Friday, 10 May 2013

Flycatchers return

 Pied Flycatcher

 I'm off...........

.............. I'm Back again

Peacock Butterfly 

On reflection Bank Holiday Monday was not the best choice of days to head out to Bickerton Hills to see if the Pied Flycatchers had returned to an area of Woodland that has now had a population of up to five pairs for more than twenty years.  Still, we had already set out before thinking about the traffic and the amount of other people who would be out enjoying our countryside.

It didn't Take Ashley long to locate a singing male bird, which he was able to get in the scope for Alex - a lifer for Alex and a first this year for Ashley.  In all we had three male and two female birds.  I was distracted by the number of Peacock butterflies in the area and took a few photos to share with you.

Other birds of note seen at this site in the couple of hours we were there were: Spotted Flycatcher, Wood Warbler and a small party of four Crossbill.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Spanish Pyrenees

 Bonelli's Warbler

 Bonelli's Warbler

 Rock Thrush

.............  again

......... and again

 Rock Thrush

 Black Redstart

Northern Wheatear

 Northern Wheatear


 Water Pipit

 Black Redstart

We managed a couple of days birding on our drive back to the UK in the Spanish Pyrenees around the Town of Jaca.  Sadly as can happen in the Pyrenees the weather wasn't great with low cloud,  rain and snow.  The first sight we visited was the ski resort of Candanchu, followed by the nearby Astun on the Col Du Somport.  We had a great four hours birding, watching Alpine and Red billed Chough, Alpine Accentors, Black Redstart, Water Pipit, Yellowhammer, Pied Wagtails and Northern Wheatear in good numbers, other sightings included Wryneck, Red-backed Shrike, Rock Thrush, Whinchat and Firecrest 

On the second day we had about four hours birding time, as we still had to drive across France.  Wanting to make the most of the time we had, after a typically Continental breakfast, we headed to the nearby Monastery De San Juan.  The weather still wasn't playing the game, hence the reason we do our Pyrenees tour a little later on in the year.  June is more favourable weather wise and also means plenty of flowers and butterflies.  Species highlights included Griffin and Egyptian Vulture, Lammergeier, Crested Tit, Bonelli's Warbler,  Rock Bunting, Rock Sparrow and Short-toed Treecreeper 

 Roe Deer


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Hurleston Reservoir

 Great Crested Grebe



A very obliging little Chiffchaff


A few hours on Friday, at what has always been my number one Patch, Hurleston Reservoir. It is located just a couple of miles out of the town and a pleasant walk down the Llangollen Canal.

Birding at this time of year is as much a treat on the ears as it is on the eyes with Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Whitethroat all singing on the walk down the Canal.  Add to this the resident Chaffinch, Linnet and Greenfinches and we have our own little "feathered choir" going on.

On the reservoir itself I watched the displaying Great Crested Grebes for a while.  The only other birds here of note were a Pair of Grey Wagtail.  I know of a breeding site for Lesser Whitethroat nearby and as I have only just come back from Spain I had not yet visited to see if they had returned this spring.  I am happy to report they have and although I could not get a photograph this time, I will keep my eye on them over the next few weeks.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Back home and we brought the sunshine with us !

It seems as if we brought the sun back with us from our recent month in Spain.  The time went so quickly and we were not looking forward to coming back to the cold and rainy UK, but hey it's not so bad !   Whilst we were away Ashley took a group out birding for 4 days on our Scottish Highlands Long Weekend, which was very successful. As soon as he has a spare few hours we will get him to do a trip report and post it on the website.  

I enjoyed an afternoon out yesterday catching up on the local sites and had some good migrants birds.  

Northern Wheatear

Yellow Wagtail

At Sandbach Flashes we were  entertained by singing Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat.  Also recorded Ringed Plover (1), Little Ringed Plover (4), Black-tailed Godwit (8), and Common Sandpiper.  A good couple of hours birding here then onto Doddington Lake.  Our mission at Doddington was to find Yellow Wagtail and without too much effort we located 7 different birds.  Surprise of the day was a pair of Northern Wheatear.  There was a steady stream of Swift, Swallow, Sand Martin and House Martin overhead which all in all made for a great afternoons birding. 

An added bonus was bumping into a birding friend I had not seen for a while - John Wilson.  We spent some time catching up and swapping birding sites, so if you're reading this John, let's not make it so long next time - Mark  

Homeward Bound ! Guest post by Tracy Powell

It's time to go back to the UK for Mark, Scruffy and I.  We have had a fantastic month here and have had several guests out birding with us and I even went fishing with one couple.  I caught a 2lb Carp and thought I had hit the jackpot !  I enjoyed it out in the sunshine, sat in the peace and quiet, no cars, no television, no mobile phones ringing just the sounds of the water and nature - it was lovely - catching the fish was a bonus.

This week we have had two retired gentlemen out birding with us on a 4 day Spanish visit which seems to have gone really well.  We managed to show them everything they wanted to see, and more, in the time they had with us.

We collected them from the airport on Friday morning and birded en-route to the hotel.  After booking in and dropping their bags in the rooms, we had a light lunch and headed back out.  Birded all day for the next 3 days and dropped them back at the airport for late flight home on day four - Monday.  We like this format and have decided to offer a Spanish long weekend, so that people who work need only have 2 days off work.

Mark will put a trip report and an itinerary for the Spanish long weekend together when we get back.  If you would like to read either they will be available on our website from the right hand information panel shortly.

Whilst we were out and about yesterday we saw some farm workers gathering in the crop off the fields.   One farmer was using a vehicle for transport and in the next field that farmer was using a horse and cart - what a contrast between the two and an even bigger contrast with what our farmers in the UK have at their disposal.  Both these farmers were hand balling the bales in a temperature of about 20 degrees !
Hard work in anyones eyes  !

 My favourite day of this stay has to be the day we saw the    Great/Little Bustards it was amazing !  Even as a "non-birder" or a "birder by default" !! it will take some beating.