Sunday, 19 November 2017

Purple Sandpipers@Hengistbury Head.

I decided to have a go at some Purple Sandpiper photography at Hengistbury Head yesterday. I have never been to this location before but a nice place and worthy of future visits.

Arrival was a slightly worying affair with so many JP about and the disturbance on the beach was also more than what I was expecting, I started checking the groynes but the first few were pretty fruitless due to people clambering and walking over them but then I found a single Purple Sandpiper roosting up during high tide so I decided to settle in. I made a cuppa and got comfy but not long after the Purple Sandpiper began to forage and then another 2 "Purps" appeared and they just got closer and closer and seemed pretty at ease with my presence as I sat there quitetly. In total 7 Purps on two different Groynes. I gotta say I actually really enjoyed these few hours sharing time with some Purple Sandpipers.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

For Sale: Lowepro Pro Trekker 300 AW. SOLD

This Lowepro Pro Trekker 300 AW is in good condition without any tears, scratches, damage or wear, just a small stain/mark but otherwise in great condition. This is a great bag and is accepted by nearly all airlines as a carry on size bag that fits neatly in to those bag size cages at airports. Included are the laptop case, waist pack and built in rain cover. If interested in this item please contact me. The sale will be for a fair price and postage may be on top unless a quck sale is agreed. Over £300.00 for this item brand new, Im looking for offers in excess of 55.00

Check this video out: Here

Product Summary

  • Premium suspension system with 10 adjustment points provides a  customized fit and superior comfort from top to bottom of backpack; includes a Pack Jack™ tool that adjusts fit of harness at torso 
  • Superior-quality technical and lightweight performance fabrics offer strength and resilience during heavy outdoor use and travel 
  • Hydration-ready side pocket with seam-sealed pouch provides easy access to 70 oz. (2 L) of liquid from a hydration reservoir (not included) 
  • Practical interior organization offers multiple ways to customize gear via adjustable, padded dividers; see-through zippered pockets; 4 memory card pockets; and a removable cord management pouch 
  • Fast-access exterior organization provides the means to attach extra gear via three tripod sleeves; two large side pockets; and bottom compression straps 
  • All Weather AW Cover™ with cinch straps and rainflap protects backpack from the elements; adjusts to expand or cinch down; allows use of compression straps at bottom while cover in use 
  • Removable waistpack functions as traditional, protective backpack lid and wearable waistpack—complete with mesh-covered backpad and multiple pockets 
  • “Checkpoint-friendly” laptop sleeve in front pocket adheres to most airline requirements (no need to remove laptop from sleeve at security checkpoints) and fits up to 15.4” laptop 
  • Additional features include: heavy-duty YKK splashguard zipper on main compartment; high-quality nylon webbing straps; one-piece foam framing; removable waistbelt with thick, mesh-covered padding; SlipLock™ attachment loops; grab handle; U-shaped zipper pulls; sturdy D-rings; and safety whistle.

Product Featurs in Detail. 

  • Pro DSLR with lens attached (up to 300mm f/2.8) 
  • 4-5 extra lenses 
  • Flash 
  • Tripod or monopod 
  • Up to a 15.4 laptop 
  • Accessories and personal gear 

  • Internal Dimensions: 29 x 16.5 x 37 cm (11.42 x 6.50 x 14.57 in) 
  • External Dimensions: 39 x 36 x 47 cm (15.35 x 14.17 x 18.50 in) 
  • Laptop Compartment: 26 x 2.5 x 38.5 cm (10.24 x 0.98 x 15.16 in) 

  • 3.1 kg (6.82 lbs)

Friday, 10 November 2017

One of those Lazy Day's with a Hen Harrier

We had one of those, lazy, on holiday days today, a lay in, Breakfast taking in the view of Swanage Bay before heading out to Ulwell, then on to Studland Middle beach, with the view of Old Harry's Rocks as above but 16 Black necked Grebes was the highest count I have had of this species with 4 Brents as well. 

After this it was on to a nice view point, however the fog was clinging to this area and so moving on to Middlebere where again, no sign of the Stilt Sandpiper but a nice fly by from the female Hen Harrier  bottom image, was appreciated and then time for a late lunch break in Corfe village and then a walk out on the moor to burn off some the calories of the Carrot Cake and Bakewell Tart of which, this allowed for a second helping of the female Hen Harrier as dusk blanketed the land, arrival back at the car park had us bumping in to  two Gillingham birders who were pretty upbeat with their afternoon session even though they also failed to locate the Stilt Sandpiper they did score with a GG Shrike, Hen Harrier, Barn Owl and a few other bits. 

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Waders V Drones = Waders 0 - Drones 1.

I awoke Thursday morning and looked out of the window towards Ballard Down to check what the visibilty was like and saw that fog was blanketing the area, I decided to give it another go at Middlebere. Again, here at Middlebere the fog was heavy and low lying, so low that it was present mid channel. 

A near group of Avocets were feeding on the push up of the tide and so I went through them looking for any new colour rings / flags but just the usual "blingers" were present. As the tide continued to push up, 3 Knot appeared on the last mud showing close in just to the right of the hide, this gave hope as my previous sightings of the Stilt sandpiper had always been with it assosciating with the Knot and I hadn't seen any Knot during my last few visits, then the Stilt Sandpiper just appeared close in feeding but as I called it, the bird was on the mud visible for a few seconds & flew up but luckily Peter R a Poole birder also managed to get on it and in flight we watched it fly over the channel and land on the small raised point on the left hand side of the channel, Great news, still here and now in to November, surely a contender for another over wintering North American Wader in the Poole Harbour area basin following on from last winter's Lesser Legs at Lytchett. (I did question myself & others on where this bird has been recently as it feels like the bird has changed it feeding habits/areas and seems that it has now pretty much restless & teamed up with a small group of Knot).

As the tide ebbed it's way in and coverred the mud the sun began to start slowly burning through the fog and to get warmer as it was a damp cool morning to start with but things were certainly looking up, the star bird of this site was present, settled and roosting up, the fog was starting to clear, the sun was warming through and the other half was on her way down for a couple of days. So a fresh brew, a stretch of the legs to check the back fields briefly just before the tide turned and the mud became exposed. 

The tide turned and by now the sun was really beating down and the fog had finally lifted. The waders all began to feed and there was the Stilt Sandpiper in it's rightful place, feeding out on the mudflats of Middlebere lake, however the sudden heat combined with the coolness & fog of the morning was creating a heat haze as per the videos below.

All of a sudden the waders went up in a major panic, half expecting to see a Peregrine or a Harrier I was mortified to be told it was from a drone crossing the channel from the Arne RSPB side of the lake (I had my eye to the scope constantly watching the Stilt Sandpiper and other waders) there, clearly visible were two gentlemen low down on the bank not so far from the edge of the mudflats, operating a drone, I would say that this was being done irresponsibly as they had caused all of the waders to spook and flush during feeding, after high water roosting and following a cold morning. I know that not every one has an interest in nature and I know that there are lots of different recreational activities and that birders shouldn't dictate on what others do, we all need to share and enjoy the out doors but on an RSPB reserve opposite a National Trust reseve on an area that is vitally important for wintering waders, when they area feeding? surely this isn't right ? this, to me, is just irresponsible at best with either a total disrespect for nature and wildlife or just a total lack of understanding it, one or the other or is it both? 

Drones are now apart of the outdoor society we live in, this is for sure, technology is great and we all love and use it is in some way, shape or form but surely a balance has to be found? we all love the Blue Planet & Planet Earth series when they use drones to get that ultimate footage but there has to be a set of guidelines / boundaries set for future use of these items now? now that there are so many of them being used in so many diferent ways and for those using them for wildlife / conservation programmes/ documentaries then surely they need to set the bar for others to adhere to and follow rather than just get the footage and to hell with it, but this is just my view/my opinion but seeing several hundred waders being flushed just does not sit so well with me. 

After the all the waders had departed, the two gentlemen also packed up and departed but sadly for me, the other couple in the hide and for any one else visting the area that afternoon the waders did not return to feed or use this area of inter-tidal mudflats for the remainder of the day. 

The video above shows the Stilt Sandpiper feeding post high tide on the run off of the tide, the video  below shows how close to the edge of the mudflats the drone operators were positioned, the second video below shows the area of Middlebere Lake after the drone operators had departed and how devoid the area was of birds.

The below video is a short collection of wintering Red Knot videos I took during the winter of 2009/10 at various locations on the inner Thames estuary whilst searching for colour & flag ringed individuals. During one part of the video you can see that the the birds are roosting up at high tide when several jet ski's pass on the other side of the sea wall in the creek and even though this causes the birds to panic and flush, however they do return and re-settle fairly quickly showing that the drone at Middlebere today caused more serious panic and damage and proves that drones need to be operated responsibly to say the least and to at least work out when to fly to cause as minimal impact on the birds/wildlife as possible let alone when the birds are feeding after a cold morning and a high tide and on top of all this, I got a bit of ear-ache from the other half as I was later than planned due to the drone and making calls to the relevant people, but a walk around Swanage in a beautiful late afternoon got me off the hook (just). I searched again for the Stilt Sandpiper on Friday and Saturday but again, sadly no sign but I think I just gotta find where it is frequenting in Poole Harbour so time to start exploring....

Monday, 6 November 2017

Stilt Sandpiper 0 Lesser Yellow Legs 1

After a fruitless afternoon searching for the Stilt Sandpiper at Middlebere on Tuesday I decided to have another search the following morning (Wednesday) but again still no sign. So, in need of some North American Wader action I headed deeper in to Dorset and on to Lodmoor. 

The Lesser Yellow Legs showed itself upon arrival, a little further away than the previous visit but it showed for longer and more continuous, so a trade off between closeness versus prolonged / extended views. 

Marsh Harrier went through causing a major flush, and with this over 40+ Snipe in one group were counted and several Med Gulls later it was time to head back and end the day out on Moors where 2 Merlin, a female perched up and consuming prey and a fly through male brought the day to a close. 

And so the day ended with an away win to the Lesser Yellow Legs but a really smart bird and im hoping it over-winters for more personal viewing.

Monday, 30 October 2017

More of the Moors including Lodmoor.

A cold start to the day with a bit of frost but a beautiful dawn/early morning unfolded with glorious sunshine illuminating the shimmering mudflats but sadly very few waders present due to the low water. Several hours passed, the sun disapeared and a blanket of cloud formed above, with very little happening and even a "warm up walk" couldn't produce more than several Goldcrests, Coal Tits and a pair of Bullfinch

By late morning we decided to move on and headed down to Lodmoor for a lunch time viewing of the pristine juvenile Lesser yellow Legs, a blank to start with and limited time made it feel like it was going to be two blanks in a row for this species but then after a walk and a search this individual decided to give up the ghost and show itslef close by. Some nice views were obtained as well as allowing for some photos and videos. 

More on my personal Lesser Yellow Legs file: Here

Other sightings here included 2 Sandwich Terns, Ruff 4+, Blackwits & Dunlins, plenty Med Gulls including several darvic ringed individuals.

After two hours we headed back to the Moors where two ringtail Hen Harriers 1 ad female (above), 1 juv male (below) showed and a female Merlin perched up in the distance. All  in all a slow start but a rather nice day to be out with Mike but with that feel of a drop in tempreatures gave warning of maybe things to come. 

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Stilt Sandpiper Via Sandbanks, Purbeck & a Dip!

An Early start with a short cut accross the mouth of Poole Harbour and I was in Purbeck, a beautiful part of the world and very thought provoking of several past decades of childhood holidays visiting the likes of Durlston CP, Dancing Ledge, Studland Heath, Brownsea Island and Corfe, however today wasn't so, not the weather anyway, grey, wet, windy and miserable, also no sign of yesterday's Two Barred Greenish. 

A couple of claims but nothing concrete, however It was good to see and catch up with Tim from SOG, about the outer Thames & surrounding areas but by 14:30hrs it was time to call it a day and we decided to  retreat together just to get out of the miserable weather conditions if nothing else. 

A sheltered and welcoming hide at Middlebere was the prefect place to dry off, have a fresh brew, and to share some time with a nice juvenile Stilt Sandpiper.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Royal Tern on Herm, Day 2.

So this little trip to Herm was quite enjoyable and pretty easy, especially with the thirty minute return flight from Guernsey to Southampton making it very easy and quick to do. Above shows the best shot I could get on the first day of the Royal Tern and below shows one of the 30+ Firecrests present on Herm with 9 in one small bush and most areas seeming to have Firescrests present. 

Other sightings included: Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Goldcrest, Ruff 1, Whimbrel 1, Oyc 300+, Sandwich Tern 10+, Kestrel 1, Brent Goose 40+

Herm is a nice little island and is one of those "get away from it all islands" with no roads and no vehicles allowed other than the odd ATV. 


Saturday, 21 October 2017

Royal Tern - Herm.

After missing the chance to see the Royal Tern on Guernsey earlier on this year I was hoping that it may return and if it did then I would go. I was in Poole and so the easiest option was to take the ferry from Poole to Guernsey a 3 hour trip. I arrived in Guernsey with an hour to soare before the afternoon inter-island boat to Herm, so after a cuppa and a bite to eat I arrived on Herm and headed for the Harbour as that is where I was advised the Tern tends to ahng out.

There was plenty of Gulls present but after about ten minutes of searching I heard the call of a Sandwich Tern of which I followed in flight and it landed on a nearby rocky island outcrop amongst a group of Sandwich Terns. I began scanning the flock right to left and three birds in, there it was! “Royal Tern. Even though it was slighlty distant and the weather was dull, grey windy and chilly it was still good to see but too distant for photography and video. I did manage to grab a couple of distant record shots but I only had one and half hours from landing on the island of Herm until the last boat back to Guernsey that same day. Luckily I gave myself the following day to have a back up day. These images in this post was taken the on the second day. 

As I arrived the morning the second day the tide was starting to retreat and so the Terns were roosting up on rocks that were covered by the tide the previous day and this allowed for closer viewing from the beach enabling these photos and videos, However as the tide retreated so did the Terns and by 10.30 the Terns had all gone out of view and I never saw the Royal Tern again until 16.15 when I saw it distantly in flight briefly as the tide had now turned and was now incoming. I was glad I decided to get the first boat over this second day. So as they say "one good Tern deserves another" and Elegant and Royal Tern in the same year, both being two new species of Tern that I had not previously seen any where before.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Middlebere & Hartland Moor 15/10/17.

Another visit down to Middlebere and the surrounding area, Mike was keen for a run out and we spoke about staying local on forest to see if any Hen Harriers were in yet but the way Middlebere has been performing we went with that choice. 

A nice early start provided high water but as the tide began to run off the waders started to appear on the mud and by 08:05 the Stilt Sandpiper was present out on the mud feeding away. Two new colour ringed Avocets were noted included the one above wearing a yellow flag with the alphanumerics AC present, 2 juv Curlew Sanpipers & 6 Knot were still on site. 

A young male Hen Harrier zipped through as per the image below with Marsh Harriers in and out as the day progressed. 

A walk out on the moor at the end of the day produced a juv Merlin chasing mipits and perched up as per the video below. 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

European Otter.

I have never seen Otter in the UK, so when I was given a site to try and also the offer to be shown the best spot along the river to look I grabbed the opportunity. A dark, wet and windy early morning start was required and arrival on site at 07:20 had us walking along the river and then at 07:50 there it was, the Otter cub in these images. 

It was ridiculously close, just swimming along the edge of the river bank, diving down and searching under the rocks of the river bed coming up with small crustaceans. This is a young individual that tends to get shy when numbers of people build up and so it then swims away up-river, The was a really nice treat and local as well. 

I was really pleased with this and I couldn’t believe how close this individual can be, “brilliant stuff”


Monday, 16 October 2017

Middlebere Friday 13/10/2017.

As Friday the 13th's go, this one went pretty well, apart from nearly loosing it on one of the cattle grids with the front wheel sliding but with enough time for me to hit the throttle to speed up out of it that was the worst that happened. 

A session at Middlebere was very productive seeing as I couldn't locate the Stilt Sandpiper at all today on site. A female Merlin seen as a distant fly by was appreciated when it re appeared later in the day perched up close by. The Great Egret put in "an on the deck view" instead of the usual fly over. Marsh Harriers continued to cause panic amongst the feeding waders and a female Hen Harrier providing a fly by as the day began to come to a close.  

Sunday, 15 October 2017


Another visit to Middlebere was had and the Stilt Sandpiper was present showing closeby at times but always brief as the waders were being spooked by the presence of both Peregrine and Marsh Harrier I did manage to observe and record some colour rings on the Avocets with combinations as per below. Sika Deer are becoming more vocal and more visual. 
1) Right Leg-green over yellow, left leg- green over green 
2) Right leg-green over yellow,  left leg-white over yellow
3) Right leg-orange over yellow, left leg-yellow over green flag 
4) Right leg-green over blue, left leg-yellow over grey (could be a faded / stained white)
5) Right leg- red over yellow (with alphanumeric X) left leg- single white