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 »


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 »


Early Summer Walk – British Birding

One of the pleasures of being back in UK in late Spring/early Summer is the abundance of wildlife, wildflowers and fresh foliage all around and walking in the area I grew up in brings back a lot of memories of when I used to go on Sunday morning strolls with my father. A few days ago I took a nice walk in sunny weather along the Darent Valley near Dartford in Kent which used to be my “local patch” when I was much younger and spent hours photographing wildlife of all sorts; insects, flowers and birds. With fine weather there were many birds singing, which made them relatively approachable and a huge abundance of damselflies indicated a major emergence of them in the few days previous. Take a look at some of the photos I got on my walk. Read more »


Passerine Migrants near Rudong – China Birding

Apart from great birds like Courtois’s Laughingthrush, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Cabot’s Tragopan, Reed Parrotbill and Elliot’s Pheasant, one of the main objectives on last month’s Zootherabirding tour of SE China was to witness the migration of East Asian passerines, particularly many of those species that can turn up, or potentially turn up, in UK – one might say “Sibe’ vagrants”.

By birding in and around small stands of trees and hedgerows situated close to the coast where open country was the prevailing landscape we managed to find a high number of migrant species including a few really sought-after birds. As with any migration-based birding the weather conditions are key to seeing birds in good numbers and we had a variety of conditions which gradually got better and better in terms of providing mini “falls” of migrants. Read more »


Brown Bush Warbler at Emei Feng – China Birding

Although the Zootherabirding tour to Southeast China last month featured a lot of very colourful and rare birds one of the species I was most keen to see was one of the brownest of “little brown jobs” – Brown Bush Warbler. One might ask why a skulking brown bush warbler would be high on my list of priorities? Well, I find Bush Warblers an interesting group of birds as they are a real challenge to even see let alone identify, plus the fact that as someone who does most of their birding in Thailand this is the only Bush Warbler on the Thai list that I had not previously seen. Fortunately, at Emei Feng, in China Brown Bush Warbler proved fairly easy to see at the higher altitudes in open habitat and its amusing skulking “peek-a-boo” behaviour delighted everyone in the group and was definitely one of the highlights of the day and for most of us it was one of the more memorable birds of the trip. Read more »


North Wales 4-day Trip, 23-26th May 2017 – British Birding

Although I am lucky enough to spend a large amount of my time on birding trips in Thailand and other parts of Asia, I do not get that much time to spend birding in UK and in particular I spend very little time in my home country in Spring when it is easier to see many breeding birds and summer visitors. With time on my hands a good weather forecast I was able to spend four days in North Wales looking for species that I seldom seen on my visits to UK, including a few scarce breeding species that I have not seen for many years. I started on the island of Anglesey, visiting RSPB South Stack, Holyhead Harbour and Penmon Point for seabirds and Red-billed Chough before moving on to The Spinneys Local Nature Reserve near Bangor and Aber Falls to look for scarce woodland species. I then visited RSPB Ynys Hir, again for woodland species, before finally ending up at the strangely named World’s End, close to Wrexham, where moorland and woodland species can be found, with a highlight being lekking Black Grouse. Read more »


Old Lodge Nature Reserve, Ashdown Forest – British Birding

Just 45 minutes away by car from my mother’s home I can get to Ashdown Forest. This is a great place to find a number of woodland and heathland birds that are not easily seen in Southern England outside of the best habitat and today I made a visit to this very scenic area. In the past I have found Old Lodge Sussex Wildlife Trusts Nature Reserve to be one of the best areas in Ashdown Forest for birds so I headed straight to it and spent the best part of 5 hours walking around, taking photos of the birds I found although today the results were not particularly good due to the persistent poor light.

Despite the gloomy conditions there were lots of birds singing and calling and I got nice views of a number of species scarce in this part of the UK including Spotted Flycatcher, Common Redstart, Crossbill, Tree Pipit, Woodlark, Common Cuckoo and Willow Warbler. Quite sobering to think that many of these were common when I was younger. Read more »

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