Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Valentino - The Med Gull

It was great to catch up with this old east London favourite at the weekend - Valentino. I believe it is now the 15th winter that Valentino has returned to this neck of the woods, historically always seen in and around Valentines Park in Ilford he has now become an annual visitor to Wanstead Flats as well, and can often be found roosting on the the football pitches or just loafing around Alexandra Lake.

Gulls in general are long-lived birds and it wouldn't be unusual for a Mediterranean Gull to live for 20+ years but with Valentino's healthy Mediterranean life style and diet he could be around for another 10 years yet!

Adult Winter, Valentino


Adult Winter, Valentino

Adult Winter, Valentino

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Shetland - the supporting cast and numbers

Our motley east London crew consisting of team members Paul Hawkins, Martin Blow, Nick Croft & of course moi, amassed a very reasonable 134 species in our week on Shetland, of which I added five new birds - Siberian Rubythroat, Lanceolated Warbler, Pallid Harrier, Hornemanns Arctic Redpoll and with the good wishes of the BBRC Eastern Bonelli's Warbler. We also managed to find our own Blue Tit and Great Tit - which is not to be sniffed at, as both of these birds are scarce visitors to the isles. We also had enormous fun one afternoon chasing first an Acro which turned out to be a Reed Warbler and then a Locustella which turned out to be a Grasshopper Warbler both along the burn at Channelwick and surely that's what makes Shetland so special - every bird is worth checking and then double checking as you never know what's lurking in those nettles. And then there was that wet Bunting around the Sumburgh Lighthouse garden which we all got over excited about, fuelled by alcohol we all made assumptions which were later downgraded!

Shetland
This beauty was sheltering in the Virkie Willows and was one of two Long-eared Owls we saw that week.
Flock, Shetland
Brambling were numerous in number with flocks of over a hundred seen around the crop fields at the Sumburgh Hotel and Wester Quarff.
Shetland
Just the one Great Grey Shrike, this very mobile bird was seen along the East shore of the Virkie Pools.
Shetland
This Little Bunting at Boddam gives us the run around - which was typical of this species throughout the week!
Shetland
My first ever 'Northern' Bullfinch in the crop field at Geosetter.
Shetland
Three Olive-backed Pipits, this was one of two birds at Lower Voe, with another seen at Wester Quarff being a nice rewarding team find.
Other birds of note but weren't featured in the last few Shetland blogposts was a Red-breasted Flycatcher at the back of the kids playground at Toab, where we also saw another Blue Tit and of course the Lanceolated Warbler at Quendale, I did manage one photo but due to the fading light and distance when I took the photo it wasn't worth posting - even after heavy cropping! So here's a link to the finders Chris Griffin's blog with excellent photographs of a great bird.

Along with the great birds and company, I also managed to lose and then thankfully retrieve 1 rucksack with camera, passport, flight tickets still inside, 1 iPhone, 1 Walkie Talkie and 1 Canon Extender - thanks to Jim Nicolson for returning that expensive piece of hardware. On top of that I gave Didier Drogba a run for his money by face-planting head first into the long grass whilst looking for a Bluethroat much to the amusement of Mr Hawkins & Mr Blow who literally pissed themselves with laughter - Shetland 2014 was memorable for many reasons!