Friday, 24 August 2018

Less of the same - Shoreham 15-24 August

Friday 24 August. Cissbury Ring walk with Megan and Cookie: Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, 3 Yellow Wagtails (my first this year), Redstart, Stonechat, 7 Wheatears, Blackcap and Willow Warbler. Later 30 Ringed Plover and 17 Dunlin during a low tide visit to the Adur. 
one of seven Wheatears seen around Cissbury Ring

Redstart at Cissbury
Thursday 23 August. A Wheatear was on Southwick Beach as I cycled home.

Wednesday 22 August. I took Cookie up to Mill Hill and saw 2 Sparrowhawks, Buzzard, 8 Whitethroats, 3 Blackcaps, Willow Warbler and Jay. Later at low tide we visited the Adur with Megan seeing 41 Ringed Plover, 3 Dunlin, Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper.

Tuesday 21 August. A Peregrine was on Southwick Power Station  as I cycled home.

Sunday 19 August. I took Cookie up to Mill Hill and saw SparrowhawkBuzzard, juvenile Peregrine, 4 Swallows and Chiffchaff. Later with Megan and Nessa we walked from Widewater to Lancing Beach and back. A Dunlin was the only bird of note.
Lesser Black-backed Gull ands Swallows at Mill Hill
juvenile Peregrine eyeing up a Jackdaw above Mill Hill
Rampion plan at Lancing Beach
Saturday 18 August. I took Cookie up to Mill Hill and saw Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzards, 80 Feral Rock Dove, 2 Swallows, 4 Whitethroats, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and 40 Linnets.

Wednesday 15 August. I took Cookie up to Mill Hill and during a blustery visit saw just 3 Buzzards, Kestrel and 2 Whitethroats.

Tuesday 14 August. I took Cookie up to Mill Hill and saw 17 Swallows, Lesser Whitethroat and 3 Whitethroats. Later on the Adur we saw 6 Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper and juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Adonis Blue on Mill Hill (thanks to Simon for correcting my ID)
a cold morning gave me a rare chance at photography

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Dog walks with binoculars (21 July-12 August)

Sunday 12 August. Mill Hill with Cookie. A big clean-out. Yesterday I saw 40 warblers of 7 species, today just a Whitethroat and half a Reed was seen and a Blackcap and Willow Warbler heard. Also a Buzzard and 30 Linnets. Early evening on the Adur were 10 Ringed Plover, a Dunlin and 2 Common Sandpipers. As the light was starting to go and the drizzle turned to rain a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull flew past me and landed amongst the gulls on the sandbar. I walked around to get a closer view although was then looking directly into the rain. Two birds looked to be good contenders but by now views were very poor and I'm not sure iof either were the original bird.
very poor image of a presumed juvenile Yellow-legged Gull on the Adur not showing its pale edges to mantle or any detail of coverts or tertials
the right hand juvenile looked a good contender for Yellow-legged too, I wasn't sure about the left hand bird.
joined by another Herring Gull
Saturday 11 August. Mill Hill with Cookie. Usual warblers: Sedge, 3 Reed, 2 Lesser & 10 Common Whitethroats, Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaffs and 18 Willows. Also 2 Sparrowhawks and 25 Linnets. Later on the Adur were 2 Ringed Plover, 3 Dunlin, a Whimbrel and a Common Sandpiper.
Lesser Whitethroat on Mill Hill
juvenile Greater & Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the Adur
the Lesser above
 Friday 10 August. Mill Hill with Cookie. Just 5 SwallowsSedge Warbler, 4 Whitethroats and 11 Willow Warblers in wet and very windy conditions. Later we drove to Amberely and walked up the South Downs Way to meet Anna & Ruth near Springhead Hill. We then walked back to the Arun. A Wheatear, 4 Whitethroats and 3 Willow Warblers were seen on the Downs in atrocious conditions and 12 Sand Martins near the Arun as the sun came out. 
rainbow over Steyning Round Hill as seen from Mill Hill
Thursday 09 August. A Kingfisher, 5 Common Sandpipers, 9 Dunlin and 6 Ringed Plover on the Adur but no gulls of any note.
presumed juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull on the Adur, it never moved in the time I was watching it, hoping it might reveal itself to be a Yellow-legged Gull but it didn't look mean enough
Wednesday 08 August. Mill Hill with Cookie. Usual warblers: Sedge, Reed, Lesser & 16 Common Whitethroat, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs and 21 Willows. Also 8 Little Egrets and 8 Grey Herons roosting by the Adur where a late afternoon visits at low tide produced Common Sandpiper and Dunlin, short staying juvenile Yellow-legged and a North Thames colour-ringed Herring Gull. The gulls were against the light which made my reading the ring uncertain.
unreadable North Thames colour-ring
Tuesday 07 August. A Jay in Stanmer Park as I was cycling to work. The last day Great Black-backed Gulls were seen on the roof opposite, an adult and juvenile, the latter seen to fly from one roof to another.

Sunday 05 August. Cissbury with Megan and Cookie. 3 StonechatsReed Warbler, 8 Whitethroats and a Willow Warbler.  

Clouded Yellow at Cissbury
Stonechat at Cissbury
Saturday 04 August. Wolstenbury with Anna, Ruth, Megan and Cookie. Few birds seen but they included my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year and a Raven. Early evening Cookie and I twitched the Pied Flycatcher at Brooklands (my first for two years). Seeing it almost immediately we had timew to look for the Adur Rec bird but a brief look produced just a Whitethroat.
Friday 03 August. Mill Hill with Cookie. Juvenile StonechatReed Warbler, 16 Common Whitethroats, 2 Garden WarblersBlackcap, 2 Chiffchaffs, 4 Willow Warblers and 2 Long-tailed Tits.

Blackcap at Mill Hill
Garden Warbler and Whitethroat at Mill Hill
Cookie keeping to the shade on Mill Hill
juvenile Stonechat at Mill Hill
Part of the Rampion from Mill Hill
Wednesday 01 August. Mill Hill with Cookie. 2 Swallows, a Lesser and 8 Common Whitethroats, 3 Chiffchaffs and 13 Willow Warblers.
adult Great Black-backed Gull being harassed by juvenile ...
... it retreated to a chimney where it couldn't be bothered
Tuesday 31 July. The last day both juvenile Great Black-backed Gulls were seen on the roof opposite. I assumed that one didn't survive the recent storm?

Sunday 29 July. Mill Hill with Megan and Cookie. Just 2 Chiffchaffs in poor weather.

Saturday 28 July. Devils Dyke to Truleigh Hill with Anna, Ruth, Megan and Cookie. Very ordinary with 5 Sky Larks, 2 Meadow Pipits and 3 Corn Buntings.

Thursday 26 July. Mum passed away peacefully at about 9pm, about the time I realised that our local Swifts had gone too. A species that will now always remind me of her.

Wednesday 25 July. Knepp Estate with Cookie. A Green Sandpiper and a Moorhen with 6 chicks from the Green Lane tower. Also seen 2 Turtle Doves, 2 Green Woodpeckers and a Swallow. In the evening 6 Swifts were seen over the house, None were seen subsequently.

Turtle Dove at Knepp
Sunday 22 July. Rackham with Megan and Cookie. Mainly somewhere with shade to take Cookie. Very few birds, I saw a Chiffchaff and heard a Green Woodpecker.

Saturday 21-Tuesday 31July. 2 juvenile and 1-2 adult Great Black-backed Gulls seen on the roof opposite each day.

one of the juvenile Great Black-backed Gulls on 25th July
 Saturday 21-Tuesday 24 July. 2-8 Swifts seen over the house each evening.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Flora Fairbank, my mum

My mum, Flora Fairbank passed away peacefully on 26 July, she was 92. My sisters (Anna and Ruth) and I couldn't have hoped for a more loving, caring or supportive mother and we feel so lucky to have had her (and our dad who she survived by just under a year) for so long. Mum's passing came as a shock, as much as it ever is for someone of her age, but she times it well as she was happiest when everyone was homeRuth was over from New Zealand (having arrived four days earlier) I had been in Peru until just under a week before while Anna and other family members had recently visited. Mum was particularly fortunate in having Elisabeth and Ildiko taking turns to look after her (and dad) and provide companionship so caringly in her final years. They enabled her to stay in the 'family home ' despite her failing eye-sight to the end.

From a personal point of view the timing of mum's passing was significant. From mid July when home I look out for the local swifts which often fly over the house in the evening. I'd seen them every evening since returning from Peru but there were none on 26 July.when I looked just before 9pm. Ruth phoned 45 minutes later to tell me that mum had slipped away. I will forever think she went with the swifts (as I saw none on subsequent evenings either) and whenever I see swifts in future will think of her.

Flora Wall (as she was then) a month before her fourth birthday (February 1930)
family holiday on the Isles of Scilly (August 1964)
mum & dad in Botswana (mid 1980s)
mum & dad in the Alps (late 1980s?)
mum with daughters, step-daughter and first two (of five) grand daughters (summer 1990)
mum & dad in the Alps (early-mid 1990s?)

mum October 1994
mum on her 89th birthday (March 2015)
mum & dad
mum with Ildiko and Elisabeth (24 July 2018). Mum enjoyed sitting in the front garden watching passers by.  

Northern Peru (28 June-20 July 2018)

Almost a year ago Mike Catsis was planning a return trip to Northern Peru with a long time friend and Peruvian bird guide Juvenal CCahuana Mirano and asked me if I'd be interested in joining them. It was a destination I was thinking seriously about visiting anyway and so had no hesitation in agreeing. Nick Preston took little persuading to come, likewise Chris Gooddie. The trip went very smoothly due in no small part to Juve's excellent organisation and guiding. His intimate knowledge of the birds and sites enabled virtually all of our target species to be seen. I was a bit slow off the mark at times and didn't always have the views or take the photos I'd hoped for but it was nevertheless a very enjoyable trip. Best birds for me included Long-whiskered Owlet, Marvelous Spatuletail, Rufous-capped Nunlet, Scarlet-banded Barbet, White-masked, Lunulated & Plataforma Antbirds, Pale-billed, Rusty-tinged & Ochre-fronted Antpittas, Maranon & Elegant Crescentchests, Lulu's Tody-Flycatcher, Tumbes Tyrant, Peruvian Plantcutter, Fiery-throated & Scarlet-breasted Fruiteaters, Bar-winged Wood-Wren, Maranon Thrush and after 34 years of wanting White-capped Tanager. 
male Ochre-fronted Antpitta Alto Nieva 04 July 2018
Scarlet-banded Barbet Plataforma 11 July 2018
me, Nick, Juve, Chris & Mike at Yurimaguas Airport 14 July 2018
A full write up will appear here in due course ...