A fox in the Valley

Yesterday evening I looked out of the bedroom window and happened to see a thin reddish shape slinking around a field on the opposite hillside. A quick squint through binoculars revealed it to be a fox. Although I’ve found signs, it’s only the second live sighting I’ve had of fox in the valley, and they’re always good to see.

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The Full Monty

Finally managed to catch up with the local Montagu’s harrier on Saturday – a stunning bird, although it nearly led to an early divorce as my “five minute” look on the way to Manc to spend the wedding present vouchers spiralled into a harrier-hunting trek…

Unfortunately due to its situation as a long-staying bird of prey in an area armed with hostile shotguns I need to be pretty circumspect about its favoured location, but if you’re around Sheffield’s NW moors keep your eyes skywards as it does seem to roam over a large area.

Blowing my own trumpet(er)…

Trumpeter Finch

Trumpeter Finch

Excuse me for my excitement here, but as it’s very hard to get rarities in land-locked Sheffield, I’m not used to the thrill of finding my own vagrant birds! The trumpeter finch I found on Capri last week, as mentioned in my previous post, appears to be a rather nice rarity after all. I got an email back from Andrea Corso, of Italian birdwatching society EBN Italia, who says:

 The species is a very scarce migrant to Italy, of course obviously mostly to Sicily and S Italy, where it is most probably an annual visitor though the scarcity of observers some year miss to find birds around… however is a most interesting record and in same period we had in S Italy 3 birds in tot, plus several other african species such blue-cheeked bee-eater, desertorum Red-necked Nightjar, Western olivaceous Warbler etc….

It’s amazing what you can see when you’re not birdwatching, isn’t it?!

Closer to home, my friend Chris and I went for a trip up to Strines to see if we could see the lingering male Montagu’s harrier the other night, but despite the number of beady birdwatching eyes present it failed to show, although did appear in Ringinglow yesterday morning. So if you’re around that area keep your eyes peeled!

I’m not dead!

Yes, I haven’t updated this blog for a month, but I haven’t died, and I haven’t given up blogging! Early this month I got married, and preparations for that (plus the honeymoon!) meant I didn’t have much time to get out and do nature-spotted stuff, and even less time to blog about it – especially as combined with this was finishing assignments for the conservation course I’m doing, meaning I had very little spare time.

But now I’m all married up, and normal service can resume!

Before the wedding I had a field trip to the Burbage Valley, where some good stuff was spotted including some cracking ring ouzels, plus tree pipit, cuckoo and a nice early hobby. The first swifts were over the house on 30th April – much earlier than last year when I didn’t get a single one until 5th May. House martins were much later, however, and I didn’t manage any until I got back off honeymoon. It’s been a mixed up spring, with some things arriving slightly early and others surprisingly late!

The wedding was ace, and we even managed a bit of birdwatching…

A bit of wedding birdwatching!

Then we spent nearly two weeks in Sorrento in Italy for the honeymoon. Of course I was on honeymoon and wasn’t birdwatching, but of course you can see a lot of stuff while you’re not birdwatching! The Mediterranean beauties on display included bee-eater, serin, woodchat shrike, hoopoe, Sardinian warbler and alpine swift. On Capri I also found this trumpeter finch at the top of Monte Solaro…

Trumpeter Finch?

…and although I didn’t realise it at the time, this is a very very rare bird in Italy, with the nearest populations in Spain, Morocco and the Canaries. It was a bird in nice condition, which didn’t seem to be an escape, and seems to be a very rare vagrant. Why can’t I find stuff like this in the UK, eh?! I’ve sent a report to an Italian birding site, and will post any news I get on this.

And of course any trips to the Med wouldn’t be complete with a couple of lizard photos…

Lizard

Gecko

After we got back I had my final university field trip to Potteric Carr. Present at the time was a vagrant Iberian chiffchaff, and it would be rude not to break away from the group and have a quick look! Luckily it was showing well…

Iberian Chiffchaff

Not the prettiest or most visually arresting rarity you’ll ever see! An interesting bird, though, with a song very different to an ordinary chiffer, sounding like a chiffchaff that’s learnt how to sing!

I also managed to mop up a few migrants that I’ve managed to miss so far, including garden warbler, reed warbler, sedge warbler, whitethroat, sand martin and house martin. I must the be last person in Britain to see a house martin! They really seem thin on the ground this year.

So that’s me back… full service will now resume!