Sunday, December 08, 2013

Hong Kong Dec 13

Stayed at Cyberport and saw usual Black Kite, Crested Bulbul, Crested Mynah, Spotted Dove, Magpie Robin, Black-Necked Starling, House Sparrow, plus a Daurian Redstart.

On a day to KL, Asian Glossy Starling, Spotted Munia and Zebra Dove.
Zebra Dove

Black Necked Starling

Magpie Robin

Daurian Redstart

Crested Mynah

Spotted Dove

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Central Park

Wood Duck and juvenile Starling (fell for it again!)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wyver Lane 27 Sep

Several Snipe and a lone Black Tailed Godwit. All put up by a passing Peregrine. Pair of Sparrowhawk sentinels guarding the valley.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cuba - August 2013

Our first stop at the Copacabana Hotel, Havana enabled us to pick up some of the regulars:
- Antilliean Palm Swift*
- Purple Martin*
- House Sparrow
- Cuban Blackbird*
- squadron of White Ibis flew over at dusk
- Collared Dove
- Barn Swallow.

On the tour of Havana
- Killdeer, Cuban Grackle* at the fort
- Turkey Vultures (which are very numerous here and pretty much the only bird of prey one is likely to see) circling the big modern monument on Revolution square
- Common Ground Dove and Red-legged Thrush* at the Hotel Nacional and a Brown Pelican patrolling the sea
- Cuban Emerald* is the only Hummingbird likely to be seen
- Gray Kingbird* and Loggerhead Kingbird* are everywhere. Former has paler head with distinct eyestripe, whereas latter has a darker head overall.
- Feral Pigeon, natch.

The Forest Park in Las Terrazas turned out to be a great spot
- Cuban Trogon* glimpsed on a Telegraph wire...fortunately better views to come (photo)
Yellow-Faced Grassquit
Red-Legged Honeycreeper

West Indian Woodpecker

Loggerhead Kingbird

Cuban Green Woodpecker

Green Heron

Gray Kingbird

Common Ground Dove

Crescent Eyed Pewee

Northern Mockingbird

Cuban Emerald

Royal Tern

Yellow-Capped Night Heron

Yellow Warbler
Magnificent Tropicbird

Little Blue Heron

Cuban Tody
Cuban Trogon

- Great Lizard-Cuckoo* - distinctive silhouette rising from the canopy
- Cuban Tody* (photo)
- Red-legged Honeycreeper* - in green phase (photo)
- Yellow-faced Grassquit

Yellow-Faced Grassquit
Banos de San Juan
- Little Egret

Smooth Billed Ani
From the bus
- Smooth-Billed Ani*
- Green Heron
- American Kestrel 
- Mourning Dove
- White-Winged Dove

- Tawny Winged Blackbird*
- West Indian Woodpecker*
- Northern Mockingbird
- Bird Walk, Cuban Green Woodpecker*
- Rural Walk, Cattle Egret

Then a long drive to Australia and a Crocodile Breeding Centre where we saw a Grey Heron (!)

Then to Playa Larga where Lydia brilliantly spotted a Yellow-throated Warbler* in a palm tree.

At Caleta Buena, Crescent-eyed Pewee* 

Our hotel at Cienfuegos had great sea views and from the front we saw
- Laughing Gull
- Royal Tern* 
- Magnificent Frigatebird.

At Trinidad 'Ma Dolores'
- Cuban Crow* in the Royal Palms
- Yellow-crowned Night* and Little Blue Herons on the river.

Passing thru mangrove swamps we saw Black-necked Stilt on our way to boat trip to Cayo Blanco, where a very friendly group of Yellow Warblers* were present.    

At Santa Clara, Lydia spotted Ferdinanda Flicker, but I missed it!

Friday, July 05, 2013

Anglesey 29/30 June 2013

We watched the Lions match in Patrick's bar in Bangor. So that's Englishmen in an Irish Bar in Wales! Only a Scottish angle missing, though actually that was true of the Lions team too...

After the match, we drove up to Holyhead and did a 20km hike to the North East, round North and South Stack. The cliff scenery excellent and a great set of birds too. Orchids, Pinks, Scabious and lots of other flowers.

Chough, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Magpie, Raven, Oystercatcher, Canada Goose, Kestrel, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, House Sparrow, Whinchat, Stonechat, Razorbill, Guillemot, Gannet, GBB Gull, Kittiwake, Herring Gull, Manx Shearwater*, Shag, Grasshopper Warbler*, Linnet, Woodpigeon, Whitethroat, Sandwich Tern, Swallow, Goldfinch, Wren, Grey Heron, Black Headed Gull, Blackbird 34.

On Sunday we headed up to Lynas point having heard report of a Common Rosefinch* by the cattle grid. We found a cattle grid and a birder was there who had been looking for 30m without success. I looked the bird up on my iphone app and played its song so that we would know what to listen out for. Amazingly, a reply came immediately from a bush and up popped the the little guy! We had a decent view; notched finchy tail but no pink is apparently a youngster.

Walking on to the lighthouse, we added Black Guillemot, and later House Martin. Off the point there were Gannets diving and Shearwaters shearing, as well as Porpoises and Seals.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Monaco 19 Jun 2013

Whitethroat and Greenfinch in the little Eco-park next to the Grimaldi centre

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Marin Birding 2 Jun 2013

American Crow at hotel. At Muir Beach Overlook, California and Spotted Towhee and Western Bluebird, Turkey Vulture, Black Phoebe.

On to Stinson Beach: Downy Woodpecker, Anna's Hummingbird. Bolinas Lagoon: Great Egret, Caspian Tern and Ring-billed Gull,  Chestnut-Backed Chickadee, Mallard, Canada Geese.

Agate Beach: Califorrnia Quail, American Goldfinch, Brewer's Blackbird, American Robin

Fivebrooks:  Red-tailed Hawk, Osprey, White-throated Sparrow, Western Scrub Jay, Steller's Jay, Western Wood-peewee, Bushtit, Wood-duck, Great Blue Heron, Red-Winged Blackbird

Abbott's Lagoon: White-crowned Sparrow, Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow, American Bittern, Red-throated Diver, Western Gull, Sanderling, Gadwall, Liittle Gull??, Song Sparrow,  Common Raven, Common Loon.

From car near Petaluma, Bullock's Oriole

12 May, Belper

Grey Wagtail, House Martin, Swallow,  Gadwall, Coot, Moorhen, Canada, Greylag, Oystercatcher, Black-headed,  LTT, Goldfinch, Mallard, Magpie, Blackcap, Blackbird, Chiiffchaff,

Mistle Thrush, willow warbler, sound of a Curlew

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Sorrento and Amalfi Coast 29 Mar - 3April 2013

Blue Rock Thrush on a roof in Positano. Whinchat on the ground in a lemon grove.

Peregrine, Short-eared Owl, Hoopoe (Lydia), Coal Tit on high walk above Positano.

Jay, Yellow-Legged Gull, Blackcap, Pied Wagtail.

Another S-E Owl from the motorway to Naples!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Phoenix, Arizona 9 Mar 2013

Phoenix, Arizona 9 Mar 2013

Getting to Phoenix on Saturday evening gave me a free day before a conference starting on Monday. Googling around had given me some ideas about birding areas, but one species in particular caught my eye  - Burrowing Owl.  ‘Where to see Burrowing Owls in Phoenix’ got me an article saying that the grounds of Scottsdale Community College at dusk or dawn was a good bet, so the plan was laid.

Jet lag helped me get up before 6, so I donned my special underpants and headed down for the first breakfast available – just me and the aircrews. Then into my hire car and 25mins up to Scottsdale. Interesting story on the college – apparently in the 70s, students rebelled at the disproportionate amount spent on sport and as part of the settlement sought to embarrass future sport teams by dictating that they had to be called The Fighting Artichokes, which they still are today.

Anyhow, when I got there the huge parking lot was (understandably at 0700 on a Sunday) empty so I parked near the edge – it is right on the outskirts of town so surrounded by fields. Greater Grackles all over the place, then some entertaining  Gambell’s Quails careering wildly across the plain.

Walking along the edge of one field I noticed a muddy bank and there on top was an owl looking at me! As I got closer it flew off to a nearby mound, then returned to look again. It crouched closer to the ground to get a better look, then retreated into a burrow, then came out again. Brilliant!

Gambel's Quail

Burrowing Owl
 Dotting around a domed nest just in front of me were a couple of tiny yellow-headed birds – Verdins I discovered later.

Northern Mockingbird and Mourning Dove.

Heading back to the car some screeching attracted me to a tree with some parakeet-green birds who then flopped down onto the ground and
revealed themselves to be Rosy Faced Lovebirds – presumably escapees originally?
Northern Mockingbird


Rosy Faced Lovebird
So that’s 4 lifers before 8am!

Next location was Rio Salado – along the banks of the Salt River, which is what started the inhabitation of Phoenix. Whilst this area has been reclaimed as a leisure area, it is still very scrubby and stony…but I guess that could just be because it is a desert…
Around the little car park Great Egret, Black Phoebe on a post in the pond, House Finch and Yellow Rumped Warbler in trees.

Yellow Rumped Warbler
Gilded Flicker

House Finch
 Walking under the roadbridge, lots of swifts which I worked out were Cliff Swifts. They were nesting under the bridge and several times all alarmed by something, which on about the 3rd pass I identified as a Prairie Falcon.

A couple of groups of  Doube-Crested Cormorants flew over. A Killdeer showed up and started making it’s usual racket. A bigger bird flying into a tree  caught my eye. Wonderful colours, amazing jagged orange tail and a sharply defined balc crescent on the chest – Gilded Flicker.

Walking along a hare raced across the path, with a Coyote (you say Koy-Oat, I say Ko-yo-Tay) ambling with sinister intent short afterwards. I reached for my radio-active dog-scarer (hoping it also works for non-radioactive dog-types), but it showed no interest in me.

I soon reached the next car park along the river, and here there was a well equipped Audubon centre. One of the exhibits was of commonly seen birds here and that helped me to nail the Verdin – as well as a yellow head it has a tiny scarlet shoulder mark- , that a bird I had seen scrabbling in the dirt was an Abert’s Towhee and also gave me the info to enable a White-Winged Dove and Allen’s Hummingbird to be subsequently identified. Green Heron in their pond.

The Audubon Centre also had some details of other possible birding locations, and as I had several hours left I decided to try the Boyce Thompson Desert Arboretum, designated as an ‘Important Bird Area’, an hour out of town to the East.

The drive was livened up by catching a Lake Woebegone Days episode on the radio, and then a Car-Talk phone in, where the hosts were interested to find that a caller had a Welsh name. They got talking about Wales. They had a hunch that half the population speak Welsh, and the other half speak French. But they were absolutely confident that the one thing everyone knows about Wales is that it is where Sean Connery comes from.

The SatNav claimed to know where the Arboretum was, but directed me, predictably I suppose, to an empty piece of desert. I tried the dangerous tactic of ‘let’s just carry on and see’ and on this occasion in a few miles I reached it. At first sight it seemed to be a Cactus Garden Centre for Seniors, but there is in fact a 90 min circuit in amongst Buttes and river/lake. Not many birds though. I think the qualifying criteria for IBA must be quite low.
 I got nice views of Northern Cardinal and White Crowned Sparrow, and the lake had American Coot and Pied Billed Grebe.
Northern Cardinal

The highlight was seeing a couple of Red-Tailed Hawks wheeling around in their mating formation, with legs dangling, and then landing on top of eachother on top of a bare tree right on top of the highest outcrop. A dramatic and romantic, if brief, coupling.

Red-Tailed Hawks
Some folk I met told me they had seen a Vermillion Flycatcher near a patch of water by a rock near a cactus. I sped off to try to locate, but there were many, many such locations and no sign of the VF.

So that was it, 25 species /12 lifers and a fascinating day out in Arizona.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Menai and Thames 26/27th Jan

Off to see Leo at Bangor. We walked down to the little island by Menai Bridge, where the tiny church says it was built in 630AD by St Tysilio!

On the way we saw Buzzard and robin, then on the mud around the island Mallard, Oystercatcher, Teal, Redshank, Curlew. Grey Heron and Cormorant in flight. Then, in the water, a lone Razorbill and a group of Merganser.

Next day, on the Thames towpath, a Grey Wagtail.

Sad I didnt get to join Lydia at Barnes WWT on Tuesday as she saw Bittern on the ice, Sparrowhawk and female Smew.