Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Lost in Leuven, Melancholy in Mechelen and Legging it in Liege



A non-birding weekend watching footy with fellow Owls in Belgium. Friday 17 Oct saw us based in Leuven for the weekend. A beautiful university town east of Brussels. A few beers and a snack in town during the afternoon and then off to see OH Leuven v Excelsior Vitron in the evening. Arriving just in time for KO, after walking the scenic route. OH Leuven let a one goal lead slip and a 1-1 draw resulted from this 2nd Division clash which was noteworthy for a very vocal "shrieking" supporter sat just behind us!



Saturday 18 Oct and on the train to Mechelen. Looked bigger than Leuven but very similar in style with the main square being a draw for tourists and locals alike. It was warm at least 20 degrees, very unseasonal. Word coming in on the interweb of the Owls poor performance at home to Watford. More Belgian beers cheered us up and we were off to see a 1st Division match (Pro League), the locals KV Mechelen hosting Anderlecht. Another 1-1 draw resulted and as the night before the home side let the game slip. A cracking atmosphere.



Checked out of the Park Inn and soon off to Liege on the morning of Sunday 19 Oct. No time to see the city of Liege as after the rail trip from Leuven we legged it the couple of miles or so from the out of town railway station to the further out of town stadium home to Standard Liege, located in an industrial estate. The stadium was more typical of the modern day compared with the previous two venues, but this one was vertigo inducing. Very steep and we were right at the top! Standard Liege were poor and after the goalie dropped a cross in the first half they were 1-0 down in this match against bottom of the table Zulte Waregem. The locals weren't happy. We left after about 70 mins in order to make the train back to Brussels and then the Eurostar to the UK with some of the gang staying a further night in Genk instead to see them play later that evening. Not sure on the outcome of the Standard Liege match because after we left two stoppages followed due to protests by some of the home fans against their manager. Standard Liege were 2-1 down at the end, but did the result stand as the last stoppage was at 90 mins?


A non-birding trip but I did note a decent movement of Redwings and Song Thrushes overnight on the 2 nights.








Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Rainham on Saturday & Burnham Norton on Sunday

Rainham had a nice variety on Sat 11 Oct 2014. A walk from the Stone Barges area produced Ringed Plover (15) and Redshank (50) on the mud to the west of the Barges, and Coldharbour Point held a single Ruff amongst the rocks. A minimum of 9 Stonechat on the walk were noteworthy (inc. 4 at Rainham West). The marshes saw us connect with 2 Peregrines and 4 Marsh Harriers (3 cream crowns)  and roosting Greenshank. Migrant Hawkers continued and 7 Harbour Seals rested on the Kent side of the Thames.

I was tempted by twitching the  Norfolk Steppe Grey Shrike despite the timetable for Thameslink and Coasthopper doing their best to thwart me on Sun 12 Oct 2014. It came on as negative then back on as being seen at around 08:30. I took the plunge, well the train from London's King's Cross (10:04) to King's Lynn, then waited ca.1 hour for the Coasthopper arriving after a walk from Burnham Market at 14:15. I had one hour with the Shrike, a stunner in the picturesque backdrop of the north Norfolk coastal marshes. Pink-footed and Brent Geese were in the air and Cetti's Warbler sounded off by the coast road. Made it back in time for the new series of Homeland! Back of the net!

Photos of the Shrike uploaded at 'Latest UK Bird Photos' and video now on Surfbirds 'UK Birding Videos (Surfbirds)'. Enjoy.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

September 2014 Birding Photos and Videos

Photos and Videos from September 2014 uploaded as below. I was lucky to be back in Yorkshire when the Masked Shrike appeared.


  • Latest UK Bird Photos - Masked Shrike, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Barred Warblers and Caspian Gull.


  • UK Birding Videos (Surfbirds) - Masked Shrike and Barred Warblers.


Cyprus - ID help please! from Sep/Oct 2014


  • 1x Wheatear species
  • 2x Dragonfly sp
  • 1x Lizard species
  • 2x Butterfly species


Northern Wheatear or Isabelline Wheatear? (4 photos of the same bird)

Feedback so far is of a typical Isabelline Wheatear.


























































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Red-veined Darter?

Feedback so far is for Red-veined Darter.

 Photo A Darter
Photo B Darter

 Photo C Darter
 Photo D Darter
 Photo E Darter
 Photo F Darter
 Photo G Darter
 Photo H Darter
Photo I Darter













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Skimmer species

Feedback points to Keeled Skimmer anceps.

















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Skink sp

Is this an Ocellated Skink?


















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Grayling sp?

Is this an Eastern Rock Grayling?















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Meadow Brown sp?

Is this Cyprus Meadow Brown or Oriental Meadow Brown?
















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Cyprus Final Day

Friday 03 October 2014. Checked a few sites in the NW but nothing of note apart from the field nr Droushia which continued to host a pair of Cyprus Wheatears with 2 Northern Wheatears for company and 2 Spotted Flycatchers.

After checking out of the superb Droushia Heights hotel headed towards Paphos airport, birding in the vicinity. Mandria held Red-footed Falcons  (10) resting in a ploughed field with a Northern Wheatear present. 2 Long-legged Buzzards circled the fields. To the west of the airport the area around the Sewage Works produced 2 trip ticks - Cattle Egret (2) and a lone Hoopoe. The hills above Mandria were bird less in the heat of the day but a Lesser Grey Shrike, also new for the trip, hunted from roadside wires a few kms north of the motorway.

A few photos from the trip below. It'll take me a while to put together the full trip report.








Thursday, 2 October 2014

Cyprus Days 4&5

Revisiting sites focus on photography. Nice views of Long-legged Buzzard local to the hotel at Droushia and back on the south coast to see the Eleonora's and Red-footed Falcons near Aphrodite's Rock and Mandria respectively. Chukar seemed to be everywhere and I connected with Cyprus Wheatear more easily, but they were still camera shy. A Fan-tailed Warbler looked out of place in upland scrub. A particular highlight being the flight of Alpine Swifts (70+) and (40+) on the 2 days flying west then dispersing south from the north west corner of Cyprus around 09:00 both mornings. Spur-winged Plovers at Paphos Sewage Works and Paphos Lighthouse held Spanish Sparrows, Crested Larks and a Wheatear (Isy or Northern - bins views only but got photos to check thro') and a juv. Red-backed Shrike.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Cyprus Day 3

A bright warm start and raptors were moving around in the NW part of the island. I did a watch for about 90 mins from 09:00. A ringtail juv. Harrier went so high over I was lucky to get bins on it let alone give it a name. A cc Marsh Harrier was lower down. Several Kestrels appeared to move in from the coast about 10km to the north and similar in offs were singles of Hobby and Peregrine. In the unsure if locals or migrants category were 2 adult type Bonelli's Eagles that put on a superb show (though the local Jackdaws may disagree) and 1 or 2 Long-legged Buzzards. At least 2 Alpine Swifts seemed to set the altitude record making the flocks of Bee-eaters look cumbersome in flight by comparison.

Nearby scrubland (within 10km) held Cyprus Wheatears and Cyprus Warbler (Sards dominate), Northern Wheatear and an out of place Cetti's Warbler. Nailed Chukar! Evertou Dam looked birdless but a Whiskered Tern, Little Egret, Snipe and Spotted Flycatcher were present plus rattling Sards!

Wow factor of the day surely the 200 Red-footed Falcons at Mandria near Paphos of all plumages. They shared the fields with 2 or 3 Rollers and nearby Whinchat (10), Northern Wheatear (3) and Short-toed Lark (5) sat sentinel like in a ploughed field by the beach.

Pools near Paphos Sewage Works held dragonflies and a Spotted Crake and the day ended watching Kentish Plover, Turnstone and Common Sandpiper at Paphos Lighthouse.