Monthly Archives: January 2013

Siberian Chiffchaff find

at Poole, Dorset

Very nice time on tour the last couple of days. Excellent meeting with c100 people and plenty old and new friends at Bedfordshire Bird Club. Early a.m. got us adult male Ferruginous Duck and Black-necked Grebe at Priory, Beds., then east to Oxford and spent several hours with Ian Lewington, including a quick gull watch where we found a new 1st winter Caspian Gull. Then headed south to the Dorset Bird Club. The offices of Lush were crammed to standing room only followed by beer and chat at the Blue Boar.

This morning we headed out with Marcus Lawson to the back of PC World, Poole. Some dozen or so Chiffchaffs were mostly collybita types. Eventually we saw the Siberian Chiffchaff found by Marcus on his local  ‘footit challenge’ a while back. We also saw a second bird which Marcus had seen before which is has some yellow below but I think is probably also a tristis. Needs some careful watching and listening. After about an hour the original tristis appeared and shortly after a second  best looking yet Siberian Chiffchaff showed up. It called twice  classic tristis ‘peep’. A good find under the noses of the Sound Approach team ; ) !

Not enough time to process all the highlight of people and birds from last few days. Here’s a small selection. More to come

Sib Chiff new bird i Poole 31.1.13

Sib Chiff new bird Poole 31.1.13

blue boar birders dorset jan 30 th 2013

blue boar pub

ferruginous duck 2

caspian gull 2cy milton cambs jan 13Siberian Chiffchaff find, Sound Approach guys and the Blue Boar Pub in Poole, Dorset, Ferruginous Duck in Bedfordshire and one of the 10 Caspian Gulls seen in the last few days.

Off to see some Kent birders…


Answers and Winners: 4 Mystery Photos

from ‘Pushing the Boundaries Tour’

Reminder: First UK-based person to get all 4 correct (and I have last say on answers ; ) Sorry the main prize part has to be UK-based as it has to be collected in person, preferably on the tour. Down to lowest possible taxonomic unit…

First person to get all correct but NOT to lowest taxonomic unit was Brett Spencer from Dorset  UK.

First person to get all correct was to lowest taxonomic unit was Tom from Germany.

First person to get all correct and live in the U.K. was Sean Minn from Suffolk, UK.

Most accurate answer was from Graham Walbridge in Dorset, U.K. (though given paper only just out there, I thought unfair to insist only hemprichii was acceptable for the Stonechat)

BOOK Winner: Sean Minn with little prizes to the other guys. WELL DONE!

The prize appears at the bottom. Here are the answers:

photo 11st winter male Caspian Stonechat ssp. variegatus. Hula Valley, Israel, November 2012. There is still loads to learn and figure out about the Caspian Stonechats. Aging may prove very important in identification of some birds. This appears to be a first winter male (other photos when I get chance or on the tour!). The white in the tail  was very hard to see in the field from above and appears intermediate between variegatus and armenicus. However aging as 1cy male means it is almost certainly variegatus. Had it been an adult male, identification  would favour armenicus (per Lars Svennson). To complicate matters a paper  reviewing the taxonomy of the 2 Caspian Stonechats and applying taxonomic rules, result in variegatus becoming hemprichii and armenicus becomes variegatus.

Picture2female Coues’s Arctic Redpoll ‘exilipes’ in Varanger, Arctic Norway, April 2012. This bird was paired with an adult male exilipes Arctic Redpoll. I hope to do more on this bird showing the male and this bird at varying angles. Streakiness and bill appearing ‘spiky’ and bit longer need not be barriers to identifying some Coues’s Arctic Redpolls.

Picture1Steppe Buzzard, ‘vulpinus’ Eilat, March 2012. There is another Steppe Buzzard taxon ‘menetriesi‘ but let’s not go there…Picture1 a1st summer male Semi-collared Flycatcher. Kibbutz Lotan, Israel, March 2012.

Le PRIZE: Thank to all for taking part. Hope to do more on some of these soon.



Breaking Tour News

Pushing the Boundaries Tour

You are invited to attend any of the events below. 

5 night left!

N.B. **NEW DATES** in Lincoln and Leicester. Hope you can make it.

Dorset – Wednesday 30th January 2013 – more info here

Kent – Thursday 31st January 2013 – more info here

Lincoln – Friday 1st February 2013 – more info here

Leicester and Rutland – Saturday 2nd February 2013 – more info here

Northumberland – Monday 4th February 2013 – more info here

“One of the most inspiring events I have ever seen” is how attendees, coming from all over Europe and North America, summed up the first Arctic Gullfest in April 2012. This evening brings together the hosts of that event. Martin and Sharon, from Sheffield, UK will talk about pushing the boundaries of birding over the last 12 months, some of which have been kept off the Birding Frontiers blog, especially for this tour. Birding architects Tormod and his wife Elin will talk about their family move to Varanger, in Arctic Norway. They combine pioneering architecture and conservation while engaging ordinary local people- pushing the boundaries in how people and nature work better together. It promises to be a highly entertaining and inspiring evening- not to be missed!

When and Where:

01 Picture1

Other upcoming Birding Frontiers Events

London Natural History Society – Wednesday 6th February 2013 – more info here and  here

6 Weds. 19.00 Ornithology (London Bird Club). The LookOut, Hyde Park. The Wonder Of Birds. Martin Garner. Author of Frontiers In Birding, Martin Garner invites you to join him in sharing a passion for birds and wildlife!  A member of the British Birds Rarities Committee and an ID consultant for Birding World, Martin will illustrate why we should never take our local patch for granted by highlighting some London rarities and also looking at some of the most exciting places for birding in the Western Palearctic. So come and be inspired, encouraged and entertained in an evening fully exploring the wonder of birds!

Wakefield RSPB Group – Thursday 28th February 2013 – more info here

“The wonders of Israel in Spring and Autumn”

One Day, 111 Species.

NW Norfolk 

Saturday (26th Jan) we had and excellent day in Norfolk. Tormod and I were joined by Chris Hind and Tristan Reid from Cumbria, Nick Moran from Thetford and Yoav Perlman…from Israel. Our plan in icy, remnant snowy weather was to have fun, see as many species as possible and try and get a few new birds form the non-Brits. Moving from Kings Lynn, via Docking to Titchwell we scored some 111 species. Not bad!

Golden Pheasant Wolferton jan 13Male Golden Pheasant. My (plastic) bird of the day. Looks superb don’t it? Even if it has a…hmm.. face a bit like a Lady Amherst’s Pheasant. At Wolferton Triangle.

Yoav perlman Tormod Amundsen Norofolk jan 13Yoav poses as Tormod has just enjoyed his first views of Grey Partridge. See Yoav’s excellent ‘chicken’ photos and more here

Corn Bunting norfolk jan13

Water Rail titchwell jan 13Corn Bunting and Water Rail were amoung those commoner , but not always guaranteed birds

tormod and BH GUllTormod and Black-headed gull at Titchwell with Nick M in background

Barn owl 1Barn Owls put on show on both Sat and Sunday

motlley crewSaturdays motley crew at Titchwell. Left to right: Chris Hind, Tormod Amundsen, MG, Tristan Reid, Yoav Perlman, Nick Moran.

Barn owl 4

Now I am sat in Dick and Vida Newell’s most homely farmhouse kitchen watching a roosting Barn Owl in a box on a cctv link (not the one above, which as at Holkham). Had an excellent , well organised evening at the Cambridge Bird Club last night and now heading to the Bedfordshire Bird Club and old friends. Anyone can come (to any of the upcoming events).

Blackcaps in the Garden

Now is the Time. Apples are the Food.

First: Have a look at the latest Tour Report

Every year in January a Blackcap appears in the garden. For the last 2 days there have been 2, a male and a female. A little bonus as Tormod and I do some planning and rescheduling. Meanwhile Tormod is still glowing after his first Red Grouse.  Have a look at his lovely photo of a female taken yesterday. They are easy enough in the greater Sheffield area, but nevertheless we had some very cool views in the snow.

The Foot it Challenge continues to amaze how such a simple idea has taken off. Over 6,000 foot it records have been submitted to Birdtrack in January 2013.

The LROS ‘Pushing the Boundaries’ meeting at Rutland water has been rescheduled to Saturday Feb. 2. Apologies to all those who hoped to be there. More info to come.

For now we are in Norfolk for the weekend and in the morning will be joined by Yoav Perlman  and hopefully later Tristan R and Chris. Will we reach 100 species in North Norfolk by Sunday night?

Blackcaps from Sheffield Garden today:

How many winter in Britain? It must in the order of 100’s or into early 1000’s??Maybe the BTO Blackcap Garden Survey will tell us more.

female Blackcap Sheff garden 25.1.13

black cap garden jan 13 a

male blackcap 2

1st winter Caspian Gull (new)

7th in the area


Yesterday (23rd Jan 2013) Tormod and I jammed a first winter Caspian Gull, on factory roofs by R. Don at Neepsend. This was a new bird for him so special moment. It was also the 7th record in this area since early Dec. 2012 and had been seen and photographed the day before by Dave Wood. Present again today (24.1.13)

We went on later that evening to the impressive Arts Tower of Sheffield University for our  tour date with the Sheffield Bird Study Group. Thanks very much indeed to Dave W., Roy T. , Richard H. et. al. for very enjoyable, well organised evening, and no heckling from the locals ; )

Off to Barnsley tonight. Old Moor RSPB reserve is the venue.

Managed a nice bit of video which shows pooping, yawning and some preening revealing various wing and tail features. Take a look:


Caspian Gull 2cy 24.1.132cy Caspian Gull, Neepsend, Sheffield. 24th January 2013

digiscoping CaspianDigiscoping in action. Canon S95 attached to Swarovski ATX 95 with new Swarovski swing arm digiscoping adapter (photo Tormod A.)

Lincolnshire Bird Club. 1st Feb. 2013


Black-throated Diver

Pushing the Boundaries Tour Days one-two

Had a blast with the Bangor Bird Group, animated discussion with the ‘We Bird North wales’ guys via the hospitably of Ian and Margaret Wright on Monday, followed by drinking wine until too late with Alan Davis and Ruth Miller. Tuesday morning we awoke, groggily, to beautiful walk up on the Great Orme (and flight views of Chough), enjoyed sunshine walk around Conway RSPB hosted by Julian Hughes and popped in to see a flighty Black-throated Diver at Rhyl; 2 Waxwings were an unexpected bonus. Sadly we felt it necessary to cancel the Lincolnshire talk for Tuesday evening due to weather and dangerous road conditions. this has no been rescheduled for Friday 1st February same time, same place.

BT Diver Rhyll 22.1.13.b

BT Diver Rhyll 22.1.13

Obliging Black-throated Diver at Rhyl

wax 1

wax 22 Waxwings at Rhyl, which look to us like ad female (above) and 1st winter female (below). Here some of Tormod’s sketches of Waxwings from Norway, 20 years ago as it tried to learn how to age and sex them- without reference to books.

wax ta 1

wax ta 2

taDiscovering the tameness of British  Robins at Conway RSPB

3Tormod and ‘Wrighty’ at sunset at Inland sea, Anglesey

445 (2)with Alan Davies at Conway RSPB

446 (2)waffling at Bangor University