Saturday, 10 December 2011

Longham Lakes - Sat 10 Dec

Our final stop of the day was Longham Lakes and our only twitch of the day! We spent an hour looking for a female Blue-winged Teal, and eventually we tracked it down as it sat on a small island...sleeping! In the fifteen minutes we were watching the bird it did manage to stretch briefly, showing off the blue wing, and remaining diagnostic features and as you can see from my record shot's definately a Blue-winged Teal (seen here with a drake Gadwall).
We also saw another Kingfisher and as we got back to the car a Kestrel flew over startling a fair sized flock of Fieldfares. All in all an enjoyable day out with a couple of my best mates and the first time we'd managed to get together for an age!
UK List for 2011 ended up at 266 species.

Blashford Lakes - Sat 10 Dec

Leaving Christchurch we drove north to Ringwood paid a visit to Blashford Lakes. Starting off at Ibsley Water we scanned the water and before long had picked up a couple of Goosanders and several Goldeneye amongst the commoner wildfowl. I also picked out an adult Yellow-legged Gull amongst other large gulls.
We then crossed over to take a look around some of the other areas of the reserve, starting with Ivy Lake...but the hide soon filled with a load of babbling OAPs so we didn't hang about and popped along to the woodland hide. From here we saw loads of common woodland species, and singles of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin. We then retraced our steps back to the car and after a bite to eat headed off west to our next stop.

Stanpit Marsh NR - Sat 10 Dec

An early start as I left Ellie asleep in bed, picked up my mate Steve from Yeovil and drove down to Stanpit Marsh, arriving a little before 8.30am and meeting John for a day's birding. We spent about ninety minutes walking around the reserve, and there were plenty of birds about. Waders were pretty numerous, with lots of Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwits and Redshank....with smaller numbers of Turnstone, Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwits. The marshy area held a flock of at least twenty Meadow Pipits and a few Skylarks, and surprisingly a couple of Green Woodpeckers. But the highlight of the morning came in the form of not one, but three Kingfishers...all of which showed extremely well.
A quick walk out on to Priory Marsh produced a couple of Egyptian Geese and a male Stonechat, but little else of note and as we were in the area, we quickly popped down to Avon Beach to see if there was anything out ot see, but we only saw four Great Crested Grebes, so didn't linger and headed off inland.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Torr Reservoir, East Cranmore - Sun 4 Dec

A drive up to north-east Somerset this afternoon. Ellie was feeling pretty exhausted so she decided to have a nap whilst I drove up to East Cranmore, halfway between Shepton Mallett and Frome and a visit to Torr Reservoir. I can't ever recall visiting the site before but it was not too hard to find and after parking the car walked out along a public bridleway towards the reservoir...and then it started to rain.
Despite the poor weather I soon found the flock of Canada Geese that I was after, that was the easy bit done I now had to locate the very small one in amongst about four hundered or so big geese. I did pick out a pair of Barnacle Geese and a slightly less authentic Bar-headed Goose. But there was no sign of the Richardson's Canada Goose...and that was what I was after!
So as the rain fell I carried up the track and viewed the reservoir proper, there were several Tufted Duck on the water and I also saw a Little Grebe, but other than gathering gulls there was little else so I retraced my steps and looked over the geese again. Finally I found my target as the Richardson's Canada Goose moved out from behind the much larger Canada Geese and eventually gave me some good scope views, but the heavy rain and distance meant my record shots were poorer than normal (if possible!):
So having successfully found what I was after I headed back to the car, seeing a Mistle Thrush along the way and hearing a Goldcrest call from the trees near the car. All in all a good afternoon out, even if I did get rather wet.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 4 Dec

Ellie felt a little better this morning so I dropped her off at church and spent an hour at the reservoir. I started off at the northern causeway and scanned over West Pool where there was a flock of forty-one Wigeon and a smaller party of eighteen Teal. Well over a hundred Redwings were milling about along with a few Fieldfares and a couple of Meadow Pipits...all of which got spooked when a female Sparrowhawk drifted across West Pool and over the bushes, scattering many of the thrushes.
On the main reservoir there were at elast thirteen Common Gulls in with the more regular species.
I then drove on down to the hide and scanned the southern end of reservoir. Ducks were again the most conspicuous birds present with a further ninety-one Teal and over a hundred Mallard. A single Wigeon was also present and the surprise find of the day was a female Pintail.
Having seen very few Sparrowhawks at Sutton Bingham this month I was surprised when a second female whizzzed over the water scattering the Teal. Before I knew it my hour was up and it was time to head on back and collect Ellie.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Lodmoor RSPB & Wyke Regis - Sat 26 Nov

Finishing work at midday I drove straight down to Weymouth and arrived at Lodmoor RSPB at about 12.50pm. I parked in the beach car park today, instead of my usual spot on Beachdown Way, and walked along the west of the reserve. I was looking for a flock of Starlings and found them without too much trouble feeding on the mud...that was the easy bit.
Searching through the flock I could not find what I was looking for, until after just ten minutes, the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling I had been searching for suddenly appeared. I watched the bird for ten minutes or so before heading off.
Also at Lodmoor I noted a few Snipe feeding and a Reed Bunting was also seen. A couple of Water Rails were heard squabbling in the reeds.
Leaving Lodmoor I drove through Weymouth and on to Wyke Regis, parking along Camp Road and wakling west for about a kilometre. After speaking to a few birders along the way I soon found the area I was looking for but the bird I was after proved to be much more elusive. I was hoping to see a Hume's Warbler that had been present since Wednesday. Whilst waiting for the warbler to show itself I scanned across The Fleet where the flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese contained a pair of Pale-bellied Brents and a Black Brant.
Over the next thirty minutes I heard the Hume's Warbler call at least four times, and after missing a fleeting glimpse of the bird I eventually got lucky as it came out in to the open to feed for a short period. It was far too mobile to even attempt a record shot with my phone, but it was a delightful bird to see.
So with the two targets ticked off I headed home for a late lunch.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Sutton Bingham - Wed 23 Nov

I took Ellie in to town this afternoon so she could do a couple of bits and pieces and on the way back we popped up to the reservoir for a quick visit. There was not really anything much of note, the Teal flock at the southern end numbered some hundred birds and a few Common Gulls passed over heading south with the commoner gull species.
A couple of Fieldfares were seen and a small group of seven Redwings also flew over. By the church a Song Thrush was in full song and a Green Woodpecker was in the picnic area car park.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Man Sands - Sun 20 Nov

An out and out twitch today as I headed off for south Devon late morning and a drive down to Man Sands, a few miles south of Brixham. I parked in a National Trust car park at the top of the valley and walked down a steep track to the beach and soon found the Coastguard Cottages and a few other birders. After a wait of less than a minute my target bird popped up on to the roof of the cottage and showed really well. It was a cracking male Desert Wheatear.
I watched the bird for the next twenty minutes or so. It was occasionally in the company of a Rock Pipit and I also had a quick view of a Black Redstart. As I had left Ellie at home today I did not hang around for long and set off back up the track to the car, seeing a Stonechat along the way. The walk back to the car was certainly hard work, but it was certainly worth it. A UK tick for me, the last Desert Wheatear I saw was in Israel!
UK list for 2011 now at 262 species.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sat 19 Nov

Despite having the morning off work I was on duty this moring in a different way as I had to take Ellie in to Yeovil to do some shopping ready for the big day in a few weeks time! By the time we had got back from town, done some chores, and had lunch the day afternoon was well underway so we had to stay local and ended up at the reservoir for a half hour visit.
Scanning through the wildfowl at the southern end I counted over one hundred Teal and a similar number of Mallards. Three drake Mandarin were present, the first I'd seen at the reservoir for a few months, and a pair of Mute Swans were also seen, as were four Wigeon. A pair of Grey Wagtails flew past me, circled around a bit and then headed off north. A single Redwing passed over heading south.
There was nothing of note from the northern end of the reservoir so it was back home to cook dinner and wash up before an evening out.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sun 13 Nov

An hour long visit this morning whilst Ellie was at church produced a new arrival in the form of a female Goosander.
Other birds at the southern end included at least eight Meadow Pipits and a dozen Pied Wagtails and a White Wagtail.
A small flock of ten or so Long-tailed Tits flitted through the willows but unfortunately nothing unusual was hanging out with them. There was some migration going on with over a hundred Woodpigeons heading south during the time I was at the reservoir and three Wigeon also flew in.
A return visit late afternoon was slightly less productive. The female Goosander was nowhere to be seen, but there were several fairly large flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings present. A Little Egret was on the shoreline off the Fishing Lodge and four Tufted Ducks were on the water near the car park and picnic area.
I stayed at the reservoir until it was pretty much too dark to see anything, but it was a nice evening out in the fresh air.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sat 12 Nov

A late afternoon stroll at the reservoir this evening was enjoyable if not overly productive on the bird front. Teal numbers had risen to over eighty birds and there were sixty-three Cormorants present. Three Meadow Pipits were seen near the Canoe Club and a flock of forty Fieldfares flew over heading south. A pair of Ravens were on top of one of the pylons before heading off north, a Grey Wagtail flew south, and West Pool held just two Wigeon.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sun 6 Nov

We stopped off briefly at the reservoir on our way back from Abbotsbury. The water level has risen quite considerably since my last visit and at the southern end there were three Wigeon, twenty-three Teal, and over forty Mallard. A small group of Pied Wagtails feeding on the areas of mud that is still exposed contained a White Wagtail.
At the northern end there was a small flock of fourteen Wigeon off the dam, and the first Common Gull of the autumn was present.

Abbotsbury - Sun 6 Nov

After an early lunch Ellie and I decided to head down to the coast as it was such a lovely day. We enjoyed a very pleasant walk along the beach before heading inland and completely a circuit which took us a little over half an hour, about Ellie's limit at the moment.
We failed to see much in the way of birds, a few Goldcrests were about but that was pretty much it. There were lots of Red Admirals on the wing though, the bright sunshine obviously tempting them to take to the wing.
So after a nice time out at the coast we set off for home.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Meare Heath NNR - Sat 5 Nov

After spending the morning at work Ellie and I thought it would be good to get out and about this afternoon and set off for Meare Heath and a walk we used to do a lot before Ellie got pregnant. Enjoying a lovely autumn evening we walked out to Noah's Hide (seeing a small flock of half a dozen Siskins along the way) and were greeted by a birder who told us that the adult Sabine's Gull that had been present for a few days had flown fifteen minutes earlier. This chap was more upset than us as we had seen three juveniles at Exmouth last month. However, within a minute or two I had relocated the bird...and it was still in summer plumage. A cracking bird and lovely to see and it did not matter that it wasn't a year tick.
As we returned to the car we saw a Great White Egret fly in to the reed bed, presumably to roost, and I had a fleeting glimpse of a Bittern too. Ellie and I also enjoyed the spectacle of the Starling roost as thousands of birds dropped in to the reed beds at Meare Heath, the irony was the RSPB had sent everyone to Ham Wall to see the birds...hopefully they managed a few! With the light failing and after a lovely evening stroll we headed on home.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

South-east Devon - Sat 29 Oct

An early start as myself and some of the usual crowd set off at 7.00am and drove down to Orcombe Point near Exmouth to search for a Dusky Warbler. After a good search we drew a blank, hardly surprising as the weather overnight had been pretty clear and ideal for migration. We did see several hundred Woodpigeons fly over as well as a Peregrine but with little else about we headed inland.
Our next stop was Aylesbeare Common RSPB, we were hoping to find some Dartford Warblers, but the severe weather over the past two winters has decimated the population and we again missed out. We did see a couple of Siskin fly-over and heard a few Lesser Redpolls and Redwings also.
Continuing east we stopped off at Branscombe, parking in the village and walking down to the beach. Whilst it looked ideal for scarce migrants we again saw very little, with the pick of the few birds we did see being a Chiffchaff. A couple of Ravens flew over, as did a Peregrine.
We then set off for Seaton, and after a quick and unproductive stop (other than giving me a chance to get a very tasty bacon and sausage baguette) at Seaton Hole we drove on to Black Hole Marsh...where there were no birds! Technically not quite true, but there was certainly nothing out of the ordinary. A few Black-tailed Godwits were on the estuary and were about the pick of the crop.
So at 3.30pm we called it a day and headed on back home. A great day out socially, but a real dead loss with regard to birds!

Sutton Bingham - Fri 28 Oct

A brief afternoon visit to the reservoir was not overly productive. Two Little Egrets were on the exposed mud off the dam, and three Wigeon were grazing on the vegetation on the edge of West Pool.
At the southern end of the reservoir there were still two Mute Swans present, as were twenty-three Teal. A single female Tufted Duck was also seen and at least thirty Meadow Pipits were seen in flight, the majority of which were heading south.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Oldbury-on-Severn - Thu 27 Oct

A long drive in really dismal weather this afternoon as I set off up the M5 to Gloucershire and the small village of Oldbury-on-Severn. I arrived on site at about 2.30pm and then had a half mile walk in the rain to the yacht club where a female Pied Wheatear had been present for the last couple of days. As I neared the yacht club I could see a couple of birders scoping a bird that was on the roof, so a quick look through my scope reaped rewards as I got on to the bird.
Happy with the sighting I carried on to the club itself and over the next half an hour was treated to some cracking views of this delightful bird, at times as close as six feet away.
Pied Wheatear was a life tick for me, and I was lucky enough to manage a couple of semi-decent record shots with my mobile.

Also present, in pretty awful weather, a single Northern Wheatear and a few Meadow Pipits, but to be honest, I was not really looking around for much else as this was a simple twitch. At 3.00pm I walked back to the car and drove back home after a really profitable afternoon.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sat 22 Oct

A late afternoon visit today, and I spent a fair amount of time around the trees at the southern end of the reservoir. However, there was very little about and the pick of the few birds present was a Marsh Tit. One of the neighbouring fields held a single White Wagtail alongside five Pied Wagtails. Two juvenile Mute Swans had arrived overnight and were with the four adults that I had seen last night. A single Little Grebe was seen from the hide. The northern end of the reservoir produced a Little Egret and nothing else of note.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Sutton Bingham - Fri 21 Oct

A quick visit after work today and there was very little of note at either end of the reservoir. From the northern causeway I saw a Little Grebe, but that was about it. A walk from the hide produced four Mute Swans which were new arrivals, and thirty Teal. A couple of Meadow Pipits flew over and a Peregrine was perched on one of the pylons.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sun 16 Oct

Unlike recent weeks all the action during an hour long visit this morning, whilst Ellie was at church, was around West Pool. At least twenty Meadow Pipits were feeding on and around the area of earth that has been exposed due to the laying of some new piping. Alongside the pipits were three White Wagtails and a Little Egret was also present. A Chiffchaff was feeding in sallows and ten or so Skylarks flew over heading south. Wintering wildfowl look as if they are starting to return with a small party of ten Wigeon that flew in and landed on West Pool, whilst the number of Teal at the southern end had risen to twenty-three birds.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Sutton Bingham - Wed 12 Oct

I had a busy morning attending an Asbestos Awareness Course and as it went on into the early afternoon I ended up missing out on a fair portion of my half day, and I then had to take Ellie in to town and buy some tiles for the kitchen. So it was hardly surprisingly that I could only make a brief visit to the reservoir late in the afternoon today.
I started off with a walk along the water's edge from the hide to the Canoe Club, but other than a few Teal and the Yellow-legged Gull there was nothing about...and a couple walking a dog probably explained why. However, I was my diplomatic best today and instead of a rant I politely told them that dogs were not allowed on the site...which they took very well, something that dog-walkers don't always do when in the wrong!
A fairly short stop at West Pool produced a single Wigeon and two Little Egrets, and a Snipe flew up and circled above me for a while before flying south. There was nothing else much of note and as I was expecting a visit from a plumber I had to head back home after less than an hour on site.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sun 9 Oct

As Ellie had been stuck indoors all day we decided to pop up to the reservoir for a walk before dinner. We followed the water's edge from the hide up to te car park and then retraced our steps. As was the case yesterday, it was very quiet on the bird front. However, the juvenile Common Tern was still present and allowed us to approach to within six foot. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was seen briefly and a Little Egret was on West Pool, and that was about it!

Chew Valley Lake - Sun 9 Oct

After getting up early to watch South Africa vs Australia in the Rugby World Cup I then set off for the morning leaving Ellie fast asleep in bed. I arrived at Chew Valley Lake just after 9.00am and scouted out Herriot's Bridge where a Spotted Sandpiper had been present for the last week or so. Unfortunately there was no sign of the bird in pretty poor conditions, there was a strong wind and steady, albeit light, drizzle. I did see a very obliging Water Rail though. After about half an hour I decided to move on and after collecting a day permit from Woodford Lodge drove down to Stratford Hide, a very brief stop at Heron's Bay produced a Green Sandpiper amongst loads of wildfowl.
From the hide I soon picked out two Ruff feeding on the mud in front of the hide and they were joined by two Pectoral Sandpipers, a small flock of eighteen Dunlin were also present. Scanning across the water I picked out two surviving Ruddy Ducks (a fortunate pair that had evaded the guns of DEFRA) and a drake Red-creasted Pochard. A couple of Meadow Pipits were feeding in the short vegetation that had started growing up on the exposed mud, and they were in the company of a Wheatear.
I was hoping to find the long-staying Ferruginous Duck, but there was no sign of this rarity either. Fortunately another birder entered the hide and after a bit of a chat he told me had just seen the Ferruginous Duck from Moreton Hide, so I thanked him and rushed off!
About five minutes later I arrived at Moreton Hide, somewhat out of breath, and started scanning for the bird. Eventually I tracked it down and it showed pretty well in front of the hide. With time ticking on by, I walked back to the car and drove back round to Herriot's Bridge. The weather was still pretty dismal and there was still no sign of the Spotted Sandpiper, but much of the causeway was out of view. I decided to walk down the road a short distance and luckily found a gap in the hedge which allowed me to squeeze in and view more of the causeway. Another Green Sandpiper flew up from in front of me and there, just to my left, the adult Spotted Sandpiper...still in partial summer plumage with a nice assortment of spots on its breast.
So job done at Chew and so I decided to pop up to Black Down to try my luck again with the Pallid Harrier. On top of the Mendip Hills I could not see more than about twenty metres and the rain was now pretty intense...nothing would be flying in this weather so I didn't waste any time and simply drove back home for lunch with Ellie.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 8 Oct

A late afternoon visit produced a little bit of interest in a juvenile tern that was present on the shoreline halfway between the hide and the Canoe Club. It was very approachable and a typical "commic" tern. I did manage to rattle off a few record shots with my camera phone and carefyl study led me to the conclusion that it was a Common Tern. The dark carpal bar and greyish upperside along with the pale base to the bill and longish bill and legs all pointed to it being this species. 
The only other birds of note were the long staying Yellow-legged Gull and a single Little Grebe. Despite there being loads of exposed mud, there were no waders anywhere to be seen.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Sutton Bingham - Wed 5 Oct

Very little at the reservoir this afternoon, just a single Common Sandpiper on the mud near the hide and nothing else of that's all I'll write for today!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sun 2 Oct

My usual Sunday morning visit whilst Ellie was at church produced a few interesting birds. Four Tufted Ducks and two Little Egrets were viewable from the northern causeway.
At the southern end of the reservoir the adult Yellow-legged Gull made a brief appearance and there was some visible migration as three Siskin flew south, and I heard Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, and Pied Wagtails also fly over.
In the ploughed field opposite Goose Slade Farm there were good numbers of Pied Wagtails and at least four White Wagtails. Also in the field, six or more Meadow Pipits.
No waders today, but a brief note...a flying visit on Thursday night (29 Sept) did produce a Little Ringed Plover.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Black Down - Sat 1 Oct

My recent run of successful twitches ended with a dispointing dip in north Somerset this afternoon. I headed up to Black Down in the Mendips straight from work in a hope of seeing the juvenile Pallid Harrier that was found earlier in the week.
Unfortunately, I could not give it much time due to the fact I was on call and this site was right on the edge of my one hour responce window, and I also have a pregnant wife waiting for me back home!
Whilst at Black Down I did have a small flock of half a dozen Crossbills fly over, and on the moor there were several Linnets and Meadow Pipits and a couple of Wheatears. Lots of Red Admirals were also on the wing. So after less than a hour I had to head back home, only to get a pager message an hour after I had left the site to say the Pallid Harrier had been seen win some, you lose some. I'm just glad I'd already seen a couple in the UK!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Axe Estuary - Wed 28 Sep

A really lovely day and as I had the afternoon off work I picked up Ellie from home and we drove down to the Axe Estuary. Upon arriving it took us less than five minutes to find what we were after, a Semi-palmated Sandpiper. We viewed the estuary from Coronation Corner in Axmouth and the Semi-palmated Sandpiper was feeding with a handful of Dunlin and a couple of Ringed Plover. Whilst we were treated to excellent views through the 'scope the bird was a little distant for a photograph, but if you use your imagination...
There was nothing else much of note on the estuary so we drove down in to Seaton and sat on the seafront and enjoyed an ice cream, before setting off for home after another enjoyable afternoon out.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Sutton Bingham - Mon 26 Sep

An evening visit after work today produced a bit of interest. I first stopped off at Goose Slade Farm and scanned the ploughed field (I had seen a Wheatear here yesterday on the way to Weymouth), and the field was full of alba wagtails. There were somewhere in the region of sixty or more Pied Wagtails with at handful of White Wagtails also present along with two Wheatears.
Moving on to West Pool there were four Wigeon on the water, but nothing else of note so I continued on to the southern end of the reservoir.
There were fewer birds than seen during my previous couple of visits with just two Common Sandpipers and a single Ringed Plover. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was still about and a Little Egret was also seen. During the fifteen minutes that I was by the hide there was a massive movement of Swallows heading south with several hundred birds flying through.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Lodmoor RSPB - Sun 25 Sep

After lunch and the Singapore Grand Prix the weather had cleared up and it was a lovely afternoon so Ellie and I set off for Weymouth and a walk around Lodmoor RSPB reserve. About half way around the circuit we found what we were looking for, a juvenile Red-backed Shrike, which eventually sat up on a bush top enabling me to get a couple of my usual top quality record shots with my camera-phone!
As we continued our walk we could hear several Bearded Tits and Cetti's Warblers, but unfortunately they did not show themselves. From the viewing area I noted a fair sized flock of Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails, and in with them, a couple of Yellow Wagtails.
We also saw a few different waders, with three Greenshanks present as well as a Common Sandpiper, a Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, and a small flock of fourteen Dunlin.
After completing the circular walk we headed back home after an enjoyable afternoon out.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 25 Sep

I spent an hour at the reservoir in the rain this morning whilst Ellie was at church, and despite the weather I did see a few things of interest. From the area in front of the hide the Yellow-legged Gull was again present and five Common Sandpipers were feeding on the mud alongside two Ringed Plovers. A Grey Wagtail was also seen as it flew over.
From the northern causeway there was more interest in the form of another Common Sandpiper and a female Shoveler. However, the real surprise was a flock of eighteen Arctic Terns feeding over the water's surface. Primarily juvenile birds, there were at least two adults also present as I left at 11.30am to pick Ellie up from church.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Exmouth - Sat 24 Sep

No work this weekend, so after a relaxing morning watching the Rugby World Cup, Ellie and I set off for the coast and drove down to Exmouth. We arrived at 1.00pm and picked a car park, paid and displayed, and then set about trying to fnd the Lifeboat Station and the birds we were after.
As it happened we were too far away, so donating our ticket to a young mum we headed on to the seafront and parked up, paid and displayed again, and found out we were still too far from where we needed to be. So we sat and had our sandwiches overlooking the sea. A couple of Sandwich Terns flew past as we ate our picnic.
After lunch we set off again and finally found a car parking space near our desired location, so after paying and displaying yet again, I left Ellie in the car with her book whilst I set off to try and find the birds that had brought us down to Exmouth. Within a few minutes I was on the beach about two metres from a Grey Phalarope and three juvenile Sabine's Gulls!
They were too close to "phone scope" so I had to make do with a couple of poor shots using my mobile (despite being a 5MB camera, this phone is not producing any good pictures yet - it's not the user of course) and the inbuilt zoom facilty, not ideal but I got a couple of pictures of the Sabine's Gulls:
And the equally obliging Grey Phalarope:
I called Ellie and before long she had wandered down to join me and enjoy these cracking birds. There was nothing else about and with the wind starting to pick up we decided that enough was enough for today and after an enjoyable trip set off back home.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Sutton Bingham - Thu 22 Sep

I got a phone call mid-afternoon from a very excited Barrie Widden, one of the Sutton Bingham stalwarts, informing me of a juvenile Sabine's Gull whch he had just seen at the reservoir. Unfortunately I was stuck at work, but as soon as I finished work I zoomed along to see if the bird was still present...but alas it was not. Barrie had struck lucky as it soon became apparent that the bird had not lingered and instead had passed through without stopping!
Despite my disappointment at dipping out on what would have been a brilliant SBR tick, there were still a few other things of note. The Little Stint was again at the southern end with two Ringed Plovers and a couple of Common Sandpipers. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was also about.
At the northern end, a Little Egret flew in from the direction of the Fishing Lodge and landed on West Pool, and a large flock of at least forty Goldfinches flew south.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Gore Hill - Wed 21 Sep

After picking Ellie up from home we drove about six mile south-east of Yeovil to Gore Hill where we took a walk across the hilltop. There were a few small flocks of birds about, with a feeding party of nearly thirty Linnets and at least four fly-over Meadow Pipits. A covey of fifteen Red-legged Partridges were feeding on the fields fringe before darting in to cover as soon as they saw us. Two Wheatears were also seen and as we got back to the car a flock of over twenty Skylarks flew over.

Sutton Bingham - Wed 21 Sep

On my way home from work I made a brief but productive visit to the reservoir. Water levels are still low despite the recent rain meaning there is still a lot of exposed mud. This had attracted a few waders today with five Common Sandpipers present as well as a single Green Sandpiper and four Ringed Plovers. The surprise of the day was a juvenile Little Stint which eventually showed really well in front of the hide. Also at the southern end, a fishing Little Egret and the Yellow-legged Gull.
Another Little Egret was seen flying past the Fishing Lodge, and was the only bird of note at this end of the reservoir.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 18 Sep

Two fleeting visits to the reservoir during the last week had produced nothing at all to write about, but today's visit was a little different. Dodging the rain storms I spent an hour on site before lunch. The was still nothing of interest at the northern end but from the hide the adult Yellow-legged Gull was still present. A total of six Common Sandpipers and a juvenile Ringed Plover were feeding on the mud. The only other bird of note was a singing Chiffchaff, taking advantage of a break in the rain.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sun 11 Sep

After entertaining friends for lunch I managed to dodge the rain late afternoon to get a bit of fresh air. As I was still on call until 6.00pm I stayed close to home and spent a short time at the reservoir. The southern end produced a fly-over Linnet, just two Green Sandpipers and three Common Sandpipers and nothing else much of note.
I bumped in to a couple of birding mates, John and Guy, and got chatting with them for a while before we all drove back to the northern causeway. In the vegetation on the side of West Pool a single Whinchat was present and a Little Egret was also seen, but another heavy rain shower curtailed any more birding and so I called it a day.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sat 10 Sep

On call this weekend so no chance of zooming off anywhere to twitch a rarity or find some autumn migrants, instead Ellie and I took a trip up to the reservoir and had a bit of a walk around. It had been nearly a fortnight since my last trip to my local patch and the water level had dropped quite a bit.
Despite the vast areas of exposed mud there were only four Common Sandpipers and a single Green Sandpiper in the way of waders at the southern end. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was still about and seven Teal were also seen. There was nothing on West Pool but a single Little Egret was off the northern causeway.
The major surprise was a Common Swift that passed south all to briefly, this is the latest recorded Swift that I have ever seen at the reservoir and quite a shock as the nesting Swifts in my village left about six weeks ago.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Hayle Estuary - Sun 4 Sep

As we were watching the Black Kite, news came out on my pager that the Baird's Sandpiper was showing at Hayle, so we jumped in the car and headed off...but just fifteen minutes down the road another message came out saying it had flown on to the estuary. So we returned to our cottage and packed up our kit before setting off for Hayle, hoping beyond hope that the bird would be relocated before we got there.
Unfortunately, it hadn't! Despite spending over an hour scanning the estuary we could not locate the bird, though we did see five Knot and a couple of Little Stints. Also out on the mud, both Black-tailed Godwit and Bar-tailed Godwit, a couple of Sandwich Terns, and a handful of Turnstones. We also stumbled across another wader feeding in the short vegetation which Nigel and I studied, knowing was different from the surrounding Dunlins, and it was! We had located a Pectoral Sandpiper, a real unexpected bonus!
At 1.00pm the heaven's opened again and so we took this as an omen to quit whilst we were ahead and so after a great couple of days I bid my farewells to Paul, Nigel and Mickey and drove back home and the boys headed off back to Reading and beyond!
UK list for 2011 now at 254 species.

Porthgwarra and Polgigga - Sun 4 Sep

Whilst we had been chasing after rare waders, the poor weather had produced a massive movement of Great Shearwaters off Porthgwarra yesterday afternoon. So we decided to again get up at 5.00am and we were at Porthgwarra and set up for our seawatch as the sun was rising.
Manx Shearwaters were already passing through, though not in the numbers we had experienced yesterday, a couple of Balearic Shearwaters passed by very close inshore as did an adult dark phase Arctic Skua while five Sooty Shearwaters also flew west. Eventually our hard worked paid off as we got on a couple of Great Shearwaters flying west, and over the two hours we were at Porthgwarra we notched up somewhere in the region of twenty of these impressive tubenoses.
With the hoped for Great Shearwater safely ticked off, and Mickey, Nigel and Paul being thrilled to bits with a lifer, we returned to the car and set off back up the road to Polgigga in the hope of seeing the Black Kite we had missed yesterday. However, it didn't look good, and when a local birder told us it tended to show around about 11.00am we popped down the road to the Apple Tree Cafe at Trevescan for a cooked breakfast.
After a much needed refuelling we drove back to Polgigga and started scanning the area. After quarter of an hour of scanning just about every bird in the air Nigel gave a cry and we all watched the Black Kite soar over the village and towards us. We were treated to a real spectacle as the bird quartered the fields in front of us, and as predicted by the Cornish birder we had seen earlier, it was just gone 11.00am.

Hayle Estuary - Sat 3 Sep

After driving through some heavy rain we arrived at Hayle and started off by scanning Copperhouse Creek, but the only thing of note was an adult Mediterranean Gull, so we then took a look over Carnsew Basin in the hope that the elusive Baird's Sandpiper that had been on the estuary for a few days might be wasn't.
Back up the road and as the rain had all but stopped we took a look over Ryan's Field, adding a couple of Knot to our weekend list whilst on estuary proper we saw three Little Stints, five Curlew Sandpipers, a couple of Sanderling plus a large number of Dunlin and Ringed Plover. But still no sign of the North American rarity. It was now getting on a bit and more rain started to come in, so we pretty much called it a day and drove back to our accommodation as we were meeting some friends of Mickey's for dinner. The end to a pretty productive day of birding.

Drift Reservoir - Sat 3 Sep

Our next stop was Drift Reservoir, and Paul stayed near the car whilst Nigel, Mickey and myself braved the weather and walked out to the hide. There were loads of Chiffchaffs along the way but it was the waders that stole the show, with singles of Little Stint, Common Sandpiper, and Greenshank, five Dunlin, three Green Sandpipers, and four Ringed Plover and a Whimbrel. The pick of the crop was a very smart Curlew Sandpiper.
As we returned to the car a couple of Wheatears were on the shore. We then decided to head on again before the rain that was threatening the afternoon came to fruition.

Porthgwarra - Sat 3 Sep

A change of scenary this weekend and a visit to Cornwall. I had been invited to join three friends, Mickey and Nigel from Reading and Paul from Norwich, who were staying in Penzance for a few days. Unfortunately, work commitments meant I had been unable to meet up with them until Friday night (driving down straight from work), which meant I'd missed out on a pelagic...but fortunately, over the weekend I connected with all but one of the species they had picked up.
Anyway, we were up at 5.00am and at Porthgwarra and all set up for a three hour seawatch by about 6.30am. There was a steady passage west of Manx Shearwaters, and we also saw a couple of Balearic Shearwaters, three or so Sooty Shearwaters, and two Great Skuas. A juvenile Arctic Tern also passed by along with the commoner seabirds. An Ocean Sunfish was an unexpected find as it drifted by fairly close inshore and a Chough flew in and fed on the cliff top near us for ten minutes.
As the sea bird passage dried up we headed out on to the moorland to the north. There was not a lot going on with regard to migrants, but we saw a single Whinchat, a couple of Wheatears and two Yellow Wagtails flew over. Pick of the punch though was a Wryneck which Nigel picked out in flight before it landed in the base of a small tree where it spent at least quarter of an hour preening. I managed a couple of record shots through the drizzle.

Walking back to the car we saw several Chiffchaffs and Whitethroats and a Peregrine flew over. By now it was gone 11.00am so we bought a pasty and ate our brunch before heading off in land.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Wed 31 Aug

A half hour visit before work failed to produce much of note. Two Green Sandpipers were on West Pool with another at the southern end. Also from seen from the area in front of the hide, four Common Sandpipers and ten Teal. A single Sand Martin flew through heading south and a Stock Dove passed by overhead.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Meare Heath NNR - Sun 29 Aug

After a relaxing morning recovering from a late night at the local pub, Ellie and I set off to the Somerset Levels after lunch and took a walk out to Meare Heath. We sat on a bench overlooking the drained lagoon in the hope of seeing the very elusive Spotted Crake that had been present for a couple of days. However, the closest we got was a Water Rail. Also on the lagoon amongst large numbers of Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwings I saw both Redshank and Spotted Redshank, a Green Sandpiper, and a couple of Ruff. A female Garganey was also present.
I walked Ellie back to the car so that she could rest in a comfortable seat before walking back out to the hide overlooking Noah's Lake. I saw my target bird straight away, an Osprey perched on a dead tree. I had only been watching it for a short while when it took off, and I was then treated to three fishing attempts by the Osprey, though all three were unsuccessful.
Leaving the hide and walking back to the car I tried and failed again to see the Spotted Crake, but had enjoyed a pleasant afternoon out.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sun 28 Aug

After dropping Ellie off at church I spent an hour at the reservoir, making straight for the hide and scanning across the exposed mud. Three Green Sandpipers and six Common Sandpipers were present, and the juvenile Ringed Plover was still about. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was again seen briefly and a Little Egret was sat with the mass of Cormorants and Grey Herons. A total of eight Teal were seen, so a few more had arrived overnight. Several Chiffchaffs were flitting around in the various trees and bushes, though whether these are passage birds or local breeders is anyone's guess. Before I knew it my time was up and I had to head on back to pick up Ellie.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sat 27 Aug

After a morning in the supermarket followed by chilling out in front of the TV watching the Grand Prix qualifying I decided against a trip to the Somerset Levels and stayed close to home, popping up to the reservoir for an hour.
There was nothing of note on West Pool or from the northern causeway so I went on down to the south and set up my 'scope near the hide. There were a few waders about, with four Common Sandpipers, two Green Sandpipers and a juvenile Ringed Plover. But the surprise find was a Spotted Redshank.
As I watched the waders all hell broke lose as a Peregrine suddenly swooped in and sent everything flying. The Spotted Redshank took to the air calling and after starting off north gained height, banked round and vanished to the south.
The adult Yellow-legged Gull made a brief appearance and a female Sparrowhawk soared overhead. More excitment in the form of a Yellow Wagtail bathing on the water's edge. At least one more was heard calling as it flew overhead.
A small party of six Ruddy Ducks were also present, I have waited 24 hours before reporting these (they were not present the following day) as DEFRA would be sure to turn up and blast these delightful birds out of existence should they become aware of their presence.

I then drove round to the Water Treatment Works as I hadn't visited this part of the site for a while. A female Grey Wagtail was by the water outlet and a Chiffchaff was seen picking insects from the leaves of an Oak tree. Around the outflow stream there were a number of damselflies, with both Beautiful Demoiselle and Banded Demoiselle seen. With my stomach rumbling I headed on home for tea.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Thu 25 Aug

A visit before work today as I was hoping that heavy overnight rain might have forced something to drop in. Yet again, it hadn't! On West Pool there was a single Green Sandpiper and a Common Sandpiper whilst it was pretty much as you were at the southern end.
The Great Black-backed Gull was still present as were the adult and juvenile Ringed Plovers. The two Green Sandpipers hadn't gone anywhere and there were still five Common Sandpipers about. The single Wigeon was also seen.
One amazing bit of action this morning as about half a dozen House Martins had somehow got themselves "beached" in the mud on the water's edge and this left them completely powerless as both a Grey Heron and a Black-headed Gull saw them as an easy meal. I have no idea how or why the House Martins landed on this sticky mud, the only thing I can think is that they came down to drink and their feathers got caked up and water-logged leaving them unable to fly away.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Wed 24 Aug

Having not visited the reservoir for five days I popped up after work and made straight for the southern end where there was quite a bit going on. There were still four Common Sandpipers and two Green Sandpipers present but an adult and juvenile Ringed Plover were new arrivals. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was still about but the real surprise was an adult Great Black-backed Gull, a very scarce visitor to Sutton Bingham. A sign that winter is on the way, with six Teal and a single Wigeon having turned up. Finally, a Little Egret was also at the southern end.
I drove back up to the northern causeway and a second Little Egret was seen as it flew over the car. Another Green Sandpiper was present on West Pool and was the only other bird of note this afternoon.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Fri 19 Aug

I made a late visit to the reservoir this evening and made for the southern end where there were four Common Sandpipers, two Green Sandpipers and a Dunlin present. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was still about, as was the female Teal. A juvenile Little Egret flew in for a while before flying in to the trees presumably to roost.
At the northern end there were a further two Little Egrets and on West Pool another Common Sandpiper and a Green Sandpiper. Just as I was leaving four Mandarin flew over heading north.
A new sighting for me at the reservoir tonight as I saw a Hare in one of the fields neighbouring the site. There were also several Roe Deer and a Grey Squirrel was attacking a hazel tree looking for nuts.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Wed 17 Aug

After a heavy rain shower I decided it might be worth a quick visit to the reservoir after work. A Little Egret was the only bird of note at the northern end, and the southern end produced pretty much the same as yesterday. The two Green Sandpipers were again feeding on the exposed mud and the adult Yellow-legged Gull was still about. Another Little Egret was present and the only "new" bird was a summer-plumaged Dunlin.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Tue 16 Aug

A half hour visit before work failed to turn up anything that unusual this morning. A Little Egret was feeding along the shore opposite the car park and picnic area but again the most interest was at the southern end of the reservoir where there were two Green Sandpipers and three Common Sandpipers present. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was again about, two Teal were sat on the mud roosting, and a Kingfisher was also seen. But still no rare Nearctic wader!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Fontmell Down - Sun 13 Aug

After an early lunch Ellie and I set off to a site just south of Shaftesbury to search for a butterfly that is rapidly decreasing in numbers, the Silver-spotted Skipper. We arrived at about 1.30pm and started walking down in to a valley, seeing a couple of Holly Blues, Speckled Woods and Green-veined Whites along the way. As we walked down the hill we met a couple coming the other way, and on asking about the butterflies told us we were heading the wrong way! Fortunately they gave us directions and before long we had found the field we were looking for. Ellie was by this time feeling rather tired so she walked back to the car, but I set about trying to find some butterflies. There were loads of Meadow Browns and a few Small Heaths and Small Coppers, and after some searching I was lucky enough to find a couple of Silver-spotted Skippers and soon called others over to see them too.
So after a successful trip we headed back home after an enjoyable afternoon out.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 14 Aug

After dropping Ellie off at church I spent an hour at Sutton Bingham, and yet again there was little change to previous days. Nine Common Sandpipers and two Green Sandpipers were feeding at the southern end, and a Little Egret was also present. Eleven Canada Geese were roosting on the shore opposite the hide. It was quantity rather than quality today, with over thirty Cormorants and a dozen Grey Herons at the reservoir and at least six Buzzards soaring overhead. The only real bit of interest came in a distant falcon seen flying east, but I could not get enough detail to identify it.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sat 13 Aug

Awaking to overcast skies and the threat of rain, Ellie and I decided against going out for the day and instead spent the morning catching up on some bits and pieces in the house before popping out for a hour. A flying visit to the supermarket was followed by an equally brief stop at Sutton Bingham. After a quick walk Ellie sat and read in the car whilst I took a quick look to see if any new birds had turned up overnight. They hadn't! There were still six Common Sandpipers and a Green Sandpiper at the southern end with the Yellow-legged Gull. Another Common Sandpiper was on West Pool and that was that!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Fri 12 Aug

The thing with having a local patch is that you have to work hard sometimes to gain some reward, well another visit to the reservoir this month again failed to produce anything different. The southern end still hosted half a dozen Common Sandpipers and a single Green Sandpiper. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was still present and a Little Egret was seen from the northern causeway. An hour long visit tonight and maybe a return visit over the weekend may produce something a bit more unusal!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Thu 11 Aug

My first visit to the reservoir for a few days and not a lot had changed. West Pool hosted just a single Common Sandpiper and at the southern end of the reservoir another four Common Sandpipers were present. An adult Little Grebe was feeding with a juvenile bird, indicating successful breeding at Sutton Bingham for this species this year. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was still about and was the only other bird of note during my thirty minute visit after work.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sat 6 Aug

Another day and another trip to Sutton Bingham, this time I took a packed lunch and spent a couple of hours on site during the middle of the day. A quick look over West Pool on my down to the south of the reservoir produced just a single Common Sandpiper, though on my way home two hours later there were two Mandarin and a Green Sandpiper on West Pool.
Sat in front of the hide I noticed a drop in the number of Common Sandpipers present compared to recent days with just seven about. Another Green Sandpiper was seen and an unexpected highlight was the presence of a single Wood Sandpiper.
The long-staying Yellow-legged Gull was again about, as were two Little Egrets. A Kingfisher whizzed by skimming across the water's surface and a Little Grebe was also seen. Finally, a Raven was perched briefly on top of one of the pylons and the female Teal which I have seen on and off over the past few weeks again put in an appearance.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Fri 5 Aug

A brief visit after work produced more of the same today, with single Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpipers on West Pool and a Little Egret on the water's edgte of the main reservoir. Yet again the southern end was the most productive with a total of seventeen Common Sandpipers today and another Green Sandpiper. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was still around and another two Little Egrets were seen, but there was nothing different from the birds seen over the past few days.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Sutton Bingham - Thu 4 Aug

After a night of heavy rain I thought it might be worth a quick trip to the reervoir late morning in case the weather had brought in any migrant waders overnight. Unfortunately there were no mega rarities about, but Common Sandpipers numbered some sixteen birds and a single Green Sandpiper was also present, all viewable from the area outside the hide.
The adult Yellow-legged Gull was again present and was seen making light work of a Crayfish. A Kingfisher flew past heading up the reservoir and the two Little Egrets were seen again. A single Mandarin was roosting on the water's edge with a Teal, and a second Mandarin was on West Pool.
After about half an hour the incessant drizzle was getting too much so I came on home to enjoy the last of my day's off this summer.

Sutton Bingham - Wed 3 Aug

A late afternoon visit with Ellie after work generated a bit of interest in the way of birds, all of which was at the southern end of the reservoir. A walk from the hide almost as far as the car park only produced the adult Yellow-legged Gull sat on the water and a real surprise in the form of a fly-over Linnet, my first at the reservoir for many a year. We also saw a Kingfisher, a bird which always delights Ellie.
When we returned to the hide I spent ten minutes scanning the area and saw two Little Egrets opposite the hide and a total of seven Common Sandpipers scattered along the water's edge. More unexpected visitors were present with three Redshank feeding for a while before settling down to rest.
So after a pleasant hour out in the sun we headed back home.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sun 31 Jul

After a pretty entertaining Hungarian Grand Prix Ellie and I needed to pop in to town to drop off some DVDs we had hired for the weekend and took the long route home, making a fairly quick visit to Sutton Bingham.
From outside the hide I counted eight Common Sandpipers feeding along the water's edge and a summer-plumaged Dunlin. The adult Yellow-legged Gull flew past heading north and a Little Egret was also present. The hay fields had been cut so there were no butterflies about.
We then headed back and parked on the northern causeway. A further two Common Sandpipers were present on West Pool and a Redshank could be heard overhead, but it failed to show itself. I also heard a bird of prey calling and soon spotted a Hobby in flight as it flew away from me and landed in an old oak tree a couple of fields away. Also on West Pool, two Mandarin and a pair of Tufted Ducks.
A pretty productive trip was rounded off with another two Little Egrets on the shore of the main reservoir.

Alners Gorse - Sun 31 Jul

Due to a slight mix up with church times, I missed out on my Sunday morning trip to Sutton Bingham and instead Ellie and I drove out to Alners Gorse as it was such a lovely morning. We arrived at about 11.15am and spent an hour on site and were lucky enough to see four or so Brown Hairstreaks, and they were really smashing butterflies, and the views we had today more than made up for missing them earlier in the week.
We also saw a couple of Purple Hairstreaks and Silver-washed Fritillaries and a Holly Blue was also on the wing. Several other species of butterfly were also seen during our visit, in fact we saw over ten different species in just an hour.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Melbourn - Thu 28 Jul

An early start as my mate Andy and I left Somerset at 5.30am, picked up John en route, and drove up to Cambridgeshire to try and finally get Common Rosefinch as a singing first winter bird had been present for a couple of weeks. After a pretty uneventful drive we arrived at the site just outside of the village of Melbourn at 9.15am.
We then spent nearly five hours staking out the garden in which it had been singing and showing for the last fifteen or so days...and the final result is that I still need Common Rosefinch and have now dipped out on at least seven birds, it really is a bogey bird for me.
There were plenty of birds about despite us not connecting with the one we were after we did see a couple of Spotted Flycatchers, a few Linnets, and the usual garden bird species.
So a long day and I ended up driving nearly 400 miles, one day I'll see this species...I hope!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Lodmoor RSPB - Tue 26 Jul

After a busy morning sorting out a few things around the house Ellie and I set off for Lodmoor RSPB reserve in Weymouth for a walk in the early afternoon. It was another really lovely day and we parked up and walked down Beachdown Way. We headed straight for the bank from which the Stilt Sandpiper had been regularly seen and bumped in to an old friend, Lee Evans. After catching up with Lee for a while I looked for the sandpiper but could only see a couple of Common Sandpipers and three Green Sandpipers. Four Black-tailed Godwits were also present. However, there was no sign of the Stilt Sandpiper (and it had not been seen for nearly four hours) so rather than hang around we said goodbye to Lee and headed back to the car.
We got back home at 5.00pm and as we reached the front door my phone rang and it was Lee telling me the bird was now showing again, so I called my mate Andy Grinter who had called me earlier and wanted to go and see the bird so I found myself back at Lodmoor just after 6.00pm!
This time we were successful, though we had to wait for thirty minutes for the Stilt Sandpiper to finally show itself, and when it did it was ofter obscured behind reeds, but it was a cracking summer-plumaged bird and well worth two trips in one day!
UK list for 2011 now at 244 species.

Alners Gorse - Mon 25 Jul

Ellie and I were celebrating our first Wedding Anniversay today and as it was a really warm and sunny day we popped out to Alners Gorse before lunch to look for butterflies. We were hoping to see some Brown Hairstreaks but couldn't find any, however there were still several Purple Hairstreaks on the wing and fortunately a few of them were at low level affording some good views.
The pick of the other butterflies included a couple of Holly Blues and a Silver-washed Fritillary. Several Gatekeepers were also whizzing about. After an hour in very strong and hot sun we decided to head back home for lunch and a cool down!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sun 24 Jul

After nearly three days stuck in the house I had to get out for a bit this evening and rather than rush down to Weymouth to twitch a Stilt Sandpiper (I don't need it for my UK list) I decided to spend an hour at Sutton Bingham instead.
I stopped off at the northern causeway and was surprised to find a summer plumaged Dunlin feeding. However, it did not linger that long and flew off shortly after I had seen it. On West Pool there was a single Green Sandpiper and a large flock of Canada Geese.
Heading down to the southern end of the reservoir I spend forty minutes outside the hide. The pool had attracted at least five Common Sandpipers and another four Green Sandpipers. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was again present and showed well for opposite the hide.
Three Mandarin were near the Canoe Club, and a further three were near the willows at the south. A family party of at least a dozen Long-tailed Tits were flitting through the bushes. As a bit of drizzle started to fall I decided to call it a day and headed on home.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Ferrybridge, Portland Bill & Radipole RSPB - Thu 21 Jul

Another trip out with my mate John today and as it was his turn to drive he picked me up at 8.30am and we drove down to the coast. Our first port of call was Ferrybridge were we scanned the shoreline as the tide started to creep in. There were loads of Dunlin and a few Sanderlings present, whilst two adult Mediterranean Gulls were also seen. On one of the buoys there was a single Little Tern and a Common Tern flew through.
We then headed to Portland Bill and parked at the Bird Observatory before walking down to the Bill. In very calm and sunny conditions we were not expecting much in hte way of sea birds, but we did see several Gannets and a Manx Shearwater, the highlight was a fairly distant Balearic Shearwater.
Leaving Portland we drove back in to Weymouth and took a walk around Radipole RSPB reserve. As we strolled round the reserve we had some cracking views of a small party of Bearded Tits as they sat up in the tops of the reeds. As we reached the North Hide we were treated to some more amazing views, this time of three juvenile Marsh Harriers, a species which has successfully bred on the reserve this year.
After a good day out we headed back home, and a brief stop at Sutton Bingham en route yielded nothing of note apart from two Common Sandpipers.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Sutton Bingham - Wed 20 Jul

A quick afternoon visit after a morning of rain and chores failed to provide much excitement. At the southern end two Little Egrets were present as was a single Common Sandpiper. A Peregrine was perched on one of the pylons and was a slightly unexpected visitor.
The only bird of note from the northern causeway was another Little Egret.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Ham Hill Country Park - Sun 17 Jul

As I left Sutton Bingham I got a call from a bored Ellie who fancied getting out of the house for a walk, so I picked her up and we drove up to Ham Hill for a late afternoon stroll. As we crossed the meadows there were several Meadow Brown butterflies about and a couple of Common Blues, we were also treated to some splendid views of a Hobby as it flew past us several times. As we continued our walk the weather came in and for the second day in a row we got caught in a heavy rain shower. We decided as we got back to the car that it was time to get back home and enjoy a roast chicken dinner!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 17 Jul

Another day of showers but I dodged them for an hour after lunch and visited the reservoir. On West Pool a couple of Little Egrets were present but there was no sign of the Wood Sandpiper that had been seen on Friday and that I missed yesterday. A Mandarin was also present and unlike most of the birds present had plucked up enough courage to come to bread!
I then headed straight to the southern end and sat by the hide for about half an hour or so. At least four Common Sandpipers were feeding on the small pool that has been formed by dropping water levels, as were three Green Sandpipers. Three more Mandarin were seen and I finally connected with the adult Yellow-legged Gull that has returned for it's fifth or sixth year.
I first saw it opposite the hide as it caught and then devoured a Crayfish and it then sat opposite the hide for ten minutes or so. Interestingly enough I watch a Lesser Black-backed Gull attempt the same thing, but the Crayfish must have put up more of a fight and it scampered back in to the water.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sat 16 Jul

Heavy rain for most of the day finally let up for a while mid-afternoon so Ellie and I headed up to the reservoir for a walk and a breath of fresh air. As we walked from the hide towards the Canoe Club the heaven's opened and we got pretty much soaked, especially me as I was only wearing shorts and a T-shirt!
However, despite the rain I did see a couple of things of note, with a Common Tern being a somewhat pleasant surprise.
Two Common Sandpipers were also present and a Little Egret was seen flying north up the reservoir. A family party of Whitethroats were seen flitting between bushes.
We stopped briefly at the northern causeway where presumably the same Little Egret was feeding near the Sailing Club and another was on West Pool.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Lulworth Cove & East Holme - Fri 15 Jul

After spending the first part of the morning doing various chores around the house whilst Ellie was at work I decided at 11.00am that I needed to get out of the house as the weather was pretty fine. Having never seen a Lulworth Skipper I thought that today would be as good a day as any to try and rectify that, so I headed straight for Lulworth Cove logically thinking this would be my best bet to see this small butterfly.
I arrived just after midday and then had to walk up a very steep path to Bindon Hill, which left me feeling that I really must do something to shed some of the sixteen stone bulk I have amassed! Whilst there were several butterflies milling around, including my first Chalkhill Blues of the year and loads of Dark Green Fritillaries, I could not locate any areas of long grass. Fortunately I bumped in to a couple who had seen some Lulworth Skippers and they gave my directions, and ten minutes later after a steep descent I found two of these little beauties, though in strong winds they did not hang around long enough for me to get a photo of them.
With my target seen I set off back to the car, seeing a few Linnets and Stonechats along the way, and a Gannet passed by out to see.
I then set off for East Holme, a small village not that far from Lulworth in the direction of Wareham. There had been a report of a Ferruginous Duck on a pool just outside the village, and whilst I found the pool there was no sign of the duck! There were a couple of very flighty Tufted Ducks and half a dozen or so Siskins were flying between the conifers. I also saw a Woodlark and another new butterfly as I nearly trod on a Grayling. An amazing butterfly that allowed me to almost touch it before it flew as it was that confident in its camoflage. At one stage it flicked it's top wing to reveal a set of "eyes", quite something.
I then had to set off back home as I had an appointment at 4.30pm, so a mixed day, not that good for birds, but brilliant for butterflies.

Salisbury Plain - Thu 14 Jul

Leaving Winterbourne Downs we returned to Amesbury and headed north on to the area of Salisbury Plain between the A345 and A358. Finding anything in this massive expanse of land is always difficult and we were hoping that we may see some of the downland specialities. However, we did not really see an awful lot in the way of birds, but we did hear at least one Quail singing. As we parked up at another site a Red Kite drifted over the car, and we also heard a few more Yellowhammers and Skylarks but despite our best efforts we failed to see much more so we decided to call it day and headed back home after a good day out.

Winterbourne Downs RSPB - Thu 14 Jul

The first day in a four-day weekend as I struggle to use up holiday before the end of the month and an fairly early start as I had arranged to pick up my mate John en route at 9.00am. We drove east and made straight for the RSPB reserve at Winterbourne Downs just to the south-east of Amesbury, and as we left the A303 and took to the minor roads that led to the reserve saw at least half a dozen Corn Buntings along the way, perched on various posts and bushing, most in full song, and one or two allowing us to park alongside them.
Once we reached the reserve we decided to take the long walk and saw a few things of note along the way, the pick being a Stone Curlew which John managed to pick out somehow in a field! We also saw three Red-legged Partridge and several Skylarks and Yellowhammers were singing. Both Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat were present near the car park, three pairs of Bullfinches were seen and a flock of twenty-two Lapwings flew over.
But whilst we saw some good birds it was really the butterflies that stole the show and we managed to see fifteen different species, including my first Gatekeepers of the year. Other butterflies of note included a couple of Small Coppers, several Large Whites, and at least one Brimstone. We got back to the car just after midday and drove off to our next site.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sun 10 Jul

After a busy weekend I finally managed to get out in to the fresh air for a hour or so this afternoon. As dinenr was planned for 6.00pm I didn't travel far and simply made for Sutton Bingham and drove straight down to the southern end and sat down in front of the hide to see what was about.
The dropping water levels have certainly tempted in a few passage waders and with a bit of the luck the management guys will keep dropping the water level well in to the autumn. Today four Green Sandpipers and a Common Sandpiper were present. Two Little Egrets were working their way along the shoreline and at least ten Mandarin were seen. A small flock of thirty or so Sand Martins flew in from the north and kept heading south without lingering. A male Kestrel was perched on one of the pylons, less effort than hovering I guess.
Cloudy skies meant my butterfly expectations were not high, but saying that a few Ringlets and Meadow Browns were still on the wing, and a single Marbled White really showed well:

On the mammal front, a hind Roe Deer brought her foal to the water's edge and two Red Foxes were also seen.