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Tough times requires therapeutic birding with cuteness overload!

      Avocet Chick Its been a very tough week this week. Our lovely horse Finn, my personal favourite,  had to be put to sleep. With his heart giving out he stopped eating and there really was no alternative but to do the right thing by him.   On Friday I decided a day out birding  was required to cheer me up and, with nothing to temp me to go further afield, I opted for a chilled out visit to Slimbridge. In terms of new ticks for my UK list, its been a slow year so far with just 5 additions, all major rarities:- Northern Waterthrush, Social Lapwing, Indigo Bunting, Collared Flycatcher and Bridled Tern. Last year really was an exceptional year for great rarities in the UK so I guess its back to normal in 2024!   Taking my usual advantage of the members early access privilege I took a slow walk along the hides towards the Summer Walkway. The Rushy was alive with new beginnings with good numbers of Avocet chicks in various stages of development. Subjectively at least, the Avocets seem to
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A Bridled Tern visits Coquet Island in Northumberland

   Bridled Tern On Saturday 1 st  of June a very rare Bridled Tern was found in amongst the seabird colonies on Coquet Island a mile or so off the coast of Northumberland. This attractive Tern resides in my infamous mega dips category, see here .  Coquet Island is famous as the  location of  a small colony  of breeding Roseate Terns, the UK’s rarest breeding tern.  It is possible to do a coastal tour of the island with a company called Puffin Cruises and, in fact, Jeremy and I did this very trip to see the Roseate Terns in 2018. No one is allowed to disembark on the island, which has a permeant warden in breeding season, for obvious reasons.   Coquet island at 275 miles distant from home is a good 4 hour drive and during the week I blew hot and cold as to whether to visit. My mind was eventually made up when Wayne, who runs our “twitching the UK and Ireland” WhatsApp group, very kindly offered to organise some bespoke cruises to the island for birders. The boat trip is very tide and se

A Great Reed Warbler at RSPB Ouse Fen

     Opportunities to go birding have been somewhat limited since I twitched the Indigo Bunting, see here , some 16 days ago. We have had our two oldest grandchildren to stay for most of half-term while their parents were busy with work. They are very well behaved and a delight to be with and look after so its always a pleasure to have them. The Landover has been playing up again, I’m starting to feel that its past its use by date, and we are still waiting for our dog, Loki, to have the staples removed from his foot wound. So when Carolyn kindly said she would look after everyone on Saturday if I wanted to do some birding I jumped at the chance and shot over to the nature reserve at RSPB Ouse Fen, a reserve that I have rather strangely never visited before.   Ouse Fen is a joint project between the RSPB and construction company Hanson UK, and together they are working to transform a massive quarry into a haven for wildlife.   It’s a wetland site, with pools and wet grassland and a reed

Twitching an Indigo Bunting in Whitburn and personal thoughts on its provenance

I’ve said to Carolyn a couple of times this week that I felt a Mega was in the offing. There’s been a large fall of birds overshooting on migration to continental Europe this week with more than 30 Red-backed Shrikes counted on Fair Isle alone. So I was hoping for some mega rare overshoot from the East. In fact the opposite happened – birding is nothing but totally unpredictable!   On Saturday I was out doing a lunchtime walk around my local patch when a report of a mega rare Indigo Bunting was posted on the bird alert services. With just 3 accepted records to date this bird really is as rare as rocking horse poo. A male in summer plumage is also a stonkingly attractive bird. The location, Whitburn in county Durham, was some 250 miles or a 4 hour drive from home. I calculated that by the time I walked home and packed the car it would be around 18:00 when I arrived. Should I go now or wait until tomorrow on the hope that it stays? I quickly decided that it was too risky to wait and set

May at Fabulous Frampton RSPB

  On Monday I spent the day at one of my favourite reserves, RSPB Frampton on the Wash in Lincolnshire. In contrast to Worcestershire, where it pretty much rained all day, it was a lovely sunny spring day.   Frampton holds fond memories for me. Over the years I’ve added Black Stork, Buff Breasted Sandpiper and White rumped Sandpiper to my UK list at this large well managed wetland site and I hoped to reacquaint myself with a number of scare and rare birds which were on site during this visit.   My first target was a Red-breasted Goose that had been associating with its normal carrier species, the Brent Goose, on the grassland opposite the scrapes. I soon located it a little distantly, a theme for the day, in amongst the Brents and got good views through my scope.   The Red-breasted Goose breeds mainly in Artic Siberia and winters on the shores of the Black Sea. It is a rare vagrant to the British Isles where it is sometimes found with flocks of Brent or Barnacle Geese.  It is classifie

Going loco for Whitethroats and Nightingales

  We have a new residential development on our quiet country lane. I haven’t seen any planning applications posted so I’m not sure if its above board. On top of that our new neighbours are very loud and noisy singing from dawn to dusk.    Yep, the Common Whitethroats have moved in with 3 adjacent territories along our small lane. I’m not sure what the normal area requirements are for a territory but they are certainly close enough together that the males can hear each other sing.  This is contributing to how vocal and active they are as each claims to be a much better mate than their neighbour. Photographing these hyperactive little warblers is fun and almost too easy as they like to hammer out their fast and scratchy song from an exposed perch atop the bushes. I find the song has a scolding characteristic to it, perfect for telling the neighbours to shut up! Occasionally one would get so wound up by its neighbours singing that it would fly up in a hover like manner with wings beating