Thursday, 25 July 2013

Rock thrush twitch

Last thursday I was out on a local headland doing some birding in order to update my BTO bird track submissions. I was about 2 hours walk away from the car when I got the 'mega alert' sms from RBA telling me that there was a rock thrush near St. Fergus in Aberdeenshire! As it was already after 15:00 I knew that going for it immediately was not an option so after getting home and making a plan with another local birder I went to bed for a few hours before leaving Ullapool at midnight. At 04:30 the following morning we got on the bird and enjoyed it to ourselves for the best part of an hour with not another birder in sight! At that time of day the light was poor and I struggled to focus my camera properly but got a couple of 'record shots'. I spent the rest of the day dipping on everything else- roseate tern and little egret at the Ythan, spoonbill, bearded tit, reed warbler, ruff and marsh harrier at loch of Strathbeg but did finally get 6 or 7 seconds on the St. Fergus red-backed shrike- another wretched photo attempt before the bird went back to skulking out of sight in the hawthorn! 

Closer to home I have been closely watching a few local patches as wader passage appears to have started and I am ever hopeful of turning up my own rarity- for now however I am making do with dunlin! At least I got acceptable photos. of these critters!!

rock thrush- 1st summer male @ St Fergus

red-backed shrike- female, St Fergus

adult dunlin- Achnahaird beach

juvenile dunlin-Achnahaird beach

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Old man of Stoer

Fairly typical summer birding at the moment with things being generally quiet. I briefly considered a big drive south to try and get onto the Bridled tern, but with the bird being rather mobile I really couldn't justify a gamble on that much fuel- ditto the Argyl Ascension frigatebird! After my month at sea I felt the need to enjoy the good weather and stretch my legs, so I spent a few hours on the coast path between Stoer lighthouse and Stoer head. This stretch of coastline is famous for the sea stack known as the 'old man of Stoer', the area occasionally attracts a good migrant or two and can also be good for spotting basking sharks and a number of marine mammal species. There were good numbers of tourists on the coast paths and few birds about, although I did enjoy looking down on the seabird colonies. A few pairs of bonxies patrolled the headlands, there were good numbers of recently fledged wheatears and a colour-ringed twite was probably bird of the day. I also saw 3 summer plumaged dunlin come in off the sea from the NW- I wonder if that signals the start of 'autumnal' wader passage?

old man of Stoer
great skua
twite with coloured leg rings

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Dakar, Senegal

Thankfully, that is the end of a very difficult and exhausting survey off the coast of Mauritania! I jumped onto a crew transfer vessel yesterday morning at 11:30 and finally got onto dry land this morning at 05:30 in Dakar, Senegal. With a 10 hour stop-over in a hotel today, I grabbed a few hours sleep then ventured into the hotel grounds to take a few snaps before heading to the airport for tonights 7 hour flight to Paris. Not many bird species about, but the air was filled with several hundred black kites, a dozen or so vultures which I think are hooded vultures? and a score or so of pied crows- an impressive trio of scavengers!