Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Something from the weekend

Leopard Slug - munching on melon with Great Black Slug and snail

Great Black Slug - orange form. Dig the tread!

Wee baby Common Lizard in the garden

Cryptic Red Underwing - one of these came in to the house today seeking shelter during an almighty rain and hail storm
Tangled kites

Clouds gathering around Woodwalton Fen

Kebba grilling a tit flock at Rutland Water

Comma at Rutland Water

All photos | Panasonic Lumix FZ-30

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Kebba Sosseh - Gambian Bird Guide

Liz and I met Kebba Sosseh last year and have been good friends ever since.

Kebba is one of the growing number of bird guides in The Gambia - difference is, Kebba is good. Real good. He works with Solomon Jallow and his Habitat Africa guides and can be found leading for several UK wildlife/birding tour companies as well as freelance guiding from his base at the Senegambia Hotel.

Kebba has just set up his own blog - click here - of which he is rightly proud!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More moth garden firsts

Large Thorn

Lesser Swallow Prominent (right) with Swallow Prominent

More migrant moths

Part of last nights catch including Hummingbird Hawkmoth (middle right) and Poplar Hawkmoth (top left).

This Hummer was the first I have ever caught in a light trap (this one attracted to a 15w actinic). Presumably one of the three thats been hanging around the garden in recent days.

This was a different Hummer feeding in the garden whilst the 'trapped' moth was still roosting up on the kitchen wall.

This one of four Small Mottled Willows caught in the last two days, and my ninth for the year. Also another Dark Sword-grass caught yesterday. Click here for more migrant moths.

Monday, August 21, 2006

More hummers!

This is one of at least three Hummingbird Hawkmoths around the house the last couple of days. This one was found yesterday evening roosting on the front of the recently installed insect box (boy does it work!) getting the last of the suns rays.

Today, at least two hve been regualrly sunning themselves between showers on the front of the house (just below the roof) and at least one other bombing around the garden.

Birdfair 2006

With no stand at Birdfair anymore Liz and I decided to sponsor our Gambian bird guide friend, Kebba Sosseh, to bring him over to Britain to stay with us for a month and to attend the Birdfair this year.

Having Kebba in tow was a great way to see the fair as in the 18 years of attending, this was the first time I had ever been round! And its fab!

Here are a few pics of Kebba enjoying his first time in England and first Birdfair, and a few of the highlights for Liz and me.

Kebba with Birdseekers and Ultimate Pelagics Adam Kennedy

Kebba looking at around the art marquee

THe Birdfair mural in progress

The Gambian Bird Guides football team including across the back row (from left) familiar guides - Solomon Jallow (Manager!), Kebbah Sosseh, Sering Bojang, Dembo Sonko and Tombong - they go on to reach the semis where they are beaten by the eventual winners, Wildwings.

Marking out the pitch

Playing against Birdwatch magazine

The end of the tournament is not the damp squibb it seems!

Kebba on the Speyside Wildlife stand

Kebba with Speyside friends Bonnie, Emma and Malcolm

Nichola Theakston's fantadtic ceramics stand

Hair having a wee scratch

Part of the audience come to 'Challenge the Leica Leaders' event

Team 1 - Ricardo Hevia (Spain), Arnoud van den Berg (The Netherlands) and Marek Borkowski (Poland) with BBC's Stephen Moss in foreground (out of picture, Team 2 - Ian Sinclair (South Africa), Andrea Corso (Italy) and Steve Dudley (Farcet Fen!)

Liz, Kebba, Mrs Sinclair and a rather surprised gent watch the Leica Leaders being challenged!

Trolley art frog

Trolley art ratty (water vole)

Trolley art butterbump (bittern)

The Gambian's Birdfair stand (Kebba in yellow sleeves and Dembo Sonko sat)

The finished Birdfair mural

Close up of the two sides of the finished mural

More to come!

Biscay pelagic

Sunday 13 Aug - Weds 16 Aug
Well, I booked this Ultimate Pelagics trip two years ago (at Birdfair 2004) and Liz and I boarded the MV Van Gogh at Falmouth on Sunday 13 Aug with 570+ other cetacean and seabird hopefuls.

The weather was fab - too fab. A little bit of unsettled weather before the trip amy have helped things, especially seabirds, which have been low in Biscay this year, with continued high pressure and flat-calm seas seeing them dispersing over the vast ocean area. It did however provide great cetacean watching conditions.

Liz in relaxed birding mode!

Sunset somewhere over Biscay

I did however give up on trying photo things as apart form being so high up on this large vessel, watching was the priority! I'm attempting to tap up a few friends for any snaps they may have got and drop them in on here later on.

Sunrise over the canyons off northern Spain

What did we see?

These are the rough trip totals with our sightings in brackets (a - = no count available) -

Harbour Porpoise 4 (0)
Common Dolphin 1150+ (100s)
Striped Dolphin 750+ (100s)
Bottle-nosed Dolphin 50+ (10+)
Risso's Dolphin 19 (8)
Pilot Whale 85+ (40+)
Fin Whale / Large Rorqual 70+ (40+) many on blow only
Sei Whale 1 (0)
Sperm Whale 3 (1 - blow only)
Cuvier's Beacked Whale 23 (7+)
Sowerby's Beaked Whale 5 (0)
Beaked Whale sp 17 (10+)

Atlantic Sunfish - (2)
Flying fish - (2)

Fulmar 60+ (40+)
Cory's Shearwater 10 (2)
Great Shearwater 2 (2)
Little Shearwater 5 (4)
Manx Shearwater 4 (2)
Sooty Shearwater 10 (4)
Balearic Shearwater 6 (3)
European Storm-petrel 130+ (60+)
Wilson's Storm-petrel 1 (0)
Gannet 150+ (60+)
Cormorant 1 (1)
Common Scoter 6 (0)
European Golden Plover 6 (0)
Dunlin 20 (10+)
Turnstone 1 (1)
Whmbrel 2 (2)
Bar-tailed Godwit 54+ (50+)
Grey Phalarope 1 (0)
Great Skua 8 (4)
Arctic Skua 3 (1)
Black-headed Gull 1 (0)
Herring Gull 30+ (-)
Lesser Black-backed Gull 30+ (-)
Kittiwake 15+ (5)
Sabine's Gull 8 (5)
Little Tern 2 (2)
Sandwich Tern 6 (1)
Common Tern 80+ (-)
Arctic Tern 4 (1)
Black Tern 17 (10+)
Tree Pipit 2 (1)
Reed Warbler - (1)
Sedge Warbler 4 (1)
Melodious Warbler 3 (0)
Willow Warbler 10+ (7)
Northern Wheatear 2 (1)
Spotted Flycatcher 1 (0)

Painted Lady - (2)
Hummingbird Hawkmoth - (10+)

Willow Warbler on board on a derek. One of many warblers seen on baord during the trip

Some brief highlights and timings of 'our' cruise -

Monday 14 Aug
0600 on deck
0600 - 1100 Common and Striped Dolphins, Bonxies, Turnstone, Willow Warbler (2), Kittiwakes, Great Shearwater (great views), more Pilot Whales in one logging close to ship, Fin Whales inc two together close to ship, Risso's Dolphin, Painted Lady
1150 - 1230 Sabine's Gull (one fairly distant in wake), Tree Pipit, Stormies, Bottle-nosed Dolphins, Cormorant, more close Fin Whales (in addition to many more distant blows), Hummingbird Hawkmoths (several) (lunch at 1230)
1345 - 2015 first Little Shearwater, more Fin Whales, Sperm Whale blow - very sunny and hot! Three Willow Warblers, more Fin Whales very close to ship (inc George found by Liz - don't ask!), Little Terns and Arctic Tern with Common Terns, a second Little Shearwater, Manxies, Black Terns, several Hummers, chumming at 1930 only atracted several stormies and last bird of the dat, a Balearic Shearwater at 2005.

Tuesday 15 Aug (paid a bit more attention to making notes today!)
0645 on desk (late! missed a few Cuvier's Beacked Whales and a Little Shearwater and three Melodious Warblers already!)
0700 Stormies
0715 our first four Cuvier's Beaked Whales
0720 Northern Wheatear
0740 more beaked whales sp
0750 two beaked whale sp up by the ship blowing and sounding
0810 cracking views of a single Cory’s Shearwater
0900 very good views of a single Little Shearwater
0955 those on our small deck glimpse a Leatherback Turtle before it gets lost in the wake edge
1015 great views of a Reed Warbler in one of the lifeboats
1105 more good views of Fin Whales inc two blowing in sych
1130 c.20 Pilot Whales pile past
1145 the first of our Flying Fish – great views as it flew long the ship right below us
1230 the first of many ‘Tuna boils’ with fish leaping all over the place. At least two different species involved
1235 good views of 7+ Risso’s Dolphins
1240 about 20+ Striped Dolphins by the ship – first close ones for some time
1410 school of 80+ dolphins go unidentified. Rush Veneer on deck
1420 the second of our really good views of Flying Fish (a couple of other glimpses don’t get called due to the good views we’ve had)
1430 great views of an adult Sab’s Gull – down to yellow tip on the bill
1435 our first Atlantic Sunfish is a small one right below us
1510 a lot more Tuna activity with a few boils around attracting Common and Black Terns and . . .
1515 . . . a Sab’s Gull – another adult, and more great views
1520 more Black Terns
1525 another (?) adult Sab’s feeding around different Tuna boils
1715 good views of a single Great Shearwater
1720 the first of a run of Sooty Shears including one found by a proud Liz!
1820 our second sunfish is a bit bigger this time
1840 good views of a single pale phase Arctic Skua
1855 the run of Sooties continues

Those idiots that went solely for birds were a bit diappointed (ha!) but we had a fab time. What more can I say. See you next time?

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Hummingbird Hawk-moth | Farcet Fen | 10 August 2006

I was returning from the car when I noticed something whizz over my shoulder. I looked round to find a Hummingbird Hawk-moth hovering around the house wall. It was cool, leaden grey sky and threatening rain so I knew it was looking for a safe spot to roost up. It worked its way along the underside of the first floor window ledges before settling on a spot c.15ft above me. I took a couple of snaps despite the bad angle and went for teh ladder. Unfortunately, when I returned it had obviously decided that that wasn't the right spot afterall and had moved on. Oh hum!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Spider on Five Live!

What the! This spider has found its way 'into' the radio, but can it find its way out?

This thunderbug managed to get in to my laptop and has died 'in' the monitor! It is very disracting!

Green Woody

Green Woodpecker | Farcet Fen | 9 August 2006

I usually get one record of Green Woody on the fen each year, but this year has been above average with several, and what I presume is this bird kicking around for the last couple of weeks. This bird has been hopping around hte lawn in forn of hte office window this morning pretending to be a Starling!

Doing what they do best - digging for ants!

Images | Panasonic Lumix FZ-30

New blog on the block

Hey! Whats this? Not another local birders' blog!

But this looks a wee bit different. Jonathan Taylor is assistant warden at teh RSPB Nene Nene Washes and gets to see parts of the area that mere mortal birders don't get to see. I'm hoping that it does what it says on the tin and give us a real insight into the hidden side of the washes and RSPB reserve work. Go Jonny, go!

A sneak preview from nene washes world
Common Snipe chick (c) Jonathan Taylor

Another Great Brocade

Great Brocade| Farcet Fen | 8 August 2006
My third in recent days

Dark Spinich | Farcet Fen | 8 August 2006
New for the garden

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing| Farcet Fen | 8 August 2006
One of my fave moths

Iron Prominent| Farcet Fen | 8 August 2006
New for the garden

Images | Panasonic Lumix FZ-30