Sunday, 21 October 2018

MADAGASCAR 2018: 04-19 October

I visited Madagascar in August 1995 with John Cooper, Nick Preston and Barry Stidolph. 
It was a very enjoyable trip and one I've always looked back on with fondness (see and/or
Although we did very well, at least against standards at the time, we did not manage to find Scaly Ground Roller and it has been something of an open sore ever since. Nick and I decided to revisit Madagascar in October to do our best to rectify this and hopefully see a few other species we'd missed. We put together a trip giving us 15 days birding in the Southwest and Eastern Highlands and again had a great time, seeing all our realistic targets (we were too early for Sooty Falcon). Several blogs charting the trip will be published in due course when photographs have been sorted. For the time being a set of ground rollers, Madagascar's stand out family, follows:

Scaly Ground Roller at Manatadia (our bird of the trip)
Long-tailed Ground Roller at Mosa's Baobab Forest
Pitta-like Ground Roller at Ranomafana
Rufous-headed Ground Roler at Voihparara
Short-legged Ground Roller at Iaroka

Monday, 1 October 2018

A rare visit to Kent (Beluga 30 September)

Wednesday 02 October.  Mill Hill with Cookie where I saw 13 Sky Larks, 15 Blackcaps and 11 Chiffchaffs.

Sunday 30 September. Sussex has been so quiet this month that the opportunity of a trip to Kent with DB was hard to refuse. We started at Gravesend where we eventually saw the Beluga. It was on the Essex side of the Thames and spent most of the time under the surface coming up 3-4 times in quick succession every 15 minutes of so when usually just its back was visible. Nice to see after an hour of feeling it had moved on and a couple of my views when it came out a bit more and one could briefly see its head were worth having but it was generally a somewhat underwhelming experience. Gravesend wasn't a place to linger and we went on to Oare Marshes, somewhere I'd not been before. It was a nice reserve with a lot of common waders, the numbers increasing on the rising tide.Highlights were 3 Marsh Harriers, least 9 Ruff, 2 Greenshank, a Spotted Redshank and an estimated 140 Avocets. Best of all would have been a Bearded Tit, if we'd seen rather than just heard it.

Saturday 29 September. A Sandwich Tern and 20 Swallows at Shoreham Fort and a Chiffchaff in our garden. Later I dropped Megan and Nessa at Chichester Festival Theatre and went on to Thorney with Cookie. We saw an Osprey twice over the eastern end of the Great Deep. Unfortunately our first view was from the western sea wall of it slowly flying away. We later saw it from near the eastern sea wall but rather briefly. Little else of note - single Greenshank, Kingfisher, Whinchat and Wheatear.

Friday 28 September. Mill Hill with Cookie where I saw 2 Buzzards, 7 Stock Doves, 7 Blackcaps and 13 Chiffchaffs

Wednesday 26 September. Mill Hill with Cookie where I saw Great Spotted Woodpecker, 8 Swallows, 100 House Martins, a Whinchat, 39 Blackcaps and 11 Chiffchaffs.
Painted Lady at Mill Hill
Red Admiral at Mill Hill
Tuesday 25 September. A Peregrine and 2 Wheatears at Southwick while cycling to work.

Monday 24 September. An estimated 600 House Martins flew west over our garden and points south in 15 minutes before dusk. Very impressive.

Sunday 23 September. A morning visit to Shoreham Harbour with Cookie produced 7 Sandwich Terns, a Rock Pipit and 5 Wheatears but not the House Martin passage that was witnessed later. Later I finally caught up with the juvenile Curlew Sandpiper on a low tide visit to the Adur. Also 2 Greenshank and 20 House Martins but only 30 Ringed Plover and 10 Dunlin.
Curlew Sandpiper on the Adur. Dunlin might approach it in bill size but do not have the legs

Saturday 22 September. Two Wheatears were seen on a walk from Widewater to Lancing Beach Green. Later in dreadful weather 56 Ringed Plover, 11 Dunlin and a Greenshank on the Adur at low tide.
Wheatear near Widewater
Rampion display board
Friday 21 SeptemberMill Hill with Cookie in rough weather where I saw 6 Stock Doves, 12 Swallows and 2 Whitethroats and heard Blackcap and Chiffchaff.

TRIP INDEX by year

TRIP INDEX – by year

The following lists chronological the foreign birding trips that I have done.  Also included are a few family trips, the more recent nes just with Megan. In time I hope to 'blog' them all, and those that have been done are shown in bold with a link. All the older blogs use scanned slides (or digitised prints of varying quality). Some of the slides have degraded badly with age. Some blogs use photos take by those I was with (they are easy to tell as they are significantly better than mine). Most blogs are heavily reliant on my unreliable memories. They were initially done to find a 'home' for my old boxes of slides which I had not looked at for years. Doing these blogs has brought back many very happy memories, and a few sad ones - I’ve been very fortunate in having various like-minded friends, some sadly no longer with us, whom I have usually been able to travel with.
Kagu, New Caledonia August 1998 (digitised print taken with an instamatic).  One of my current all-time top four birds. Giant Pitta (1987), Wilson's Bird of Paradise (1993) and displaying Western Parotia (2013) are the others.
1974:  MAJORCA (October)
          brief mention in The 1970s: finding my feet - 1974 blog

1975:  CARMARGUE (May)

          included in The 1970s: Camargue, Shetland & Scillies in 1975 blog

1977:  MOROCCO (April)

             KENYA (December-January 1978)

1978:  THAILAND (December-January 1979)

1979:  ISRAEL (March/April)

            CANARIES (June/July)

             NEPAL (November-January 1980)

1980:  CANADA (May)

            THAILAND (December-January 1981)

1982: MALAYSIA (January/February)

            THAILAND (February)

            NEPAL (March/June)
          Jomson Trek

          Everest Trek

          Langtang Trek

            INDIA (June/July)


           VENEZUELA (December-February 1983)

1983:  KENYA (July/August)

1984:  PERU (July/August)

            BOTSWANA (December-January 1985) 


1985:  COSTA RICA (July/August)

1986:  AUSTRALIA (March/April)

           ECUADOR: July/August 1986

1987:  MALAYSIA (July/August) 

1988: THAILAND (March/April)
          BRAZIL (July/August)

1989:  ICELAND (June)               

1990:  ARGENTINA (August)

1991:  SOUTH AFRICA (August)

1992:  INDONESIA Sulawesi & Halmahera (August)

1993:  INDONESIA Irian Jaya (August)

1995:  MADAGASCAR (August)

1996:  PHILIPPINES (April)

            NEW ZEALAND (August)   

1997:  VIETNAM (March/April)     

1998:  AUSTRALIA & NEW CALEDONIA (July/August)


1999:  ECUADOR (August/September)


2000:  CHINA Quinghai (June)


           GAMBIA (November)

2002:  CHILE (April)

2003:  JAPAN (January)

           CAMEROON (April)

           PAPUA NEW GUINEA (June)

2005:  TEXAS (Aprill)

           INDONESIA Sumatra & West Java (July)

2006:  PAPUA NEW GUINEA (August)

2007:  INDIA Eaglenest (April)          

2008:  PHILIPPINES (April)

           NAMIBIA (July/August)

2009:  VIETNAM (April)

          Cat Tien & Da Lat plateau

2010: CHINA (May/June)
          Shanghai (Spoon-billed Sandpiper), Wuishan, Fuzhou & Xiaolongmen

          Xi’an & Yangxian (Crested Ibis)

          Pingtai (Jankowski’s Bunting)

           UGANDA (June)
          Mbamba (Shoebill), Kibale (Green-breasted Pitta) & Bwindi (African Green Broadbill)

2011: ETHIOPIA (February)

          TAIWAN (April/May)

2012: TURKEY (June)


          Nemrut Dagi

          MALAYSIA Sarawak & Sabah (July/August)
          Kuching, Kinabatangan River, Danum Valley, Sepilok and Mount Kinabalu

          FRANCE Somme (September)

2013: CORSICA (May)

          INDONESIA West Papua (August)

          FRANCE Normandie (September)

2014:  SPAIN Extremadura (April)

           COLOMBIA (July/August)
          FRANCE Brittany (September)

2015:  ECUADOR (January/February)
            ARIZONA (April/May)
            INDONESIA Lesser Sundas (August)
           FRANCE Somme (August/September)
           BRAZIL (September/October)

2016:  CALIFORNIA (January)

           MEXICO (February/March)
           NORWAY (May)
           FINLAND (May/June)
           JAPAN (June/July)
            FRANCE Somme (September)
           GHANA (October/November)

2017:  JAMIACA (February)

           TRINIDAD and TOBAGO (March)
           GUYANA (March/April)
           MONGOLIA (May)
           FRANCE Somme (September)
           NORTHERN GREECE (October)
            BOLIVIA (November)

2018:  ECUADOR (February)
           FRANCE Somme (May)
           NORTHERN PERU (June/July)
           SPAIN: MALLORCA (September)