Sunday, 27 March 2011

Axmouth - Sun 27 Mar

This afternoon Ellie and I set for Axmouth and managed to successfully miss a Hoopoe by less than five minutes on two seperate occasions during a ninety minute visit to the village. The bird had been seen a couple of minutes before we pulled up. As Ellie was recovering from overindulging the night before we popped in to Seaton to get her something to drink and on returning to Axmouth were told the Hoopoe flew out of the garden we were parked alongside just after we left!! Unfortunately there was little else of interest in the village and as I walked around I only saw what I would call common garden birds. On the way home we stopped off at what has always been a reliable Little Owl site, but our bad luck continued as there was no sign of any present. To round off a disasterous afternoon with regard to birds, I ran over a Pheasant!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 27 Mar

An hour at the reservoir whilst Ellie was at church produced my first Sutton Bingham Swallows of the spring, with at least three present at the southern end. A couple of Mistle Thrushes were feeding in a sheep field, whilst on the water at least two Teal and a Wigeon were still present. A Reed Bunting was heard calling from the waterside vegetation and a Marsh Tit was also present. West Pool held seven Tufted Ducks but little else.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Meare Heath NR and Ham Wall RSPB - Sat 26 Mar

After an early lunch Ellie and I popped up to the Somerset Levels for a walk as it was another lovely day. Parking at Ashcott Corner we took a quick walk at Meare Heath where I had a look over the drained lagoon whilst Ellie sat in the sun and read her book.
The pick of the birds here was an adult Little Ringed Plover, and other waders included a couple of Redshank and five Black-tailed Godwits. There were still a few wintering duck around, including a pair of Pintail. Two Bitterns could be heard booming deep in the reed beds.
Returning to the car we continued across the road and out on to Ham Wall reserve where we walked as far as the second viewing platform. A Great White Egret was viewable from the first viewpoint. Overhead a few Sand Martins were whizzing around and we also had a couple of Swallows fly through.
Before we realised it was 4.00pm so headed on home after a nice afternoon out.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Sutton Bingham - Fri 25 Mar

End of term at school today, so I was able to get away a bit earlier than normal and as at it was such a lovely afternoon headed up to the reservoir for an hour or so. I drove straight down to the southern end of the reservoir and parked by the hide, then set up on the bank to watch and wait.
A drake Wigeon was present briefly before flying down to the far end and disappearing from view, and a pair of Teal flew up the reservoir. There were at least five Common Buzzards soaring overhead, and a Grey Heron flew north.
Some obvious visable migration too this afternoon, a flock of at least twenty Meadow Pipits flew over north and another flock of small passerines also passed over, but were too distant to identify. Two Stock Doves also passed over, but these were almost certainly resident birds.
My first Sand Martins of the year today, with six passing by heading north and another surprise in the form of a Red-legged Partridge which was calling from the far side of the reservoir but failed to show to itself.
Leaving the area in front of the hide I drove back up to West Pool, but it was extremely quiet, just three Tufted Duck present and nothing else of note.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Sutton Bingham - Wed 23 Mar

Although it was my afternoon off, I had agreed to take part in the Staff vs Pupils Hockey Match at 4.30pm, so I took the opportunity of spending a couple of hours at the reservoir to see if any migrants had arrived...they hadn't! In fact, the only summer migrants on offer were six of so Chiffchaffs that had set up territories and were singing away.
West Pool was pretty quiet, though there were still four Tufted Ducks present and what appears to be a pair of Little Grebes were again present and will hopefully nest. The large gulls contained a Herring Gull of the Scandinavian race, argentatus. Four Black-headed Gulls were also present, and a male Reed Bunting was singing.
I then moved on down to the southern end of the reservoir and took spent well over an hour wandering about. Two Fieldfares were feeding in one of sheep fields and a further four were hopping around in trees. A single Mistle Thrush showed well in the top of another tree.

The Cormorant flock contained a bird which appeared to be the Continental race, sinensis.

There were still half a dozen Teal and a pair of Wigeon present on the water, and four Snipe were flushed from the water's edge. A couple of male Pheasants were also seen, a bird which is more often heard than seen at the reservoir.

A few butterflies were on the wing and I saw singles of Comma and Small Tortoiseshell, and a couple of Peacocks were also seen.
At 4.20pm I headed back to work and scored a goal as the staff beat the pupils 4-3 in the hockey...all in all a good afternoon.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Cogden Beach - Sun 20 Mar

Ellie and I set off for the coast after an early lunch for a walk in the wonderful spring sun. We arrived at Cogden Beach at about 1.30pm and walked down to the beach, overhead there were several Skylarks in full song, and this accompanied us throughout our walk.
After such a clear night and morning, I didn't expect to see any migrants, and this was indeed the case. Despite the lack of birds we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon in the sun.
Whilst sitting on the beach in the sun, I took the opportunity to see if there was anything on the water, and a lone female Common Scoter was all I could locate.
We returned to the car, along the way a Meadow Pipit flew overhead and several Common Gulls passed by out to sea. Not a lot in the way of birds this afternoon, but it was great to get out in the fresh air.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 20 Mar

Back to routine today and after dropping Ellie off at church I spent an hour up at the reservoir in glorious sunshine. West Pool produced nothing more than two pairs of Tufted Ducks and a couple of Little Grebes, so I headed on to the south of the reservoir for a decent stroll.
Despite the onset of Spring, there were still half a dozen Fieldfares present, and the waterside vegetation held eight Snipe. A single female Wigeon was seen and four Teal were also present.
Chiffchaffs seem to have arrived in numbers over the last few days, with at least five singing males heard and as many as nine individuals counted.
Before I knew it, it was time to head on back...doesn't time fly!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Stanpit Marsh - Sun 13 Mar

Ellie and I were off to visit her parents today as it was my father-in-law's birthday. So we set off from home a bit earlier than we needed to and took a walk around Stanpit Marsh in Christchurch.
As we walked along I spotted a very smart male Wheatear, my first of the year, which typically turned it's back as soon as I tried to get a shot with my phone!

A large number of Brent Geese and Wigeon were grazing on the salt marsh, with several Little Egrets also present.
A scan across the muddy fringe produced several waders, with good numbers of Grey Plover and Dunlin plus a few Bar-tailed Godwits. The pick of the bunch however, was a Little Stint.
We continued round the marsh, seeing well over ten Little Grebes in the river, before heading out on to Priory Marsh for a quick look about.
There were loads of Meadow Pipits whizzing about, but we could not get on to anything different. As we walked back towards the car we also picked up at least eight or so White Wagtails.
After an hour at Stanpit we had to head off for Mudeford and lunch with Ellie's folks.
UK list for 2011 now at 175 species.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sat 12 Mar

Ellie and I made an afternoon visit to Sutton Bingham and took a walk along the water's edge from the hide to the car park and back again.
We failed to see much in the way of birdlife, but a Reed Bunting flew up from some bushes and I saw my first Chiffchaff of the year feeding in waterside vegetation.
West Pool still held three Tufted Ducks and a Pochard, and a flock of twenty-three Wigeon were still present on West Pool and the grassy bank, a further six Wigeon were opposite the hide.
After a pleasant stroll we headed off to do our weekly shop, not quite as interesting as birding!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Lodmoor RSPB - Wed 9 Mar

My afternoon off, so with Ellie on a school trip to the Eden Project meant I had plenty of time to do some birding, so I headed down to the seaside and arrived at Lodmoor at 2.45pm.
I walked around to the western part of the reserve in the hope of finding one of the Firecrests that had been in the area for a few days, however, an hour long search failed to produce anything other than a Goldcrest and a Bullfinch, so I headed on round the reserve.
As I looked out over Lodmoor a single White-fronted Goose was grazing:

Two Spoonbills were present:

The usual wildfowl were also on the water, but there were no early spring migrants knocking about.
I then walked out to the seafront and spent half an hour seawatching. A distant Black-throated Diver was a nice find and several Great Crested Grebes. As time was getting on it was hardly surprising that a large number of gulls were gathering in Weymouth Bay to roost, and I noticed a single adult Mediterranean Gull among the flock.
Returning to the RSPB reserve I spent another hour looking for a Firecrest, but again drew a blank, but a Cetti's Warbler was calling and a Water Rail squealed away from the undergrowth.
Before long it was gone 6.00pm and I was getting cold and hungry, so I set off back home.

Sutton Bingham - Tue 8 Mar

A flying visit to the northern causeway of the reservoir before work as a Dark-bellied Brent Goose had been seen late yesterday afternoon. I drew a blank with the goose, but there was a heavy mist over much of the reservoir in cold conditions.
West Pool still held a dozen Tufted Ducks and a single Pochard. A couple of Little Grebes were also present. With no time to linger, I headed off to work.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Meare Heath NNR - Sun 6 Mar

It was such a lovely afternoon, albeit with a rather cold wind, that Ellie and I decided we really should get out for an hour or so this afternoon. So we took our somewhat regular trip up on to the Somerset Levels and parked at the Ashcott Corner car park. However, by the time we arrived, just after 3.00pm, Ellie was exhausted so she decided to have a doze in the car whilst I went for a walk about.
I headed out along the path and before long could hear a booming Bittern in the reeds, though it remained typically shy hidden deep in the reedbed. As I reached the second lagoon a couple of Great White Egrets flew in and landed in front of me, and before long were joined by a third bird!

I then walked out to the hide at Noah's Lake, where to my surprise another two Great White Egrets flew in from the west and over the hide, so a total of five birds were present on the reserve this afternoon.
During the hour that I was out and about, I did not really see anything else much of note, just the usual assortment of wildfowl, etc. but it was great getting out in the sun.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 6 Mar

My Sunday visit was cut short this morning as a phone call from Ellie at 10.40am saying church had finished early meant I only got forty-five minutes at the reservoir. However, despite the short visit I still managed to see a few things of note.
West Pool held fifteen Tufted Ducks and four Pochard, with another Pochard on the main reservoir. Three Little Grebes were also present on West Pool. A small flock of eighteen Wigeon were grazing in front of the Fishing Lodge, though they had relocated to the grass alongside West Pool when I drove past on my way home.
The southern end of the reservoir was also pretty productive. A pair of Mistle Thrushes were seen, and a total of five Snipe were flushed from the water's edge. Duck numbers seemed to be up a bit, with thirty Teal present and another six Wigeon. A couple of unusual sightings with a drake Shoveler being seen and a pair of Mandarin flew over heading south.
All in all a good, if somewhat brief, visit this morning.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Tadham Moor - Wed 2 Mar

I decided to stay fairly local this afternoon, and drove up on to the Somerset Levels in lovely sunshine. I arrived on Tadham Moor just before 3.00pm and walked out along a drove to the south of Fir Tree Farm. The trees either side of the drove were surprisingly busy with regard to bird life, with Treecreeper, Jay and Greater Spotted Woodpecker all being seen. The fields either side contained large numbers of Starlings and Redwings, with a smaller number of Fieldfares.
When I reached the end of the drove, about a ten minute walk, I set up my 'scope and started scanning over the fields. Several Common Buzzards were about and I also saw a couple of Sparrowhawks and a Kestrel. However, I was hoping to connect with one of three Short-eared Owls that had been in the area for the past couple of weeks.
After half an hour I started to get the feeling that it was not going to be a straightforward exercise. Fortunately, the weather was accomodating and I enjoyed some winter sun. As time ticked by six or so Grey Herons flew over heading north, presumably to roost.
I decided to give it until 4.30pm before calling it a day, but that deadline came and went and just as I was about to finally give up, I spotted a Short-eared Owl quartering the fields in the near distance. I enjoyed the bird for ten minutes or so as it hunted over the fields, a great sight. So after just over a hundred minutes of watching and waiting I got what I was after...the only down side being it was too late to get in any birding anywhere else before dark.