Black Winged Stilts at RSPB Middleton Lakes - 18th of April 2015.
Having looked at Twitter on Saturday morning I was surprised to see that two Black Winged Stilt had turned up at RSPB Middleton Lakes. Only a half hour journey from home, I made my way in glorious sunshine to get a glimpse of the birds.
Arriving to a packed car park, I managed to park thanks to someone leaving just as I turned in! I took the half mile walk to Jubilee lake where upon a small crowd of birders where on to the birds. These were my first British sighting of wild Stilts and a very nice tick for this year too.

Distant record shots of one of the pair that moved around the scrapes during my hour at the reserve. Other birds of note were a drake Garganey, Little Egret and Cetti's Warbler.


Lundy Island MARINElife trip 11th of April 2015.

I arrived in Ilfracombe at 9:30am for my first Lundy trip of 2015 where the weather was dry and sunny. However the wind was quite strong and was causing wind waves outside the harbour walls which suggested that today’s crossing to Lundy maybe a bouncing one? I collected my ticket from the Landmark Trust office and proceeded to board the MS Oldenburg where I was greeted by Jerry the ship’s Captain. I proceeded to start my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to the passengers. As the Oldenburg started out of the harbour the ships motion made it difficult to chat to as many passengers as I would normally. The ones I did speak to were very interested in the work of MARINElife and took a leaflet with a view to logging on to the website and to hopefully support the charity in the future.

Halfway in to our journey the first Common Dolphin were seen off the starboard side where two came towards the ship in a matter of three leaps and were very quickly gone!  Birds of note were Manx Shearwater and Gannet along with Guillemot and Razorbill rafting as the ship passed them by. The usual common gulls were seen along with Kittiwake, Fulmar and Great Skua.

Ring Ouzel record shot
As the Oldenburg made its way slowly towards the landing bay there was no sign of any Seals on the rocks, however I did see three during my time on the island from the higher levels. As the 139 passengers disembarked, they created a slow train of people making their way up to the higher levels. My route this visit was to pass the wooded areas to look out for migrant birds, here I saw Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Onwards towards halfway wall I spotted my first Ring Ouzel in three years! Arriving at Jenny’s Cove, I tried in vain to stand upright in the strong westerly wind to locate at least one of the 30 reported Puffin that have been seen in recent days. My efforts proved fruitless as I couldn’t keep still long enough to focus either my binoculars or my camera. Sadly beaten by the strong gusts, I took shelter in the rocks and settled down for lunch.

After lunch; I proceeded to made my way back to the jetty for the return journey on Oldenburg, along the way were Skylark, Meadow Pipit and many beautiful Wheatear.

As I approached to watch the deer, I passed by the wreckage of the world war 2 German bomber that crashed on the island back in the 1940’s all that remains now is some rusty fragments of the planes metal components.
Remains of WW2 German Bomber

 Also whilst walking back, the island’s Sika Deer were spotted in a small group, plus the Lundy Ponies were grazing over on the eastern side of the island. Other animals observed were the usual sheep and wild goats. The crossing back to Ilfracombe was a much calmer trip with the same birds being seen along the way.
Sika Deer

Before disembarking I thanked Jerry the Captain for his and his crews’ continued support for MARINElife. I look forward to my next trip in May, this time I hope to see one of my favourite seabirds, the Puffin which gives the island its name.
Here is a list of all birds seen on either the ship or the island during this trip;
Manx Shearwater, Black headed gull, Herring gull, Kittiwake, Lesser black backed gull, Great black backed gull, Fulmar, Guillemot, Razorbill, Cormorant, Shag, Gannett, Great Skua, Meadow pipit, Wheatear, Starling, Raven, House sparrow, Wood pigeon, Swallow, Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock, Oystercatcher, Skylark, Wren, Carrion crow, Chaffinch, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Jackdaw, Mallard, Pied wagtail, Ring ouzel, Teal and Willow warbler.