Snow Petrel - Antarctic Ocean 2016

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Monday, 20 March 2017

Guyana  20/3/17

Georgetown Botanical Gardens Our flight from Port of Spain was on time and waking up roughly ten minutes from landing I was staggered by the mass expanse of the rainforest below. We landed on time and swiftly went through immigration and met Francis who drove us into Georgetown and dropped us at the Status Hotel. He told us where to walk to get into the Botanical gardens, and despite this city not being the safest around we made it with no issues. The birding was fairly productive with the undoubted highlight being a superb Blood-coloured Woodpecker. What was slightly nerving was a local informing us of a mugging a few weeks back of a birder, however no doubt the muggers were put off by the torrential and prolonged downpour that struck on us out of the blue. Typical as it was the one time I left my umbrella and waterproofs in the hotel, this being the dry season it was at the back of my mind. Still we had conjured up a respectable list and when the rain eased we made a break for the hotel. It didn't really matter as I was completely saturated including all my accessories but as I type it's all drying out, though the room is looking more like a drug store with bank notes scattered throughout the room. In the evening our guide Ron Allicock joined us for dinner. 
  • Snail Kite
  • Black-collared Hawk
  • Red-shouldered Macaw
  • Festive Parrot
  • Mealy Parrot
  • White-cheated Emerald
  • Glittering-throated Emerald
  • White-bellied Piculet
  • Blood-coloured Woodpecker
  • Yellow-chinned Spinetail
  • Spotted Tody-Flycatcher
  • Cinnamon Attila
  • Short-Crested Flycatcher
  • Black-capped Donacobius
  • Wing-barred Seedeater
  • Greyish Saltator 
  • Yellow Oriole

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Trinidad & Tobago  19/3/17

Tobago & Little Tobago We had an early flight to catch over to Tobago where after landing myself and Stu tucked into a spicy breakfast sandwich filled with jalapeños among other exotic stuff. The stomach held out so it couldn't have been that bad. Our first stop was at some nearby pools that held the usual water birds plus some exciting species in the surrounding trees, namely the Ruby Topaz and Rufous-vented Chachalaca. Next up was a drive through the island up to Main Ridge where upon entering we were treated to some spectacular Hummingbird action with the highlight being the White-tailed Sabrewing that were making use of the feeders. A few Trinidad Motmots also gave us a sigh of relief as did a couple of Blue-backed Manakins. A trail here produced plenty of new birds but then the best was saved until last where we embarked on a small vessel and headed over to Little Tobago where we witnessed a colony of the stunning Red-billed Tropicbird in all its glory. The views were as good as I'd ever imagined and proved to be a top birding highlight, helped by the fact I'd seen several tv programmes showing this bird in the past forever gripping me off until now. Two species of Booby were also great. We drove back down to the airport and our flight was on time back to Trinidad where we sadly said farewell to Martyn and Graeme who were excellent as expected. My time (2 days) on T&T ended with 131 species including 97 lifers, and considering only top localised species were targeted, this was a good total. Tomorrow morning the six of us catch the early flight over to Guyana where the real adventure begins. 
  • Rufous-vented Chachalaca
  • Red-billed Tropicbird
  • Least Grebe 
  • Red-footed Booby
  • Brown Booby
  • Anhinga
  • Great Black Hawk
  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • Carribean Martin
  • Common Potoo 
  • Rufous-tailed Jacamar
  • Stripe-breasted Spinetail
  • Cocoa Woodcreeper
  • White-fringed Antwren
  • Brown-Crested Flycatcher
  • Blue-backed Manakin
  • Yellow-legged Thrush 
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Trinidad Motmot
  • White-tailed Sabrewing
  • Golden-olive Woodpecker 
  • Black-faced Grassquit
  • White-lined Tanager

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Trinidad & Tobago  18/3/17

Grand Riviere, Galera Point & Caroni Swamp The morning started early as it always does on the first morning of a trip. Our hotel based next to the beach gave us some mouth-dropping moments as we witnessed three Giant Leatherback Turtles coming up onto the sandy beach, digging their holes and egg laying right next to us. The first few hours was concentrated on the edge of the dense forest at Grand Rivière that provided excellent views of the Trinidad Piping-Guan. At least 12 individuals were encountered including some birds displaying. The many brightly coloured birds kept me entertained with the main highlight being a male Golden-headed Manakin, whilst two species of Antbird were also rewarding. As the morning warmed up raptors got going high above, which were soon joined by patrolling Magnificent Frigatebirds, although White Hawks were just as impressive. After breakfast we headed down south back towards Port of Spain where we arrived last night via St Lucia. The drive was rather uneventful both ways, but once at Caroni Swamp and adjacent lands, the birding got going in true style. First up was a large flock of Dickcissel that proved elusive but patience was rewarded with fine views. Next up was a 2-hour boat ride through the mangroves where countless birds were present (including Tropical Screech Owl & American Flamingo) but also a Tree Boa and a Silky Anteater, both roosting in the trees above. The finale was watching the rediculously bright Scarlet Ibis coming into their roost. A fantastic first day. 
  • Trinidad Piping Guan - 12
  • Tricoloured Heron
  • Scarlet Ibis - 500 +
  • Swallow-tailed Kite
  • White Hawk
  • Green-rumped Parrotlet 
  • Tropical Screech Owl
  • Short-tailed Nighthawk
  • Straight-billed Woodcreeper
  • Black-crested Antshrike
  • Silvered Antbird
  • White-bellied Antbird
  • Pied Water-Tyrant
  • Piratic Flycatcher
  • Golden-headed Manakin
  • Cocoa Thrush
  • Silver-beaked Tanager
  • Dickcissel
  • American Redstart - 1
  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Crested Oropendola
  • Trinidad Euphonia
  • Rufous-breasted Hermit
  • Black-throated Mango
  • Tufted Coquette
  • Guianan Trogan 
  • American Pygmy Kingfisher
This phone-scoped shot of a Trinidad Piping-Guan in the early morning gloom will have to do as I purposefully left my laptop at home, but much better photos shall be displayed when I'm back. 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Seaford Head 15/3/17

Finished work early so decided to make the most of the sunny weather and walk the cliff edge along the entire headland for my last opportunity of a March Wheatear. Thankfully I found three Wheatears including two stunning males.

Off to Trinidad & Tobago on Friday, and then onwards down to Guyana until the 6th April. I'll try and update as I go along but I doubt the tropical rainforests hold much wifi!



Wheatears along Seaford Head - the first sightings of the year are always very welcome

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Splash Point 11/3/17

Another seawatch as the wind stayed in a SE direction overnight, and for the first two hours the fog had cleared to a reasonable distance, however it soon came in again bringing the whole morning to a halt. Having a coastal patch isn't always beneficial!! Highlights of the seawatch were a pair of Garganey that flew east with two Common Scoter. When the fog had covered the entire area, a steady stream of inbound Meadow Pipits were noted.

06.30 - 09.15 SE 2

Garganey - 2 (1 drk) at 06.57
Brent Geese - 290
Gannet - 4
Common Scoter - 86
Red-throated Diver - 4
Sandwich Tern - 4
Teal - 1
Mediterranean Gull - 4
Pintail - 12
Meadow Pipit - 84 in


Friday, 10 March 2017

Splash Point & Cuckmere Haven 10/3/17

As always the forecast SE wind gave me lots of optimism but hopes were soon dashed as the fog was thicker than I had anticipated and therefore resulted in minimal seabird passage, though our first Avocets of the spring flew east. Myself and Bob decided to head up onto the Head, but ascending into thick fog was enough to send us into a café where we enjoyed a healthy alternative. We eventually ended up down the Cuckmere where the doldrums continued with not much else about.

Splash Point  06.30-08.00
Black-headed Gull - 45
Avocet - 4
Gannet - 2
Mediterranean Gull - 1
Brent Geese - 15
Black Redstart - 1 on concrete blocks

Cuckmere Haven:
Black-tailed Godwit - 1 on scrape
Cackling Geese & hybrids - still on west side
Chiffchaff - 1

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Ashdown Forest 4/3/17

I started the day with a ten mile run and then was undecided on what to do. With little movement reported along the coast I ventured inland to Ashdown to search for some Finches. An enjoyable two hours before retiring home for a lazy afternoon reading trip reports on Ecuador.

On a separate note, my article on finding the Hooded Grebes in Patagonia should be published on Birdguides at some point this weekend.

 Crossbills were showing very well today with numerous birds encountered
 Brambling - about ten birds present
Woodlark - two pairs found today