Friday, 30 July 2010

careful on the web

not a birdy post I'm sorry but I have just recieved info that the site behind the 'banners' form FatBirder currently has a virus of some kind, and that following a link on any of them puts your computer in danger. There is a thread on Birdforum about this, the software apprently can scan your computer in an attempt to obtain passwords and bank details, and renders your computer unusable. There has already been an attempted theft of £21,000 from one person and many people have reported their computers crashing. I've removed the FatBirder widget from my website and please, if anyone out there still has a FatBirder widget on their blog/website REMOVE IT NOW!!

thanks and hopefully most people have got the message already



edit: according to Birdforum thread (see HERE) the problem has largely been dealt with but it still is probably a good idea to remove all links to FatBirder for a short while just to be safe

Thursday, 29 July 2010

photographing 28/7/10

a Rock Pipit at Splash Point, Seaford, 28/7/2010

p.s thankyou everyone who has visited and got me back in the top 600 on FatBirder!! :) :) alright, no.599 and I won't stay there for long but it's nice to be back there still  :o

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Hope gap again.

I took a different route round the patch today, arriving by bike at 05:30 I went down to Chyngton Farm, where I walked down along the west side of the cuckmere, before going back up past the Coastguard Cottages, to Hope Gap, down the middle path and up the west side of the gap. I skipped out quite large areas (the mast, golf course and harry's bush) from my ususal route but still found lots of good birds around;

The first bird I saw was in the long, overgrown fields below South Hill Barn car park as you take the road  towards Chyngton Farm. A Whitethroat was in a bush here. The long grass and thistles by the roadside never really have any birds other than sparrows and starlings, but today I was rather surprised to see two Sedge Warblers in them, posing well and giving excellent views. In the patch of trees by Chyngton Farm I eventually saw a Garden Warbler, after about 10 minutes looking (I had tentatively ID'd it as this species by song already). There were also 2 Lesser Whitethroats and another Whitethroat here. Along the westernmost path along the Cuckmere valley, heading Northwards, I encountered several more Whitethroats, a Willow Warbler, a Reed Warbler (singing), 4 more Lesser Whitethroats and another Garden Warbler, turning to the pat along the river at the horse paddocks.

Here there were 10 or so Pied Wagtails in the saltmarsh, three or four adults and the rest juveniles. One of these was exceptionally pale, almost Citrine Wagtail coloured. Indeed, at first glance, and with a bit of panic, thi was my first rather nervous assumption, but within  few seconds sense returned and I decided it was a leucistic juv Pied Wagtail. however, having got home and described it to my dad, he said it sounded far more likely it was an ordinary juvenile White Wagtail, a good record for the area.

I had hoped for a few waders walking along the river bank, however all I got was a couple of Whitethroats in the bushes and a juv Curlew on the river. as I was walking along Cuckmere Beach, with meadow pipits all around me, I heard the unmistakeable sound of a Greenshank passing overhead. my first sussex year tick in over a month!!

In the bushes around the Coastguard Cottages, I saw a few more good birds. There were plenty of Whitethroats, a Reed Warbler showed well, as did two Willow Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Grasshopper Warbler, a bried flight view and perched for half a second but I saw it well enough through binoculars. I saw many more Whitethroats in the bramble patches and scattered bushes going up to Hope Gap, and a Sedge Warbler chattered away in one large clump of hawthorn. I could also hear distantly two Sandwich Terns moving west offshore.

Walking down the middle path through Hope Gap, I saw 7 Willow warblers and 3 Lesser Whitethroats among their commoner relative.  2 Reed Warblers were singing and seen well, and about 3/4 of the way to the sea a Nightingale croaked in one of the bushes, albeit very briefly, and was not seen. It is a remarkable call and one of my favourite to hear! I also saw another Sandwich tern passing west along the sea, about 100 metres offshore. along the western path round Hope Gap several groups of Whitethroat kept me company, numbering about 20 in all. 4 Willow Warblers, in two groups of two, were also seen, and I could hear one of the same Reed warblers that had been singing previously as I reached the top. From here, I walked down the eastern path round Hope Gap, for about five minutes, seeing one Willow warbler and a few more Whitethroats, and hearing two more Sandwich Terns moving west offshore.

My final stop was the patch of bushes adjacent to South Hill Barn. from here another Reed warbler was singing, a Lesser Whitethroat flitted through the bushes and there were 5 Whitethroats and 3 Willow warblers. the final bird seen was a single Willow Warbler, in one of the bushes of the farmyard at Chyngton farm, as I cycled back.

My totals for the day were as follows;
1 Nightingale
66 Whitethroats
19 Willow warblers
11 Lesser Whitethroats
5 Reed Warblers
3 Sedge warblers
2 Garden Warblers
1 Grasshopper Warbler
1 White Wagtail
1 Greenshank
1 Curlew
5 Sandwich terns
24 Swifts
18 Swallows
10 Sand Martins

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Bits and Bobs

alas, no real birding was achieved today, but a few migrants still seen nontheless.

  • A Willow Warbler heard calling late morning, and probably the same mid-afternoon, (and I have justherd it as I write too!) from somewhere behind the garden
  • Walking along the lower reaches of Seaford Head Golf Course early afternoon a Lesser Whitethroat was tacking away unseen.
  • at the Ouse Estuary this evenin dad and I accomplished the notable achievement of seeing jock-s**t. a few herring gulls and singing skylarks being the highlight of a fantastic walk
  • At Splash Point mid-afternoon Kittiwakes out in force, including many young birds wheeling about the cliffs. Also a Rock Pipit 
  • finally, on the night of the 25th a Dunlin was heard flying over the house at about 23:00.

there are about as many birds in these two photos as there were in half an hour at the Ouse 'Estuary' (a.k.a big dry reedbed) Project tonight.

Monday, 26 July 2010

first visit to the patch

today was my first autumn visit to the local patch at Cuckmere Haven and Seaford Head. July is a time when the first few warblers are moving through, and waders are in full swing, and I saw a few of both today.

The first presumed migrant I saw was a Whitethroat on the Golf Course. walking along the east side of the course I saw a few more, and got a brief glimpse of a Lesser Whitethroat, while walking up through the wood on the south side of the Golf Course, there were 2 Willow Warblers. Around the mast, I saw my first few Swifts passing overhead to the west. There were a few more warblers, 2 singing chiffchaffs (presumably territorial and not migrating yet), a few Whitethroats, two Lesser Whitethroats, and a singing Reed Warbler. resident birds included a calling Bullfinch and several family parties of Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Blue Tits.
There were singing Skylarks and Meadow Pipits around the Golf Course, and along the clifftop a few family parties of both were feeding in the short grass. The only migrant along here was a Wheatear, a fairly early record for autumn. the pair of Ravens were very showy, approchable down to a couple of metres, the best and most prolonged views I've yet had of them. most fantastic was as one then the other bundled accross the path, dropping off the cliff-face before swooping back up again. At the same time, five Swifts flew past, barely at head height and practically touching distance.
A few minutes later a group of 40 Swifts flew over. I only picked them up (mostly so high up I needed binoculars to see them) by their calls, so many others probably passed high overhead during the morning undetected. On the western path along Hope Gap I saw a few Willow Warblers, including one singing male. I also saw a few Whitethroats, 2 Lessers and a Reed Warbler. down the middle path through Hope Gap was quiet, there was a Chiffchaff, a few Willow Warblers, 10 or so Whitethroats, 5 Lesser Whitethroats and 2 Reed Warblers.
A few more Lesser Whitethroats and Willow Warblers were along the east side, with one Reed Warbler, while more Swifts went overhead and 3 Sandwich Terns were heard off Hope Gap.
In the area around the Coastguard Cottages it was deathy quiet, a few Whitethroats being as good as it got!
In the Cuckmere Valley were decent numbers of hirundines, 50 Swallows, 10 Sand Martins and a handful of House Martins passing through. 2 Green Sandpipers and a Common Sandpiper were in the ditches on the west side of the valley, there were 2 Curlew on the river and a Whimbrel circled the valley several times before dropping into the pastures with a group of 3 Curlew. In the bushes along the west side of the valley were several more Lesser and Common Whitethroat and 1 Reed Warbler, with 2 Lesser Whitethroats and a Willow Warbler around Harry's Bush, and at least one more Lesser Whitethroat noted on Seaford Head Golf Course (I heard two in the area where I had seen one five hours earlier).
By the end of the day, totals stood as follows;
Common Whitethroat-32 (most likely the majority were breeding birds or has dispersed from very nearby)
Lesser Whitethroat-17 (a very good count, especially for July, and a personal record for the patch)
Willow Warbler-15
Reed Warbler-7
Chiffchaff-4 (singing males, probably still on territory)
Wheatear-1 (the first of the autumn and quite early, though possibly dispersed from the breeding pair at Cuckmere Haven)
Swift-122 west overhead, but probablyt many more I didn't pick up
Swallow-50+ passed through Cuckmere Haven
Sand Martin-10 passed through Cuckmere Haven
Sandwich Tern-3 off Hope Gap
Curlew-5 in lower Cuckmere
Whimbrel-1 in lower Cuckmere
Redshank-1 in lower Cuckmere
Green Sandpiper-2 in lower Cuckmere

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

White-tailed bastard!

cut a long story shot, I got fairly crap views of a White-tailed Plover in a crowded hide in Slimbridge WWT, 300 or so miles from home, then the damned thing turned up about an hour's drive away at Dunge. God I hate birding sometimes! autumn continues to trickle along, a calling Willow Warbler/Chiffchaff at Slimbridge (I half-heard it but probably a Willow) on the same dae might have been a migrant, as would the definite Willow calling from somewhere near my house yesterday and today. a Great Spotted Woodpecker has been fairly vocal around the house too (presumably a dispersing juvenile) with perhaps the same bird beinng seen distantly in flight this afternoon from my bedroom window. Also my first Goldcrest for a while was also probably dispersing. Starlings and Woodpigeons are starting to flock together now, and at school I saw two adults and a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull. This is lmost certainly the same pair I saw in April/May on a roof near school, and is the first record of breeding for seaford to my knowledge.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

back for the season!

regrettably, with exams, school, and the fact I am a lazy, stroppy teenager have meant this little project hs somewhat taken a backseat while I wreaked havoc accross various branches of the bird-related internet, had many, many teenage strops and passed the exams I care about with flying colours while failing the rest in spectacular fashion.

However, autumn is tantalizingly close, my favourite time of the year, and I and reviving this blog, and putting the fox back among the chickens! The main difference now is that I am less a birdwatcher and more an angry adolescent. This means I may, through no fault of my own, spew untold quantities of faecal matter accross this previously well-meaning blog.

My first autumn migrant came on 8th July, a Common Sandpiper that flew over the house at 11:30 PM. I couldn't get to sleep alright! In fact I was so awake I managed to recognise the call from the last time I heard it, last autumn!

In the last couple of months, I have seen a few good birds, most notably a Red-footed Falcon at Cuckmere Haven. the point-and-clicker of course took a few photos, but compared to the excellent photos that can be found on the Cuckmere Ouse Bird-blog and Sussex Nature (see links down the side), Birdguides and Surfbirds, to name a few, these are poor photos to say the least.

I'm also hoping to go for this plover thingy that has so delighted many folks at Rainham and Slimbridge, if the damnn thing hangs around tomorrow! fingers crossed! although actually by the time this is posted it will be tomorrow, I may have already gone and seen it and have a long-overdue proper report for the people wondering what has happened to this blog!

But, getting back on track, autumn is here. I will spend as much time as I can t my local patch (Hope Gap) hoping against hope for some decent find. Last year the other regular patchers, one of which writes Sussex
Birding, managed to find two different Icterine Warblers and a Barred Warbler, while my dad found a Red-breasted Flycatcher. I checked whenever I could, but Icky no.1 was when we were on holiday in Mull and Icky 2 and Barred warbler on a school day. I still looked for the Barred Warbler twice later in the week, as it stuck around, but failed to connect with it both times. The only positive thing is that I saw the Flycatcher, but despite many hours of effort my self-found tally came up to a Ring Ouzel, some Grasshopper Warblers and not a lot else! that will change now! and I will document the trials of patching for all to see.

I'm also taken a three-week holiday in the summer to Canada with my parents. This will include a five-day stay at Long Point Bird Observatory in early September. It was here my Dad spent several years researching for the Helm Guide to New World warblers, in which he was author, nd he has spent the last few months regaling me with all sorts of incredible tales! The whole trip should be fantastic, and I hope to get loads of lifers, but Long Point in particular sounds absolutely incredible!

Right, thats me done for now, I may have news on a Plover when you next here from me, goodbye until then!

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