Tuesday, 25 March 2014

First day of Passage

Today we saw the first signs of Spring passage on the islands, with at least 4 new goldcrest present 37 meadow pipit and singles of starling, song thrush and snow bunting. The Puffins are also back on the island in their thousands, and one of the places they enjoy hanging out is on top of the Pele Tower, where if you are very quiet you can get great views of them. The Guillemots have also returned to the cliffs in their thousands and are busy displaying.

Puffin, Fratercula arctica

Goldcrest, Regulus regulus

Saturday, 22 March 2014

First Day on the Farnes

Our first full day on the Farnes, and the weather has been wonderful and the first migrants of the year are around. Aside from the seabirds present, there has been a good movement of gannets, a blackbird, a rook and two snow buntings showing very well, as well as a peregrine hunting over the wideopens.

The Pele Tower, our new home

Inner Farne lighthouse

Pele Tower, St Cuthberts Chapel and the jetties

One of the snow buntings present today, Plectrophenax nivalis

Snow Bunting, Plectophenax nivalis

Friday, 21 March 2014

Training for the Farnes!

So, I am actually writing this from my new home; the Pele Tower on the Farne Islands. We moved out today, and it is safe to say it is a truly stunning place to live, if not a little chilly at the moment.
The team have spent the last week training in Gibside, and wonderful NT property in Gateshead. We spent most of the time indoors, however in the mornings and evenings we did get out,  and the variety of birds on offer was wonderful.
Below are just a few photos, but there were singing chiffchaff, treecreeper and crossbill, drumming great spotted woodpecker and the selection of birds below. Well worth a visit to this site if you are ever in the area!

Little Grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis

Nuthatch, Sitta europaea

European Dipper, Cinclus cinclus

Red Kite, Milvus milvus

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Back home

So, back in Littlehampton for a brief period before our next adventure begins on the FARNE ISLANDS!! Some lovely  birds around, only a few minutes from the house in the case of the first two, the long-staying first winter Kumlien's Gull and the second winter (3cy) Glaucous Gull. I have made two visits now, and both times they have been showing very well in the harbour mouth from West Beach. Light was poor on both occasions, but I managed to get a shot of both, with a nice one of the Kumlien's showing the brown wash in the primaries and the obvious dark tail band.

Kumlien's Gull, Larus glaucoides kumlieni

Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus

Our second outing was to make the journey up to Warnham, which is always a lovely place to visit, but this time with the added incentive of a Mealy (or Common, whichever you prefer) Redpoll up for grabs. We spent 20 minutes watching the Redpolls, Siskins, Long-tailed Tits and others busy on the feeders before the star bird arrived for a brief showing. I managed a shot showing the two pure white wing bars, overall greyish tones and the contrasting dark ear covert spot, all key ID features.  Also on the reserve was a Raven, many Grey Herons busy nest building and a nice pair of Great Crested Grebes.

Siskin, Carduelis spinus

Long-tailed Tit, Aegithalos caudatus

Lesser Redpoll, Carduelis flammea cabaret
Mealy Redpoll, Carduelis flammea flammea