Whos keeping an eye on me....

Friday, 4 December 2015

Red Throated Diver -Gavia stelatta

A winter bird has been at West Kirby Marine Lake for just about a week. A trip to North Wales meant only a minor detour to see this bird. A gloomy day didn't help with the Photography but I guess a virtual Black and White shot for a Black and white bird doesn't do any harm


also on the lake
Great Crested Grebe, again in Winter plumage

As is this Red Breasted Merganser

All three species look stunning in the breeding seasons.

while a few miles further down the coast this Common Scoter found itself on an inland pool rather than the high seas


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Crested Tit - Lophophanes cristatus

A mammoth 726 mile return journey to the Scottish Highlands to try and locate Crested Tits. A little planning and a back up plan of an overnight stay just in case we didn't get to see them on the first time of asking.

A 02.00am start and we arrived at Loch Garten at 08.30am. Chris and myself had the reserve to ourselves which is probably no surprise as the Ospreys have long since left for the winter and ..... well, the winter had set in with a glorious dump of snow over the previous few days and nights leaving the approach roads precarious even if the surrounding landscape looked fabulous with its blanket of deep snow.

We had three species that we were keen to see Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbill and Red Squirrel.

We were first entertained by the incredibly friendly Coal Tits. Over 100 followed us up from the car park to the feeder area (almost checking out our pockets for food). We arrived at the closed visitor centre and located the feeder which was trying its best to keep 100+ Coal Tits, 3 Greater spotted Woodpeckers and a number of other woodland species happy.

We soon had a Red squirrel on the feeder aswell...... there was certainly not enough room for everything.

I went back to the car for some bird seed and the party started. Chris had 4 Coal Tits feeding from his hand, then later on 3 perched ontop of his Camera Lens, one on his hat while dozens were happily to come and land inside the seed tub. An entertaining encounter.

The two Red Squirrels showed well all morning around the feeder area.

However we were really here for the Crested Tit. We had been waiting in freezing temperature for over 2 hours and we had only heard a single call from somewhere within the forest, then at 11.00am a distinctive trill came from almost immediately in front of us and there picking its way through a low bush was a wonderful Crested Tit. It joined the Coal Tits on the feeder and Chris and myself high fived and spent the next 3 hours enjoying this charismatic small bird. During the afternoon we were fortunate to have a second Crested Tit in front of us.


We had certainly cleaned up on the Red Squirrel and Crested Tits and had no sightings of any Crossbills. We knew the weather in the Highlands was going to turn even more wintery over night so made the decision to set off for home before early evening while the roads were still drivable.... a good decision as it turned out.

All in a days work!


Monday, 9 November 2015

Turkey October 2015

A week in Turkey with friends in the cooler part of the year was a nice change to the usually stifling heat that we endure during the summer months of July and August. As always we stay in the mountain village of Uzumulu, high above the coastal town of Fethiye in South West Turkey. The village is still pretty well untouched by commercialism and hasn't lost its unique Turkish charm, that said it was noticeable that some trees had been taken down in preparation for development on the outskirts of the village, the usual good numbers of Syrian Woodpeckers were down to just a few pairs..... maybe the season was partly to blame as much as the loss of trees in this one area!

We planned to have a relaxing "doing nothing" week but we managed to fit in 3 descent trips within about an hours drive and also a local trip to the wonderful Cadianda ruins further up the mountain from the village.

I keep a list  of garden birds in Uzumulu and managed to add a few new species this year. Along with the year on year regulars such as Eurasian Jay, Syrian Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Goldfinch ETC (the Orphean Warblers and Olivaceous Warblers have moved on by September) I added Serin, a pair of Black Redstart, a dozen White Wagtail and a female Blackcap. My first ever Hummingbird Hawk-moth was a nice surprise in the garden, it returned on numerous occasions during the week.

Serin (also Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch)


Syrian Woodpecker


In the Pine forest behind the garden I did my pilgrimage to find the brilliant Krupers Nuthatch and dually watched 3 individuals feeding in the early morning sun, Dozens of Willow Warblers were in the same area and I also added Goldcrest and Song Thrush as new birds for the Turkey list. It was nice to watch a few Sombre Tits this time rather the distant views I have endured in the past as single birds came directly to the garden to feed very early in the morning, unfortunately the images I got were in dense shade..... But heyho.
Krupers Nuthatch

Sombre Tit

An hours drive to Patara ruins was fruitful not only as Liz and myself for the first time managed to walk all the paths around the site which took in ruins that we had not seen before but it also took us close to part of the marshes.
About Patara
I couldn't have said it better myself!.......

Marsh Harrier and Hobby were the raptors on show with crippling views of a Hobby chasing Dragonflies around the smaller pools. The area also held a dozen or so Reed Warblers, Cettis Warbler, Red Backed Shrikes a single Rufous Tailed Scrub Robin while the wetlands had plenty of Little Egrets, Little Grebe and a lone Snipe.

Red Backed Shrike - female

Red Backed Shrike -male

Marshes and more ruins at Patara

Reed Warbler

Even more Hummingbird Hawk-moths were on show while we also found this little fella hopping around the ruins, first thought was a Gerbil?

Lizard - sunbathing

The bird of the holiday was the stunning Blue Rock Thrush. At least a few pairs were on the site, a life bird for me so I was happy to return a few days later to see them again..... although I did catch up with even more at Tlos ruins.

The default birds of the site were huge flocks of Corn Buntings which attracted the attention of a pair of Kestrels which stumped me for a while as they seemed to be hunting "Falcon style" as they swooped in to the flock on numerous occasions. Black Redstarts and good numbers of Stonechat were prevalent on most overhead wires, on top of  bushes or simply on the ruins while a stunning Finsch's Wheatear kept to the lower lying areas of the ruins usually flying from stone to stone at a safe distance.
Finsch's Wheatear

Black Redstart



Whilst driving to Tlos two large Eagles caught my eye flying low and infront of the car, I was just able pull over and get  out to watch them fly across the path of the car and out of site over some trees unfortunately they didn't reappear but Greater Spotted Eagles frequent the area and are the default species around the areas of YakaPark \ Tlos.
Looking down on the Lycian city of Tlos

the upper City

rather threatening clouds over Tlos


Lycian tombs

At Tlos the usual Western Rock Nuthatch were loud and visible (although there is an old lady that has a souvenir stall where she sells really annoying versions of the Nuthatch call in a form of whistle), large flocks of Linnet, Crested Larks also a few Blue Rock Thrush and Black Redstart.
Male Black Redstart

Crested Lark

Western Rock Nuthatch

Just before returning  home the lads had a morning out with a drive upto Cadianda to see the Roman ruins. Its a brilliant site that has been taken over by woodland which gives it a real mountain fortress feel high up overlooking the coastal city of Fethiye.
 Simon, Phil, Pat and Kevin

and we just about reach the eight of the highest peaks....

Local speciality..... Krupers Nuthatch