Thursday, 28 June 2012


Right; I am through with hostilities for a bit. A half-hearted effort for Streaked Weaver earlier this week was a waste of time, and after the enforced June lay-off, it is now time to move up a few gears. I expect to be plenty busy for the next month, before touching down in BELFAST at the start of August. Before you ask, Simon, this summer’s ace of spades can be found right here. And it is (almost) as guaranteed as a toaster – well, sort off. I guess 1883 was quite a long time ago…



Total so far - 169 (96%)
Last addition – Still Eurasian Reed Warbler (19th June)

Saturday, 23 June 2012

On the second day of Christmas...

Averaging 10.8mph for the 13 mile pedal to Lackford Lakes yet 16.2mph for the return can mean only one thing (given the Breckland topography): a serious southwesterly blow! Not ideal conditions for birding but three welcome ticks for my efforts: 3 Green Sandpiper (150 - YE HA!), a rather belated pair of Common Tern (151) and, as I was chucking in the towel and saddling up to ride home, a last-gasp pair of Turtle Dove (152) that shot through! Fortunately another did the decent thing and perched up right in front of me on the reserve access track, dispelling any lingering UTV worries! Other niceties included Hobby and a couple of Little Ringed Plover.

Might be time to revise a few targets to keep this interesting, eh Oscar?!

Percentage of target to date - 98%
Distance cycled - 446.4mls / 718.4km
Latest addition - Turtle Dove (152) 23 June

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Comfortably Numb

Ok. (Ok, ok). The general consensus, easy to get bogged down in and held by me at least on and off, that June more or less sucks out here isn’t actually (quite) true. Some enforced rest from the grind of spring is actually (very) welcome and there are plenty of other things to be getting on with ranging from paperwork and books (three so far this month) to the odd seabirding trip and running Attenborough and The Wall on continuous loop (not simultaneously…); then there is plotting your next birding move on a global level, etc etc.

After what felt like a pretty damn hot and steamy May, June has actually been pretty mellow in contrast – once you’re over the mental hurdle of actually getting out into the field, it has actually felt pretty pleasant most of the time (well, before 0900 and after 1700 anyway). Four year-additions in three weeks i.e. one more than the whole of May, is a pretty damning indictment of the latter month. The first was easy with a bit of ‘scope work: Bridled Tern, my last slam-dunk, fell within seconds of seriously looking and so allowed me to spend most of the rest of the time poring over the only accessible bit of freshwater on the island, the Phragmite-fringed pond in the middle of the golf course. This has proven pretty good value; two Little Bitterns on the first crack, a Purple Heron (only my second in spring on the island) on the next, then both Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters and Sand Martin the following weekend. A lot of waiting for dragonflies eventually yielded a small Acro next time round and a pre-work return two days later with the tape instantly pulled out two Reed Warblers, one of which eventually started to sing. Although not really surprising, this was handy enough – I only have one previous record for this species on AD. Other odds and sods included Barred Warbler and Common Whitethroat as late as June 9th, up to 23 Caspian Terns trundling past the balcony on two separate nights with Osprey on another, Sooty Gull with a gang of Lesser Crested Terns, Oriental Honey-Buzzard(s) still hanging around and up to 40 Socotra Cormorants in one place at one time.

I won’t say I won’t be glad to be able to start to run like hell come next weekend, but for now the above doesn’t strike me as too bad a haul.


Total so far - 169 (96%)
Last addition – Eurasian Reed Warbler (19th June)

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Nil return

Forsook the predictable Euro 2012 Group C outcome in favour of 19 late-evening miles in West Suffolk farmland. Any one of Quail, Marsh Harrier, Turtle Dove or Yellow Wagtail would've been gratefully received; as it was I had to settle for a few calling Grey Partridge, a Lesser Whitethroat and a race with a Roe Deer (I got to 20mph, it won).

Percentage of target to date - 96%
Distance cycled - 415.3mls / 668.3km
Latest addition - Long-eared Owl (149) 12 June

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

If you went down to the woods last night...

I see - well hear, actually - your fern-owl Simon, and I raise you a squeaking trio of recently-fledged catyogle (149)! Also several roding muckle snippeck, and two noisy brown owl families on the way home - a decent evening's work, all told.

Percentage of target to date - 96%
Distance cycled - 389.8mls / 627.3km
Latest addition - Long-eared Owl (149) 12 June

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Fern-owl nailed

A hit and run ride just 10 minutes up the road, and Ibsley Common produced the goods - distant song and good close views in something like daylight of Nightjar (144) - a smart male.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A drowned rat

Mega Hampshire news this morning of a singing male Marsh Warbler just up the road at Harbridge! Foul weather by the time I was on the bike, and even though it was only 3km away, I was drenched by the time I got there, and got thoroughly cold and wet. The bird was hardly showing well, but a few brief glimpses, coupled with an entirely convincing soundtrack of mimicked Great Tit, Chaffinch, Nightingale, Paradise-whydah (?) and god knows what else had Marsh Warbler (143) firmly and very unexpectedly on my year list. And not just my year list - this was also a Hampshire tick (only about the 25th modern county record)!

Friday, 1 June 2012


...Spotted Flycatcher (148) on the list, thanks to a tip-off from Neil Calbrade about a pair along the river near Thetford town centre (somewhere I tend to avoid)! Most low-key twitch of the year?

Percentage of target to date - 95%
Distance cycled - 374.1mls / 602.1km
Latest addition - Spotted Flycatcher (148) 1 June