Showing posts from May, 2020

Evening Birding at Cannock Chase

Keen to get out and see some different birds from those of the past few months, my dad and I went for an evening birding on Cannock Chase in Staffordshire on Saturday. We've never made the trip out here before, mostly because the journey along the M42 and A5 can be hellish in normal circumstances. This trip ended up being a great one for socially-distanced birding and we didn't see a single other person the whole time! Our main targets were the trio of night birds available on the chase - Nightjar, Long-Eared Owl and Woodcock, but any other heathland/woodland specialities were very welcome. Being new to the area, I'd done a bit of preliminary research, but pulled up at the Severn Springs car park at 7:30 without much of a plan. We followed a likely looking track out the back of the car park, heading left and soon racked up a long list of singing warblers, including Garden Warbler . As the woods thinned out, we enjoyed watching a Willow Warbler attending a nest hidden und

Getting Out

With the recent lessening of lockdown regulations I've been able to get out a bit more in the last week and explore some local sites. With university exams I haven't been getting out as much as I'd like. But I've only able to walk from home for 8 weeks now so in the few trips recently I've seen many birds I haven't seen in several months! Last Thursday I visited a new site for me - Tucklesholme Quarry - just over the border into Staffordshire. This site was only very recently established and shows great potential. It appears to be reasonably reliable for Temminck's Stint each spring already! The hope is that this site might one day bring Bittern back to Staffordshire where it formerly bred. At the moment, the reeedbeds certainly aren't well enough established but that didn't stop me logging 8 species of warbler on my visit (missing only Reed and Willow Warbler). Record shot - testing out my Nikon P900 on fast-moving targets! There was no

Nikon Coolpix P900: First Impressions

If you read nothing else in this post, just know that I recommend this camera. It is fantastic. I'm very grateful to those on Twitter who responded to my tweet and recommended it to me. I could not be more pleased with my purchase so far. I wanted to write an article to capture my initial enthusiasm before I begin to look a bit deeper into modes and settings. Consider this as a review rather than a how-to guide, because I'm still very much learning! An initial disclaimer: I'm not a photographer - I know the photos I am posting wouldn't win any awards, but nor do I want them to. I am a birder with a camera. My main wish from my camera is that I can take a record shot (or slightly better) of the birds that I see and if the bird poses particularly nicely perhaps a photo that would be considered good. The P900 fulfils this purpose and surpasses it. This is largely due to its most impressive feature, and the feature that I'm sure will have initially attracted any


Most birders will probably admit their birding is a fine line between a hobby and an obsession. The listing bug is so easy to catch! I've definitely strayed more towards twitching recently. Lately though, I've tried to resist the urge and focus my listing temptations elsewhere. I've decided my favourite thing is self-finding birds - nothing can beat the excitement. I know, this is far easier said than done. Every twitcher would prefer to find the bird themselves! It is so much harder, the rewards are so much more elusive and, perhaps most of all, the rules are so much greyer. I tried to make my own self-found list - something I could count and something I could try to improve. It wasn't easy. That is, until I found Punk Birder's rules. Self-finding always makes sightings so much better, such as this surprise Spoonbill on my patch in June 2017 I was late to the party, and these rules have been around for ages, but to me they were a revelation. If you haven&

Birding Trip Report: Mauritius 2019

This is a birding trip report to Mauritius in July. Birding in Mauritius is not very conventional. Firstly, because there aren't many species you can see and secondly because of the strange mix of introduced and native species that inhabit the island. What little birding information there is available online tends to be from typical 'island-hopping' tours which spend a day or two on the island to sweep up all the endemics. My main motivation for writing this report is that there really isn't much information available online, especially for a family-motivated longer trip. In July 2019, I spent two weeks on Mauritius for a family holiday. The focus was not birding, but I was keen to see as many of the endemics as I could and also a broad range of species because all of the introduced species were generally new for me. All of the island endemics can be seen in just 2 days of birding (or even potentially in just 1) and in this time, the introduced species should take car

April Showers

The weather has suddenly changed lately, and with it there is the possibility of an interesting wader/tern. One of the first birds I heard on my walk yesterday was the distant rattle of a Lesser Whitethroat . My first of the year. I followed the sound for around 100m right to the boundary of the field but sadly the bird must have been hiding some distance over the hedge so there was no chance of a sighting. On the lake, I found a male Gadwall sleeping in the reeds on the edge, which was a good tick. There was no sign of the Wigeon from last week. As it got darker under an ominous-looking rain cloud, a group of hirundines dropped down to the lake. With them, were the birds of the day -  5 Swift . An April Swift is a challenge I always set myself each year, and I managed it on the final day of the month! What fantastic birds. The first of the year is always a thrill. Also among the hirundines, I found 2 Sand Martin . These were also my first of the year - I don't think I'