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National Monument Jakarta – Birding Indonesia

Jakarta has not got a lot to offer in terms of green spaces but the large park in which the National Monument is set is a good spot for a few nice birds and a leisurely morning of birding. A taxi ride from our airport hotel took us through the polluted mess that is Jakarta, with a taxi driver trying to run the meter up by going the wrong way at every turn, eventually got myself and David Cousins to the park gate and within minutes we were hearing the call of Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker from nearby flowering trees. These little birds were frustratingly difficult to see at first with just some brief glimpses but soon after we were enjoying eye-level views of a stunning male in perfect light; nice. This was the first of several interesting species we were to see in the park. Read more »

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Travel & Birds in Andorra – Birding in Andorra

High mountains are a habitat I really love. The open spaces and feeling small among the massive landscapes is something that always draws me further and further into the location with a desire to see what the view is like from the top of the next mountain. So, while on a recent holiday in Europe it was exciting to spend a couple of days in Andorra. I could have chosen anywhere along the Spain/France border but I have always found small countries like Andorra intriguing. The high mountains along the France-Spain border are home to a number of exciting European birds but as I was on holiday with a non-birding partner I did not target any species in particular instead we just spent time in beautiful mountain scenery just seeing what appeared along the way; species such as European Griffon Vulture, Water Pipit, Alpine Accentor, Citril Finch, Dipper, Red-backed Shrike and Alpine Chough stood out for me but the real highlight was spending time walking within such fantastic mountain scenery.

Andorra turned out to be a great place to visit with non-birders and still enjoy the outdoors and a number of good birds. I hope the following provides some helpful information to other birders who visit Andorra as there is little online about birding within this beautiful country. Read more »

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Leica Telescope Repair

Last week I traveled up to Ryston, near Ely, to get my birding ‘scope repaired and yesterday I gave it a proper test at Oare Marshes, Kent, getting wonderfully clear views of both Long-billed Dowitcher and Bonaparte’s Gull. I would like to give a huge thanks to Gary Hawkins of East Coast Binocular Repairs for helping me out in an optical emergency and restoring my ‘scope to its original condition for a very reasonable price while I waited. I was very thankful for the restoration of my ‘scope as when I contacted Leica they were unable to provide a repair although their staff, particularly Jo Pertwee, were very helpful and put me in contact with Gary.

The problem with my ‘scope was that the coating had come off of the objective lens resulting in a very foggy image and making it impossible to use at higher magnifications. This problem was acknowledged by Leica as a manufacturing error but they did not have any lenses available to replace those in ‘scopes with damage owned by their customers, including myself. Read more »

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Camargue Quick Visit – Birding in France

When I realized I would be visiting Southern France as part of a non-birding holiday I immediately realized that I should make some time, even if limited, to visit the Camargue and nearby Crau Plains both of which potentially would give me some exciting birding. Staying in the nearby town of Arles, where we visited the Roman Ampitheatre, the nearby town of Avignon and Roman Aqueduct of Pont Du Gard, I found that I had a couple of early mornings free before the sight-seeing began in earnest. Of course I used this time to drive into the Eastern side of the Camargue one day and to search for Little Bustard in the stony Crau region on the other morning.

Hopefully the following will be of some use to other birders visiting the region as part of non-birding trips and show them that some really good birds can be seen in a very limited time; my highlights were Little Bittern, Little Bustard, European Roller, Short-toed Eagle, European Bee-eater, Montagu’s Harrier and Tawny Pipit. Read more »

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Mont Ventoux; Early Morning Birding – Birding in France

Through the second half of July I made a road trip around France, visiting Northeastern Spain and Andorra too. Although the trip was mostly for sight-seeing I made some time for birding in several early mornings, the first of which was at Mont Ventoux in France. We stayed close to this mountain for a couple of days while visiting tourist sites in Provence and it allowed me to get in a few hours of birding, two days in a row, before the sight-seeing began. I saw a nice selection of species in Alpine meadows and scattered woodland here and it was a pleasant spot for birding while waiting for a non-birder to get ready for more touristic activities with Rock Bunting, Red Crossbill, Crested Tit, Western Bonelli’s Warbler and Citril Finch being numerous and easy to see. Hopefully the following notes will be useful in planning a visit here for others thinking about traveling in the area. Read more »

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Survey of Calling Male Corn Buntings – British Birding

More Corn Buntings! Many people may be wondering what is my obsession with what is a rather dull-coloured, sparrow-like bird regarding the fact that I have posted quite frequently about this species here, on my Facebook timeline and on my Twitter account. Well, apart from the fact that in UK this is a red list species, meaning that it is of prime conservation concern, and that I grew up with them in the countryside around me, I also wrote my degree dissertation on crop selection of calling male Corn Buntings; with all of this it can be seen that this is a species that has always captured my imagination. Over the last few months I have been back in Kent, staying at my mother’s house from where I have made loads of walks through the countryside and made a bit of a survey of where local Corn Buntings are holding territories. Here I have made some notes on the features of Corn Bunting territories in North West Kent and have included the territory map that I have created and a whole lot of Corn Bunting photos taken in the area over the last few months. Read more »

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Twitching at Frensham Common – British Birding

I very rarely go twitching but today was an exception. Having dipped on Red-footed Falcon last week at Minsmere a second chance presented itself with another bird present at Frensham Common, in Surrey, over the last few days. The plan was to get there early, which was somewhat spoiled by traffic on the M25 but  I still managed to get there before most other birders twitching the Falcon and it would turn out that this was a good move – the early bird catches the worm.

Frensham Common is an area of heathland and woodland owned and managed by the National Trust and as such it also contained really good numbers of heathland specialists and some nice woodland birds in good abundance too. As well as successfully twitching the Red-footed Falcon other highlights included Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, Tree Pipit, Spotted Flycatcher and Common Redstart. Read more »

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