Wednesday 29 July 2009

Torrevieja FC

The Torry Army (a slightly barmy, alzheimer´s riddled bunch of ex-pats) follow Torrevieja FC wherever they go, even if that is to La Manga to play U.D. Almeria, the 9th best team in Spain. Myself and Angela tagged along with no great expectations but it was good fun and Torre only got beat 4-0. Even better was the breeding colony of Gull-billed Terns and the Red-rumped Swallow bathing in a puddle (got a bad photo of that!). Coldest day yet. Only 30 degrees.

Monday 27 July 2009

All good in the hood

Ive been in Spain for a mere four days and i have accrued 11 lifers which is frankly spanking. Im dead chuffed. At present i am intoxicted and in a bar so cant supply yo with the usual crap photos but please be patient - awful gallinule and roller photos are imminent. Spent a day out with Jules Sykes today and managed 10 lifers despite a delayed start. Highlights included White-headed Duck, Marbled Teal, Purple Gallinule, Bonelli´s Eagle, Great Reed Warbler, RN Nightjar, Little Bittern and much much more. As mentioned before a full write up will follow.

Friday 24 July 2009

Day one. Warm

With temperatures buzzing around the 40 degree mark and high levels of humidity it seems wise to birding in the morning out here in the southern Costa Blanca so that is what i have done. This morning I had a stroll round La Salina de la Mata in Torrevieja. Was 27 degrees when i headed out at 8am. Quickly I bumped into some Bee-eaters passing overhead in with the Common and Pallid Swifts. Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes alighted on the bushes and scolding Sardinian Warblers mocked me. It was bloody warm. A Red-rumped Swallow flew round me for my second ever and best ever views of this species (one that I have dipped a lot this year in the UK). I also saw a few Gulls (med, SB, YL, BH & audouin´s). The Black-necked Grebes are already arriving on La Mata to winter with 500 or so out there. Wader passage is also obvious with a couple of Turnstones and Sanderling in amongst the Kentish Plovers and the Black-winged Stilts. In terms of lifers I scored one - Stone Curlew and one potential in Iberian Green Woodpecker. The curlews were expected as they mooch round the hides calling whilst the woodpecker was a juv, another expected sight after my wife claimed to have seen them here. Also a couple of Swallowtails were nice and a large lizard (50 cm long about half of it tail) zipped across the path. Sorry for the lack of id Mike! All in all greatfun. Photos coming later.

Wednesday 22 July 2009

El Viva Espana

Im off on my jollies to southern spain for a fortnight. Again im staying next to a nature reserve so hopefully lots of waders and raptors. Also going for a day out with Jules Sykes to score a few lifers. Will take lots of (bad) photos for the blog. May update out there but the pics will be back here.

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Collared Pratincole at High Eske

The Collared PRatincole re-emerged at High Eske this morning and I was fortunate to be able to get there by 10.15. I spent three hours looking at the bird and was one of a lucky few to see it do something other than loafing on the deck. a few hops along the spit gave brief biews of a chestnut underwing and a white trailing edge to the secondaries. Alayed with the long tail both oriental and black-winged were ruled out. Sadly. At the site I bumped into several birders I know and met Andrew Tongue for the first time - he refound the bird (with Grace). I have included some bad photos as it was darkish and the bird was quite distant. Also on site were a couple of little egrets, a male ruff, LRP, Common Sand, 2 1st Winter Little Gulls and a Common Tern that seemed to drive Garry Taylor nuts as it got so close to photo. Also we observed one of the few meetings between Goldeneye and Collared Pratincole.

Apologies for the heavy breathing on the pratincole video.

Saturday 18 July 2009

Cricket cancelled? - Lets Seawatch

Brief but heavy showers this morning put paid to cricket and thus I decided with my wife out of the way to have an afternoon seawatching at flamboro. It wasnt spectacular but four yearticks including two self founds were nice. The rundown is c 30 Manxies, 2 Arctic Skuas (1 pale & 1 dark phase), 1 Bonxie, 5 Common Scoter, c14 Teal, c10 Redshank, 1 calidris sp., 6 Sandwich Terns but no Cory's Shearwater unlike Spurn, Grimston and North Norfolk. Also bumped into Craig Thomas who is currently deep in editing the forthcoming Yorkshire report for 2007. A few Porpoise sightings were likely the same couple of individuals that were blogging about whilst a tree south was in its winter plumage already and passed by without id.

Friday 17 July 2009


I finally graduated yesterday and a thoroughly enjoyable day it was too. I looked a little overcooked in the robes and 25 degree heat Hull had for us but still I received my 2:1 with congratulations from Virginia Bottomley the former cabinet minister and now chancellor of the uni. I also received the Prof. Murton prize for outstanding work in Zoology. Two tentative job opportunities arose in the form of more offshore survey work for IECs (this time in Islay and Ardnamurchan) and a possible Research Assistant post that may arise in the new year. Hopefully the new career can start soon! Also i have included a picture of my lovely wife who was brill yesterday despite being 7 months pregnant bless her.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Theres a rat in my garden...

..what am i gonna do? Take a picture as its dead. Dunno what happened to it or how it died 3 yards fromthe fence with no discernable wounds. Poison? Anyhow here it is...

Saturday 11 July 2009

Points win prizes

That funny tern was an aberrant Common Tern with an all red bill but very little else to distinguish it from the bog standard. Not - i repeat not a Royal Tern! On another note I won the Professor Murton Prize for outstanding work at uni - not quite sure how that works but very grateful I am. Still waiting for autumn - although wader passage has started. I must get down to tophill sometime soon!

Monday 6 July 2009

Strange Tern in West Yorkshire

Check this out:

I cant quite get it figured. Hopefully the eBirder can acquire some pics tonight to illuminate the situation.

Saturday 4 July 2009

I got a degree

Found out on Wednesday that im the proud owner of a BSc Biology with Ornithology Higher Second Class Degree. Apparently i nailed my last few modules finishing with an average of 68.2% a mere 1.3% from achieving a 1st. Rats. Im super chuffed as during the last three years I have worked 25 hours/week, got married, moved house and my wife has been pregnant since christmas so a lot of other stuff going on. Added to that a vibrant and full life of socialising, birding and cricket and it doesnt leave much time for study! Also a rather alluring job has arisen in Brid - lets hope ive got what they want!

On the birding side very little going on im afraid due to other commitments but im keeping the powder dry for september when i have to nail the last 5 lifers to get to 300 before my baby arrives. Hopefully should get parakeet as we are at a wedding in richmond late summer. That leaves 4 more.

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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