Trips

I travel quite frequently in search of birds, mainly short trips trips within Europe, but also longer trips further away. These trips can either be based around birding an area with the aim of seeing as many of the resident or migratory species as possible, or equally can be to photograph a relatively short list of specific targets. I might write a formal trip report, or I might distill the experience into several blog posts with barely any nod to chronology. This page attempts to merge both of these approaches into handy groupings under a single header, both from this blog and my other unashamedly photographic one over at www.justbirdphotos.com, so that any visitor wanting to get a flavour of both the place and the birds can simply pick a few of the relevant entries.


Maui, March 2017
Another daft but highly enjoyable trip to Hawaii, this time to Maui where the focus was Mt Haleakala, the vast volcanic crater that occupies the whole of the eastern side. Lots of endemic Honeycreepers at Hosmer Grove, and a lot of snorkelling the fabulous corals that ring the island. I also had a day in the Florida Everglades on the way.

Florida - Everglades interlude
Maui - Birding Hosmer Grove
Maui - Sunset on Mount Haleakala
Maui - Other
Maui - Trip List 


Vietnam, February 2017
This was a family holiday during half term, but as ever I managed to squeeze a little bit of birding in. Before I left I had read that Central Vietnam around Hoi An was virtually birdless, but what was meant of course was simply that northern and southern parts of the country were far better. So in fact there were plenty of birds around, and a few early morning excursions into the local agricultural areas comprised of paddy fields and fish ponds were highly rewarding, as was a coach tour to a temple in the mountains. We travelled via Hong Kong which was like birding Shetland!

Hong Kong - Winter birding
Vietnam - I) Hoi An
Vietnam - II) - Lanterns
Vietnam - III) - summary


UAE, November 2016
A long weekend spent around Al Ain on the Aub Dhabi-Oman border with the main aim of trying to get improved photo of a number of Wheatear species that winter in the Emirates. This was mostly successful but I missed Hooded and will need to return again. Left on a Friday after work and was back at work on Tuesday morning with some 1000 photos to sort through. All in all great fun, barring spraining my ankle rather badly on my second morning.

UAE - Hume's Wheatear Rock
UAE - Mission Wheatear Trip Report


Texas, October 2016
Unashamedly a birding trip with photography coming a distant second. My son and I spent two days on the Gulf Coast and a day and a half in the Rio Grande Valley enjoying a selection of birds entirely new to both of us in stunning weather, and exploring a variety of fabulous birding sites. A daft side trip to Mexico one evening was as silly as it was fun.

Texas - Logistics and Itinerary
Texas - day 1
Texas - day 2
Texas - day 3
Texas - day 4
Texas - Trip List

Shetland, October 2016
After a missed year it was excellent to be back on Shetland again. As usual a lot of hard work went mostly unrewarded, but nonetheless it was simply a pleasure to be out in the fresh air for so many hours with just a pair of bins. Nine out of every ten birds were Yellow-browed Warblers, which is no bad thing. Needless to say it all kicked off on day 7.....

Shetland - day 1
Shetland - day 2
Shetland - day 3
Shetland - day 4
Shetland - day 5
Shetland - day 6


Kaui, August 2016
If you had asked me a few years ago whether it was sensible to go to Hawaii for a weekend I would have said you were insane. I wouldn’t say that now. I wouldn’t say it was entirely sensible either, but I would tell you that it was perfectly achievable and that you would likely have as great a time as I did. And boy did I have a good time. In two days I saw a couple of endemic Honeycreepers, cleaned up on all the endemic water birds, and unusually did some heavy duty relaxing.

Kaui - preamble
Kaui - A brief stop in LA
Kaui - Trip Report
Kaui - Trip List


New York beaches in late summer, July 2016
A weekend visit to the bird photography hotspot of Nickerson Beach on Long Island, home to a thriving Black Skimmer colony and tons of waders. It was the Skimmers I particularly wanted to hit, and I timed the visit to coincide with hatched chicks.

Nickerson Beach - Trip Report


Iceland in Spring, May 2016
A short bank-holiday weekend break to try and get better images of a number of species that I felt I had underachieved on two years ago. For some this worked, for others it didn't, but I came away with some completely new species such as Ptarmigan and Slavonian Grebe that I hadn't managed to photograph at all last time. Mixed weather as always but chasing the brighter stuff paid dividends

Iceland in Spring - Trip Report
Iceland in Spring - Slavonian Grebe
Iceland in Spring - Ptarmigan
Iceland in Spring - Waders (1)
Iceland in Spring - Waders (2)
Iceland in Spring - Red-throated Diver


Southern Arizona in Winter, February 2016
Warm weather, a host of new species in mostly easily accessible locations, spectacular desert landscapes and xerite plants, and very few if any Gulls. In another words possibly the perfect winter break. I based myself in Tucson and birded from dawn until dusk every day at a series of wonderful sites. I also chased a few Mexican vagrants with some success.

Southern Arizona - Logistics and Itinerary
Southern Arizona - Trip Report, day 1
Southern Arizona - Trip Report, day 2
Southern Arizona - Trip Report, day 3
Southern Arizona - Trip Report, day 4
Southern Arizona - Trip List



Cyprus in Winter, January 2016
A long-planned trip targeting over-wintering Finsch's Wheatear over a weekend. A few other goodies thrown in, with tens of thousands of Greater Flamingo and very pleasant birding a long way from the cold and wet UK! 

Cyprus in Winter - Trip Report


Florida II, November 2015
A second trip, again a long weekend as I'd had so much fun the first time. I moved up the Gulf Coast a bit to the St. Petersburg area and spent a couple of days there primarily on the beaches doing waders and egrets again. Overcast weather meant I didn't get very much of the magical light I was aiming for, however it did mean I could take photographs all day long. Pick of the birds were Black Skimmers at Fort Desoto, and an American Oystercatcher on St. Pete beach. I might not go twice per year again, but this could easily become an annual trip as you know exactly what you're going to get.

Florida II - Trip Report
Florida II - American Oystercatcher
Florida II - Grey Plover
Florida II - Sanderling
Florida II - Black Skimmer
Florida II - Royal Tern
Florida II - Other Terns
Florida II - Brown Pelican


Madeira, July 2015
Specific targets of Trocaz Pigeon and Madeira Firecrest, as well as to observe the numberous sub-species. An amazing place, full of birds, although quality and not quantity. Unfortunately encountered particularly windy weather which meant my pelagic trip was cancelled, but lying under the stars late one evening surrounded by calling Zino's Petrels is something that will stay with me for a long time.

Madeira - Trip Report


Southern Poland, June 2015

A very quick trip to the Tatra Mountains in the hope of finding photogenic Nutcrackers. The birds were there but did not perform and the area visited was extremely busy with weekend hikers. Nonetheless an interesting trip to an area that has a lot of birdlife and fabulous scenery. 

Southern Poland - Trip Report


Washington State, June 2015
Solo birding in the fabulous Pacific Northwest at the perfect time of year to see all the region's breeding birds. A mixture of coast, sea and rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula, followed by the drier pine forests of the eastern slopes of the Cascades Range and the sagebrush and agricultural habitats at lower levels. Utterly shattering, with long daylight hours, I enjoyed wonderful views of almost all of my target birds and managed to get a few decent photos along the way despite this being primarily a birding trip to an area with a brand new avifauna.


Washington - logistics and itinerary
Washington - Trip Report, day 1 
Washington - Trip Report, day 2 
Washington - Trip Report, day 3 
Washington - Trip Report, day 4
Washington - Trip Report, day 5
Washington - Trip Report, day 6

Vancouver - Trip Report, day 7
Washington - Trip List
Washington - Bald Eagle excitement


Fuerteventura, May 2015
A family half-term holiday at the southern end of the Island, the resorts on the Jandia peninsula are ideally situated close to a number of the key birding sites. Lovely weather all week, happy children and a chilled-out wife. In short forays from the hotel all the island specialties were picked up, mainly at or close to the Costa Calma plains. A great place for birding dads! Or mums or course!

Fuerteventura - summary


Florida and New York, March 2015
A three day trip to a location I have wanted to visit for as long as I have carried a camera. South-west Florida, on the Gulf Coast, has superb birds and heaps of artistic possibility, combined with real birding when the urge took me. I added a whole heap of birds to my ABA list and had a wonderful if frenetic time. If you like waders and egrets I have yet to visit a better place, and it's incredibly easy to boot. Flew back with NYC and managed an afternoon of photography in Central Park and some light shopping.

Florida - a taster
Florida - part 1
Florida - part 2
Florida - Grey Plover
Florida - Wilson's Plover
Florida - Willet
Florida - Reddish Egret
Florida - Tricolored Heron
Florida - more Herons
Florida - Osprey
Florida - Gulls and Terns



UAE, January 2015
A five day trip to the Arabian peninsula, a new destination for me. There is something about deserts and arid places that I like. Wheat......  The winter is the ideal time to visit as summer temperatures are unbearable, but we still notched up a solid 29C, and the middle of the day was not a time to be out birding. Did a complete loop of the country, visiting almost every Emirate in the process, and took in deserts, mountains, coasts and agricultural land. 

UAE - Trip Report
UAE - Sooty Gull
UAE - Indian Roller

UAE - Green Bee-eater
UAE - Gulls on Fujairah beach
UAE - Terns on Fujairah beach
UAE - Beach Waders
UAE - Wheatears
UAE - Plovers
UAE - wrapping up


Morocco, December 2014
My third trip this year, the shortest yet, but still incredibly worthwhile. A day in the Massa, and half a day on the slopes of the Atlas. Extremely productive, heaps seen, and often very well. Luckily avoided the devastating floods of the prior week, but evidence of their destruction was everywhere we went, with roads and bridges simply washed away. My proposed routes were in places impassable, but you take these things in your stride in Africa. 

Morocco - again
Morocco - Trip Report
Morocco - Stonechat
Morocco - Cattle Egret
Morocco - Sardinian Warbler
Morocco - Southern Grey Shrike


Tenerife, November 2014
A must-do for European birding in the winter given the number of endemics and the amount of sunshine. A winner on both counts, and a welcome change from November in the UK - I'm already a big fan of Macaronesia with plenty left to explore. As usual a lightning trip, but dawn til dusk birding in fabulous scenery that in places felt very like Morocco - unsurprising given where it is. Not the place for a huge trip list, but a very easy destination for birding.

Tenerife - preamble
Tenerife - Trip Report

Tenerife - Berthelot's Pipit
Tenerife - Hoopoe
Tenerife - Great Spotted Woodpecker
Tenerife - Blue Chaffinch
Tenerife - Southern Grey Shrike


Shetland, September 2014

My earliest ever trip to Shetland, and once again a short visit due to time constraints (i.e. see below...). Nonetheless a superb birding experience, with the expected large numbers of scarce birds being seen - always a trade-off between late rarity and early quantity. I am pleased to tell you that I am not at all adverse to quantity, and 23 Yellow-browed Warblers, six Red-breasted Flycatchers made me very happy indeed. As did a Rustic Bunting and amazing views of a Pechora Pipit.

Shetland - day 1
Shetland - day 2
Shetland - day 3, Unst
Shetland - day 4 and 5


Falsterbo, August 2014
The classic migration destination, and somewhere I have been wanting to check out for a long time. Risk of being very slightly early to coincide with the UK bank holiday, but in fact it was timed perfectly, with thousands upon thousands of southbound migrants, and a considerable raptor passage. I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like it, and it's a place that I will have to go back to in order to get the "buzz" again.

Falsterbo - preamble
Falsterbo - Trip Report, days 1 and 2
Falsterbo - Trip Report, day 3
Falsterbo - Trip Report, day 4 + trip list
Falsterbo - Yellow Wagtail (thunbergi)
Falsterbo - Oystercatcher


Helsinki, July 2014
A way of livening up an otherwise dull weekend, what better than to go and walk around the vast reedbeds just outside Helsinki city centre all night? Gazillions of birds, even at a quiet time of year, and a spectacular dawn were my reward.

Helsinki - running around in the middle of the night
Helsinki - birds at dawn
Helsinki - reedbed birds


Iceland, June 2014
A quick-fire trip at the height of summer in the land of the midnight sun. Three and a half days of photographic mayhem, getting wet, and no sleep. The aim was to get good images of relatively common birds that are just not achievable in the UK - Divers, Waders and Ducks. In that regard it was a great success, with most of the big targets bagged. Iceland is amazingly beautiful, and I would go back tomorrow.

Iceland - Trip Report
Iceland - Golden Plover
Iceland - Red-necked Phalarope
Iceland - Red-throated Diver
Iceland - Great Northern Diver
Iceland - Harlequin Duck
Iceland - Barrow's Goldeneye
Iceland - Waders
Iceland - wrapping up


Hong Kong, May 2014
An unusual holiday for me as it didn't involve 100% birding or bird photography from dawn 'til dusk, but a very pleasant change from the norm as I explored the amazing city of Hong Kong following my sister having moved out there for a while. I did squeeze a little bit of birding in, but it was hard work in hot and humid weather, so largely I just took it all in. Walked miles, crammed masses in, arrived in the USA shattered....

Guess where I am.....
HK - anyone for a Rubythroat?
HK - market town (no birds)
HK - common birds
HK - the Pearl River Dolphin
HK - harbour views
HK - Happy Valley racing
HK - a day spent walking
HK - a day out birding
HK - trip list
HK - Black Drongo
HK - Bulbuls
HK - Oriental Magpie-Robin


Cyprus, March 2014
A long weekend, which due to the distance involved only meant two days birding, with most time spent at Cape Greco on the south-eastern tip of the island. Essentially this trip was 100% about a much-needed Wheatear fix, but I managed to cram quite a lot more in as well.

Cyprus - taster
Cyprus - trip report
Cyprus - Cyprus Pied Wheatear
Cyprus - Cyprus Warbler


Morocco, February 2014
This was actually booked a long time ago, well before my last-minute January trip. The plan this time was to head to the Atlantic coast and bird both the desert areas south of Guelmin, and the Oued Massa. With Mick and Richard, this was only ever about photography, and it was incredible, with heaps of birds seen very well. The rough route was Marrakech, Agadir, Guelmin and back. On reflection we should have flown to Agadir, but the flights didn't work as well.

Morocco - taster, premable
Morocco - trip report
Morocco - the dream of Geronticus
Morocco - Thick-billed Lark
Morocco - Temminck's Lark

Morocco - Red-rumped Wheatear
Morocco - Stonechat
Morocco - Gulls at Anza


Morocco, January 2014
Morocco is brilliant birding, and after a long stretch at work I needed a break. No plan per se, not even a map, I just wanted some warmth, and to get better photographs of the some of the birds I had seen last time. This was a four day solo trip built around exploring less-visited parts of the Atlas foothills to the south of Marrakech - the tactic was simply to pick a random road and drive the length of it hoping to find stuff on the way. As a strategy this worked very well and I had some fabulous bird photography opportunities.

Morocco - trip summary
Morocco - bird photography
Morocco - Moussier's Redstart
Morocco - Black Wheatear
Morocco - Great Grey Shrike
Morocco - Thekla Lark


St. Lucia, October 2013
Another non-birding holiday, designed with my usual incredible foresight to allow some measure of recovery from the rat race for Mrs L and myself sans enfants. In this regard it was a great success, and we enjoyed an incredibly laid back week on this lovely island, eating good food, drinking many long, cold, rum-based drinks, and seeing a few birds. A small trip list, but high in quality.

St. Lucia - a taster, another taster, and one more
St. Lucia - another tough day
St. Lucia - Sugar Beach
St. Lucia - a birding tour
St. Lucia - Hummingbirds
St. Lucia - Grey Kingbird
St. Lucia - Lesser Antillean Bullfinch
St. Lucia - Spotted Sandpiper


Shetland, October 2013
A change in tactic to see if we could score big. We couldn't, and neatly bracketed our trip around some absolute monsters. A flying trip for me, a mere three and a half days, but good fun as always, with some truly horrible weather that delivered birds that we couldn't find. One day, one day....

Shetland - day 1
Shetland - days 2 and 3, and finding an OBP
Shetland - wrapping up


Hungary's Hortobágy National Park, June 2013
A photographic trip booked with Sakertours, this involved sitting in cramped and baking hides for a week. Not everyone's idea of fun, but if you want to get close to some species - close enough to get some great shots that all pass the rictal bristle test - then this is the way to do it. I'm not really one for sitting around in hides, especially when some of them have no space for your legs, but the opportunities it affords make it all worthwhile.

Hungary - a taster
Hungary - another taster
Hungary - a stupid taster
Hungary - day 1, the Drinking Pool Hide #2 
Hungary - toughing it out
Hungary - day 2, the Pygmy Cormorant Hide
Hungary - day 3, the Red-footed Falcon Tower Hide
Hungary - day 3, the Afternoon Roller Hide

Hungary - day 4, the Bee-eater Hide
Hungary - day 5, the Reedbed Hide
Hungary - day 6, the Drinking Pool Hide #2
Hungary - Hawfinch
Hungary - Red-footed Falcon
Hungary - Bee-eater
Hungary - more Bee-eaters


 
Oulu and South-east Finland, June 2013

This was a very last-minute long weekend, arriving in Helsinki on Friday evening, birding non-stop for almost three days and four nights, before going straight to work in London on Tuesday morning very much the worse for wear. The main targets were of course Owls. Expensive Owls.

Finland - a health warning
Me and my mate Bryan
Finland - owling in Oulu
Finland - birding 25 hours out of 24
Finland - more not sleeping


Extramadura/Donana, Spain, April 2013
A whistlestop tour of these two areas with two days in the former and one in the latter, with my nine year old son. Heavy rain made the trip somewhat difficult, and spring was as slow there as it was here, but nonethless a great area and one to be revisited in the future. Monfrague National Park and the Vulture colony probably the highlight, but good birds all over the shop.

Preamble
Extramadura - plains
Monfragüe National Park
Donaña
Extramadura - Lesser Kestrel
Extramadura - Corn Bunting
Monfragüe - Griffon Vulture
Monfragüe - Rock Bunting



Morocco, March 2013
Another first, this time to Africa. A six day trip to Morocco taking in both the eastern desert region as well as the High Atlas mountains. We had sand, snow, sun, rain and floods - truly a breathtaking country of extremes. Stunning desert birding, fabulous birds and mind-blowing scenery. And really really easy to boot. Highly recommended!

Morocco - a taster
Morocco - from Marrakech over the mountains to the desert
Morocco - continuing east towards the Erg Chebbi
Morocco - in the desert
Morocco - a tree in the desert
Morocco - take me to your wadi
Morocco - rain in the desert
Morocco - the Ourika Valley
Morocco - Oukaimeden
Morocco - Desert Sparrow
Morocco - White-crowned Black Wheatear
Morocco - Spectacled Warbler
Morocco - Hoopoe Lark
Morocco - Mourning Wheatear
Morocco - Desert Wheatear
Morocco - Moussier's Redstart
Morocco - Atlas Shorelark
Morocco - Crimson-winged Finch


Tobago, November 2012
My first trip to the Caribbean, and definitely not my last. Technically not a birding holiday, but you know me.....Mrs L and I needed a break, or rather, realised with incredible foresight at the start of the year that come November we would be frazzled, so booked this up - a week at the Blue Waters Inn at the quiet eastern end of the island. A superb holiday destination, and plenty of relaxation alongside the Hummingbirds, Tropicbirds and rainforest goodies.

Tobago - whetting the appetite part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6
Tobago - Blue Waters Inn
Tobago - Main Ridge
Tobago - round the island trip
Tobago - Little Tobago
Tobago - Hummingbirds
Tobago - Red-billed Tropicbird


Shetland, October 2012
Definitely annual now. Another trip characterised by Jupiter-strength winds and quite a few good birds. Hard work, but I think I know that now. Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll again, another Buff-bellied Pipit, but a couple new birds like Pechora and Sibe Stonechat.

Shetland - arrival
Shetland - update
Shetland - some photos
Shetland - kind of a report
Shetland - Unst
Shetland - last few days
Shetland - Siberian Stonechat
Shetland - Auks


Bulgaria, May 2012
An amazing trip, billed as "Balkan species special", where we saw countless thousands of brilliant birds - Bee-eaters, Golden Orioles, Rollers, Shrikes, as well as the regional goodies like Eastern Imperial Eagle, Paddyfield Warbler, Olive Tree Warbler - basically all the eastern birds you would expect. Cannot recommend Bulgaria highly enough as a birding destination. Beer is about 80p a pint. Did I hear you say you'd just booked tickets?

Bulgaria - a preamble
Bulgaria - another preamble
Bulgaria - day 1
Bulgaria - day 2 part 1, part 2
Bulgaria - day 3 part 1, part 2
Bulgaria - day 4


Finland and Norway, April 2012
A trip to the far northern reaches of both Finland and Norway for a winter birding special - sea ducks galore, incredibly confiding Grosbeaks, an arctic seabird colony complete with hunting Gyrfalcon, Hawk Owls, extreme cold, the Aurora borealis, and eye-wateringly expensive everything,

Finland - a preamble
Finland - day 1 part 1, part 2
Norway - day 2
Norway - day 3 part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4
Norway - landscapes
Things we didn't see
The team


Shetland, October 2011
What is becoming a more or less annual trip to these windy islands in seach of rarities from east and west. High winds of approximately 10,000 mph made birding rather difficult.

Shetland - day 1
Shetland - day 2
Shetland - day 3
Shetland - day 4
Shetland - day 5
Shetland - roundup


The Baltics, February 2011
The coldest I have been, and a perhaps ill-conceived trip for a crack at Steller's Eider wintering in the Baltic, as well as Woodpeckers at a feeding station. Sensational scenery, including an iced-over sea with Eagles perched on it.

The Baltics - baltic
Lithuania - day 1
Estonia - day 2
Lithuania - day 3 part 1, part 2


Shetland, October 2010
My first trip to these islands. I had a blinder, rarities all over the place and mega after mega. I had never experienced anything like it. Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll, Lancy, Swainson's Thrush to name but a few. I had millions of ticks - read this and you will want to go. Just don't read the 2011 trip report...

Shetland - an appetiser
Shetland - day 1
Shetland - day 2
Shetland - day 3
Shetland - day 4
Shetland - day 5
Shetland - day 6
Shetland - day 7
Shetland - day 8
Shetland - day 9


Scilly, October 2009
My first trip to these sensational islands. They were unfortunately slightly less than sensational on the rare bird front this time, but still a wonderful place. Where else can you wander around in October in shorts in t-shirt, see Wrynecks, Rosefinches and so on all within a short stroll of one another? And then follow it up with three kilos of cake.

Scilly - a preamble
Scilly - day 1
Scilly - day 2
Scilly - day 3
Scilly - day 4
Scilly - day 5
Scilly - day 6


New Delhi, India, May 2009
A lightning trip to India for a friend's wedding, with barely any time for birding, but I managed to fit a few hours in on a couple of mornings. Brilliant, but deserving of far more time - however if you are just passing through the city, you may find this useful.

New Delhi - trip report


Singapore, April 2009
What to do if you have a layover in Singapore on your way somewhere else. I spent about 8 hours in Singapore on my way to Australia, and went to the unspoilt island of Pulau Ubin and hired a bike, which was a great success if somewhat knackering after a ten hour flight with another ten hour flight just around the corner.

Singapore - teaser
Singapore - Pulau Ubin


Ohio, May 2008
I have family in Ohio, and have visited there often, though not as a birder. This was the first time I took binoculars, and although birding was not the aim of the trip, I managed to fit in a little bit. My timing was slap bang in the middle of the spring migration, and a day at the peerless Magee Marsh boardwalk was incredible.

Ohio - trip report


Argentina, February 2008
A wedding in Buenos Aires, followed by a quick break in the Argentine Lake District. An amazing birding destination. This is actually a genuine trip report - I am amazed. I am however very sad that back in 2008 my interest in bird photography had yet to start, and hence I went round with a 70-200 lens. I tried, but looking at the results, not very hard. I'll go back I'm sure, I am just not sure when.

Argentina - trip report

1 comment:

  1. I just stumbled across your blog while trying to identify what I thought might be a red tailed wheatear although in the wrong place (Nemrut Dagi, Turkey) I've really enjoyed your images - you are too modest btw. I'd love to be producing shots anything near the quality of yours. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete