Wednesday 30 August 2023

30 August 2023 - Nightjars on Whitmore Common

Had one of the THE most amazing ornithological pleasures today in the form of two European Nightjars roosting by day on a fallen tree on Whitmore Common - all thanks to eagle-eyed Malky for the find.

I caught and ringed Nightjars in the past - they are amazing birds in every way possible: plumage, ecology, migration, etc - they have it all!

Sunday 20 August 2023

20 August 2023 - RED-FOOTED BOOBY, Bishop Rock Lighthouse, Isle of Scilly

Now, let's be honest, I've been bloody lucky with my pelagic trips out of St Mary's on the MV Sapphire with Joe Pender at the helm and Captain Bob Flood having an amazing hit-rate, even when there's numerous other birders on the vessel. My 2023 summer holiday on Scilly was just a week long and the first trip out resulted in a Scopoli's and South Polar Skua - another amazing bit of luck for me! (Ask Bob how lucky I've been on other Scilly Pelagics!) 

Heading back to the mainland on 6 August 2023, after bidding farewell to the Oriole Tours birding group that were going out on their Sunday trip as I queued up for the Scillonian, I confess I felt more than a little smug that I'd done so well... It was just 24 hours later, on Monday 7 August, that my wry smile was wiped off my face - Bob Flood incredibly found a Red-footed Booby in flight from the last of the Oriole Tours pelagics for 2023. Red-footed Booby! The stuff of dreams - if you're that way inclined...

The trail went quiet, as one would expect for a fly-by pelagic bird encounter, until the following Monday (14 Aug) when the Scilly Pelagic group stopped by the Bishop Rock lighthouse just in case the booby was sitting on top. It was!

Having clearly been in the area now for a week, there was every expectation that the bird would be there again, and so started a full-scale twitch by the keenest folks. Though keen, I had just had a holiday on Scilly and couldn't escape - well, not immediately. As the week progressed it became apparent that the bird was hanging in there for visitors - the following weekend, a plan had been hatched and now needed executing. A fuel-efficient drive to Penzance on the Saturday with my son, Max, was followed by a hotel night and a full English before hopping on the Scillonian yet again. Arriving in Hugh Town, the 140+ birders disembarked the Scillonian and then immediately stepped down the granite harbour steps on to the two awaiting Scilly Boatmen Association boats - we were off. The Bishop Rock lighthouse is several miles offshore - the journey taking 40+ minutes...and being 165' high, it wasn't immediately obvious whether our chosen quarry would be here for the party, indeed, with bad weather, there had been no news for a couple of days.

Our concerns were allayed as I stood in the cabin of the MV Kingfisher and heard on the radio that the Booby was still there - we just couldn't see it yet. Minutes later we were looking up at Britain's second record of Red-footed Booby - phew! As we circled the lighthouse, so the lighting changed and those ridiculous feet showed off their wonderful colour - job done!

    Copyright SWNS

Copyright SWNS

Copyright SWNS

All images taken by 'Ross Newham' - Copyright and Licence Permission to reproduce images can sought by contacting SWNS

Wednesday 16 August 2023

16 August 2023 - Black Stork, Isle of Sheppey

Having first seen the juvenile Black Stork distantly at the raptor viewpoint a couple of days ago, I REALLY wanted to have another shot at getting something better than the hazy blurred distant images I first got. Thankfully, the bird was still around when I arrived - and I saw it land behind a small hedge. In position, I then waited for a wee while before it took off to roost closer to the haystack - job done!