Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Sutton Bingham - Tue 30 Mar

The southern end of the reservoir was again the most productive during an early evening visit today. There had been heavy rain most of the day, so a visit just as the sun finally started to shine was well worth while. An initial look over the West Pool yielded thirteen Tufted Ducks and a small number of both Swallows and Sand Martins.
At the far southern end hirundine numbers were much higher, with over one hundred Swallows and at least thirty Sand Martins. A walk around the flooded wood resulted in several birds being seen. There appeared to have been a mini-fall of Chiffchaffs, with over ten seen, as well as a couple in song. I also saw at least two Willow Warblers and three Goldcrests. A single Treecreeper was seen, as was a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
On the water a pair of Mandarin were present, and three Teal were also seen. Two more Tufted Duck were also present.
A male Kestrel flew over and was later seen perched up on a telegraph pole. Finally, three Grey Herons were flushed from the water's edge.
On the mammal front, six Roe Deer were present and a Red Fox was seen.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Ham Wall RSPB and Meare Heath NR - Sun 28 Mar

Ellie and I popped out for an afternoon walk along the drove at Ham Wall RSPB. At least one Bittern was heard booming and a Blackcap was in full song alongside the path. We were also treated to a very close view of a singing Cetti's Warbler.
After reaching the tea rooms and having a well deserved tea and cake break, we walked back to the car and then on to the partially drained lagoon at Meare Heath.
On the lagoon there were a couple of Redshanks and Lapwings and about fifty Black-tailed Godwits. I could also hear another booming Bittern. A pair of Sparrowhawks drifted overhead.
UK list for 2010 now at 156 species.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 28 Mar

A mid morning trip produced the first Swallows of the year that I'd seen at the reservoir, with one over West Pool and another five at the southern end. The Dark-bellied Brent Goose that I saw ten days ago was again present, this time on the northern causeway.
Also on West Pool, five Tufted Ducks with a further ten at the far southern end of the reservoir where there were three Teal also. The first Willow Warbler of the year was a new arrival in the trees again at the south end with a couple of Chiffchaffs, a calling Nuthatch and a few Long-tailed Tits gathering nesting material. Four Snipe were flushed from the water's edge.
A female Reed Bunting was in the waterside willows.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Radipole RSPB, Lodmoor RSPB and Rodden Hive - Sat 27 Mar

As I didn't have to work today, Ellie and I took advantage of the nice weather and headed down to Weymouth. We drove straight down to Radipole RSPB and took a walk around the reserve. We were hoping to see a few migrants, but birds were thin on the ground. A few Cetti's Warblers were singing and we did manage a cracking view of one. As we were returning to the car we bumped in to a mate of mine who pointed out an Alpine Swift flying overhead!
After such a great find we drove round to Lodmoor RSPB and had our picnic lunch. A quick scout over the reserve failed to produce any much of note, and a passing birder told us there was little about. So we decided against a walk around the reserve and drove off to Langton Herring for a walk instead.
We parked up in the village and walked out to Rodden Hive, the site where I had successfully twitched the Bufflehead earlier in the month. As we neared the water's edge we met a couple of birders and asked if they had seen the Hoopoe that had been in the area for the last week or so. Fortunately, they had just seen it, but it had moved out of site. So we all walked on a few yards and luck was with us as the Hoopoe was feeding on the path right in front of us. We watched it for about fifteen minutes and whilst doing so a Swallow flew overhead. With time pressing on we decided to head on home.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Sutton Bingham - Thurs 25 Mar

A brief evening visit produced just ten Wigeon and ten Tufted Ducks plus a pair of Little Grebes on the West Pool.
A Peregrine was seen with prey at the southern end of the reservoir, and a female Sparrowhawk drifted over the reservoir.
There were no gulls coming in to bathe, but somewhere in the region of two hundred Herring Gulls passed south over the reservoir between 6.00pm and 6.30pm.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Sutton Bingham - Mon 22 Mar

A pre-work visit between 7.40am and 8.10am started off slowly with just six Wigeon seen feeding on the water's edge near the dam. West Pool still hosted the eight Tufted Duck that were present the night before, and another male Tufted Duck was on the main reservoir.
At the southern end a little bit more interest with what was probably a second Chiffchaff in territory near the hide, some distance from the bird that was singing last night. Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard calling.
In the horse paddock opposite the pull-in south of the hide, a couple of late Redwings and a Fieldfare were feeding, and then a real surprise, a male Ring Ouzel joined them on the ground and spent a good five minutes or so feeding with the other thrushes.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 21 Mar

An early evening visit failed to produce anything major, and the gull numbers were well down on recent evenings. There were about one hundred Herring Gulls and twenty or so Lesser Black-backed Gulls present, the "white" gull seen last week has not been seen again.
On West Pool there were still just under thirty Wigeon and eight Tufted Ducks. A single Little Grebe was also on West Pool with another two on the main reservoir.
At the southern end of the reservoir a drake Mandarin was seen in the dense vegetation along with three Teal. A Chiffchaff was in full song, presumably a recently arrived migrant. Finally, a total of thirty-three Snipe were flushed from the waters edge as I walked along.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Sutton Bingham - Tue 16 Mar

Arriving at the southern end of the reservoir at about 5.20pm I found it was devoid of birds, so I headed straight for the northern causeway and set up my 'scope.
This turned out to be much more productive in what turned out to be an excellent evening's birding. As I got out of the car a flock of thirteen alba wagtails were flitting about and perching on the fencing before heading off south. Whilst primarily Pied Wagtails, there were at least two White Wagtails as well. A sign that some migration is underway.
As I scanned over West Pool I noted forty Wigeon on the water's edge plus twelve Tufted Duck and eight Teal on the water, as well as two Little Grebes. Grazing in one of the fields neighbouring the reservoir was a flock of twenty five Canada Geese, and surprisingly, a single Dark-bellied Brent Goose.
I then turned my attention to the gathering gulls and spent some time trawling through them all to see what was about. There were well over two hundred Herring and Black-headed Gulls, while Lesser Black-backed Gulls numbered around twenty and there were about ten Common Gulls present. Then I thought I'd hit the jackpot...an Iceland Gull...or was it? Apparently, a very white Herring Gull has been doing the rounds in west Somerset and east Devon so it is a possibility that this was the bird I was looking at. Close but no cigar as they say!
I turned my attention back to West Pool as a flock of thirty Fieldfares flew in to roost in some of the waterside trees.
Mammals were also noticeable this evening, with two Roe Deer and a Red Fox being present. Just as I was about to head off home, light was fading fast and my fingers were frozen, I noticed a disturbance in the water on West Pool. Hoping that what I thought I had just seen would reappear I waited and was eventually rewarded with a good view of a swimming Otter. A wonderful end to a great hour and a half.
UK list for 2010 now at 151 species.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sun 14 Mar

A lovely warm spring day and a visit to Sutton Bingham Reservoir was a good start to the day.
West Pool still held the wintering flock of Wigeon, with forty-seven birds still present. There were also sixteen Tufted Ducks on West Pool and a pair of Teal.
At the extreme southern end of the reservoir there were plenty of birds around, though not as many wildfowl, with just five more Teal present. Four Snipe were flushed from the waterside and a single Grey Heron was seen.
There were plenty of smaller birds around with several in song. A pair of Bullfinches were seen and a Nuthatch was perched atop a tree calling. A single Marsh Tit was also seen and a Jay was making a fair amount of noise. Three Stock Doves flew over with a couple of Woodpigeons.
Rapters were taking advantage of the clear day, with five Common Buzzards and two Sparrowhawks soaring overhead, and a male Kestrel was also about.
I also saw four Roe Deer.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Fleet and Maiden Castle - Wed 10 Mar

After missing the opportunity to go and see the Bufflehead on Sunday, and coupled with the fact that a few mates had seen it, I wasted no time and zoomed off to The Fleet on my afternoon off to try and find the bird.
I arrived at Langton Herring soon after 2.00pm and walked down to Rodden Hive. Scanning over the water there were plenty of birds about, but no immediate sign of the Bufflehead. I met a few other birders who had also drawn a blank. Whilst they were all scanning the water to the west I decided to look east, and within a couple of minutes located the drake Bufflehead, much to the delight of all present.
Having picked off the target bird I took a steady walk back to the car enjoying the birds on the way. I saw four Red-legged Partridges and a couple of Skylarks were singing up high. On the waters edge in Rodden Hive there were six Ringed Plovers, forty or so Dunlin and over fifty Redshank. On the water there were large numbers of Coot, Wigeon, Red-breasted Merganser and smaller numbers of Pintail and Teal. About half a dozen Goldeneye were also present.
The few gulls seen were mainly Herring Gulls but a couple of juvenile Great Black-backed Gulls and three Common Gulls were also about.
Leaving The Fleet I headed to Dorchester and to Maiden Castle. A long walk failed to produce any Corn Buntings, or anything else for that matter. Just as I neared the car a splendid male Merlin flew through heading north, the only bird of note during the hour I was there.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Sutton Bingham - Tue 9 Mar

A brief forty minute visit to the reservoir after work was somewhat productive.
West Pool hosted nine Tufted Ducks and a single Little Grebe.
From the northern causeway there were large numbers of Black-headed and Herring Gulls, probably somewhere in the region of three to four hundred of each. In amongst the gulls was a single adult Mediterranean Gull in full summer plumage. There were also half a dozen Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a single Common Gull in the pre-roost flock.
With the light failing I packed up and headed home.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Manningtree and the Stour Estuary - Sun 7 Mar

Ellie and I had a weekend in Essex visiting a friend and made the most of a fine Sunday morning to take a walk around and see what was about. We headed off over some fields east of Manningtree and through some woods, seeing the expected woodland species such as Long-tailed Tits and Coal Tits, a calling Treecreeper and a few Stock Doves amongst others.
Eventually we headed back north to the coast and walked along the Stour Estuary for a mile or so. As we reached the dockside we could see at least sixteen Goldeneye, primarily males, and around 300 Pintail and probably a similar number of distant Wigeon.
Waders were very numerous as it was low tide, with large numbers of Knot, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Dunlin and Curlew. There were also a few Turnstones.
This part of the estuary is well known for the large number of Mute Swans, and there must have been several hundred present. In with the Mute Swans were about half a dozen Black Swans, obviously a small feral population. We also noted four Egyptian Geese.
We left Essex in the early afternoon with the only downside being the fact that a drake Bufflehead had been found back in Dorset whilst we were away. I had received a text from a mate gripping me off about the bird early on Sunday morning, but fortunately I didn't need it for my UK list!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Castle Cary, Sharpham and Greylake RSPB - Wed 3 Mar

My afternoon off, and I headed straight for a site just to the south of Castle Cary in the hope to find some of the local population of Tree Sparrows. I parked up and walked down the Macmillan Way West for a couple of hundred metres before noticing a number of birds in a hedgerow. I quickly set up my 'scope and scanned the hedgerow finding several Chaffinches, Starlings, Redwings, a few Greenfinches and Reed Buntings, and then, at least half a dozen splendid Tree Sparrows. It was excellent to see these birds as I had not found any in my previous two visits to this site.
Mission accomplished, I hopped back in the car and drove cross-country to Street and then out to Sharpham. I parked the car and scanned the cattle field near the bridge over the drove and thought my luck was in as an egret flew in and landed near the cows. Unfortunately, it was not the bird I was after but a Little Egret. Scanning around I noticed another cattle field with several white blobs in it just up the road. Being lazy I jumped in the car and drove the half a mile up the road and again parked. As I scanned the field I counted six more Little Egrets, and then, as if from nowhere, I found the wintering Cattle Egret that I had been searching for.
With time ticking on I decided against driving up to Steart to try and find the Common Crane that had been seen up there, so instead I drove back south and stopped off at Greylake RSPB. As I got out of the car and walked towards the hide an immature Peregrine flew overhead, causing a bit of disturbance amongst the gathered Lapwings and wildfowl. A female Marsh Harrier was also quartering over the reserve. Over the next hour I failed to see much more of note so headed back to the car, seeing a Raven fly over as I walked along.
UK list for 2010 now at 147 species.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Blashford Lakes HWT - Sun 28 Feb

Ellie and I had some wedding business to sort out in the New Forest and spent the evening on 27th with friends in Verwood and then took the opportunity to get out and about on Sunday. Unfortunately the weather was not very helpful and as a result there were few birds showing in the New Forest.
We tried and failed to find a wintering Great Grey Shrike near Burley, but did see a Merlin as well as a few commoner species.
A visit to Rhinefield (Blackwater) Arboretum was too early in the day for Hawfinches. So we headed back to Blashford Lakes HWT to have a walk around.
Fortunately, there were some birds here! As we walked to the visitor centre we saw at least three cracking male Bramblings feeding by the bird feeders, as well as numerous Siskins and Lesser Redpolls, and I was lucky enough to find a Mealy Redpoll in with them.
On Ivy Lake we saw several duck, though nothing out of the ordinary. So we walked over to Ibsley Water to see if anything was about. Five redhead Goosanders were roosting on the shingle bank to the right of the hide, whilst on the water a drake Pintail was showing well and at least three Goldeneye were seen. As I looked through the gathering gulls, I found at least one 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull.
Also from the hide we could see an Oystercatcher and probably over 100 Black-tailed Godwits...somewhat surprising this far inland. With the weather starting to turn dismal again and the temperature dropping, we headed off for home mid-afternoon.