Posts Tagged ‘House Martin’


Though we have not been known for going to difficult places to see rare birds, Three “A Team” members decided to give it a go. So when a Cretzschmar`s Bunting was found on Bardsey and a “booking system” was in place (kindly policed by Lee Evans) after sleeping under boats etc. We made the arrangements on Tuesday evening to go on Friday morning, weather and bird permitting. Wednesday & Thursday really managed to rack up the “twitchyness” (new word). An early start on Friday morning with Bob K driving, myself and Steve K aboard. We got through the mystery that is the M60 motorway around Manchester onto the M56, along the A55 coast road passing Rhyl when a check of the bird news revealed the bird was still present. Going through Caernarfon, Morfa Nefyn and some beautiful scenery with some of the small villages reminding us of Little Britain and a certain sketch! We passed Aberdaron, previously visited to see Lesser Grey Shrike and Black Headed Bunting and reached the car park at Porth Meudwy in 3 hours 10 minutes, well done Bob. Our time was 11-30am to get there, so time to have a sleep or watch some birds, Black Guillemot, Rock Pipit and a few Manx Shearwater were seen. Off we went with birders from Bedfordshire and Devon, reaching Bardsey at midday. The sun was shining and it wasn`t to windy so we hurried along to the area, passing Rob Lambert (sorry for not stopping to talk Rob) who told us he had seen the bird really well. We were greeted by the warden who told us some do`s and dont`s and all assembled near the lighthouse. We all got decent viewing positions and settled down to watch the concrete block`s that had seed on them that the bird came into. The bird had last been seen at 11am, it was now 12-10pm. After the first hour of waiting, House Martin, Swallow, Linnet, Pied Wagtail and a small flock of Chough were seen. The bird had not been seen for over two hours by now, the tension was building and we had to be off at 4pm. Now standing still and in silence is not a problem for “hardened, dedicated twitchers(nutters)”, but as the second hour passed and still no-show from the bunting with only Linnet`s for company, we all needed some help. It duly arrived in the shape of the warden`s trying to see where the bird was for us all (ta for all the help) After the third hour had drifted by (3-10pm) we all suffered from the horror`s of dipping this ultra rare species. Hardly anyone had missed seeing the bird in recent days would we be the first? At 3-30pm a bird landed on the wall and disappeared back into the grass, it looked good, then suddenly the Cretzschmar`s Bunting was feeding on the seed. It was on show for about 5 minutes and made everyone, who had waited 3 hours and 20 minutes to see it, very happy! The bird then flew past us all, calling and giving great flight features. Hand shakes all around by the “A Team”, the collection bucket was sorted and we headed back. Bob K remarked,”Am I dreaming or did we just see the bird?” I guess the long wait had made it all the more special for us, as we only saw it with 20 minutes to spare. We didn`t have any time to search this beautiful area and we were soon back at the car park for our return home. We had a good laugh about it with all our co-sufferers and saId goodbye for now. The drive home was all the more special now we had seen the bird. Bob had us all back in Milnrow by 8pm, three very happy birders!

Dave O.SAM_2325

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The weather forecast seemed like we might be in for some rain last Sunday, but, we decided on a trip anyway. We met in Norden and with Chris B at the wheel we headed of to Sizergh Castle. Nearly a full A team arrived at a wet venue to see Hawfinch, a species we do not often miss here. We missed last time and after 20 minutes of standing under the National Trust cafe verandah in wet and cold conditions it looked like another dip. We decided to “tough it out” and were rewarded when a single Hawfinch was seen feeding along with Bullfinch and Chaffinch, quite a sight in breeding plumage. It was time to employ operation, “Find a Hide”, as we headed for the Allen and Morecambe Pool hides at Leighton Moss. Greenshank and Ruff were again our target species as we had missed out a few weeks ago and as the rain lashed against the hides it did not look good. Lots of Black Tailed Godwit, Avocet and Black Headed Gulls were present, but alas no target waders. A stop to listen for Cetti`s Warbler was also fruitless, can we blame the birds for not singing in these conditions really? We stopped at the “Blue Gate” at Leighton Moss (well it used to be blue) and heard and saw Willow Warbler and Blackcap. Real harbingers of spring these two species, Chris pointed out a couple of fungus, one called King Alfred`s Cakes quite a curious shape and all black! We carried on to the Lower hide as the rain just fell from the sky, I re-told my story about the Golden Oriole that I saw one December along this path, don’t know if I have told them that story before as they appeared to not be listening! On arrival we tried to dry out a little bit with distant views of Sand Martin,House Martin, Swallow and quite a few ducks then, someone saw 2 Otters. We were then treated to 10 minutes watching these beautiful mammals swimming, diving and generally enjoying themselves in the monsoon conditions. It’s a long time since I have seen them, we all enjoyed every minute of it. We decided to head for home the scenic route and check the area out as the rain did slightly subside. We came over the “Cross of Greet” road, always looks good for various hill dwelling birds, but unfortunately it is well gamekeepered and we know what that means. As we used the car as a hide we searched for returning migrants and were lucky to see a male and female Ring Ouzel sat close to the road, they then landed on a dry stone wall and after chasing each other up a boulder strewn valley were lost to view, excellent! We called in at Stocks Reservoir and a male Mandarin duck was found but not much else, we will be back soon when the Cuckoo comes back in few weeks though. We all got home before 3-45pm and in time to watch the Manchester derby football match. Even the excesses of the weather did not prevent us from all enjoying the day out.

Dave O.


A family holiday spent at the Sahara Beach Hotel in Skanes, Monastir, Tunisia. It was our fifth visit to the area so I already knew where to go birding. Managed to do some birding every day, but mainly in the morning, usually around 6-15am as it became very warm around 9-30am. The area around this hotel is dominated by very large salt lagoons and lots of breeding birds, including Yellow legged Gull, Slender billed Gull, Little, Common and Gull billed Tern’s and good numbers of Collared Pratincole. Waders in the shape of Black winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed and Kentish Plover. Lots of Greater Flamingo directly behind the Monastir Airport, along with Spoonbill and Stone Curlew in small numbers. At the local dump near Sahline, up to 180 White Storks were present but the spectacle of uncountable numbers of Yellow legged Gull will stay with me for a long while! In the hotel area’s Hoopoe, Serin, Crested Lark, Bee-Eater, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Spanish Sparrow were seen in varying numbers. Around the salt lagoons various bushes and mixed habitat held up to 8 Great Grey Shrikes of the algeriencis form that allow close attention to photograph! Also in those area’ s are small numbers of Zitting Cisticola(Fan Tailed Warbler), Greenfinch, Linnet, Short Toed Lark and the abundant Rock/ Feral Dove. Smaller numbers of Collared, Laughing and Turtle Doves also.Large flocks of Spotless Starling are great to watch as they dig for food on the ground and squabble just like “our” one’s. There are lots of Swift and with a bit of luck a few Pallid Swift can be found as they chase their prey close to the ground. Small numbers of House and Sand Martins were seen, but not many Barn Swallow’s (think there is a sad decline this year in their numbers) On the journey from Enfidha Airport to our hotel a single Carrion Crow was seen flying around a small village, a bit unusual that? A single Barbary Partridge was seen one early morning in the scrub around the salt lagoons and in the evening a single Hobby was out hunting and then a flock of 5 Shelduck flew past. A few Kestrel’s and Sparrowhawk’s were seen again in small numbers. Our our return home and near the airport at Enfidha a Booted Eagle was seen hunting and great end to a very localised birding / family holiday.


About this time of year. The bird world hits a bit of a lul. So a bit of local bird watching is called for. Ozzy visited Holden Wood, Ogden and Calf Hey Reservoirs this afternoon and saw the following species:- GC Grebe, Little Egret (feeding at the far western end of Ogden Reservoir for over 2 hours) Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mallard, Buzzard, Kestrel (watched 4 birds hunting together) Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, B H Gull, LBB Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Redstart (juvenile in small bushes at western end of Holden Wood Reservoir, firstly at 3pm and again at 5pm) Stonechat, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

Some great birds for our area. We don’t get many records of Little Egret – great bird. Always glad of any sightings of Redstart too.