30th of November 2014 – RSPB Strumpshaw Fen- Norfolk.

Having missed last month’s trip with the local Coventry and Warwickshire RSPB group as it clashed with surveying for MARINElife, I was looking forward to another pleasant day out with the many likeminded people of our confined group in Norfolk. Meeting up in Coventry at 07:00, the coach left in very foggy weather conditions which stayed around until we were almost at our destination.

After reading up on the internet about recent sightings, we made our way straight to the “Fen” hide before exploring other areas of the reserve.

Settling down within the hide (which had carpet fitted to the benches for extra comfort) we looked out towards the pool and reed beds just as the sun began to shine. Within a few minutes, my birding buddy Steve called out “Otter” to which many of us got to see before it disappeared along a hidden channel. A minute later I called “Bittern” as we all caught a brief sight of one flying from our left over and along the same channel as the Otter. “Ping, ping” Bearded Tits were then seen some fifty metres dead ahead and moving between the reeds. Then a Cetti’s Warbler was heard and then viewed at close quarters, also heard were Water Rail too. Then to everyone’s delight we had a total of three Marsh Harrier, two Kestrel, a Peregrine, a Buzzard and while all this was going on a single Black Swan gently made what sounded like impersonations on a Bittern booming right in front of the hide! Then the briefest of glimpses of a Chinese Water Deer, all this happened within just a few minutes and then it all went quiet and everyone began to breathe normally again.

Distant record shot of an Otter
Poor record shot of a Bittern
After some time I decided to check out the “Tower” hide, the walk was through a lot of mud but well worth it as I got my second Bittern sighting of the day along with Snipe, Grey Heron and closer views of Marsh Harrier.

Before returning to the coach I visited the wet Alder and Ash tree woodland area where a small flock of Long Tailed Tit where moving through. Other birds seen today where, Blackbird, Pheasant, Wood Pigeon, Carrion, Jackdaw, Rook, Blue Tit, Wren, Jay, Magpie, Mallard, Coot, Gadwall and Teal.

The afternoon daylight rapidly faded and we were soon on our way back to the coach, another most enjoyable day organised by Peter and Lesley Berrill.
21st of November 2014 - Corralejo - Fuerteventura.

On a recent holiday to the Canary Islands I decided to take an early walk before sunrise to see what wildlife was about. As I arrived on Coco beach the light began to get better and the views across the sea towards the islands of Lanzarote and Los Lobos where beautiful.

As I walked, I stopped many times to scan the sea for signs of cetaceans, sadly I didn't see any this trip, but I look forward to our next winter holiday here which may perhaps prove more fruitful.

The first places to explore where the many rock pools, here I had sightings of Kentish Plover, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Whimbrel, Yellow Legged Gull, Turnstone, Black Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Collared Dove and Spanish Sparrow.

Heading south in the direction of the huge sand dunes I walked upon thousands of tiny shells that covered the whole area, checking out the bracken I stumbled across a stunning Great Grey Shrike aloft a branch which sadly departed before I raised my camera for a record shot. After some considerable time chasing the bird (for my record shot) I gave up and carried on walking.

Berthelot Pipit

Ahead was one of the many extinct volcanos that make up the lunar landscape of Fuerteventura. I soon started my way back to the hotel complex for breakfast and came upon Berthelot Pipits feeding in the desert like habitat. With their mouse like movements amongst the lava rocks they were not concerned with me being in close distance, which gave an opportunity to get a least one species of bird photographed!

A very pleasant morning walk which gave me a great appetite for a very big breakfast.