Monday, 25 April 2011

Upcoming Trip to Lesbos

Our next trip was to be in mid May( we are heading off then to Portugal for some birding/photography.) However the chance has arisen for us to visit Lesbos in Greece for a week in the next few days so its out with the suitcases and camera bags again! Lesbos has long been on my "must do" list so Im really excited to be going. Hope to be posting lots of photos on my return :)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Garden Birds 24-4-11

Not a bad morning weatherwise, enjoyed a cuppa or two in the garden with my camera close at hand. We had our first Swifts of the year over our house, I just love it when they return to us! Earlier in the day, Rich cut his hair and we thought it a nice gesture to place the clippings out on the lawn. In next to no time, a Blue Tit took advantage :) should make a nice addition to its nest! The local Sparrowhawk circled high above the house too this morning and Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Blackbirds and Collared Doves dropped in to the feeding station.

Blue Tit collecting Richards hair :)

Collared Dove

Blue Tit

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Barrow Haven Reserve 23/4/11

We made a spur of the moment decision to jump  on a train that would take 6 mins to reach Barrow Haven, always nice to have a change of scenery, its a while since I have been. Missed an opportunity to photograph a stunning female Sparrowhawk, she graced us with her presence before I had chance to get my camera set up but wonderful to see her all the same!
The usual summer migrants were around but not many showed well enough to capture, although a nice singing Willow Warbler perched briefly enabling the shot below. Also a few Swallows around on the wires. A few Butterflies were on the wing too including a couple of Holly Blues, my first of the year
Willow Warbler

We took a rest by the Haven to enjoy a picnic lunch, the Humber was like a mirror and we were delighted to watch 2 Porpoise heading east past the Haven. It is a couple of years since I have seen Porpoise on the river, so it was a nice surprise. A nice few hours out for us, very warm and sunny and a quick visit to the local watering hole (i.e The Haven Inn) where a cold "Crabbies" on ice was much appreciated- it rounded the visit off nicely before our return train journey back to Barton.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Common Tern 22/4/11

One of half a dozen or so Common Terns around Far Ings NNR this morning. Nice to see them back on the reserve!

Far Ings Marsh Harrier 22/4/11

An early start (ish) this morning, unfortunately it was quite foggy and we even had a sharp shower instead of blue skies/sunshine that the forecasters predicted :( Still, a nice few hours enjoyed with some good birds around including Black Tern and this wonderful male Marsh Harrier treated us to nice views for 5 minutes or so.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Goa March/April 2011

We have just returned from a primarily birding/photography trip to wonderful Goa. We spent 2 weeks there and did most of our birding independently, we didnt use guides, preferring to wander at leisure and find our own birds. We did use the services, every other day or so, of a taxi driver, Agnello, who is great and has eyes like a hawk! We visited many areas both around our base at Dona Paula and further north and south during the trip.We clocked up a birdlist of about 130 species and in addition to the birds we had Spotted Deer (Chital), Sambhur Deer, Black Faced Langur Monkeys, Water Snakes, Tree Frogs,Palm Squirrels,Wild Boar and a Ruddy Mongoose. I hope you enjoy reading below about our trip and also enjoy seeing the photographs :)

The "Ups" of the Trip

A great deal of "Ups" , Goa/India is such a wonderful place, I could quite happily up sticks and live there! It is so diverse and quirky and there is something every day to make you smile from ear to ear and each day is totally different, lots of surprises and you soon learn to expect the unexpected! Its never, ever boring or predictable - just how I like things to be!
The bus stop outside the local hospital

The people are warm and friendly (mostly) , the food divine, the birds and wildlife amazing and it just feels wonderful being there! Here are some sunsets taken from our balcony, a couple of photos of Rich and myself outside our hotel and also one of of the many many advertising posters that are dotted around , many of which made me grin quite a lot. I just love how they express themselves :)

The "Downs" Of The Trip

Despite a fantastic trip theres always something that isnt so enjoyable but the "Ups" certainly came out on top!
I got covered in mosquito bites (as I always do) and my hair resembled that of Aunt Sallys and was so uncontrolable with the heat and moisture, even a bucketful of "Frizz-Eze" wouldnt have solved the problem!
The heat/humidity presented a few problems, it was baking hot (35 degrees plus) by 9am and was still around 27-30 degrees during the night, phew! Lots and lots of cold showers, swims and shady trees provided some relief. It was hard work carrying all the heavy camera gear around in that heat!
Rich with his pitcher of Kingfisher beer - but we did share it!!

Our refreshment for the evening
We enjoyed a night bazaar 10 days into the trip with a great atmostphere and ambience together with a great band for the musical entertainment, however I got so engrossed in dancing to both western and Hindi music (such great fun), I forgot that Im no longer a 20 year old and towards the end of a great evening I felt something go twang in my left calf muscle, ouch, I spent the rest of the trip like a cripple! Still it was a fab evening and cheap beer/food was enjoyed in the form of a clay ovenbaked Pizza and a huge pitcher of Kingfisher beer -which cost just 250 rupees, less than £4, what a bargain.
One other thing we had to watch for when out birding was where we were putting our feet as a lot of local people take no trouble in using the great outdoors to do their, ermmmm, business, especially in prime birding spots such as scrub/waste land. Mind you some folk have no shame whatsover and did it quite happily by the side of the road oblivious to passers-by :)

Goan Birds

Changeable Hawk Eagle
Changeable Hawk Eagle

Asian Brown Flycatcher

Black Drongo

Black Headed Ibis

Lesser Whistling Ducks

Purple Heron

Red Rumped Swallows

Red Rumped Swallow

Birds and More Birds

Purple Swamphen

Glossy Ibis

Long Tailed Shrike

Stork Billed Kingfisher

White Browed Wagtail

White Rumped Munia

Yellow Wattled Lapwing
Another selection of some of the birds we encountered. The Yellow Wattled Lapwing was sitting on 4 eggs in scrub by the side of a footpath and we were worried her eggs might get stood on. We discreetly checked the nest regularly and had hoped they would hatch before we left but we shall never know if they all hatched and survived. Lets hope so, such a lovely bird :) I was very lucky to grab a photo of the Stork Billed Kingfisher, we were on a boat in the backwaters looking for crocodiles (we had 5!), I was watching the edges of the mangroves when I glanced up and spotted the SBK, my reactions must be good, I had seconds to raise the camera/lens as we floated past.

Common Bird Species of Goa

Cattle Egret
White Cheeked Barbet

Little Green Bee Eater

Little Egret

Magpie Robin (male)

Indian Pond Heron

Red Whiskered Bulbul

White Browed Bulbul

Wood Sandpiper
Wherever we went there was always lots of birds to see and photograph, some more common than others. Here are a few birds we encountered on most days


Gull Billed Tern

Gull Billed Tern

Crested Tern (left) and Gull Billed Tern
We enjoyed a long walk along a local beach and watched the Gulls & Terns. With a sea breeze to cool us it made a nice change to escape the incessant heat for a while!

Black Kites

Black Kites are everywhere in Goa sometimes in very large groups. We had a couple of very confiding birds which allowed us to get really up close :) Here are a few captures of these brilliant raptors