Friday, 10 September 2021

Quite a week on the patch!

Yes indeedy, the magic didn't wear off on Sunday but kept going right through the week. Monday and Tues were quieter though, with just a new pied flycatcher for me troubles. But things kicked off again on Wednesday when the conditions were very promising - nice light south-easterlies and a bit of patchy mist and drizzle.

With no evidence of anything new at Shite Lane and Marsh lane, I very nearly didn't bother doing the top lane, as I had a ton of brown envelopes to go through back in the office. However, it was very fortuitous that I made the effort.

After bumping into a couple of whinchats, I was scanning the fencelines in the mist when I was momentarily confused by a weird looking male wheatear on a post. But something didn't look right about it, so I edged a bit nearer....

Not a male wheatear...

The penny dropped. Grey shrike sp! Looked small and long-winged - shurely it had to be a lesser grey shrike! Then it flew and I lost it. And in trying to find it got distracted by a bunting going "pwit pwit"....

An ortolan, yesterday

Ortolan bunting! Huzzah! A classic early September score for Galley - we probably average one every couple of years here. Meanwhile where did the shrike get to?

By this time, Chris had shown up with a scope and we managed to relocate it at the bottom of the top lane, where we got better views

Look at the primaries on that! [Photo: C. O'Sullivan]

Whilst watching it, we noticed that it was colour-ringed - and once this news had gone out we were informed of the existence of a Spanish reintroduction programme, with eggs and chicks being reared to fledging and then released into the wild. More on the project here.

Lets leave that there shall we? Did score a bonus turtle dove on another late pm sortie....

Moving on to Thursday, and after the rain moved through I thought I'd have another punt around, only to bang straight into my first pectoral sandpiper at Galley, on the wee stream that flows out of Marsh Lane

A pec sand yesterday (uncropped)

It was really tame, and actually flew towards us at one point. I commando crawled over the shingle to get some closer shots, thinking of Derek Nimmo all the while!


A great wee bird! Twitching a fine wryneck this am surely brings this amayzing spell at Galley to an end? We shall see....

Still second last in the Golden mallard standings tho!

Monday, 6 September 2021

Quite a weekend on the patch

Its been light easterlies for a good while now but things have remained slow and steady on the year list front, now that the autumn has officially started. The calm conditions at the end of August resulted in good numbers of waders going through, with two knot being the best, while I also had to twitch a spotted flycatcher found by Old Spoons just in case the autumn was as dud as the seawatching season has been. 

However, things picked up on the mig front on 1st September when both pied flycatcher and coot appeared; the former being more regular than the latter. Saturday morning saw me keen to avenge the painful miss of 3 stock doves and a flyover dotterel during the week and I duly scored with a fine whinchat on the lighthouse road - one that I missed last year.

Exhibit A - a whinchat

A while scanning the sycamores of Dirk produced another spotted flycatcher, plus a few phylloscs, when all of a sudden a bigger, warbler appeared in the foliage. Clearly a hippo, it didn't look "long-winged" and had no wing panel - melodious warbler! My 4th at Galley, and first since 2017. All good!

Another spotted flycatcher

However, things were to get even better on Sunday. Out again on foot, it was slow to start with, with the odd phyllosc here and there, until the blue house garden produced another spotted flycatcher and better yet, a fine redstart, my first for a couple of years.

blurred and on the huh, yesterday

Encouraged to push on, that was it for a good while, until I bumped into a small, pale warbler bouncing around a field edge. Luckily the camera wasn't still in the bag....


Fortunately the bird was very obliging, and seemingly oblivious to my presence. The way it was bouncing around suggested it hadn't been in long, but I was able to get a bit closer and confirm my suspicions that the bird was a booted warbler!!

Getting closer, and nearly in focus.....

It flipped back over the hedge and I was able to sneak up and point the camera at it for one more burst before it was away across the field and into a large sycamore bush, with literally masses of cover beyond...

Booted Warbler, Galley Head, 5/9/2021

I never saw it again, despite giving it a good while. Finding a rare is so often such a massive slice of luck that it does my head in! If I'd spent another five mins trying to get an even better redstart pic I would have missed the booted altogether! Sometimes everything comes together tho, and makes all those empty slogs round Galley worthwhile!

Monday, 30 August 2021

Annual update

It has been a busy month, lots of shows to record. I've spent a bit of time in Fife - lots of comedians up there - and on my return to the big smoke I've been on fire. Literally smokin' - added Tree Pipit and Cuckoo on the patch after the 9 hour drive home, the following weekend a Garganey and a Raven (4th and 3rd for the patch respectively), and then yesterday a Great White Egret (probably under 10, though increasing) and finally Pied Flycatcher (annual but always utter bastards) all of which takes me to 122 species, or in real money, 108.28%. 

This is actually my highest ever patch total, beating last year's 121. Who says COVID is a bad thing? There are four months to go but only one 'gimme' in the shape of Bramblingfinch. Well, maybe Bullfinch but I'd have to loiter in undesirable places for one of those so it might have to go begging.

108.28% is also top of the leaderboard, so how 'bout we all just call it a day. Mrs Nimmo did mention that she was missing the Mallard, so there's a challenge for me. If Shaky could just stay at home for the autumn please?

Friday, 27 August 2021

More from the Don

 Yes indeedy. In a rare burst of birding activity, I have some proof of life images of some of the wild, outlandish claims that have been emanating from the Don of late....

First up is a roseate tern - worth noting that this was actually found by T2006, not Royzah.

A roseate tern yesterday

And secondly, a fine blak tern which was apparently found by Royzah but he never sees blak terns so this can't be true...

A blak tern also yesterday

Hopefully thats the last Don-based excitement for a while....

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Pied Fly!

 First Pied Fly on patch for 8 years! Even got some ropey pics to celebrate...

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Royzah's Rearguard Action

 Yes indeedy folks, miracles do happen and there have even been some birds on the Don. News from Big Royzah (for it was he) confirms that there has been manx and sooty shearwater, arctic tern, bonxie, whimbrel, short-eared owl and even an actual mig in the form of spotted flycatcher in his very garden.

To add insult to injury, Royzah sent a further missive this very morning proclaiming that he has gleaned a further three (count 'em) year ticks today, with tufted duck, pintail and a frankly outrageous little ringed plover! Of course, it turned out after some routine questioning that the LRP was actually found by none other than the estranged nano-bot T2006 yesterday, which was good news. [Ed's note - Still waiting for an updated digital printout from our shiny metal friend to ascertain what he's claiming to be on for 2021...]

All to play for then, Happily Royzah still needs another 27 species to close the gap on the leaders....

Late news - annoyingly, shakey is claiming an osprey over his ever-expanding patch yesterday, so Royzah probly needs 28 more species now.....

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Here we go at last

 There's been precious little seawatching weather since the start of July, and what little there has been was last week when I was away. So I had little choice but to drag myself up to Galley for a early morning session this am, and although quiet, it was worth it for a few year ticks.

Best of the bunch were 8 (count 'em) great shearwaters, while 32 sooty shearwaters, 8 storm petrels and 2 arctic terns were also new for the year. Thought I'd gleaned arctic skua too, but I'd already seen that back in the spring apparently.

So, onto 80% at last - and hopefully things will start to pick up a bit now that we're finally into the autumn....