Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Aukfully Stormy

Woooohoooo let it blow! Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow! And for once I am not making any erotic reference to erogenous zones falling off. Saying that if said zones were exposed to the Northerly winds we've had over the past few days they may have blown off..!

What happens when you see a beautiful bird or maybe The Churn blowing with full force in the Northerly winds and swell.
Salty spray.

And at this time of year northerly winds mean birds! Maybe not charismatic Siberian vagrants tumbling out the sky after 1000's of miles of confusion, ready to numb our faces with their antiseptic stonk! BUT birds that are real hard nuts, numbing our faces by deciding to become apparent only in the coldest, windiest of conditions! I am of course talking about wildfowl and Little Auks!

Common Scoter became abundant during the winds including a few seabound birds struggling in the breakers.

The North winds pushed huge numbers of tiny Little Auks from their wintering grounds up north and as the wind eased they moved back towards said areas in their thousands, 4,903 to be exact..amazing! No pics as face, fingers, everything was numb. And they were mega distant, and these are small birds, I;m talking the size of a thrush and a small thrush at that! So are hard to capture in film, but as the Farnes ultra-marine wealth means a few stick around to fest on crustaceans for the winter so I'm hoping I'll get a shot or two...may well be too numb.

One of the by-catch of the storm, a late-ish Great Skua.

Beside to Aukfully good passage, there has been a canny few ducks and divers skimming our periphery. The undoubted highlight being an immature Garganey that went north with 80 Common Scoter a couple of mornings ago, pretty random but that's whats so good about birding! Its not all about rares (though they are best!) with a spectacle of hundreds of wildfowl passing by was brilliant! Fist clenchingly good with oddities being Pintail 1N, Goldeneye 21N, Velvet Scoter 3N, Long-tailed Duck 3N, Grey Plover 2N along with a good show of all three regular UK species.

I was too busy counting ducks 'two time' as they say in the Ghetto so here's a photo of a Merlin freaking a Redshank out.

Passerine stuff has become more random with Long-tailed Tits, a major Farnes rarity getting the pulse going along with Twite and Black Redstart, big up the songsters.

Looking rare! One of four Long-tailed Tits on Inner Farne
Spider eaters takin over!
I hadn't seen Twite on the deck in years (in fact since I was last in Northumberland at this time of year) so was mega-stonking as they say in the biz.
Since then the seas have flattened, going from double D to A (if you get the analogy) and the winds have swung like a metaphorical bat, to the west, hitting birds away from us! However 3 Waxwings over in the past couple of days point towards some ongoing continental arrivals and with so many Pine Grosbeak irrupting over there who knows what will happen?!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Stripe Tease

Deary me. Oh my gosh. And other such mannerisms. What a brilliant few days I've had here on the Farnes, there's been highs (adrenalised rarity finding) and lows (when it was too dark to bird), but mostly euphoric birdwatching!

Radde's Warbler showing as well as to be expected, I was along and 10ft away! FARNES!
Long-eared Owl found roosting on Lighthouse Cliff and subsequently mobbed by a gull. Gangsta.

So Olive-backed Pipits decided to be proper rare and stay only the one afternoon. But we had lots of stripey ankle slappers in the form of our Siberian Warbler menagerie! The day started well with the Radde's Giving typically skulky views before disappearing as per. Whilst walking round the boardwalk a Yellow-browed Warbler decided to wander in, and feed on the ground with Goldcrests, upon turning around another Yellow-browed appeared in some dock - migration in action! Love it, birds just dropping in, seeing land for the first time in aaages, or a day, which for a bird is ages.

Spot the warbler...
Hi! The bird was pretty confiding, probably due to exhaustion.
On the Farnes blue rope becomes a branch.
Digesting in today's sun.

The afternoon was spent monitoring the Grey Seal population an seeing Yellowhammers  (Farnes tick) on Brownsman, the fog had cleared for the first time in days but the NE winds persisted and despite the feeling that birds would be clearing out in the improved conditions I strongly felt something may have dropped in. So upon getting to Inner Farne as the sun set, I stormed up the island, into the first Nettle clump and was greeted by a cracking Pallas's Warbler - uberstripefest! Pity my photos in low light are laughably bad:

Can't be perfect all the time haha, but this Pallas's IS perfect all the time! Crippler!

Today saw the continuation of some sunshine, and as expected alot had cleared out. But a Yellow-browed remained and the Radde's Warbler decided to appear mid pm allowing me to get two passable photos!

Check out those undertail coverts - life is peachy!
And finally some random shots from today's sunshine:
Tired Goldcrest in tired vegetation. 
Birding the cliffs....Black Redstart.
Sunstart (Black Redstart, not claiming a first for planet earth!).


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Perfect Calm

So its autumn, and as such birds do abit of migrating. I among other obsessives greatly enjoy dry humping the air and/or drystone walls as they pass in the air and on land. However such humpings are usually semi-ruined by horrific weather conditions, as the White's Thrush demonstrated, a perfect storm is often required to bring birds. But the last two days were different.

Visual Migration at its best.

An eery calm has descending upon the Farnes (and the East Coast I suspect). But don' be fooled! Our calm was backed by slight ENE winds, fog, mist, drizzle, mizzle fizzle, crippizzle allowing us to score on all fronts with both quantity and quality of Scandinavian and Siberian migrants!

Redwing fresh from Norway..
After travelling hundreds of miles this Goldcrest sought shelter in our Info Centre.
Sexy Turdus
And their advesaries. Merlin and Kestrel.
Yesterday saw the beginning, pre-apocolyptic madness at dawn where 3000+ Redwing moved through, with the majority seeking shelter on Inner Farne's 16acres of habitat, an awe-inspiring sight to boggle both mind and erogenous zones!

Redwing and Fieldfare taking over!

By mid-morning birds were clearly still pouring in but I had to leave my beloved Inner Farne to work on our Seal Tours to Staple, which were a great success! For many reasons...
The boat trip around the Outer Group allowed me to bird, albeit from a distance, some of the inaccessible rocks and such, seeing plenty of thrushtivity as will as this presumed very dark Short-eared Owl:

While mingling on Staple, dispensing information and generally being a nice young man (if only our visitors read my blog haha!) there was Goldcrests feeding at our feet, while a Kestrel hawked about and Woodcock flushed from roost to roost. Then this bliss was shattered by the arrival of a bird bag that contained a Little Bunting! Fresh from being processed after a being found in a net on Brownsman!

Fist-clenchingly good, Little Bunting fresh from Russia!

Aaaah so Brownsman has it, they get the bird of the day. NO! Inner Farne is on fire this year and right on cue the radio crackled through with "we've got a phyllosc on the Chapel, its eyebrow is so long its wrapped round its head!" many thoughts occurred. Long eyebrows rule out all but Arctic, Radde's and Dusky (and ahem Eastern Crowned..) really and it soon became clear the bird was the 3rd Farnes record of Radde's Warbler! After a frantic hour long search the bird showed well to everyone before going to roost, so good!

Such a bright Radde's! The bird showed well at times, but only this well to the finders! (Bex Outram)

Today the Radde's was still present, with a supporting cast of Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Skylark, Black Redstart, 45 Robin, 700 Redwing, 379 Fieldfare, 170 Blackbird, 85 Song Thrush, Ring Ouzel, 3 Blackcap, 15 Chiffchaff, 70 Goldcrest, Pied Fly, 21 Brambling and 8 Chaffinch. Fall mark2!

Atmospheric fog with birds like you've never seen them!
Chiffchaff contemplating its fate...
No pines here so blue rope will have to do for this Goldcrest. Crestfest!
Song Thrush in the fog.
Get the feeling?
Black Redstart being a seabird.
Cliff top Pied Fly
While watching the Radde's at the hollowed 2pm, a Yellow-browed Warbler popped up next to it! Never to be seen again. However this pain was eased when not one, but two Olive-backed Pipits flew in off the sea past me! And then proceeded to shot down to 10ft in the open! Don't think Iv got anything left to blow off! Only on the Farnes!

The brighter initial bird.
The pair!
The slightly (SLIGHTLY) duller bird.
Getting friendly.
The rest of day was spend off my face on rares, lapping it all in like some pretentious coffee drinker. Except with rares. So. Tomorrow. Its still Northeasterly, and foggy, and rainy. More to come !