Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Birds of Cumbria, August 9-16, 2014

Continuing on with my UK list:

65. Egyptian Goose (Thames River near Marlow, July 20, 2014)
66. Green Sandpiper (Thames River near Marlow, July 20, 2014)
67. Coal Tit (Ash Grove near Amersham, July 21,2014)
68. Eurasian Nuthatch (Ash Grove near Amersham, July 21,2014)
69. Northern Gannet (Sea near Portsmouth, July 22, 2014)
70. Meadow Pipit (Ulpha, Cumbria, August 9, 2014)
71. Goosander (Common Merganser) (Ulpha, Cumbria, August 9, 2014)
72. Marsh Tit (Ulpha, Cumbria, August 9, 2014)
73. Common Gull (Ulverston area, Cumbria, August 10, 2014)
74. Northern Wheatear (Ulpha, Cumbria, August 12, 2014)
75. Eurasian Oytercatcher (RSPB Millom, Cumbria, August 13, 2014)
76. Northern Lapwing (RSPB Millom, Cumbria, August 13, 2014)
77. Hen Harrier (Near Haverthwaite, Cumbria Saturday August 16, 2014)
78. Sand Martin (Shardeloes, August 18, 2014)
European Robin Erithacus rubecula (juvenile)
Mute Swan Cygnus olor
Mute Swans Cygnus olor
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Common Gull Larus canus
Goldcrest Regulus regulus family
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Spot the Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis (do they usually look so rusty?)

Birding Cumbria, August 9-16, 2014

 
Intrepid highland birding trio






Seathwaite Tarn - Sadly, no Ring Ouzels in sight
Typical Cumbrian 'sun-rain' weather
Wheatear country
  The weather was fickle, the sheep shit was thick on the ground, and the birding had a definite rugged highland feel, for a lovely week of birding/relaxing.  I was based in an old cottage (former bobbin mill) in Ulpha, which is really in the middle of literal nowhere.  The Duddon Valley, to be precise.  
  On daily long walks up into the fells I ran into regular Meadow Pipits, rather shy Linnets, and slightly less-shy Northern Wheatears.  I was well-chuffed (see, I'm learning the language) to finally see a wheatear - a bird with a lot of character, and long-awaited.  As most birders know, 'wheatear' comes from an old word meaning 'white-ass', with good reason - the flash of white as they flush is unmistakeable  at a distance.  As I was flicking through wheatear section in the excellent Collins guide, I was relieved I don't live in the middle east or around the Mediterranean, as there are close to 20 species of wheatear that live in the area, many of them bafflingly similar.  Wait, maybe I should be wishing I lived there, and had to deal with the 'problem' of having to pick through all those wheatears.  No matter.
  Three notable dips were Ring Ouzel, White-throated Dipper, and Sedge Warbler.  The  Ring Ouzel was particularly heartbreaking, as I do enjoy a good Turdus thrush, and the Ring Ouzel is such a shy and spectacular bird, very specialized and local in its habits/habitat.  I walked a site where they are known to breed, but life doesn't always give up its Ring Ouzels on the first go.  Gee, that would make a great t-shirt, or perhaps line of motivational greeting cards.
  The dipper dip was also frustrating, as my landlady for the week assured me the river in my backyard was normally teeming with dippers, but I saw nothing but mossy rocks.  I'm guessing they had moved south after breeding already.
  I visited two sites on the coast known to be home to Sedge Warblers, but at both spots the wind was vicious, keeping the bird action quiet.  As I always bravely say when I miss a bird - it gives me something to look forward to next time!  I must keep telling myself that.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Au Revoir France, August 3-8, 2014

Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
  Birding in France reminded me a bit of birding in Korea, in that, unlike England, there were a lot fewer other birders around.  Given some time and of course a little birding luck, I feel the varied and sleepy corners of habitat around St. Aubin Fosse Louvain could potentially yield some very interesting birds, especially come migration time.  It makes me smile to ponder all the rare/overlooked birds that move through a given region undetected, far from the prying lenses of their quirky admirers.
  In a wonderfully mixed roadside scrub habitat just down the road from the hovel where I was staying, I finally found a Garden Warbler.  It was mixed in with an active variety of tits and other warblers, including Blackcaps and Willow Warblers.  Notable for its lack of features, the Garden Warbler must be the ultimate LBJ, and it took me a few moments to get a solid ID on it.  A handsome bird in spite of its plainness, I think - a 'capless' Blackcap, in a way.
 I never did run into any Cirl or Corn Buntings, which was too bad.  I figured I had a much better chance of finding those species in the bucolic French backwoods than in rural England, these days at least.  Oh well, it gives me something to look for next time I'm in that part of the world.
  Tomorrow I'm off to the Cumbrian lake district for a bit.  From a quick glean on the internet, it looks like there are birds like Glossy Ibis and some Skuas about, so it shows there is some exciting variety up there.  I always enjoy jumping into a new patch, even if only a few weeks, and just having a muck about to see what's around.
47. Long-tailed Tit (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, August 3, 2014)
48. Grey Wagtail (Gorron, August 4, 2014)
49. Willow Warbler (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, August 4, 2014)
50. Garden Warbler (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, August 4, 2014)
51. Green Sandpiper (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, August 4, 2014)
52. Green Woodpecker (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, August 5, 2014)
53. Little Egret (South of Calais, August 8, 2014)
54. Mute Swan (South of Calais, August 8, 2014)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Battling Coots

Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
On July 21st I was lucky enough to be invited along for a putter down the Thames, on a boat belonging to a friend of a friend.  At one point near the Marlow locks, I witnessed a brutally sharp conflict between three Coots.  A lone Coot, seemingly confused or separated from its mate, appeared from behind some boats waiting for the locks, calling loudly.  Its distress calls were soon echoed from the river back, and within the space of ten seconds, two more Coots raced out from some reeds towards the first one.  The two Coots on territory fiercely attacked the intruder, alternately pushing it under the water and biting its head.  The whole confrontation lasted maybe a minute, before the lone Coot staggered off down the river.  Intense.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Les Papillons de France (and a moth)

Clouded Yellow Colias croceus
Comma Polygonia c-album
Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus
Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus
Jersey Tiger Euplagia quadripunctaria (moth)
Jersey Tiger Euplagia quadripunctaria (moth)
Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta
Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus
Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria
Swallowtail Papilio machaon
Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus
Small White Pieris rapae
  Ok, so I may be a closet 'flutterer', ha ha.  I've been getting into the butterflies a bit more lately because it gives me something to do on those slow bird days.  There's been more variety here in France compared to around Amersham, but I may need to get a guide book, as my glorified pamphlet doesn't cover mainland Europe.  Some of the IDs I've made here don't seem to add up, so I'm hoping to procure a book from a fellow down the road who has a few.  Until then, these IDs are tentative.

Birds of St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 22-August 2, 2014

Great Tit Parus major
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus
female Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
male Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus
European Robin Erithacus rubecula
Tawny Owl pellet
Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
1. Northern Gannet (Sea near Caen, July 22, 2014)
2. Black-headed Gull (Sea near Caen, July 22, 2014)
3. Lesser Black-backed Gull (Sea near Caen, July 22, 2014)
4. Herring Gull (Sea near Caen, July 22, 2014)
5. Spotted Flycatcher (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
6. Barn Swallow (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
7. Common Blackbird (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
8. Barn Swallow (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
9. House Sparrow (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
10. Chaffinch (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
11. European Goldfinch (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
12. Common Wood Pigeon (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
13. Blue Tit (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
14. European Robin (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
15. Common Chiffchaff (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
16. Great Cormorant (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, 23, 2014)
17. Song Thrush (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
18. Carrion Crow (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
19. Great Tit (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
20. Common Kestrel (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
21. Common Buzzard (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
22. Mistle Thrush (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
23. Common Swift (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
24. White Wagtail (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
25. Eurasian Jay (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
26. Eurasian Sparrowhawk (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
27. Common Starling (Dessertines, July 23, 2014)
28. Common Skylark (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
29. Grey Heron (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
30. European Greenfinch (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 23, 2014)
31. Common Magpie (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 24, 2014)
32. Common Snipe (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 24, 2014)
33. Collared Dove (Laval, July 24, 2014)
34. Common Stonechat (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 24, 2014)
35. Eurasian Wren (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 25, 2014)
36. Eurasian Nuthatch (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 25, 2014)
37. Yellowhammer (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 25, 2014)
38. Common Restart (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 25, 2014)
39. Western Jackdaw (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 26, 2014)
40. Tawny Owl (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 27, 2014)
41. Black Redstart (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 27, 2014)
42. Great Spotted Woodpecker (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 28, 2014)
43. Common Kingfisher (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 28, 2014)
44. Blackcap (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, July 29, 2014)
45. House Martin (Passais La Conception, July 29, 2014)
46. Eurasian Treecreeper (St. Aubin Fosse Louvain, August 2, 2014)