Thursday, 20 August 2015

When in doubt, visit Norfolk

Since it's the beginning of autumn, the first vagrants are beginning to turn up, although still in small numbers. Since there had been a small fall of Icterine Warbler in Norfolk on Friday, me and Chris decided it would be best to head in that direction. On the way up we made a short stop off to enjoy some brief views of 11+ Stone Curlew, and as we were leaving I managed to grab a few shots of a group through the car window. An absolutely extraordinary bird, which still baffles me now.

As we continued our journey up North, news came in of an Icterine Warbler at Burnham Overy, so we set the sat-nav, and in just over an hour we had arrived. We made our way to the bird, stopping occasionally to spot the odd bird. Once we arrived at the infamous apple tree we were met by surprisingly few birders, but still we had good views of the bird almost instantly! Having seen the target bird the pressure was off and we stayed for a while admiring the relatively showy bird.

Our next stop was Titchwell, because it always delivers a nice amount of interesting waders. There we managed to connect with: Ruff, Spoonbill, Little Stint, Greenshank, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Sanderling and various other common waders. There we ended the day and headed home, happy with what we had got.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Germany 2015

Inventive title, huh? Those of you who follow me on twitter will know that from the 23rd of July till the 3rd of August I was on a trip to Germany. Since I have relatives in Germany I am a frequent visitor of solely Rheinland-Pfalz (one of the larger provinces of Germany). However, because of the book "Vogel Beobachten in Sud-Deutschland" (Birdwatching in South Germany), which I had received as a birthday gift earlier that year, I came to the conclusion it was time I visited other parts of the country half of me is from. A particular site caught my attention with the brightly coloured word Bee-eater, this was the Kaiserstuhl.

The Kaiserstuhl is a small range of hills found in Baden-Wurttemberg, which have a volcanic origin. Now because of its hot climate and steep hills it is used for growing a wine crop, which leads the landscape to be quite unique. It is the hottest place, found in Germany, therefore it plays host to a range of exotic Mediterranean species of bird. These include: White Stork, Honey Buzzard, Peregrine, Little Owl (not introduced like in Britain), Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Red-backed Shrike and Cirl Bunting. Basically the place had a lot of desired species.

The trip was split into two major legs, the first being to my Grandma in Rheinland-Pfalz and then to the Kaiserstuhl in Baden-Wurttemberg.

We stayed with my Grandma for a few days before pressing on, which gave me time to explore the local area and pick up on some continental species. One short trip produced Crested Tit, two families of Red-backed Shrike (both with Juvs.), and a couple of Black Redstarts among other things.

Red-backed Shrike

I also managed to visit the local wetland which is a half an hour cycle away, where within an hour I managed to see two Common Sandpiper, a Wood Sandpiper, some Stonechat and a hell of a lot of Hirundians. I also managed to hear a few Quail, in the surrounding fields.

Queen of Spain Fritillary

Three days later, once we had eventually arrived in the Kaiserstuhl, I took the first opportunity I had to visit a sand-wall, which was only a 15 minute walk away from our self-catering in Oberbergen. My target was to try and find some Bee-eater. 10 minutes in I heard a distant rolling wader like call, and shortly after, I managed to pin it down to colourful thing itself. A couple of Bee-eater were flying around the sand-wall repeatedly calling in an inflecting tone, prrut, prrut, prrut...


Having quickly managed to find Bee-eater, the week became far more relaxed and I spent a large amount of time just admiring the incredible birds from a distance, and occasionally having a fly by Honey Buzzard, which would always lighten the mood.


On one of the days I made a trip into Freiburg, which has a large breeding population of Alpine Swift, which could be as large as 260 breeding pairs! With such a large amount it would have been hard not to be successful, and I saw my first within half an hour. The rest of the time I spent trying to capture a decent picture, but because of the speeds they flew past and the infrequency it was a very difficult task.

Alpine Swift

The last day was dedicated to trying to see Hoopoe, as they had so far evaded me. One of the neighboring towns was rumored to be the best sight in Kaiserstuhl to see them, so that is where I went. After two hours of searching I had basically given up, but when I reached a viewpoint which was slightly more elevated I had hopes for a flyby. As soon as this thought had gone through my head a Hoopoe flew over me and into the field below. It was quite distant so I tried to get closer, but failed to see it again. However, a Red-backed Shrike popped out of the hedge to console me and shortly after I managed to pick out a flyby Golden Oriole! A bird which I had had no intention of seeing. However, the fun didn't stop there, instead a short walk on I managed to connect with another couple of Bee-eater and a fly over Black Kite, which performed well. I hung about the area for another hour or two but wasn't successful, apart from having distant views of a perched Hoopoe. I went home with a huge smile across my face and was completely content.

Find the moth and ID it...

In conclusion, the trip had been a success and I had managed to enjoy all the birds I had set out to see. Some of which had performed very well.