Thursday, 23 April 2015

Saline Lagoon - Saturday 18th April 2015

An afternoon stop at the Saline Lagoon. My first Swallow of the year flew overhead and there were a pair of Avocet present.

Garden Moth Update - Friday 17th April 2015

Week 7 of the Garden Moth Scheme with a minimum overnight temperature of 2.5°C.

1663 March Moth 1
2190 Hebrew Character 2
2243 Early Grey 2

Early Grey

March Moth

Monday, 20 April 2015

Hedgehog Visit - 12th April 2015

Using the Garden Bird Camera, I manage to record a Hedgehog visit to our garden.

In previous years, our Hedgehog visitor has lived elsewhere perhaps in a neighbours garden. When checking my moth trap early one morning I heard a rustle, a scratch and a couple of sniffs so after investigating I found the entrance to his home.

 Whilst checking the footage from the evening of there is the possibility of a second Hedgehog visit. Our Hedgehog has already eaten some Peanuts from the tray in his first sitting. The behaviour of the   second Hedgehog suggests it is following a scent trail.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Garden Birdwatch - Week Starting 5th April 2015

House Sparrow 5
Dunnock 2
Blue Tit 2
Coal Tit 2
Great Tit 2
Robin 1
Blackbird 1
Starling 6
Goldfinch 2
Greenfinch 1
Feral Pigeon 3
Woodpigeon 2
Jackdaw 4
Magpie 1
Wren 1

Food: Seed, Peanuts, Fat Balls & Sunflower Hearts

Butterflies: Peacock 1 (5/4), Small Tortoiseshell 1 (5/4), Small White 1 (9/4)
Mammals: Hedgehog
Other Insects: White-tailed Bumblebee, Common Carder Bee.
Amphibians: Common Frog - Tadpoles

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Zinc Works Road - Saturday 11th March 2015

This afternoon I went to the Zinc Works Road and watched the newly arrived Northern Wheatears on Seaton Common. Also present were Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank, Pheasant, Reed Bunting and a pair of Stonechat.

A Reed Bunting was also looking for food in the reeds.

Garden Moth Update - Friday 10th April 2015

Minimum overnight temperature was 10.5°C.

2187 Common Quake 3
2190 Hebrew Character 3
2243 Early Grey 2

Friday, 10 April 2015

Audio File - Blackbird Evening Song

Tonight, as the light faded evening song from the local birds broke the silence.

The main song is from a Blackbird, but there is also a Robin singing in the distance.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Billingham Beck Valley - Sunday 5th March 2015

Today, we went for an afternoon walk at Billingham Beck Valley. As we left the car park, it wasn't long before we saw our first butterfly. A Small Tortoiseshell was subathing on the grass and further up the path a Peacock flew past us.

Birds seen, were Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Hedge Sparrow, Chaffinch, Robin, Jackdaw and Carrion Crow.

Throughout our walk the Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies were enjoying the sunshine.

By the end of the walk we counted 12 Peacock and 11 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.

Bowesfield Marsh - Saturday 4th March 2015

Yesterday afternoon we visited Bowesfield Marsh in Stockton-on-Tees.

As we left the car park, a Skylark was singing high is the sky and Reed Buntings were flying between the reedbeds. On the first pond, were a pair of Great-crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Coot.

Wildflowers were present on either side of the footpath. Cowslips and Coltsfoot.

As we walked towards the River Tees, several Chiffchaff could be heard on both sides of the river. Other birds seen, Magpie, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Mute Swan, Moorhen and Woodpigeon.

Swimming down the river heading for Stockton was a single Greylag Goose. There were several Mallards feeding along the embankment on both sides of the river.

Further along the river bank, a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gull were resting on a garden fence. Too distance for a close photo.

As we reached the bend in the river, the trees were alive with bird song. A Great Tit was continuously calling, before a Chiffchaff started. In the trees we could see Goldfinch, Tree Sparrow, Wren, Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Blackbird. Through the Hawthorn trees, we were surprised to see three Roe Deer (one, at young stag) feeding on the marsh.

As were reached the end of our walk, we could see Shoveller, Shelduck, Pochard, Herring Gull and Cormorant on a pool in the distance. Overhead a single Curlew flew by, calling occasionally as it headed up the river.

Garden Moth Update - Friday 3rd April 2015

Minimum Overnight Temperature was 6.6°C.

998 Light Brown Apple Moth 2
2190 Hebrew Character 2

Garden Moth Update - 27th March 2015

Overnight minimum temperature was 6.0°C.

998 Light Brown Apple Moth 1
1524 Emmelina Monodactyla 1
2187 Common Quaker 3
2188 Clouded Drab 1
2190 Hebrew Character 3

Common Quaker 

Hebrew Character 

 Light Brown Apple Moth

Dubai March 2015 - 21st March 2015

For our last birdwatching session of this fantastic holiday under Dubai skies we returned to Ras La Khor Wildlife Sanctuary and in particular the Mangrove hide.

In a small bush near the hide sat a Striated Heron waiting patiently for some unsuspecting prey to pass by.

Greater Flamingoes, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Western Reef Heron (dark phase) were all feeding in front of the hide.

Pintail and Teal were also present closeby.

All the birds were on high alerted when a Greater Spotted Eagle flew over a few times before stopping to perch on a small tree. The Red-Wattled Plovers did not stop harassing the eagle until it left the tree.

In the distance an Osprey was flying above the Dubai Creek to distant to photograph, but an another bird to add to our lists.

Just before we left Ras La Khor as the light was starting to drop I took a couple of photos to show its close proximity to the high-rise modern world of Dubai.

Back in the garden with the sunshine fading, we were rewarded with a drop in by two Indian Sliverbills.

I finished the holiday, with 134 bird species (including 6 lifers) and 3 butterfly species (Plain Tiger, Swallowtail & Desert White).

We had a great time, seeing some fabulous birds and amazing scenery. All birds were self-found by my family and although we tried to make sure everybody saw the same birds there were a few that were missed. I would estimate that my family saw 145+ bird species during our stay.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Dubai March 2015 - 20th March 2015

Our penultimate birding day of our fantastic holiday, so we went to the Pivot Fields.

The usual birds were feeding and drinking around the irrigation area, but no new species were spotted. As we moved to another part of the area we sat watching a beautiful Black-headed Yellow Wagtail when a Bluethroat jump out of the long grass. It hopped around with the House Sparrows picking up bits off the grass and then disappeared as quickly as it appeared.

Then a female Hen Harrier flew past the car, initially I had expected it to be a Marsh Harrier, but the white rump was very apparent as the bird came closer over the reeds.

We moved again, a scanned the area with our binoculars. In the sky, I noticed a bird hovering and when I found it in the telescope the bird turned into a male Black-Shouldered Kite (or Black-winged Kite). We watched this bird for sometime and we were lucky to see it perch on the water irrigation gantry. Another birdwatcher approach, to show us his photos and when I reported the sighting to the UAE bird recorder it is the 19th record for UAE.

Dubai March 2015 - 19th March 2015

Today, we drove to Wamms Farm area and as we got out of the car I noticed a Namaque Dove (lifer) sitting on the top of a bush. It didn't stay long, just enough time for all of us to see it before it flew off out of sight.

As we stood watching an area being watered, the bird number were significant with several Daurian Shrikes and at least two Southern Grey Shrikes. A Lesser Kestral was hunting between the irrigation heads giving us some great views. Two little Green Bee-eaters came and settled on the fence and two Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse appeared on top of a wall.

After leaving Wamms Farm, we drove to Ras La Khaimah on the coast in the hope that the tide would be favourable for Waders. We were lucky and soon found a Pacific Golden Plover and a single Grey Plover on the shore.

We moved on further to Um Al Quwain which is an area I love to visit because of the shear numbers of waders that feed and roost in the area. We park the car and scanned through the large flock with the telescope.

Bar-tailed Godwit (some in breeding plumage)
Curlew Sandpiper
Broad-billed Sandpiper

Every time we visit this area we look for Crab Plover, keeping our fingers and toes crossed because I am the only person in the family not to have seen one before. Crab Plover is also a bird present in 3rd place on my list top 20 birds to see.

We scanned up and down the inter-tidal edges as the tide was dropping. Then all of a sudden a single Crab Plover was spotted giving us a distance view, but the best view!!

Record shots below:

Fantastic, and they were two birds present, catching crabs.

Dubai March 2015 - 18th March 2015

After leaving the hotel, we drove along the coast to Khor Kalba. Stopping opposite a sand bank full of birds we spotted:

Sooty Gull
Sandwich Tern
Lesser Crested Tern
Swift Tern
Heuglin's Gull
Golden Plover
Great Black-headed Gull (2)

Beside the car, two Common Myna birds were calling from a tree.

When we arrive at the bridge, near the Khor kalba wildlife reserve we spotted at least 5 Green Turtle

We searched the mangroves for a White-collared Kingfisher, but sadly no luck. Although we did have a second sighting of a Common Kingfisher for the trip.

As we heading for the hotel, we spotted an Indian Roller sitting on a roadside lamp.