The unsound approach

30th July-2nd August Bridges of Ross, guiness watching session (DB, MH)

No seabirds
No waders
No passerines
No Black Ducks
Highlight - self-found Owen Foley, possibly now extinct due to Pneumonia

3rd August Norfark (AL, IS)

The migrants are in, I thought that as much.... Wheatear at Salthouse, can't wait.....

30th July - 2nd August (RoMa)


In August I will mostly be nocturnal. 3 all-nighters in a row left me swimming in a green haze with half-glimpsed 'jars tormenting the UK's most overpriced camera. Fortunately my phone got some shots. Bontebok not ruled out, though. At least I got to go home on Thurs, Andy McSeth of the Celts couldn't get enough and carried on in Staffordshire. Next week, rewind and play it again.

Early July - 1st August (SM, SB)

South Africa (Western Cape, Karoo, Kalahari)

After a number of successful missions undertaken in collaboration with Dawes Tours, Manhood Adventures operated once more as a solo operation taking participants Simon Mahood and Sarah Brook to South Africa.  After arriving in Cape Town a couple of days of rapid trouser followed by a few weeks of leisurely wildlife watching saw us picking up all the western cape specials (Rockjumper, Victorin's and Knysna warbler the highlights) and almost all Karoo birds, including both sparrowlarks.  Positioning ourselves in the wake of a trawler churning out enough bycatch to feed literally thousands of seabirds we enjoyed the attendant throng which included five species of albatross (including Northern Royal) and the Spectacled One.  Mammals however stole the show (when not being predated by breaching Great whites).   In the sea we saw Southern Right whales in abundance and Haviside's and Indo-Pacific Humpbacked dolphins.  The Kalahari was awesome, we found Lions, Leopard, Brown Hyeana, a Ratel that pished almost into the car and, the trip highlight, an Aardvark foraging in the late afternoon by the roadside.  Better than birding. 

29th July (RDM, AL)

Buckenham Marshes RSVP

This was going to be a big day celebratering the return of JJG from points furthest east (more on that soon...) by finding a Lesser Sand-plover and dedicating it to him. In the end we got up after mid day but did celebrate his arrival by leaving an ironing-board in his bed out of respect.Away from the house by 3pm, Buckenham played host to an spelndid wader medley including some Blackwits, Ruff and LRPs but the prize for shorebird of the day went to an immaculate alternate adult Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) a spectacular denzien of the high Arctic famous for its eclectic diets. Galvanised by this find we drove straight back to Norwich and played football. 

26th July (R. Martin)

North-East Inner-Outer East Anglia

Madness. I actually went out of the house with the intention of seeing birds and not for financial reward. A bit rusty, tried Hardley flood but too much water, then a dissection of Breydon resulted in a messy sludge of 450 Black-wit, 612 Redshank, 310 Curlew, 800 Dunlin, 18 Golden Plover, 45 Ringed Plover, 3 Greenshank, ETs, some Sanderling, Turnstone and 3 imm. Spoonbill. No mega terns yet. Rush Hill was, unsuprisingly, disappointing with 3 gigalitres of excess water leaving 4 Green Sands up to their bellies at the edge and no other waders present. Bird-ing, apparently.

4th-17th July

South Africa round-up (AL)

Post conference, team Tropical Forest Research and friends headed east to Cape Town, taking in National Parks at Tsitsikamma, Wilderness and de Hoop. The Fynbos, Afromontane forest and sea were all well explored but serious drinking did impair birding... Highlights were inumberable but Black Harriers cruising alongside a dune ridge with a backdrop of a bay full of Southern Right Whales was certainly better than a day at Cantley. Joe Hawes and I spent two days at the end in the Tanqua Karoo for desert specials and managed to trouser Karoo Eremomela, Namaqua Warbler and the enigmatic Black-eared Sparrowlark amongst more regular stocking-fillers... I'm not bothering with a trip report as apart from an apparent range extension of the recently split Orange River White-eye into the Tanqua Karoo everything else has been done before and more professionally by others... it would be great to return and get stuck into all these micro-endemic larks.... 

Fynbos and Afromontane forest: Southern Tschagra, Narina Trogon, Chorister Robin-chat (AL)

seaside: African Black Oystercatcher & White-fronted Plover, White-chinned Petrel and Shy Albatross (AL)

Roseate and Antarctic Terns at Point Recife (AL)

Pelagic megafauna: Humpback and Southern Right Whales, Great White Shark (AL)

The Overberg: Karoo Korhaan, Blue Cranes and Cape Vulture (AL)

Fynbos and Mountains: Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Cape Rock-thrush, Cape Grassbird (AL)

The Tanqua Karoo: Rufous-eared Warbler, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Grey-backed Sparrowlarks (AL)

mega-fauna - Bontebok with micro and mega pachyderms, the former was at one point reduced to just 17 individuals in the wild (AL)

9th-13th July
Dorsetshire and Cannockshire (RoMa)
A week of Nightjar surveys: no sleep, raspberry and white chocolate cookies, £3.74 camping stools from Argos and crap flask tea. The site down in Dorest continued to be amazing with a Nightjar nest found, to add to the DW, WL, and LP  schedule 1 nests found in earlier surveys, and some more choice reptiles. Sadly the ESU were required in Cannock for Wednesday and Thursday nights, accompanying the mega IR camera as it fails to see Nightjars on a site that doesn't have them. Wandering around with image intensifiers we also failed to find any (still none on site) but we did pick up an eared owl hunting in the pitch black and waders are on the move: Whimbrel both nights, Common Sand, Green Sand and a Curlew passed over during the darkness.

11th July

Buckenham Marshes RSPB (RDM)

Hurrah, autumn is here. Waders this evening included 2 Greenshank, Green Sand, 12 Ruff, 17 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Redshanks, Avocets, Oycs and Lapwings.


27th June-3rd July

1st South Africa update (AL & at least occasionally 'the Man-hood')

After worst ever international journey - lost baggage, delayed flights, lost will-to-live, austral latitudes reached and various birds with 'Cape' in the name trousered, birding predictably easy and most endemics around P.E. picked up in two days without the use of private transport - Knysna Woodpecker/Turaco, Southern Tschagra, Cape Siskin, Damara Tern. Pelagic out of P.E. with the great and the good of the Con Bio circuit delivered 4 lifers (Cape & White-chinned Petrels, Antarctic Prion & African Penguin) plus 3 albatrosses and a smattering of other stuff. Did Addo with the Terborgh and along with pachyderms and various African 'sheep and goats' both Southern Black Korhaan and Denham's Bustard obliged. A roosting Spotted Eagle-owl was a useful inter-seminar find and a brief soujorn with Si this am produced Jackal Buzzard etc....    


26th June

'Diary of a birder en-route to SCB, P.E.' (AL)

In an effort to alleviate the boredom of the terminal at Schiphol International Airport can any Dutch birders pick me up to go birding? I'll be here till 8pm. Plane delayed in Norwich because of  leaves-on-the-line/war on terror/bad weather/broken down fire engine...and now in order to get to South Africa I have to fly to Frankfurt then to Chile, back to Heathrow and then on to Stornoway... great.


19th June

'South Kesteven' (Lincs) (AL)

Brief tramp round an old haunt and 5 orchids bagged within a 1km radius, also Meadow Brown, its been 3 years since seeing one of those beauties. I could claim I was excited, but well I wasn't. Roll on a return to Braziliian summers....

Common-spotted, Fragrant, Twayblade, Man (northernmost Man in the Country) & Bee Orchids, 'near Grantham'. 


17th June


Recent news is Jez and Rob have independently seen some sort of Lapwing somewhere up north and Dan has found a Schedule 1 BBRC in Norfolk, the 2nd year in a row that one of us has pulled that trick off.


16th June

Arctic/subArctic Finland & Norway (AL, RMo), Arctic Russia - Chutotka (JG)

All members of Team Gloucester Street were recently above 65 degrees north, James will be back with project Spoon-billed Sandpiper reports sometime in August if he isn't eaten by Brown/Polar Bears/Wolverines etc. Rich and Alex are recently returned from the tamer/shitter WP version of the Arctic. A full trip report is in the pipeline, but for the meantime...


get your Arctic on (AL)


15th June

Abberton Reservoir (RM)

Final day of final cbc visit of this season at the reservoir. Pleasant reward for an early soaking in the form of a summer adult Black Tern, also a couple of Hobby and a fine male Marsh Harrier among the 999 registrations. Next session in three years time, can't wait...

9th June

Caerlavorock (RM)

One Whooper Swan and drumming Snipe were the only reward for an unlikely deviation from normal birding patterns that may never be repeated.

early June (RDM)

Managed my first days birding this spring on 3rd June. Total tosh with just Ring Ouzel for reward for large efforts around the Burnhams and SHI.


Treecreeper, East Sussex   (RDM)            Ring Ouzel Burnham Overy Dunes (RDM)


For all your erection requirements (RDM)                                                               


3rd/4th June

same yonder (DB)

In the knowledge that there was one Robin waiting for me out there I headed out across the marsh full of anticipation and excitement but after two hours of searching I still had yet to clamp eyes on the little Erithacus, instead the realisation that not only was I unlikely to see anything, but that it appeared likely I would be spending the night with seven Chavs also on the island filled me with dread and a longing for my bed. Then the highlight of the evening: watching as seven Chavs attempted to cross back to Wells on a rapidly rising tide with several near death experiences! Things started to come alive. A Short-eared Owl flushed from one of the last bramble patches and powered out across the saltmarsh before heading back towards the pines, a goldcrest calling from a lone pine just before dusk made me wonder whether this was the start of something big and a Four-spotted Chaser crashed into the marram. A pair of Gadwall frequented the pool and on the saltmarsh a Greenshank made itself known. By now the fog had rolled in and any plans for an evening seawatch or a scan of the hordes of waders on the flats were blown decisively out of the water. As darkness fell a Green Sand called as it crossed the hills heading west.


Night: I slept only to be woken by Oycs, Little Terns, Marram grass spearing my face and the morning rain. Morning: 0350, now is the time to be on hills. Thick fog and persistent drizzle - perfect. 7 Wrens are in full song and the elusive Robin calls for the main stand of sycamores, a pair of Dunnocks make themselves known and the Goldcrest is now in the main pines. A beautiful blast of song reveals the ring Ouzel still to be present but it remains unseen even after 8 hours of watching! The last new bird comes in the form of a Garden Warbler in the same stand as one the previous day. Everything bar the garden warbler is making a noise! Later I check out Stifkey Fen – nothing, then on to Cley where all I manage is two Greenshank, a Bittern and an ultra-distant Whiskered Tern candidate heading west out to sea….

unidentified wader over the Hills (DB)


3rd June
Blakeney, wide blue yonder (AL, RMa)

It's all about putting in the effort. Alex picked me up at 03:34 and we were turning every stone by 04:30. Unfortunately the stones only had crustacea under them, and looking in the habo wasn't a lot better. A punishing search had turned up just one, very visible and vocal Willow Warbler, and a Whitethroat, and that was probably breeding on the Freshes. No sound of James' Hippo. All about one bird, we said. Out to the hills = no bird. Well, a juv. Robin, but that doesn't count. 13.5hrs, 14 miles on foot, one migrant.

Blakeney dawn: hare today, gone tommorow (AL)

2nd June

Blakeney Point (JG)

Early am, second of June, wind from Belarus, seafog from Waxham to Whalsay, rareometer swinging like a dutch dinner party, and all members of Team PB are either nursing crippling hangovers, crying into pillows or inhaling French pesticides in the name of corporate science. All except muggins, as I’d been lumbered with an owl survey on Friday night, and therefore had nothing better to do at 5.45am than roll out of bed and do Blakeney Point. Cue the usual Blakeney routine – trudge, yawn, curse shingle, trudge more, curse lousy juvenile Meadow Pipit, trudge more, kick strandline plastic ball at Oystercatcher, curse damp sueda, trudge more, poke dead fulmar with stick etc.. Then just before halfway house - usual routine again – corner of the eye, see flick of warbler in sueda, lazily turn around and give a half assed “ppffsssssssshhh”, in case the bird’s dense enough to think you’re a distressed nestling, or pansy enough to fly up at the first sign of danger. Luckily, this one’s a pansy and it flies straight onto the string fence (the one they put up to keep the Little Terns out of the good habitat), and – shit the bed - brown bloody hippo. And of course, being a rarity, at the first sight of raised bins it bombs off down the shingle, disappearing into the fog, back towards coastguards, a tiny diminishing speck, lost behind the Black-headed Gulls and mass of Linnet. After twenty minutes of stress, swearing and clumsy flushing, and it hems itself in on one of the southern sueda belts, where it apologetically sits up and starts singing to a particularly attractive Wren.  The features are all duly blasted – short, stubby bill, large dark smudge on the outer lower mandible, bold supercillium continuing behind eye, contrasty wings, buffy underparts, warm toned uppers, short husky“tssk” call, phylloscy jizz – all pointing to Booted rather than Sykes’… (Cheers to Mitchell for the Svensson check over the phone).





Booty luv (JG)


Despite the possbility of spelling doom for the Little Tern colony – death in slow-motion by geriatric Norfolk twitcher stampede - I phoned it out, waited for the first arrivals, and then legged it off to finish the point. Disappointing, as it turned out – one Spotfly and a couple of Whitethroats was the sum. Hills were equally poor, livened up only by a drake Whinchat, the resident Rousel and the arrival of a love-sick AL and a beer-sick DB. We chumped a distant ringtail harrier that was probably a Hen and probably not a Pallid, photographed some flyovers and went home. Gotta love early June – six migrant passerines logged, and only two of them were technically shite.


Hills win chat (AL)


Kelling, Salthouse (AL)

Tempting though the bootie call was the pain of the dip was too much to get me to walk down the point (a pain only slightly numbed by the '92 Spurn spring bird), a bash round the bushes, marshes and fields produced nothing more exciting than Turtle Dove.

common eurasian obligate brood parasite, image taken with camera gear an order of magnitude cheaper than DSLRDB & JG (AL) 

1st June (RMa)

Disappointingly quiet on the Hills today, though I was on over the tide so got to see a procession of 14 Gannet, 3 Fulmar and a single adult Kittiwake in an intensive 10minute seawatch.