Monday, 21 December 2015
Still a place on my ROUND BRITAIN TOUR of 15-26 JANUARY 2016.....
SPANISH Lynx, Imperial Eagle, Wallcreeper, Bustards, winter trip 26 FEBRUARY-2 MARCH now completely FULL
FEBRUARY MOROCCO & WESTERN SAHARA tour to be arranged
7-12 MARCH 2016: LATVIA/ESTONIA for Steller's Eider, White-tailed Sea Eagles, Ural, Tengmalm's, Eagle & Pygmy Owl, Hazelhen, Woodpeckers - places available
ISRAEL 17-27 MARCH 2016 now completely FULL
SCOTTISH LONG WEEKENDER 14-18 APRIL 2016 - White-billed Divers, Capercaillie, Ptarmigan, Crested Tit, Scottish Parrot Crossbill, lekking Black Grouse and much, much more - still a few places available
CROATIA for Rock Partridges, butterflies & orchids 20-22 APRIL 2016
ISRAEL 25 APRIL-7 MAY for Levant Sparrowhawk & Honey Buzzard migration and late migrants
ROUND BRITAIN TOUR of 14-23 MAY 2016 for all UK specialities still has places
MOROCCO 6-9 JUNE 2016 for Atlas Pied Flycatchers, Egyptian Nightjars, Dupont's Larks, Hemipodes and more
TURKEY and NORWAY/FINLAND in June 2016 to be arranged
If you are interested in joining me on any of these tours, please don't hesitate to contact me for further details on LGREUK400@aol.com
Good Birding Always
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
The Biotope Guide to the best bird sites in Arctic Norway
Varanger Fjord is one of those destinations that you can visit time and time again and never get bored of it and for many years now, it has featured in my annual itinerary of birding tours. It is an amazing place, with wall-to-wall birding virtually 24/7 in the summertime and unique in its Arctic avian attractions.
Tormod Amundsen lives in Varanger and for the first time, he and his team in Biotope, a pro-nature architectural practise based in Vardo, have put together a detailed site guide to the area - an essential companion for any birdwatcher thinking of holidaying in the area. Varanger is actually the World's easiest accessible Arctic birding destination and is far NE Norway. It is one of the most northernmost inhabited places in the world and lies at around 70 degrees north (in line with Point Barrow in Alaska) bordering both Finland and Russia and the Barents Sea.
The book is wonderful and for me, a trip down memory lane. It is decorated throughout by lavish colour and incorporates Tormod's unique trademark drone landcape & scenery photography from cover-to-cover. Biotope's other speciality - hide design - also features throughout, many of these being utilised in the stunning site portraits. The book concentrates on the three key areas of the Norwegian Arctic - Pasvik, the Varanger Peninsula and the Nordkyn Peninsula - incorporating the Arctic Coastline, Tundra and Taiga habitats. There is a month-by-month summary, giving an idea of optimum timings - eg, March/April best time for wintering Steller's and King Eiders, May for White-billed Divers and October for Glaucous Gulls, as well as an excellent array of local maps and an extremely useful guide to accommodation online addresses and car hire operatives.
Pages 26-167 then concentrate on the site guide proper, detailing 7 sites in South Varanger in the Kirkenes District, and then over 35 locations on the Varanger Peninsula. The maps are very highly detailed and for each site, a comprehensive list of the birds & mammals expected to be seen is included. Despite birding in the area on numerous occasions and knowing it well and its birds, I was truly impressed by the number of sites that I did not know about, making me harp for an opportunity to test them out. For example, I hadn't realised that Neiden chapel was one of the best places for Arctic Warbler and that they rarely arrive before 20th June! It also cited many more sites for Willow Ptarmigan and Capercaillie than I currently have, some great new birdfeeders sites such as those in Svanvik and 'new' sites for mammals such as Brown Bear, Wolverine and European Lynx at Skogfoss. I just can't wait to try the book out, it is such a hive of information!
Following on from the location breakdowns is the Varanger Bird Checklist - highlighting all 320 species that have been recorded in the principality.
I just cannot fault this site guide - it is absolutely brilliant; I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Monday, 14 December 2015
The Hampshire Bird Atlas 2007-2012
Edited by John Eyre
Well what can I say?! This publication is exceptional, magnificent, essential, sumptuous - absolutely brilliant! Just finished reading it from cover to cover and it is stupendous - the best Bird Atlas in Britain ever produced. The layout, text format and image reproduction is second-to-none and the Firecrest front cover portrait is not only poignant, considering Hampshire holds over 50% of the UK's singing males at 415+ birds, but stunningly beautiful and a brilliant choice - Wildguides must really be congratulated at doing such a wonderful job on production and design - I really must get them to do my next tome!
The book itself is a culmination of the work of over 1,200 volunteers in surveying individual tetrads in Hampshire in both the winter and summer periods between 2007 and 2012. The results are staggering and very much in line with those of what I have found in my own work in Buckinghamshire. A lot of plusses and minuses but overall a declining trend, with a marked decline in 51 species (Bewick's Swan, Russian White-fronted Goose, Common Eider, Smew, Ruddy Duck, Quail, Little Grebe, Hen Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Spotted Crake, Stone Curlew, Lapwing, Curlew, Ruff, Sanderling, Common Snipe, Woodcock, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, Little Owl, Long-eared Owl, Common Swift, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Merlin, Rook, Willow Tit, Marsh Tit, Skylark, House Martin, Wood Warbler, Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Starling, Spotted Flycatcher, Common Nightingale,Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and Corn Bunting) and a general increase in 28 species (Egyptian Goose, Barnacle Goose, Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Tufted Duck, Sinensis Cormorant, Bittern, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great Crested Grebe, Red Kite, Goshawk, Common Buzzard, Osprey, Avocet, Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit, Mediterranean Gull, Lesser Black-backed & Great Black-backed Gulls, Yellow-legged Gull, Peregrine, Common Raven, Firecrest, Woodlark, Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Goldfinch and Siskin). In fact, the Atlas work shows that for some county species, the decline is nothing short of catastrophic, particularly for Grey Partridge, European Turtle Dove, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Willow Tit, Willow Warbler and Tree Sparrow - all species now on the verge of extinction in the county. The big plusses, notwithstanding those non-naturalised species such as Egyptian Goose, are the increases in Dark-bellied Brent Geese (14,000 wintering, internationally important), Red Kite, Goshawk (an incredible 24 breeding pairs in the review period), Mediterranean Gull (520 breeding pairs and rising), Peregrine, Common Raven and Firecrest.
Not content with just being an atlas, the publication also doubles-up as a comprehensive bird report over the period, with many records of rarities included & detailed, along with top-class photographs of those individual entries, including Surf Scoter, Cattle Egret, Black Stork, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Spotted Sandpiper, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Dark-eyed Junco, Little Bunting and White-throated Sparrow for example. I just love the layout of the book - just turn to the Brent Geese on page 63 as an example - highly professional and really relaxing on the eye. The graphs are of a very high standard and quality and easy-to-understand and assimilate, as are the maps highlighting distribution and changes in that.
And the standard of photography used is just sumptuous - just take a browse of Martin Bennett's Dartford Warbler (page 47) and Honey Buzzards (page 135). Incredible! And talking of the latter, interesting to see that Hampshire recorded Honey Buzzards in 65 tetrads in the period, with breeding proven in 19 - by far the most productive county in Britain for the species.
Towards the end of its 450 pages, a rarity summary appears on page 427 and all those 'escapes' recorded on pages 428-431. This really is a publication to be very proud of - an essential purchase. Just don't miss out!
Lee G R Evans
Tuesday, 8 December 2015
Up & coming Suffolk birder Oliver Slessor is the latest birdwatcher to receive one of the BBA/UK400 Club's prestigious Certificates of Merit (see above). It was whilst working at Landguard Nature Reserve that Olly discovered the first SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER for Suffolk.
Certificates are also available to those achieving other ornithological accolades -:
A Day List achievement, be it at national or county level
A Year List achievement, be it national, County or Patch
A Life List Achievement, 400, 450, 500, 550 or any increment of 1 above 550
All certificates cost £5.00, fully inclusive of postage & packing
Simply email Lee LGREUK400@aol.com any requirements