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Kingfishers and Quantum Entanglement

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Autumnal sun and waders at Farmoor

Yesterday, at least by normal Oxfordshire standards, there was a mini influx of autumn birds with a Wryneck photographed at Otmoor and a Little Stint found with a Knott, Ruff and Dunlin on the Farmoor causeway.

I really like the late afternoon light at Farmoor in the autumn. In lacks the harshness of the summer sun and is favorable orientated with respect to the causeway. I find the warmth of the late afternoon autumnal sun, while perhaps not representing the bird in its true colour balanced appearance, creates a pleasing warm visual effect, especially with rufus waders.

So it was off to Farmoor for late afternoon photography of the waders. While the light is wonderful at this time of year, it also brings its challenges typically requiring quite high ISO speeds and low F-numbers generating a rather shallow depth of field.
I had a very enjoyable hour or so watching and photographing the birds.

Olivaceous Warbler and Quantum Confusion

On Saturday a  rare Eastern Olivaceous Warbler was found at Farlington marshes in Hampshire. I believe this is only the 22nd UK record of this warbler more usually found in a Greek olive grove or an Algerian oasis. It would also represent a life tick for me. Family and other commitments dictated that the first day I could sensibly twitch this mega was today. I decided to wait until the bird was reported on RBA before setting off on the 90-minute journey from home. Somewhat worryingly, the bird was not reported until almost 10 am and was noted as being “seen only briefly”. I’ve been caught out by such reports before as some of them have have turned out to be erroneous but  I decided to be optimistic and set off anyway

On arrival there were 30 or so birders present and I was told that the bird had been seen briefly some 15 minutes prior to my arrival. I also discovered that some birders present had spent 5 hours not seeing the bird the previous day. It turned out that it was very much my…


I was considering a trip down to Cornwall over last weekend with two targets in mind. Firstly, to twitch a mega rare brown booby that had been reported fairly regularly from the Lizard over the course of last week. Secondly, to try and get some good photos of an American vagrant, a buff-breasted sandpiper, that was on an old airfield at Davidstow. I’ve only ever had rather distant scope views of this wader and photos appearing online seemed to indicate that this bird was fairly confiding.
I had pretty much given up on the idea on Saturday as there had been no reports on line of the booby that day but a report late afternoon soon had me booking a pub b&b for the night and heading down to Cornwall.
When I got to the lizard on Sunday morning there were 30 or so birders spread out along the cliffs and no reported sightings. In fact, the validity of the previous days reports was being question by those present. With no sightings by late morning and other sea bird watching pretty much a w…

A wheatear controversy and the origin of the species

Rare bird alert made me aware of a bird that certainly piqued my interest yesterday afternoon.  It was reported as either a (very rare) female eastern black-eared wheatear or a (rare) pied wheatear. Later in the afternoon RBA “confirmed” that it was the former and I immediately set about planning a trip for today. The eastern black-eared wheatear spends its summer in the eastern mediterranean and over winters in the Sudan so this individual was somewhat lost!
The bird was located on the Lancashire coast and as such involved a drive on my beloved (sic) M42 and M6. I was faced with the choice of either going early before the presence of the bird had been reconfirmed, hence avoiding the Monday morning rush hour, or waiting for it to be reconfirmed around 7 am. I gambled, luckily as it turned out, on the former and left home at 05:30.
The weather on arrival was cold, wet and windy and, very wisely, the bird was hiding almost out of sight under a rock. After an hour or so it jumped out and w…

A trip to Farlington Marshes and relative confusion!

If I was asked to name my favorite UK bird I think it would be the Wryneck.  This small member of the woodpecker family has the most subtle, beautiful and alluring plumage and is a really captivating bird when viewed at close range.
They are sadly long lost as UK breeding birds and can only is seen on passage, mainly in the autumn. A small influx over the past few days had me scanning the bird alert services for a suitable candidate to visit. I chose Farlington marshes in Hampshire because it was only 90 minutes from home and I’d never been there before. In addition there were a couple of half decent pictures posted indicating that reasonably views should be possible with patience.
I must say that I approached this trip with a certain amount of trepidation as I had had wonderful and unbeatable views of a Wryneck in Norfolk last year. While I was sitting on the ground it appeared from the undergrowth some 20 or so meters from me and proceeded to spend the next hour scoffing ants from an …

The Ridgeway, Frampton and arise Sir Benjamin Stokes hero of England (again!)

On Friday morning I had a long, hot but very pleasant walk on the ridgeway.  My main aim was to photograph Wheatears which  were true to form in their usual locations, often revealing their presence in flight by their bright white rumps which gave rise to their old and not particularly flattering English name of white arse!

This morning I was faced with a choice. Settle down for the day and watch the cricket or get out and do some birding. Given the low probability of an England win against the old enemy, after all we were bowled out for under 70 in the first innings, I chose the latter. I decided to go to Frampton RSPB again and try for an American vagrant wader, a buff-breasted sandpiper, that had been there for a week or so. 
My aim was to get there comparatively early before the forecast heat set in but when I arrived around 09:30 the mercury was already rising rapidly being well above 20 degrees. The friendly RSPB staff, as ever, pointed me in the right direction and I had good but…