Sunday, 26 September 2010

Chard Reservoir & Chard Junction NR - Sun 26 Sep

After a fairly uninspiring Singapore Grand Prix I felt that I really ought to get out and about and headed west for a visit to Chard Reservoir. I walked straight out to the hide, only to find it locked! However, after a quick call to Andy (a Chard birder and close friend) I had the combination and was sat in the hide. Scanning across the reservoir there was not a huge amount around, though I did pick out a Common Snipe and a Little Egret. There were about a dozen Teal present and a Grey Wagtail showed extremely well as it fed along the water's edge directly under the hide:

With little else about I decided to try and find the recently formed Nature Reserve at Chard Junction. This gravel pits have been pretty productive over recent years but I had never actually visited them. After getting a few directions from Andy I headed off to see what I could find. The first pit I stumbled upon held seven Tufted Ducks but nothing else, and that's when I somehow ended up in the wrong place! I failed to find the nature reserve proper, but I think that was simply because I didn't walk far enough up the main track...but at least it gives me a reason to return to the site. So with time ticking by, and my stomach rumbling, I came on home for a much needed Sunday roast!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 26 Sep

With it being such a lovely day I decided to head up to Sutton Bingham for a visit before lunch. I stopped at the northern causeway but there was nothing of interest on either the main reservoir or West Pool, so I drove down to the hide and set up my scope.
Scanning across the water I soon picked up the seemingly ever present adult Yellow-legged Gull. There was a single Little Grebe which showed briefly before diving under the water. Overhead a couple of Ravens flew over and a Meadow Pipit was heard calling. Two Skylarks flew over, heading north and a few Swallows and House Martins were also passing through.
Leaving the hide, I took a walk around the back of the reservoir to see if anything was about, and as I crossed the field down to the water I saw a couple of Meadow Pipits perched on a telephone wire:

As I walked through the trees I saw a Goldcrest and reaching the far bank I was able to look out over the exposed mud where there were four Pied Wagtails and a couple of White Wagtails. A single Common Sandpiper was also feeding on the mud.
Despite the fact it is well in to Autumn, I was surprised to see a few butterflies on the wing. Whilst I only saw singles of Peacock, Common Blue and Comma, there were about four or five Small Coppers about:

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Portland Bill - Sat 25 Sep

We headed out this afternoon and drove down to Weymouth where I dropped off Ellie so she could do some shopping for a couple of hours as I continued on down to Portland. It was about 3.45pm by the time I parked up at the Bird Observatory car park, and I was hoping to finally see a Common Rosefinch as one had been trapped and ringed by Martin Cade, the warden, earlier in the day. I had a chat with Martin when I arived and he told me where the bird had last been seen so off I set, scouring the area around the Hut Fields and the Observatory Quarry.
There were a few birds about, but nothing that really leapt out. I saw a couple of Whitethroats and two or three Blackcaps. One or two Chiffchaffs were about and there were a good number of Linnets. The open areas between the huts held a couple of White Wagtails and a few Rock Pipits. But no sign anywhere of the Common Rosefinch!
So I walked up to Culverwell where the bird had originally been trapped and had a good look around, but other than a Meadow Pipit and a Sparrowhawk saw nothing of note.
Giving up on the land birds I had a quick scan out to sea which produced the usual gulls and a few Gannets.
So having yet again dipped on Common Rosefinch, I drove back in to Weymouth and picked up Ellie, who had had a more productive afternoon and managed to pick up another new pair of shoes!!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Northam Burrows, Hartland Point and Yelland - Sun 19 Sep

Up at 6.15am and picked up at 7.00am myself and the "usual suspects" headed off to the north-west corner of Devon for a day of much-needed birding. We arrived at Northam Burrows at around 8.30am and drove out to the area known as The Skern. We were after a few quality rarities that had been in the area for a few days. Setting up our scopes near a few other birders we scanned across the area, picking out a few White Wagtails, several Wheatears (including a couple of Greenland Wheatears), and numerous Meadow Pipits. But none of these were what we were after, so I approached the other birders to try and get some gen, and was told that a Lapland Bunting was just in front of us. Calling the others over, we soon got on the bunting as it showed really well, often in the company of a couple of Meadow Pipits. Despite the fact it was always on the move, I still managed some of my top-quality record shots with my mobile phone:

We were also told that the Buff-breasted Sandpiper had been showing distantly within the last hour, so we continued scanning over the area, but the bird was being rather elusive! So after drawing a blank with the sandpiper we walked back down the road in an attempt to find the Grey Phalarope that had been around for the previous few days, but like the Buff-breasted Sandpiper, this usually obliging wader failed to show itself. So we walked back to the car, though on the way I thought I'd have another look over the mudflats and found the Buff-breasted Sandpiper! We got some good, if somewhat distant, views of the bird, and decided to continue to the car in the hope of getting nearer to the bird. I soon got back on it, and whilst it was slightly nearer it was still rather distant.
Having connected with this rare trans-Atlantic vagrant we set off for Hartland Point and a spot of sea-watching. We arrived late morning and set up on the headland to see what sea birds might be passing through. There were loads of Gannets and a fairly steady passage of Manx Shearwaters, but nothing out of the ordinary. We were lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins.
Checking the pager we got a message that the Grey Phalarope had been seen again at Northam Burrows, so leaving Hartland Point we drove back to The Skern to try and find the bird that had eluded us earlier in the day. We spent an age scanning the area where the bird had been seen before a fellow birder spotted it just a few metres from us...we had been expecting the bird to be in the near distance, and not under our noses! Even I managed a few semi-decent record shots of this cracking juvenile Grey Phalarope with my mobile:

We started the homeward journey but took a detour to Yelland and the (badly-signposted) RSPB reserve of Isley Marsh. We were looking for three Spoonbills, and it did not take that long to find them on the salt marsh. There were plenty of Curlews and Little Egrets here, but little else. However, a small flock of Wigeon flew through, a sign of birds returning for the winter?
Having exhausted the area with regard to quality birds, we decided to call it a day and headed home.
UK list for 2010 now at 212 species.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Wed 15 Sep

It was the southern end of the reservoir where all the action was during an hour long visit late in the afternoon. I set up my scope near the hide and scanned around. Just as I settled down the long-staying Yellow-legged Gull flew down the reservoir heading north. At least sixteen Teal were present and on the shoreline two Common Sandpipers and a Green Sandpiper were feeding. In the small pool which has formed at the southern end, there was a Little Egret and a single Stock Dove flew over. At least three Ravens were present, one of six species of corvid seen this afternoon.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Black Hole Marsh, Seaton & Budleigh Salterton - Sun 12 Sep

I headed off for a few hours of birding after lunch (and the Italian Grand Prix) whilst Ellie stayed at home for a bit of a rest. Driving straight to the fairly new reserve of Black Hole Marsh on the Axe Estuary just north of Seaton, I arrived at about 3.15pm. A mate of mine had given me directions on how to find this reserve and they were spot on, as before long I was looking out over the scrapes and was impressed by this new area. There were a few waders about, noteably a couple of Greenshank and a Knot. A couple of Little Stints were also present, as were three Curlew Sandpipers.
As it was still pretty early in the afternoon, I decided to carry on along the coast and visit Budleigh Salterton where a flock of some twenty Glossy Ibis had been present for the last few days. I parked up at the "White Bridge" about half a mile north of the town proper, and walked down the river, seeing a couple of Greenshanks and a Black-tailed Godwit along the way. As I neared the cricket field I scanned across and could make out about a dozen Glossy Ibises on the far side of the field, alongside another footpath. So I retraced my steps and found this second path and before long had cracking views of a total of seventeen Glossy Ibises, and again I managed a few shots with my mobile phone:

UK List for 2010 now at 208 species.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sat 11 Sep

Ellie and I popped up to the reservoir for a hour or so during the afternoon, and whilst I spent the time looking for birds from the area in front of the hide, Ellie lay on a picnic rug in the sunshine and read her book!
A few birds of interest were about, though three Common Sandpipers were the only waders seen. A single Yellow Wagtail was feeding in the area around the small pool at the extreme south of the reservoir, and the adult Yellow-legged Gull was again present.
A Raven flew over, and there was a pretty constant stream of Swallows and House Martins passing south over the reservoir. Also over the reservoir, a total of three Sparrowhawks. A small flock of over twenty Teal were also present at the southern end.
From the northern causeway, there was nothing of note on West Pool or the main reservoir.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Thu 9 Sep

A flying visit on my way home from work produced a flock of twenty-two Whimbrel flying west over the southern end of the reservoir, where there was also a large flock of Swallows and House Martins. The adult female and three young Mandarin were also present and a single Common Sandpiper was also seen.
A quick look over West Pool produced nothing of note, but two Hobbies (an adult and a juvenile), were circling over the reservoir whilst being mobbed by a couple of Carrion Crows.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Lodmoor RSPB and Portland Bill - Wed 8 Sep

With term back in full swing I get to have Wednesday afternoons off as compensation for working on a Saturday morning, so I took advantage of the good weather and headed down to the coast, arriving at Lodmoor RSPB at about 2.15pm.
I walked around the reserve in the hope of picking up a few migrant passerines as well as a few waders, however, there was not a huge variety of birds on show. I did manage to pick up nine species of wader, with the pick being two Ruff, a Spotted Redshank and a couple of Curlew Sandpipers. The only other birds of note were six Wheatears and a single Chiffchaff.
Leaving Lodmoor I drove on down to Portland and parked at the Bird Observatory. I did not spend a huge amount of time at the Bill as I was really after just one bird, and as I set up my scope at the Obs Quarry I did not have long to wait as the Wryneck I had hoped to see hopped in to view. I did manage to take a few record shots using my mobile phone held against my scope, and they are possibly the worst shots of a Wryneck ever taken, but at least you can see what it is!

There were plenty of other birds flitting around in the quarry, but nothing really out of the ordinary, with a single Whitethroat present and a couple of Stonechats seen. With time ticking on, and knowing I had to get home to cook dinner for Ellie, I headed off at 4.30pm and still managed to get stuck in traffic through Weymouth for nearly an hour!
UK list for 2010 now at 206 species.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sun 5 Sep

After a wet start to the day the weather cleared up late morning so Ellie and I popped out for a quick walk before lunch. Parking at the hide we walked along the reservoir as far as the car park and then retraced our steps. I had hoped that the rain might have brought a few migrants in, but unfortunately that was not the case. Opposite the hide was a single Common Sandpiper and the four Mandarin were again on the shore on the far bank.
On West Pool there were a couple of White Wagtails but nothing else of note.
Near the car park we saw a couple of Common Blues and a single Small Copper:

Powerstock Common - Sat 4 Sep

What with it being a pleasant afternoon Ellie and I headed out, after some discussion on where to go, and eventually ended up at Powerstock Common near Maiden Newton. This was a site that we had not visited before and we had read about it on the Dorset Butterflies website. Whilst we new it was not the best time of year for butterflies, we thought we'd give it a go.
As we walked in to the nature reserve the first thing we saw was a Nuthatch. We then did a circular walk around the reserve which took us a couple of hours. Along the way we also saw three or four Spotted Flycatchers, and several Willow Warblers. A pair of Marsh Tits were seen feeding.
There were loads of Speckled Woods as we walked along:

A single Painted Lady was seen as we entered the reserve and we also saw a Meadow Brown and a Red Admiral:

A few whites were about, including a single Green-veined White.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sat 4 Sep

A mid-morning visit today as this would be my last Saturday morning when I wouldn't be stuck at work for a few weeks. I decided to take a walk round the far southern end of the reservoir, but saw nothing of note apart from a couple of Speckled Woods.
From the hide I saw four Mandarin resting on the far bank, and a Common Sandpiper was also present, whilst on the small pool a single Green Sandpiper was also seen. Three Stock Doves flew over.
Back to West Pool and two Snipe were busy feeding as was another Common Sandpiper.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Fri 3 Sep

After dropping Ellie off at choir practice I popped up to the reservoir for three quarters of an hour to see what was about. I headed straight to the hide and set up my scope to scan the area, flushing four Mandarin from the water's edge.
Before long I had picked out five Common Sandpipers and two Green Sandpipers. Another wader caught my eye feeding at the extreme southern end in the small pool that has formed there. Unfortunately, the light was not brilliant and the bird did not give very obliging views. However, eventually, I finally got a sight of it's back and saw the charactistic marking that confirmed it as a Common Snipe...and not some rare vagrant!
A female Tufted Duck was also present at the southern end, and the four Mandarin I had seen when I first arrived joined two more birds and were sat up on the bank with numerous Mallards.
A quick look over West Pool produced nothing, though several Swallows were feeding above the reservoir.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Sutton Bingham - Wed 1 Sep

After last night's excitement I popped up to the reservoir before work, arriving at about 7.30am at the field where the storks had been present. It was rather misty and there was no sign of the birds, so I drove on down to the reservoir to check it out.
On West Pool a single Green Sandpiper was present but nothing else of note so I went on down to the hide. From here I saw an Osprey preening itself in a dead tree on the opposite side of the reservoir near the canoe club hut, though by the time I had passed the news on to a fellow birder it had flown.
With time getting on, and knowing I had to be at work at 8.30am, I headed off and checked out the field opposite Goose Slade Farm one last time when I had a phone call from a mate of mine, Lee Evans, asking if I had an update on the White Storks. Lee had received a pager message that the brids were still present, but I had left my pager at home so didn't pick it up. The birds had apparently relocated to a field nearer the reservoir, and before long I had tracked them down. As I watched the White Storks I was surprised as a Hobby flew through!
A pretty good morning at the reservoir.