Monday, 26 October 2009

Eastern Delight . . .
The last week saw me on a twitching marathon with great views obtained of the Red-flanked Bluetail at Minsmere, Brown Shrike in Staines & best of all, the Eastern Crowned Warbler in South Shields. Although none of the three birds produced good photographic opportunities, I enjoyed excellent scope views of all of them. The Red-flanked Bluetail was my second having enjoyed good views of Deryk's bird on the NW cliffs on Fair Isle at the end of September 2004. The Minsmere bird was characteristically illusive, staying deep in the quite extensive sluice bushes but did show well at fleeting intervals & was occasionally chased by an irritated Robin. The Brown Shrike was a bit distant when I turned up but thanks to Pete Newton who I met there, I enjoyed great scope views, my camera staying firmly on my shoulder. Friday saw a massive 5 hour twitch to South Shields with Alan Bull and Phil Harris. What a pleasure it was to arrive at the site & be able to immediately connect with the bird from the cliff-top. We had expected it to be a good bird but nothing prepared us for what was surely one, if not, THE best bird we have ever seen - it was a real mega - eastern delight, full-frame in the scope, but as you can see here, not in the camera! It was a happy 6.5 hour trip back to Suffolk, topped off with a late indian take-away.

'Scottish Birds' Front Cover Image
I was thrilled to have the front cover image of the September 2009 issue of Scottish Birds with a Barnacle Goose close-up. This is the second issue of the 'new' Scottish Birds journal, incorporating Scottish Bird News & Birding Scotland & published by the Scottish Ornithologist's Club. I had the cover shot in the first issue with a Long-eared Owl taken on Fair Isle. For more information on Scottish Birds, the SOC & for subscription details please click here: SOC

Thursday, 8 October 2009

A is for Arctic . .
A few shots from a great day on mainland Shetland yesterday. . . .

Monday, 5 October 2009

Blyth's Reed Warbler
Fair Isle - 5th October 2009
Our last day on Fair Isle turned out to be the most productive birding day we had encountered for our entire visit! A Blyth's Reed Warbler was found by Alan & Chas in the crop strip at Lower Stoneybrek first thing before they departed on the plane at the end of their Autumn trip. I photographed this bird out in the field & it was later trapped & ringed to confirm the ID. There were clearly many more migrants about with a Reed Warbler (trapped & ringed) at the Chalet, many Redwing & a few Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroat, Brambling etc in the light SW'ly winds & sunshine - a beautiful day. Whilst looking for the Blyth's Reed Warbler at Lower Stoney with several others including the 2 AW's & Deryk who had arrived post Sheephill, a Warbler jumped up onto the wall briefly in front of us. We all raised our bins expecting to see the Blyth's Reed Warbler but were amazed to suddenly be staring at a cracking RIVER WARBLER!!! What an fine, classic, streaky individual, fully out in the open & facing us, it's tail flicked up showing a great profile before it darted into the crops & remained illusive thereafter. A fantastic British tick for Phil & I & a great bird to end our Fair Isle trip with. After grilling the Eastern Savi's Warbler in Da Water the day before (my second on Fair Isle), it was a real treat to see both a classic River & a Eastern Savi's & the various differences between these two often difficult individuals.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

October Pechora . . .
The Pechora Pipit showed a little better today around Burkle garden (what a great garden tick for Deryk!), Kenaby crop & Quoy. It was later ringed in Burkle garden (another tick for Deryk!) and remained deep in the cabbage crops at Quoy late into the afternoon. The Common Rosefinches had found each other & spent much of the day in Kenaby crops well as Burkle garden. Whilst out in the afternoon in the SE I had my first Fair Isle Song Thrush & Redwing of the Autumn as well as being amused by Quoy pigs chasing Pink-footed Geese out of their territory.