Tuesday, 27 November 2012

North West Bird Watching Fair at WWT Martin Mere

 TUB with the fabled Ruth Miller & Alan Davies of The Biggest Twitch fame
The queue for my talk
I woke up Sunday morning in a hotel room around six miles from WWT Martin Mere in Lancashire. For the second year running they had asked me to come and give a talk at their Birding Festival.

I really enjoy the atmosphere at the fair plus it's nice to meet some of my mates up there too. The talk was well attended and the audience seemed to appreciate the gags I attempted.

I'll be back in 2013 - if I'm invited that is!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Back at the ranch

Winter male Stonechat
It seemed almost strange to once again patrol the urban expanses of Wormwood Scrubs after swanning around on so much foreign soil over the last couple of weeks. But I was definitely home though because thr wind was howling and the rain was pouring the night before.

I met up with a couple of the Scrubbers and we collectively strolled around to see what we could. Aside from around 30 Fieldfares all told passing overhead, a couple of Redwing and a Stonechat duo, all was quiet.

At 9am I had a meeting on site with several members of the council (Hammersmith & Fulham), the grounds maintainance contractors and the conservation officer from Groundwork to discuss the wildlife management plan. I was pleased to see that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet. That really was a comforting thought.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

One for the listers

A female Baglafecht Weaver
It's been a long time coming but I've finally managed to compile the list of birds that I managed to remember seeing in Nairobi. It's such an amazing city for urban birding. With over 600 on its official list you can easily see over 200 species in a couple of days.

I managed nearly 300 in 5 days. Nairobi is well worth a gander.

Common Ostrich
Pink-backed Pelican
Great Cormorant
Long-tailed Cormorant
African Darter
Black-crowned Night Heron
Cattle Egret
Squacco Heron
Madagascar Squacco Heron
Little Egret
Yellow-billed Egret
Great Egret
Goliath Heron
Grey Heron
Black-headed Heron
Yellow-billed Stork
Black Stork
Saddle-billed Stork
Sacred Ibis
Hadada Ibis
Glossy Ibis
African Spoonbill
Egyptian Goose
White-faced Whistling Duck
Maccoa Duck
Red-billed Teal
Hottentot Teal
White-backed Duck
Yellow-billed Duck
African Black Duck
Southern Pochard
Black Kite
Black-shouldered Kite
Secretary Bird
African Fish Eagle
African White-backed Vulture
Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture
Brown Snake Eagle
Montagu’s Harrier
Pallid Harrier
Eastern Chanting Goshawk
Gabar Goshawk
Little Sparrowhawk
Great Sparrowhawk
African Harrier Hawk
Augar Buzzard
Common Buzzard (and Steppe Buzzard)
Tawny Eagle
Steppe Eagle
Greater Spotted Eagle
Booted Eagle
Long-crested Eagle
Martial Eagle
Eurasian Hobby
Eleonora’s Falcon
Helmeted Guineafowl
Crested Guineafowl
Yellow-necked Spurfowl
Harlequin Quail
Black Crake
Purple Swamphen
Red-knobbed Coot
Common Moorhen
African Jacana
Grey Crowned Crane
Kori Bustard
White-bellied Bustard
Black-bellied Bustard
Black-winged Stilt
Spotted Thick-knee
Blacksmith Lapwing
Spur-winged Lapwing
Crowned Lapwing
Kittlitz’s Plover
Three-banded Plover
Common Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper
Little Stint
Grey-headed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Whiskered Tern
Speckled Pigeon
Emerald-spotted Wood Dove
Namaqua Dove
Ring-necked Dove
Red-eyed Dove
African Mourning Dove
Laughing Dove
Dusky Turtle Dove
Brown Parrot
Purple-crested Turaco
Hartlaub’s Turaco
Jacobin Cuckoo
Red-chested Cuckoo
Diederik Cuckoo
Klaas’ Cuckoo
White-browed Coucal
Little Swift
White-rumped Swift
Mottled Swift
Nyanza Swift
African Palm Swift
Speckled Mousebird
Blue-naped Mousebird
Narina Trogan
Pied Kingfisher
Striped Kingfisher
Giant Kingfisher
Malachite Kingfisher
Little Bee-eater
Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater
European Bee-eater
White-fronted Bee-eater
Von der Decken’s Hornbill
African Grey Hornbill
Spot-flanked Barbet
Black-throated Barbet
White-headed Barbet
d’Arnaud’s Barbet
Red-and-yellow Barbet
Wahlberg’s Honeybird
Red-throated Wryneck
Cardinal Woodpecker
Grey Woodpecker
Rufous-naped Lark
Fawn-coloured Lark
Red-capped Lark
Fischer’s Sparrow Lark
Rock Martin
Plain Martin
Banded Martin
Red-rumped Swallow
Lesser Striped Swallow
Barn Swallow
Wire-tailed Swallow
Black Saw-wing
African Pied Wagtail
Mountain Wagtail
Cape Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Yellow-throated Longclaw
Sharpe’s Longclaw
Rosy-breasted Longclaw
Grassland Pipit
Black Cuckoo-shrike
Common Bulbul
Yellow-whiskered Bulbul
Cabanis’ Greenbul
White-starred Robin
Cape Robin Chat
White-browed Robin Chat
Ruppell’s Robin Chat
Olive Thrush
Common Rock Thrush
Northern Anteater Chat
Common Stonechat
Northern Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear
White-browed Scrub-Robin
Spotted Morning Thrush
Dark-capped Yellow Warbler
Garden Warbler
Buff-bellied Warbler
Willow Warbler
Red-faced Crombec
Brown Parisoma
African Moustached Warbler
Zitting Cisticola
Desert Cisticola
Tiny Cisticola
Stout Cisticola
Rattling Cisticola
Winding Cisticola
Levaillant’s Cisticola
Singing Cisticola
Red-faced Cisticola
Hunter’s Cisticola
Whistling Cisticola
Siffling Cisticola
Tawny-flanked Prinia
Grey-backed Camaroptera
Grey Wren Warbler
Yellow-breasted Apalis
White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher
African Grey Flycatcher
Pale Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher
African Paradise Flycatcher
Northern Pied Babbler
White-bellied Tit
Red-throated Tit
Abyssinian White-eye
Bronze Sunbird
Tacazze Sunbird 
Eastern Double-collared Sunbird 
Amethyst Sunbird
Scarlet-chested Sunbird
Beautiful Sunbird
Variable Sunbird
Collared Sunbird
Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird
Common Fiscal
Long-tailed Fiscal
Grey-backed Fiscal
Isabelline Shrike
Red-backed Shrike
Tropical Boubou
Slate-coloured Boubou
Black-backed Puffback
Rosy-patched Bush-shrike
Northern White-crowned Shrike
Fork-tailed Drongo
Pied Crow
Cape Rook
African Black-headed Oriole
Yellow-billed Oxpecker
Red-billed Oxpecker
Greater Blue-eared Starling
Superb Starling
Hildebrandt’s Starling
Wattled Starling
Rufous Sparrow
House Sparrow
Chestnut Sparrow
Grey-headed Sparrow
Yellow-spotted Petronia
Speckle-fronted Weaver
White-browed Sparrow Weaver
Grey-capped Social Weaver
Black-headed Weaver
Vitelline Masked Weaver
Spectacled Weaver
Speke’s Weaver
Baglafecht Weaver
Grosbeak Weaver
Holub’s Golden Weaver
Red-billed Quelea
Jackson’s Widowbird
Red-collared Widowbird
Yellow Bishop
White-winged Widowbird
Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu
Purple Grenadier
Red-billed Firefinch
Yellow-bellied Waxbill
Common Waxbill
Bronze Mannikin
Black-and-white Mannikin
Pin-tailed Whydah
Brimstone Canary
White-bellied Canary
Yellow-crowned Canary
African Citril
Yellow-rumped Seedeater
Streaky Seedeater
Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting
Somali Golden-breasted Bunting

268 species
103 lifers

Monday, 19 November 2012


 The view outside the city wall
 Hooded Crow
 A controlled Song Thrush at The Jerusalem Bird Observatory
 Syrian Woodpecker in the Obs garden
 Juvenile Masked Shrike in the Rose Garden
 Common Bulbul in the hand
 A controlled female Hawfinch
 An endangered Mountain Gazelle
 Female Blue Rock Thrush
 Long-billed Pipit
A male Fincsh's Wheatear
 A pair of Sand Partridge
 Tristram's Starling
Mourning Wheatear

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Hula Whoop Whoop!

 Jungle Cat
A female 'Eastern' Stonechat
 Pygmy Cormorant
 Southern Grey Shrike
 Laughing Dove
 Crested Lark
 A pair of White-tailed Eagles
Common Kestrel
Some more images from the Hula Valley. The Jungle Cat was particularly exciting as we were not expecting to have got such a great view of one.

More shots to follow..

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Hula Bird Festival

 Some of the 30,000 + Common Cranes in the Hula Valley
 Common Stonechat
 White Pelicans in formation
 White-breasted Kingfisher
 White Wagtail
 Greater Spotted Eagle
 Common Kingfisher
 Armenian Gull
 Black Kite
Greater Spotted Eagle
I've just got back from a great trip to Israel to attend the Hula Bird Festival near the Syrian border in the north and then spend a day in Jerusalem in the middle of the country before flying back to London. I was the guest of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Israel Government Tourist Office. The idea was for me to sample some of the birding to be had at this amazing migration hotspot.

And what a sample!

I've enclosed a list of species that includes my exploits in Jerusalem - for those of you who are interested. Over the next couple of days there will be more words and birds.

Little Grebe
White Pelican
Great Cormorant
Pygmy Cormorant
Black-crowned Night Heron
Cattle Egret
Squacco Heron
Little Egret
Great Egret
Grey Heron
Black Stork
Glossy Ibis
Eurasian Spoonbill
Greater Flamingo
White-fronted Goose – 1 immature in the Hula Reserve. Rare here.
Shelduck – 1 in the Hula Reserve.
Marbled Duck
White-tailed Eagle
Eastern Imperial Eagle
Greater Spotted Eagle
Black Kite
Black-shouldered Kite
Marsh Harrier
Hen Harrier
Pallid Harrier
Long-legged Buzzard
(Steppe Buzzard)
Common Buzzard
Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Sand Partridge
Common Moorhen
Eurasian Coot
Common Crane – c40,000 in the Hula Valley.
Pied Avocet
Black-winged Stilt
Ringed Plover
Spur-winged Plover
Temminck’s Stint
Wood Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper
Black-tailed Godwit
Woodcock –1 in the jaws of a cat in the Rose Gardens, Jerusalem.
Common Snipe
Black-headed Gull
Armenian Gull
Whiskered Tern
Feral Pigeon
Collared Dove
Laughing Dove
Little Swift – outside Jerusalem.
Common Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
Syrian Woodpecker – mostly in Jerusalem.
Crested Lark
Desert Lark – outside Jerusalem.
Horned Lark – pencillata race.
Sand Martin
Pale Crag Martin
Barn Swallow
Long-billed Pipit – in the semi-desert outside Jerusalem.
Water Pipit – coutellii race.
Meadow Pipit
Red-throated Pipit
White Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail – feldegg & thunbergi winter birds in the Hula.
Citrine Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
European Robin
Black Redstart
Northern Wheatear
Finsch’s Wheatear
Mourning Wheatear – in the semi-desert outside Jerusalem.
Blackstart – in the semi-desert outside Jerusalem.
(Eastern) Stonechat – quite a few in the Hula Valley.
Common Stonechat
Song Thrush
Blue Rock Thrush
Scrub Warbler – in the semi-desert outside Jerusalem.
Graceful Prinia
Lesser Whitethroat – 1 in the Rose Garden, Jerusalem.
Sardinian Warbler
Zitting Cisticola
Cetti’s Warbler
Reed Warbler
Clamorous Reed Warbler
Common Chiffchaff
Great Tit
Sombre Tit
Penduline Tit
Western Rock Nuthatch
Southern Grey Shrike
Red-backed Shrike
Masked Shrike – an immature in the Rose Garden, Jerusalem.
Common Bulbul
Palestine Sunbird
Eurasian Jay – atricapillus race.
Hooded Crow
Tristram’s Starling – in the semi-desert outside Jerusalem.
Common Starling
House Sparrow
Pale Rock Sparrow – in the semi-desert outside Jerusalem.
European Serin
Syrian Serin
Hawfinch – in Jerusalem.
Crimson-winged Finch
Corn Bunting
Rock Bunting