Things to do on a rainy day

Memorable as our splendid silver wedding anniversary in Mauritius was (thanks for everything Mrs D), I used today’s downpour as an excuse to sit down, sift through my pics and videos and produce a blog about our fortnight in paradise before I start forgetting things.
Faster than an Aldabran Giant Tortoise, I’ve just finished now…
Gasp in awe at Mauritius Kestrels, giggle at the Pink Pigeon’s colour scheme and wonder at Mauritius Bulbuls and Fodys.
The place doesn’t have a big list, but some of the endemics are seriously mega-rare.

You can read my new blog at:
Hope you enjoy it – it’s gotta be better than a wet Sunday in September.
Still no Dodos though.

Cemlyn wagtail: Windswept and interesting

Low cloud barrelling in on a brisk wind above the dry stone walls and rolling fields behind Cemlyn hardly inspired confidence on Anglesey this afternoon, especially as the probable Eastern Yellow Wagtail hadn’t been seen for an hour or so by the time Neill Hunt, Alan Wright and I arrived this afternoon.
Luckily after about 30 minutes it leapt up onto a fencepost about 150m away from us and sat there for a minute or so, despite the buffeting wind.

Great ‘scope views, lousy pictures.
Cold grey and white, with a big super and wingbars, it was certainly a striking bird.
Other observers had earlier got far better views showing a dirty great hindclaw and they heard the bird call too.
We didn’t hear it call or get close enough to see the hindclaw, but on a superficial level, all looked good for Eastern Yellow Wag.

After Quiz Night.

The first rule of Quiz Night is “You don’t talk about quiz night”.
But I’ve never been big on rules.
Suffice to say that following the fundraising beano and raffle for Spurn Bird Observatory at the Crown and Anchor last night, I woke this morning in the Hunt Hacienda at Kilnsea with a fuzzy memory, 24 mini packs of Haribo Tangfastics, a big bar of Dutch chocolate and 100 Magic Pebbles.
Go figure.
Ahem, time to go birding.
I drove over to Spurn yesterday afternoon in glorious hot sun with just enough time to get good views of the zippy RB Fly in the Crown and Anchor car park, although it rarely settled until later on, and then it was invariably in the shadow of the canopy.

The flycatcher called a few times – a funny little rattle, very distinctive.
Then it was time for the quiz, where the difficulty of the questions seemed to increase proportionately to the amount of Timothy Taylor’s we drank.
Strange that.

This morning dawned annoyingly bright, but the south easterly wind had dropped a bit and commoner migrants were clearly arriving at Spurn.
Good numbers of Whinchats were scattered about, from Sammy’s Point to Beacon Lane, and more Chiffies called from the hawthorn cover.

A small pod of Bottle Nose Dolphins was offshore along with the usual Grey Seals, and on land, Roe Deer.
Hordes of Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters were on the wing as we drove up to Vicar’s Lane in Easington for a classic seasonal experience – a Yellow Browed Warbler was calling away, as autumnal as a shrivelly Sycamore leaf.
It showed well a few times, but never sat still, as is usually the case with these sprites.

Just around the corner a Willow Warbler was singing (!) and a Firecrest tazzed about the hawthorns confounding my attempts to photograph it.
One day I’ll get a proper image of one of these little weasels, when it is not hiding behind leaves or twigs… one day, but not today.

We popped round to see Colin Bushell’s Treecreeper (Hiya Colin, good to catch up again). A Lesser Whitethroat clambered through the branches as we listened to the mobile ‘creeper.
A quick check of Sammy’s Point gave us Redstart, Wheatears, more Whinchats, Stonechats, our first Fieldfare of the season, plenty of Yellowhammer by Easington cemetery, Greenshank and Whimbrel.

Back around the Triangle and the Warren we had a charming, but unco-operative Pied Flycatcher, still more Whinchats and a brief Garden Warbler.

At 4pm I dropped Neill off in Kilnsea, where a Spotted Flycatcher was making up for the sneaky behaviour of its relatives, before motoring back across country in heavy rain, which will hopefully deliver something really special for those still at Spurn tomorrow.
Good luck all.

A great day and a half in the field then, nothing particularly rare, but plenty of good autumn variety.
Gratitude as ever to Neill Hunt for his hospitality, and the friendliness of all the other Spurn regulars too, I’m looking forward to getting back asap.
The place is what autumn is for.

Spinning on a floodlit mirror

You can’t ignore a phalarope, although it appears a phalarope is well within its rights to ignore you.
I nipped down to Marshside yesterday afternoon to have a look at the juve Red Necked Phalarope spinning about off Nels Hide and managed to miss it by about five seconds.
I’d paused on the path down to Nels to say “howdy” to a happy Clarko who’d just been watching it (the last one I saw at the marsh was with himself on a May morning a very long time ago).
In the short interval it took me to get into Nels (another meagre 30 seconds) the bird had gone.
Gone, gone, gone.
Dissed by a phal.
No one saw it fly, so presumably it had gone into the vegetation for a nap – that frenetic lifestyle of perpetual motion must be very tiring after all.
Nine Cattle Egrets, Knot and a few colour ringed Blackwits were some compensation and it was undeniably a lovely evening…

Luckily the bird was still there this morning and I nipped down first thing to watch it whizzing about amongst the Blackwits – a gorgeous wader certainly, but completely backlit by the blinding sun of a beautiful autumn morning.
Not a cloud in the sky and the sun straight in our eyes.
I could hear photographers weeping about exposure and f-stops, so ‘scoped it for 45 mins instead, dude snapping it occasionally.

Views will be better in the afternoon when the sun swings around, always assuming it doesn’t go for another long nap.
But if I was heading all the way down to wintering grounds in the Pacific off Peru I’d snatch every opportunity for a snooze there was too…

Back to autumn

Looking forward to returning to the field for autumn now.
With a fair wind I should be back and birding any day now – thanks for everyone who has continued to follow the blog while I’ve been away, normal service will soon be resumed.
Don’t forget to let me know what I’ve been missing, hopefully the autumn biggies have lingered and I’ll be back in business before you can say “MEGA MEGA MEGA”!

Far away

Distance makes the heart grow fonder?
Well, possibly.
Sitting on the other side of the world I’m still curious as to what’s about locally – why not let me know what you’re seeing via the comments thing.
I’m only 6,236 miles away, so could always pop back if it’s good enough…