Showing posts from May, 2013

After 37 years, an Albatross!

It's been a long wait but after a very long wait since I first dipped the Black-browed Albatross on Hermaness in '76 (and subsequently in three other years) I finally have an Albatross on my list in the form of three Black-footed Albatrosses from the whale watching trip out of Monterey. The sea was very choppy and it was the first time they'd gone out for four days because of the strong westerlies and it had been touch and go whether this trip would go.

We were glad it did though for the majority of the four hours it was concentrating on not being sick and following the horizon. We jammed in on a mother and calf Humpback Whale after only 45 minutes and stayed with them for  another hour or so before heading out to the canyon where I picked up several Sooty Shearwaters. Then the guide called out the Albatross on the other side of the boat. I managed some shaky binolcuar views of the large brown Albatross as it sheared over the waves and I picked up another two a few minutes…

West coast birding - the Pacific not the Atlantic

After a couple of good days in Chicago, we've hit the Pacific coast and done a stack of sight-seeing which resulted in views of Anna's Hummingbird in a San Franciscan park, loads of Brandt's Cormorants and Western Gulls, a single White-throated Swift and one Heermans Gull. White-crowned Sparrows are very common here too.

Today we made our way down to Monterey stopping off at a couple of birdy sites. The strong westerlies were keeeing most things down unfortunately. At Pescadero there were lots of Western Gulls and CAspian Terns on the beach with once adult Glaucous-winged Gull. On the marsh we had a pair of Northern Harriers and the surprise of three Red-necked Phalaropes but not a great deal else.

At Moss Landing we enjoyed the raft of Sea Otters, a host of Harbour Seals and a pier full of Sealions as well as a couple of Long-billed Curlews and three fly-over Whimbrel. Squadrons of Brown Pelicans travelled up and down the Slough but again there was little else on show.


My first taste of spring birding in the states

Back in the USA. And Chicago again to attend my daughter's graduation ceremony but that's given me a chance to experience some May birding in places where I've only known relative silence in terms of bird song. Montrose point was splendid this morning with all the songs of the grackles, redwings, american robins and orioles amongst others.

And all the birds are all in the summer finery too! Splendid Chestnut-sided, Yellow, Magnolia, Palm and Mourning Warblers as well as Wood Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Warbling Vireo, White-crowned Sparrows and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. It all made a very pleasant hour or two before the crowds descended!

Jackson Park tomorrow I think before the thunderstorms hit and then it's off to the west coast.

Westerlies bring seabirds to Rishton Reservoir

We've had summer. That nice week is now a distant memory and we're back into cool weather, westerlies and showers but at this time of year this is great weather to drop migrating birds into local reservoirs. I finished early on Friday and though I'd checked the reservoir in the morning (with just a single Dunlin). I thought it may be worth checking again and I was delighted when I saw an Arctic Tern floating over the water. I suspected there were two and that was confirmed a little later by Casper after I had put the news out.
The following day was an early start with a ringing session at Mark's. Most of my Redpolls had left but his garden was buzzing with them. We managed a few rounds dodging the showers and got 25 new birds plus controls as well as more Siskins and Golfinches. Two ofthe female Siskins had well developed brood patches and we also had a freshly fledged juvenile - very early indeed. The Redpolls continue to interest with a good percentage having longer …

Wot, no Chiffchaffs, yet still the Redpolls keep coming

We're into the first week of May and though the weather has turned warmer, there are still winter birds around and a dearth os some migrants. A few Willow Warblers are singing around Rishton but there's a complete lack of Chiffchaffs in the area. Swallows and Sand Martins are thin on the ground too. Cool evenings on the reservoir normally result in flocks of hirundines but not much so far this year.

Following the successful twitch of the Killdeer a few weeks ago, it's been dipping time since. We mossed the Alpine Swift in Blackpool by five minutes and I completely forgot about the Rock Thrush - setting off on Saturday only to stop half way and enjoy some time at Fairburn Ings whilst the negative news arrived.

There's been little on the Reservoir apart from the Little Ringed Plovers that are regularly disturbed by fisherfolk. The Great Crested Grebes are attempting to build (all three pairs, but the receding water line is hampering all efforts.

We've been tackling a…