Welcome to my birding diary....

... here you'll find a variety of pictures, local birdnews, Western Pal bits and bobs and a load of ranting about stuff I haven't seen :)

Hope you enjoy this and look forward to comments / abuse....

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Land of the Pharoahs

Just back from a seven day blast around Egypt with the usual suspects... what a trip!

The target species were all seen, well, and the padders made for just fantastic birding!

For me, the highlight was reaching 800 species for the Western Pal (IOC) and Graeme matching me within 24 hours.  After 25 years of such trips both together and separate, it was wonderful for us to crack such a milestone more or less simultaneously.  Still a target less than ten people have achieved.  Special birds too.  For me, Three-banded Plover at Tut Amon - Graeme with African Mourning Dove at Abu Simbel....

My other two targets were Goliath Heron and African Skimmer - neither of which I really expected to see but both were found.  The Heron was tricky but a full day searching the mangroves at Lahami and then Hamata eventually paid off and the Skimmer was found on our second day at Abu Simbel - taking a boat to "Bay 2" just north of the airport was the key to finding it - as well as good numbers of all the Abu Simbel specialities.

Highlight of the 'padders' were probably the half dozen Egyptian Nightjars we had great views of and this Pharoah Eagle Owl........ an absolute stunner!

Monday, 30 April 2012

A twitchable Red-rumped Swallow - At last!

Red-rumped Swallow has a bit of 'history' within Cleveland.  There are eight accepted records but in total only about ten people have seen them.
The 'history' revolves around whether or not they're all believed, whether others that were not submitted or rejected should have been and why the hell have we not had one that hung around for long enough for the masses to catch up with.
Well at least the latter point was put right today, with Chris Sharp coming up with the goods yet again (he's had a decent couple of years :-)).
This beauty was at Bowesfield and lingered for all the 'listers' to catch up with.......
Cheers Chris!!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Get in there!!

Its just over two years since I began this blog, with the difficult choice to be made about a Thayer's Gull in Ireland. Well, good things come to those who wait....... apparently.

News this week of a Thayer's in Lincolnshire had us all comparing the photographs with the books and, sure enough, it looked a goodun!

Off to the middle of nowhere, somewhere near Scunthorpe on Thursday, to connect with this extremely distinctive fella. The BBRC / BOU will have the final say (eventually) no doubt but it looks good enough for me.. nice addition to the list.

Having finally got my first tick of 2012...... Bring on Egypt and Turkey!

Monday, 16 January 2012

The 'Boro continues to be hard work!

....who's idea was this?

Flogging Middlesbrough is proving at least as difficult as I could ever imagine, though Saturday afternoon added a few.

The morning had seen me flogging Stewart Park and Hemlington Lake to death from early doors, adding Stock Dove for my efforts, before taking a break over the river to see some real birds.... Highlights being Marsh Harrier (Cleveland's first over-wintering bird) and this obliging LEO..

Back to the 'Boro for the afternoon and an exploration of Eastfields Farm. Hoping to see Barn and Little Owls here when I get some dawn/dusk motivation so this was more of a reccie...
Excellent place though... the rough pasture round the farmhouse producing Yellowhammer, Reed Bunt and Tree Sparrow and a large Holly tree attracting all five thrushes. A flock of Golden Plover got another potentially tricky species out of the way and week two ended with the total stretched to a massive 62! ....

... suspect it's going to get really difficult now.... bring on April!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Year listing....

Many years ago, I used to love year listing within Cleveland... friendly competitive fun, motivation to get out birding and a challenge!
Of course, sea-watching at Hartlepool every night in autumn and twitching Boulby for every semi-rarity racks up the miles and would be a very expensive game to play these days. So....
Cleveland is neatly split into four unitary boroughs, of which I live in Middlesbrough. A perfect solution for 2012's motivational problems :)
It has its pluses... will cost next to nothing and nobody's 'done' Middlesbrough before, so I'm bound to set a record. However, there's a reason why it's not been done... it's crap!
Compared to the other three boroughs, there's no marsh and no coastline, so the expected number of species will be less than half of any of the other three. Still - I've said I'll do it now!
End of week 1 and total stands on a whopping 46 lol. Lads doing each of the other three are already well into three figures.
Highlights so far are Ring-necked Parakeet and Kingfisher..... regular updates to come.

Monday, 26 December 2011

2011 Highlights...

... as the year draws to a close, time to reflect on the highs of the last 12 months and to wonder what lies in store for 2012.
Eleven new birds is a decent return, collected mainly over trips to Morocco (twice) and the Azores... two of my favourite places for birding.

Highlight of our first trip to Morocco, for me at least, was Cricket Longtail, only recently discovered in the country along the road to Assouerd, a fantastic birding area.
Other ticks on this trip were Royal Tern and Pied Crow but, despite a lot of effort, we couldn't locate any Kelp Gulls at Knhiffis Lagoon - hence the second trip there in June!

The most productive trip of the year was my October visit to Corvo - with two twitches to Flores just for some speed boat fun :)

Five new birds including Blue-winged and Tennessee Warblers, Purple Martin, Common Nighthawk and this White-tailed Tropicbird (my bird of the year) is a fantastic return - looking forward to a full three weeks on the islands next year!

Locally, Cleveland fared well, with White-throated Robin, Sandhill Crane and Pallid Harrier all adding themselves to the county list - only the latter being remotely expected!

So, what for 2012?

Well, my real number one goal is to catch up with Brown Fish Owl in Turkey. Couldn't make it this year so hoping the pair continue to perform for another season in the Green Canyon. My most wanted WP bird for a number of years... if I see this all else will be a bonus.

So cheers to all for a great year and good birding for the next 12 months!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Geese and Grey Phal....

Weird goings on..... White-fronted Geese everywhere in Cleveland at the moment and some Tundra Beans too - what the hell has caused these record numbers god only knows?
So, off out with camera early this morning to try and photograph some but fog made it obvious anything I was going to get a picture of would have to be close... the light was just awful!

A treat it was then to be given an opportunity by this beautifully obliging Grey Phalarope at Hartlepool - what a stunner!