Saturday, 28 August 2010


Bare-throated Bellbird from Steve Blain on Vimeo.

These surely have some of the biggest gobs of all birds? Bare-throated Bellbird, Brazil, October 2008

RBS video

Red-backed Shrike from Steve Blain on Vimeo.


Red-backed Shrike, Biggleswade Common, 28th August 2010. Adult female.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Honey Bee

As I was wandering around in Abuko I bumped in to this sat atop a large dead tree. When I put my bins on it I was rather surprised see it was a young Honey Buzzard! Abuko, The Gambia, December 2009.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

How to draw an owl

Monday, 23 August 2010

A delicious cadence of song

Willow Warbler at Broom from Steve Blain on Vimeo.

The sound picked up by the Canon S90 really is an order of magnatude better than the Nikon Coolpix P5100 I had before. Now my Willow Warblers sound like Willow Warblers, and my Groppers don't just look like they're yawning! This happy chappie was singing at Broom GP all spring, and just look at the vigour he puts in.

Not your average Bittern

Bittern at Minsmere from Steve Blain on Vimeo.

Even though I'd seen the Lesser Kestrel a mile or so away, this was the best bird of the day for me. Bittern, Island Mere, Minsmere, 31st March 2010. Some of my images can be found in this post.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The sound of the summer

Nightingale, Sandy from Steve Blain on Vimeo.

Make sure you have your speakers turned on for this one! Nightingale, Sandy, May 2010.

Saturday, 21 August 2010


Bald Eagle, Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island from Steve Blain on Vimeo.

Bald Eagle, Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, Canada, June 2010.

Whistler, beer, and bears

Did I mention how ridiculously easy finding Black Bears was towards the end of our trip to Canada? Well this was the view from the first restaurant we ate in, in Whistler. We were just lugging down out first pint and Mark glances out the window

"is that a bear on the hill side?"
They proceeded to wander down the slope and round the back of our hotel. Don't go looking for bears around Vancouver, they'll find you.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Big momma!

We saw five of these chaps in Vancouver - Grizzly Bear, June 2010. We spent a long while watching this mother and cubs ambling around the river bank and showing their gentler side. Really fantastic.

Do bears shit in the woods? I don't care! When you're that size, in my opinion, you can shit wherever you want.

Autumnal colours

A nice obliging young Wheatear was on the entrance track to Rookery at the weekend. Interesting to see the plumage tones change with a different background colour.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Is it cold enough?

A very interesting bird. Unfortunately I didn't get much more on it than you can see in these images. There are probably more questions to be asked than answered with this bird, but if I see it again I'll be staying with it until it raises its wings and shows me its tail! Possible 2cy Baltic Gull, Broom GP, Beds, 11th August 2010.

Addition 16th Aug -
What age are those primaries? A few months old, a few days old, or a year old? The apparent hole in the wing when its preening in the video is worrying. Does it really lack those inner primaries? What does that mean? Well, it could mean those primaries are well preserved juvenile feathers = possibly an extreme intermedius or fuscus hybrid? If the primaries are actually new feathers, then its getting better for fuscus, buy why the hole? I wish I had taken more notice of it now...

Many thanks to Richard Millington and Peter Adriaens for their helpful advice and instruction about this bird.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The Zoothera hunt

OK, I promised myself to move away from gulls for the time being, as I guess not everyone wants to read about them!

This Varied Thrush was a big highlight from our trip to Vancouver Island earlier in the year. Its one of those species we weren't sure we were going to see, especially as most trip reports for the area neglect to mention it.

As it happens they were common on the west side of the island - common by voice that is! I'd pre-loaded my iphone with some of the calls before we left England so I knew roughly what to listen out for. This birds call haunted the tall evergreen coastal forests, but it quickly became an enigma as we just couldn't see it in the huge growth. They would sing from the very tops of the trees and when they moved they'd go quickly without us noticing.

Several early mornings were spent creeping round trails hoping we'd catch one feeding on the ground. We failed. On our last morning in the Tofino area we had one last crack. Two hours later, and with breakfast and our girlfriends waiting for us, it was time to go. The rain that morning had been pretty persistent and loads of American Robins were feeding on worms along the road sides. A split-decision by me to 'try one last place' while driving back ended the agony.

As there so many Robins feeding on the roadsides I drove down towards a lovely little bay, and along a very little used road as it goes no-where. As we drove slowly along it there were Robins everywhere. We must have seen over 40 individuals coming off the roadsides. Mark and I were checking carefully as we inched along.

"VARIED THRUSH!" went the shout as Mark's sharp eye picked one out as it flew up to a bush by the roadside. I craned my neck to peer out of the back window and there it was, bouncing on a flimsy stem, then flicked its wings and in to the forest. Awesome!

A few minutes later, once we had calmed down, we moved along to see if we could find it again. Almost without believing our eyes we re-found it further along the road, but this time fully out in the open at the car park at the end of the road! We knew we were pushing our luck with the ladies, so we spent a few minutes absorbing this beautiful bird and comparing it to the Robins alongside, before heading back to Tofino elated.

If you want to know exactly where we saw this bird, click here.


This Lesser Blacked-backed Gull (left black ring J02P, white lettering) was seen at Broom GP on 9th August 2010, but originally ringed on the tiny island of Rauna off the Norwegian coast on 4th July 2007. This is the second ringed intermedius I've seen from Norway, the other was a few years ago now though, but both were at Broom.

View Lesser Black-backed Gull J02P in a larger map


This Lesser Black-backed Gull hasn't come very far - just across the water from Zeebrugge, Belguim. He (white on dark blue on right leg up KY.AL) was ringed on 6th July 2002, and spent most of last winter near Malaga, Spain. I saw him at Kempston, Beds, on 2nd August 2010.

View Lesser Black-backed Gull KY.AL in a larger map

Friday, 6 August 2010

Digiscoping art

The Broom GP gull roost. Around 2000 birds were there this evening, with 7 Yellow-legged Gulls the highlight. 5th August 2010.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


This lady Lesser Black-backed Gull was ringed on Texel, The Netherlands on 16th May 2009, and photographed near Kempston, Beds, 2nd August 2010.

She's hopefully the first of a few colour-ringed LBB's I've seen recently to get their life histories back on. The map below shows how far she's come. Many thanks to Kees Camphuysen for a very quick response to my email.

View Lesser Black-backed Gull F.AAL in a larger map

Monday, 2 August 2010

Tricky blighters

Had this again tonight. This is the same bird from 28th July (see here) - what I presume is a second-summer->third-winter Caspian Gull. However, I don't like its legs. They're a bit too thick and chunky with a short tibia - are they in the range of a Caspian Gull? Everything else on it seems to be about right (but look at those new inner primaries too)...opinions welcome.

Edit - just found an interesting shot on Chris Gibbins' blog of a very similar bird. Its the tenth shot down.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

A sexicola

I'm thinking of autumn already. Whinchat, Salthouse, Norfolk, 24th September 2007


Common Gull, Great Yarmouth, 25th November 2007.

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