Category: Dave’s Birding Blog

Garden list improving and some terrible photos

What’s that line in the sky next to the supermoon of 7 April?Moth trap lighting up the Ivy-clad Alders whilst listening for migrating sea-ducks.So five+ weeks into lock-down of sorts in the UK and I’ve got to say the majority are observing the rules ar…

Garden list improving and some terrible photos

What’s that line in the sky next to the supermoon of 7 April?Moth trap lighting up the Ivy-clad Alders whilst listening for migrating sea-ducks.So five+ weeks into lock-down of sorts in the UK and I’ve got to say the majority are observing the rules ar…

Enjoying the garden

Well this wasn’t what any of us were expecting at the start of the year. In January I’d set off with all good intentions of getting my retirement blog going on a regular basis – started off pretty well, leisurely dropping in on places and birds when I …

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Bumper January birding

Well this retirement malarkey takes some getting used to – being able to go off for the day any time you want (within reason) is helping the year-list no end. Last year we had a brief sojourn in Cyprus (seeing Wallcreeper and Finsch’s Wheatear) and I v…

Israel Sept-Oct 2019 Part 3 – Tel Aviv area

Wednesday 2nd OctoberToday we were heading back north to the Tel Aviv area via the Dead Sea and Jerusalem so we had a shot at a few birds we’d missed. We set off at 5am so that we could get to Hazeva around dawn. Our previous instructions for the Phara…

Israel Sept-Oct 2019 Part 2 – Eilat

Saturday 28th SeptemberMost places would be closed today so it was the day we decided to travel down to Eilat and call in at desert sites en-route (as the military wouldn’t be active).We passed through Mitzpe Ramon and the ‘crater’ – a rather spectacul…

Israel Sept-Oct 2019 Part 1 – Negev

Israel 2019A summary of a birding trip from 24 Sept – 3 Oct 2019Dave Bickerton, Mark Breaks, Margaret Breaks.A year of hospital appointments, surgery and the like have meant I’ve been rather tardy at keeping my blog up-to-date. However, retirement has …

Goa 13-26 Nov 2018

It was a late decision but we needed a holiday having not been on a break all year so we plumped for Goa in November when the weather should be fine and birds plentiful. Once we’d booked our quiet hotels, I started getting the field guides to the area,…

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The hottest summer on record

The news today confirmed what we all knew already in that the summer has been the hottest overall in England on record. It’s certainly ben a very sunny one with my PV installation hitting record figures through May and June though late July and August have been a little more ‘normal’. This weather has my garden plants in at right tizzy. Many have done well but a lot of the ‘early autumn’ flowers are already starting to go over which may not be good for the insects.

Female Ghost Moth

Moth records have certainly been a but topsy-turvy – generally a poor summer but I’ve had a couple of really odd records of salt marsh species which have turned up in my garden trap – how bizarre! Butterflies have been good in the garden with a Painted Lady rather regular.

Painted Lady

I’ve also tried my hand at hoverfly identification – a minefield but something to pass fine summer days once the moth trap is empty and no birds around.

Eristalis pertinax

Local birding has been a little frustrating of late but, nevertheless, I’ve seen some good birds on Rishton Reservoir which, once again, has dropped very low due to a leak in the canal somewhere along our section. This has revealed some lovely mud but had unintended consequences on the pair of Great Crested Grebes that nested on the small res. They produced two young but as the water level dropped, the patch of after available to them diminished and eventually the parents left the youngsters to it. Amazingly one of them managed to find the culvert under the railway track and swam to safety. The other must have perished.

Juvenile Avocet

The mud on the west back attracted in a few waders but nothing like as many as last year. A juvenile Avocet was most unexpected though perhaps a long overdue visitor considering their range expansion. There’s been very few hirundines around this year but a good number of gulls have been loafing on the waters edge. A couple of weeks ago there were at least 500 LBBG’s and in amongst them was what I think must have been a juvenile Caspian Gull but it was missing one feature that would have clinched it.

Possible juvenile Caspian Gull

The same day a juvenile Kittiwake dropped in and in the preceding week I’d had up to two little Egrets! So imagine my surprise this-morning when I got down there in heavy drizzle to see a Great White Egret wading through the water. Unfortunately it didn’t hang around but I managed a few images to record the event.

Great White Egret – Rishton Reservoir

Bulgaria May 2018, part 2

After a good breakfast and a local meander down the lane where I had Whinchat, Woodchat and Stonechat as well as eh regular goodies, we packed some butties for lunch and headed for the Burgas wetlands. First port of call was just off the main road overlooking the shallow Burgas Lake that was covered in birds. Great rafts of Great White Pelicans with a few Dalmatians dotted in amongst them gorged themselves in one corner of the lake along with gulls and terns. Pygmy Cormorants were in amongst the Greater Cormorants and Great Crested Grebes fringed the lakeside. There were A few ducks, notably Garganey and Pochard and raptors overhead.

Great White Pelican

Dalmatian Pelican

Pygmy Cormorant

Flight of Great White Pelicans

After an hour or so, the Pelicans started to move off and so we did too to a lake on the south side of Burgas where we had great views of Suqacco Heron and trip firsts such as Glossy Ibis, Gull-billed Tern and Great Reed Warbler.
At the salt pans back in Burgas there were lots of waders but all a little distant. Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints made up the bulk of the migrants with Terns and Avocets abundant. A couple of Slender-billed Gulls were here too.
Then it was a little further north for lunch whilst enjoying reed-bed birds such as Penduline Tits though access to the main reed beds was not possible and it was very warm!


Crested Lark

The afternoon was spent a the reservoir near Poroy where we enjoyed around 25 Whiskered Terns feeding along with Ruddy Sheduck, Wood Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts, White-tailed Eagle and al three ‘regular’ woodpeckers in the nearby woodland.

Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern

Ruddy Shelduck

A final look at the marshes on the way back gave us a few more waders and a host of Little Gulls and then it was back to Burgas to our Hotel for the night. After lunch we took a stroll round the block to hear, and eventually see, a Scop’s Owl.
We headed north on Thursday through the eastern Balkan Mountains with stops at several places en-route to Varna where we picked up Eastern Bonellli’s Warbler, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Barred Warbler, Wood Warbler, four Woodpeckers plus Wryneck as well as Hoopoes and Bee-eaters galore. The Flycatchers were around a nest-box scheme where around 40/200 boxes were occupied. We had excellent prolonged views of males singing (some trying to find a mate, others defending the territory they had).

Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler

Cirl Bunting

Syrian Woodpecker

Semi-collared Flycatcher in habitat

After Ice-creams in Varna we headed for Cape Kaliakra to get some more special birds. The place was alive with Pied Wheatears and birds on the sea included the Mediterranean subspecies of Shag, around 700 Yelkouan Shearwaters, a few Black-necked Grebes and Black-throated Divers and an Arctic Skua chasing terns for good measure. We also got Alpine Swifts here.

Pied Wheatear

Our hotel for the night was just south of Lake Durankulak and so early the following morning we headed to the area passing innumerable Red-backed Shrikes on the way. There had been a thunderstorm overnight and suspected that this was a ‘fall’ of migrants. As we arrived, a White-tailed Eagle arose from its roost. The reed bed was alive with bird song – the loud grating song of Great Reed Warblers filled the air and soon the cacophony was joined by a reeling Savi’s Warbler. Ferruginous Ducks were in the pools and Lesser Grey Shrikes in the surrounding vegetation. The omnipresent Orioles gave us some splendid view before Mark found a pair of Paddyfield Warblers which we enjoyed. Montague’s and Marsh Harriers quartered the reedbeds.

Paddyfield Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Red-backed Shrike

With all the target birds in the bag as it were, we headed back for breakfast and check-out before heading to Kavarna where we had great views of singing Marsh Warblers despite the nearby traffic and road-works.

Calandra Lark
Marsh Warbler

The it was off to do some steppe birding – yet more Red-backed Shrikes – we estimated 2-300 along a 5km stretch of track – as well as our first Calandra and Short-toed Larks. Alpine Swifts buzzed overhead nad we eventually found a Long-legged Buzzard with better views of a second bird later in the day. We even jammed in on a second male Levant Sparrowhawk as it was mobbed by corvids.
Finally, we finished off at a couple of Bee-eater colonies as a relaxing conclusion to our four days in Bulgaria before having our final dinner together and then getting dropped off at the airport.
All-in-all, a splendid trip with 166 species recorded and 12 new for myself. I’d heartily recommend Neophron Tours and Bulgaria as a destination for some great wildlife. And I’ve not even mentioned the flowers and Butterflies we saw!!!