Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Meare Heath NR and Ham Wall RSPB - Wed 29 Dec

A late morning stroll with friends out to the hide at Noah's Lake at Meare Heath failed to produce any of note due to a lack of exposed water and quite a dense fog at ground level. So we cut short the walk and instead headed out to Ham Wall for a stroll.
Again, we failed to see much of note but on the way back to the car we were stopped by a couple of birders who had found a Bittern out in the open. We enjoyed cracking views of the bird for a good five minutes before it stalked back in to the reeds.
As we continued back to the car I saw a Great White Egret fly west, but it was out of sight before I could point it out to the others. After a pleasant walk we headed back home.
UK List for 2010 ended up at 236 species.
WP List for 2010 ended up at 316 species.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Madeira - Wed 15 Dec to Wed 22 Dec

Ellie and I bit the bullet and decided to head south in search of some summer sun and jetted off to the island of Madeira for a week. We stayed at a really good hotel complex in a self-catering studio. The setting was ideal, with several birds being seen in or from the hotel grounds, including Plain Swift and Canary:

Certain species were pretty common place, including Blackcaps:

We undertook a day trip to Porto Santo, which produced Rock Sparrow, Berthelot's Pipit and Spanish Sparrow amongst others. Also, of national importance for Madeira, I found a female Goosander on Tanque pond on Porto Santo. I didn't realise at the time but when I submitted my sightings on my return to the UK, I found that this was the first record of this species for the Madeiran archipeligo...a real privilege and a feather in my cap!
Up in the mountains we took a levada walk to the Balcoes viewpoint where we saw all three Madeiran endemic landbirds, Trocaz Pigeon, Madeira Firecrest, and Madeiran Chaffinch:

A trip to Lugar de Baixo was also fairly productive as we saw Common Waxbill and Green-winged Teal:

We had a fair amount of rain over the week, but it was very warm, and it was a real shock to the system when we landed back in Bristol to be faced with snow and temperatures well below freezing. To end our holiday off on a perfect note, we saw a small flock of six Waxwings feeding in roadside bushes as we drove home.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Radipole RSPB - Sat 11 Dec

We popped out for the afternoon and headed down to Weymouth and a walk around the RSPB reserve at Radipole. A really enjoyable stroll out to North Hide produced a few bits and bobs, though as we arrived at the hide we were told that we had just missed two really showy Bitterns!
After waiting 341 days to see a Water Rail in 2010 today turned up trumps and I was lucky enough to see three Water Rails all showing really well. We had hoped to see a few Bearded Tits, and whilst a couple were heard calling, we did not see any.
I had hoped that the four Red-creasted Pochard that had been seen the day before would still be about, but we could not find them, though there were several Pochard and Tufted Ducks about.
From the visitor centre I saw a few Snipe, but nothing out of the ordinary in the gathering gull flock.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Colyford WTW - Sun 5 Dec

News had broken of a possible Eastern Yellow Wagtail at Colyford Water Treatment Works, so after banking some brownie points by going clothes shopping early in the afternoon with Ellie, I set off after a late lunch to try my luck.
I arrived at the WTW at about 3.10pm and walked along the footpath that marks the northern boundary of the site. Viewing was not ideal as I had to look through the fence and trees to actually see the clarifier beds, and I was looking right in to the sun. There were loads of birds around, and before long I had seen several Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails, plus a couple of Redwings and Grey Wagtails and a single Water Pipit. At least half a dozen Chiffchaffs were also feeding on the beds, and included one Siberian Chiffchaff. A Goldcrest fed in the trees no more that two feet from my nose, and a Treecreeper was in one of the trees overhead.
But the Eastern Yellow Wagtail was proving to be elusive. However, the arrival of a local Devon birder who had already seen the bird meant some updated information as to which bed the bird was favouring...this was typically the most distant, but within a couple of minutes we had found this really interesting wagtail. It certainly looks good for an Eastern Yellow Wagtail, really pale and greyish with a very well marked head. There are already a few good photos on the web, so we'll see what the final decision is with regard to this bird.
By 4.00pm it was getting pretty cold and dark, so I packed up and came on home.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 5 Dec

Thick fog meant my morning visit produced hardly anything. A couple of Song Thrushes were seen, and about a dozen or Teal were at the southern end. But with no sign of the fog lifting I gave it up as a bad lot and went back to East Coker for a doze before picking Ellie up from church.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Sutton Bingham - Wed 1 Dec

Another bitterly cold afternoon, and with road conditions not ideal and more snow forecast, I decided to play it safe and spend the afternoon at Sutton Bingham rather than venture further afield.
On West Pool, a small flock of a dozen Wigeon were present before they flew to the main reservoir and joined a larger flock, numbering about sixty birds. Also on the main reservoir, a flock of around five hundred Canada Geese, some hundred or so Mallard and about a dozen Teal.
I then drove to the southern end and took a walk around, flushing a single Snipe and seeing a couple of Siskins and a Treecreeper. A small flock of Redwings were feeding on various berry-covered trees. A Lapwing flew over heading south, shortly followed by another Snipe.
I then took a walk from the hide along the water's edge up to car park and back, a flock of thirty Teal were on the water opposite the hide. Seven more Lapwings flew south with another five Snipe. From the car park itself there was nothing of note other than a large gathering of gulls, so retraced my steps back towards the car. Another flock of Lapwings flew south, this time a much larger flock, twenty-three birds, then four more flying north. Then another wader flew north, a Ruff, and an unexpected find.
In failing daylight a Kestrel flew over and a couple of Fieldfares passed by as I reached the car. It was now almost dark and very cold, time to get home.