Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The ISRAEL TOUR of March 2013

Although migration was slow this year, and weather in the North was cold and inclement, the LGRE tour recorded a high of 226 species - an above average total. I scored two new Israeli birds - Egyptian Goose and Black-winged Kite - whilst overall highlights included the huge White Pelican, White Stork, Black Stork, Common Crane and Black Kite passage, Eastern Imperial Eagle, 4 Greater Spotted Eagles, Bonelli's Eagle, 8 Pallid Harriers, Long-legged Buzzards, 10 Black Francolins, Sand Partridges, lots of Common Quail, 3 Little Crakes, 8 displaying MacQueen's Bustards, 9 Cream-coloured Coursers, Collared Pratincole, a cracking male Caspian Plover, up to 3 White-tailed Plovers, 2 Red-necked Phalaropes, 22 Great Black-headed Gulls, 15 White-eyed Gulls, a White-cheeked Tern, 42 Spotted Sandgrouse, pair of Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse, 70 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Egyptian Nightjars, Little Swifts, 14 Blue-cheeked Bee-Eaters, 5 Bimaculated Larks, Long-billed Pipits, 8 Citrine Wagtails, Eastern Bushchat, 3 Black Bushchats, Caspian Stonechat, pair of Arabian Warblers, male Menetries' Warbler, many Ruppell's Warblers, Asiatic Scrub Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warblers, Great Reed Warbler, Tristram's Grackles, Dead Sea Sparrows, numerous Pale Rock Sparrows, Syrian Serins, 50 Hawfinch and a good passage of Ortolan and Cretzschmar's Buntings

I am now taking bookings for next year's trip - 24th March to 4th April - email me to reserve a space -

Here is a selection of images from my lastest trip

Outstanding shots of Balranald's star performer HARLEQUIN DUCK

An exceptional selection of shots taken by North Uist's top birder Steve Duffield; he found this cracking drake HARLEQUIN DUCK at Traigh Iar just over a month ago and it is still present today

Friday, 8 March 2013

Nine Minutes 24 footage of a BITTERN stalking prey

Phil Parsons kindly emailed me the following video footage of a EURASIAN BITTERN he filmed feeding at Slimbridge WWT in Gloucestershire on Saturday 23 March. It is an excellent piece of footage and features on my new British Birding Association forum just launched. The video can be found here

STEJNEGER'S STONECHAT added to UK400 Club List and Western Palearctic List

This first-winter STEJNEGER'S STONECHAT was trapped and ringed at Portland Bird Observatory (Dorset) in late October of last year (2012) and found to be the same individual that had spent nearly three weeks on Texel (The Netherlands) only the day before its overnight arrival. Martin Cade took feather samples in the hand and DNA analysis confirmed it as belonging to the form stejnegeri, now considered independent of maura in a taxonomic review of the Stonechat complex. Further details of the trapping and inhand measurements can be found on the invaluable and superb Portland website at

What a cracking bird this is

What a beautiful bird this adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE is. It is back once more in the East Fields at Farlington Marsh (Hampshire), consorting with up to 2,500 Dark-bellied Brent Geese. It spent most of February in neighbouring West Sussex on Thorney Island.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

96 and counting

This female DESERT WHEATEAR at Rattray Head has now completed 96 days on site, thanks to the enormous effort of local birder Tim Marshall. Tim has been helping the bird to sustain its body weight by providing it with mealworms throughout its stay. Simon Knight obtained this latest batch of outstanding images - just 18 more days to go to make it the longest staying UK individual ever.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


JT, Paul Steventon, Melanie Pond and her vet pal Sonia all enjoyed an excellent day out on Tuesday on my second GOSHAWK WORKSHOP with no less than 8 different GOSHAWKS seen at two separate locations. The weather conditions were superb, whilst bonus birds included Woodlark, Dartford Warbler, Hawfinch, Common Raven, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, Greenshank, RED-BREASTED GOOSE and Bittern. It was a fabulous team.

The weather forecast for the rest of the week does not look good so it is likely that the next Workshop will be Monday 11th March, followed perhaps by two more (12th & 13th). Trips cost £20 per person - Vouchers available from Lee at

Monday, 4 March 2013

This male CAPERCAILLIE was one of the highlights of my most recent of SCOTTISH trips - this bird hopefully being on the menu of my next trip up there on 3-6 May 2013 on which there are still places (email for details)

Sunday, 3 March 2013

GOSHAWK watching trips

The weather forecast for this week is poor (rain from Wednesday) so the only planned trip for this week is TUESDAY 5 MARCH. Meet at Junction 18 of the M25 at 0700 hours prompt or pickup en route - trip vouchers obtainable from LGRE at

More trips are planned from Monday to Thursday of next week weather allowing