Saturday, 31 August 2013

Wryneck on the patch

The Wryneck crouches in dense cover in a doomed bid to avoid relocation.
Played an unusual game of hide and seek on the patch this morning - and finally won. Interesting migrants have been thin on the ground in Alexandra Park recently, other parts of London scoring more highly. That changed when Andrew Gardener flushed a Wryneck early doors from the ditch on the south side of the cricket pitches - a terrific find, although the bird promptly disappeared. Five of us scoured the area systematically over the next couple of hours and were close to giving up when I glimpsed a shape drop low into a willow from the other side of the cricket pitch; though very distant and a split-second view, something said this was going to be the bird. We rushed over, approached slowly and the Jynx was broken - out came a Wryneck. It perched on a nearby fence where everyone got to see it, before flying back closer to a hawthorn for even better views. We watched it on and off for 20 minutes or so before a Carrion Crow eventually flushed it, at which point I had to leave. Other species logged collectively on what proved to be an excellent day on the patch included Hobby, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Whinchats, 2 Northern Wheatears and 4 Lesser Whitethroats. Let's hope that collection stays for tomorrow's guided bird walk and ringing demo in the park, which starts at 8am in The Grove.

Whinchat at the nearby location of Hampstead Heath, on 29 August. Two were in Alexandra Park today.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Postcard from the Pacific North-West: 1

Surf Scoters complete the spectacular view from 4th of July beach on San Juan Island, Washington State. In the background is the imposing 10,781-ft Mount Baker, some 60 miles to the north-west in the Cascade Mountains on the mainland.
 As much as I love blogging about birds, there are times when it has to take a back seat - times like holidays with the family. We spent the second half of July and early August in the Pacific North-West, mainly in Washington State but with a final stop-over just inside Oregon. I visited this part of the world 10 years when co-leading a Birdwatch reader holiday, and also spent a fortnight just across the Canadian border one autumn, so it was good to be back and also take in a few new locations as well. While it wasn't possible to blog on the road, birds did feature - how could they not? Even just soaking in spectacular vistas like the one above, birds were a perennial part of the backdrop. I'll post a little on the trip in the coming days, once I return from the British Birdwatching Fair, but in the meantime, here's a taster - one of the more special species we encountered along the way:

Grey Jay in the Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park - this inquisitive northern species has a habit of coming after your food!


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