Sunday, 29 May 2016

Update ... A Decent Week in the Bay

Well it has been a good week Enough variety to re-kindle my enthusiasm for the patch after the excesses of USA birding.

These smart Ruff were at Lynemouth.

Spotted Flycatcher, Icterine Warbler and Common Rosefinch at Druridge had me searching other hotspots. Three Roseate Terns on the rocks at Newbiggin were good to see. Even a trip to 'birdless' Cambois didn't dampen the spirits.

I briefly considered the drive to Newton for the Ibis, but decided against the trip, so I was delighted when I stumbled upon them at Druridge. I was a little disappointed to learn they had been seen flying in by TF and JF a little earlier from the Budge Screen. Just waiting now for the fun run to finish so I can get to Chevington. Yesterday I had a splendid male Wheatear along the track which got the pulse racing as it was so unexpected.

This was lingering off East Chevington?

I was surprised and pleased to find the track to Chevington open early. On the beach two pools have formed; one was being used for feeding by about 100 terns, the other for bathing. I was really pleased to find 3 Roseate Terns and 4 Little Gulls in amongst them.


Wednesday, 25 May 2016

A Few Calls

After a busy holiday it is always difficult to slip back into patch birding mode.

These safety notices and the bank-holiday weekend fun run do not help. I imagine the track at Chevington will be closed on Sunday.

When I left for Arizona the first few Whitethroats had arrived, now, they're everywhere.

Breeding is well underway with our commoner birds. Fully fledged Stonechats, rows of Shelduck ducklings, scattered lapwing chicks and goslings (say no more).

Tuesday I got a call from JA (Thanks John) to let me know about a Little Stint on the tiny flash North of Druridge pools. It was accompanied by 5 Ringed Plover and 1 Dunlin. It remained fairly settled despite the best action of barking dog, farmer's quad and rampaging cattle.

This morning, while seawatching, I received a text from AC (thanks Andy) to let me know about a Bonaparte's Gull at Castle Island, Ashington.  This bird hung around long enough for some record shots. It spent most of the time facing into the stiff, cool breeze. Then it decided to fly, but headed away towards  the A189 road bridge. I'm sure it will still be around the area.

I resumed my seawatching and best birds of the morning were 10 Manx Shearwaters close in from Snab.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Arizona ... Day 1

All posts about Arizona are now in order if you scroll down the pages!

Arizona, USA. 3rd May to 16th May.

Travel to USA was fairly smooth and with my ESTA completed I expected to sail through customs, not quite. I identified my bags and they were sent on to the next flight (you always go through customs at your first point of entry). Then I had to fill in a card of details because it was the first time my ESTA had been used. OK It actually took only 20 minutes and I was ready for my connecting flight.

Chipping Sparrow

Arrived about 9pm local time Tucson, picked up car and had a good sleep. Set off before dawn heading South and had breakfast on the way (you’ll never starve in America). First stop Florida Wash (dry river bed). Large Owl hunting beside I19, then Turkey Vultures leaving roosts. First birds on stopping: Hepatic Tanager, Painted Whitestart (Redstart), Verdin, Mexican Jay, Chipping Sparrow and White-winged Dove.

That buzz of identifying your first few birds is great. Having visited Texas and California they were not all new, so onto Madera Canyon. Here I spent several hours adjusting to the heat, slowing the pace and simply sitting at a feeding station. By now the birding was becoming tricky, as I started finding the flycatchers and frustrating tree top specialists.

Florida Wash

Hepatic Tanager (male)

Wild Turkey 
(yes wild)

Broad-billed Hummingbird

(female B-b H?)

White-winged Dove

Black-headed Grosbeak

Bridled Titmouse

The afternoon was filled by some unplanned visits. Firstly I spotted a new up market housing development near Continental. Lush lawns parks, country club, sprinklers and some welcome shade. Places like this haven’t made it into the site guides yet but water and plants in an arid country have got to be worth a check. Finally, after driving past it several times, I found the Green Valley Water Treatment Plant it is closed to birders until August.

American Robin

A visit to Walmart before finding my accommodation in Nogales allowed me to buy the essential igloo cool box, multi-pack of water and a bag of ice. (Then all the motels along the way provided free ice to top up my cool box.) Day One over only 11 more to go … will I/you make it? (I took nearly 3000 snaps … be warned)

Painted Whitestart
Painted Redstart

Red-tailed Hawk

Please let me know if I mess up any of the Identifications. I'm sure to get some of them wrong!

Arizona (Days 2 & 3)

The above websites are very useful. Check out Richard Fray’s blog on first link. 

Pe┼ła Blanca (prn Penya Blanca)

Dawn visit to the lake was rewarded with views of Nighthawks. Amazed by number of Green Herons in this isolated mountain lake. The surroundings are brilliant and the Canyon is home to many Trogons. Sadly I failed to connect with any Trogons because I reached the point where three tracks headed upstream. I think/know I chose the wrong option.

Vermillion Flycatcher

A very common bird!

Lucy's Warber

Acorn Woodpecker

Song Sparrow

Great-tailed Grackles (female above, male below)

Very little water, but still plenty of birds. Really well organised and good viewing areas.

Kino Springs
This Golf Course provides some interesting habitats and with the watering of greens it encourages birdlife. This was the only place I came across a snake. Yet to be identified. I filled up the car and was amazed how cheap the petrol was 2$ per gallon.

Gila Woodpecker

Patagonia Lake

Patagonia Roadside Rest
This was pretty useless The light early morning is poor and birds distant.

Patagonia Lake
Great birding. Head through the campsites and follow the trail. The cattle are a bit of a problem early morning but on the return walk they have calmed and can be easily ignored. Plenty of places to stop, sit, and watch the birds. Most unexpected find was a flock of Cedar Waxwings. Walked for hours along this river edge and back when I reached the fence.

A visit to Paton’s Feeders was unproductive. I think early morning or late afternoon would be best. I arrived at midday.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow Warbler
(I think this is a 1st year Yellow Warbler)

A very rare sight. 20% chance of rain. It didn't and it then gradually warmed up for the rest of the holiday.


Spotted Sandpiper

White-faced Ibis

Yellow Warbler
(The real thing!)