Thursday, 28 June 2012

Common Shrew at Maple Lodge

Yesterday while making a brief visit to the reserve I happened across a Common Shrew at the approach to the new Teal Hide. This tiny mammal was so engrossed in feeding it was unaware of my presence and hence I was able to take a few half decent shots.

                                         Common Shrew Sorex araneus.                                         

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Algarve, Portugal  19-06-2012 – 22-06-2012

My wife and I left London Gatwick mid-afternoon for a short break in the Algarve  arriving at Faro 16:30. On descent over the salt pans I noted c8 Greater Flamingo, my birding had already begun. After collecting our hire car and heading off to our hotel the Santa Maria we then walked into the old Town Centre where 7 pairs of nesting White Stork were present on the Arco da Vila and nearby roof tops. Dozens of Common Swift flew overhead with other species present including Feral Rock Dove, House Martin and House Sparrow.
I headed off early morning back down to the old town centre and followed the ancient walls that run adjacent the salt marsh. On passing the Arco da Vila an adult White Stork displayed on the nest throwing its head back before noisily clapping its bill. In the trees below hundreds of House Sparrow sang out causing quite a din! On reaching the salt marsh which is part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park dozens of Black-winged Stilt and Pied Avocet plus 4 Greater Flamingo fed in the shallows. Little Terns and a single Mediterranean Gull passed overhead as did 5 Black-tailed Godwit. Before returning back to the hotel I noted a single Sardinian Warbler displaying in a bush near the rail track.
After breakfast my wife and I headed back into town where we decided to visit Ilha Deserta which lies just off the coast. As the name suggests this sandy island in uninhabited and is part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. We boarded a small catamaran craft which transported us to the island arriving 30 minutes later.
After settling down on the beach and enjoying the sun I left Diane for a bit and headed off around the island following the boardwalk. Crested Larks noisily called and dozens of Sardinian Warblers hurriedly moved among the scrub. A Woodchat Shrike was noted catching insects as Yellow Legged and Audouin's Gulls passed overhead. 4 Stone Curlew were flushed as I continued on my way. On the shore many waders were observed including Bar and Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Sanderling and Kentish Plover. Among the dunes Yellow-legged and Lesser black-backed Gulls were busily feeding young the adult birds taking a dislike to my presence following me closely until I moved out of their range. Out to sea Little Terns fished carrying their spoils back to hungry young on the foreshore as a dozen or so Gannet passed by out at sea. A final walk along the beach with Diane produced a single Collared Pratincole at close quarters. A full list of species observed as follows:-
Northern Gannet, Little Egret, Grey Heron, White Stork, Greater Flamingo, Common Shelduck, Mallard, Collared Pratincole, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Stone Curlew, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew , Audouin's Gull, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser black-backed Gull, Little Tern, Feral Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Common House Martin,  Barn Swallow, Grey Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail (iberiae), Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch.

                                                             White Stork at Faro

                                                  Collared Pratincole at Ilha Deserta

                                                      Kentish Plover at Ilha Deserta

                                                         Sanderling at Ilha Deserta

                                                      Crested Lark at Ilha Deserta
A  return visit early morning to Faro old town centre and adjacent salt marsh in weather I'm more accustomed to in England, dull with light drizzle , produced the usual suspects. The ubiquitous Black-winged Stilts and Pied Avocets fed in the shallows among 10 Greater Flamingos. Following the coast road a few hundred yards further than yesterday I found myself near a small tidal lagoon.  Here 20+ Little Terns busily fed diving for fish while on the mud several Dunlin and a few Kentish Plover probed around. A single Redshank was briefly noted in flight before I curtailed my outing due to heavier rain. After breakfast Diane and I headed off to Ludo Farm, an area of salt pans and freshwater marsh located adjacent Faro airport.
We arrived at around 10am and now bathed in glorious sunshine as we drove down the main sandy track I saw my first Azure-winged Magpie flirting about in the canopy. Then approaching the first stretch of freshwater marsh dozens of Common Waxbill, an introduced species, rustled about in the reeds while overhead a couple of Red-rumpled Swallow fed among the Commoner Barn Swallows. We then continued further down the track arriving at the salt pans where 4 Eurasian Spoonbill and dozens of Black-winged Stilt fed with at least one pair of the latter noted with young. A few pairs of Pied Avocet were also noted on the nest and nearby several White Stork pranced around in the salt marsh. On the opposite side of the track a larger area of freshwater marsh held a couple of Purple Swamphen that were feeding among the reeds as a single Western Marsh Harrier flew over. A single Purple Heron, several Eurasian Coot, Mallard, Gadwall and Common Moorhen were also present  and a single Green Sandpiper flew by. Then on returning back along the sandy track I was drawn to a colourful  figure perched on a telegraph wire, a European Bee-eater that sat and preened for several minutes before being joined by a male Black-headed Weaver an  introduced species. We then left the area and headed for Lagos. From a viewing area above the main beach 2 Western Jackdaw were noted in flight. After spending the afternoon among the hustle and bustle of the main tourist centre we then moved on to the Albufeira and its lovely beaches. Here a Common Kestrel hunted above the cliffs flushing a Sardinian Warbler from a bush while several Yellow-legged Gulls were noted just off shore.
A list of species observed today as follows:-
Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Eurasian Spoonbill, White Stork, Greater Flamingo, Mallard, Gadwall, Western Marsh Harrier, Common Kestrel, Common Moorhen,  Purple Swamphen, Eurasian Coot, Pied Avocet, Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Little Tern, Feral Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, European Bee-eater, Thekla Lark,  Common House Martin, Red-rumped  Swallow, Barn Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, European Reed Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Azure-winged Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, Spanish Sparrow, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, European Serin, European Goldfinch, European Greenfinch, Black-headed Weaver.

                                                   Black-winged Stilt at Ludo Farm 

                                                      Greater Flamingo at Ludo Farm

                                          A record shot of Purple Swamphen at Ludo Farm

I began the day with a return visit to Faro old town centre early morning and continued to the salt marsh. The usual suspects were again noted with the addition of several feral dogs roaming around near the council depot and nearby marsh. I did though find a pair of Red-rumped Swallow that were busily collecting nest material notably grasses from the fringe of the marsh and a juvenile White Wagtail was flushed.  Later at around midday I decided to make a return visit with Diane to Ludo Farm where I added 2 Black Kite, 1 Little Grebe and a single Common Kingfisher to my list. One Black Kite was observed being frantically mobbed by an Avocet and 2 Black-winged Stilt.
It was then time to head off to the airport and adeues to Faro and the Algarve.

                                                  Black-winged Stilt at Faro salt marsh

A full list of species encountered throughout my stay as follows:-

1. Little Grebe (1 at Ludo Farm).
2. Northern Gannet (dozens observed at sea from Ilha Deserta )
3. Little Egret (common at all wetland areas).
4. Grey Heron (Faro Salt marsh and Ludo Farm).
5. Purple Heron(1 at Ludo Farm).
6. Eurasian Spoonbill (4 at Ludo Farm).
7. White Stork (Faro Old Town and Ludo Farm).
8. Greater Flamingo (Faro salt marsh and Ludo Farm).
9. Common Shelduck (pair at Ilha Deserta).
10. Mallard (common at Faro Salt marsh and Ludo Farm).
11. Gadwall (common Ludo Farm).
12. Black Kite (2 Ludo Farm).
13. Western Marsh Harrier (1 Ludo Farm).
14. Common Kestrel (singles at Albufeira and Faro Salt marsh).
15. Common Moorhen (several Ludo Farm).
16. Purple Swamphen (2 at Ludo Farm).
17. Eurasian Coot (common at Ludo Farm).
18. Eurasian Oystercatcher (1 at Ilha Deserta). 
19. Pied Avocet (common at all wetland areas).
20. Black-winged Stilt (common at all wetland areas).
21. Stone Curlew (4 Ilha Deserta).
22. Collared Pratincole (1 Ilha Deserta).
23. Kentish Plover (common at Ilha Deserta and Faro Salt marsh).
24. Grey Plover (2 Ilha Deserta).
25. Sanderling (several Ilha Deserta and Faro Salt marsh).
26. Ruddy Turnstone (1 Faro Salt marsh).
27. Dunlin (common Ilha Deserta and Faro Salt marsh).
28. Green Sandpiper (1 Ludo Farm).
29. Common Redshank (1 at Faro Salt marsh).
30. Black-tailed Godwit (common Ilha Deserta and Faro Salt marsh).
31. Bar-tailed Godwit (common Ilha Deserta and Faro Salt marsh).
32. Eurasian Curlew (Singles Faro Salt marsh and Ilha Deserta).
33. Black-headed Gull (common Faro Salt marsh).
34. Mediterranean Gull (2 Faro Salt marsh).
35. Yellow-legged Gull (common Faro Salt marsh and Ilha Deserta).
36. Audouin’s Gull (common Ilha Deserta).
37. Lesser Black-backed Gull (Common Ilha Deserta).
38. Little Tern (common Faro Salt marsh and Ilha Deserta).
39. Feral Rock Dove (Common all urban areas).
40. Eurasian Collared Dove (Pair at Faro Old Town Centre).
41. Common Swift (common everywhere).
42. Common Kingfisher (1 Ludo Farm).
43. European Bee-eater (Several Ludo Farm).
44. Crested Lark (common at Ilha Deserta and Faro Salt marsh).
45. Thekla Lark (1 Ilha deserta).
46. Barn Swallow (Common all areas).
47. Red-rumped Swallow (Faro Salt marsh and Common Ludo Farm).
48. Common House Martin (common all urban areas).
49. White Wagtail (1 juvenile Faro Salt marsh).
50. Yellow Wagtail Iberiae (common Ilha Deserta).
51. Grey Wagtail (1 at Faro marina).
52. Common Blackbird (Common Faro Old Town).
53. Blackcap (common Ludo Farm).
54. Sardinian Warbler (common all scrub areas).
55. Spectacled Warbler (1 Ilha Deserta).
56. Zitting Cisticola (several Ludo Farm).
57. Cetti’s Warbler (common Ludo Farm).
58. European Reed Warbler (common Ludo Farm).
59. Woodchat Shrike (1 Ilha Deserta).
60. Azure-winged Magpie (common Ludo Farm and Lagos area).
61. Western Jackdaw (2 from cliffs above Lagos beach).
62. Spotless Starling (common all urban areas).
63. House Sparrow (common all urban areas).
64. Spanish Sparrow (nesting pair Faro Old Town).
65. European Goldfinch (common Faro Old Town).
66. European Greenfinch (common Faro Old Town).
67. European Serin (common Faro Old Town).
68. Common Waxbill (common Ludo Farm).
69. Black-headed Weaver (1 Ludo Farm).

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Little Bittern returns

I received a text message from Geoff Lapworth this morning informing me that the Little Bittern had been relocated at its former feeding spot along the River Colne at Stockers Lake . I quickly rushed out and managed to see the bird immediately and take a couple of record shots. It was interesting watching it creep stealthily among the reeds before launching its bill into the water to pluck out tiny Minnows.
There was over 30 "Twitchers" in attendance all lining the bank of the Colne but amazingly the Bittern did not seem agitated in any way. After short periods of feeding it would then creep into the reeds and disappear for several minutes only to reappear again further along the bank.


Friday, 15 June 2012

Orhids at Maple Lodge Nature Reserve

I made a brief visit to the reserve this morning to photograph the Orchids in bloom from the Rotunda Hide.
A wonderful vista from the hide with many Southern Marsh Orchids carpeting the marsh with a couple of Bee Orchids flowering close by.

                                                                     Bee Orchid.

                                                            Southern Marsh Orchid.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Little Bittern at Stockers Lake

A Little Bittern that was first discovered on the River Colne at Stockers Lake on Sunday was showing well late this morning. This rare migrant was busily feeding along the bank of the river but was very mobile making short flights between feeding stops.
From the metal bridge that spans the Colne walk west along the riverside track until you reach a bend in the river where the flow is divided by a large island and it is here that the bird was feeding although it had moved behind the island on my leaving early afternoon.

                                          Little Bittern at Stockers Lake by Jeff Chapman