Thursday, 8 December 2016

Little Bittern Bagged!

 I was very happy to eventually tick off the Thornton Little Bittern this week.
 Pity it was 62 years late and just the skin at New Walk Museum.
Thanks to Jan Dawson for giving me the chance to see it.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Dutch Black-headed Gull.

I managed to read the colour ring on a first winter Black-headed Gull at Thornton reservoir. The colour ring is white with a black code, EH9E. Having gone on to the European colour ringing site I was able to find the ringer responsible for this project. I emailed him and he quickly sent me the details on this bird.
The gull was rung as a nestling as part of the Griend project at the Wadden Sea in the Netherlands. Date Lutterop is the ringer and he was able to tell me that this gull had been rung on 30/06/2016. It has travelled 444km to spend the winter at Thornton. Date informed me that they ring hundreds of Black-headed Gulls and many of them winter in England.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Best of the Cape.

 Great views of Table Mountain.
 African Penguin at Boulders Beach.
 Southern Double collared Sunbird.
 Dad with the kids.
 White backed Duck
Southern Red Bishop.
 Southern Right Whale blow foreground, and Brydes in distance.
 Spotted Thick-Knee
 Cape Clawless Otter.
 Blue Crane.

 Robben Island.
 Cape Sugarbird

 Great White Shark
 Under water views of Great Whites was an amazing experience.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Butterfly Distraction!

 While watching Gordon Gannet this morning I was distracted by a dull brown butterfly fluttering along the footpath along the dam.
At first I thought it would be a Gatekeeper or late Meadow Brown. When it eventually settled it was nice to see a Wall Brown.  
The dam wall and increased vegetation along it creates an ideal habitat for this declining species.

Gannet Feeding at Thornton!

 Gordon is still at Thornton for his record breaking fourth day. Apparently no Leicestershire Gannet has stayed for more than two days. He/She was flying around and at one time I was hoping that it would make a break for the coast. Dave Wright reported seeing it plunge dive and Rhys Dandy has seen it eating a fish. I decided to try and get some sea fish out to it. I was surprised that it was so willing to come to hand.
 I rather suspect that this bird has taken fish scraps from a fishing boat in the past. It was happy to come to me and grab a Morrisons Herring. All other wet fish outlets are also to be recommended!

 I am hoping that with some food inside Gordon will decide that he has had enough of a holiday at Thornton and head off to his normal habitat out in the Atlantic.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Gannet wrecked at Thornton.

 Stopping off on the dam after a busy day at the Bird Fair had its rewards. A large gull like bird was flying towards me and at first I thought it was one of the Herring Gulls that have been hanging out at the outflow. As it came closer I realised it was an adult Gannet, for me a county tick, but most importantly a Thornton Patch tick! It landed in the central area of the reservoir.
As we watched the Gannet an Osprey flew over and headed off south down the valley. A nice patch year tick.
The Gannet is still present, resting at the top end of the reservoir. Hopefully it will regain enough strength to fly off to the ocean , where it should be. The low pressure system that has crossed the country in the last few days is no doubt the reason for its appearance.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

August Update.

Hirundines are now grouping up and preparing to head south, although some Sand Martins at the Bagworth wall are still on late broods. A male and female/juv Redstart were in the hedge line above Stony Bank on Monday. An adult Reed Warbler was feeding a juvenile at Church Farm and today I trapped and rung a juvenile Reewa at my Thornton ringing site, a site ringing tick. There was also a fly over Red Kite and at the Top End of the reservoir a juvenile Water Rail, perhaps evidence of local breeding. A Hobby was also seen carrying prey.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Essex Skipper.

It was pleasing to be able to add Essex Skipper to the list of butterflies at Bagworth Heath. This individual shows the characteristic antennae tips, that look like they have been dipped in black paint.
Other species at Bagworth Heath included Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Small and Large Skipper, and several Marbled Whites.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


Three Common Sandpipers were on the dam this morning. Yesterday there were 38 Tufted Duck, the majority being males. There is also a brood of 3 Tuftys. Three Dabchick are sitting on nests and one has at least a single chick visible.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Marbled White.

Recently up to 13 Marbled Whites have been recorded at Bagworth Heath. Also present are Small Heath, Ringlets, Common Blue and Meadow Browns. Previously I had only seen Marbled White at Leire in Leicestershire, so an encouraging County record.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Thanks Billy.

We had a great guided tour of the top birding sites on the south shore of the Firth of Forth. A huge thank you to Bad Boy Billy Barber, ace birder, photographer, historian and wit!
 A dusting of Gannets on Bass Rock.
 Billy informs me that there are now 150,000 Gannets using the Bass Rock. This is a 24% increase on 2009. It ranks as the largest Gannetry in the world. Awesome.

Ben Lawers Delivers!

 Our recent trip to Scotland in search of Mountain Ringlet was a great success.
 Some wonderful mountain scenery was enjoyed and the weather was kind to us.

 A Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary was a nice find.

 Ben Lawers demonstrates what can be achieved when sheep and deer are excluded. More like what the Highlands should look like. A species rich gem.
 There is now a landscaped car park, but no visitor centre at Ben Lawers.
 We walked up the Edramucky Burn.
 At last the sun shone and we were rewarded with some great views of Mountain Ringlet.

 One individual was particularly friendly and seemed happy to warm up on me.
 End of a wonderful journey. My 58th British butterfly species.
 There were also Golden Ringed Dragonflies and some great flowers.
Dave Newlands book, Discover Butterflies in Britain has been a great help in our tracking down of butterflies in GB.
We stayed at Kiltyrie Farmhouse B and B, Thanks Jane for your wonderful hospitality. Stay here if you want easy access to Ben Lawers and the surrounding area. It is definitely now one of our favourite places.

Monday, 20 June 2016

June updates.

At least 2 Reed Warblers are in residence at opposite ends of the reservoir. One was seen carrying food on the 14th June. I have seen Red Kite on two occasions and hopefully they are breeding locally. Two Hobbys have also been seen hunting hirundines and dragonflies. On the 8th June a Broad Bodied Chaser was over the garden pond.
The sign explaining about the tern rafts has been installed. On the 18th a pair of Common Terns were sitting on the rafts and feeding over the reservoir. It would be fantastic if they decide to breed this year.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Kazakhstan Highlights.

 My recent trip to the deserts and mountains of Kazakhstan produced some great birds and also some stunning landscapes. Turkestan Shrike above.
 Crimson -winged Finch and Masked Wagtail-race personata.

 Azure Tit above and below.
 Below a smart Lesser Kestrel at the cemetery.
 It was a treat to watch male Pine Buntings on the mountain slopes surrounded by flowers and butterflies.

 Isabelline Wheatears were every where, possibly the most common bird!

Typical behaviour of a Desert Warbler and below a Whistling Thrush in the rain.

 Red-mantled Rosefinch in the Tien Shan mountains.
 Black-headed Wagtail above.
Below male Citrine Wagtail.

 Paddyfield Warbler below.

 Above a Saxaul Sparrow and below White winged Lark.

 Asian Grey Shrike.
 Demoiselle Cranes.

 Red Headed Bunting.

 Hume's Yellow Browed Warblers were everywhere,

 as were Spotted flycatchers.

 Eastern race of Chiffchaff.

 Red-backed Shrike, possibly a hybrid.
 Blyth's Reed Warblers were singing from every bush.

 Terek Sandpipers were the most common Wader encountered.
A Pallid Scops Owl was a great find.