Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Shorties at The Scrubs

 A Short-eared Owl tries to look cool in front of HM Wormwood Scrubs Prison
Today I had the pleasure of watching two Short-eared Owls at The Scrubs. They were both flushed from the grassland by crows.
 Shaking off a crow
Shorties are near annual visitors to The Scrubs appearing in both the spring and autumn. Usually they are flyovers although occasionally they are flushed from the ground but they never seem to stay longer than an hour.
 Crows in hot pursuit
These birds are part of the mini invasion that the country is currently experiencing. They may have been knocking about for the best part of three weeks because there have been sporadic reports of Shorties at The Scrubs during that time period by both birders and dog walkers.
Short-eared Owl in front of the prison (Paul Thomas)
They are always great birds to see. It's amazing to think that my little urban patch in west London can attract such an open country bird.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Down at The Scrubs

 Dawn at The Scrubs
Made a rare visit to my local patch this morning. Within seconds I flushed a Snipe from the grassland opposite the prison.
 Not sure if the Major would like this!
After finding a stolen Boris Bike my attention switched to a total of over 150 Fieldfare and 200 Starlings all heading northwest. All that is, apart from around 35 Fieldfare that took a quick pit stop on the grassland to join a few Blackbirds and Goldfinches.
 Male Stonechat
I also found 2 pairs of Stonechats including the bright male pictured above.
A Red Fox 
It was a cold day and to illustrate the point I saw a fox that looked decidely hoary.

Nice morning on the patch. What will the next visit bring?

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Back In The USA - totals

A swarm of Franklin's Gulls at Port Aransas, Texas

The below are the sum results of birding in New York State, New Jersey and Texas

Bird List

Red-throated Diver 
Great Northern Diver 
Least Grebe 
Pied-billed Grebe
Slavonian Grebe
Northern Gannet
Neotropic Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
White-faced Ibis
White Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Wood Stork
Great Blue Heron
Cattle Egret
Snowy Egret
Great Egret
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Reddish Egret
American Bittern
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
Mute Swan
Snow Goose
Brent Goose
Canada Goose
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Mottled Duck
American Black Duck
Green-winged Teal
American Wigeon
Eurasian Wigeon
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveler
Blue-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
Black Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Hooded Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Plain Chachalaca
Wild Turkey
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Harris’ Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Grey Hawk
Swainson’s Hawk
White-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Crested Caracara
American Kestrel
Clapper Rail
Purple Gallinule
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Grey Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Northern Jacana
American Oystercatcher
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Western Willet
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson’s Snipe
Laughing Gull
Franklin’s Gull
Ring-billed Gull
American Herring Gull
Great Black-back
Forster’s Tern
Gull-billed Tern
Cabot’s Tern
Caspian Tern
Royal Tern
Black Skimmer
Feral Pigeon
Eurasian Collared Dove
Mourning Dove
White-winged Dove
Common Ground Dove
Inca Dove
Eastern Screech Owl
Common Pauraque
Chimney Swift
Buff-bellied Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
((Pileated Woodpecker))
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher
Kingbird sp (Cassin’s or Tropical)
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Loggerhead Shrike
Blue-headed Vireo
Green Jay
Blue Jay
Fish Crow
American Crow
Chihuahuan Raven
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Cave Swallow
Black-crested Titmouse
Black-capped Chickadee
Carolina Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
House Wren
Winter Wren
Carolina Wren
Marsh Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Clay-coloured Thrush
Grey Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Curve-billed Thrasher
European Starling
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Palm Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Saltmarsh Sparrow
Nelson’s Sparrow
Seaside Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Summer Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Meadowlark
Red-winged Blackbird
Boat-tailed Grackle
Great-tailed Grackle
House Sparrow
House Finch
American Goldfinch

Total 207 species

Lifers 12

Friday, 13 November 2015

Back In The USA - Rio Grande Valley, Texas October 2015

The Rio Grande Valley is one special place with many special birds.
 Black-bellied Whistling Duck
 American Coot
 Laughing Gull
 Clapper Rail
 Snowy Egret
 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
 American Wood Stork
 Buff-bellied Hummingbird
 Immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron
 Eastern Screech Owl
 Common Pauraque
 American White Pelican 
 Great Blue Heron with a Little Blue Heron (Vanesa Palacios)
Great Kiskadee

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Back In The USA - Cape May 22-25 Oct 2015 - pt5

 Cape May sunset
Cape May is an incredible place for birds.
 Savannah Sparrow
 Lesser Yellowlegs
Immature Merlin 
 Downy Woodpecker
 1st winter Tennessee Warbler 
It is also a great place to meet some very interesting people. My time in the US was supported by Spain's Extremadura Tourist Board so I gave some talks on urban birding within the region.
 Urban Birding in Extremadura
 An appreciative audience
 My great friends Kevin Karlson, his wife Dale Rosselet & Vanesa Palacios
 Cape May Migration Festival book signing
 Sitting alongside one of the US' finest birders, Michael O'Brien
 Pete Dunne, the walking legend that he is.
David La Puma, Cape May Bird Observatory's Director - a legend in the making
My main reason for being in Cape May was to attend the Cape May Migration Festival as keynote speaker.
 TUB gassing
I had a large appreciative audience that also included several African-Americans which was a real rarity, so I was told!
Cape May Bird Observatory

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Back In The USA - Cape May 22-25 Oct 2015 - pt4

Sunrise at Higbee Dike
My Cape May experience started at daybreak standing on The Ridge at Higbee Dike to witness the Morning Flight Songbird Flight.
 The seaview from Higbee Dike
Within seconds we had streams of passerines battling against the wind with some swarming past close to our heads. Masses of Yellow-rumped Warblers were joined by Cedar Waxwings, multiple sparrow species including Lark Sparrow, bucketloads of icterids including Red-winged Blackbirds, Northern Flickers and Pine Siskins.
 The migrant watching crowd
Stuff was moving on the sea with Arctic Skuas, Bonaparte's Gulls, Royal Terns and Gannets all making appearances. I decided not to attempt to recognise any of the birds, unless I got a good look at them. Rather, I wanted to just enjoy the spectacle of so many migrating birds.
 Carolina Chickadee
After the early morning had died down, I took a stroll around some of Cape May's environs to see what I could find.
 American Crow
 American Herring Gull
 Northern Harrier 
 Cooper's Hawk
 I forgot the name of this butterfly. Any ideas?
 A fleeting Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Back In The USA - Jamaica Bay, New York

 Jamaica Bay
Our final morning in the New York area was spent in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, a place that I have visited several times in the past but not since the devastating hurricane that changed the nature of the site, two years ago.
 Our guides were urban birders extraordinaire Doug Gochfeld (L) & Michael Hilchey
We were treated to some great autumnal birding including seeing loads of Brent Geese and a few Horned Grebes (Slavonian Grebe).
 The beach at Rockaway
We then ventured to a few sites nearby clocking Caspian and Royal Terns, Peregrine and American Oystercatcher.
 Clapper Rail
We glimpsed an semi-elusive Clapper Rail
Nelson's Sparrow
Plus picked up a selection of new sparrows including Seaside, Saltmarsh and Nelson's Sparrows. To be honest, I would have seriously struggled to have recognised any of them if it wasn't for the expert eyes supplied by Doug and Michael!