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: