Friday, June 22, 2007

Bempton teaser

The August issue of Bird Watching Magazine will feature an article by Mike Weedon on digiscoping seabirds at RSPB Bempton. Here are a few of his shots to whet your appetite (click an image for a larger version).

Razorbill by Mike Weedon

Guillemot by Mike Weedon

Gannets by Mike Weedon

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Under pressure

Kevin Wilmot writes:

"Oh I'd love to see a Red Kite! Find me a Red Kite please Kevin!"

The plea came as I embarked my first ever guided bird walk. Okay so it wasn't exactly over-challenging, with two lovely ladies from the local church taking up my offer of a Sunday afternoon stroll through Old Sulehay Forest near Peterborough. Two might not sound very many, but believe me that was enough to start off with thank you very much!

Red Kite by Mike Weedon

The spot-the-Sky-Lark competition on the way from the village hall to the wood was won by Bella, while a Yellowhammer brightened up the hedgerow before all went quiet as we entered the wood.

"Come on Kevin, we're relying on you!" said Bella in the silence. No pressure then.

Well, thankfully things did start to happen, with Blackcaps and Willow Warblers singing and a Treecreeper among the flock of Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits. Two pairs of Dabchicks on the flooded quarry added interest, but no Red Kites to really cement my growing reputation (to Chris and Bella anyway!) as a 'proper' guide.

To be honest, I was enjoying myself. Chris and Bella were delighted to be shown the difference between Chiff Chaff and Willow Warbler, a female Linnet posed a very brief ID challenge, and the many Green Woodpeckers this wood holds were in fine voice.

Things really took an upwards turn when I caught the distinctive 'purr' of a Turtle Dove - two actually, showing well, if distant, on some telegraph wires running along the wood edge.

But still no Red Kite. Had I 'failed'? Well no, actually. We had almost made it back to the village hall for tea and cakes when Bella suddenly looked skywards. "I don't think it's a crow," she said as a perfect Red Kite drifted across the houses. What's more, it was holding something in its talons which it dropped and proceeded to catch with an impressive swoop. Two mewing Buzzards enjoying the summer thermals rounded off a pleasant couple of hours.