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Sunday, September 18, 2016

UK's only inland records of Cory's Shearwater

Cory's Shearwater inland in the UK

We, Dave and I were absolutely gobsmacked and still cannot quite believe that we watched a very relaxed Cory's pass over Regent's Park last Thursday 15th Sept. This morning we were trying to workout roughly how high this bird was and finally agreed on about 400ft. This is the height that the majority of gulls passing over the park seemed to fly at. Over the years we have seen some great birds on the line Thursday's bird was flying on. It's produced the majority of Osprey sightings in the autumn, Black Kite, Red Kite, Honey Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and Knot. The line links the Lea Valley around Walthamstow to the large reservoirs in south-west London.

As much as we wanted the bird to be seen by other London birders, for that to have happened the bird would have had to come down on one of these water-bodies.  This is what happened to the only other record of an inland Cory's Shearwater in the UK, on 2nd October 1971 at Chasewater. 

We thought it would be an idea to contact that lucky birder, Rob Hume. He informed us that the weather that day and before was similar to last Thursday's in being warm and sunny, not the kind of weather a large powerful shearwater would be blown inland by. In Rob's case the bird was sitting on a gravel spit and by the sounds of it may have been down for more than a day as it wasn't in the best condition. Another similarity to the bird Dave spotted, was that there happened to be only one other birder nearby. Dave phoned me ( modern day), where as Rob waved  Graham Evan's over. He then borrowed Grahams bike and nipped home to pick up the family camera, taking a few snaps (see below). They then arranged for someone to drive out with a box, so Rob could take it home and feed it. The bird did flap it's wings a bit  but as we know shearwater's aren't that good on their feet. Rob was due back at Swansea University in a couple of days so cared for the bird until he was driven back to Wales. There he tried to release the bird but it clearly wasn't strong enough and died in the waves. A sad end to a great encounter. 

Photos courtesy of Rob Hume

Friday, September 16, 2016

Red Letter Day in Regent's Park 15th Sept 2016

Regent's Park 16th September

Red Letter Day

The day started on the quiet side, the skies looked good, sunny with patchy cloud making it look good for picking out any diaurnal migrants. However the cloud soon burnt off and although I heard several Yellow Wagtails picking them up was difficult. I then came across the long staying Whinchat in the Triangular Pen, which is 100m west of the Chat Bushes. She was sunning herself perched on a small maple tree, occassionally dropping down and picking up insects in the grass.  She then moved to the Chat Bushes as more commuters began to walk past the pen. I still had 30 minutes before the workers I was here to meet would arrive to cut the vegetation down in the Wetland Pen, so I went to fill up the drinking pool in the Chat Enclosure. The only migrants on show here were a handful of Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps and a juvenile Hobby heading north at quite an altitude. By the time I had walked back to the Wetland Pen I had heard but seen 4 out of 14 Yellow Wagtails. Things then quietened down and even though I was guiding the guys cutting down the vegetation, which also gave me the opportunity to check the skies, nothing was moving apart from a lone Meadow Pipit. 

I then had a phone call from a colleague in the Ecology Team, discussing habitat work we would like to carry out in Bushy Park and to arrange a date to meet our new line manager. I hung up and the phone rang again within a few seconds. I thought she had forgotten to tell me something but it was Dave, "What have you found now" I said in a jokey tone .

                                                    Then Bang 

"Cory's Shearwater, Cory's Shearwater heading west over Longbridge. Luckily I knew he was fairly close by. "Whereabouts"? "It's above the Willow in the Goose Pen". Now the tricky bit, not that it was far only 30 metres or so but my bins were in the car. A made dash, grabbed the bins and my camera. "Are you still on it"? "It's still above the Willow, it's turning left, it's coming back". "I've got it, what a bird". I watched it for a few seconds then the even harder bit, could I get a photo. By now the bird was about 1/4 of a mile away. It then veered right, I picked it up in the view finder and fired off a few shots, it the turned left and I lost it. Camera down bins and phone up, "Dave you still on it"? "Yes it's moving left, above the Plane tree". I scanned the skies above the Plane and I soon had the bird in view. Even at that range, the yellow bill stood out like a traffic light. It was moving away so this would be my last chance to get any photos. I again found it in the viewfinder and click, click, click, click. Then it dipped down below the crown of the tree. 

Dave then appeared at the gate, we were both so excited, what a bird! Dave asked if if I had got any photos, I hope so but hadn't yet looked. Dave then called the RBA to get the news out incase another lucky birder could connect with it. In the past birds that have headed in a SW direction over the park have been picked up at the Wetland Centre. The buzz of seeing that bird over the centre of London was incredible. We had a look to see if any pictures showed enough detail to convince the doubters that it was a genuine Cory's Shearwater. Nowadays unless you have photographic evidence it is almost impossible to get a rarity bird past a bird commitee. 

 Uncropped image of the Cory's

Below the calmness before the excitement of the above.

    Hobby juvenile

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Bushy and Regent's Park 14th Sept

Bushy Park 14th September

Green Sandpiper: 3 birds flew very high over the Brewhouse Meadow between 8.20am and 8.30am. The first 2 birds circled the area for several minutes before heading off eastwards.
Little Egret: one was in the stream by Roaring Arch.
Grey Heron: the 2 chicks are still in the nest.
Grey Wagtail: two birds were present.

    Green Sandpiper

Regent's Park 14th Sept

Common Buzzard: one flew over at 1.45am.
Kingfisher: one was present in the Bird Sanctuary in area 1, showing at times from the blue bridges.
Yellow Wagtail: 3 flew over.
Pied Wagtail: 15 flew through.
Grey Wagtail: 3 passed over.
Whinchat: one was still present, in either the Chat Bush area or the Chestnut fenced enclosure nearby.

    The bottom photo was taken yesterday but somehow uploaded in another file.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Regent's Park Sept 13th 2016

Regent's Park

September 13th

Hobby: one flew east at 12.20pm.
Swift: one flew south.
Meadow Pipit: one flew north.
Whinchat: 4 birds were in and around the Chat Bushes, area 34.
Common Whitethroat: 6 present.
Blackcap: 2 present.
Chiffchaff: 12 present in areas 31 and 39.
Willow Warbler: 1 in area 39.


    Even the Whinchats found temperatures of around 33 degrees to hot.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Regent's Park

Regent's Park 12th Sept 

Yellow Wagtail: 5 birds flew south a group of 4 at 7.25am and a single in the afternoon.
Swallow: a small passage was noted with birds heading SW.
Whinchat: one again in the Chat Bushes, probably a different one to the two birds that were seen yesterday. I say that as the park was so busy and this area would have had a lot of people using it.
Common Whitethroat: birds were seen in areas of bramble scrub.
Blackcap: very few compared to when I was last here on the 2nd Sept.
Spotted Flycatcher: one flew from the edge of area 38 towards area 39 but couldn't be relocated.

Yesterday's two Whinchats above and today's bird is below.   

    Spotted Flycatcher


Sunday, September 11, 2016

A pictorial review of my week staying in Gwennel Barn, Treen

Cornwall 3rd -10th September

Though not the most productive week migrant wise due to the winds being predominantly from the SW although on Wednesday it swung around to the south bringing even warmer, more humid weather up from the continent. This put an end briefly to the sea bird movements that had been a joy to watch from either Logan Rock, Pendeen and Porthgwara. Sat sheltered from the brisk SW winds on Saturday and Sunday I was able to enjoy prolonged views of up to 10 Cory's Shearwaters lingering not to far out off Logan Rock. Others passed by without pausing while this group fed and patrolled the area. There were also a steady movement of Balearic Shearwaters (300+) on the Sunday morning. Passerine's were very few and far between until late in the week when Whinchat's and Wheatears started to appear. I managed to see 2 out of 3 Wrynecks unfortunately the weather was dull and they were to distant to photograph. There were other birds that made nearly everyday enjoyable, some of which you can see below.

I popped down to Marazion Beach to see this juvenile Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the Sunday. The weather wasn't the best so I vowed to return on the first sunny morning, see for yourself the difference it makes.

I turned up 3 days later and for over 20 mins had the bird all to myself, then a few other birders turned up to enjoy this and a few other species of waders.

    Curlew Sandpiper (above), Little Stint (below)

    Dunlin (above), Sanderling (below).

    Manx Shearwater
    Shag (juvenile and adult)

    These Bar-tailed Godwits were passing Pendeen Lighthouse and were about 1/2 mile out to 
    sea. I saw several other parties that really hugged the waves.  

    Later the same day a flock of Bar-tailed Godwits passed over Sennen Cove

    Fulmar's at Lands End, when I normally visit the area in late October they are normally
    miles out to sea.

    Sandwich Tern

    Mediterranean Gull's in Sennen Cove.



   Chough's were harder to get close to this year.

    A small pod of Dolphins were in Sennen Cove one morning.

    My favourite seawatching point at Pendeen
    Sennen Cove
    The Treen heard pass our cottage.