Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Short Eared and Tawny Owls

15th-28th January
Marlborough downs, Somerset Levels,Newton St Loe, Chew Valley
Blue Skies,sunsets, hail, grey overcast, wet.

Species Highlights: 
Short Eared Owl, Red Kite, Corn Bunting, Bearded Reedling, Tree Sparrow, Tawny Owl, Starling, murmuration

15th January I headed to my favorite part of Wiltshire for my fix of Tree Sparrows and Short Eared Owls, I was not disappointed! 
Corn bunting sat Singing, Yellowhammer, all greeted me on arrival.

But a sudden and not forecasted hail storm made everything disappear but after 20 mins the sun shone through and Tree Sparrow appeared.

Tricky to get close too but happy to get a few shots.

From There I headed up on to the Marlborough Downs for some Owl action, Kettle on and a sandwich before we saw any but 5 or 6 eventually showed well.

Hunting across the fields in perfect light for a change.

Such great birds always a treat to watch.

Catching mostly voles, this one mantling its lunch.

People gathered on the hills all having great views.

On the 19th Sunday Me and Lauren went back up, It was very different with cars, dogs and walkers everywhere. We walked around looking for some action and came across 4 Red Kites just chilling in the afternoon sunshine.

The Shorties did show but no where near as well but we were very happy to watch them.

Even if some people didn't even notice them!

We waited till sunset and it was worth the wait!

20th Monday we headed down to Ham Wall and Shapwick, no sign of the Firecrest or Yellow-Browed Warbler but this Chiffchaff showed well.

Great Crested Grebe feeding well on Perch , i think.

Looking splendid in winter plumage.

while looking for the YBW a group of birders spotted this fine chap, not often we get to see a Tawny Owl in the Daylight.

He sat for most of the day here by Avalon hide.

With the sunshine even got my first Butterfly of the Year a Red Admiral, just 58 to go!

From the hide 3 Marsh Harrier cruised past always distant.

A coffee then we walked over to Shapwick for the main attraction the Starling murmurations.

A slow start to the show tonight but soon there must have been 500,000 plus in the skies above.

Count that lot!

Lauren took these pictures, a great job!!

No real patterns but we did see Peregrine, Marsh Harrier, the Starling soon went down to roost was a amazing sound.

Once down to roost the skies turnned orange and red a perfect end.

21st January was the first full patch walk for me, it started with a heavy fog making visibility down to 50ft birding was tricky! Once at the Lake happy to see the Whooper Swan was still present, Little grebe, Tufted Duck also still about.

The resident Mute is starting to chase our Whooper, has been seen by someone this week to fly off but has since returned, i'll check in on him this Thursday.

Really pleased to see a Marsh Tit at the top of top lake, just the one,a bit scarce around these parts.

From the misty start the light was stunning by end of walk and good to be back on patch.
ending first full patch on a 39 count.

Weekend off work as we visited Lisbon Portugal 23rd-26th, a few good birds will do a blog soon.

Headed down to Chew Valley to a wet grey Hide at Stratford Marsh Harrier, Black Necked Grebe and 2 Bearded Reedling showed, light was awful.

Once I got home and warmed up noticed on the feeder tree at home 4 Bullfinch 3 Male and 1 Female again light bad so just a record shot of this stunning male, will try harder!

Wayne Year Bird List: 105
Lauren Year Bird List: 100

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Thursday, 16 January 2020

Iceland 2019/20

30th December 2019 - 4th January 20202
Mostly overcast, Snow, Rain, 4 hours of daylight
Species Highlights: 
Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Fulmar, Eider.

Booked as a surprised from my wife our 25th anniversary present, plan was to fly from Luton Airport to Reykjavik, Iceland and pick up Hire Car, all went to plan, weather was dry but overcast, a bit of site seeing through Thingvellir/ Pingvellir National Park, this view from Oxarafoss not many birds to be seen but Raven is the most common bird here.

A stop off at a volcanic crater called Kerid /Kerið

After arriving at our Appartment, Inni - Boutique Apartments at 

Hveragerði. I can recommend it was perfect with steam room and hot tub, much cheaper than staying at Reykjavik. The next morning we did the waterfalls Fulmar in large numbers buzzing around the falls. Then drove to Vik, the famous black beach, unfortunately the weather was not playing ball with heavy wind and rain. We carried on to Vik but weather just got worse, by the time we got to Vik we could hardly see the coast let along the beach!.


That evening we drove into Reykjavik along highway 1, not a nice drive as snow, blizzard conditions made it tricky but the Rav4 all wheel drive coped well and not one incident on the 40 minute journey. That night we were heading to the Perlan it overlooked the city so a good place to watch the New Year in. 
The locals said if you imagine as many fireworks as you can then times it by a 1000 that's how many firework you could expect. They were not kidding the whole of Iceland exploded!!

We sat watching for almost 2 hours, Iceland law dictates fireworks are only on sell for one week of the year and all profits go to search and rescue! Excellent ideal eh!
After a search for the Northern Lights which proved not to be  successful.

Next morning and 2020 we drove that highway 1 again into Reykjavik to add a few birds to our New Year list, around the Harper Center and Harbour is always a good start with Glaucous gulls a plenty.

 Iceland/ Glaucous Gulls size difference.

Rafts of Eider float around the harbour.

2CY Iceland Gull

Black guillemot also seen here. 

Next we walked into the local duck pond, Lake Tjörnin the weather was on the change and sleet/rain started and didn't improve, Whooper Swan, Greylag, and lots of Black Headed Gulls here.

Common gull, Wigeon, Mallard made up the rest.

That night we drove to Blue Lagoon, pitch black but boiling hot,a  outside bath of hot Springs , weird. a search for Northern Lights again, nothing seen.

Next day we drove to Kirkjufell Mountain, we'd been to Iceland twice before but never to Kirkjufell the most iconic landmark in Iceland. The drive was long and weather was snowy and wind swept, but after 3 hours we arrived 

The transport Rav4, great car.

Always birding we spotted this Snow Bunting in the Snow where else!

The Landscape was stunning.The mountain stand at 463m Kirkjufell or Church Mountain.

The road homeward, i think!

  Miles and miles of barren landscapes. 

Lots of Icelandic Ponies along the route , not minding the -8 temperatures.

Ice crystal cloud formation.

This the view from a petrol station, the petrol station have everything a real meeting place for all the locals.

The last night we drove through heavy snow into Thingvellir/ Pingvellir National Park, to search again for the Northern Lights but none spotted pulling over to look near the apartment Lauren manged this , we set up camera but by the time we were ready.....

It had gone! 
A real shame but a excellent trip if not challenging driving would recommend Iceland anytime of year, easy to drive and fabulous places to see, the right time of year great birds too.

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