hybrid, it's got a small yellow tracker on it's back and anklets and no jesses. He has lost signal, the bird can feed itself and will take crows. Any sighting could you please let me know and I will get the news to the owner.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Pipped to the post

Here are a couple of shots from our trip last Sunday over to North Devon for the Dalmatian Pelican. Mike and myself found this poo and Mike had a good old sniff of it. He said it had very little smell. It was a mixture of Blackberries and crab shells, I posted it on Facebook and they said what we thought and it's Badger.

We also meet a group who told us to have a look at the fish below them and on looking we were amazed to see how many Mullet were in the channel and seemed to be in different size shoals.








We saw loads of Red Admiral, a single Wall Brown and Small Torteshall and a couple of what we thought must have been small coppers.

Devon and Kenfig

Martin Bevan, Mike Hogan, Rob Gaze and myself had a trip to North Devon and try and see the long staying Dalmatian Pelican and also the Caspian Tern which had also been seen in the area for the two previous days.

On arriving at Fremington Quay we were met with a line of birders looking out at the estuary. Good sign and sure thing the Pelican was sitting on  a far sandbank. Although distant you could really appreciate the size of the bird. Unfortunately there had been no sign of the Caspian Tern. After awhile we decided to try a few other sites along both banks of the estuary to look for the tern and a Wryneck which had also been reported the day before. We drew a blank on both but enjoyed walking in the warm October sunshine.

I nipped down to Kenfig and seen the Baird's Sandpiper found by Neil Donaghy ( cracking find Neil) this afternoon. A lot lighter bird than others I have seen but beautifully marked.

Bar Tailed Godwit

Bar Tailed Godwit

Little Egret

Stonechat

Baird's Sandpiper

Baird's Sandpiper

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Dominican Republic day 4 and on

Great  White Egret
 Juv Green Heron
 Black Crowned Night Heron
When we passed this little island it was rainning  heavy and I spotted this cacker a Male Magnificent Frigatebird .
 Brown Pelican
 Royal Tern
I found this single Sandwich Tern being towered over by the Royals. Day 4  was a quiet day and I only picked out 1 Nutmeg Mannikin,  it was the only one I saw in the two weeks. I also had a male American Redstart and it does not matter how many times I see them I never tire of them. Last of all I was dragged out shopping and I thought I better leave my binoculars back at the hotel which was a big mistake as the shops were on a edge of a golf course where there was a lake and I could see birds on it. I could make out Moorhen and Coot and as there are two species of coots which are Caribbean and American in the Dominican Republic and I could not tell which one it was.

Day 5 and I got my first every Smooth Billed Ani and another American migrant which was a male Yellow Warbler. I heard Parakeets calling but all I got was 6 silhouettes flying away.

Day 6 and after yesterday Parakeets and not being able to ID them which was pretty bad I thought things could not get any worst and then I found a Green Parrot sitting a top of a fruiting tree. I could not see all of him, he was green and had a white eye ring and it had to be Hispaniolan Parrot. If by magic it flew out the back way and I lost sight of it and felt I needed a better view to be hundred percent sure before I ticked it. Next new bird was Red Legged Thrush and it goes to show if you walk an area regularly something will turn up or pop out. Next bird was 2 Blue Herons flying over high and the only ones I saw on the site in two weeks.

Day 7 and I had the feeling that the birds must dry up soon but they kept coming. I got a Prairie Warbler  hopping around in the lawns and a flock of White Winged Doves. However the next bird was the icing on the cake a Broad Billed Tody, one I really wanted to see. Has I walked back I saw a bird moving in and out of a clump of palms and a male Yellow Throated Warbler came into view.

Day 8 started cloudy and we had a real heavy shower. I hide under a shelter until it passed and as the sun came out I could hear Parakeets. Has I walked I spotted a flock of them in a tree I got better views this time. They had a red wing panel and were Hispaniolan Parakeets, there were about 30 in total. I think the shower had brought them down and after having a shake they flew off. Next bird was Zenaida Dove another one I had been eager to see. My last two birds of the day were Small Blue Heron and Peregrine Falcon.

Day 9 and it happened no new birds. The highlights were a pair of Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoos. The male was catching lizards really fast and then feeding her. One of the groundsmen asked if he could look through my binoculars and his face was priceless, we take so much for granted.

Day 10 and things did not get any better still no birds so I thought I would go out on a boat sea fishing and maybe get some birds out at sea. When I was talking to the skipper he said they go out about 8 miles and said they do see seabirds on times. I thought I would give it a go as I may never have the chance again. As we traveled out we saw loads of flying fish and I thought it was looking good but when we got right out it was bird less and all I had was a butterfly flying past. The only consolation was a baby Tiger Shark and he was easlier 7 feet long. The skipper said when they catch a fish if they dont get it in fast enough the tiger sharks will steal the fish. I was so hoping for this to happen. When I got back and went in the sea for a dip I was alway looking over my shoulder and the thought of sharing a bath with a tiger shark was on my mind.

Day 11 was another quiet day but just as the day was ending I refound my Parrot, it was right out in the open and this one had the white on it's face and Hipaniolan Parrot was in the bag. I also found a new area and had a pair of Black Crowned Palm Tangers. I also two small dark birds in the grass but they flew of before I could id them, I think they were Grassquits but sadly I will never know as they were not seen again.

Day 12 and I had a good day with American warblers. I had Prairie Warbler again, Black and White warbler, American Redstart, Ovenbird and Northern Waterthrush. I had been seeing a dark pigeon and it was nice to get one finally close enough to Id as White Crowned Pigeon.

Day 13 and my last full day and I was going off site and visiting an island on the Caribbean side of the Dominican Republic called Saona island. I was not disappointed, I had 3 Turnstones before I even got on the boat, as the boat left I had a couple of Terns which I think were Common and Sandwich Terns. As we got out more into open water I got a couple more Frigatebirds, 2 Brown Booby and a small group of Waders which I think could be more Turnstone. When we landed I heard White Necked Crow calling and found half a dozen Crows in a palm tree as I walked. The island looked really good but was quiet. In three hours I had a flock of House Sparrows, Bananaquit, Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo and Turkey Vultures over head and that was it. On getting back on board I had about 10 Laughing Gulls, Brown Pelican and a Great Blue Heron. We had lots of flying fish and we stopped at a site to look for starfish and when I was swimming I looked down and a stingray swam below me which was great to see. I also saw a Black Urchin.

Day 14 and my last walk around the grounds. I had a female American Redstart and two Osprey and one was eating a fish .I also had 1 Black Crowned Palm Tanger and what a great end to my holiday .

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Ring Ouzel

Two Ring Ouzel tonight up Abernant, half way up on the right hand side in the clear area near the forestry, under the pylons in a large rowan tree which is full of berries. I was looking at Mark's colbalt crust when I heard them calling but they took some finding.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Family Holiday to the Dominican Republic


I had planned a trip to Cuba with my family but they were not happy with going there and said what about the Dominican Republic instead and as I have never been to the Caribbean before I said that sounds great and I started planning my holiday birding. My first step was to check Trip Reports on Cloudbirder and other sites and I was amazed to how little had been reported from the area. I was going Punta Cana and in September it seemed to be a ghost town., So the next plan was to try for a bird guide, I found one on Facebook who called himself Dominican Birder but I found him hard work to get hold of and when I finally did he did not have his own car and wanted me to take a taxi to him and then pick up a hire car, it did not feel right so I had to give him a rain check and call it off.  Next I tried the Birding Pals having had great success with them before. The only difference is its 10 dollars now to join and must be a better service you would think. I found a pal in my area and his name was A Calcano, I tried to get in contact with him but he would not answer his emails and when he finally got in touch and found out it was only me he did not answer anymore emails. I found out he is a guide but he did not have the courtesy to say sorry I cannot do it. So no reports or guides and I would have to find out what’s there as I go.

We got there on the 14 September and the flight was late so when we arrived it was dark so sadly no birding on the first day. The hotel was in a complex of four hotels and the grounds were large with a couple of ornamental fish ponds and a beach looking over the Atlantic Ocean. On my first morning I got up to early and was waiting for it to get light. Just after 6 am I started my birding and found it very warm straight away. I went to the beach to look for birds on the sea and picked up two Terns and when I looked through my binoculars I had a shock to find them steamed up. They took a couple of minutes to clear but the terns were long gone.

My first bird was American Kestrel and a cracking male and very shortly after was a Palmchat and a Antillean Palm Swift. I found as it got more light there were birds everywhere and I found a Gray Kingbird and the noisy Greater Antillean Grackle. Also I had Northern Mockingbird, Hispaniolan Woodpecker, Good old Barn Swallow they seem to be all over the world and I finally refound my Terns which turned out to be Royal Terns.

Next bird was one I always wanted to see a Yellow Crowned Night Heron. Tricoloured Heron, Great White Egret, Turkey Vulture, Moorhen same bird as back home but sounding very different, Bananaquit a very smart small bird. I felt more like back home by the minute when I found House Sparrow and Feral Pigeon. Loads of White Cheeked  Pintail on the fish ponds also Mourning Dove and Collared Dove and this was the first mornings birding.

Day 2 and I had a great surprise when a female Magnificent Frigatebird flew high over the hotel grounds. When I was walking back I had what I thought was a Dragonfly fly past me to land on a bush and on looking closer was surprised to see a tiny Hummingbird, the second smallest in the world a Vervain's Hummingbird. An amazing sight and only my second every Hummer. I found the very neat and tidy gardens a bit boring and needed to find a wild bit. I came across a small wood and there was benches in there so I sat and watched and got some real good birds. Stolid Flycatcher, my second Hummer a Antillean Mango Hummingbird and another bird I wanted to see a Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo and I found these to be fairly common and seen them on most days. Other new birds included my first Yankee migrant a Northern Waterthrush and a couple of Green Herons which were great to watch as they would pick up bread and then dropped it right by their sides and were catching the fish as they feed on the bread.

Day3 and I had booked a Ecological Tour to Los Haitises National Park it was a way for me to see more of the Dominican Republic and hopefully some more birds. It was an impressive place, it had swamps and mangroves and rocky outcrops where the egrets nest. The sky was full of Frigatebirds and Turkey Vultures who were waiting to see of any Egret chicks would fall from their nest.

I went on a boat through the mangroves where I had lots of Green Herons and big numbers of Small Blue Heron and I even had a white morph type. Other birds seen were as follows 1 Black Crowned Night Heron , Snowy Egret ,  2 White Necked Crow who made a very strange noise, I thought they were some kind of chicken when I first heard them, Killdeer, 2 Belted Kingfishers,  1 Hispaniolan Pewee. When we got to the breeding colony we saw lots of Brown Pelicans and the male Magnificent Frigatesbirds where just starting to show their red throat sacks. There was the remains of a old bridge and on the posts were lots of Royal Terns and one Sandwich Tern. The guides showed me Weaver birds’ nests but sadly no birds anywhere.  Back on dry land and our next stop was to a farm in the mountains where we had lunch and I time for some more birding. I picked up Black Whiskered Vireo  and Black and White Warbler and a nice surprise was Antillean Piculet also Common Ground Doves. As we left the mountains we came to a ford,  one we had crossed earlier but this time it was a raging river. All the locals where parked up and watching the river and as time went on they were carrying motorbikes across the river. Some cars and vans braved it across but we sat there for two hours before our driver decided to cross, he then put a chain on the front and a tractor pulled us across and that was the end of a cracking day.                                                                                                     

This one of the many paths I walked in the morning
 Breakfast time for the Herons and Egrets. I walked around hotel for two hours in the morning and a hour in the evening and this is a list of what I had and if common.

My first Endemic was Palmchat, it was very common and you can see why it’s the state bird and I saw it most days. I found the large nests everywhere and it reminded me of Monk Parakeets.


      Next bird was Northern Mockingbird and I found them pretty common too and seen them in most parts of the hotel grounds.
   
Also common was Hispaniolan Woodpecker and I saw lots of them. I found one digging out a nest hole and it looked like he was getting ready to nest but I realised he was digging for grubs and kept bringing out big grubs and flying off and returning, he did this over a dozen times.