30th. Two trips to Black Down on the Mendips to look for the juvenile PALLID HARRIER. First trip was a failure - I spent two hours between 10.00h and 12.00h and didn't see the bird, only to later find out that it had been seen soon after 12.00h! I visited again with Anna in the evening, and after missing the bird early on we eventually had great views at dusk. I've seen this species once before, from a bike ride in Cyprus, but this was a new bird for me in Britain.
23rd - 29th. Shanghai, China. Three days at East China Normal University, two days downtown. The area was typically devoid of birds: the only species I saw were tree sparrows, a spotted dove, light-vented bulbuls, a crested mynah and a little egret. There were small bats - almost certainly Pipistrellus abramus, and a larger species flying in Pudong. Most photos below taken on the camera of my Sony Xperia Arc smartphone, a few with a Canon S5.
The delights of Chinglish.
The World Financial Tower (the 'bottle opener') and the Jinmao Tower. Apparently the Jinmao Tower was scaled in 2001 by a shoe salesman.
The two towers on a cloudy night, and the Oriental Pearl Tower.
Oriental Pearl Tower and the Maglev (magnetic levitation) train - one of the fastest ways on travelling on land, reaching 431 km/h, half the speed of the 747 I came back on.
The Bund at night.
13th - Chew Valley Lake. The drake ferruginous duck, 2 Arctic terns, a black tern, and a great selection of waders including >30 ringed plover, about 20 dunlin, and two American species in the somewhat distant photos below- a juvenile pectoral sandpiper and a juvenile semipalmated sandpiper - the first for the lake.
Although some of the plumage features look good (short primary projection, complete breast band, poorly defined V on mantle) I couldn't see any anchor patterns on the scapulars, and the palmations between the toes were not obvious, perhaps because of the distance of the bird. I guess you have to be very close to see these, as with the bird I saw on Scilly in 2003 (moulting adult), photographed with a point-and-shoot camera below the two cropped photos of the Chew bird.
Postscript, October 2012. The bird has now been reidentified as a little stint. partly through these photos. Ironically, the bird first identified as a little stint in November turned out to be a semipalmated sandpiper!
11-12th - La Rochelle, France for the 23rd International Bioacoustics Conference. Didn't see any interesting birds apart from two black redstarts, one of which was singing. The conference was at the aquarium, and it was great to give a presentation on a stage with the backdrop of a huge fishtank (second picture).
8th - the last 5 or so sightings of phalaropes I've had have been of distant birds. I therefore went to see the tame juvenile moulting into first-winter grey phalarope at Blagdon Lake, and it's a beautifully marked bird. I was photographing it from the shore when a bailiff came up and told me to get off the mud just as the bird was swimming within a few metres of me!
A juvenile Arctic tern and 2 dunlin were also present. On my way to the shore I stumbled upon a grass snake that flashed its tongue.
4th - Chew Valley Lake in the morning. An excellent selection of waders including a juvenile pectoral sandpiper showing nicely in front of Stratford Hide, 24 ringed plover, 4 dunlin, 4 little stint, a curlew sandpiper, 6 green sandpiper, 4 common sandpiper, 3 greenshank, 4 ruff, a snipe, and also 6 little egrets, a wheatear, the drake ferruginous duck and another Aythya that looked like a female ferruginous duck but seemed to have a hint of a tuft suggesting some hybridization with a tufted duck. A second-winter yellow-legged gull was offshore, and a red underwing moth posed nicely on the Stratford hut.