Tuesday, 27 September 2016

More Patch Ticks and Somerset Levels

Date: 26/27 September 2016
Newton St Loe & Somerset Levels
Weather: Both days cloudy grey
Other Species: 
Highlights on Patch first 
5 Grey Wagtail, 3 Skylark, 50+ House Martin 1 Barn Swallow, Kingfisher, 2 Nuthatch, 
1 Female Wigeon, 12 Teal. 36 species count
Ham wall-Shapwick
3 Great White Egrets, 14 Little Egrets, 100+ Wigeon,Lapwing, Snipe, Water Rail, Gadwall, 
2 Kingfisher, Oystercatcher, 1 Marsh Harrier, 2 Glossy Ibis, 3 Little Stint, Ruff, Greenshank, Buzzard. 46 species count
First off a patch walk on Monday and a somewhat slow day but with 2 Grey Wagtails a  couple of Jays and 3 Skylark plus the normal things was looking good before pennyquick and so far 19 species. So in to Village and still a good amount of House Martins around 50 buzzing over Farm shop. Only 1 Barn Swallow seen on hole walk though. Out to Newton Park Lower lake and a Kingfisher streaming along lakeside. But while checking out ducks of which their were 2 Mallard and ..... A Wigeon !!

May have got split up from its mates? 
Bristol area had a influx of 320 Newton St Loe get one ! But last time we had a Wigeon was 13/01/2014 so yet another year tick, takes us to 81 this year a record !!
Top Lake 12 Teal numbers growing nicely .

Out along Newton Drive and apart from the Students now arriving, 1000's of them, Oh joy !
Around 20 Rooks feeding in fields was about it.

Tuesday and weather promised to be better, not really but rain held off.
Ham Wall first and saw this Great White Egret.

Bit distant but looked nice with Glastonbury in background.

Went to Avalon Hide not much here but while walking along path to vp2 a group of 12 Little Egrets mixed with Gadwall.

While scanning for the Glossy Ibis which i couldn't see this Marsh Harrier came coasting over putting everything up. Oystercatcher, Black Tailed Godwit and Lapwing along with Gadwall, Mallard and Shovellers making the numbers up .

While chatting to other visiting birders saw the Glossy Ibis, i know very distantly but still saw them. This in between vp1 and vp2.

Not much on to see on Walton side except these Cormorants.

Surprised how many Butterflies about still with Speckled Woods, Red Admirals and Numerous Whites about. This Red Admiral about the only one to stop, on fresh Ivy Bloom.

Quick swig of coffee and crossed the road to Shapwick Heath and time to check out the very nice Tower Hide. Spotted a Little Stint then 2 more. With Lapwing, Greenshank, Water Rail, Ruff highlights of the rest.

Took the walk on to Noahs hide.
Kingfisher and fleeing Lapwing the best there. So nearly 3:30 decided to leave also, a grey day but a count of 46 species was had,chatted to some nice people, And home.

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Monday, 26 September 2016

Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York - Part Two

Date: 2nd - 14th September 2016
Location: Los Angeles, San Francisco + New York City
Weather: Blue Sky, Sunny + 31+ Degrees
Other Species: Great Blue Heron, Great White Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Egret, Brown Pelican, Common Grackle, Anna's Hummingbird, Allan's Hummingbird, Laughing Gull, Heermann Gull, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Grey Catbird, Blue Jay, Double Crested Cormorant, American Robin, Mourning Dove, Willet, Belted Kingfisher, Acorn Woodpecker, White Crowned Sparrow, Dark Eyed Junco, Stella's Jay, Red-Masked Parrot, Elegant Tern, Red-Winged Blackbird - Of Note

Observation: Next up on our trip was Los Angeles, San Francisco and lastly back to New York City. Once again all pictures on this blog are taken with my Canon 7D and Canon 18-135mm lens only! Our first day in Los Angeles (LA) consisted of bus tours so not much hope for many birds, but some stunning scenery either way!

To my shock we passed a small lake whilst on the Downtown Tour and there were 5+ American Coots distantly, this was my only shot of them, but it's a new tick!

I also came across these Corvid's the whole time in LA, I think they are Fish Crows, they were focused around the mountain areas?

The next morning, our plan was to spend a day in Santa Monica and walking to Venice Beach, the weather couldn't be better! 32 Degrees and blue sky greeted us as we arrived.

Walking along the beach, this Willet wasn't scared of people as it was running in between me and my sister as we passed it. He seemed to be doing very well with catching little marine life.

This Willet further along the beach seems to be alot paler and upon searching the internet there are subspecies of  Western and Eastern Willet's. The picture below would make it the Western Willet.

There was an abundance of Heermann's Gull present both on Santa Monica beach and Venice Beach. This one being a Juvenile.

Upon trying to return along Santa Monica beach we got slightly 'lost' but it wasn't all bad as we found this small nature reserve called Ballona Lagoon.

First sighting along the boardwalk was this Great Blue Heron, pretty distant but first time seeing this bird so was very happy!

Also present along this Lagoon were Snowy Egret, Little Egret and Great White Egrets.

When walking over the bridge I spotted a large bird on a very distant post, so quickly walked back around the corner we had just come from and after a few shots, I realised it was a Belted Kingfisher, I wasn't aware they were resident in California so this was a shock to see! It had a good clean before I left him to it, second new bird of the day!

The Belted Kingfisher is alot larger than the UK Kingfisher, being between 10-20cm larger!

A short stop off at Fisherman's Wharf whilst we waited for the bus to depart. We were advised Harbour Seal and Pelicans are common here, so off we went!

Around the corner, a group of 6 Snowy Egret's were sat on a fishing boat that had just returned from sea, no guesses in what they were after!

There were 3 Harbour Seals swimming around the harbour, one of which caught a large crab. Just as we returned to the bus, this Brown Pelican flew over our heads.

Sixth new bird of the day, Los Angeles is proving VERY successful for birdwatching so far.

As the light started fading we headed back to Hollywood but not before us getting stuck in lots of traffic, at one point I heard what sounded like large bees, until I heard some loud chirps to look up and see 4 Anna's Hummingbirds above my head. At this point I was extremely happy with a Hummingbird being my target species for this trip until......

Our last full day in Los Angeles/Hollywood so we headed to Griffith Observatory to see the Hollywood Sign and Downtown LA. We caught the bus to the top due to the temperature being 34 Degrees, only cost 50 cents!

As we got off the bus, something caught my eye so I ran across the grass to be greeted by another Anna's Hummingbird.

This little thing was so close, I managed to get some close up iPhone shots! Seconds later it circulated around the 4 bushes feeding happily. WOW!

As the small group of Hummingbirds were back and forth I left them to later return. Walking down one of the trails, I heard the classic knock of a Woodpecker.

This is a male Acorn's Woodpecker, very aggressive towards the other Acorn Woodpeckers nearby!

I sat back in the initial place to watch the Hummingbirds feed, and attempted to photograph them feeding, these are the best 2 out of around 150 images! Very pleased.

As we waited at the bus stop to return to Hollywood, we spotted another Anna's Hummingbird sat in the shade, you can just about see my reflection in the eye!

Landscape shots are available on my Facebook: Lauren Tucker Photography if anyone is interested.

We departed and next up was San Francisco for 2 days, we arrived to very foggy skies and 18 degrees so shorts and vest tops weren't a good idea! After a quick change we headed to Pier 39 for a early evening boat trip.

Upon leaving the harbour we were greeted by 27 Brown Pelicans (only 6 pictured) who were coming into roost.

The boat trip was perfect for wildlife watching, 3 Dolphins, Brown Pelicans, Elegant Terns, Heermann Gulls all spotted within the hour trip.

The next morning we headed for Golden Gate Park for a short wander (and birdwatching). Plenty of new ticks for me here also including:

White-Crowned Sparrow

Stella's Jay

Dark-Eyed Junco

Brewer's Blackbird

Back at Pier 39 the last of the roosting Brown Pelican was still present, the Golden Gate Bridge gave a stunning backdrop!

The night tour we had booked to enable us for some night shots of the Skyline, we stopped off at Treasure Island to look back onto San Francisco and as we were leaving a family of Racoon's appear from the rocks on the waterfront. Glad to hear they are left bits of food from the tour buses some nights!

That's all from San Francisco, and on our final part of the trip we returned back to New York for a final 2 days before catching our flight back to London, we considered changing the flight home to enable us longer in America!

As we were jet-lagged and were up nice and early I managed to persuade my sister to another short wander around Central Park, which secured my last new bird of the holiday.

Carolina Wren, initially identified by sound so knew I had to get a picture!

Been to America a few times but never seen Racoon's but now seen one or more in each state! This one was around 20 foot up the tree and caught it mid-yawn!

With 21 new bird spotted, I'm already planning a return trip to America so stay posted!

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Sunday, 25 September 2016

New York, Washington DC + Buffalo - Part One

Date: 2nd - 7th September 2016
Location: New York City, Washington DC + Buffalo (Niagara Falls)
Weather: Blue Sky, Sunny + 30+ Degrees
Other Species: Ring-Billed Gull, Laughing Gull, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Grey Catbird, Double Crested Cormorant, Blue Jay, White-Breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Red Cardinal, Pied Billed Grebe, Red-Tailed Hawk, Black Capped Chickadee, Rock Pigeon, House Sparrow, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Northern Mockingbird - Of Note

Observation: With Dad off in Majorca (see previous posts) me and my sister headed off to America. The trip which we had been planning and saving for over 18 months had finally arrived, the trip involved 7 flights and 5 states over the course of 2 weeks. I set an aim of 1 new bird for each state we visited (as I wasn't going actually going birding and didn't have my 400mm or binoculars with me). All images and wildlife seen were photographed with my Canon 7D and Canon 18-135mm lens ONLY so excuse some of the images.

First stop off was New York City, places visited included Liberty Island, DUMBO Park and of course a day in Central Park (would have been rude not to!)

I caught the boat across from Battery Point to Liberty Island, and there was an abundance of Laughing Gulls, Ring-Billed Gulls and Greater Black Backed Gulls. A few smaller birds including Common Grackle and Blue Jay's also around the Island.

The same day I visited DUMBO Park across the Brooklyn Bridge to do some night pictures (I'll include these at the end of the blog). Whilst I was waiting for Sunset, a quick search of some new ticks was in order. Within minutes I spotted this adult Grey Catbird feeding this single Juvenile. When the adult had left I moved around but couldn't find a better angle (They were well hidden in the bushes and the other side of a large fence).

Here's the Juvenile in between feeds.

I settled down on some rocks as Sunset approached and this little one hopped down in front of me, my first new tick! A Common Yellowthroat (Female).

With my aim achieved for this state and on the first day I was very happy!

We visited Washington DC for a day trip via the Amtrak service. Just past the Capitol Building I heard a small woodpecker type call to look up and distantly see this....
White-Breasted Nuthatch. My second new tick again within hours of arriving!

(I promise the Nuthatch is in the picture!)

With my aim achieved once again, I decided to improve some of my previous ticks.

This moulting Blue Jay was more than happy to pose for a few shots!

American Robin's seem to always been in groups when feeding, unlike ours?

Now back in New York for a final day, this was the one day I was allowed to go birding in Central Park (was on holiday with a non-birder!).

At the Boating Lake, this moulting Red Cardinal is always a highlight to see, so camouflaged for such a bright bird!

I sat for a short break in a sheltered area, where someone had put some oat flakes down on the rocks. Within minutes of settling, 4 Mourning Doves landed to take advantage of the oat flakes.

This one seemed to be confused by the sound of the shutter!

The blue ring around the eye indicates they are Adults.

I walked around the Reservoir which is located on the northern part of Central Park in the hope of some new water birds.

A few Double-Crested Cormorants were present.

A bit of a surprise find, Pied Billed Grebe! It was fishing further out but seemed to come right into the shoreline to pose for the pictures!

The Terrapins were taking advantage of the sunny weather.

I was a little disappointed that I hadn't seen any Red-Tailed Hawks this time until I heard the familiar call which sounds like our Buzzard and looked up to find this....

It seemed to be very happy with the catch of a Grey Squirrel!

Next up on our travels was Buffalo (Niagara Falls). We stayed on the American side and enjoyed the Falls!

In Niagara Statepark, I was amazed to find some Black Squirrel's, I asked and they advised these are common and also have the Grey Squirrels and also Yellow Squirrels within the park!

I come across a group of Black-Capped Chickadee high in the trees, they were very much like our Coal Tits but alot larger! Another new tick for me!

So far the trip was going extremely well, with 3 new ticks (1 in each place).

In the next blog, I visit Los Angeles, San Francisco and a final few days in New York.

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