Friday, 2 March 2018

Snippets of Wealth

Wed March 21st 2018 - Dalton Crags to Trig and return 1000hrs
Green Woodpeckers yaffling from four separate areas within Dalton Crags (presumed territorial with much distance between each calling bird. Skylarks in fine fettle and singing their little hearts out, all usual Skylark areas fully occupied. Cold wind from the West and still no Mipit passage, just a single bird making it whilst I was there. A calling Curlew was making its way from the NW to SE, you get many calling Curlews following this direct line at this time of the year, they always seem to be pairs or singles but never groups (could be nearby breeders I suppose). Nice to see our resident wintering pair of Stonechats all OK.  I think the additional birds I saw last week must have moved on by now. 

Tues March 20th 2018 (vernal equinox)- Holme Stinted Pastures and Holme Park Fell 1000hrs
3 Skylarks moving through on Holme Park Fell, plus one single Meadow Pipit and that was it!

March 19th 2018 - Holme Stinted Pastures and Holme Park Fell 0900hrs - 1000hrs " PROBABLE SWALLOW"

Today although the sun was beating down and what a pleasure that was! but once you left the fabulous cover of the Pastures and started ascending Holme Park Fell the wind hit you and at times you just could not even walk without it blowing you back, I guess it could well have been 25mph with gust to 40s and another cold one from the East.  Went up specifically to look for Wheatear (on the fell) and Chiffchaffs (in the pastures), but no joy and quickly turned back and descended into the welcome sheltered Holme Park Pastures.  I did by the way see a small party of Mipits down on the edge of the Fell and not sure whether these were just moving locally or taking the lea routing or most sheltered course of passage they could find.
Soon whilst crossing the Holme Stinted Pastures, I noticed a bird which watching the ziz- zag flight pattern is one I had not seen for such a long while now and it was without any doubt a hirundine, which I straight away presumed to recognize it has a Swallow but can I say for sure, not 100% only 90% so again for now its another MAYBE, but you know it would not surprise me at all, I have had them over on the other side at the Trig Point on Hutton Roof as early as the 23rd March!

March 14th 2018 - Holme Stinted Pastures and Holme Park Fell 1100hrs  "STONECHATS"

First time I have noticed Stonechats on the Farleton side with a pair showing on Holme Park Fell this morning.  I am wondering just how many Stonechats there maybe in the area at the moment.  Also a fabulous party of at least 30 Meadow Pipits heading North West, I watched as far as I could and they seemed to continue for as far as the eye could see, so presumed on full migration. But that was it I never had any before or any after in over two hours.  

March 13th 2018 - Dalton Crags 1500hrs  "STONECHATS"

It's obvious we must have had a small recent "fall" of Stonechats because our local pair in upper Dalton Crags had swelled to two pairs plus a possible single bird making a probable 5 in total.

Bullfrog Pond - Click over to enlarge

March 9th 2018 - Holme Stinted Pastures and Holme Park Fell 0900hrs

Now then! the wind had dropped and it was far more pleasant, in fact I would not be too surprised if we don't get a good Mipit rush in the next day or two! On entering Holme Stinted Pastures I went straight down to what I call the "Bullrush" pond or after today should I call it the "Bullfrog" pond, and on my approach I could hear frogs, not just a few but maybe hundreds all calling at the same time with their "blowing bubbles" call and that's what they were doing "blowing bubbles" with the water bubbling and frogs and frog spawn everywhere.  I must have seen a "one ball of frogs with about 20 in it, all trying to climb on one another's backs - it looked like chaos to me, I tried to take a photo but they just have not turned out so you will have to take my word for it! They are not daft them frogs, they all shut up and stopped their lively business on noticing me peering over the fence, but I surprised them again on my return visit and got to see a repeat performance, well for at least a couple of minutes before they caught sight of me when everything again stopped - just like when you turn a light switch off. What a lovely sight this had been. 

The pastures had plenty of singing birds this morning, two fantastic Song Thrushes taking charge with one at one side of the pastures and the other at the far side of the pastures, none of them needing to compete, lots and lots of Dunnocks and Robins, a few Chaffinch and the mournful Bullfinch, together with Blue Tits and Great Tits.

I looked high and going overhead in silence was a trio of "Godwits" heading straight west towards Carnforth. 

I walked up onto Holme Park Fell and had several Skylarks - some in song, some just flitting about on the ground.  Also had a few Meadow Pipits taking refuge on the ground.  But still no Mipits moving through on migration, although I am sure this is about to change any day now! 

My main objectives today had been to follow the route where on my last visit I was counting the beautiful "Autumn Gentians" whilst at the same time checking odd Wheatear who were resting up before their long journey back to Africa. So I thought I will check the area out knowing it to be good for Wheatear, but none showing yet!  but I did have a "silent" Curlew fly past me and land in the pastures lower down on the fell.

I saw this "orange" thing staring out from a distant silver limestone boulder, on closer inspection it was a beautiful lichen which I have managed to get a photo. It reminds me of a beautiful crafted  "Doyley"

Spring has started!

Orange Lichen on limestone boulder
Click over to enlarge


March 8th 2018 - Dalton Crags up to Trig and then back down through Lancelot Clark Storth 1000hrs

Taken today from Lancelot - Farleton and the Fells and where the snow can stay!

March 8th 2018 - Dalton Crags up to Trig and then back down through Lancelot Clark Storth 1000hrs

There was some sunshine getting through here and there which made it quite pleasant, but still that "cold" southerly biting! and again as a result no Mipits on the move. Subdued Skylarks song, had a Mistle Thrush singing on territory half way up Dalton Crags.  It was quiet and I mean QUIET with little to mention just a sprinking of patchy sound from the odd Dunnock or Robin. Kept looking to the sky in hopes Fieldfare parties might just be going through - no! hoping the "Herds of Whiteness" might be going through - no! or what about some "Pink Feet" no! but did manage a Buzzard or two (locals) and lots of Black Headed Gulls.  Took the odd snap of the limestone of which I must already have thousands in my collection, but just can't help it!

A few more photos for today:

Top of Lancelot 

Lancelot Clark Storth

Ramsons or Wild Garlic (allium ursinum)

March 7th 2018  - Dalton Crags up to Trig on Hutton Roof Common 1000hrs

First rosette of the year for the EPO
Click over to enlarge

Warming up but still very cold on the tops (wrap up well but burning cheeks cold) and as such no migration was witnessed with the Mipits. Skylarks were present with very subdued calling.  One "beautiful" singing Song Thrush singing away in the Crags with a different repertoire altogether than usually heard and the result was just plain "phenomenally magnificence!" gosh! one day I must get around to recording this music it so sets the day in a positive mood and lets other good stuff come in!
Buzzards mewing and local, Kestrel hovering always in the same old place, "NO SHRIKEY NO LIKEY"

Parsley Piert starting to get going on the anthills - Unusual to have no "Yafflers" going for it, but did have a Great Spotted Woodpecker doing a bit of drumming in the background.

My first Early Purple Orchid rosette found this morning (see photo above).

March 6th 2018

(1600hrs) Song Thrushes in full song at both Dalton hamlet in trees opposite Bell Cottage and also another one singing away down Dickin Lane. Noticing over the past week lots more grouped Starlings local and foraging closer to home. (1710hrs) at least 500 plus Starlings coming in froma North direction and heading over Burton towards the LM side in readiness to roost from a North direction

March 5th 2018

(1600hrs) Green Woodpecker and Bullfinch calling in Lower Dalton Crags. Also one of the sweetest single "Hou Whit" calls you could ever hear, though only called the once.  I did try and call back to the bird which met with no response! Can only assume it was either a Chaffinch or Great Tit. A Song Thrush in song towards the East side of Dalton Crags.

(1030hrs) Both rookeries close to the Holme Church are showing lots of activity.

(0900hrs) At least 20 Lapwings in a partly manured field just below Burton Church and before the bend before the Clawthorpe turn off.

200 Fieldfare crossed over Burton heading North obviously on a movement.  Also reported some Fieldfare at Hilderstone and 15 Lapwing also at Hilderstone.  Regular daily visits to garden (Morewood Drive) by the Yellowhammers (Records per Reg)

Large Skein of Pink Footed Goose over Elterwater and heading out North East. (per Celia)

(0230hrs to 0530hrs) Migration Information Snippet!

at 0230hrs this morning "Maisie" the Bewick Swan left WWF - Slimbridge. She departed the North Norfolk coast at 0530hrs and is now approaching Germany.

"Maisie" the Bewick heading to Germany this morning.
Click over to enlarge

March 4th 2018

20 Fieldfare seen in field opposite Mike Taylors Farm in Dalton Hamlet. Also 8 Lapwing in the Dalton area (records per Alec)

March 2nd 2018

(0840hrs)  I had a party of 8 Lapwings in the very small field next to the bridge and opposite the old Station Pub (now rebuilt) which lies below the Canal.

(1200hrs) A similar amount of Lapwings seen coming from the same area and moving over Curwen Wood.

(1300hrs) Confirmed that 8 plus Lapwings have alighted and are feeding in the top part of Curwen Park Wood
I have had several reports from around Burton In Kendal during the past few days of birds either held up or on the move because of adverse weathers.

March 1st 2018

Reg and May on Morewood Drive had a visit of both a single Fieldfare and a Yellowhammer at the same time.  They have been getting up to six Yellowhammers on a regular basis.

Also a record has been given of a party of "Tewits" (Lapwings) have been seen on the freshly manured fields just behind the Dalton Business Centre.

Another report today of at least 100 Fieldfare present in Curwen Wood Park

February 28th 2018

Gil and Graham on the corner of Vicarage Close have been visited yet again by the Blackcap (around the 20th) which could possibly have overwintered.  They have also had a gang of Fieldfare enjoying stripping the berries on the Holly Tree (28th Feb)

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

More of Ron Blackburn's Superb Local photos (Please note all photos copyright)

 Brown Hare by Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

  Fox Cub by Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

  Fox by Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

  Meadow Brown Butterfly by Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

  Red Squirrel by Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Red Squirrel by Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Roe Deer Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Roe Deer Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Roe Deer - Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Black Tailed Godwit (Copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Brown Hare (Copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Female Teal in flight (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks Ron for sharing with us

Male Teal in Flight (Copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Male Wigeon in flight (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

Male Wigeon in flight (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

There will be lots more of Ron's photos over the coming days, so please come back soon.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Hutton Roof Catch Ups (bits and pieces)

Thursday 22nd February 2018 - Dalton Crags, Lancelot Clark Storth (1000hrs)

Just leaving home and going past the old vicarage when a male Bullfinch crossed my path and gave me the best start!  But the serious walk started from Nineteen Trees and it wasn't long before I heard Marsh Tits calling quietly (you might just say quietly for Marsh Tits!) not explosive.. but they were quiet today but they were there alright!  It's always great to hear them because we don't have that many of them about, just little pockets here and there and I'll bet there could be less than five pairs on the whole of the Hutton Roof (West side) (my estimate only). It's cold today and much colder than the past couple of days and as such my mind has stopped drifting and thinking of this particular territory will soon hold Blackcaps, Garden Warblers Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers but for now we will have to settle with our old reliable favourites the Robins and Dunnocks.  Moving up through the Crags and entering the top part (deforested), there was no Skylarks singing their little hearts out today, but I did have Sky and her mate cross over in front of me from East to West whilst doing their "thrupping" call (that's what I call it!) and of course it's their flight or contact call. 

I was thinking where is our resident pair of wintering "Stonechat" I have not seen them for a while, Wow! no sooner had the thoughts left my mind and to my right I saw the male bird come and land just at the side of me and seemed happy just swaying away on a nearby upright windblown twig! I looked all around for the female bird but just could not locate, but I am sure she would have been somewhere around. 

Also today I had Mistle Thrush holding territory (same place for the past four years as I know!), had the regular Kestrel doing his hovering at all the usual places, and I guess the highlight just has to be a Crossbill whilst in Lancelot Clark Storth. It was nice to see the Crossbill and surprised to see one on its own, but there again thinking about it why not! I am very familar with this species and they do tend to start nesting from February or for that matter most months of the year. If ever that was confirmed it just would be a lovely surprise.  Occasional Redpoll "chumming" away.

Checked over the spent mega rare Pale St. John's Wort (Hypericum Montanum and here is a photo showing the beauties (seeds moved on of course!)

Spent Pale St. John's Wort (Hypericum Montanum)

Also I thought I would also check out the two sites where we have the beautiful rare Southern Polypody and sure enough still plenty of last years evidence. 

Beautiful Southern Polypody from two sites on Lancelot

Wednesday 21st February 2018 - Dalton Crags (1500hrs)

Gosh! I should have known better from experiences learned - but seriously do we ever learn!  I mean fancy heading up the Crags at such a late hour when all the activity goes on in the first four hours from daylight!  Well that is not always the case but I presume it will have been today.  In fact for most of the time I was there it was pure silence, I could not even hear any distant traffic or persistent overhead planes or distant trains it was "sheer peace" but in a way let down a bit because there were no birds singing.  I have noticed this on so many occasions, they seem to go into a "silent state" around the mid afternoon period, before their later day semi explosion of song which are never like a dawn chorus, but just a little of that to show they are still there! Thrushes, Dunnocks and Tits, but always, always they will be outshone by the array of Robin Redbreast song!  Still with little else going on I must say I still was beautifully entertained by four of our local Buzzards calling, chasing one another etc. 

Tuesday 20th February 2018 - Grasmere

Had a hour or two up in the beautiful little "Wordsworth" village with lunch at the side of William's grave, just like we always do when we come to Grasmere.  "Sat under the yew that William himself planted all those years ago". And I let the inspiration flow in a readiness for my next poetic experience!

Saturday 17th February 2018 - Lancelot Clark Storth - Hutton Roof

Even better weather today, sunny and not just as cold. Straightaway from leaving the house I could hear so many birds singing and they were obviously enjoying the better conditions. The Greenfinch could be heard "S - h - eee - e r" and coming from a regular spot in the grounds of the Old Vicarage. Lots of Dunnocks singing as if they were in every garden and every bush! (so many), the odd soft call coming from local Goldcrest.

 Arriving towards the top of Vicarage Lane I was pleasantly surprised to count a minimum of 200 Chaffinch crossing overhead in batches of 30 or 40 at a time with scarecely a few seconds between each batch, and obviously coming out of the die back left over maize in the field there and subsequently landing in other nearby trees. There were probably other finches mixed in the large party (eg: Brambling and Greenfinch) but I could only hear the calls of Chaffinch. I did see a party of about 30 Goldfinch come from a similar area which carried on further back.

I have had reports most recently from friends to say that odd Little Egrets have starting visiting the fields at the top of Vicarage Lane, and sure enough there was one just in front of me, crossing over the fields, low down and perhaps only a metre above the ground. Sometimes you will see Alba's (collective name for Pied Wagtails and White Wagtails) amongst the muck piles having come out foraging for the day. Most of them will return in the evening to roost at the nearby Burton Motorway Services where you may get scores of birds meeting up and getting the warmth from the buildings at night.

On the edges of Lancelot near to Pickles Wood I could hear lots of Great Tits and the occasional Blue Tits, Nuthatch. The Great Tits were so interesting with their selected call which obviously had been chosen from their 200 variant call repertoire and today they did the very loud echo-ing "Tuchoo, Tuchoo" and at first I though "Hi Hi" Marsh Tits! but no it was clearly the beautiful little Great Tits doing their superb impressions. Mournful "Peeu" calls from the Bullfinch came from several locations, a very successful species which is doing really well around here. Also today I had a party of about seven Long Tailed Tits (or sometimes called Titmice) which were flitting past and calling with their "Si Si Si" calls. Our Woodpeckers are also happy at the moment and busy discovering new holes and checking them out.

Our Song Thrushes are also singing their little hearts out from the high canopy. I guess I could listen to them for hours with their much varied calls. I like to write down their calls in a "English fashion" but they are so fast the deed is virtually impossible and lots of the calls are obviously missed. I guess for me the Throstle singing away is the very start of Spring and the beginning of yet another birding (or for that matter Nature as a whole) year. What a privilege it is to be around to be able to listen and cherish this grand array of natural music (to my ears!) This below is what I mean about writing "his tune" I did this in 2015 and have done it every year since... Thank you, you little beauty!

The Language of the Song Thrush (March time)

 Now is the time, the perfect time to listen to the Song Thrush,
some may call him a “Throstle”,
There are others (sad to say) who would call him (Throttle),
He sits so high he cannot go any further if he tried,
It’s such a special time of the year for him to show to
ANOTHER, and the World at large, and what a show,
He will sing and sing and sing for one hour at once,
I love to write down his song in my little book,
In a language he would never understand!,

Wee hoo whit,
Wee hoo whit,
Wit Woo,
Wit Woo,
Her Kleep Kleep
Her Kleep Kleep,
Chit chit chit chit,
See-it, See-it”
I think I could listen for hours at such a wonder,
Whilst all the World around are rushing everywhere,
This little fellow imparts his "wolf whistles"
and his love to all who’ll take time to listen

(Poem 29th March 2015) 

Friday 16th February 2018 - Dalton Crags to Hutton Roof Common Trig Point

Nice and Sunny and bitterly cold, but such a joy to get out and check things out.  My initial thoughts were to wonder if the Great Grey Shrike had made an appearance, its quite obvious odd ones are now being seen throughout the Country at various Shrike haunts, yet ours (when and if he/she arrives) is pretty good at choosing about the 4th of March as a regular return date.

First thing that caught my eye was down in lower Dalton Crags when I was watching a Green Woodpecker for some twenty minutes whilst it was examining a nearby tree, he seemed to go around the back of the tree in the opposite direction to me, so at sometime in the next few days I will need to check out the tree to see if there are any holes etc.

Oh! just the ticket! to hear "Sky" singing away higher up in Dalton Crags (deforested), it is always the very first Skylark back and was singing away marking her territory, also another one was noticed near by.  Although the song was good it was patchy and intermittent, I think perhaps it needs to warm up a bit before you will get the full monty!

Just on cue I also had two Meadow Pipits crossed my path and continuously calling with their "psst psst" calls, I watched them come in and watched them all the way out to the North West, so to me it seemed clear they were on their migration.

It was rather sad not to see lots of Thrushes like you would normally see at this time of year in lower Dalton, it just seemed devoid of Thrushes other than a occasional Blackbird.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

GOA (India) Photos and Experiences

Black Shouldered Kite (Click over to enlarge)
I took this photo in GOA (inside) back in 2009
(Photo: B. Yorke)

It will be great to get back down to GOA for the 14th time to check out some of the fabulous birds.  There are hundreds of different birds in the state of Goa with over 1300 different birds in India. For the birder turning every corner holds a surprise.

Every visit to Goa for me just has to include a visit to see one of India's largest and oldest "Banyan Trees" (some actually says its India's oldest!) which lies within the jungle towards the North of Aramble just after leaving the freshwater lake which at the top corner (entry) shows its banks stained with yellow sulphur. Over the years and on my way up to the Banyan tree I have seen all sorts of spectacular birds, some of which I just have not been able to identify, but one in particular I must mention is the "White Browed Fantail Flycatcher" and it is high in the trees, but so interesting to watch whilst it fans out his tail and puffs its wings and then starts turning around in a circular fashion whilst continually flickering the fanned tail.  A proper show off and absolutely commanding the birders attention. I never managed to get my own photo but I have managed to find one to put on here for you to see.

White-Browed Fantail Flycatcher (Click to enlarge)
Photo: credit to Alchetron

Each visit to the Banyan tree had its own story to tell with several experiences and memories. The very first time I remember we eventually found the tree after a short trek then crossing a ravine and it was there lying on a sloping bank.  There were perhaps up to a dozen or so hippie type unconventional souls sat at the base of the tree which has sort of been made up into a circular shrine type of setting maybe some 20ft diameter.  It is customary for one to take there shoes off before entering into the bowels of the Banyan then sit around a long established small crudely made fireplace structure. The first time we visited the hippies were listening to this chap who was somewhere up in the trees shouting out strange voices and stories of "well gone (I'd say!!)" and you could not help but laugh to oneself at the same time wondering if the poor fellow had lost grip with society.  The others seemed happy enough sat in a circle have a occasional drag of Hashis which was being freely passed around.

On another visit (in another year) we paid our visit and we were startled to see young naked girls high up on the Banyan's thick branches, the girls were painted in camouflage and laid across the branches of the tree sort of blending in with the tree itself and could be difficult to see, it was certainly interesting to say the least to see how they spent their day!!  I guess everything in this place is magical.

On yet another occasion we visited a local (historic) bakery whilst on the approach to Aramble and close to the School, It was a place like going back in the dark ages.  We bought some small plain type cakes.  When we arrived up on the Banyan tree we thought we would take refreshment and have a drink of our water and enjoy the cakes.  The cakes were lovely and we offered them to the guys sat around the fireplace. We enjoyed our cakes, but it soon become obvious that our friends enjoyed them even more than us and it looked very much like they thought the cakes contained a lot "more content" than they actually did.

Sat beneath the Banyan Tree (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: B Yorke

One year after visiting the Banyan I thought I would try and advance further up into the jungle, yet the only reasonable (but hard) access was heading up through a dried out (at this time of year) ravine and even then having to clamber over large 5ft rounded boulders, but there was no other way, you would have needed machetes to have got through the jungle areas.  I had not been going for long maybe a few hundred yards when I heard loud "woh, woh, woh" ........noises from behind me and it became instantly scary because I knew that sound of the very large (almost human sized) monkeys which can be very dangerous to humans, so I quickly made retreat into safer quarters.

Dried up ravine which was the only way through the jungle
(Photo: B Yorke)

When we first used to go up to Aramble (early 90s) you would see the large family groups of these large dark coloured monkeys up on the very tops of the red sanded shrubby hills, high above us and to the sides of the jungle. They must have been looking down on us, but thinking about it the last two or three visits I have not seen them so whether they have retreated I don't know but I will try and check them out next week if I get chance.

This bird below is a "Lesser Sand Plover" I managed to take this photo on the Mandrem Beach on the way up to ARAMBLE. 

Lesser Sand Plover (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: B.Yorke

I also found quite a few of these lovely little birds on the beach between Candolim and Calangute, they do not appear to be rare in the area. What a lovely little bird with big black bulging eyes.  They are similar in size to the Little Stint. They can be seen dashing in and out with the tide with their little legs running a hundred to the dozen. They are feeding amongst other things on little crabs which are about 1/2" in size.

Red Wattled Lapwing (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B. Yorke)

Nearby were we stay and close to Candolim there is a cracking large pool which does not look deep and is a big attraction to lots of waders, egrets, herons and the most beautiful Kingfishers and here I manage to observe a party of the "Red Wattled Lapwings" and also to the edges of that same pool were both a Little Cormorant and Little Egret in the same tree.

Red Wattled Lapwings (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B.Yorke)

Little Cormorant and Little Egret (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B. Yorke)

Intermediate Egrets and Little Cormorant (Click over to enlarge)

This pool of which there are so many in Goa are fabulous areas where you can just sit and watch and you will discover all sorts of birds coming and going especially in the fringe trees.  You are spoilt for choice down here with four varieties of Cormorant and six varieties of white egrets. In the photo above you see both Little Cormorant and Little Egret happy enough in one another's company.

Not far from that same pool I would pass lots and lots of Rosy Coloured Starlings sat on the telegraph wires just prior to roost (see photo below)

Rosy Coloured Starlings prior to roost (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B. Yorke)

I see lots of Rosy Coloured Starling, they seem to be so common down here.  I was watching their behaviour close-up down near Candolim beach, and saw just how agressive to one another they are with lots of shrieking and attacks!  Another bird you see regular prior to roost and taking over the local wires are the Jungle Myna's which you can see one here with a rather wet Rosy Coloured Starling below it. 

Jungle Myna with a wet Rosy Coloured Starling (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B. Yorke)

Just after taking this photo I was walking along a village raised footpath which was a sort of raised banking with paddy fields below and also lots of rough barren fields some 10ft below on both sides which had hundreds of little birds on the wires and also a few bee-eaters on post etc all around, and I noticed in the distance I could see the odd farmed buffalo grazing which must have been some 200 yards away.  You met very few villagers on this footpath but this particular day this old guy comes along and starts giving me a broken english "begging speel" which was hardly decipherable, but I told him I was skint and sorry could not help him today.  After moving a little further on and the beggar/(later realized farmer) came up with this loud whistle and guess what that buffalo which like I said earlier which was maybe 200 yards was running like the clappers and had closed distance to me to around the 50 yard and looked to me to be heading straight for me, so I decided to leg it very very quickly. Obviously that beggar/farmer had whistled instruction for that buffalo to come to him I could hear the farmer in the close background laughing his head off as he saw me running for my life.  So that was yet another Indian experience. I have thousands of stories which I must try and compile some notes. 

 Not the same buffalo - the one that chased me was far less retiring!
(Photo: B. Yorke)

Paddybird or Indian Pond Heron (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B. Yorke)

These pools are quite common down near Candolim and this one is a shallow "Lotus" flower pond built purposeful for recreation with seats on the edges. The pond contained some beautiful red coloured lotus flowers, also in the margins of the pond you would see the Pond Herons and at times the colourful White Throated Kingfishers. 

Ruddy Breasted Crake (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B Yorke)

Just the one time did I actually visit the Hotel Bera Mera which is a recommended birders paradise and I can see why with all the open ground to the back of the hotel, which I could see storks in the distance, but just at the bottom of their garden was this pool here which had on the day of my visit the Ruddy Breasted Crake.  I am told now that the pond area has been allowed to become totally overgrown and that the pool has disappeared.  Can't believe it! I would have thought it had to have been a great tourist attraction.

Once time we booked on the crocodile trip which went up the canals which link the rivers Mandovi and Zuari and sure enough we saw several crocs, some with the mouths wide open whilst little birds went in their mouths cleaning off their teeth.  I saw lots of nice birds in the mango swamps as well, but one bird that has stuck in my mind was that beautiful coloured Black Capped Kingfisher, which had a striking blue colour. I have seen the bird twice now once in the Mangroves and also near the pond in Candolim, but on both occasions only a flitting glance. But here I have managed to show a photo thanks to Tony Hovell. 

Black-Capped Kingfisher (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: thanks to Tony Hovell)

In India there are twelve different Kingfishers, of which eight can be seen in Goa but the more common ones to tourist Goa are likely to be the Pied Kingfisher, White-Throated Kingfisher, Stork Billed Kingfisher, the Black-Capped and the Common Kingfisher.  Here below is a beautiful set of all the Goa Kingfishers photos kindly supplied by Bikram Grewal and Savio Fonseca.

The Kingfishers of Goa (Click over and enlarge)
(Photo kindly shared by Bikram Grewal and Savio Fonseca)

I have also had the pleasure of seeing the following birds whilst staying in Goa, but there are many, many more still to see, but for now here are the ones I have listed:

Black Capped Kingfisher, White Breasted Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Common Hornbill, Golden Oriele, Night Heron, Blue Rock Thrush, Common Peafowl, Tailorbird, Yellow Cheeked Tit, Little Ring Plover, White Browed Fantail Flycatcher, Brahminy Kite, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Osprey, Rose ringed Parakeet, Coucal, Koel, Small Green Bee Easter, Hoopoe, Large Green Barbet, Wire tailed Swallow, Black Drongo, Rosy Coloured Starling, Jungle Myna, Red Whiskered Bulbil, Magpie Robin, Pied Bushchat, Large Pied Wagtail, House Sparrow, Jungle Crow, Common Pyriah Kite, Red Wattled Lapwing, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Common Sandpiper, Indian Myna, Goldmantled Chloropsis, Rufous backed Shrike, Cattle Egret, Brown Headed Storkbilled Kingfisher, Little Egret, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Paddy Bird Eagle, Intermediate Egret, Laughing Thrush, Lesser Sand Plover, Ashy Prinia, Purple Rumped Sunbird, Scaley Breasted Munia, White Rumped Minia.

I have spent quite a lot of time whilst in Goa search for my "wish list" bird, checking out a area on the way to Fort Aguada, which the bird has been seen on several occasions, but for me no success at the moment.  Here he is the INDIAN PITTA

Indian Pitta (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: Kindly shared by Alchetron)

And another one I have always wanted to see and probably more chance of seeing is the Asian Paradise Flycatcher which is regularly seen throughout GOA (so they tell me)

Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Click over to enlarge)
Female to the left and male to the right - Photo kindly shared from Lawrence Neo 2015

I will look up into the sky and quite regular I will see up to 15 kites and eagles soaring together, besides the commonest which will be Bhrimany Kites, you will also get the Black Kite or Pyrah Kites together with serpent eagles and mixed in will be the larger sea eagles. A few years ago I had a sail down the river and at one point had 4 Osprey and also about 10 large buzzards on the sandbanks resting up. Some years I have gone up to Fort Aguada to watch the eagles and kites climb on the thermals whilst coming within metres of you. And that is one thing I like about India, they respect wildlife and leave it alone.

It is not just birds, I love to check out anything nature and have managed to see one or two lovely butterflies.  The following which until recently I have calling them "Monarchs" but pleased to have been corrected on this and find they are called the "Striped Tiger" (Monarch family) they are pretty good to photograph and allow you to get close.

I have seen some butterflies down in the swamps which are probably as big as my hand, and beautiful colours (yellows and blues), just wish I could have got photos.

Is it right the mongoose gets the Cobras?  yes they do but not all make it, occasionally the mongoose can be too slow.  We stopped at the Silver Sands at Candolim and we had mongoose running over the roof every night.

There is some really beautiful snakes also in Goa but usually they keep themselves to themselves, but I have managed to see odd ones wriggling away, but there was one sad occasion which I want to report.

We heard such a commotion in a very built up area on the main Fort Aguada road at Candolim and from a distance it looked like a large crowd had gathered surrounding what at first we thought was a fight but it turned out that these Indian guys were actually smacking a large venomous snake and they kept hitting in with old palm leaves/stalks and kept beating it until the snake was dead and they had removed its head and they hung the snake on a local bush and I photographed what was left of the poor creature.  It turned out it was a very venomous snake called a Russell's Viper.  I was so surprised it was found on the busy local walkway and can only presume it had come up through the overgrown disused gardens gone wild belonging to the old Portuguese villa homes close by. I knew there were Cobras around because of the tales I had heard with the mongoose, but did not know there were Russell's.

  Russell's Viper - Aguada Road - Candolim
(Photo: B Yorke)

This shows the small birds (mainly Munas) collecting on the electric wires, sometimes there could be up to two hundred at a time. 

Here is a mixture of birds with several Muna's
(Photo: B. Yorke)

Black Drongo

Black Winged Stilt

Brahminy Kite

Blossomheaded Parakeet


Red Vented Bulbil

Small Green Bee-eater and what I think is a Richards Pipit
(Photo: B. Yorke)

Common Mormon (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: B. Yorke - Candolim 2011

Also a big thank you to Mandy Rush for helping me with the identifications of the
following GOAN butterflies

Blue Tiger (Tirumata limniace)
Photo: B. Yorke - Candolim 2011

Common Albatrose (Appias albina) or Common Emigrant (Catopsilia pomona)
Photo: B. Yorke 2011

Common Sailor Butterfly (Neptis hylas) Click over to enlarge
Photo: B. Yorke - Candolim 2011

Common Indian Crow (Euploea core) Click over to enlarge
Photo: B. Yorke Candolim 2011

Common Pierrot (Click over to enlarge) Candolim Feb -2018
I managed to capture this little butterfly of 1" approx whilst it was on a hedgerow banking with shrub fields behind Candolim area.  Quite a few of them about.

Common Mormon at Candolim (Click over to enlarge)
Kindly shared here by Ron Blackburn

Common Jezabel at Candolim (Click over to enlarge)
Kindly shared here by Ron Blackburn

includes Scaley Breasted Munas and also White Rumped Munas
Photo: B. Yorke - 2009 - Candolim Goa

Beautiful yellow wasp of 2" - Candolim 2009
Photo: B. Yorke

Some of my photos from 2018 added:

 A rare fern I found in Candolim 2018

 This is a very unusual tree growing in the jungle on the way up to the Banyan tree (full trunk of tree showing in the next photo.  It was has though it had sea shells planted all the way up!

 This years (2018) photo of the Banyan Tree and note the monkey coming down for food (bananas and biscuits). It is said that this Banyan Tree may well be the 3rd oldest in the whole of India. 

 Found this old Bee/Wasp nest in Aramble Jungle

 from Baga Hill

 from Baga Hill

 from Baga Hill

 From Sunset Bar at the start of Baga Hill

 Mapusa Market

 Mapusa Market

Mapusa Market


Here below is a collection of lovely photos belonging to the collection of Ron Blackburn whom I met whilst down in Goa in 2018 and he kindly suggested that I may wish to include them within this blog.  There are some fantastic shots and its a great pleasure to be able to include them here.

 Black Headed Ibis (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn

 Black Hooded Oriele (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn

 Brahminy Kite (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn

 Two Brahminy Kites (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn

 Green Bee-Eater (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn

 Common Kingfisher (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn

 Female Koel (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn

 Red Wattled Lapwing (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn

 Red Whiskered Bulbil (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn 

 Purple Sunbird (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn

 Purple Rumped Sunbird (Click over to enlarge)
by Ron Blackburn 

 Magpie Robin (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn 

 Intermediate Egret (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn 

 House Crow (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn

 Scaley Breasted Munia (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn

 Southern Great Grey Shrike (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn

 White Throated Kingfisher (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Ron Blackburn

Photo: Ron Blackburn

Collared Kingfisher (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Kindly shared to us by Ron Blackburn

Indian freshwater Crocodile (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Kindly shared to us by Ron Blackburn

I have seen quite a few of these on the two main GOA rivers eg: Mandova and the Zwari, they tend to rest up on the sand banks, some will have their mouths wide open and you see little birds inside their mouths cleaning food from their teeth.  I was told that there is no knowledge of a freshwater croc ever attempting to take a human for prey, yet obviously it is a totally different story with the saltwater crocs. I have seen these reach the size of about 12-20ft

Photo by Ron Blackburn