Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A misty morning at Wassell Grove Fisheries....24/11/2012

The mist and fog was decidedly denser as I approached the Fisheries, the sun had threatened to appear but it was not to be this morning. Highlight species were Blackbirds, Great & Blue Tits, a lone Fieldfare, Wren, a very vocal fly-over Raven, a great Spotted Woodpecker, Corvids were plentiful and noticeably Magpies were in abundance! Only a short visit this morning as it was such a damp and chilly morning!

"How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow."

  - Elsie N. Brady.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Autumn in the Algarve...continued.

A 'Dolphin Search' trip on a RIb boat was an experience to say the least. Naively I expected the boat to leisurely cruise out to sea..how wrong I was! Once out of the Marina the boat sped out to sea and I held on to the bar in front of me for dear life! Once over the shock I felt ok and quite enjoyed the experience. The Bottle-nosed Dolphins were a delight to see as they swam in front and under the boat. After several minutes with the Dolphins the boat took us along part of the Algarve shoreline. The cliffs were spectacular and some of the secluded beaches looked very inviting.

The Little Owl in the following image was a daily sighting as it arrived each morning and perched on the roof of a Villa that was behind our accomodation. It would perch and preen all day on the roof and leave at dusk. It was a pleasure to see it each day and to have such good views! There are a few vineyards in the area so no doubt the Little Owl did not have far to go hunting in the evenings, it's call was often heard.

Whilst out on a drive to Odelouca Valley we came across a huge flock of White Storks feeding in a field, with good numbers of White Storks flying above! Several cars also stopped to view the spectacle. As we watched the White Storks two large flocks of Cattle Egret flew into the field and joined the Storks feeding. I have seen large numbers of White Storks on the thermals in this area on previous visits but never seen so many on the deck so to speak. I was later informed that the area is a favoured wintering area for the Storks that do not migrate.

Common Waxbills are a lovely little bird to see....when they perch long enough that is! I struggled to get just one decent image of them!

Large numbers of Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Lapwings, Common Snipe and Ringed Plovers were seen at Lagoa dos Salgados during the first week of the holiday, though numbers reduced greatly as the days passed of the latter three species. A Great White Egret was a joy to see (though distant) and a good sighting for this reserve. Two Caspian Terns put in numerous appearances on several of our visits to the lagoon and I was lucky on one of the days to get a record photo of them with a Sandwich Tern, though again they were distant. A Squacco Heron was a delight to watch as it crept stealthily in the vegetation ready to pounce on it's prey!

Quinta do Lagos Estuary was the quietest I have ever seen it, just a handful of Kentish Plovers, a few Turnstone, Redshanks and Godwit (sp, a couple of Cormorants and a Whimbrel! The Lake alongside the Golf Course was a little busier with a few Purple Gallinule seen, plenty of Shoveler, Mallard, Tufted Duck and a couple of Little Egrets. Whilst talking to a fellow Birder he suddenly looked skywards and said "raptor"! It was a Griffon Vulture..hooray! I had missed by one day at a Raptor Viewing Point a huge (700+) migration of Griffon Vultures so this lone Griffon Vulture was a joy to see if only for a minute as it circled the Lake and then was up and away! A record photo of the Griffon Vulture.

It was good to see a few Butterflies and Dragonflies during the holiday, though the Dragonflies hardly settled so I have numerous blurry images that tell me nothing as to an ID of them. I did manage a photo of what I believe is a Broad Scarlet Darter, so all was not lost.lol!

Broad Scarlet Darter

Egyptian Grasshopper

Meditteranean Tiger Moth

Geranium Bronze Butterfly
Wall Butterfly
That's all folks. If you have reached this point in the post "Thank you" for your interest.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Autumn In The Algarve....4th-25th October 2012

The weather for the first two weeks was glorious hot sunshine with the average midday temperature hovering around 30-32c! The last week was a little different with a couple of days of heavy rain and the remaining days were sunshine and a few white clouds which blocked the sun at times, temperatures fell to an average of 22-25c and the nights were noticeably cooler. That's the weather done and dusted!

As usual after a rest and unpacking a visit to Lagoa dos Salgados was made in the afternoon and what good timing it turned out to be. A Black Kite circled over us as we stood on the shoreline of the Lagoon, the best and closest views I have ever had of this species, what a beauty! Soon after arriving people from a rehabilitation centre arrived to release 12 birds that had been in their care. The species were Yellow-legged Gull, Pintail, Coot, Pochard and Mallard. They asked if the people present would like to help release some of the birds! I released a Pintail, it seemed strange holding the seemingly weightless bird, I doubt I will ever experience anything like this again. It was good speaking to the staff from the centre and fellow birders, what a good start to the holiday. The Yellow-legged Gull was the first bird to be released.

The following images were all taken at Lagoa dos Salgados with the exception of the Spotless Starling from the 4th to the 9th of October. There were numerous Whinchats, Stonechats, Wheatears and Crested Larks the first 10 days or so of the holiday but numbers dwindled rapidly afterwards. The migrants had moved on but they were lovely to have seen, especially so the Whinchats.
More images to follow in the next post.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Sandy Lane / Romany Way, Stourbridge....13/11/2012

A dull, dry and windy morning but it was good to be out walking this morning. I had hoped for sightings of a few Fieldfare or Redwings and/or a few Waxwings but to no avail. The trees and hedgerows are chocca with berries so if the numerous Blackbirds and Tits  leave a few berries then I may be in luck sometime soon! I shall try and make fairly regular checks on this area. Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Chaffinch,  Jay and plenty of Corvids were sighted on the walk. A Green Woodpecker was heard only and quite surprisingly not one Starling was seen.
I happened upon a leucistic Blackbird which was preening as it perched in a hedgerow. I have never seen one with so much leucism before. House Sparrows were in the muddy pools along the pathway bathing and drinking.