Sunday, 21 February 2010

Ham Wall RSPB - Sun 21 Feb

We decided on a trip to Ham Wall RSPB reserve this afternoon, parking in the car park at Ashcott Corner and walking east for a couple of miles along the old railway track. In fact we walked along as far as the tea rooms where we enjoyed a cup of tea and a flapjack.
Along we way we could hear a booming Bittern, a wonderful sound as it carried across the reedbeds. We also saw two hunting Marsh Harriers, both were females.
A couple of Redpolls were feeding in the top of some alders.
After a couple of hours we were back at the car after a pleasant afternoon walk.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

South-east Devon - Sat 20 Feb

I was picked up at 7.30am for a day in south-east Devon with my four best birding mates.
Our first stop was Trinity Hill not far from Axminster where we got on our target species within a couple of minutes and without moving more than ten yards from the car, a pair of Common Crossbills flew in to some trees right in front of us.
We then drove down to Bowling Green Marsh RSPB in Topsham. It was high tide, and from the hide we saw numerous Avocets and Bar-tailed Godwits roosting. There was a good variety of duck species present also, with a couple of Pintail being the pick.
Leaving Topsham we drove up to Exminster parking at the top of the hill near the M5 cutting. Getting out of the car we walked around a couple of fields, first picking up a couple of Cirl Buntings and then seeing a small flock of five Woodlarks.
Our next stop was Dawlish Warren, and after a quick look out to sea we found the long-staying female Surf Scoter with a few Common Scoters. Also on the sea were several Great Crested Grebes and a single Slavonian Grebe. We then walked out towards the hide where waders were evident, seeing Knot and Sanderling amongst commoner species.
The walk out was as tiring as ever on the sand, and when we got back to the car we had our lunch before a quick stop at Starcross where we added Greenshank to the day list.
We then headed back towards home, stopping for about thirty minutes at Aylesbeare Common RSPB where we had a cracking view of a displaying Dartford Warbler.
Our final stops of the day were Colyford Common where we picked up about half a dozen Water Pipits and then the Axe Estuary where six adult Mediterranean Gulls were in amongst the pre-roosting gulls.
A very productive and enjoyable day.
UK list for 2010 now at 142 species.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Sutton Bingham - Mon 15 Feb

A brief visit to the northern end of the reservoir late afternoon was fairly productive.
The adult Egyptian Goose was again present, whilst on the West Pool there was a single Little Grebe and a male Tufted Duck.
Gull numbers were high, with approximate counts of 550+ Black-headed Gulls, 100+ Herring Gulls, and 50+ Common Gulls.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Mid Wales - Sat 13 Feb

Ellie and I headed off fairly early, leaving home at 9am, and set off to Wales and a visit to the Red Kite Feeding Station at Gigrin Farm, just outside Rhayader in Powys.
After making good time, disaster struck as we left the M4 at Newport as we had a tyre blowout on the car. Luckily, I'm a member of the AA and within 30 minutes a recovery truck had arrived and it took us in to Newport where we had a new tyre fitted. After forking out £70 and being delayed by a total of ninety minutes we were back on the road and headed straight to Rhayader.
Fortunately, we arrived a few minutes before 2pm, the time when the kites were fed. We got out of the car and rugged up warm and waited when suddenly, as if from nowhere, birds started filling the skies.
Over the next 30 minutes or so we must have seen getting on for 300 Red Kites, several Buzzards, over 20 Ravens, and a couple of Sparrowhawks. However, the highlight, was a juvenile Black Kite which showed really well, and enabled us to get great views of the differences in the plumage features between this and the Red Kites.

We left Rhayader at about 3pm, and as it had already been a fairly long day headed straight on home. It was a round trip of nearly 300 miles, but a wonderful spectacle and a UK tick in Black Kite.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Yeovil and SBR - Wed 10 Feb

I headed in to Yeovil during my afternoon off, and set out to find the Black Redstart that had been seen frequenting a garden for a couple of days. Using a bit of detective work, I managed to deduce the area and drove up Larkhill Road and parked on a housing estate and walked around Ermine Street and Watling Street. After about fifteen minutes of searching I got the most fleeting of views of the bird and set off after it. After another tantalizingly brief view, I finally got a smashing view of the bird, a female.
I then headed off to Sutton Bingham, arriving at about 3.15pm. I spent an hour at the reservoir, during which time I saw a drake Goosander which was first near the dam before it swam down towards the southern end of the reservoir. On West Pool there were 58 Wigeon, with a further 35 at the southern end, also present 26 Tufted Ducks and a pair of Teal. Another 18 or so Teal were at the southern end, where a Peregrine flew over.
There were large numbers of gulls, primarily Black-headed Gulls of which there were around 300 present. There were also about fifty Herring Gulls and a handful of Common and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Arne RSPB - Sun 7 Feb

We decided to travel a little further afield today, and drove down to the RSPB reserve at Arne in south Dorset. We arrived at about 12.30pm and walked straight out to Shipstal Point where we had a packed lunch.
Walking through the woodland we heard numerous birds, but despite the lack of leaves, not many were that obliging. As we reached the beach we could see several Sika Deer feeding on the salt marsh, and resting on a sandbank we had great views of a Common Seal. At least twenty Goldeneye were on the sea in Poole Harbour and there were several Great Crested Grebes and Red-breasted Mergansers.
The circular walk took as back to the car and by the RSPB visitor centre we saw several Blue, Long-tailed, Great, Coal and Marsh Tits on the feeders, a few Nuthatches were about and a Bank Vole was scampering to the fallen food looking for an easy meal.
We then walked out from the opposite side of the car park and across to the hide and viewing screen across Coombe Heath. From here we could see a host of waders and wildfowl, including over a hundred Avocets, several Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew, and a single Knot. There were also several Teal, Wigeon and Shelduck and a large flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese. From the hide we managed to find a Spoonbill feeding in a channel.
As we walked back to the car we could hear a Dartford Warbler calling, but it remained elusive and we failed to see it.
As it was still fairly early we drove on to Middlebere Farm. Ellie decided to wait in the car as I walked out to the Harrier Hide. Unfortunately, there was not a lot about, just a few Curlew and Teal and a Little Grebe. However, I did see a Hare feeding in a field.
On the way back to the car, several Meadow Pipits flew over. We headed off home soon after 4pm after a lovely day out.
UK list for 2010 now at 128 species.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Somerset Levels - Sat 6 Feb

We popped out after lunch for a couple of hours wanting to be back in time for the Six Nations match between England and Wales.
We drove straight to Meare Heath NNR, parking in the Ashcott Corner car park and walking straight out to the hide at Noah's Lake. As we approached the hide we saw a couple of Redpolls. We had been in the hide no more than a couple of minutes when we managed to get on the female Long-tailed Duck that I had missed a week or so earlier. We had great views of the bird and also got cracking views of the redhead Smew and a Bewick's Swan. I also managed to get on a female Scaup.
Leaving the hide we walked back to the car and were treated to a female Marsh Harrier hunting over the reeds.
Leaving Meare Heath we drove off to Catcott Lows NNR. Ellie decided to wait in the car whilst I popped in to the hide to see if I could find the three Glossy Ibises that had been in the area for several weeks.
Looking out from the hide there were large numbers of duck, primarily Wigeon and Shoveler, but also good numbers of Pintail. However, after about 20 minutes there was no sign of the ibises, so I returned to the car and we headed off home after a nice afternoon out.