Monday, 21 February 2011


El Hondo is finally re-open to public visits just in time for spring, a bit of fantastic news for all local and visiting birders. Access remains restricted as it was before the closure and visiting hours will be between 08.15 - 11.15 on both Wednesday's and Saturday's. In order to visit during these times you should contact the visitor centre on - 966 678 515. Alternatively, I can speak to the visitor centre staff for you ensuring a booking is made for your visit; if you would prefer this option please do not hesitate to e-mail with the dates you require.

Other good news is that a team of local ringers trapped an Isabelline Shrike on the 16th of this month. Despite an extensive search the bird could not be re-located the following day.

Isabelline Shrike - El Hondo. E.D. Lope Zalontzo / Sociedad Illcltana de Ornitologia

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Nuthatch and Goldeneye pictures

Just a couple of images taken by my Dad this afternoon at Deer Park Mere, Cheshire. Click on any image to view an enlarged version.



Oxfordshire Strikes Again - American Wigeon, Rushy Common

I arrived at Rushy Common at 10am this morning and after a brief search managed to locate the drake American Wigeon which has been on site for a couple of days now. Good numbers of wildfowl were also present including Eurasian Wigeon (numerous), Tufted Duck (numerous), Pintail (2), Goldeneye (14), Teal (numerous), Smew (2 female, below). Other things of note included a single Oystercatcher and a single Green Sandpiper.

Whilst enjoying a chat with a couple of other local birders, the topic of conversation turned to the potential for this new nature reserve. As well as the wildfowl and waders on the main pool the hedgerows were teeming with Chaffinch, Yellowhammer (below) and Bullfinch with a few Reed Bunting and a single Brambling also noted. It will certainly be interesting to watch the development of this superb site over the next few years.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon
American Wigeon

Friday, 18 February 2011

Oriental Turtle Dove - revisited

Oriental Turtle Dove

Oriental Turtle Dove
Well the bird of 2011 for me so far was still there today, occasionally doing its bit for charity when visiting gardens but being seen much more frequently from the road itself. The bird is still favouring the "The Lays" and in particular the trees at the North end of the road.
Poor light and distance ruled out any photographs on my part but many thanks go to Peter Barker for allowing me to use his superb images in this post, his website - is also well worth a visit.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Monday 14th - Oriental Turtle Dove

As I arrived at Moreton-in-marsh to spend valentines day with my girlfriend, twitching a MEGA couldn't have been further from my mind, but with an excited phone call from Dan Pointon informing me that the Oriental Turtle Dove from December had been re found in Chipping Norton, I was gone!

I arrived on site at 15.25 and within minutes had been treated to brief but good scope views and during the following 35 minutes I managed to scope the bird a further 2 times. Unfortunately I did not manage to get a photograph and so returned the following day to try again. With lots of excited birders already on site when I arrived it was clear that a picture was going to be tricky and by midday there were at least 500 people waiting to get a glimpse of the dove. The dove however did not play ball and only a minority of the ever growing crowd managed to see the bird yesterday. I hope that the bird sticks around and everyone who made the effort yesterday is able to catch up with this stunning bird over the next few days. Should the bird remain I'm sure I will nip back for a few pictures!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Cotswold Water Park

Great Crested Grebe

Today we ventured out to the Neigh Bridge C.P. which forms part of the extensive series of lakes known as the Cotswold Water Park. Although the light was bad we managed to get the above image which is good but its a shame the weather wasn't slightly better, but a great late morning/afternoon in the field nevertheless. We walked for about 5 miles in total passing various lakes, recording the following species of note;

Great-crested Grebe (20+, above), Goosander (1 male, 2 female), Goldeneye (16 male, 19 female), Tufted Duck (numerous), Pochard (30+), Wigeon (50+), Teal (8), Red-crested Pochard (30+), Gadwall (20+), Redwing (100+), Fieldfare (16), Bullfinch (7), Reed Bunting (5) and our target species for the day - Smew (1 drake and 2 female).

Having spent the last few days in Gloucestershire visiting Lucy, I will be returning to work in Cheshire for the next 5 days and hopefully some more good birding and pictures!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Back in the UK!

Red Kite

Back in the UK following our tour last week in Spain. Having limited time here before returning to do more tours in Spian. I was keen to get out and about as soon as possible and today I headed to Southmoor in search of some Waxwings which have been frequenting the area over the last few weeks. I managed to pin down the birds with the help of Lucy, about 2 miles away from where they had been seen the previous day. Despite showing well the birds were slightly too distant for a great shot - see below. A number of Red Kites were also active near the Waxwings and had the light been better I'm sure the above picture would have been even better! Click on the images to enlarge them.


Tour Day 4 and 5

Day 4

Murcia was again the setting for Day 4 of the tour and in particular the steppe habitat found within the boarder lands of Murcia and Castille le Mancha. Within a few minutes of arrival we had pinned down a large flock of 42 Great Bustard (below) which showed well at close quarters and even gave a few minutes of the enigmatic "foam bath" display. During the following 3 hours the group were treated to superb views of all our target species, totals are as follows - Calandra Lark (20+), Thekla Lark (12), Lesser Short-toed Lark (numerous), Rock Sparrow (3), Black-bellied Sandgrouse (50+, below) and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (27). This great start also provided the group with 5 lifers. Click on any image to see an enlarged version

Great Bustard

Great Bustard
Black-bellied Sandgrouse

The lifers continued to come thick and fast in the afternoon at our next location in the nearby mountains. We spent the remaining 3 hours of the day birding here and managed to record the following superb species; Blue Rock Thrush (7), Black Wheatear (11, below), Griffon Vulture (21, including the wing tagged bird below), Goshawk (1, female), Raven (2) and a single Short-toed Treecreeper. Another great day which was thoroughly enjoyable, today we were treated to very good views of all our target birds ending the day with 9 lifers for each of our group members!

Black Wheatear

Black Wheatear

Griffon Vulture

Day 5

The final day of the tour (also my birthday!) was spent trying to find the groups only remaining "wish list" species, which despite a good search on the first day, we had missed - Moustached Warbler. The group were also keen to have another look at El Hondo so we headed to explore the accessible areas of this site once again. During the course of the day we explored all the areas which are currently open to the public and in the early afternoon sun enjoyed spectacular views of a singing Moustached Warbler. We also recorded a number of noteworthy species, including some early migrants - Greater Spotted Eagle (2), Little Bittern (1), White-headed Duck (37), Barn Swallow (1), Reed Warbler (1, singing), Fan-tailed Warbler (numerous), Wood Sandpiper (2) and 7 Bluethroat.

Many thanks to Diane and Alastair for making this tour so enjoyable, of course the birds also played their part! A total of 142 species were seen in 5 days and a full trip report and species list will be available on the main website within the next few days.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Tour Day 3

The start of day 3 found us heading out into Murcia and the sierra Espuna's. A number of species can be found here that our group members were keen to see and with the outside chance of December's Alpine Accentors still being in the area, there was potentially a lot for us to see. We began at the highest point and on arrival it was clear that finding the Accentors could be tricky due to the large amount of snow that had fallen since our last visit. Despite an extensive search we couldn't pin them down, however we were treated to a number of other good species including; Ring Ousel (14 including a number of singing individuals), Redwing (6), Fieldfare (1), Mistle Thrush (4) and a single Blue Rock Thrush.


Short-toed Treecreeper

Once we dropped down to the lower elevations the temperature was much higher and as a result the birds were much more active. We spent the afternoon birding the pine forests adding a number of species to the trip list such as - Short-toed Treecreeper (3, above), Crossbill (numerous, above), Song Thrush (2), Firecrest (5), Goldcrest (2), Siskin (8), Crested Tit (10+), Long-tailed Tit (numerous), Great Tit (3), Greater Spotted Woodpecker (1) and a single Black Kite. The Black Kite was totally unexpected and could possibly be wintering in the area. Another good successful day with lifers for all the group members and with steppe species on the menu for tomorrow, more will hopefully follow.