Wednesday, 31 January 2018

USA January (Part 2)

Date: 19-26th January 2018

Location: USA New York (Mainly Central Park)

Weather: 
Assorted but very Cold.

Species Highlights: 
Cooper's Hawk, Red Tailed Hawk, Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, Golden, Bufflehead, White Breasted Nuthatch, Dark Eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, Red Billed Woodpecker

Observation: 
The next morning we headed to the Empire State Building, these have gotta be the highest Pigeons in New York, seemed very happy with their spot. 
Bit more sightseeing, no birding today.



Next day we took the Amtrak to Washington DC, a lovely city. 
(I'll do a link with some landscape photography later)
Canada Goose, Brant Goose and Hawks on train journey, on arriving after the Capital buildings we Red Tailed Hawks soaring above with Turkey Vultures and we think a Black Vulture although pictures not good enough to ID small 135mm lens.
We did see American Crow or Fish Crow I think American Crow despite him holding a fish!  Heard them call too to confirm ID.



 Double Breasted Cormorant, Shoveler, and American Robin also about.



Then one of those times when you wish you had a bigger lens a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker.


Best we could get, through binoculars looked great and a new species for us both.


My next visit to Central Park was even better, Lauren was off shopping so managed to walk  end to end some 3.5 miles but with many zigzags clocking up 12 miles! 
First bird and a new one for me was a Hermit Thrush who posed beautifully while I confirmed ID and snapped away at him.



So many sparrow in the park White Throated and House Sparrow being the most commonest, not shy!


A very cold walk later in the Ramble came across the American Brown Creeper - Certhia Americana very similar to UK's Treecreeper and difficult to get a photo of too, scurrying around from tree to tree.


Watched a amazing battle between two Red-Billed Woodpeckers chasing each other for some 10 mins, eventually pinning one down on the floor with much squawking.


At the Evodia Feeding station at any one time must have been 10 different species at any one time.


Really pleased to get a Golden Crowned Kinglet saw 3 in total flitting through the foliage. Again another very similar species to our Goldcrest.


 Left the Ramble and headed up towards the Reservoir a very large body of water that was mostley frozen, on way up this Northern Flicker feeding near Turtle Pond.



On the Reservoir Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser plenty of Ringed Billed Gulls, Greater Black Backed and Herring Gulls.


A fly over Red Tailed Hawk.


After to speaking to lots of other birders all giving me lots of information and stories I headed back to Ramble area and a Cooper's Hawk was found, I was very pleased with this shot as first time I'd seen one its slightly larger than our Sparrowhawk but a stunning bird more to come from this species.



The feeder area was a bit quieter with the Hawk watching over it, but this Tufted Titmouse posed nicely.


 A excellent day was had headed back to hotel with a full memory card.

Next day Flushing Meadows was on the cards a site that looked good for birding but a long walk from tube and frozen waters but the best was a American Coot, Brant Goose and this Red Tailed Hawk who perched on the Unisphere constructed as the theme symbol of the 1964–1965 New York World's Fair.


 Last day and back in New York, Lauren took a break from shopping to join me in Central Park for the morning, blue skies and very cold but a few birds later you sort'll of forget how cold it is!

Female American Goldfinch not as colourful as ours. 



American Goldfinch male, summer plumage is a subtle yellow. 


Other wildlife can also be seen in the Park including Raccoon, having a lovely snooze, everyone I spoke to, seemed more excited about the Grey and Black Squirrels didn't give this chap a second glance! 


Male Northern Cardinal, getting peanut butter off the feeders.


Female House Finch.


Fox Sparrow. 


  
Downy Woodpecker, a very tame species that came within inches of us.


A stunning Common Grackle.


Almost the end of our trip and we were treated to 2 Cooper's Hawks real crackers at this point nothing moved around the feeders!


At around 4-5 inches bigger than our Sparrow Hawk, a Hawk not to be messed with!


 Flight home 6 hours, one day to get over Jet Lag, 2 days to edit pictures but great fun and I'd thoroughly recommend Central Park and USA for birding. 
Very helpful people, the birders anyway, and some cracking birds

 Total Birds Species Seen = 40
New Birds Seen = 11

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USA January (Part 1)

Date: 19-26th January 2018

Location: USA New York (Mainly Central Park)

Weather: Assorted but Cold - Temps

Species Highlights: 
Cooper's Hawk, Red Tailed Hawk, White Throated Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, Golden Crowned Kinglet, Common Grackle, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, White Breasted Nuthatch, Dark Eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, American Goldfinch, American Robin, Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, Red Billed Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker.

Observation: 
A return visit to New York a birthday treat for Lauren, and me as we had such a great time back in September 2017, didn't really know what to expect this time round as weather was slightly different, temperatures were around freezing with snow and ice everywhere, last time we wore t-shirts and shorts, this time, thermals and layers!

On the 20th we arose early, taking advantage of the Jet Lag still dark on leaving the hotel and a short walk into Central Park, first bird was a Red Tailed Hawk and sunrise!



Watched the Hawk drop to ground and collect his breakfast a squirrel, amazing and almost no one around, a feat in itself with 9 million people living in New York.



Not the famous Pal-Mall as I was informed that bird died some 10 years previous but saw many Red Tailed Hawks on our travels around the Park.



Had been following local sighting and knew the best place to visit this time of year was the Ramble and Feeders, after feeding the many Northern Cardinals and House Sparrows on the way there we also saw White Breasted Nuthatch. 





Plus a new species a Fox Sparrow looking splendid amongst the leaves.


A sit down by the feeders and plenty of birds incoming Dark Eyed Junco, House Finch, Downy Woodpeckers.


White Throated Sparrow.


We walked back via the Pond another good area.

Black Duck 



American Coot 


Wood Duck plus a few American rarities like Northern Pintail we only spent 2.5 hours birding. 
Bit of sightseeing and Coney Island would be next destination. After a short tube ride a walk along the beach we had Ring Billed Gulls in the hundreds and American Herring Gulls.



Floating of shore Bufflehead and Scaup



Coney Island only 16 miles from Times Square, also saw Long Tailed duck, Goosander and fly over Brant geese.


Another short tube ride and Prospect Park was next, saw my first Red-billed Woodpecker.



A cracking little Song Sparrow.


Plus a Ruddy Duck along with Ring Billed Gull, Herring Gulls and even a Twitch going on guess what for ..........?


Common Gull or Mew Gull, LOL.



Next off to Philadelphia not much going on bird wise but a nice city.

Lauren's great picture from the banks of the Delaware River, another Ringed billed Gull.



So after 3 days with 3 new species and another state visited plus plenty of great birds seen that's end of Part 1.


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Thursday, 18 January 2018

Stonechat close ups

Date: 18/01/2018
Location: Newton St Loe
Weather: Blue skies but cold
Species Highlights: 
Yellowhammer, Greenfinch, Hawfinch, Linnet, Stonechat.
Full sightings
Observation: 
Blue skies today and a wander around patch was required, i was meeting Robert Hargreaves at Severn Acre. Across top fields a large group of Linnets still around and even perched up for some pictures.


Skylark only about 4 birds but the main highlight was Yellowhammer numbers 40+ birds constantly flying overhead in small groups. Down on the Globe fields 50 + Black Headed & Lesser Black Backed Gulls were feeding and usually for here 10 Rook flew over with the Yellowhammers seem to be defending their territory. A few Redwing taking Ivy Berries from Severn Acre.


On along Byway dropping some seed by Trigpoint then on in to the Village with Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail on Thatched cottage by the shop. Coal Tit but little else down through Send a Cow woodland. Across the drive and the 2 female Bullfinch almost in same place as previous walk feeding in butterfly alley.


4 Grey Heron on brook and a fly over, this one was apart from Billy the Mute and a couple of Mallard was the only bird on lower lake.


Nothing new on upper lake teal, Mallard and Mute numbers same as normal but Robert spotted this Hawfinch along with 2 others in Yew trees across by Keep.
(This taken from Pagoda)
While waiting for the Hawfinches to return 10+ Greenfinch, Chaffinch and a party of Long Tailed tits kept us company but the Hawfinches didn't return. 12 Meadow Pipits unusual for here, never seen then before in College grounds.


Out along drive and Rook and Crow feeding as normal in fields.


Just before end of drive, West of England Falconry were flying one of there Harris Hawks always great to watch.


Perched on the Falconers head!


Such impressive birds, why can't Buzzards fly past like this!!


After leaving Robert, he was gonna drive home and leave me to walk the mile or so home! LOL. 
I spotted a flypast Kestrel and these Snowdrops, its seems January the month for these to appear.


Redwing in horsefields a group of around 25+ with 2/3 Fieldfare feeding, you can really see the Orange underwing which probably would be a better name for them. While watching and wondering why i hadn't seen the Pair of Stonechats recently amazingly the female landed not 5 foot from me!



After stepping back a few feet managed a few nice shots of her.


Real little posers


Even the male showed up but a little more cautious, keeping his eyes on me checking out his missus!
That was it and a very enjoyable walk was had 45 species missing a few birds i always see but can't have 50+ every time.


Went to Blagdon Lake Wednesday met with Nige Millbourne to see Black-Necked Grebes did see them distantly, here's a picture. Also in pic the Pochard x Ferruginous Duck bonus!


Off to USA for 8 days so check blog as i'll do a USA special, hoping for a few snow covered birds!

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