Sunday, 15 September 2019

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Farlington Marsh 15th September

I was at the Romsey show on 14th when news broke of an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler at Farlington Marsh. I had consumed far too many ciders to even contemplate trying to see the bird on the day of discovery, not just from a driving perspective but through lack of an ability to focus. On 15th I awoke to the birds continued presence and, so after a bacon sandwich to soak up the residues of yesterdays over indulgence, I was on the road. Arriving at 11:30 the bird soon showed well as it fed in a stand of Goat Willow alongside Blackcap, Chiffchaff and a loan Garden Warbler (my first of the year!). Mostly the bird was flicking through the undergrowth but it would make occasional sallies to pursue flying insects and would occasionally sit motionless in the vegetation affording good views. At one point the bird headed very rapidly through the brambles heading southwards, we followed at some pace and eventually got better views as the bird fed in brambles and hawthorn before it headed back to its original location.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Farlington Marsh, Hampshire

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Farlington Marsh, Hampshire

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Farlington Marsh, Hampshire

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler showing the full extent of its tail tip which helps to separate it from other similar species 
- Farlington Marsh, Hampshire

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Farlington Marsh, Hampshire

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Farlington Marsh, Hampshire

There are 21 accepted records of Eastern Olivaceous Warbler to the end of 2017, of these 14 have been from 2000 onwards. There have, unsurprisingly, been nine records from Shetland and three from the Isles of Scilly. The only south coast records have been from Dorset, all from Portland Bill in July 1999, August 2003 and May 2008 all of which were trapped. I have previously seen Eastern Olivaceous Warbler at Hoswick, mainland Shetland on 10th October 2013 (see below) and also in Cyprus, Kenya, Morocco, Yemen, Tanzania and Cameroon.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Hoswick, Mainland Shetland 10th October 2013

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Hoswick, Mainland Shetland 10th October 2013

HBW Alive treat 'Eastern' Olivaceous Warbler as Olivaceous Warbler while 'Western' Olivaceous Warbler is Isabelline Warbler. HBW Alive list five subspecies that differ mainly in tone of colour and in size. The subspecies elaeica is the most likely to reach the UK and is largest, with the longest primary projection and darkest flight-feathers and tends to be greyer above than other subspecies with the most pronounced pale secondary panel in fresh plumage. Elaeica occurs from south-eastern Europe eastwards through the Caucasus to Xinjiang in north-west China. The subspecies winters in the central and eastern Sahel region of Africa.

The species was once considered conspecific with Western Olivaceous (Isabelline) Warbler, but recent work has confirmed substantial differences in mitochondrial DNA, song, behaviour and morphology. Western Olivaceous Warbler has not been recorded in the UK to date. An excellent ID paper to Western and Eastern Olivaceous, Booted and Sykes's Warbler can be viewed here.

Distribution map of Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - HBW Alive

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Pennington Marsh - 11th September

Sarah was in London today and so it was my duty to collect Tobias from school. Heading off from work a little early I spent a couple of hours at Pennington. I had, unintentionally, coincided my visit with the passing of the remnants of Hurricane Dorian that had passed, so devastatingly, over the Caribbean last week before tracking up the eastern coast of the USA and crossing the Atlantic passing to the north of the UK but creating windy and damp conditions further south. It was very windy and grey and difficult conditions in which to bird. Parking at the car park at the bottom of Lower Pennington Lane and walking over the Old Landfill it was evident that there was a small but steady stream of hirundines, mainly House Martin and Sand Martin but a few Swallow, moving west into the wind. A single juvenile Whinchat showed briefly on the dump but despite looking the bird had vanished. I set my scope up to the north of Butts Lagoon and scanned across the mud and water, there were small numbers of wader, mainly sheltering behind the reeds, with a single juvenile Little Stint, four Greenshank, three Spotted Redshank, 50 Black-tailed Godwit, 30 Lapwing, a single Snipe and a handful of Ringed Plover and Dunlin. I wandered onto Fishtail Lagoon but it was almost devoid of birds, a distinctive 'tip, tip' overhead and the Little Stint dropped onto the lagoon with three Dunlin and a Ringed Plover and showed fairly well, if a little distantly for such a small wader. I wandered onto Keyhaven Lagoon where a Wheatear showed well along the path but on the lagoon there was little but for 18 Teal.

I then wandered back eastwards scanning the same areas as before, small numbers of Whitethroat were in the Brambles, on the sea were 15 Eider, two Sandwich Tern, an adult and a juvenile passed by, to the west, but it was fairly quite otherwise. Heading back towards the car via Jetty Lagoon, I stopped at the jetty and scanned the mudflats and sea, there were around 25 Grey Plover, some still in almost full summer plumage, as well as around 45 Ringed Plover and a similar number of Turnstone. I headed back towards the car and then birded the Ancient Highway for a short while, there were four Common Sandpiper on Efford Lagoon along with a single Egyptian Goose. On the highway the birding was tricky due to the strong winds and I recorded singles of ChiffchaffStonechatLesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat plus a trickle of Hirundines overhead. It was time to head off to collect Tobias.

Northern Wheatear - Pennington Marsh

Northern Wheatear - Pennington Marsh

Little Stint and Dunlin - Pennington Marsh

Eider - Pennington Marsh

Sandwich Tern - Pennington Marsh

Sandwich Tern - Pennington Marsh

Common Stonechat - Pennington Marsh

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Pennington Marsh - 31st August

Sarah and Tobias were heading for a charity tea-party and knowing that I would find this a bore I was permitted to head for Pennington Marsh for a few hours. I parked up at the bottom of Lower Pennington Lane and wandered out past Fishtail Lagoon - this was almost devoid of birds but for a handful of Lapwing, Black-headed Gull and a mass of Canada Goose. Small numbers of Sedge Warbler called from the reeds and rushes and Whitethroat flitted amongst the Brambles. I headed to Keyhaven Lagoon just as a male and female Peregrine broke away from haranguing a Buzzard to flush all the waders from the lagoon, which mainly appeared to be Lapwing and Redshank. I turned back eastwards and spent some time enjoying the Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and around six Yellow Wagtail which were feeding along the tideline.

On Butts Lagoon there were around 75 Black-tailed Godwit while on the falling tideline there were around 50 Grey Plover, 25 Ringed Plover, 30 Dunlin and a small number of Curlew. Four Goosander worked the tideline and on the Solent were 25 Eider and six Great Crested Grebe but the sea was devoid of any Tern species. Wandering back past Shoveler Lagoons a single Wheatear was present on the marshes, only my second of the year. It was time to collect Sarah and Tobias and predictably I waited for around an hour for them to appear when I could have had longer on the marsh.

Yellow Wagtail - Pennington Marsh, Hampshire

Yellow Wagtail - Pennington Marsh, Hampshire

Yellow Wagtail - Pennington Marsh, Hampshire

Meadow Pipit- Pennington Marsh, Hampshire

Meadow Pipit- Pennington Marsh, Hampshire

The Nationally Notable A bee Aster Colletes Colletes halophilus was common feeding on Golden Samphire along the seawall south of Fishtail Lagoon today

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Mashpi Lodge (Galapagos and Ecuador) - 17th August (Day 4)

It rained most of the night and we awoke to light rain and dense fog. After a leisurely breakfast we took a bus up to the Hummingbird Garden near to the lodge entrance gate. Here there was a good range of hummingbird species including Green Thorntail, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Empress Brilliant, Velvet-purple Coronet, Violet-tailed Sylph, Crowned Woodnymph, White-whiskered Hermit, Brown Inca and Andean Emerald. Other species included White-throated Quail-dove, Glistening-green Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, Moss-backed Tanager and Golden-collared Honeycreeper.

Glistening-green Tanager - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Glistening-green Tanager - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Golden-naped Tanager - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Golden-naped Tanager - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Flame-faced Tanager - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Golden-collared Honeycreeper - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Toucan Barbet - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

White-throated Quail-dove - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

White-throated Quail-dove - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Velvet-purple Coronet - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Velvet-purple Coronet - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Green Thorntail - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Purple-bibbed Whitetip - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Empress Brilliant - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

White-whiskered Hermit - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Purple-bibbed Whitetip - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Violet-tailed Sylph - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Empress Brilliant - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

We headed back to the lodge for 10:30, packed our bags, checked out of the room and had lunch with a couple of beers. Estoban collected us at 12:30 and we began the journey bag to Quito. A short way from the lodge gates we encountered a small flock containing two Black SolitaireSulphur-rumped FlycatcherRose-faced Parrot and Orange-breasted Fruiteater.

Thereafter we basically drove back to Quito. We did a brief stop at the Pululahua Reserve View Point, this is a view of the crater of the Pululahua volcano, one of only two inhabited volcano craters in the world, the other being the phenomenal Aogashima in Japan. We then stopped at the very touristy monument on the equatorial line inside the Mitad del Mundo Touristic Complex where we saw Black-tailed Trainbearer and Sparkling Violetear before heading to the Wyndham Quito Airport Hotel. We arrived at the hotel at 17:30, showered and then spent the evening meeting the group for the next leg of the trip - Galapagos.

Pululahua Reserve View Point, the 'mountains' are the rim of the volcano - Quito, Ecuador

Friday, 16 August 2019

Mashpi Lodge (Galapagos and Ecuador) - 16th August (Day 3)

We awoke to the sounds of the rainforest in our beautiful room at Mashpi Lodge, as the light increased a few birds were seen including a Red-eyed Vireo and Purple-crowned Fairy. Just before breakfast I spent a short while birding from the veranda of the lodge and saw Cinnamon Becard, Swallow Tanager, Black-winged Saltator and Black-billed Peppershrike. After breakfast we then walked down the Magnolia Trail and then along the river to the Dragonfly, the trail produced Wedge-billed WoodcreeperMoss-backed Tanager, Linneated Foliage-gleanerCrimson-rumped ToucanetGlittering-green TanagerSlate-coloured Grosbeak and Buff-throated Saltator. The Dragonfly is basically a cablecar that extends for several kilometres through and above the canopy of the forest. At its maximum height above the ground this cablecar is elevated some 200m and its fairly hair-raising. From a birding perspective the highlight was a stunning male Black-tipped Cotinga at close range, unfortunately I had the wrong lens on my camera and by the time I had switched lenses the bird had gone. The Dragonfly is a remarkable experience and I have never travelled through or above the canopy of a forest before.

Clearwing Moth Species - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Godyris butterfly species - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Tobias walking the river down to the Dragonfly - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

View from the Dragonfly - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

View from the Dragonfly - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

View from the Dragonfly - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

After a leisurely lunch we took a short drive then a 200m walk to the Life Centre, here, we watched from the viewpoint across the forest and waited to see what came into the banana feeders as well as spending some time in the butterfly house where we were shown a number of species and handled a range of caterpillars. Birds from the veranda included Choco Brush-finchChoco ParakeetCrimson-rumped ToucanetOlive-crowned YellowthroatSwallow TanagerMoss-backed TanagerBlack-crowned Tityra and Buff-throated Saltator. A single Central American Agouti appeared at the feeders and showed well. The walk back to the lodge took around 30 minutes and we recorded Tawny-throated Leaftosser and Crested Guan in the semi-darkness as well as a very small baby Brown Four-eyed Opossum.

Black-cheeked Woodpecker (male) - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Black-cheeked Woodpecker (female) - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Crimson-rumped Toucanet - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Central American Agouti - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Lemon-rumped Tanager - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Owl Butterflies, Caligo brasiliensis (above) and Caligo atreus - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

View from Life Centre - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

After a quick freshen up we did a short night walk from the lodge where the only birds were a calling Black-and-white Owl and a perched Common Pauraque. A range of frogs were recorded including Pastures Rain Frog, Giant Rain Frog and Thick-digit Rain Frog as well as Spotted Anole and Brown Cat-eyed Snake. We crashed at 21:30 after a light dinner.

Spotted Anole - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Brown Cat-eyed Snake - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Pastures Rain-frog - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Tree Frog Species - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Frog Species - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Thick-digit Rain Frog - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Giant Rain Frog - Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador