Sunday, 27 June 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sun 27 Jun

A big day of sport with the European Grand Prix and then a World Cup match between England and Germany. So knowing I'd spend the whole afternoon glued to the TV I popped up to Sutton Bungham for a hour or so.
From the northern causeway several Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were on the water, and a single Black-headed Gull was on the West Pool. However, there was not much else going on so I drove down to the southern end and had a bit of a stroll.
Despite the fact it was still before noon it was an extremely hot morning, and as a result there were few birds around. A juvenile Peregrine soared over and I watched it about five minutes before it drifted off to the north. A Reed Warbler was singing from time to time and doing a good impression of a Blackbird's alarm call!
The meadow south of the causeway contined several butterflies. Meadow Browns were by far the most numerous, but I also saw a few Marbled Whites and a couple of Large Skippers. A single Common Blue was flitting around and a Small Tortoiseshell flew through. The highlight for me though was a Ringlet...which, although not rare, was a butterfly I had not knowingly seen before!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Cerne Abbas - Thu 24 Jun

After several busy nights watching the World Cup I felt the need for a bit of fresh air, so I drove down to Cerne Abbas straight after work and spent about three quarters of an hour wandering around Black Hill.
I knew that this was a good site for butterflies, but being an overcast evening I was not expecting much, and indeed I only saw a few Meadow Browns and a Small Tortoiseshell.
One thing that was encouraging was the number of Yellowhammers, I must have seen about six individuals. A couple of Linnets were about and a small flock of Goldfinches was seen. Overhead, about a dozen Common Swifts were whizzing around.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Hardington Moor - Sun 20 Jun

After a rather busy weekend we were both feeling rather tired and did not fancy travelling miles but did feel like a bit of fresh air. So we simply decided to walk from West Coker up to Hardington Moor and enjoyed a pleasant walk in the late afternoon sun.
As we walked around the flower-covered meadow we could hear a couple of Chiffchaffs singing away. A pair of Linnets were also seen as the male sang away to the nearby female. At least one Yellowhammer was also about and a pair of Ravens flew overhead.
We were also surprised by the number of butterflies (and a few moths) that were on the wing. As we entered the reserve we saw a Red Admiral and there were loads of Meadow Browns about:

A few "blues" were about including a Small Blue and a couple of Common Blues, and several Large Skippers were present:

We also saw Small Tortoiseshell:

And several of the day-flying moth, Six-spot Burnet:

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Osmington Mills - Sat 19 Jun

After England's dire performance against Algeria I had hoped for a pick me up in the form of a Common Rosefinch which had apparently been present at Osmington Mills for the past couple of days. I had missed this species when in Poland a couple of years ago as I was there too early in the year, and had also dipped a few in the UK. So I headed off straight after work, getting to the coast at about 12.30pm.
I spent a good couple of hours searching the coastal path between Osmington Mills and Ringstead in the area between the two pill boxes where the bird had been seen. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in my hunt and will have to wait a while longer to get Common Rosefinch on my list!
However, whilst there I did see several Linnets, including one or two very brightly coloured male birds. A pair of Stonechats were busy collecting food for nearby chicks. A few Common Whitethroats were flitting about in the bushy vegetation. Out to sea there was not too much going on, but I did see a couple of Sandwich Terns as I scanned across towards Portland and Weymouth.
Also flying about on the cliff top path were a couple of Small Tortoiseshells, a Common Blue and a handful of Meadow Browns.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Garston Wood RSPB and Martin Down NR - Sun 13 Jun

We headed east today and drove out to Sixpenny Hanley and the RSPB reserve of Garston Wood just outside the village. We spent about an hour wandering around the wood in the summer sun. Unfortunately, the bluebells were well over and the dense leaf cover meant birds were heard rather than seen. We did hear several Chiffchaffs and a Garden Warbler, plus a Cuckoo was calling in the near distance. The wood has a bit of a reputation for butterflies, but we only saw a few Speckled Woods:

Plus a Humming-bird Hawk Moth and a Large White.
We then headed off to Martin Down NR, just ten minutes or so down the road and another good site for butterflies. As we walked south from the car park we were treated to a pair of Turtle Doves as they flew past us. We also heard another singing and soon saw that in flight too as well as a Cuckoo. Several Yellowhammers were in song and we also noted a couple of Linnets and Skylarks were singing in numbers.
There were a few people out and about looking for butterflies and moths and one chap led us to a resting Small Elephant Hawk Moth:

We also saw several Small Heaths and a couple of Adonis Blues and Common Blues. At least two Brimstones were on the wing and a single well-worn Grizzled Skipper was seen:

We left Martin Down and had a brief stop near Sixpenny Handley where I managed to add Corn Bunting to the year list. At 4.30pm we headed back home after another good afternoon out and about.
UK year list for 2010 now at 201 species.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Sutton Bingham - Tue 8 Jun

I decided to pop up to Sutton Bingham for an hour this evening as I'd not visited the reservoir for several weeks. My first stop was the Water Treatment Works where Spring had definately been in the air as before long I had located a newly fledged family of Blue Tits and then a handful of newly fledged Robins. I also saw a Grey Wagtail gathering food.
I then drove round to the southern end of the reservoir where a Reed Warbler was showing well and at least one more was heard singing, as was a Reed Bunting. The water level was still really high, so the chance of any waders was zero. Two sub-adult Grey Herons were present though.
On West Pool a Little Grebe was seen and three juvenile Mallards were swimming along.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Alners Gorse - Sun 6 Jun

Ellie and I were not really up to an early start today having enjoyed a few too many beers out in the village the previous night, so we waited until after lunch before heading out to get some fresh air. We travelled east to the other side of Sherborne and to the Butterfly Conservation Reserve at Alners Gorse, arriving just before 3.00pm.
This was a site that we had not visited before and we were pleasantly surprised by how nice it was. We spent about an hour and a half wandering around, and whilst there were not loads of butterflies on the wing we did see Large Skipper:

As well as several Speckled Woods:

A few Common Blues were also flying about:

Other butterlies we saw included Brimstone, Dingy Skipper, and Green-veined White.
On the bird front we were lucky enough to hear a couple of Nightingales singing from the thickets and after a bit of patience one of the birds popped out in to the open for a while giving us a great view. There were still singing Willow Warbler and Chiffchaffs about and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over.

We had a good time out at Alners Gorse and it will definately be a site we will return to.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Blorenge and Wentwood Forest - Sat 5 Jun

I got up at 3.50am today and left Ellie in bed asleep. Why? I was going up to Gwent in Wales with three mates to twitch a mega rarity. We all met up and headed off at 4.50am and pegged it straight up to Blorenge, just south of Abergavenny, for our target bird. Within ten minutes of getting to the site we got some cracking views of a singing first-summer Marmora's Warbler. We watched this Mediterranean beauty on and off for about half an hour as he did a regular circuit around the area, a brilliant life tick for us all.
Whilst on the moor we also saw several Tree Pipits and some cracking Whinchats. A Cuckoo could be heard calling and a couple of Wheatears were also present. At just gone 7.00am we decided that we were not going to get any better views than those we had had, so we headed back towards home with a slight diversion to Wentwood Forest just to the north-west of the village of Llanvair Discoed.
We pulled in to the Cadira Beeches car park at about 8.00am, where we could hear a Wood Warbler singing, and walked some 150 metres south to an obvious clearing. As we were nearing the area I could hear the bird we were after singing. Before long we had located a male Iberian Chiffchaff, our second quality bird of the day. This was a life tick for the two Steve's and a UK tick for Andy...just a year tick for me though as I'd seen two previous Iberian Chiffchaffs in the UK. After ticking this off we headed back home with the job done, and it was only 11.00am when I got home!
UK year list for 2010 now at 198 species.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Acres Down, Bolderwood and Pennington Marshes - Thu 3 Jun

I had booked a couple of days off work for the tail end of this week in the hope of spending a bit of time with Ellie, however, she had to work today so I offered to drive her down to Lymington in Hampshire where she works. We set off early and it was only just gone 8.00am when I dropped her off so I decided to drive up to up in to the New Forest and visit Acres Down, just outside Lyndhurst. I walked from the car park around to the hill and set up my 'scope and started scanning the area, a couple of other birders soon joined me. Before long I had seen at least three Goshawks, including a fairly close female bird. A couple of Cuckoos were singing and one bird perched in a tree in front of me. Things got steadily better as a pair of Siskins flew over and then I spotted a Hawfinch as it flew past. Several Tree Pipits were singing, and then the highlight of the morning, a smashing and extremely obliging, Honey Buzzard. With all the target birds ticked off I returned to the car and then (after being tipped off by another birder) took a short walk in to the woods where I managed to get a good view of a singing Wood Warbler.
I then left Acres Down and drove the short distance to the Bolderwood Ornamental Drive and parked up in one of the car parks. A spent a couple of hours wandering around the woodland during which time I saw a few Redstarts flitting around, including a couple of singing males and some female birds with food. I could hear more than I could see due to the lush woodland vegetation but a pair of Marsh Tits showed well as they fed in the canopy. Another Tree Pipit was singing in a clearing and I was treated to an extremely close view of a newly fledged Nuthatch as it preened itself not far from a parent bird.
As it was now 12.30pm I drove back to Lymington and had lunch with Ellie before spending the afternoon walking around Pennington Marshes. Although there were plenty of birds about there was not a lot of variety but I did pick up my first (UK) Common Terns of the year and a few Little Terns were also about. Resting on a spit were a couple of male Eiders, an unexpected surprise, and I later saw another five. Waders were thin on the ground but I did see a magnificent summer-plumaged Grey Plover. Before I realised it I had to head back to pick up Ellie after a cracking day of birding.
UK list for 2010 now at 196 species.