Thursday, July 31, 2008

30th July, 2008.

Still immersed in admin work after my return but managed a couple of outings locally. Generally things seem quiet but Willow Warbler in one of the two bushes (!) in the garden showed migration was in progress. Two very juvenile Goldfinches suggested breeding nearby. After a late start there are at least five young Swallows in the barn, which requires a couple of inspections per day as they manage all too often to get caught up in things!
The group of nine Choughs is still around and two young Wheatears were presumed locally bred. The weather has changed dramatically with fresh winds and rain so returning to forms, bills and computer work has not been too much of a hardship!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

24th -26th July,2008.

Journeying north, via Cley on the 24th, where it was a real treat to see newly arrived Wood Sandpipers with earlier migrant Green Sandpipers, neither of which we get all that often on Islay. The White rumped Sandpiper showed well and, briefly, the Pectoral Sandpiper, which may have actually left that afternoon based on later information. Whilst time was pressing the array of other good birds was too good to be ignored....Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Knot, Black-tailed Godwit,Golden Plover, Ruff, Avocet, Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier and many others. A wonderful place but yet inevitably under threat if the loss of the coastal shore line is anything to go by, and that comparison from January too!!!

A visit to see Black-necked Grebe at Potteric Carr NR, near Doncaster, where they have bred successfully this year, also provided an opportunity to see the most recent extension to the reserve. This site is an absolute gem and gives a real sense of wilderness despite it being cheek by jowl with motorways and the very heartland of Doncaster itself.

And finally!! A quick visit back to one of my past local sites near Penistone ( Royd Moor Reservoir ) provided two Willow Tits and a feeling of some comfort that they'd not all been lost to the area.
Whilst South Yorkshire might seem a strange "stepping off " point for Islay it is possible to leave there and catch a ferry all in the same day, weather, road works and caravans apart!!! A Minke Whale in the latter part of the journey signalled a return to familiar waters in what is basically the Eastern Atlantic Seabord.

23rd July, 2008.

Attended the WeBS Local Organizers Advisory Committee (LOAC) meeting at the BTO HQ. What a wonderful integration of ancient and modern The Nunnery building displays!!
A very useful meeting, which finished late afternoon and thereby allowed an exploration of Thetford itself, the home of Thomas Paine. I'd not realised his involvement in France around the period of the French Revolution. His support for the uprising, but his advocation that the King be exiled rather than executed, which brought about a threat of imprisonment from Robespierre from which he narrowly escaped!! He is also credited with creating the name, the United States of America where he lived for many years.
Escapism is also linked to Thetford itself in another way as the film location of that beloved series " Dads Army" ( yes, Ok, I enjoyed them too!! ).

Spent a great evening birding with Mark Collier locally. Managed absolutely phenomenal views of Nightjar....perched churring, hunting, wing clapping and showing shape and markings off in mind boggling displays of sinuous flight.

20th-22nd July, 2008.

An overnight drive on the 19th/20th saw me opposite Coquet Island in Northumberland at dawn hoping to see Roseate Tern, which I didn't, as I hadn't reckoned on a blistering sunrise that put everything in silhouette! No matter, an early returning Whimbrel and an Arctic Skua moving south were of interest. As usual Puffins were much in evidence but worrying reports are emerging from the Farne Islands, further to the north, that the population there this year is much reduced.

Pressed on to North Yorkshire to the raptor watchpoint at Wykeham. After five and a half hours of waiting excellent views of a Honey Buzzard hunting over the opposite side of the valley more than recompensed the wait, particularly when a female Goshawk also arrived in the area with what looked like a rabbit. A couple of Crossbills added further value!!

On Monday (21st)searches in my past local area for both Pied Flycatcher and Willow Tit proved fruitless and, in the latter's case, prompted thoughts that the population is not doing at all well. Compensation came in the form of a Pectoral Sandpiper at Edderthorpe Flash seen in soaring temperatures beyond what I'm currently used to on Islay!!!

Tuesday saw me on my way down to Thetford, Norfolk on another hot day. Views of Stone Curlew in the evening at the Weeting Heath reserve plus celebratory fish and chips to follow.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

19th July,2008.

The end of two and a half weeks near Inverness, which has been very relaxing and enjoyable , apart from the weather!! Always good to spend time with the girls and realise how quickly they're growing up, which includes an increasing ability to act as my "computer advisers"!!
A little quiet for birds in the immediate area but, would you believe, the local Chiffchaff is still going strong. Odd records of Crossbill make me believe there's a few in residence locally.

I'm now travelling south, to Yorkshire and Norfolk. Whilst there'll be many opportunities to see good birds I may not have access to a computer and reportage might need to await my return to Islay on the 27th July.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

14th July, 2008.

Weather been rather unkind but now appears to have settled down. Speckled Wood and Green-veined White butterflies were on the wing early on the 14th, hopefully suggesting better weather in store for us!

The last few days has been characterized by the appearance of young birds of various species. At the same time Willow Warblers were around in odd places and clearly begining to disperse. Song has finally begun to diminish but still a few stalwarts hang on. Nothing seen in the "local" area that was new but a couple of Crossbills heard within the woodlands suggesting birds still moving through or remaining for a while.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

9th July, 2008.

Much the same routine over the past two days but with the weather having deteriorated slightly!!! Tuesday saw two/three Common Crossbill in the pine woodlands near the house, first located through their quite distinctive "chip, chip" calls. Shortly afterwards they all flew off to the west and, doubtless, are part of the recent eruption of birds westwards from the European continent.

Yesterday further evidence of autumn migration having started when a small party of Sand Martin went through SSE followed by a party of Swifts powering their way southwards. Later spent the afternoon talking to James Wolstencroft previous to him and his family commencing their own southward migration home to Arusha NP in Tanzania. As previously we debated the continuing global environmental crises and put forward a few solutions!!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

6th July, 2008

Now settled into a routine! The weather has provided an opportunity to explore both the local and wider areas around the Beauly Firth in the last few days, which, scenically, is very attractive. I realise one of the things I miss on Islay are large deciduous woodlands and mature trees and hedgerows along roads, so being here is a very enjoyable change. Amazed thar several Chiffchaffs are still singing lustily ( is that the intent behind the song,I ask?) but Willow Warblers appear to have ceased completely. Local walks still producing new breeding records and finding a small Tree Sparrow population was a nice surprise.

Of course things came to a stop to watch the Wimbledon finals!!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

2nd July, 2008.

A less complicated day than yesterday and already enjoying the walks around the adjacent woods and lanes with the newest member of the family, Kyle, a 7month old sheepdog. The utter transition brought about by an absence of windy conditions and the ability to enjoy birdsong is tremendous!! Nice also to have birds like Great spotted Woodpecker, Blackap, Garden Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher and Yellowhammer on the doorstep. The Roving Records form for the BTO Atlas Survey is already filling up!

Next in line is to try out the moth trap here as, with all the surrounding mixed woodland and open field areas , I guess that will be productive too.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

1st July, 2008.

After leaving home at 0545hours I finally made it off the island early afternoon due to various ferries being cancelled due to bad weather!! The sea crossing was a little rough in places but have known far worse! Thankfully the journey up to Kirkhill, near Inverness was uneventful, although I did miss out on an opportunity to try and see the Common Rosefinch at Tyndrum!!

I'm up here for almost three weeks looking after my daughters whilst their mother is away on holiday. Arrived around 2100hours making it a rather long day with not much of note in between.