Saturday 31 March 2012

Lightening does strike twice

It was about this time last year when i was traveling southbound on the M3, and was between Fleet services and the Hook, and as every birdwatcher does is scanning the countryside, its about 7am pretty cool, good light bombing it down lane two when I spot a bird in front about 150yds in from the motorway sitting on top of a dead tree, oh that's a big Buzzard I say to myself, then as I get nearer the scale of the bird then sinks in, it was fucking HUGE, heart racing, eyes starring. As I'm now getting level with the bird I can now see the massive side on bill, OMG its a White-Tailed Eagle. Shit, panic, swerve, then realise I'm still doing 70 and that I'm driving !!

I rang RBA and my local birders who all sounded like they were getting out of bed (not together), and wasn't until then realising its got to be the bird that was seen south of Basingstoke area over the winter and that perhaps it was this bird on the move north?

So back to Friday 30th March Chadwell st mary's (just north of Tilbury, Essex) having been working with Shaunboy the last couple of months it was not rude of us to both be bringing our binoculars to work!

Shaun having spotting a raptor the previous day, turning out to be a Red Kite which gave the most amazing views right above us for five minutes before gaining height and flying west, Awesome.

I walked outside of this house, have a cheeky scan with the eyes, ''Shaunboy quick'', Shaun comes running, ''Look over there'' we both see a large bird circling, shaun runs to the van, I keep watching, slowly making my way to the van.

We both have our bins now and are watching this bird best part of a mile away, mmmm its very big I point out, Its circling on flat wings which kind of ruled out Buzzard, then the thing starts flying towards us its getting bigger and bigger wings still flat, a very powerful shudder of the wings made this bird move quicker. Still not seeing much of a tail another thought was Osprey but we still could see no colour on the bird. By this time the bird was almost above us it opened its wings and began to circle again '' Its a fucking Eagle, its a fucking White-tail, me and Shaunboy are jumping up and down, hearts racing, we try to compose ourselves and note some detail. Enormous wings and very very broad, short wedge shaped tail that had some white mottling, we had clear blue sky so could make out its uniform brown colour which was pretty much the same throughout the bird bar some paler streaks on the belly, on its right wing there was a primary missing probably p7, its circling gaining height still, a large gull sp was dwarfed by the eagle as it drifted west.

Still in disbelief on our sighting we both get on the Phone ringing local birders to try and get the bird seen as it headed London bound, the rest of the afternoon was pretty much a blur..........

Saturday 24 March 2012

Expect the Unexpected

Another Gull ringing session today with the NTGG, this time a bit further along the river to Pitsea landfill site a new venue for me and Shaunboy, after a 7am brief it was onto the tip where thousands of gull were evident, comprising of mainly of Black heads.

setting the net

bait layed

here they come

Two catches were made today and the first about 9:30 was a good mixture of mainly Black-heads, Lesser black backs and Herring with a single Common, up to 3 pairs of Med Gulls were milling around but always just outside the catch!

pair of meds



After the first catch was processed we set up for another and it was evident that more larger gulls had moved onto the tip, so with a fresh delivery of rubbish we wait for the birds to once again feed and settle, all scanning around mr Bonser shouts '' Iceland Gull above us '' we all look up to see this Iceland flying above us in the bright sun light and as we all watch the bird flying around and settle down in better light its apparent that in fact it is actually the fucking 2w KUMLIENS from last week!!

All excited hi fiving we are even more delighted to then see the bird fly into our catch area just in time for Paul to press the magic button........

The KUMLIENS was bagged along with the rest of the catch, bio's were taken of this bird and is now bearing a nice orange ring with NB9.T on it, after some photo's were taken the bird flew off none the wiser to his ordeal.

Paul extracts the bird to an applause!!

beauty and the beast !

showing darker g covs and tail band

Ringing Total's

Herring 128

Black Heads 223

Lesser B B 22

Common 1

Ice/Kumliens 1

A great end to the final winter ringing season which produced a first UK rung kumliens.

the old girl couldn't handle the excitement

Thursday 22 March 2012

On the Beach

A selection of birds found on the beach's of Cancun or what i would like to call Sunbed tick's!

This 1w Ring-billed gull was the only one seen and hung around for all of ten seconds.

Laughing gulls are Common.

Magnificent Frigate birds are seen daily.

Brown Pelicans are obvious.


Osprey fished the coastline.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Vireo's and Hummer nest

The three commonest vireo species you can see around the hotel grounds are the endemic Yucatan, White-eyed and Mangrove all fairly numerous and vocal.




Found this Hummingbird (cinnamon) nest whilst trying to photograph an Osprey along the beach, it was nesting in the smallest bracken type bush closest to the sea!

I went back another day and patiently waited for the bird to go off to feed before grabbing a shot off the two smallest chick's in the world, No bigger than a thumb nail each! Amazing.

Saturday 17 March 2012

Kumliens Gull

After dom's fantastic gull session at rainham's stone barges, i was eager for an early start to try and connect with some white-winger action! and wasn't long before the 2w Kumlien's Gull showed well to a group of us eager beaver's.

On the deck you could see the dark centred primaries and on preening revealing the dark upper tail band, before a grey heron spooked all the gull's thus providing us with a great fly bye.

Also seen was a first winter Iceland Gull on the river and a Frigate past ( unfortunately this was a boat species ) and also surprised to find two Ruff roosting on the barges with several redshank.

Wednesday 14 March 2012


One of the new species added on this trip was Bare-throated tiger heron which were nesting on the hotel grounds, also numerous were both Snowy egret and Green heron being seen daily.

Bare-throated tiger heron

Green heron

Snowy egret

Other's seen were White Ibis, Tricoloured heron, Cattle egret and a single Great blue heron was found along the beach.

Great blue heron

Sunday 11 March 2012


Visited the island of Cozumel during my Holiday which is a fifty minute ferry crossing from Player-del Carmen and cost about 300 peso's (about £15 return), having only half a day and Cozumel being a fairly big island i decided to take a taxi to the nearest Golf course which was about 6km away or 10 dollars!

Cozumel ferry

my gatecrashed venue

These seemed a good idea as along the entrance track alone picked up all the commoner wintering warblers plus the endemic Golden (yellow) Warbler along with blue-grey Gnatcatcher and the awesome Bananaquit, overhead Barn, Tree, Cliff and Northen rough-winged Swallows all fed, and came across no fewer than half a dozen Cozumel Emerald a single Green-Breasted Mango and a single Canivet's Emerald.

Golden (yellow) Warbler

Cozumel Emerald

Canivet's Emerald


Further along a stunning male Stripe-headed Tanager along with several Cozumel Vireo's, Black Catbird, Yucatan Woodpecker, Northen Waterthrush, Ovenbird and small parties of Yellow-faced grassquit.

Yucatan Woodpecker

yellow-faced grassquit

The Golf course ponds held Northen Jacana, American Coot, Spotted Sandpiper, Common Snipe and lots of Black-Necked Stilts.

Black-necked stilts

Most people didn't mind me walking around, and ground staff are quite polite if you wave and say hello (or Ola!) and the golfer's likewise.

Saturday 10 March 2012


Many of Mexico's and North American passerine species can be lured out with some persuasive pishing which works very well with sometimes upto ten species in a single bush, and also impersonating a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl also worked wonders!

Spot-breasted wren

Common Tody-flycatcher

Grey Catbird

Summer Tanager

First year male