Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A few more Majorca pics

A few more pics from last week:

1st W Yellow-legged Gull at La Gola
2nd (or maybe 3rd?) W Yellow-legged Gull at La Gola
Audouin's Gull at Es Trenc beach
What it took to get some close shots...
Black-winged Stilt at S'Albufera
Night-heron at S'Albufera
Crested Coot at S'Albufera
Giant Orchid at S'Albufera
There were several Giant Orchids Barlia robertiana around La Roca at S'Albufera, and I also found one at La Gola. I was amazed that not only were they in evidence, but that they were actually fully flowering so early in the season. One for the orchid list anyway. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

Holiday in Majorca

We spent last week in Majorca, staying in Port de Pollenca - the first time either of us had been to Majorca. The weather was a bit mixed, which was to be expected in February, but we did make it into our t-shirts on a couple of occasions. Although not a birding holiday, I took my bins and camera and managed to see a fair bit, and got myself a tick in the form of Balearic Warbler at the bottom of the end of the Boquer Valley. These were in the area beyond the obvious wall that cuts across the path where it crests before dropping down to the Cala, and with a bit of patience I got some fairly decent views of a couple of singing birds, although photographing them was more problematic! 

Cala de Boquer
Bagging a Balearic!
Balearic Warbler

Other nice birds in Boquer included 3 Booted Eagles, Crag Martin and several Blue Rock Thrushes, and around 30 wild-type Rock Doves.

Blue Rock Thrush
Es Trenc beach, on the south-west coast (near Colonia de Saint Jordi) looks like it would be spectacular in the summer (white beaches and blue seas), and even in February it was looking rather good, albeit with huge piles of washed up Posidonia in places. It also hosted several incredibly tame Audouin's Gulls, one of which was colour-ringed (which I've reported), coaxed in with some old bread - absolute beauties. Other birds here included a Thekla Lark in the dunes behind, and a Black-necked Grebe on the pool next to the carpark.

Es Trenc beach
Audouin's Gull
Nearby, the Salobrar de Campos looked very interesting, although with only bins I didn't do it justice; nevertheless, I couldn't miss the 26 Flamingos, and I got a good selection of waders here including Black-winged Stilt, Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Avocet, Ruff, Grey Plover and Little Stint, as well as Shelduck .

Greater Flamingo
Salobrar de Campos
Another day saw us visit the Cuber Reservoir, up in the Tramuntana Mountains. A nice walk up to the Coll de L'Orfe produced several new species, including Red Kite, FirecrestCirl Bunting and good numbers of Crossbills and best of all, several Black Vultures, along with several Griffon Vultures - with better views of these over the cliffs above the Gorg Blau Reservoir, a few kilometers back towards Pollenca. Nearby, I saw a Hawfinch briefly at Lluc Monastery, with another flying across the road further down the valley.

Cuber Reservoir from Coll de L'Orfe
Black and Griffon Vultures above Gorg Blau
No visit to Majorca would be complete without a trip to S'Albufera - a fantastic place. 35 Night-herons roosting in trees along the Gran Canal, next to the access track, were a good start, followed by a good selection of waders and wildfowl elsewhere on site. These included Lapwing and Golden Plover, Pintail and Red-crested Pochard, Water Rail and lots of Snipe, as well as numerous Cetti's Warblers and several Reed Buntings. Perhaps most notable/obvious were the Purple Gallinules, and we couldn't fail to miss the Crested Coots, feeding on weeds on the bridge at La Roca and completely oblivious to the visitors taking photos of them!

Purple Gallinule
Two Crested Coots...
... oblivious to their admirers!
Other good birds here were Moustached Warbler (several birds singing and a few showing themselves), a single Bluethroat, and 2 Great White Egrets - plus lots more!

S'Albufera looking north towards the powerstation
My other birding was focussed on early morning/late afternoon trips to a nice little reserve in Pollenca called La Gola, and to S'Albufereta, just south of Pollenca. La Gola didn't produce anything unusual, but did allow some close views of several common species, with several Audouin's Gulls and a Sandwich Tern on the adjacent section of beach. S'Albufereta was a bit difficult to access, but I found a good spot at Can Cullerassa at the norhern end. This area produced Osprey, and my only Skylark and Little Grebe of the trip, as well as a single House Martin.

S'Alufereta, looking south from Can Cullerassa
Osprey over S'Albufereta
Stonechat at La Gola
And a mention for the 'common'  birds: In places, there were big numbers of Robins and Song Thrushes, and in urban and agricultural areas there seemed to be Black Redstarts all over the place, including some very smart males. In other places, Stonechats were on every perch. And of course, it's always nice to see favourites like Kentish Plover, Zitting CisticolaHoopoe, Sardinian Warbler and Serin. I finished the trip with 102 species - not bad for the time of year; a full trip report is available on the Surfbirds website.

Kentish Plover
Sardinian Warbler
And finally, a visit to the caves at Campanet is definitely a good thing to do on a wet day - quite incredible!

The caves at Campanet

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Back from the Balearics

We've just got back from a week's holiday in Majorca - a full write-up will follow shortly, but in the interim, a picture of a very photogenic Audouin's Gull as a taster (a bit different from gulls at Cotham!Landfill...):

Audouin's Gull at Es Trenc beach, Majorca

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Cotham Caspo's and patch ticks

I took yesterday afternoon off work to go gulling at Cotham Landfill again. No sign of any Glaucous Gulls, and actually the number of large gulls was noticeably down on last week (although there were more BHG's). However, there was at least one (and possibly two) 1st winter Caspian Gulls. Both were seen too briefly to get any photos, but I did get a good look at them both in flight - the second bird actually flew right overhead which was fantastic - displaying their white underwings, neat black tail band and white base/rump and subtle window on the inner primaries. 

Today, a quick look at Collingham Pits added a couple of patch yearticks; Oystercatcher, the first Ringed Plover of the spring, and a Grey Wagtail. The Whooper Swan was still in amongst 52 Mute Swans in the field west of Ferry Lane Lake. 

Whooper Swan with Mutes
Ringed Plover on the Silt Lagoon

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Pics from Notts in 2011

I was looking through some pictures tonight, and came across a few notable birds I found/saw in Notts in 2011.

One of four Temminck's Stints at Collingham Pits on 7th May 2011:

2 juv Pectoral Sandpipers found by Carl Cornish at Collingham Pits on 9th September 2011:

 The Attenborough Squacco Heron, photographed on 30th October 2011:

One of eight Tundra Bean Geese I found at Grassthorpe Holme on 13th November 2011:

A juv Great Northern Diver I found at Girton Pits on 26th November 2011:

January Patchwork Challenge results

Well, the standings in the Midlands Mini League of the Patchwork Challenge have just been published; and I'm amazed to see that my score of 76 species (and 78 points) puts me in first place! Very pleasing, but I'm sure it wont last...

And completely unrelated, a nice picture of the moon tonight.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Feb's WeBS

It was a bit damp and blowy out today, but I managed a good WeBS count at Girton Pits. Most notable was a very high count of 1608 Wigeon, the majority of which were on the Sailing Lake, and among which was a single drake Pintail.

From the fishermen's carpark, I spied some swans on Smithy Marsh which looked interesting - and indeed they were: 6 Bewick's Swans. I travelled round to Besthorpe NWT (North) to get a closer look - and to get them on my Patchwork Challenge list! A female Merlin sat in a nearby field was a nice bonus.

Bewick's Swans on Smithy Marsh

Saturday, 9 February 2013

More Glauc'ing

I met Carl whilst having a quick look at Cotham Landfill before hockey this morning. There were plenty of gulls around, and we soon located a juvenile Glaucous Gull; first fairly distant, but then on a bank much closer. Having scrutinised this bird in the field and in the pictures below, I'm beginning to think I may've been overly optimistic in thinking there were two juv Glaucs present yesterday; the head pattern seems to change depending on the angle of head/light, at times looking quite 'browey', i.e. Glauc 2 from yesterday, and at others looking more like Glauc 1 - although the 'saddle' across the forehead I could see in the field and on the photos of Glauc 1 yesterday wasn't in evidence. The body of today's Glauc certainly looks like that of Glauc 2, but Glauc 1 yesterday did look like a big bird... I think I need to see two together!

Juv Glaucous Gull at Cotham Landfill
I also had another brief sighting of yesterday's hybrid gull, but couldn't pick it up again. Still no Iceland Gull! But an adult at Rutland Water today may be the bird that's been at Hoveringham recently?

Friday, 8 February 2013

Friday gulls

I always come away from a session looking at gulls at Cotham feeling more confused that when I started - it never ceases to amaze me just how variable the same species can be. Anyway, starting with the easy gulls first, I had good views of what were apparently two different juvenile Glaucous Gulls - both different from the juv Glauc that I've been seeing this year so far; this brings the total number of different Glaucs I've seen at the site this winter to five (4 juvs, one adult), four of which have been present in 2013. One of today's Glaucs was large (GBBG size) and fairly dark, the other appeared a bit paler and smaller - but this may have been due to light and distance. 

Juv Glauc 1
Juv Glauc 1
Juv Glauc 2?
Juv Glauc 2?
More tricky was what appeared to be a hybrid gull - check out the primaries in the pics below (much paler than usual -  greyish brown, with pale tips). This bird was the size of an average Herring Gull; the wings looked quite long and the bill rather small with a paler, slightly pinkish base. Unfortunately I didn't see its wings or tail in flight.

Presumed hybrid gull
I also had brief views of a 1st W Caspian Gull, which looked a lot like the bird I photo'd last time, plus at least one 1st W Yellow-legged Gull (a couple of other candidates remained unconfirmed). Also three different Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also present, along with a couple of heavily hooded sub-adult Herring Gulls - the two strongest marked birds shown below. 

Strongly hooded Herring Gulls
No sign of the adult Iceland Gull which John Hopper has had in the roost at Hoveringham recently (including on wednesday night), nor of the adult Glauc which John had in the roost last night.