Saturday, 27 November 2010

Colour-ringed Bullfinch

With the side roads resembling a skating rink after the nights 'delightful' snow, I decided to avoid driving and walk a few miles of the old Beverley to York disused railway path. Without getting to far from the estates, I stumbled upon a flock of Bullfinch, maybe 20 in all, and accidently ended up taking pictures of this colour-ringed bird.

Not much else to see, but the highlight of the walk was c21 Lesser Redpolls near the bridge where the Cherry Burton-Leconfield backroad crosses.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Sagres raptor migration October 2010 part three - when the birds got boring!

So having blogged the birds, here are some of the other things to see when the searching the Sagres skies for birds of prey gets a little tedious.

One of the more striking things to notice is the huge numbers of Sympetrum moving north. Like an army on the move, they swarm past as far as the eye can see. With a little study, and some rough calculations of the viewing area, some days during the period saw counts of up to 359,000 passing at ground level – wonder how many passed higher up? However, it is rather scary to note that numbers appeared down compared to my trip two years ago when maybe a million passed by on some days – and having a window open while driving from Lagos to Sagres could see you ending up with a car full of dragonflies!!!

The majority of this Sympetrum army appear to be Red-veined and Common Darter, though they are regularly punctuated by the odd Anax spp – either an Emperor, Lesser Emperor or Vagrant Emperor.

Also more frequent in number during this trip were Migrant Hawkers. Many more than previous years, particularly in the Sagres area.

Away from Sagres, plenty of dragonflies are easily seen in the Boca Do Rio, three species of Emperor, hawkers and plenty of darters.

Mothing wise it was pretty quiet this time around. The only one of note was a Crimson Speckled out mid-afternoon during heavy rain in the Boca Do Rio, while Hummingbird Hawk-moths appeared to be present in good number from Lagos west to Sagres.

With few flowers out, butterfly numbers weren’t huge but Small Copper, Painted Lady, Peacock and Red Admiral were seen each day.

Only regular, albeit beautiful, Swallowtail were seen and a few Long-tailed Blue were on the wing.

And if that wasn’t enough to fill the time, there was always the impressive looking longhorn Monochamus galloprovincialis to watch… not many on 'the hill' in Sagres but still seen most days.

Grasshoppers were plentiful, albeit species variety didn’t seem that diverse!

Blue-winged Grasshopper Oedipoda caerulescens (above), and 'Red-winged' Grasshopper Oedipoda germanica (below), look pretty dull on the deck... but when they fly they are stunning.

Searching around the pines I noticed this Graphosoma lineatum – a rather striking little bug.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Affected by climate change? Maybe birders should migrate south!

A couple of pictures showing the recent change in climate I'm enduring...

Feeling warm at home watching the wildfowl heading south over Yorkshire...

And enjoying the chilly breeze in Sagres, southwest Portugal, as the temperatures start to drop!

I know where I'd rather watch viz mig!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

From earlier in the season

From the start of the summer, which seems a long time ago now as the temperature starts to plummet, this little bug was noted at Tophill Low NR. Not sure what instar it is, but it appears to be a first for the site - Troilus luridus.

Fungi list passes 250!

Parrot Wax Cap - the slimey greenish cap and dark location made taking good pictures very difficult

As ever, as well as the birding it always pays to be looking for new things to brighten the day.

Unfortunately I walked passed this one, and fortunately my feet didn't find it, and following behind was the sharp-eyed Doug Fairweather who was able to add Parrot Wax Cap to the Tophill Low NR fungi list.

The species Trechispora mollusca was also added to the list.

And one that caused a little bit of bafflement, but we got there eventually with this probable Gymnopilus hybridus.

Acrobats of the Alders

Despite the recent winds, the Siskin flocks still manage to get hidden in the tops of the Alders and there are still too many leaves on the surrounding trees to get clear shots of them. This selection was from a group of c15-20 birds in D Wood at Tophill Low NR in the late-afternoon sunshine on Saturday.

Also present, and showing badly, was this Lesser Redpoll which briefly emerged from behind the leaves.

And the mixed flock also included a few Goldfinch while a Brambling was calling in the vicinty but not sure if was just a flyover.

The other birdy highlights included a Buzzard, a Pink-footed Goose and a 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull in the evening roost.

As the weather cools, still 3 Common Darter were found on the wing, Doug Fairweather catching this ageing individual on camera.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Catching up with the fungi

Whilst away enduring the heat and winds of Portugal, Doug Fairweather was out braving the elements of a British October. Here are a selection of pictures he took of some of the more photogenic species he found in the darkest corners of the woods over the last month at Tophill Low NR.

Blue Roundhead

Lepista sordida


Dog Stinkhorns

Hawkers last into November

Still on the wing, and still looking relatively healthy, 2 Migrant Hawker provided the odonata interest at Tophill Low NR on Saturday. Will they last another week?

A Black-tailed Godwit was showing well on South Marsh East and a 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull provided the highlight of the evening gull roost.

Several small flocks of Siskin bounced around the site, maybe two or 3 flocks numbering up to 10 birds, but no Redpoll spp could be found among them.

The reedbeds were silent despite prolonged periods of listening for birds that only seem to indicate their presence by calling occasionally!!!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Sagres raptor migration October 2010 Part one

The Cal├žada - one of the signature species of Sagres in early October

How many birders go to Portugal and actually spend time in one place? Yes, there is a nice selection of birds to be seen… but you can spend too much time in the car!!! Just how long does it take to get to Castro Verde??? Rather than a trip report, here is part one of the day-to-day records of the migrating raptors in the Sagres – Cabo De Sao Vicente area on the southwest tip of the Algarve.

So Sagres… steeped in history – the legend that is Henry the Navigator lived and died in the town up to 1460. A few years on… the place is rather good to go birding and spending enough time there gives you great close-up views of many European raptors.

Note these aren’t the official figures as the counters get there a long time before me, but from one chair without moving…

Oct 4th – 2 Short-toed Eagle, 6+ Sparrowhawk, 5 Buzzard, 5 Booted Eagle, 1 Hobby, 4+ Kestrels.

Oct 5th – 4 Short-toed Eagles, 5+ Sparrowhawks, 2 Buzzard, 22+ Booted Eagles, 2 Griffon Vulture, 1 Hen Harrier, 2 Peregrine, 4+ Kestrel and 6 Black Stork.


Oct 6th – 1 Black Kite, 1 Black-shouldered Kite, 23+ Short-toed Eagle, 6+ Sparrowhawk, 4+ Buzzard, 1 Honey Buzzard, 1 Bonelli’s Eagle, 200+ Booted Eagle, 1 Egyptian Vulture, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 6+ Kestrel, 3 Black Stork

Black Kite

Bonelli's Eagle - the only one to fly over

Honey Buzzard

Oct 7th – 5 Short-toed Eagle, 7+ Sparrowhawk, 5 Buzzard, 49 Booted Eagle, 1 Peregrine, 6+ Kestrel, 5 Black Stork.

Black Stork

More Booted Eagles... they come close if you sit quiet!

Oct 8th – 4+ Sparrowhawk, 1 Buzzard, 14 Booted Eagle, 1 Hobby, 2+ Kestrel

Oct 9th and 10th bad weather days – hence no birds!

Oct 11th – 11 Short-toed Eagle, 5 Sparrowhawk, 1 Buzzard, 14+ Booted Eagle, 2 Egyptian Vulture, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Hobby, 2 White Stork.

Short-toed Eagle

Booted Eagle

Getting around elsewhere, whilst not trying to add to much mileage, a Greater Flamingo was in the Alvor estuary complex with a couple of Spoonbills and a nice variety of waders, and up to 120 Mediterranean Gulls throughout the period. The Boca do Rio held very little other than regularly encountered species though the odd Crag Martin brightened proceedings, while 11 Alpine Swifts were over Lagos (10th) with Blue Rock Thrush regular in the Modello supermarket area in the town.

Greater Flamingo in the Alvor Estuary complex

Cattle Egret at the Boca do Rio