Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Meare Heath NR and Ham Wall RSPB - Wed 29 Dec

A late morning stroll with friends out to the hide at Noah's Lake at Meare Heath failed to produce any of note due to a lack of exposed water and quite a dense fog at ground level. So we cut short the walk and instead headed out to Ham Wall for a stroll.
Again, we failed to see much of note but on the way back to the car we were stopped by a couple of birders who had found a Bittern out in the open. We enjoyed cracking views of the bird for a good five minutes before it stalked back in to the reeds.
As we continued back to the car I saw a Great White Egret fly west, but it was out of sight before I could point it out to the others. After a pleasant walk we headed back home.
UK List for 2010 ended up at 236 species.
WP List for 2010 ended up at 316 species.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Madeira - Wed 15 Dec to Wed 22 Dec

Ellie and I bit the bullet and decided to head south in search of some summer sun and jetted off to the island of Madeira for a week. We stayed at a really good hotel complex in a self-catering studio. The setting was ideal, with several birds being seen in or from the hotel grounds, including Plain Swift and Canary:

Certain species were pretty common place, including Blackcaps:

We undertook a day trip to Porto Santo, which produced Rock Sparrow, Berthelot's Pipit and Spanish Sparrow amongst others. Also, of national importance for Madeira, I found a female Goosander on Tanque pond on Porto Santo. I didn't realise at the time but when I submitted my sightings on my return to the UK, I found that this was the first record of this species for the Madeiran archipeligo...a real privilege and a feather in my cap!
Up in the mountains we took a levada walk to the Balcoes viewpoint where we saw all three Madeiran endemic landbirds, Trocaz Pigeon, Madeira Firecrest, and Madeiran Chaffinch:

A trip to Lugar de Baixo was also fairly productive as we saw Common Waxbill and Green-winged Teal:

We had a fair amount of rain over the week, but it was very warm, and it was a real shock to the system when we landed back in Bristol to be faced with snow and temperatures well below freezing. To end our holiday off on a perfect note, we saw a small flock of six Waxwings feeding in roadside bushes as we drove home.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Radipole RSPB - Sat 11 Dec

We popped out for the afternoon and headed down to Weymouth and a walk around the RSPB reserve at Radipole. A really enjoyable stroll out to North Hide produced a few bits and bobs, though as we arrived at the hide we were told that we had just missed two really showy Bitterns!
After waiting 341 days to see a Water Rail in 2010 today turned up trumps and I was lucky enough to see three Water Rails all showing really well. We had hoped to see a few Bearded Tits, and whilst a couple were heard calling, we did not see any.
I had hoped that the four Red-creasted Pochard that had been seen the day before would still be about, but we could not find them, though there were several Pochard and Tufted Ducks about.
From the visitor centre I saw a few Snipe, but nothing out of the ordinary in the gathering gull flock.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Colyford WTW - Sun 5 Dec

News had broken of a possible Eastern Yellow Wagtail at Colyford Water Treatment Works, so after banking some brownie points by going clothes shopping early in the afternoon with Ellie, I set off after a late lunch to try my luck.
I arrived at the WTW at about 3.10pm and walked along the footpath that marks the northern boundary of the site. Viewing was not ideal as I had to look through the fence and trees to actually see the clarifier beds, and I was looking right in to the sun. There were loads of birds around, and before long I had seen several Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails, plus a couple of Redwings and Grey Wagtails and a single Water Pipit. At least half a dozen Chiffchaffs were also feeding on the beds, and included one Siberian Chiffchaff. A Goldcrest fed in the trees no more that two feet from my nose, and a Treecreeper was in one of the trees overhead.
But the Eastern Yellow Wagtail was proving to be elusive. However, the arrival of a local Devon birder who had already seen the bird meant some updated information as to which bed the bird was favouring...this was typically the most distant, but within a couple of minutes we had found this really interesting wagtail. It certainly looks good for an Eastern Yellow Wagtail, really pale and greyish with a very well marked head. There are already a few good photos on the web, so we'll see what the final decision is with regard to this bird.
By 4.00pm it was getting pretty cold and dark, so I packed up and came on home.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 5 Dec

Thick fog meant my morning visit produced hardly anything. A couple of Song Thrushes were seen, and about a dozen or Teal were at the southern end. But with no sign of the fog lifting I gave it up as a bad lot and went back to East Coker for a doze before picking Ellie up from church.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Sutton Bingham - Wed 1 Dec

Another bitterly cold afternoon, and with road conditions not ideal and more snow forecast, I decided to play it safe and spend the afternoon at Sutton Bingham rather than venture further afield.
On West Pool, a small flock of a dozen Wigeon were present before they flew to the main reservoir and joined a larger flock, numbering about sixty birds. Also on the main reservoir, a flock of around five hundred Canada Geese, some hundred or so Mallard and about a dozen Teal.
I then drove to the southern end and took a walk around, flushing a single Snipe and seeing a couple of Siskins and a Treecreeper. A small flock of Redwings were feeding on various berry-covered trees. A Lapwing flew over heading south, shortly followed by another Snipe.
I then took a walk from the hide along the water's edge up to car park and back, a flock of thirty Teal were on the water opposite the hide. Seven more Lapwings flew south with another five Snipe. From the car park itself there was nothing of note other than a large gathering of gulls, so retraced my steps back towards the car. Another flock of Lapwings flew south, this time a much larger flock, twenty-three birds, then four more flying north. Then another wader flew north, a Ruff, and an unexpected find.
In failing daylight a Kestrel flew over and a couple of Fieldfares passed by as I reached the car. It was now almost dark and very cold, time to get home.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sun 28 Nov

My usual Sunday morning visit whilst Ellie was at church turned out to be pretty productive if cold, with the temperature not getting above -2 degrees centigrade! I parked up on the northern causeway and scanned the reservoir, there were a good number of ducks off the dam, with over sixty Wigeon and twenty or so Teal. Also present, four Pochard and seven Tufted Duck. Feeding on the water's edge was a Little Egret, an unexpected find at this time of year. The railway embankment held a few Redwings and Fieldfares feeding on the assorted berries.
Whilst the main reservoir was full of birds, West Pool held nothing of note, so I decided to explore the southern end of the reservoir to see if there was anything happening on the bird front there. Getting out of the car the first thing I noticed were a pair of Bullfinches. I then took a walk along the reservoir's edge to the trees and river at the extreme south. Walking along I put up two Snipe from the water's edge and then a real surprise, a Woodcock! This was my first ever Woodcock at Sutton Bingham and my 160th species at the site. Despite searching I could not locate the bird as it flew through the trees. Returning to the car I scanned the pylons, finding an adult Peregrine and another flock of about twenty Teal were present. A quick walk out past the hide produced two Lapwings flying over heading north.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Sutton Bingham - Wed 24 Nov

A pleasant if somewhat chilly afternoon, and not being in the mood for a long drive I popped up to the reservoir for an hour or so before dark. I took a long walk around the southern end of the reservoir where there were a few birds around. The wintering wildfowl were rather skittish and flocks of at least thirty Teal and sixty Wigeon were wheeling around above the reservoir and occasionally settling on the water. A single female Tufted Duck was also present.
A total of twelve Snipe were flushed from the water's edge and overhead a few Siskins passed by. On the pylons there were two adult Peregrines, one of which spent ten minutes or so dive-bombing a Buzzard which had caught prey.

Winter thrushes were a but thinner on the ground today, with just a couple of Redwings and Fieldfares seen. A Water Rail was heard calling but refused to show itself and as I returned to the car a pair of Bullfinches flew over.
A quick stop to check the gathering gulls and West Pool failed to produce anything of interest other than a single Little Grebe. Some of the Wigeon flock had relocated to West Pool to roost and on the reservoir proper there was a flock of twenty or so Canada Geese roosting.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sun 21 Nov

My usual Sunday morning visit whilst Ellie was at church was somewhat productive. Starting on the northern causeway I noticed a mixed flock of twenty or so Fieldfares and Redwings fly over and land in trees near the Sailing Club. On West Pool the only things of note were two Little Grebes.
I then headedon to the southern end of the reservoir and took a walk about. I inadvertantly flushed seven Snipe from the waterside vegetation and duck numbers were not too bad with at least fifty Wigeon and twenty Teal present.
Over heads further flocks of Fieldfares passed by with at least one hundred birds moving. There was a flock of forty or so Starlings near the southern causeway feeding on sloes, and a single Goldcrest was also seen in that area.
Before I knew it my hour was up and it was time to head back home.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Hollingworth Lake - Sat 20 Nov

On the road at 6.00am with a car full of my birding mates, John, Andy and Barry, and leaving Ellie tucked up in bed, I headed off north to Manchester in the hope of catching up with the Pied-billed Grebe that had been present for a week or so. I had dipped this species in the earlu nineties and was hoping to get it marked off, and after a drive of just less than four hours we parked up in a pay and display car park on the edge of the lake. As we got out of the car a Grey Wagtail flew over.
We had a twenty minute walk to the far side of the lake, seeing nothing of note along the way, and after meeting a few birders en route got directions as to where the bird was. Setting up our scopes it took us a bit of time to get on the bird as it skulked in the reeds, but before long it flew out on to open water and we got cracking views of this Nearctic vagrant.
Unfortunately, it flew out of the bay we were looking at and out of site, so leaving the others behind I hot-footed round the corner, and after relocating the bird within about two minutes it had flown back to where the others were still stood! So I retraced my steps and finally managed a few really poor record shots of the Pied-billed Grebe.

After watching the bird for half an hour or so we completed the circuit of the lake back to the car, seeing a Mistle Thrush and a couple of Redwings in the waterside trees, and a single Tufted Duck on the water. It was about 11.30am by the time we got back to the car, and with the twitch being a success we headed straight back home, and to round off a perfect day, Spurs notched up their first win away at Arsenal for seventeen years!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sun 14 Nov

A curtailed visit to Sutton Bingham this morning due to the onset of steady rain from about 10.40am, just five minutes after I had arrived on site. Hasten to say, I only stayed about ten minutes, during which time the only birds of note were a couple of Fieldfares.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Exminster Marshes RSPB - Sat 13 Nov

A busy morning at work, a headache, and an hour later leaving home that I had hoped, followed by being zapped by a cop with a speed gun doing 50 on the A30 in a 40 zone had set the afternoon up nicely for dipping the American Robin at Exminster Marshes...and dip it we did!
On the plus side, we did have a nice walk for an hour or so, but not only did we miss the American Robin, we also missed a Glossy Ibis and a Red-breasted Goose! In fact I can't really think of anything out of the ordinary that Ellie and I saw during the afternoon. A single Black-tailed Godwit flew over, and there were hundreds of Starlings gathering to roost. But we missed all the decent stuff and by the time we got back to the car it was dark. Bit of a wasted afternoon but at least Spurs won!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Boshill Cross - Wed 10 Nov

A lovely bright afternoon, so I took advantage of my half day and drove down to Boshill Cross, about four or so miles south of Axminster. I pulled off the road at Axminster Football Club and looked over the flooded field opposite and connected with my target bird straightaway, a Long-billed Dowitcher. The bird was showing really well and afforded excellent views.
Also present, at least twenty Dunlin and several Curlew and Lapwings. There were also a small number of Teal on the small pool.
Before I had a chance to decide what to do next I had a phone call from work, so unfortunately I had to give up on the idea of any more birding and zoom home to troubleshoot an IT problem...wasn't this meant to be my half day?

Monday, 8 November 2010

Minsmere RSPB - Sat 6 Nov

Arriving a little after midday we met up with our friends, Lucy and Trevor and after a quick bite to eat in the cafe took a walk around the reserve. As we walked out along the beach we stumbled across half a dozen or so birders photographing a very obliging Snow Bunting, so Trevor and Lucy had experienced their first twitch and despite trying not to show it, I think there were both rather excited!

As we continued round the reserve I pointed out a few things to our non-birding companions, and also found a Caspian Gull on one of the scrapes. Ellie's hunt for the perfect view of a Bearded Tit continued, but again we only had brief flight views.
From the Bittern Hide we did see a ringtail Hen Harrier hunting over the reed beds, but as it was getting on a bit we returned to the visitor centre for a much needed cup of tea and slice of cake. Whilst enjoying our snack we watched a couple of Bramblings feeding on the feeders outside of the centre. As it was now dark we left Minsmere after an enjoyable afternoon, and as we were staying with Lucy and Trevor in Manningtree that night, the end of our trip to East Anglia and we managed to see a total of 99 different species, which was not bad for a non-birding trip!
UK List for 2010 now at 229 species.

Dunwich & Dingle Marshes - Sat 6 Nov

After another cracking breakfast we drove the short distance to Dingle Marshes just to the north of Dunwich for a stroll. It was pretty much so that Ellie was not enjoying herself and decided to wait in the car whilst I took a quick walk to try and find the small flock of Shore Larks that had been present for a few weeks. Once again, luck was not on my side as there was no sign of the birds. I did see a few Skylarks, but that was really about it.
So we drove up to Dunwich Cliffs and finally saw something of note, the King Eider was showing well, if a little distantly, on the sea. This was another bird that Ellie had hoped to see, so she hopped out of the car to have a look at a black-and-white blob bobbing on the water! Whilst looking at the King Eider, a Pomarine Skua passed through.
We were meeting friends at Minsmere RSPB at midday, so as we still had plenty of time we returned to the beach car park and whilst Ellie kept an eye on the reedbeds for Bearded Tits from the warmth of the car, I tried again for Shore Lark. Ellie had more luck than I, as despite walking over a mile up the coast, I didn't see a single Shore Lark. I was lucky enough to find not one, but two Lapland Buntings, and a single Twite. So after missing another of my target species I trudged back to the car and we drove on to Minsmere RSPB.

Cley Marshes NWT & The Broads - Fri 5 Nov

After an excellent and extremely filling breakfast we checked out of Machrimore and travelled east along the coast to Cley Next the Sea and a visit to Cley Marshes NWT. After paying the £4 entrance fee we walked out to the hides in the middle of the reserve and Ellie got a view, albeit somewhat fleeting, of her first Bearded Tit. From the hide I had hoped to see the long-staying American Golden Plover and Green-winged Teal, but neither could be found much to my frustration...luckily they were only year ticks! We did see a few bits and pieces, Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits were quite numerous and as we returned to the car a Water Pipit flew over. We then got a bit lazy and drove down to the East Bank car park and took a walk out towards the sea in the hope that Ellie could get some better views of Bearded Tits, but despite hearing several we could not actually locate one!
So we headed off again, and after an unsuccessful attempt at trying to see some Waxwings at Weybourne we set off south and drove round to Horsey Mill in the hope of seeing some Common Cranes. This turned out to be a complete waste of time as we saw nothing of note at all. So with time getting on, and tension rising in the car, we skipped Filby Broad and the Velvet Scoter and headed straight in to Great Yarmouth. Finally, our luck turned as we parked in the Lidl car park and were greeted by a flock of over one hundred Waxwings!

This was the other bird on Ellie's wish list, so she was thrilled to get up close to these charismatic creatures. This really picked up our moods and so we continued south feeling much happier about things.
We took at quick diversion to Covehithe where we parked up and had a cup of tea, after which I took a brief walk behind the church to find a Richard's Pipit, but I only succeeded in getting completely soaked as the heaven's opened! So we completed the final leg of the day's journey and arrived at The Roost, our bed and breakfast accommodation for the night in the village of Middleton.

Burnham Overy Staithe - Fri 5 Nov

Breakfast was a 8.30am, so I left Ellie in bed and drove down to Burnham Overy Staithe, arriving at about 7.15am, and narrowly missing four Grey Partridge as they sidled across the road in front of me. I set up my scope and started scanning across the fields just to the south of the dunes. Luck was with me, as within a couple of minutes I picked up the Rough-legged Buzzard as it drifted west before landing out of sight in a field. I turned my attention to the grazing geese and was surprised to find seven Barnacle Geese among the hundreds of Pink-footed Geese. A few Skylarks passed by overhead, and at least five Barn Owls were hunting around the area. Just as I was getting ready to pack up, I spotted a ring-tailed harrier hunting over the fields towards Holkham Pines. My first thoughts were that it was a rather well marked, chestnut-coloured Hen Harrier, but it has since been re-identified as the North American species, Northern Harrier! A real unexpected bonus. I walked back to the car along a hedge-lined path that was packed with Blackbirds, Chaffinches and Goldfinches, and drove back to Wells for a much needed breakfast.

Titchwell RSPB & Burnham Overy Staithe - Thu 4 Nov

Ellie and I had booked a couple of days of work and decided to head up to East Anglia as Ellie had never been to Norfolk or Suffolk. Leaving home at 8.00am it was just before 1.00pm when we arrived at Titchwell RSPB, and after a couple of bacon rolls (for myself) and a baked potato for Ellie we set off for a walk through the reserve and out on to the beach. There was still a lot of work going on with the new hide being built, and coupled with the strong winds it meant we saw few birds. Out to sea a single Red-throated Diver flew through, a Sanderling and a couple of Turnstones were on the beach, and returning to the visitor center we saw seven Twite on the salt marsh. We also managed to see three Marsh Harriers hunting over the reserve.
It was already starting to get dark as we left Titchwell and headed east, as we left the reserve we saw a flock of over two hundred Pink-footed Geese in a field, with four Egyptian Geese. Further down the road we came across a covey of at least a dozen Grey Partridges and a Barn Owl on the outskirts of Burnham Norton.
We stopped off just outside Burnham Overy Staithe to scan across the fields and dunes in the hope of finding the Rough-legged Buzzard that had been present for the past couple of weeks, but in failing light had no joy. However, I did pick up a Merlin. We then continued on to Wells-next-the-Sea and checked in to our Bed & Breakfast, a delightful place called Machrimore.
After checking in I left Ellie to have a shower whilst I zoomed up to Warham Greens to see if I could catch the harrier roost, but arriving at 4.45pm the light had almost gone and I saw nothing other than a couple of Hares. All in all a fairly unsuccessful day with regard to the birds, but at least we were not at work!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Chew Valley Lake - Sun 31 Oct

Unfortunately, Ellie was not feeling too well, so I ended up driving up to Chew Valley Lake on my own. It was about 2.30pm when I arrived and I made straight for Woodford Lodge to get a day permit so that I could visit the hides, the permit was only £2.50.
Having got my permit I stopped off at Heron's Green Bay and took a look about. The water level was surprisingly low, but it did mean that there was a fair bit of mud exposed, and this had attracted a few waders, with a pair of Ruff, four Dunlin and a total of four Green Sandpipers seen, a Snipe was also seen in flight.
There were loads of birds on the water, and a 1st winter Little Gull was feeding over the lake. I was surprised to see three Ruddy Ducks on the lake after DEFRA had been culling this delightful bird over the last several years. I hope this remaining birds avoid the hunters.
I was trying to find a Ring-necked Duck and Ferruginous Duck that had been around for a while, but after a hot air balloon passed over and flushed all the birds I figured my chances were now slim. I left Heron's Green and drove down to Stratford Hide. From the hide I had no luck with either of the rare ducks, and I was also aware of the time. About a dozen Meadow Pipits were feeding on the shoreline, and again there were loads of ducks on the water. As well as the large numbers of Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, and Pochard, I picked out a few Pintail. The light was starting to go so I headed back home just after 4.00pm.
UK list for 2010 now at 219 species.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 31 Oct

After dropping Ellie off at church, I popped up to Sutton Bingham for an hour to see what was about. I had a quick look over West Pool, but there was nothing about so I headed down to the south of the reservoir and spent the rest of my available time exploring the area around the river. As I walked through the small copse I saw a pair of Mandarin and a female Teal.
A small flock of about a dozen Redwings were feeding on a berry bush, and a Kingfisher showed really well in the river channel. A flock of some twenty or so Siskin were feeding in the alders, and a few Goldfinches flew over.
Before I realised it was time to collect Ellie so I headed off just before 11.00am.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Arne RSPB - Sat 30 Oct

As the weather forecast for south Dorset was pretty good, Ellie and I set off to Arne for an afternoon in what turned out to be a really pleasant afternoon. A quick toilet stop when we first arrived proved pretty productive as I spotted a Firecrest feeding in a holly tree whilst waiting for Ellie. Unfortunately, we could not relocate it.
We then set off on the walk out to Shipstal Point, along the way we failed to much in the way of birds, thought when we reached the point the tide was well in and there were three Pintail out on the water, as well as loads of Teal and Wigeon and at least a hundred Curlew.
Returning to the car park we stopped off to take a look at a few stalls that had been set up for a fundraiser for the RSPB, and if I had not been stuffed after a large breakfast I would have tucked in to some of the produce on offer.
A quick cup of tea back at the car and then a walk out over Combe Heath. Again, we saw very little in the way of birds until we looked out over Middlebeare channel where there were a couple of hundred Black-tailed Godwits and plenty of Redshanks and Lapwings, and when a young Peregrine flew over it was quite a sight seeing the flocks take to the air. Grey clouds started to gather so we returned to the car and headed home, and just in time as the heaven's opened.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Sutton Bingham - Wed 27 Aug

Another pleasant evening, so I took the opportunity of visiting the reservoir and headed straight for the southern end. Between the hide and the canoe club there was a Mute Swan, a new arrival, and ten Canada Geese. A pair of Wigeon and a Little Grebe were at the extreme end.
Back to West Pool where there were ten Tufted Duck and two more Little Grebes. A flock of half a dozen or so Fieldfares flew over during the next thirty minutes at least ten Pied Wagtails flew over heading south, as did a dozen Goldfinches.
In the gull roost there were seven Common Gulls, and just as I was getting ready to leave a pair of Mandarin flew up from the south and but kept on going rather than land on West Pool.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Sutton Bingham - Mon 25 Oct

A nice evening so I popped up to the reservoir after work and for once most of the action was on West Pool as opposed to the southern end. A total of twenty-one Wigeon and twelve Tufted Duck were present as were two Little Grebes, with a third on the main lake. My first Fieldfare of the winter was present feeding in bushes on the railway embankment.
I did spend a bit of time at the far end of the reservoir, seeing a party of foraging Long-tailed Tits and a Jay gathering acorns, but not much else other than a couple of fly-over Collared Doves.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Moors Valley CP and Blashford Lakes - Sun 24 Oct

Ellie and I had been invited down to Verwood for dinner on Saturday night, so we decided to stay over at Laura and Paul’s and had a most enjoyable evening. Come Sunday morning we were all a little jaded so we headed off to Moors Valley Country Park for a fried breakfast and a stroll. In lovely autumn sun we spent an hour or so walking around the park. Admittedly this was not a birding walk but I kept my eyes open and saw a few things as we walked along. A few Teal were present on one of the lakes, and a pair of Siskin fed in a silver birch above our heads. After a pleasant walk we bid farewell to Laura and Paul and headed off to Blashford Lakes.
We parked by the Ibsley Water hide and Ellie waited in the car whilst I had a quick look around. Before long I had found the bird I was after, a Pink-footed Goose grazing on the far bank with Greylag Geese. There were a couple of Lapwing present and on the water there were a surprising number of Little Grebes, I must have seen at least a dozen.
After our late night and knowing it was a good ninety minute drive back home, we set off soon after 2.00pm.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sat 23 Oct

An hour long late afternoon visit produced the first returning Wigeon of the winter, with ten on West Pool and another dozen or so at the southern end.
Three Tufted Duck were on West Pool and at the southern end there were a small number of Teal.
A couple of Skylarks were heard flying over, and a Kingfisher was also heard calling though not seen. Also over the reservoir, three Stock Doves.
Having got caught in one heavy shower, when a second arrived I decided to call it a day and headed on home.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Sutton Bingham - Thu 21 Oct

A pleasant evening and as I finished work at 4.00pm I picked Ellie up from home and we popped up to Sutton Bingham. We decided to take a walk around the southern end of the reservoir, as we did so I saw my first Redwing of the winter as it flew over. There were not many birds about, though a Goldcrest was feeding on some of the waterside willows. On West Pool there were seven Tufted Duck.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Sutton Bingham - Tue 19 Oct

I managed to catch the last hour or so of light at the reservoir and was surprised not by the quality of birds present, but by the numbers. I drove straight to the hide and spent fifty minutes watching and waiting. There was nothing of interest on the water, but a flock of eleven Long-tailed Tits were feeding near the hide. A total of thirty three Pied Wagtails flew over north, including a flock of over twenty birds. Several gulls flew south, including at least one Common Gull. As the light was fading there was a massive movement of corvids flying over the hide from the opposite side of the reservoir, this included well over two hundred Jackdaws and a similar number of Rooks.
Leaving the hide, I drove up to the northern causeway and spent ten minutes or so scanning the area in what was now pretty poor light. A female Tufted Duck was on the West Pool, whilst on the main reservoir there must have been well over five hundred gulls, made up of Black-headed, Herring, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. So with hardly any light remaining I came on home.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Melcombe Bingham - Sat 16 Oct

Ellie and I headed off after lunch to the village of Melcombe Bingham to try and connect with a Yellow-browed Warbler that had been present for the past few days. I knew that this was purely a twitch, but for once I had everything in my favour as today was my I got to choose what I wanted to do!
We arrived mid-afternoon and luckily updated directions came out on my pager twenty minutes before we arrived at the village. We parked in the village and followed the instructions on the pager and fortunately as we arrived a couple of birders were on their way back after seeing the bird so we got bang up date gen on where the Yellow-browed Warbler was. However, we still had to stake it out for fifteen or so minutes as it skulked in a maple tree, but it eventually showed really well, and both Ellie and I delighted in seeing this splendid sprite.
As we were waiting for the bird to appear we noted a couple of fly-over Meadow Pipits, and Skylarks seemed to be contstantly calling whilst we were there. After connecting with our target bird we decided to head back home...a real twitch this afternoon, but well worth it!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Coat, nr.Martock & Greylake RSPB - Wed 13 Oct

After the report of a Common Crane just outside Coat on Tuesday morning, I thought it would worth a quick look during my half day. I had a look around, but there was no sound of the crane, a couple of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks flew overhead. So rather than any more time I drove up to the RSPB reserve at Greylake, arriving at about 3.15pm.
I was hoping to see the Spotted Crake that was still present as I had missed it ten days ago. I waited and waited, several Teal were on the pool and a couple of Snipe were present. On a distant pylon there was Peregrine, and then I spotted three Common Cranes!! Unfortunately they were cardboard cut-outs that had been placed on the reserve to attract the reintroduced birds. Still no sign of the Spotted Crake and as it was now 4.30pm I got ready to head on home when another birder saw the crake as it moved through the reeds. Excellent! The long wait had been well worth it, and just in time too as it really was time to get on home.
UK list for 2010 now at 215 species.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Black Hole Marsh, Seaton - Mon 11 Oct

After getting the OK from my boss to leave work at 5.00pm I headed down to Seaton and Black Hole Marsh to twitch the Solitary Sandpiper that had, fortunately, remained at the site all day after first being found the previous night. I arrived just after 6.00pm and walked down to the marsh, following some excellent directions supplied by my friend Andy Grinter. As I arrived I bumped in to my mate Steve Crimp who had just seen the bird, and he pointed out where he had last seen it and I had soon got on the bird as it rested on a bank. After ten minutes or so it made a short flight, showing off the distinct dark rump, and started feeding slightly closer. I tried to get a couple of record shots, but the light was dire, this was the best I could manage:

At least you can make out the pale legs, eye ring, and the spots on the flank...and that it is a bird!! A Green Sandpiper was nearby meaning the differences between the two species could be studied. As I had to play in a table tennis match I could not linger too long so I headed back to the car, seeing a Kingfisher as I walked along. A manic trip after work but well worth it for a cracking lifer.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Dawlish Warren NNR - Sun 10 Oct

After getting back from church we grabbed our kit and lunch and drove down to Dawlish Warren for the afternoon. I was hoping for a couple of good birds and Ellie was looking forward to a decent walk. We arrived at about 12.30pm and the first thing I had to do was go and buy a can of Coke so that we had enough change for the car park!
We started the walk out to the hide on The Bight but stopped half way to have out picnic lunch, Ellie's home made pasties...delicious! Whilst eating I did a bit of seawatching, but other than a solitary Gannet and a couple of "commic" Terns there was nothing happening out to see.
After our lunch we continued to the hide and spent a while looking across the estuary, there were a good number of common waders about, but nothing unusual. I had hoped to connect with a Red-breasted Goose that had been present with the Brent Geese earlier in the weekend, but the geese were on the far side of the water, making it all but impossible to pick out anything. So we returned to the car, a couple of Skylarks flying over, and near the car we saw a couple of Small Coppers.
On the way back home, we stopped just outside Cockwood so that I could try and get a better view of the geese, which I managed, but to my dismay there was no sign of the Red-breasted Goose and my recent run of missing quality birds continues. There were several Bar-tailed Godwits and a Greenshank feeding on the mud, and a Slavonian Grebe was in the channel. With a few things to do at home we continued homeward bound.
Then to top the day off, news broke (after dark) of a Solitary Sandpiper at Seaton late in the day...another one slips away!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 10 Oct

After dropping Ellie off at church I drove up to Sutton Bingham and spent an hour at the reservoir. There was nothing of note at the northern end so I headed on down to the southern end and sat on a hay bale waiting to see what was about.
On the water, the adult Yellow-legged Gull was again present, and three Teal were seen. A Peregrine was on one of the pylons. But the most interesting thing was the passage of birds overhead, though whether visable migration or simply returning wintering bird I have no idea. During the hour long visit I noted Skylark (6+), Meadow Pipit (10+), Chaffinch (5+), alba Wagtail (4+), Starling (50+), and Mistle Thrush (2) pass overhead, mostly heading north. So all in all, a pretty good passage of birds.
Needing to be in East Coker by 11.00am I had to head on back to collect Ellie after a good hours birding.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Meare Heath NNR - Sat 9 Oct

Ellie and I were at a loss as to where to go for a walk this afternoon so we ended up at Meare Heath as we knew we'd get a good stretch of the legs. Parking at the Ashcott Corner car park we decided on taking the long walk out to the Decoy Lake hide, a walk of nearly three miles!
I would love to say that it was worth the effort, but we only saw twenty or so Coots from the hide!! As we undertook the walk out to the hide the only things of note were five fly-over Stock Doves and three Greylag Geese. Leaving the Decoy Lake hide we had the long walk back to the car, which was equally unproductive though as we neared the car we did see a Marsh Harrier. All in all, a good afternoon out as we got a decent bit of exercise.

Sutton Bingham - Thu 7 Oct

Rather a stressful day at work, so to chill out and get a bit of fresh air I decided on a flying visit to the reservoir on my way home. Arriving at the northern causeway just before 6.00pm the light was already beginning to deteriorate. Having not been up to Sutton Bingham for a week or so I was amazed that it was now full, leaving no muddy fringes for any remaining passage waders, thought to my surprise, a Common Sandpiper was on the nnorthern causeway.
On the reservoir proper there was hundreds of gulls, mainly Herring Gulls, but several Black-headed Gulls too.
There was nothing else of note so after just ten minutes I headed on home, however, the long staying Muscovy Duck was still about in it's endless search for bread:

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

West Bexington - Wed 6 Oct

After a manic couple of days at work I was looking forward to getting out this afternoon and doing some birding, and as there were no real rarities to chase I decided to head to the coast and try and find something myself, and I chose West Bexington in the hope that there might be something about.
I parked at the beach car park at around 2.45pm and walked west for about a mile. Unfortunately there was a very strong wind coming off the sea when I arrived, so my hopes of actually finding anything interesting quickly evaporated. I did see a Reed Bunting feeding amongst the stones near the reed bed, and a couple of Meadow Pipits were also present, but that was it on the land.
So I set up my scope and tried a bit of seawatching instead. A group of nine Common Scoters flew west and I was hoping they would be a taste of things to come, but they were not, and I saw nothing else of note over the next forty or so minutes.
As I explored the area behind the reed beds I did see a few things flying around, but they were a handful of Speckled Woods and several dragonflies which I think were Common Darters:

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Meare Heath NR and Greylake RSPB - Sat 2 Oct

Having been stuck at work all morning, and knowing htat the weather forecast for the weekend was not at all good, I popped up on to the Somerset Levels for a couple of hours in the hope of connecting with a few good scarcities that had been seen.
Arriving at Meare Heath and parking at the Ashcott Corner car park I looked up to see a large flock of Lapwings and a couple of other waders take off and fly south. These other waders looked rather interesting but were too far away to identify, and unfortunately the kept flying south! On the flooded lagoon there were a large number of Black-tailed Godwits and some returning Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler...a sign that winter is on the way, though a female Garganey was a reminder that it's migration time. Also on the lagoon were two Great White Egrets, one of which had been ringed.

Leaving the lagoon I walked out to the hide overlooking Meare Heath proper, but saw nothing of note, but on returning to the drove I picked out two Black Terns, which I had been trying to track down for nearly an hour.
With time ticking by I left Meare Heath and drove the short distance south to the RSPB reserve at Greylake where a Spotted Crake had been seen a day earlier. I walked out to the hide and spent about thirty minutes scanning the area. There was no sign of the crake, or anything else for that matter, though a couple of Snipe were seen. As I was going out for dinner, I could not linger so came on home.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Chard Reservoir & Chard Junction NR - Sun 26 Sep

After a fairly uninspiring Singapore Grand Prix I felt that I really ought to get out and about and headed west for a visit to Chard Reservoir. I walked straight out to the hide, only to find it locked! However, after a quick call to Andy (a Chard birder and close friend) I had the combination and was sat in the hide. Scanning across the reservoir there was not a huge amount around, though I did pick out a Common Snipe and a Little Egret. There were about a dozen Teal present and a Grey Wagtail showed extremely well as it fed along the water's edge directly under the hide:

With little else about I decided to try and find the recently formed Nature Reserve at Chard Junction. This gravel pits have been pretty productive over recent years but I had never actually visited them. After getting a few directions from Andy I headed off to see what I could find. The first pit I stumbled upon held seven Tufted Ducks but nothing else, and that's when I somehow ended up in the wrong place! I failed to find the nature reserve proper, but I think that was simply because I didn't walk far enough up the main track...but at least it gives me a reason to return to the site. So with time ticking by, and my stomach rumbling, I came on home for a much needed Sunday roast!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 26 Sep

With it being such a lovely day I decided to head up to Sutton Bingham for a visit before lunch. I stopped at the northern causeway but there was nothing of interest on either the main reservoir or West Pool, so I drove down to the hide and set up my scope.
Scanning across the water I soon picked up the seemingly ever present adult Yellow-legged Gull. There was a single Little Grebe which showed briefly before diving under the water. Overhead a couple of Ravens flew over and a Meadow Pipit was heard calling. Two Skylarks flew over, heading north and a few Swallows and House Martins were also passing through.
Leaving the hide, I took a walk around the back of the reservoir to see if anything was about, and as I crossed the field down to the water I saw a couple of Meadow Pipits perched on a telephone wire:

As I walked through the trees I saw a Goldcrest and reaching the far bank I was able to look out over the exposed mud where there were four Pied Wagtails and a couple of White Wagtails. A single Common Sandpiper was also feeding on the mud.
Despite the fact it is well in to Autumn, I was surprised to see a few butterflies on the wing. Whilst I only saw singles of Peacock, Common Blue and Comma, there were about four or five Small Coppers about:

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Portland Bill - Sat 25 Sep

We headed out this afternoon and drove down to Weymouth where I dropped off Ellie so she could do some shopping for a couple of hours as I continued on down to Portland. It was about 3.45pm by the time I parked up at the Bird Observatory car park, and I was hoping to finally see a Common Rosefinch as one had been trapped and ringed by Martin Cade, the warden, earlier in the day. I had a chat with Martin when I arived and he told me where the bird had last been seen so off I set, scouring the area around the Hut Fields and the Observatory Quarry.
There were a few birds about, but nothing that really leapt out. I saw a couple of Whitethroats and two or three Blackcaps. One or two Chiffchaffs were about and there were a good number of Linnets. The open areas between the huts held a couple of White Wagtails and a few Rock Pipits. But no sign anywhere of the Common Rosefinch!
So I walked up to Culverwell where the bird had originally been trapped and had a good look around, but other than a Meadow Pipit and a Sparrowhawk saw nothing of note.
Giving up on the land birds I had a quick scan out to sea which produced the usual gulls and a few Gannets.
So having yet again dipped on Common Rosefinch, I drove back in to Weymouth and picked up Ellie, who had had a more productive afternoon and managed to pick up another new pair of shoes!!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Northam Burrows, Hartland Point and Yelland - Sun 19 Sep

Up at 6.15am and picked up at 7.00am myself and the "usual suspects" headed off to the north-west corner of Devon for a day of much-needed birding. We arrived at Northam Burrows at around 8.30am and drove out to the area known as The Skern. We were after a few quality rarities that had been in the area for a few days. Setting up our scopes near a few other birders we scanned across the area, picking out a few White Wagtails, several Wheatears (including a couple of Greenland Wheatears), and numerous Meadow Pipits. But none of these were what we were after, so I approached the other birders to try and get some gen, and was told that a Lapland Bunting was just in front of us. Calling the others over, we soon got on the bunting as it showed really well, often in the company of a couple of Meadow Pipits. Despite the fact it was always on the move, I still managed some of my top-quality record shots with my mobile phone:

We were also told that the Buff-breasted Sandpiper had been showing distantly within the last hour, so we continued scanning over the area, but the bird was being rather elusive! So after drawing a blank with the sandpiper we walked back down the road in an attempt to find the Grey Phalarope that had been around for the previous few days, but like the Buff-breasted Sandpiper, this usually obliging wader failed to show itself. So we walked back to the car, though on the way I thought I'd have another look over the mudflats and found the Buff-breasted Sandpiper! We got some good, if somewhat distant, views of the bird, and decided to continue to the car in the hope of getting nearer to the bird. I soon got back on it, and whilst it was slightly nearer it was still rather distant.
Having connected with this rare trans-Atlantic vagrant we set off for Hartland Point and a spot of sea-watching. We arrived late morning and set up on the headland to see what sea birds might be passing through. There were loads of Gannets and a fairly steady passage of Manx Shearwaters, but nothing out of the ordinary. We were lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins.
Checking the pager we got a message that the Grey Phalarope had been seen again at Northam Burrows, so leaving Hartland Point we drove back to The Skern to try and find the bird that had eluded us earlier in the day. We spent an age scanning the area where the bird had been seen before a fellow birder spotted it just a few metres from us...we had been expecting the bird to be in the near distance, and not under our noses! Even I managed a few semi-decent record shots of this cracking juvenile Grey Phalarope with my mobile:

We started the homeward journey but took a detour to Yelland and the (badly-signposted) RSPB reserve of Isley Marsh. We were looking for three Spoonbills, and it did not take that long to find them on the salt marsh. There were plenty of Curlews and Little Egrets here, but little else. However, a small flock of Wigeon flew through, a sign of birds returning for the winter?
Having exhausted the area with regard to quality birds, we decided to call it a day and headed home.
UK list for 2010 now at 212 species.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Wed 15 Sep

It was the southern end of the reservoir where all the action was during an hour long visit late in the afternoon. I set up my scope near the hide and scanned around. Just as I settled down the long-staying Yellow-legged Gull flew down the reservoir heading north. At least sixteen Teal were present and on the shoreline two Common Sandpipers and a Green Sandpiper were feeding. In the small pool which has formed at the southern end, there was a Little Egret and a single Stock Dove flew over. At least three Ravens were present, one of six species of corvid seen this afternoon.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Black Hole Marsh, Seaton & Budleigh Salterton - Sun 12 Sep

I headed off for a few hours of birding after lunch (and the Italian Grand Prix) whilst Ellie stayed at home for a bit of a rest. Driving straight to the fairly new reserve of Black Hole Marsh on the Axe Estuary just north of Seaton, I arrived at about 3.15pm. A mate of mine had given me directions on how to find this reserve and they were spot on, as before long I was looking out over the scrapes and was impressed by this new area. There were a few waders about, noteably a couple of Greenshank and a Knot. A couple of Little Stints were also present, as were three Curlew Sandpipers.
As it was still pretty early in the afternoon, I decided to carry on along the coast and visit Budleigh Salterton where a flock of some twenty Glossy Ibis had been present for the last few days. I parked up at the "White Bridge" about half a mile north of the town proper, and walked down the river, seeing a couple of Greenshanks and a Black-tailed Godwit along the way. As I neared the cricket field I scanned across and could make out about a dozen Glossy Ibises on the far side of the field, alongside another footpath. So I retraced my steps and found this second path and before long had cracking views of a total of seventeen Glossy Ibises, and again I managed a few shots with my mobile phone:

UK List for 2010 now at 208 species.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sat 11 Sep

Ellie and I popped up to the reservoir for a hour or so during the afternoon, and whilst I spent the time looking for birds from the area in front of the hide, Ellie lay on a picnic rug in the sunshine and read her book!
A few birds of interest were about, though three Common Sandpipers were the only waders seen. A single Yellow Wagtail was feeding in the area around the small pool at the extreme south of the reservoir, and the adult Yellow-legged Gull was again present.
A Raven flew over, and there was a pretty constant stream of Swallows and House Martins passing south over the reservoir. Also over the reservoir, a total of three Sparrowhawks. A small flock of over twenty Teal were also present at the southern end.
From the northern causeway, there was nothing of note on West Pool or the main reservoir.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Thu 9 Sep

A flying visit on my way home from work produced a flock of twenty-two Whimbrel flying west over the southern end of the reservoir, where there was also a large flock of Swallows and House Martins. The adult female and three young Mandarin were also present and a single Common Sandpiper was also seen.
A quick look over West Pool produced nothing of note, but two Hobbies (an adult and a juvenile), were circling over the reservoir whilst being mobbed by a couple of Carrion Crows.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Lodmoor RSPB and Portland Bill - Wed 8 Sep

With term back in full swing I get to have Wednesday afternoons off as compensation for working on a Saturday morning, so I took advantage of the good weather and headed down to the coast, arriving at Lodmoor RSPB at about 2.15pm.
I walked around the reserve in the hope of picking up a few migrant passerines as well as a few waders, however, there was not a huge variety of birds on show. I did manage to pick up nine species of wader, with the pick being two Ruff, a Spotted Redshank and a couple of Curlew Sandpipers. The only other birds of note were six Wheatears and a single Chiffchaff.
Leaving Lodmoor I drove on down to Portland and parked at the Bird Observatory. I did not spend a huge amount of time at the Bill as I was really after just one bird, and as I set up my scope at the Obs Quarry I did not have long to wait as the Wryneck I had hoped to see hopped in to view. I did manage to take a few record shots using my mobile phone held against my scope, and they are possibly the worst shots of a Wryneck ever taken, but at least you can see what it is!

There were plenty of other birds flitting around in the quarry, but nothing really out of the ordinary, with a single Whitethroat present and a couple of Stonechats seen. With time ticking on, and knowing I had to get home to cook dinner for Ellie, I headed off at 4.30pm and still managed to get stuck in traffic through Weymouth for nearly an hour!
UK list for 2010 now at 206 species.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sun 5 Sep

After a wet start to the day the weather cleared up late morning so Ellie and I popped out for a quick walk before lunch. Parking at the hide we walked along the reservoir as far as the car park and then retraced our steps. I had hoped that the rain might have brought a few migrants in, but unfortunately that was not the case. Opposite the hide was a single Common Sandpiper and the four Mandarin were again on the shore on the far bank.
On West Pool there were a couple of White Wagtails but nothing else of note.
Near the car park we saw a couple of Common Blues and a single Small Copper:

Powerstock Common - Sat 4 Sep

What with it being a pleasant afternoon Ellie and I headed out, after some discussion on where to go, and eventually ended up at Powerstock Common near Maiden Newton. This was a site that we had not visited before and we had read about it on the Dorset Butterflies website. Whilst we new it was not the best time of year for butterflies, we thought we'd give it a go.
As we walked in to the nature reserve the first thing we saw was a Nuthatch. We then did a circular walk around the reserve which took us a couple of hours. Along the way we also saw three or four Spotted Flycatchers, and several Willow Warblers. A pair of Marsh Tits were seen feeding.
There were loads of Speckled Woods as we walked along:

A single Painted Lady was seen as we entered the reserve and we also saw a Meadow Brown and a Red Admiral:

A few whites were about, including a single Green-veined White.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sat 4 Sep

A mid-morning visit today as this would be my last Saturday morning when I wouldn't be stuck at work for a few weeks. I decided to take a walk round the far southern end of the reservoir, but saw nothing of note apart from a couple of Speckled Woods.
From the hide I saw four Mandarin resting on the far bank, and a Common Sandpiper was also present, whilst on the small pool a single Green Sandpiper was also seen. Three Stock Doves flew over.
Back to West Pool and two Snipe were busy feeding as was another Common Sandpiper.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Fri 3 Sep

After dropping Ellie off at choir practice I popped up to the reservoir for three quarters of an hour to see what was about. I headed straight to the hide and set up my scope to scan the area, flushing four Mandarin from the water's edge.
Before long I had picked out five Common Sandpipers and two Green Sandpipers. Another wader caught my eye feeding at the extreme southern end in the small pool that has formed there. Unfortunately, the light was not brilliant and the bird did not give very obliging views. However, eventually, I finally got a sight of it's back and saw the charactistic marking that confirmed it as a Common Snipe...and not some rare vagrant!
A female Tufted Duck was also present at the southern end, and the four Mandarin I had seen when I first arrived joined two more birds and were sat up on the bank with numerous Mallards.
A quick look over West Pool produced nothing, though several Swallows were feeding above the reservoir.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Wed 1 Sep

After last night's excitement I popped up to the reservoir before work, arriving at about 7.30am at the field where the storks had been present. It was rather misty and there was no sign of the birds, so I drove on down to the reservoir to check it out.
On West Pool a single Green Sandpiper was present but nothing else of note so I went on down to the hide. From here I saw an Osprey preening itself in a dead tree on the opposite side of the reservoir near the canoe club hut, though by the time I had passed the news on to a fellow birder it had flown.
With time getting on, and knowing I had to be at work at 8.30am, I headed off and checked out the field opposite Goose Slade Farm one last time when I had a phone call from a mate of mine, Lee Evans, asking if I had an update on the White Storks. Lee had received a pager message that the brids were still present, but I had left my pager at home so didn't pick it up. The birds had apparently relocated to a field nearer the reservoir, and before long I had tracked them down. As I watched the White Storks I was surprised as a Hobby flew through!
A pretty good morning at the reservoir.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Sutton Bingham - Tue 31 Aug

I popped up to the reservoir after work today, arriving at about 5.45pm, as an Osprey had been seen early morning. Unfortunately, the bird was nowhere to be seen, and the southern end of the reservoir produced just a Green Sandpiper in the way of interest. Outside of the hide I bumped in to Ivan Tinsley, the Wessex Water warden, who mentioned that he had seen a stork fly over the road opposite Goose Slade Farm just up the road. Despite Ivan's exciting news (and as I'm a born sceptic) I thought that I'd take a look over the reservoir proper first.
From the northern causeway there were four Teal and the adult Yellow-legged Gull was again present, showing well on a buoy.With not much else about, I decided to check out Ivan's news and drove back to Goose Slade Farm and parked in the layby opposite, got out of the car, and looked in to the field...and could not believe my eyes as two White Storks were feeding in front of me! After the initial shock, I quickly phoned Rare Bird Alert and then made numerous phone calls to various Somerset birders! The birds were still present when I left just before 8.30pm, and I did manage to get a few record shots using my mobile phone:

UK year list for 2010 now at 204 species.

Horner Wood - Mon 30 Aug

Ellie and I spent the morning with my brother and his family, and my parents, at the Quantock Show at Cothelstone before heading off on our own to north Somerset for an afternoon walk.
We drove straight up to Horner and parked the car and followed the river up through Horner Wood. In lovely afternoon sunshine we walked for a mile or so up in to the valley. Along the way we had hoped a few of the typical summer woodland species might still have been around, but alas there was very little on the bird front. However, we were lucky enough to get a couple of flight views of a Dipper before finally seeing one feeding in the stream.
On returning to the village we decided we had better have a cream tea after all that exercise and around the tea room gardens we saw a Silver-washed Fritillary, a Meadow Brown and two Speckled Woods, and some great views of a Holly Blue:

UK year list for 2010 now at 203 species.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Cogden Beach - Sun 29 Aug

Another day of showers but we decided to head for the coast in the afternoon and drove down to Cogden Beach, some three or so miles east of Bridport for a walk in the sea air. There was not a lot happening on the bird front, but a single Wheatear was seen on the beach, and a Stock Dove flew through heading west with a Woodpigeon. Out to sea there was little to be seen, though a distant Gannet flew by and a couple of Razerbills zoomed by heading east as did a Fulmar. Going in the opposite direction two Sandwich Terns hurried by close inshore. As we returned to the car we saw a Common Whitethroat skulking in the bushy vegetation.
On the butterfly front we saw only a single Small Heath, but in the winding conditions that was hardly surprising.

Sutton Bingham - Fri 27 Aug

Ellie and I took a brief afternoon stroll from the car park along the reservoir as far as the hide and then back again. There was not an awful lot to see, though we did flush three Common Sandpipers near the Canoe Club hut. A couple of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were feeding in the waterside vegetation and and a single Reed Bunting was also seen. West Pool contained nothing of note.
Several Common Blues were on the wing as were a couple of Meadow Browns:

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Sutton Bingham - Wed 25 Aug

A visit before work this morning in pretty steady rain was surprisingly productive.
Two Common Sandpipers were on West Pool, and a third was on the shoreline below the hide.
Most of the action was from the hide, as a female Mandarin and three ducklings swam past, probably a second brood. A Tufted Duck flew up from the water's edge and out of site, and also on the wildfowl front, two small ducks flew quickly up the reservoir heading north looking very much like Garganey but the view I had was hardly good in the pouring rain.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Greylake RSPB - Mon 23 Aug

My recent run of dipping birds continued this afternoon with a visit to Greylake RSPB to try and pick up Wood Sandpiper for my UK year list. I spent about forty minutes in the hide trying to find the target bird, but in strong winds there was no sign of it.
In fact, other than a Little Grebe feeding a chick and a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls there was nothing to see, and my route back to the car resulted in a diversion as an overly protective Mute Swan stood by the boardwalk denying access to all as it's six cygnets rested alongside the path!

Portland Bill - Mon 23 Aug

An early start as I headed down to the coast for a planned sea watch. I arrived just after 8.00am and was disappointed to learn that the wind was not doing quite what I hoped it would be, meaning I was not going to get much action.
I spent about ninety minutes staring out to sea, with very little reward. A single Manx Shearwater was by far the pick of a pour crop, and another shearwater passed by at such a distance I could not identify it. Several Gannets were passing through and a single Fulmar was seen. Four Common Terns also flew past, whilst on the rocks a couple of Turnstones were present and at least five Oystercatchers were about.
On the ground there was little happening apart from some good numbers of Wheatears, with at least twelve being seen.
With so few birds around, and with the weather closing in, I gave up for the morning and headed back home for an early lunch.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Westhay NNR - Sun 22 Aug

Dodging the showers again, we popped out after lunch for a walk around Westhay in the hope of seeing a bit of wildlife as well as getting a decent walk. Well, we certainly got the latter if not the former!
On the bird front we did come across a flock of about twenty Lapwings in one of the fields, unfortunately there was nothing exciting in with the flock. A female Red-crested Pochard which had been seen the day before was nowhere to be seen. A couple of Spotted Flycatchers were seen feeding.
We saw a few butterflies too, a single Gatekeeper being the pick.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 22 Aug

An hour long visit in the morning produced three Common Sandpipers and a single Green Sandpiper on West Pool. Feeding in the bushes on the water's edge were a family of Common Whitethroats.
From the hide a further Common Sandpiper was seen and a Kingfisher was present. A pair of Ravens were perched on a pylon opposite the hide and a Peregrine flew over. A large number of Swallows were feeding over the reservoir with a couple of Sand Martins.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Meare Heath NR and Ham Wall RSPB - Sat 21 Aug

We were not expecting much today as the weather forecast was heavy rain all day, so when we woke up to a cloudy but dry sky we decided to get out and about before lunch and make the most of a period of dry weather.
Ellie and I drove up to the Somerset Levels and parked at the Ashcott Corner car park and walked out to Meare Heath. We stopped at the drained lagoon to scan the birds present and saw a few things of interest, most notably a colour-ringed Great White Egret. We also saw a Ruff and Green Sandpiper, two Garganey and a couple of Greenshanks, and over two hundred Black-tailed Godwits. A Marsh Harrier was hunting over the reed beds in the background.
We then walked on to the hide at Noah's Lake but there was nothing out of the ordinary present apart from a late Swift and another Marsh Harrier, so we walked back to the car park and on across the road and out on to Ham Wall RSPB. As we walked along we did not see much in the way of birds other than a fly-over Hobby.
During the course of our morning out we were surprised to see more than a few butterflies on the wing as it was really that sunny. We saw loads of Small Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals, and several Large Whites and Small Whites. A couple of Speckled Woods were seen as were one or two Meadow Browns and Common Blues.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Sutton Bingham - Fri 20 Aug

A brief late afternoon visit in miserable conditions produced single Common and Green Sandpipers on West Pool and nothing else of note.

Sutton Bingham - Thu 19 Aug

A Green Sandpiper was again present on West Pool with a second at the south end. There were also single Common Sandpipers at the southern end of the reservoir and on West Pool.
On the main reservoir a flock of some one hundred Canada Geese had appeared as if from nowhere.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Sutton Bingham - Wed 18 Aug

An afternoon visit again produced a few waders with a Common Sandpiper and two Green Sandpipers on West Pool.
However, there was a bit more action at the southern end of the reservoir where another two Green Sandpipers were feeding and two more Common Sandpipers were on the water's edge just up from the hide.
A Kingfisher was seen catching fish, and a few more Sand Martins flew through.
A large feeding party, probably twenty or so birds, flitted between the willows near the hide and were prenominately Blue Tits and Great Tits, but a couple of Willow Warblers were also present.
An unexpected surprise in the skies over Sutton Bingham this afternoon, the Red Arrows flew over!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Sutton Bingham - Tue 17 Aug

A mid-morning visit turned out to be pretty productive. The water levels are dropping which has exposed areas of mud around West Pool and at the southern end. On West Pool there were two Green Sandpipers and a further three were at the extreme south of the reservoir.
Four Teal were feeding at the south end, and the adult Yellow-legged Gull was again present. A single Common Tern was seen on a buoy off the dam then flew the length of the reservoir before returning to the dam.
Two Ravens flew over heading north, and a couple of Sand Martins flew through ahead of a steady fall of drizzle.

Sutton Bingham - Mon 16 Aug

A brief five minute visit on our way home produced a single Green Sandpiper on West Pool and two Greenshank.

Thurlbear Quarrylands - Sun 15 Aug

A let up in the drizzle so Ellie and I headed off to Thurlbear Quarrylands for a return visit in the hope of seeing soem hairstreaks. We arrived mid-afternoon and before long it had got rather warm. There were plenty of butterflies about and before long we had seen Speckled Wood, Holly Blue, Green-veined White, Large White and Gatekeeper:

We saw three Silver-washed Fritillarys, including this rather tatty individual:

As we continued our walk around we also saw a Red Admiral, a couple of Brown Argus and loads of Common Blues:

Monday, 9 August 2010

Corsica - Sun 1 Aug to Sun 8 Aug

Not a birding trip as we were on our honeymoon, but Ellie and I did spend a fair bit of time out and about and did manage to see a few birds, though not many due to the high temperatures and time of year.
Personally, I had five target species for Corsica, but only connected with two. The choice of the birds for me was Corsican Finch, and I was lucky enough to see a small number up in the mountains:

In some of the towns we saw Italian Sparrow, another new WP tick for me, though technically not split in to a seperate species yet.
We saw very few of the colourful Mediterranean species that one would expect to see, but we did stumble upon a flock of Bee-eaters which included several young birds:

A few Sardinian Warblers were about, and a single Western Bonelli's Warbler was in the grounds of our apartment, and a pair of Great Tits were regular visitors to our balcony:

The mountains were pretty quiet, though a few Crag Martins were about and a single Blue Rock Thrush was seen. In the harbour near our apartment we saw a few Shags of the Mediterranean race:

There were loads of butterflies, more than there were birds, highlights included Two-tailed Pasha, Southern White Admiral, and Scarce Swallowtail:

We also saw numerous Corsican Graylings, a few Clouded Yellows and various Whites, and the endemic Corsican Heath:

We managed to see a few Great Banded Graylings, single Hungarian Glider and Cardinal. Blues were represented by Green-underside Blue, Bellier's Blue and Common Blue, plus a Geranium Bronze:

There were also a few species of fritillary, including several Silver-washed Fritillarys, one or two Queen of Spain Fritillary and just one Corsican Fritillary: