Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol
I figured to kick off my big month with a solid foundation – to see how many species were possible on a walk through Bristol. The answer was 44, which surprised me.
It was helped by a semi-surprising common sandpiper in the New Cut, then a jaw-dropping more…
RSPB Greylake, Somerset Levels
The oddest thing about this inundation of the reserve is that, restricted to the small car park, I picked up nearly 30 species in half an hour. Two previous visits to Greylake
hadn’t yielded half as many, although 2012 did provide spotted crake.
Can we infer that floods are good for birds? Buzzards were plentiful and I guess they’ll have plenty of carrion when (if!) more…
Red-flanked Bluetail, Stiffkey © Dave Curtis
I’d like to say this was in Marshfield, as notified on BirdGuides, and hence in Avon. However, the river that runs through Shire Valley defines the boundary with Wiltshire and in the brief window between gouts of rain, this red-flanked bluetail stayed resolutely in the latter county. I exaggerate a little on the rain description; compared with recent downpours, yesterday was meek.
The bird was reported five days ago, five working days so it’s been fingers crossed that it would stay into the weekend. more…
Stewartby Brick Works, Bedfordshire
Another drive through copious rain, to get to Bedford this time. Why Bedford? Certainly not for its charms, as depressing a town as England boasts. The centre hosted more police presence than punters out enjoying a Friday night. Wetherspoons provided the only civilised drinking and all the curry houses occupied one tiny little ghetto. However, the Magna Tandoori, which I finally settled on, did a nagalicious naga. So that was OK in the end.
No, Maulden Wood, to the south, was the draw. This is the last clawhold for more…
I have another armchair tick. On Leap Year day in 2004 I took a stroll through Casa de Campo in Madrid and logged the birds.
Somewhere I recorded a green woodpecker. I didn’t remark on it at the time but it has lately become remarkable. Last September, version 3.5 of the IOU world list split Iberian green woodpecker into its own species, Picus sharpei. So, in 2004 I wouldn’t have noticed more…
Coming to a Flood near You
A fine time to go birding is Christmas Day. Away from the excess and hypocrisy to celebrate in my own way. And where better than the Somerset Levels? Especially as they’d flooded, and evidence of that surrounded me on the way from Glastonbury to Meare. Indeed the road itself had clearly been inundated.
Wet weather from the beginning of the year was repeating itself. Was this more…
I had to run out of luck eventually. I had eight lifers out of… seven attempted, and all the Tenerife endemics. Now I was on for spectacled warbler and Barbary partridge at golf courses just along the coast from Los Cristianos. The jury is out on whether the partridges found their own way to the Canaries or are introduced but, like our members of the family, they’re a kosher tick.
On the way a pond at Las Chafiras was worth a stop, where spoonbills were the stars. It also boasted more…
Kestrel, El Fraile, Tenerife
One constant on the island was to keep watching the kestrels. They were not just numerous at Las Grimonas but all over. They also did everything: they soared like sparrowhawks; they perched; they caught insects like hobbies; they flew in small parties; they called. In fact about the only behaviour I didn’t see was hovering.
At El Fraile the day after, this pictured bird did its cactus-sitting thing – another new one on me. It was in a patch of scrub outside an immigrant town from Spain’s boom years and presumably more…