Thursday, 29 September 2011

Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th

Well the birding is hard work, what else can I say but with the wind having an element of S.E in it tonight, who knows what tomorrow might bring. On Wednesday we ventured over to Foula in an attempt to see the Yellow-breasted Bunting, we failed! We also failed to locate the elusive Buff-bellied Pipit, which un-like the Bunting, still remained on the island. The best we could do was 1 Redstart, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Short-eared Owl and 2 Tree Pipit, one of which is pictured below.

Today we started on Unst and managed to see the Black-headed Bunting that was found yesterday, we got superb views but I only managed the record shot below. We birded the island for a further hour or so and caught up with the Northwick Bluethroat as well as a Lapland Bunting and a Yellow-browed Warbler. We stopped in at Busta House between dipping an Alpine Swift and a Surf Scoter, recording 5 Blackcap and a Chiffy, like a said hard work! Tomorrow we will be taking part in an organised search for a Great Snipe, fingers crossed!

Black-headed Bunting

Tree Pipit



Tuesday, 27 September 2011

27th September

A bit of a late start today because last night we were watching the Northern Lights until 02.30! What an amazing experience, my words will never be able to describe just how superb this natural display really is, but the pictures below may help! We began the day birding at Voe where a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Blackcap were all that was present. The rest of the day was spent birding Whalsay, it was very quiet with 4 Blackcap's, 1 Grasshopper Warbler (had the heart racing for a second!), 1 Little Bunting (below) and a single Ruff being the only birds of note. Tomorrow we are going to try and charter a flight on to Foula to see the Yellow-breasted Bunting, fingers crossed!

Above 4 images - Little Bunting, Whalsay.

Above 3 images, Northern Lights.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Shetland 23rd - 26th September

A quick update from Shetland so far, me and Dan will be birding the island until the evening of Sunday 2nd of October. We wasted the first two days on the island in a windswept estate looking for a Swainson's Thrush, which needless to say we didn't see. Anyway yesterday we birded the island much more extensively mainly in the North West, best finds were 2 Yellow-browed Warblers (pic below) and a Coues's Arctic Redpoll (see below). The bird lacked any tramlines, had a very small bill, an un-streaked all white rumped, feathered tarsus, a tiny single pencil line on the undertail coverts and just an overall pale appearance. We also managed to catch up with Pierre's Lesser Grey Shrike at Laxo.

Today we again birded extensively mainly in the North East with Pierre, we visit lots of gardens and Iris beds and recorded the following of note - Pied Flycatcher (1), Yellow-browed Warbler (2), Redstart (1), Garden Warbler (6) and best of all the 1st winter Red-breasted Flycatcher pictured below. Some other general pictures below from around the island, click on any of the below images to view an enlarged version.

Above 4 images, Red-breasted Flycatcher. Eswick, North House.

Above 3 images - Coues's Arctic Redpoll. North West Mainland.

Above 2 images - Lesser Grey Shrike. Laxo.

Yellow-browed Warbler

Black Guillemot



Garden Warbler

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Scilly and more

My last post on Sunday was done in a state of shock and I have since had time to calm down, finish work that I abandoned on Saturday and sort out some more pictures. We returned from Scilly on Monday after seeing the Black and White Warbler again(below) and a crackin Red-eyed Vireo on the Garrison. On the way home me and Dan stopped at Davidstow and got some brilliant views of the White-rumped Sandpiper which had been present for a day or so.

Today I twitched the Long-toed Stint and despite dippin it, got a consolation prize in the form of a really smart juvenile Pallid Harrier at Burpham, Sussex. Myself and Dan Pointon are setting off tomorrow morning for 10 days yank/sibe hunting on Shetland so watch this space, I will try and update daily.

White-rumped Sandpiper, Davidstow Airfield, Cornwall

Black-and-White Warbler, Black and White Woods, St Mary's, Scilly

Bee-eater, St Mary's, Scilly.

Sunday, 18 September 2011


Not going to write a lot because myself, Dan Pointon, Ash Howe, Kev Hale and Dan Houghton are currently having a few beers to celebrate an amazing day on Scilly. Despite no photo's we also had cripplin views of the Northern Waterthrush today. I will do a proper blog in the next few days but for now, enjoy these pictures, i think you will like them. Good luck to anyone day trippin tomorrow - bring your wellies!!

Black-and-white Warbler

Solitary Sandpiper

Blue-winged Teal


Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Nobody can cross it! Unless you've got Yellowlegs!

Having only left Cornwall on Saturday for work in mid Wales, plans were soon made for a flying return visit when news of a Greater Yellowlegs broke on Monday evening. I met Dan Pointon on the M5 at 00.30 and we arrived on site in Wadebridge at about 03.30. First light came and went without any sign of the bird and despite an extensive search by myself and Dan, we couldn't relocate the bird. We decided to make the most of the journey down with some seawatching at Pendeen. Sods law came into its usual affect 30km into the journey down to Pendeen when my Dad (Mark Powell) rang Dan full of excitement as he had re-found the bird! We turned around and headed back, sticking to the speed limits of course! By the time we got there some idiot hunter had flushed the bird - the search was back on! Dan scoured the river as far as Padstow and despite his grand efforts I managed to re-find the bird, close to where it had last been seen 2.5 hours previously. At least we all got the bird in the end and the views were superb. Such a great bird, I couldn't get over just how long its legs were and how massive its feet were, certainly much more noticeable features in the field than I had imagined, see record shot below. Off to Pendeen ....

Greater Yellowlegs - Wadebridge, Cornwall.

Pendeen was brilliant, really wish I could seawatch in Cornwall every day at this time of year, maybe next year I will just go for it and rent somewhere for a month. Despite missing 2 Wilson's Petrels whilst we were watching the Legs, we still had some good stuff including the Great Shearwater below which passed by well inside the rocks! Totals were; Great Shearwater (2), Balearic Shearwater (28), Sooty Shearwater (15), Arctic Skua (19), Grey Phalarope (16), Storm Petrel (8), Sabine's Gull (6), Leach's Petrel (2), Bonxie (19 - see pic below), Arctic Tern (13), Pomarine Skua (1), Ruff (3). Click on any of the images to view an enlarged version.

Great Shearwater - Pendeen

Bonxie - Pendeen.

Being stupidly tired we decided to get a hostel for the night and drive back after a spot of seawatching at first light. The wind had dropped so it wasn't as productive as the previous day but we still managed the following in about 2 hours - Sabine's Gull (2), Leach's Petrel (1), Bonxie (14), Pomarine Skua (1), Grey Phalarope (1), Storm Petrel (4), Comon Scoter (14), Sooty Shearwater (4), Balearic Shearwater (2), Arctic Skua (10), Arctic Tern (20), Bar-tailed Godwit (20) and a single Knot. We stopped at drift on the way home to see the long staying Semi-palmated Sandpiper and the Lesser Yellowlegs Rob Capewell had found that morning. Both showed well but fairly distantly and were fairly mobile for one reason and another, both Yellowlegs within 20 hours - not bad!!!

Lesser Yellowlegs - Drift.

Semi-palmated Sandpiper - Drift.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Yanky Breakfast

Spent yesterday morning birding Hayle and had a great time! The best bits of the day were a juv Baird's Sandpiper which has been around for a while and a self found Buff-breasted Sandpiper on Ryan's Field. Other species of note recorded were - Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper (8), Dunlin (100+), Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper (2), Knot, Sanderling and a Peg! Click on any of the pictures below to see a bigger version.

Above 2 images - Curlew Sandpiper

Ringed Plover


Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Bridges of Ross, Clare, Ireland.

Seawatching at the Bridges of Ross

Sunday 21st - Friday 26th August
This year Dad, Dan Pointon and myself headed over to Bridges of Ross to seawatch during the peak dates for Fea's "type" Petrels, as well as the chance of rare "Big Shears" and Storm Petrels. Dan visited Bridges in 2009 and so expectations were high as he had already experienced just how good this place can be. As you will see below, unfortunately the wind strength/direction didn't transpire to be in our a favour meaning that it was slim pickings with regard to sea-watching, nevertheless we still managed a few bits each day. Personal totals can be seen below, click on any of the images to see an enlarged version. To keep up to date on what is being seen at the Bridges visit the sightings blog - click here

Hooded Crow
Sunday 21st
We didn't arrive at Bridges until gone 4pm despite landing at Shannon airport in the morning. We first birded Shannon airport lagoon, managing to pick out the long staying White-rumped Sandpiper amongst the Dunlin but failing to locate the American Golden Plover which had been seen the previous evening. We also stopped at Doonbeg on the way to our hotel but again despite an extensive search, failed to locate the long staying American Golden Plover. A few hours seawatching in the evening provided a few bits to look at in the form of - Black Guillemot (1), Manx Shearwater (1000's), Sooty Shearwater (20+), Arctic Skua (4), Great Skua (3) and a single Stormy.

Sooty Shearwater

Monday 22nd
The below figures for the following days are taken from the Seawatch Ireland blog, click link above.

Balearic Shearwater: 8
Great Shearwater: 7
Sooty Shearwater: c.225
Manx Shearwater: 800+
Storm Petrel: 5+
Great Skua (Bonxie): 6
Pomarine Skua: 1 pale phase subadult
Arctic Skua: 6
Little Gull: 1 juvenile
Sandwich Tern: 24
Arctic Tern: 11
Puffin: 5
Common Scoter: 8
Whimbrel: 5
Shelduck: 2


Tuesday 23rd

Sooty Shearwater: 18
Storm Petrel: 4
Great Skua (Bonxie): 2
Pomarine Skua: 1 pale phase subadult
Arctic Skua: 2
Little Gull: 1 juvenile
Mediterranean Gull: 2 1st cal-years
Sandwich Tern: 52
Arctic Tern: 12
Puffin: 3
Black Guillemot: 1 juvenile
Common Scoter: 9
Whimbrel: 19
Teal: 4
Chough: 2
Minke Whale: 1 close inshore heading west.
Common Dolphin: 10-20
Bottlenose Dolphin: 10-12
Arctic Skua

Wednesday 24th

Balearic Shearwater: 3

Great Shearwater: 4
Sooty Shearwater: 80
Storm Petrel: 8
Grey Phalarope: 1
Great Skua (Bonxie): 10
Arctic Skua: 29
Little Gull: 1 juvenile
Black Tern: 1 juvenile
Sandwich Tern: 7
Arctic Tern: 56
Puffin: 6
Common Scoter: 4
Whimbrel: 20
Bottlenose Dolphin: 10-12
Leatherback Turtle: 1 heading west close inshore.
Sunfish: 1
Bottlenose Dolphin

Thursday 25th

Balearic Shearwater: 2
Great Shearwater: 1
Sooty Shearwater: 18
Manx Shearwater: 1630+
Storm Petrel: 34
Grey Phalarope: 1
Great Skua (Bonxie): 1
Pomarine Skua: 1 pale phase adult
Arctic Skua: 4
Sabine's Gull: 1 adult
Little Gull: 1
Mediterranean Gull: 2 1st cal-years
Black Tern: 1
Sandwich Tern: 8
Arctic Tern: 142
Puffin: 2
Common Scoter: 5
Whimbrel: 15
Sanderling: 20
Bar-tailed Godwit: 12
Friday 26th
Manx Shearwater: 1850 (06:15-13:15) Sooty Shearwater: 18
Storm Petrel: 2
Grey Phalarope: 1
Great Skua (Bonxie): 11
Arctic Skua: 13
Mediterranean Gull: 1 1st cal-year
Black Tern: 1 juvenile
Sandwich Tern: 18
Arctic Tern: 60+
Black Guillemot: 1
Puffin: 6
Common Scoter: 3
Whimbrel: 19 Sanderling: 10
Sunrise Bridges of Ross

Well as you can see, not a disaster but also by no means as good as it could have been. Will just have to go back next year!! Many thanks to Seawatch Ireland's monitoring officer Niall Keogh for local knowledge etc and to the staff of the lighthouse for cooking breakfast until 2pm! Also please note the second lot of records under Thursday's posting are the results for Friday, however we had to leave at 1pm - we recorded all the species listed but totals were slightly less.