Sunday, 31 October 2010

Chew Valley Lake - Sun 31 Oct

Unfortunately, Ellie was not feeling too well, so I ended up driving up to Chew Valley Lake on my own. It was about 2.30pm when I arrived and I made straight for Woodford Lodge to get a day permit so that I could visit the hides, the permit was only £2.50.
Having got my permit I stopped off at Heron's Green Bay and took a look about. The water level was surprisingly low, but it did mean that there was a fair bit of mud exposed, and this had attracted a few waders, with a pair of Ruff, four Dunlin and a total of four Green Sandpipers seen, a Snipe was also seen in flight.
There were loads of birds on the water, and a 1st winter Little Gull was feeding over the lake. I was surprised to see three Ruddy Ducks on the lake after DEFRA had been culling this delightful bird over the last several years. I hope this remaining birds avoid the hunters.
I was trying to find a Ring-necked Duck and Ferruginous Duck that had been around for a while, but after a hot air balloon passed over and flushed all the birds I figured my chances were now slim. I left Heron's Green and drove down to Stratford Hide. From the hide I had no luck with either of the rare ducks, and I was also aware of the time. About a dozen Meadow Pipits were feeding on the shoreline, and again there were loads of ducks on the water. As well as the large numbers of Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, and Pochard, I picked out a few Pintail. The light was starting to go so I headed back home just after 4.00pm.
UK list for 2010 now at 219 species.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 31 Oct

After dropping Ellie off at church, I popped up to Sutton Bingham for an hour to see what was about. I had a quick look over West Pool, but there was nothing about so I headed down to the south of the reservoir and spent the rest of my available time exploring the area around the river. As I walked through the small copse I saw a pair of Mandarin and a female Teal.
A small flock of about a dozen Redwings were feeding on a berry bush, and a Kingfisher showed really well in the river channel. A flock of some twenty or so Siskin were feeding in the alders, and a few Goldfinches flew over.
Before I realised it was time to collect Ellie so I headed off just before 11.00am.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Arne RSPB - Sat 30 Oct

As the weather forecast for south Dorset was pretty good, Ellie and I set off to Arne for an afternoon in what turned out to be a really pleasant afternoon. A quick toilet stop when we first arrived proved pretty productive as I spotted a Firecrest feeding in a holly tree whilst waiting for Ellie. Unfortunately, we could not relocate it.
We then set off on the walk out to Shipstal Point, along the way we failed to much in the way of birds, thought when we reached the point the tide was well in and there were three Pintail out on the water, as well as loads of Teal and Wigeon and at least a hundred Curlew.
Returning to the car park we stopped off to take a look at a few stalls that had been set up for a fundraiser for the RSPB, and if I had not been stuffed after a large breakfast I would have tucked in to some of the produce on offer.
A quick cup of tea back at the car and then a walk out over Combe Heath. Again, we saw very little in the way of birds until we looked out over Middlebeare channel where there were a couple of hundred Black-tailed Godwits and plenty of Redshanks and Lapwings, and when a young Peregrine flew over it was quite a sight seeing the flocks take to the air. Grey clouds started to gather so we returned to the car and headed home, and just in time as the heaven's opened.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Sutton Bingham - Wed 27 Aug

Another pleasant evening, so I took the opportunity of visiting the reservoir and headed straight for the southern end. Between the hide and the canoe club there was a Mute Swan, a new arrival, and ten Canada Geese. A pair of Wigeon and a Little Grebe were at the extreme end.
Back to West Pool where there were ten Tufted Duck and two more Little Grebes. A flock of half a dozen or so Fieldfares flew over during the next thirty minutes at least ten Pied Wagtails flew over heading south, as did a dozen Goldfinches.
In the gull roost there were seven Common Gulls, and just as I was getting ready to leave a pair of Mandarin flew up from the south and but kept on going rather than land on West Pool.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Sutton Bingham - Mon 25 Oct

A nice evening so I popped up to the reservoir after work and for once most of the action was on West Pool as opposed to the southern end. A total of twenty-one Wigeon and twelve Tufted Duck were present as were two Little Grebes, with a third on the main lake. My first Fieldfare of the winter was present feeding in bushes on the railway embankment.
I did spend a bit of time at the far end of the reservoir, seeing a party of foraging Long-tailed Tits and a Jay gathering acorns, but not much else other than a couple of fly-over Collared Doves.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Moors Valley CP and Blashford Lakes - Sun 24 Oct

Ellie and I had been invited down to Verwood for dinner on Saturday night, so we decided to stay over at Laura and Paul’s and had a most enjoyable evening. Come Sunday morning we were all a little jaded so we headed off to Moors Valley Country Park for a fried breakfast and a stroll. In lovely autumn sun we spent an hour or so walking around the park. Admittedly this was not a birding walk but I kept my eyes open and saw a few things as we walked along. A few Teal were present on one of the lakes, and a pair of Siskin fed in a silver birch above our heads. After a pleasant walk we bid farewell to Laura and Paul and headed off to Blashford Lakes.
We parked by the Ibsley Water hide and Ellie waited in the car whilst I had a quick look around. Before long I had found the bird I was after, a Pink-footed Goose grazing on the far bank with Greylag Geese. There were a couple of Lapwing present and on the water there were a surprising number of Little Grebes, I must have seen at least a dozen.
After our late night and knowing it was a good ninety minute drive back home, we set off soon after 2.00pm.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sat 23 Oct

An hour long late afternoon visit produced the first returning Wigeon of the winter, with ten on West Pool and another dozen or so at the southern end.
Three Tufted Duck were on West Pool and at the southern end there were a small number of Teal.
A couple of Skylarks were heard flying over, and a Kingfisher was also heard calling though not seen. Also over the reservoir, three Stock Doves.
Having got caught in one heavy shower, when a second arrived I decided to call it a day and headed on home.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Sutton Bingham - Thu 21 Oct

A pleasant evening and as I finished work at 4.00pm I picked Ellie up from home and we popped up to Sutton Bingham. We decided to take a walk around the southern end of the reservoir, as we did so I saw my first Redwing of the winter as it flew over. There were not many birds about, though a Goldcrest was feeding on some of the waterside willows. On West Pool there were seven Tufted Duck.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Sutton Bingham - Tue 19 Oct

I managed to catch the last hour or so of light at the reservoir and was surprised not by the quality of birds present, but by the numbers. I drove straight to the hide and spent fifty minutes watching and waiting. There was nothing of interest on the water, but a flock of eleven Long-tailed Tits were feeding near the hide. A total of thirty three Pied Wagtails flew over north, including a flock of over twenty birds. Several gulls flew south, including at least one Common Gull. As the light was fading there was a massive movement of corvids flying over the hide from the opposite side of the reservoir, this included well over two hundred Jackdaws and a similar number of Rooks.
Leaving the hide, I drove up to the northern causeway and spent ten minutes or so scanning the area in what was now pretty poor light. A female Tufted Duck was on the West Pool, whilst on the main reservoir there must have been well over five hundred gulls, made up of Black-headed, Herring, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. So with hardly any light remaining I came on home.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Melcombe Bingham - Sat 16 Oct

Ellie and I headed off after lunch to the village of Melcombe Bingham to try and connect with a Yellow-browed Warbler that had been present for the past few days. I knew that this was purely a twitch, but for once I had everything in my favour as today was my I got to choose what I wanted to do!
We arrived mid-afternoon and luckily updated directions came out on my pager twenty minutes before we arrived at the village. We parked in the village and followed the instructions on the pager and fortunately as we arrived a couple of birders were on their way back after seeing the bird so we got bang up date gen on where the Yellow-browed Warbler was. However, we still had to stake it out for fifteen or so minutes as it skulked in a maple tree, but it eventually showed really well, and both Ellie and I delighted in seeing this splendid sprite.
As we were waiting for the bird to appear we noted a couple of fly-over Meadow Pipits, and Skylarks seemed to be contstantly calling whilst we were there. After connecting with our target bird we decided to head back home...a real twitch this afternoon, but well worth it!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Coat, nr.Martock & Greylake RSPB - Wed 13 Oct

After the report of a Common Crane just outside Coat on Tuesday morning, I thought it would worth a quick look during my half day. I had a look around, but there was no sound of the crane, a couple of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks flew overhead. So rather than any more time I drove up to the RSPB reserve at Greylake, arriving at about 3.15pm.
I was hoping to see the Spotted Crake that was still present as I had missed it ten days ago. I waited and waited, several Teal were on the pool and a couple of Snipe were present. On a distant pylon there was Peregrine, and then I spotted three Common Cranes!! Unfortunately they were cardboard cut-outs that had been placed on the reserve to attract the reintroduced birds. Still no sign of the Spotted Crake and as it was now 4.30pm I got ready to head on home when another birder saw the crake as it moved through the reeds. Excellent! The long wait had been well worth it, and just in time too as it really was time to get on home.
UK list for 2010 now at 215 species.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Black Hole Marsh, Seaton - Mon 11 Oct

After getting the OK from my boss to leave work at 5.00pm I headed down to Seaton and Black Hole Marsh to twitch the Solitary Sandpiper that had, fortunately, remained at the site all day after first being found the previous night. I arrived just after 6.00pm and walked down to the marsh, following some excellent directions supplied by my friend Andy Grinter. As I arrived I bumped in to my mate Steve Crimp who had just seen the bird, and he pointed out where he had last seen it and I had soon got on the bird as it rested on a bank. After ten minutes or so it made a short flight, showing off the distinct dark rump, and started feeding slightly closer. I tried to get a couple of record shots, but the light was dire, this was the best I could manage:

At least you can make out the pale legs, eye ring, and the spots on the flank...and that it is a bird!! A Green Sandpiper was nearby meaning the differences between the two species could be studied. As I had to play in a table tennis match I could not linger too long so I headed back to the car, seeing a Kingfisher as I walked along. A manic trip after work but well worth it for a cracking lifer.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Dawlish Warren NNR - Sun 10 Oct

After getting back from church we grabbed our kit and lunch and drove down to Dawlish Warren for the afternoon. I was hoping for a couple of good birds and Ellie was looking forward to a decent walk. We arrived at about 12.30pm and the first thing I had to do was go and buy a can of Coke so that we had enough change for the car park!
We started the walk out to the hide on The Bight but stopped half way to have out picnic lunch, Ellie's home made pasties...delicious! Whilst eating I did a bit of seawatching, but other than a solitary Gannet and a couple of "commic" Terns there was nothing happening out to see.
After our lunch we continued to the hide and spent a while looking across the estuary, there were a good number of common waders about, but nothing unusual. I had hoped to connect with a Red-breasted Goose that had been present with the Brent Geese earlier in the weekend, but the geese were on the far side of the water, making it all but impossible to pick out anything. So we returned to the car, a couple of Skylarks flying over, and near the car we saw a couple of Small Coppers.
On the way back home, we stopped just outside Cockwood so that I could try and get a better view of the geese, which I managed, but to my dismay there was no sign of the Red-breasted Goose and my recent run of missing quality birds continues. There were several Bar-tailed Godwits and a Greenshank feeding on the mud, and a Slavonian Grebe was in the channel. With a few things to do at home we continued homeward bound.
Then to top the day off, news broke (after dark) of a Solitary Sandpiper at Seaton late in the day...another one slips away!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 10 Oct

After dropping Ellie off at church I drove up to Sutton Bingham and spent an hour at the reservoir. There was nothing of note at the northern end so I headed on down to the southern end and sat on a hay bale waiting to see what was about.
On the water, the adult Yellow-legged Gull was again present, and three Teal were seen. A Peregrine was on one of the pylons. But the most interesting thing was the passage of birds overhead, though whether visable migration or simply returning wintering bird I have no idea. During the hour long visit I noted Skylark (6+), Meadow Pipit (10+), Chaffinch (5+), alba Wagtail (4+), Starling (50+), and Mistle Thrush (2) pass overhead, mostly heading north. So all in all, a pretty good passage of birds.
Needing to be in East Coker by 11.00am I had to head on back to collect Ellie after a good hours birding.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Meare Heath NNR - Sat 9 Oct

Ellie and I were at a loss as to where to go for a walk this afternoon so we ended up at Meare Heath as we knew we'd get a good stretch of the legs. Parking at the Ashcott Corner car park we decided on taking the long walk out to the Decoy Lake hide, a walk of nearly three miles!
I would love to say that it was worth the effort, but we only saw twenty or so Coots from the hide!! As we undertook the walk out to the hide the only things of note were five fly-over Stock Doves and three Greylag Geese. Leaving the Decoy Lake hide we had the long walk back to the car, which was equally unproductive though as we neared the car we did see a Marsh Harrier. All in all, a good afternoon out as we got a decent bit of exercise.

Sutton Bingham - Thu 7 Oct

Rather a stressful day at work, so to chill out and get a bit of fresh air I decided on a flying visit to the reservoir on my way home. Arriving at the northern causeway just before 6.00pm the light was already beginning to deteriorate. Having not been up to Sutton Bingham for a week or so I was amazed that it was now full, leaving no muddy fringes for any remaining passage waders, thought to my surprise, a Common Sandpiper was on the nnorthern causeway.
On the reservoir proper there was hundreds of gulls, mainly Herring Gulls, but several Black-headed Gulls too.
There was nothing else of note so after just ten minutes I headed on home, however, the long staying Muscovy Duck was still about in it's endless search for bread:

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

West Bexington - Wed 6 Oct

After a manic couple of days at work I was looking forward to getting out this afternoon and doing some birding, and as there were no real rarities to chase I decided to head to the coast and try and find something myself, and I chose West Bexington in the hope that there might be something about.
I parked at the beach car park at around 2.45pm and walked west for about a mile. Unfortunately there was a very strong wind coming off the sea when I arrived, so my hopes of actually finding anything interesting quickly evaporated. I did see a Reed Bunting feeding amongst the stones near the reed bed, and a couple of Meadow Pipits were also present, but that was it on the land.
So I set up my scope and tried a bit of seawatching instead. A group of nine Common Scoters flew west and I was hoping they would be a taste of things to come, but they were not, and I saw nothing else of note over the next forty or so minutes.
As I explored the area behind the reed beds I did see a few things flying around, but they were a handful of Speckled Woods and several dragonflies which I think were Common Darters:

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Meare Heath NR and Greylake RSPB - Sat 2 Oct

Having been stuck at work all morning, and knowing htat the weather forecast for the weekend was not at all good, I popped up on to the Somerset Levels for a couple of hours in the hope of connecting with a few good scarcities that had been seen.
Arriving at Meare Heath and parking at the Ashcott Corner car park I looked up to see a large flock of Lapwings and a couple of other waders take off and fly south. These other waders looked rather interesting but were too far away to identify, and unfortunately the kept flying south! On the flooded lagoon there were a large number of Black-tailed Godwits and some returning Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler...a sign that winter is on the way, though a female Garganey was a reminder that it's migration time. Also on the lagoon were two Great White Egrets, one of which had been ringed.

Leaving the lagoon I walked out to the hide overlooking Meare Heath proper, but saw nothing of note, but on returning to the drove I picked out two Black Terns, which I had been trying to track down for nearly an hour.
With time ticking by I left Meare Heath and drove the short distance south to the RSPB reserve at Greylake where a Spotted Crake had been seen a day earlier. I walked out to the hide and spent about thirty minutes scanning the area. There was no sign of the crake, or anything else for that matter, though a couple of Snipe were seen. As I was going out for dinner, I could not linger so came on home.