Friday, 12 September 2014

Wryneck, aren't they just the best!

I have seen my fair share of Wryneck, but the day I say no to seeing another, is a day I don't want to know about. Therefore there was no possibility on the Saturday of last week that I would choose not to accompany my Mum down to Brighton where a particular Wryneck had been present for a few days. A late start meant that I wasn't on the site, Beachy Head, until around 12. However, this did not deter the bird at all. The instant I arrived the Wryneck came into view, much to my delight!

I stayed on the sight for a while following the bird around, which was great for good views from a distance. However, the bird never showed at close quarters, allowing only record shots. Nonetheless, seeing a Wryneck always proves to be a good day, and this was not an exception.
I left the site reluctantly, but hastily as I needed to meet my mum in under an hour in Brighton. Amazingly, on the walk back I relocated the bird, as it flew from a distance. The bird then landed, perched on a twig and sat right in front of me!!! It was difficult to contain my excitement, but luckily I did and I was fortunate enough to be one of the few to have seen this bird at such a close proximity.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Euro Birding

Well here we are again, I haven't written anything in a long time and I'm having to write a huge bulk update which probably contains too many grammatical errors to count. Anyway here we go, if you want to skip to the photos, don't hesitate because this could be a boring 20 minutes.

My journeys abroad began in the Capital city of Germany. Berlin, although a largely urban city, is surrounded by wildlife. It’s a city in the middle of nowhere. Furthermore, lakes and ponds are scattered around the city along with forest which provide the perfect habitat for breeding Icterine Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Red-backed Shrike, Goshawk and many more interesting species for british birders. I tried my luck and visited a few nearby city parks. However, many times the rain or the scorching sun made it hard to locate anything of interest. On the weekend before it was time for me to leave, I set off to a “Natur Schutz Gebiet” (nature reserve) on the outskirts of Berlin named Lietzengraben. Taking the train it took me about 1 hour before I was at the closest station to the reserve, there I walked a few km to the reserve. I arrived in a medium sized woods, I instantly set my mind to locating a Icterine Warbler, but instead I had a pair of Wood Warblers which seemed to enjoy themselves fluttering around the canopy of the trees. Shortly after that I found an opening where it immediately picked up, a Spotted Flycatcher flew overhead, followed shortly by Treecreepers of both species, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 Marsh Tits. The woods had been a success and I moved onto the marsh, here I took the most successful wrong turn known to man where I located not one family of Red-backed Shrikes, but at least 6 each with young, the small 100m² bush infested region homed around 20 of them! Soon after a White Stork flew over, it showed signs of slowing and landed in a stubble field. Here I relocated it and viewed it as the farmer seemed to chase it with his tractor. It showed well, but was distant. It then evidently had enough and flew off, I also moved on, to the marsh. I spent a few minutes scanning and managed to locate a group of around 40+ waders most of which were Wood Sandpiper and a few Green and Common Sandpiper scattered in amongst them. Lapwings and Snipe were also numerous, and a few Marsh Harrier were aware of this. Before leaving the marsh a flock of 3 Common Crane flew over heading north. The reserve is partly known for Crane so they had probably flown over to join a larger group. Then it was back to the Red-backed Shrike spot where, once again the White Stork had returned, this time showing much closer and allowed me to get some pictures. At this, I had had enough and I headed back with lifted spirits after having had such a good birding day.

After Berlin, I travelled south to see my aunt, who lives in Münster. Unlike Berlin, Münster is not quite as good for urban birding, however there is a nature reserve, called Rieselfelder, located just on the outskirts. On one day I decided to make a trip there with a lent bicycle. The reserve is very large with small lakes made from waste from the nearby dump, they covering approximately 2.33 km². The reserve is a key spot in migration and many of Germany’s rarities have been located on the reserve. It is also known for having an underpinning breeding population of Bluethroat and White Stork, however I was there in the late summer when very few Bluethroat are actually seen. I began the day with 2 Wood Sandpiper (a more realistic number than Berlin), and a female Garganey. A little further in the reserve I managed to locate a group of 6 White Stork, which were feeding in a field. On the main lake I located a Greenshank and 2 Spotted Redshanks. The reserve also had very large numbers of Snipe and Lapwing, much like in Berlin. Further on I also found a Great White Egret, a slightly more uncommon appearance on the lakes.

It was now an official trip through Germany, From Berlin-Muenster-Pantenburg. All of them containing different habitats and species. Pantenburg is located in West Germany, the landscape is dominated by coniferous Woodland, which hosts many species which do not occur in Britain, examples being: Short-toed Treecreeper, Middles spotted and Black Woodpecker and Crested Tit. The woodland is broken up by pastoral and crop fields. As I was there I managed to find a possible breeding pair of Red-backed Shrikes, lots of Tree Sparrows, a possible juv. Serin, Garden Warbler, Turtle Dove, Stock Dove, Crested Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Hawfinch. None of the species are particularly rare, but all of them are something interesting to see on the continent.

Somme Bay
Following my trip through Germany I met up with my Dad who picked me up from the Belgium border. We then had a 5 day holiday down to Neuf-Chatel. Only the leaving day was dedicated to birds, of which a mere 1 or 2 hours of which was actually birding. On the Somme Bay, an absolute spectacular place for birds I located large numbers of Black-winged Stilt. By the end I managed to see 35! On the actual nature reserve I also saw Spoonbill, Garganey, Snipe, Avocet and Great White Egret other than that the day was devoted to walking along a beach, which we got stuck on one end of because of the quick tide which came in at about 1 meter a minute!

Anyway here are the pictures

White Stork