Sunday, 31 January 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sun 31 Jan

The recent freezing nights meant that some of the reservoir had again frozen and as a result there was very little at the extreme southern end of the reservoir this afternoon. A Nuthatch was calling and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen.
Opposite the hide, a pair of Tufted Duck were present as well as 46 Wigeon, which were joined by a further 17 birds that flew in from the north. There were also 31 Teal and two Little Egrets flew over heading south. A single Snipe also flew down the reservoir and landed in the waterside vegetation.
At the northern end of the reservoir on West Pool there were a further 41 Tufted Ducks, 85 Wigeon, and five Teal. Two Little Grebes were also present on West Pool.
On the causeway, three Meadow Pipits were feeding and a surprise find was an adult Egyptian Goose.
Gull numbers were fairly high, with well over 100 Black-headed Gulls, up to fifty Herring Gulls, a couple of Common Gulls and three Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
With the light fading and temperature dropping I left at 3.45pm after an hour or so of birding.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Meare Heath NNR - Wed 27 Jan

Arriving at the Ashcott Corner car park at about 3.15pm, I walked out to the hide at Noah's Lake. A party of four Stock Doves flew over as I walked out and a few duck were on the pools on the far side of the drove. A Buzzard was doing a good impression of a Marsh Harrier as it drifted low over the reeds, occasionally hovering.
Setting up in the hide I spent about an hour scanning over the water looking for three target birds that had been present for a couple of days; a redhead Smew, a female Long-tailed Duck and a long-staying Great White Egret.
There were plenty of duck on the water, most noticeably large numbers of Wigeon, Mallard, Gadwall and Teal. Diving duck were less evident with a couple of dozen Tufted Duck and a couple of Pochard. There were also at least eight Goldeneye, and the males were carrying out their bizarre head-throwing courtship displays.
After a long search I finally got on to the Great White Egret, which spent long periods hidden in the overgrowth. More scouring through the duck finally yielded the Smew which was at the far edge of the lake. However, with the light deteriorating I had to give up and could not find the Long-tailed Duck anywhere. A single Bewick's Swan was also present.
As I returned to the car, large numbers of Starlings were flying in from the south.
UK list for 2010 now at 117 species.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

South-east Devon - Sun 24 Jan

A jaunt down to Lyme Regis for lunch was coupled with a walk around part of Axmouth, taking in "Coronation Corner" on the Axe Esturary, and Colyford.
A cracking meal at The Harbour Inn was followed by a walk along the seafront and out on to the Cobb. Plenty of Rock Pipits were flitting about, and offshore two Red-throated Divers flew west and another was on the water just off the west beach.
Moving on to the Axe Estuary we pulled over before Axmouth village, and got straight on to the Whooper and Bewick's Swans that had been in the area since Christmas.
A look over the estuary failed to produce the Spoonbill that was seen early in the week, but a few Black-tailed Godwits, Curlews and Redshanks were about. Several hundred gulls were on the estuary, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Colyford was pretty quiet, and a walk down to the hide produced just a couple of Little Egrets and a few Meadow Pipits.
UK list for 2010 now at 114 species.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 24 Jan

Much less on the bird front today during an hours visit from 10.00am. At the water treatment works, a small flock of five Bullfinches were feeding. Also, a flock of about thirty Redwings feeding on the grass bank below the dam with Starlings.
At the southern end of the reservoir, twelve Snipe were present along the water's edge.
Wildfowl consisted of around sixty Wigeon, seven Teal, a female Pochard and the usual Mallards.
A total of five Collared Doves were seen, as well as fifteen Coots, seven Moorhens, and at least two Common Gulls.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Westhay NNR - Sat 23 Jan

An afternoon visit to Westhay NNR was less productive than our visit the previous Sunday. We were hoping to repeat our views of a fishing Kingfisher as Ellie had her camera this time. But, as is so often the case, there was no sign of the Kingfisher, although we did hear one calling a couple of times. Birds were very thin on the ground, there were about 16 Goosanders on the various pools, and a flock of Goldfinches feeding on Alders held half a dozen Siskin. Duck numbers were also rather low, but a few Greylag Geese were at the north of the reserve with some Canada Geese. We also heard Cetti's Warbler and Water Rail, but both species remained too elusive to see.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Somerset Levels - Sun 17 Jan

A trip up to Westhay NNR after lunch failed to turn up the Ferruginous Duck that had been seen a day or so earlier, but a walk along one of the droves and a look over a couple of the lakes yielded about twenty Goosanders, half a dozen Goldeneye, and a couple of Water Rail calling.
As Ellie and I viewed the lake from a viewing screen we were treated to some fabulous views of a Kingfisher no more than 15 feet away.
We then drove on to Meare Heath NNR, parking in the car park and walking out to the hide at Noah's Lake. From here we had a single Bewick's Swan, plus seven Whooper Swans fly over, added to the numerous Mute Swans, we ticked off all three UK swans in about five minutes!
We then walked back to the car park and on to the Ham Wall RSPB reserve to observe the Starling roost. The main show took place at about 4.30pm with several tens of thousands (though probably more) birds swirling around in the sky. We also saw a female Marsh Harrier and two Peregrines.
We left at just the right time as there must have been well over 100 cars parked along the road. A good afternoon out on the levels.
UK list for 2010 now at 111 species.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 17 Jan

An hour long visit between 10 and 11 am proved to be rather productive. Wildfowl numbers were slightly down form the previous weekend despite the reservoir being completely thawed again.
The highlight was a splendid drake Goldeneye, present on the main reservoir from the northern causeway before flying on to West Pool. Also present, four Tufted Ducks, 100+ Wigeon, 1 male Mandarin, four Teal, and at least 40 Mallard. A Little Grebe and at least 20 Great Crested Grebes were also present on the water.
Six or so Skylarks were seen in flight over the southern end of the reservoir, where a single Reed Bunting was seen and a Goldcrest was feeding with a few Long-tailed Tits.
Two male and a single female Bullfinch were seen near the southern causeway.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Sutton Bingham & Chard Reservoir - Wed 13 Jan

Being my half day at work, I decided to pop up to Sutton Bingham Reservoir to see if there was anything about. Other than a pair of Gadwall...there wasn't! Or at least nothing even slightly out of the ordinary. A pair of Tufted Ducks flew over, but the lack of open water probably stopped them from lingering.
So I left SBR and drove over to Chard Reservoir where at least one Firecrest had been showing well over the past week. However, despite much searching and a couple of calls to some local Chard birding mates to confirm exactly where the bird was seen, I drew a blank. The only thing of note, and a 2010 year tick, was a small flock of about a dozen Siskin.
So a poor afternoon of birding, but beats work I guess.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

West Coker - Tue 12 Jan

Due to the really poor weather, I finally went out and bought some food and feeders for the wild birds. I had always avoided this due to my two cats. But now I have just one, and he's not so interested as he used to be, I decided to go and get a few things to help the wild birds during this cold snap.
£40 later, and I've got a feeding station and various food sources in the front garden. Whilst the feeders have only had a curious Starling, the apples on the floor have attracted Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbird thus far. Mind you, it's only been in place for two and a half days!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 10 Jan

A mid morning visit in the freezing cold provided good numbers of birds, especially wildfowl. About 90% of the reservoir was frozen over, leaving just a small area near the dam where there was open water. Obviously, this was where the ducks were gathered with 250+ Wigeon, 150+ Mallard, and 5 Gadwall present. Diving duck were limited to just a single drake Pochard and Tufted Duck. Four Little Grebes and at least ten Great Crested Grebes were also on the open water.
On the northern causeway, two Meadow Pipits were feeding, whilst perched on the dam was a surprise find in the form of a female Merlin.
A couple of Common Gulls were mixed in with the Herring and Black-headed Gulls that were on the ice.


Hello one and all, and welcome to my new Blog. I've never done one of these before, so hopefully it won't be a complete waste of time and may be of some use.
Anyway, I aim to use this to give updates on bird sightings primarily at Sutton Bingham Reservoir on the Somerset/Dorset boundary just south of Yeovil, UK.
I'll probably post other sightings, etc. if I have the inclination.