Friday, 25 July 2014

The Kestrels return to The Scrubs

After an absence of several months it was really good to see a Kestrel hovering above the grassland at The Scrubs the other day. Kestrels were once a daily occurance at my patch. I remember looking up into the sky one summer's day a few years ago to witness no less than nine birds in the skies hovering and generally horsing around.

That was then. Now, things are markedly different. In common with the rest of the UK my local population has crashed for no obvious reason. Perhaps their breeding site was destroyed or maybe the resident birds were killed. Who knows. But to see three in the air today that were not being mobbed by crows was a true godsend.
 Three Kestrels in The Scrubs skies
One of the birds
I hope that my sightings at my patch of this adorable falcon once again become a regular thing.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Autumn has dawned at The Scrubs

I feel terrible having neglected The Scrubs for so long this summer. I guess aside from not being around a lot recently I've also been a little depressed of late what with the current threats represented by the Mayor's Office, Transport for London and HS2. 

There's a another new threat in the shape of a music festival that is planned for September - right in the middle of the migration season. Most of the  local people are against it but alarmingly, there are some that are for it. What they don't realise is that there could be potentially thousands of festival goers trampling the habitat. Furthermore, once you let one lot in The Scrubs will be opened up as a being on the circuit.
One of today's two Whinchats
 Tales of woah aside, this morning's visit to The Scrubs was highly fruitful. I saw a couple of male Whinchat in the grassland. These birds were the earliest returning autumn migrant Whinchats on record on my patch.
A female Reed Bunting
 Four Swallows were unusual for this time of year but the best bird was a brief flyover Common Tern - our first in perhaps three years.
Meadow Pipit
Life goes on at The Scrubs and the good birds just keep on coming. I always live in hope that the armageddon that lies ahead for the site is not as complete as it promises to be.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

MadBird Fair 12 - 15 June 2014

The MadBird Fair (Madrid Bird Fair) was the first of it's kind in Madrid and indeed, was a birdfair after my own heart as it was totally urban. It was free to enter for the general public and had the usual blend of optical, tourism and arts and crafts.

My role was to give a talk on urban birding. I felt embarrassed not being able to speak Spanish. In reality, I had a proper interpreter relaying my poor gags to the assembled Spanish crowd. Although feeling like I was speaking at a UN gathering the talk was very well received. I loved the talk and loved being at the Fair under the hot Madrid sun.

I can't wait to go to next year's MadBird - if I'm invited!
Madrid is a magnificent city

 The attentive Natalia, one of the organisers. She looked after me beautifully!
 My good friend, the delectable Vanesa Palacios from Extremadura Tourism
 Vanesa's last slide at her talk
 Some of my assembled crowd
 Around the fair
 Part of a marquee
 Not tons of people but it was still generally well attended

 A Spotless Starling in a nearby park
A immature Green Woodpecker of the soon to be split Iberian race

Monday, 7 July 2014

Meadow Pipits in June

Meadow Pipit with food
 I'm ashamed to report that I have hardly been to my beloved patch recently. In my own defence, I have been mega busy plus by the time morning comes I'm just too knackered to even consider opening my eyes, let alone get out of bed!

But on the few occasions that I managed to tip out of bed I was able to witness adult Meadow Pipits bringing food to their unseen young. I'm hoping that at least three pairs successfully bred. It was great to see them though. I always feel a sense of pride as well as contentment when I see evidence that breeding has occurred.

It's now early July and already I may be too late to see the fledglings being fed. By now, they are buzzing around looking indistinguishable from the adults. By the end of the month our population starts to thin out. By the end of August most of our birds have disappeared and some days we don't find any at all. By mid September the migrant Meadow Pipits begin to arrive with the odd Tree Pipit. On thee occasions in the past we were even lucky to find Richard's Pipits!

Anyway, I hope that I will be able to wake up early more often to enjoy my glorious patch.
A male Linnet 

Monday, 16 June 2014

TUB Tours: Speyside Tour Scotland 2014

Earlier in the month I led a tour for just one client around Speyside and Black Isle, fairly nearby north of Inverness. The idea was for him to clean up on the Scottish specialities. Seeing as it was early June we had missed our golden opportunities to see Capercaille and lekking Black Grouse. Added to that, the weather during our five day stay wasn't the best. But despite the disadvantages we still managed to bag over 100 species including beauties like Ring Ouzel, Ptarmigan and Dotterel.

We dipped on Crested Tit (although we may have heard them) and Scottish Crossbill. We based ourselves at the famous Grant Arms Hotel in Grantown-on-Spey near Aviemore and Loch Garten.

One of our favourite spots was Lochindorb, a large loch some 10 miles away from the hotel. We found some interesting birds there like a lone Pink-footed Goose amongst the hundreds of Greylags, Merlin, Redpolls and best of all a hunting Hobby one evening - a scarce bird this far north.

A great time was had on this trip. Come and join me next year!
 Lochindorb - our local patch
 Families of Greylags on Lochindorb
 The gorgeous Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms
 A male Ring Ouzel on the Cairngorms
 The house that has the best view in the world!
 Dippers
 Female Yellowhammer
 Male Yellowhammer
 Red Grouse
Slavonian Grebe

Species list

Black-throated Diver
Great Crested Grebe
Slavonian Grebe
Little Grebe
Cormorant
Shag
Grey Heron
Mute Swan
Pink-footed Goose
Greylag
Canada Goose
Shelduck
Mallard
Gadwall
Wigeon
Pochard
Tufted Duck
Eider
Goldeneye
Red-breasted Merganser
Osprey
Buzzard
Sparrowhawk
Kestrel
Hobby
Peregrine
Merlin
Red Grouse
Ptarmigan
Red-legged Partridge
Pheasant
Moorhen
Coot
Oystercatcher
Ringed Plover
Dotterel
Lapwing
Dunlin
Common Sandpiper
Redshank
((Greenshank))
Curlew
Black-tailed Godwit
Woodcock
Snipe
Black-headed Gull
Common Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-back
Great Black-back
Common Tern
Sandwich Tern
Wood Pigeon
Collared Dove
Cuckoo
Swift
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Skylark
Sand Martin
Swallow
House Martin
Meadow Pipit
Tree Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Dipper
Wren
Dunnock
Robin
Wheatear
Stonechat
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Blackbird
Ring Ouzel
((Blackcap))
Whitethroat
Sedge Warbler
Willow Warbler
Chiffchaff
Goldcrest
Spotted Flycatcher
Great Tit
Coal Tit
Blue Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Treecreeper
Magpie
Jay
Jackdaw
Rook
Carrion Crow
Hooded Crow
Raven
Starling
House Sparrow
Chaffinch
Linnet
Redpoll
Goldfinch
Greenfinch
Bullfinch
Reed Bunting
Yellowhammer

106 species

((heard))


Sunday, 1 June 2014

TUB Tours 2014 Serbia Spring Tour - final count

A fabulous time was had by all in what is rapidly becoming one of my favourite countries. Serbia has some amazing wildlife and the locals are pretty amenable too. But the single thing I love the most about the country are its owls.

I can't wait for the winter tour in December 2014
 Female Ural Owl in her hollow stump nest site
 Out of the nest but keeping a watchful eye
 Barred Warbler
 Purple Heron
 Syrian Woodpecker
 Long-eared Owl
 Spotted Flycatchers

White Wagtail


Spring Tour Bird List 17-24 May 2014

Great Crested Grebe
Black-necked Grebe
((Little Grebe))
Pygmy Cormorant
Great Cormorant
((Bittern))
Little Bittern
Night Heron
Squacco Heron
Little Egret
Great Egret
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
White Stork
Black Stork
Spoonbill
Mute Swan
Mallard
Gadwall
Garganey
Pochard
Tufted Duck
Ferruginous Duck
Goldeneye
White-tailed Eagle
Lesser Spotted Eagle
Short-toed Eagle
Marsh Harrier
Long-legged Buzzard
Common Buzzard
Honey Buzzard
Sparrowhawk
Goshawk
Kestrel
Red-footed Falcon
Hobby
Peregrine
Moorhen
Coot
Pheasant
Avocet
Black-winged Stilt
Lapwing
Redshank
Greenshank
Black-headed Gull
Little Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Black Tern
Whiskered Tern
Wood Pigeon
Collared Dove 
Turtle Dove
Cuckoo
Ural Owl
Long-eared Owl
((Tawny Owl))
Little Owl
Barn Owl
Swift
Hoopoe
Kingfisher
Bee-eater
Roller
Black Woodpecker
((Green Woodpecker))
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Syrian Woodpecker
Middle Spotted Woodpecker
Wryneck
Skylark
Crested Lark
Sand Martin
Swallow
House Martin
Tawny Pipit
White Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail (flavissima, thunbergi & feldegg)
((Robin))
Nightingale
Black Redstart
Wheatear
Whinchat
Stonechat
((Song Thrush))
Blackbird
Barred Warbler
Blackcap
Whitethroat
Lesser Whitethroat
Sedge Warbler
((Savi's Warbler))
Reed Warbler
Marsh Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Icterine Warbler
Chiffchaff
Wood Warbler
((Wren))
Spotted Flycatcher
Collared Flycatcher
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Marsh Tit
((Long-tailed Tit))
Penduline Tit
Nuthatch
((Short-toed Treecreeper))
Lesser Grey Shrike
Red-backed Shrike
Magpie
Jay
Jackdaw
Rook
Hooded Crow
Raven
Starling
Golden Oriole
House Sparrow
Tree Sparrow
Spanish Sparrow
Chaffinch
Goldfinch
Greenfinch
Serin
Hawfinch
Reed Bunting
Ortolan Bunting
Corn Bunting

129 species

((heard))

Friday, 30 May 2014

2014 Serbia Spring Tour in pictures Pt 1

 Red-backed Shrike
 Tree Sparrow
 Young Kestrels
 Young Long-eared Owl
 Spotted Flycatcher
 Golden Oriole
 Red-footed Falcon
 Tree Sparrow
Common Starling 
Red-footed Falcon