Thursday 30 August 2012

Black Skimmer and Buff-breasted Sandpiper; what a great day's birding...

... that would have been!

Sorry about that, bad joke I know. But seeing those two birds on the daily fayre in the British Isles brought back some memories. Not that we have seen these two birds on the same day mind, but we did find and take the first photographs of both these species in Ubatuba.

One morning in October 2009 Elis and I were heading for town, we stopped to scan the beach for waders, no luck, but when we got back into the car we noticed, on the grassy area in front of the car there was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. I was ecstatic, I love these birds, and then I noticed another, and then another. Three together, like London buses!
Buff-breasted Sandpiper 1: Ubatuba 4/10/2009 © Elis Simpson

Buff-breasted Sandpiper 2: Ubatuba 4/10/2009 © Elis Simpson

Buff-breasted Sandpiper 3: Ubatuba 4/10/2009 © Elis Simpson

On the 23rd of November 2009 I was with a client when Elis called me up on the mobile to tell me she had found a Black Skimmer on the beach. I had seen two fly by when with other clients in June 2008, and this was I think the first record of the species for the town. The client and I rushed to the spot where Elis was waiting and sure enough, there was a Black Skimmer bashing up and down the surf. Noticing that it was flying out into the bay occasionally and doing a circuit of a couple of boats, it slowly dawned on me that these boats could be seen from the apartment block. So we all rushed back and up to the roof, where a little patient scoping eventually turned up trumps and the Black Skimmer hit the apartment list. Desperate or what?
Black Skimmer: Ubatuba 23/11/2009 © Elis Simpson

Monday 27 August 2012

Two afternoons at HESC

Yeterday Elis and I met Gyorgy Szimuly better known as Szimi and his charming wife Andi and their lovely young daughter Kea at HESC.
Me and the Szimulys at HESC
Whilst Szimi and I talked waders Elis, Andi and Kea watched birds, butterflies and dragonflies with Kea picking up the English names for them as she went along. The weather was kind and the agreeable company made up for the lack of exciting birds.
Two male Common Blue Damselflies

Female Common Blue Damselfly (?)

The absolutely stunning Southern Hawker
The Common Terns showed evidence of successful breeding, if not at HESC then somewhere close with juvenile birds in among the adults and a young Black-headed Gull vyed with the terns for perching space on the limited number of posts, even when there was one free!

Adult Common Tern

Juvenile Common tern

Juvenile Black-headed Gull
Other birds seen included;
Skulking Reed Warbler

Great Crested grebe

Male Tufted Duck
This afternoons trip to the same place was made because the feeders were empty at the Woodland Hide yesterday and Elis felt sorry for the poor birds. The weather was not as kind to us this time with some moderate showers, but the birds soon put in an appearance when the food was put out.

This tits were first to arrive.
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Marsh (upper) and Willow Tit
Here's a comaprison of the two birds.

Willow Tit
Marsh Tit

They were briefly joined by;
Female Chaffinch

A rather pale looking Robin
As we left in the rain with low light levels under heavy clouds we came across a large mixed flock of birds moving through the hedgerow. It included Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Marsh Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper and Goldcrest.
Willow warbler

Long-tailed Tit


There was also a Kestrel sitting out the rain storm.

Thursday 23 August 2012

A day at Titchwell.

Following the BBF Elis and I went with Peter and Jenny Sharland, our friends from South Africa, to Titchwell.
Jenny, Peter, me and Elis at Hunstanton.
We stopped off at Hunstanton on the way there to try and tick off Fulmar for Peter and Jenny. This we succeeded in doing eventually and saw some mixed wader flocks flying by, comprising, for the most part, Grey Plovers.

Fulmar on the sea, Hunstanton

Grey Plovers moving along the coast past Hunstanton cliffs
At Titchwell we were treated to a great display of Ruffs in varying plumages.
The first hide at Titchwell, a great place to get to know your waders.

Elis and Peter left the first hide to photograph the birds from the bank while Jenny and I discussed the plumage of the Dunlin in front of us.

Juvenile Dunlin

Suddenly Peter burst in breathlessly,
     "They've got an odd wader up there, they can't decide if its a Baird's or a White-rumped Sand!"
The mystery stint drew a big block of admirers
That sounded exciting and I rushed up to the bank, meeting Elis, also in a state of wide-eyed excitement. I looked at the bird in question and decided that, in my humble opinion, it was a Little Stint.
The mystery stint preening itself
Now stints and Calidrids in general can be tricky of course, and I am no expert, but I always start with the assumption that it is the common, default bird and then see if I can find anything that would prove otherwise. I didn't. But hey! I've been wrong in the past and dare say I'll be wrong again.
The same bird

Same bird a bit closer
We drifted off to the large new hide. here Elis found a small group of Golden Plovers and a Common Snipe.

Golden Plovers

Common Snipe (foreground)
The most popular birds on the marsh though were undoubtedly these sleeping (what else do they do?) Spoonbills.
Eurasian Spoonbills
We then on to the sea where Elis went off to chase the waders and Peter set off to chase an immature Common Eider that was drifting along the shore.
Eurasian Curlew on the beach

Bar-tailed Godwit


Ruddy Turnstone
When we had all reassembled a chap came running across the beach towards us gesticulating wildly so as to alert us to the prsence of an Osprey coming in off the sea. Thanks to him for the monumental effort he put in on our behalf.

Returning to the first hide we got excellent views of some of the waders again including this cracking juvenile Red Knot.
Juvenile Red Knot
There were Dunlins and Ruffs, a Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Avocets and another Little Stint.
Common Redshank

Pied Avocet

Juvenile Little Stint
We saw a number of other birds of course including; Shoveler, Sedge Warbler, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail...

Sedge Warbler

Meadow Pipit

Juvenile Pied Wagtail

...few butterflies were around, just this gatekeeper posed for a photo.

This mst be what it is like to be a bird when we birders are looking at them.
Lovely plumage!

We then tried to find our friends somewhere to stay, locating this Linnet at one place, and then we headed back to Bucks.
Common Linnet