Friday, 30 December 2016

An Indian Wedding (Part 1)

Didn't do much after Morocco holiday. Work, work and a trip to the zoo, where ironically I saw 3 species of bird that I would then see in India.

Flew from Heathrow to Mumbai. Had a 4 hours to kill in the airport. While there I saw a flock of about 21 Black Kite and mainly Feral Pigeons. The part of the airport we were boarding from looked over the entrance and a bit of the city, Common Myna made a brief flight across a parking lot. My first new species was HOUSE CROW (Corvus splendens) which seems very similar to a Jackdaw and realised at no point did I get a picture of one. Had what I now believe to be a Tailorbird but a brief view, and also had what looked like House Martins but you don't get them around here so looking back it was more likely to be a dusky crag martin.
Then had a 90 minute flight to Jodhpur. At the palace we were staying at it was obvious that House Crow, Feral Pigeon, Collared and Laughing Dove were going to be common. A large flock of Ring-necked Parakeet were making a lot of noise. Another new and common bird here RED-VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus cafer). Late afternoon we went to an event at Osian dunes. By the time we got there it was getting dark but on the way our first INDIAN PEAFOWL (Pavo cristatus) also Black-winged Stilt, Common Sandpiper, Little green bee-eater, WHITE-EARED BULBUL (Psynonotus leucotis) and BLACK DRONGO (Dicrurus macrocercus). It turned out that was the only Drongo I saw, also saw distant Cranes (prob Demoiselle), and a few other that I couldn't id due to bumpy roads and brief views.

The next day the usual were around the hotel as well as House Sparrow and Black Kite. Outside our room there was a feeder and on this we had already had Laughing Dove and Indian Palm Squirrel, today while sitting looking things up a SHIKRA (Accipiter badius) had a feed there, thought I had seen one briefly yesterday but this was obviously closer.

Indian (or Three-striped) Palm Squirrel - Finambulus palmarum

Squirrel and Laughing Dove together

Shikra with his back to us

With the ladies doing Henna there was a chance at a free afternoon. When we went out there they had just changed some of the notes there, there was basically not a lot of physical cash around. After spending about  an hour looking for somewhere we could change some cash, eventually successful thanks to our drivers contacts. We then headed for a local lake via a tour of a small village that used traditional methods. We had to let the driver know that we wanted to go straight to the lake now. However the area we went to did produce excellent Peacock views, with a INDIAN BLACKBIRD (Turdus simillimus) next to one of them. It looked the same shape as our blackbird but has a dark blue panel on the wings, RED-WATTLED LAPWING (Vanellus indicus) were running about as was a LARGE GREY BABBLER (Turdoides malcolmi), this was a bird I took a photo then looked it up when back in car. One of my favourite birds was seen here and not again, BRAHMINY STARLING (Sturnia pagodarum), beautiful colours. There was also a yellow wagtail running around here, I believe it is the beema race also known as Sykes! so another for my sub species list.

Peacock, Indian Blackbird and a deer in background

Another peacock and below the Large grey Babbler

Brahminy Starling

After this we got to the lake. As we were getting there a gorgeous  INDIAN ROLLER (Coracias benghalensis) was on telephone wires. As soon as we got out the car at the lake INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Egretta intermedia) was seen, also known as yellow-billed. Just one COMB DUCK (Sarkidiornis melanotos) flew up and past when we arrived, unfortunately I couldn't re-locate it as it seemed to land on the other side of an island. Pintail, Pochard, Coot and Little Grebe on the lake. A lovely WHITE-BREASTED KINGFISHER (Halcyon smyrnensis) was sat on a bush with it's back to us. Marsh Harrier was hunting over the fields near from were DEMOISELLE CRANEs (Grus (Anthropoides) virgo) were taking off and flying over. One of the workers at the reserve showed us the 2 SPOTTED OWLET (Athene brama) that roosted in a nearby tree. A ASIAN KOEL (Eudynamys scolopaceus) briefly feed on the margins of the lake along with Greenshank, Ruff and Bar-tailed Godwit. Another of my favourite for the trip was PALLAS'S FISH EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucoryphus), this bird was sitting on top of a tree chilling, i assume after it had just eaten. It didn't fly for us but was majestic looking. The only other species we saw there was a ORIENTAL MAGPIE ROBIN (Copsychus saularis) fly into a bush and disappear, and, then a INDIAN ROBIN Saxicoloides fulicatus) flew out of the bush. On our way we stopped for a TAWNY EAGLE (Aquila rapax)  that glided over the road. Thankfully we avoided our driver from another stop, which we found out later would have been a carpet shop.

The small but very cute Spotted Owlet

Once outside the hotel you could see the Little Swift darting about. 
Starling, Owlet and Roller my favourites so far, but, next up is the trip I had been looking forward to.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Morocco part two.

Finally an update. It has been months.  So I need to finish my Morocco report first before moving onto an Indian wedding with some birding done at the same time.

So I went on one trip will on holiday in Marrakesh. It was to the Ouzoud Falls, took a couple of hours to get there but was pretty spectacular when there. It was a coach trip so there were a few people there but you could do your own thing after the guide had given us some history of the place. As we started to go down the path we had to stand out the way as local police were carrying a body (in a bag) up to the top, apparently a local had slipped from near the top. We did see a lot of people sitting in very dangerous places so am not surprised this had happened. You have to walk down a winding path to the base of the waterfall, as you go down there are so many restaurants and stalls selling pretty much any local product you want.

At the bottom we all went on a boat (well it floated!) to get very close to the waterfall, and get very wet. Again lots of locals seemed to have set up around the base to eat or do whatever they were doing. I did see Banded Demoiselle down there. Not much in the way of bird life at all.

The base of the waterfalls and the boats we went on.

The main waterfall.

Start of the waterfall where I think the fall happened.

The impressive building at the top of the gorge.

When back at the top I had a chance to wander about. I found a gorgeous new butterfly and another cricket type insect.

Iphiclides feisthamelii -Scarce Swallowtail

Cricket type.

Below is the picture that shows I did see Spanish Sparrow while there.

On the way back I also saw what I think was Houbara Bustard but it was a brief sighting from the coach.

Next up a Indian wedding.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Family holiday in Morocco

As suspected this was more of a family holiday so didn't really get much birding done. The complex itself had quite a few security guards standing around so very conscious of walking around with binoculars round my neck. I am not sure what has happened or happening in Morocco but on the one full day I went out on there were a number of police check points, last year didn't come across any.

Spent a few hours in the swimming pool and going down water slides, all very nice but did get a few things flying over. I had a pair of dragonflies skimming the surface of the swimming pool and wave machine but the only time they landed were somewhere I couldn't get to. I good good views of them in flight so am currently looking those up. White Stork circled and drifted over at one point.

Also had a Booted Eagle drift over, a lot of Laughing Dove, Spotless Starling, House Martin, Swift and Swallow flying around. Thought there were a lot of House Sparrows but not thinking there were Spanish sparrows too, am going to send a picture to a friend to confirm. Did get a few turtle dove and Common Bulbul. Saw one definite Red-rumped Swallow, Kestrel and Blackbird. When we went into Marrakech for a evening a few more Collared Doves were around. The only other bird which I heard was what I think was a Egyptian Nightjar, it was the second night and no noisy entertainment and as I was walking back to our apartment there was a Nightjar calling and going from the recordings I heard it sounded more like Egyptian. Unfortunately every other night had loud entertainment till early in the morning.

Moth or butterfly? Need to look this one up.

This was on the ceiling in the corridor. I thought it looked like a footman moth but I think it is  Utetheisa latrix.

Another moth, which I have not identified yet but will be looking up.

Cranefly or dragonfly? it was staying low and flying I thought more like a cranefly but not sure. If anyone knows please let me know.

This is tiny but very green.

This was massive a cricket or locust? Thinking Moroccan locust but not sure. Again if anyone knows please let me know. There was outside this building at night a massive noise of crickets I think.

One other photo I took in the complex, this was sitting on a casino table that had been set up.

Did do a full day out which I will do on my next blog but it includes a body and a new butterfly.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Finally a update with a new UK tick included.

It has been over a month since my last blog. As it has been summer holidays and the boys have been at home I haven't done loads of things. Today though I took the opportunity to get a new bird for my list. Drove to Reculver country park car park and almost immediately found a fellow birder who pointed me in the right direction. It turned out to be a 3 mile round trip but Baird's Sandpiper was seen very well indeed. An adult that had been found the day before. In the same pool I also saw Little Stint, Spotted Redshank and Dunlin and on the walk Yellow Wagtail. Although great views through binoculars and telescope it was very windy and my camera didn't do the bird justice.

I am going to now just put some of my latest pictures up in the way of an update..

A visit to Thursley common with Pete from Non-stop birding eventually produced Black Darter (Sympetrum danae). It was not looking promising but as we headed back to the car we came across just this one Black Darter, also had Small red.

Went back via Beddington Farmlands just to add Small red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum) to my list. 

Did get a quick visit to Dungeness in when everyone else was out and about.
Below a particularly vicious looking caterpillar, that was moving very quickly along the path.

Have some other photos of this Kestrel but can't seem to get them on here. Looking again at the photos I notice it has been ringed.

Below a Blue-tailed Damselfly that I eventually caught up with at Broadwater.

That's all for now. Off to Morocco with the family tomorrow. Not sure if I am taking the laptop or even how much time I will get to explore so watch this space.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Hits, misses, bits and pieces

  It's been a while and a lot has happened, there was a week where I manged to get out 4 days in a row. 2 trips to Broadwater, 1 to Ashdown forest, 1 to Sevenoaks WR and one to Eridge roacks which is a new reserve for me, but, it actually connects to Broadwater.

I will do an update of sorts now. My notes seem to be all over the place at the moment and will need a day or two just to collate it all and get it organized. It seems to be more about dragon and damselflies and other insects at the moment. I have seen quite a few swallows that seem to be just passing. There have been gorgeous Redstarts, Spotted Flycatchers and Great spot woodpeckers at Ashdown Forest. Sevenoaks bought excellent views of Little ringed Plover and some young Sparrowhawks which have been nesting near to the path. one of the young birds was happily sitting on a branch. Apart from a wagtail that looked like a white they were the main highlights from the birds
So let's start with the dragon and damselflies then. Broadwater warren and it was literally rain, sun, rain, sun and a fairly strong wind with it. When the sun come out long enough a Golden-ringed settled on the leg of the bench I was standing next to. Stupidly I had forgotten my camera, but, thankfully had my ipad. Apart from that it was Azure damsel and a couple of Large red only.


Next day it was a trip to The Old lodge area of Ashdown Forest. Again the weather was undecided as what it wanted to do. This time though before I left the main area the sun shone and they all appeared. 8 different species that I noted. Common blue and Blue-tailed, Common Darter, Emperor, Small red, Emerald, Black-tailed and Keeled Skimmer. The Keeled Skimmer was a new one for me. It only ever settled a distance away hence the shot, however, you can see the difference between Keeled and Black-tailed. The Small red I think is one of the more unusual species that are here.

Keeled above, Black-tailed below.

Small red is not the easiest to focus on because of its size.

The day after that I went on a Summer butterfly walk and saw Brown Hawker there.
As the sun was out I then moved to Broadwater where this time there was also Brown Hawker, Azure, Blue-tailed, Large red, Emperor and Downy Emerald, which refused to settle at any point. The next day at Sevenoaks there were more there but no new ones. As I have been looking through my photos recently I have got a photo from Hayesden of a damselfly which I can't identify. Well saying that it is either a imm blue or a white-legged but it is not the best focused photo. I will see if I can get it identified and then put what it is up here. One last photo of a dragonfly laying eggs at Southerham. 

Butterflies next then. It doesn't seem to be the best year for butterflies, or maybe just because of the weather they are not being seen. Tried to connect with some of the other blues but no luck. The usual Large White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Large Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell and Gatekeeper. Finally got White Admiral while on the butterfly walk, but for this week the Comma was the most showy and Silver-washed Fritillary was the nicest.

While at Sevenoaks I was looking for Purple Emperor, in fact they can turn up anywhere it seems. I could see the best place for them but need to go out at the right time of day really to connect with them. Not sure what butterflies I am going to get now so maybe I will get a plan ready for next year and try and get as many as possible.

Here are some of the other photos from the last few weeks.


Bee with pollen stuck to it's legs

Trying to work this one out. Is it just a young large red?

Fungus that has affected the whole tree

Scarce seven spot Ladybird - think this is a ladybird that isn't seen very often

Blue lacewing I think

I think tonight I need to finally id some moths, have done some of them. The problem is the micro's as I don't have a book for them. So i will try to do a moth update tomorrow but here is one just to finish off with.