Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Somerton - Tue 28 Jun

Having tried and failed in an attempt to add Quail to the year list last Tuesday night, I tried again tonight with a visit to an area just to the south of Somerton. I spent a little over an hour driving around the area and stopping at numerous sites for a listen...but again drew a blank.
Despite that I saw lots of Yellowhammers, a very smart male Linnet, and an extremely cute family party of Long-tailed Tits. Three or four Skylarks were also present. But with no sign of the target bird I headed on home.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Briantspuddle - Sun 26 Jun

A return visit to an area of heathland just south of Briantspuddle that I had visited a couple of weeks ago was on the cards at lunchtime today and finally the sun was shining and it was a really hot summer day.
After a quick sandwich I walked out on to the heathland where the bright sun had encouraged a number of butterflies to take to the wing and before long I had seen several Small Heaths and Large Skippers:
While in the hedgerows nearer the road a few Ringlets and Meadow Browns were fluttering about. A single Red Admiral passed through but the highlight for me was the finding of several Silver-studded Blues:
On the bird front it was surprisingly busy considering the time of year. A Tree Pipit was singing as were a couple of Stonechats and a Yellowhammer. A Dartford Warbler was heard and seen briefly in flight.
After an hour or so I headed back home to watch the Grand Prix, which ended up being a pretty boring affair...I should've stayed out birding!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Worley Hill - Sat 25 Jun

A quick trip out this afternoon to try and catch a period of sunny weather and a visit to a new site just to the north of Somerton. Worley Hill is a private nature reserve owned by Millfield School, and is supposed to be a good site for a couple of species of hairstreaks. I found the reserve but there was no parking so I had to park a little way down the track from the reserve entrance and then took a walk around the woodland.
There was no sign of any hairstreaks but typically the sun had decided to hide behind clouds whilst I was there! Several Ringlets were on the wing as were a few Marbled and Green-veined Whites. I also saw my first Large Skipper of the year.
On the bird front a Hobby passed by overhead after mobbing a Common Buzzard and this was by far the pick of the birds. Very little else showed itself though that was hardly surprising given the time of year. So after a little under an hour I gave up and headed on home.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Sutton Bingham - Wed 22 Jun

Despite having an afternoon off the heavy showers prevented me doing any birding. However, I finally ventured out at 7.30pm for a bit of fresh air and popped up to the reservoir and spent a little over an hour sat on the bank near the hide in the hope there would be something of interest around.
The two Little Egrets that have been around for a couple of weeks were again present, though they flew off north soon after I arrived. Two Mandarin were opposite the hide and a further four birds were lurking at the extreme southern end of the reservoir.
A small number of Swifts seemed to be passing through heading south, though presumably they are local birds feeding. Three Stock Doves flew in and visited a water trough in one of the neighbouring fields before heading off again.
By 8.40pm it was getting rather chilly, so I called it a day and headed back home. So nothing that unusual tonight but at least I managed to get a bit of birding done without getting rained on.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Martinstown - Tue 21 Jun

After dinner I took Ellie out for a ride in the car and we drove down to Martinstown, just to the south-west of Dorchester. The sole reason for heading down there was to see if we coudl find a Quail that had been heard singing on the outskirts of the village. Whilst there had been no news all day today it had been heard on Sunday and Monday and as it was such a lovely evening we gave it a go.
We pretty much found the spot and sat and waited patiently in the hope we would hear something, but strong winds were rather annoying, making it difficult to pinpoint much. A few Skylarks were singing above our heads and both Yellowhammer and Linnet were also about. But after waiting and listening for three quarters of an hour the only gamebirds we heard were a single Pheasant and a Red-legged Partridge. So at 8.45pm we headed back home and Quail remains an elusive bird for me in the UK as I've only ever heard three and have still to actually see one in Britain.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sutton Bingham - Sun 19 Jun

Back to a bit of routine this morning as I dropped Ellie off at church and spent at hour at the reservoir. I pretty much managed to avoid the showers and the ever increasing human activity and made straight for the hide, and sat down to see what was about.
Two Little Egrets were again present and a Kingfisher was seen whizzing across the water. In the trees near the hide a Goldcrest was constantly singing and a juvenile Blackcap was present.
Surprisingly there were a few butterflies braving the weather with lots of Meadow Browns present and a couple of Marbled Whites. I also found a couple of Pyramidal Orchids:

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Sutton Bingham - Wed 15 Jun

Another rather overcast and dismal day so I decided against zooming miles around the countryside in an attempt to add to my year list and spent a couple of hours during the early part of the afternoon at the reservoir.
From the northern causeway I scanned West Pool, but the only bird of interest was a single Little Egret, so I drove down to the southern end where a second Little Egret was also present. I then set off for a walk around the bottom half of the reservoir after clearing access with the warden.
A Garden Warbler was a good sighting and other warblers were also present with Blackcap, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff all being present. I was surprised to see a Kingfisher as they are usually absent during the summer months.
There were loads of Meadow Brown butterflies on the wing and I also saw my first Ringlets of the year.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Collard Hill - Sat 11 Jun

A difficult decision this afternoon, Over Stratton Village Fete or Collard Hill and the chance to finally see some Large Blue butterflies. The butterflies won and after lunch I drove up to the site just north of Compton Dundon and arrived at about 3.00pm and walked up to the hill top. I had seen a small group of people on the hillside as I drove along so I made straight for their location in the hope that they were looking at my target....and they were! In rather blustery and overcast conditions a Large Blue was resting in the grass affording excellent views and as I wandered round the site I saw three more. Not bad for a less than perfect day for butterflies.
I also saw my first Marbled White of the year and a couple of Meadow Browns and a Small Heath were also braving the weather.
On the bird front if was unsurprisingly quiet with just a pair of Bullfinches, a hovering Kestrel, and a couple of fly-through Swifts being seen. So I didn't hang around too long and instead headed on home in time to see the Canadian Grand Prix qualifying.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Sutton Bingham - Wed 8 Jun

I had received a text message from a fellow Sutton Bingham birder first thing this morning, Nick Smith had seen a possible Purple Heron at the southern end of the reservoir but had not had been able to 100% clinch the ID. So on my way home I stopped off and made straight for the southern end and set up my scope. A couple of Little Egrets were present and two Mandarin and a Grey Wagtail were also seen.
As I scanned across the Purple Heron suddenly flew across my field of view...excellent. It sat at the water's edge for about fifteen minutes but was frustratingly out of sight before again taking to the air and after a brilliant fly aroud settled in to the willows and out of site.

So the next ten minutes were filled with frantic phone calls to get the news out so that others could get a chance to enjoy this national rarity, and hopefully they will but I couldn't hang around as I had to leave at 6.00pm to make sure I was home for dinner!
UK list for 2011 now at 235 species.

Briantspuddle - Wed 8 Jun

A visit to a new location for me this afternoon as I left work and drove down to a site just south of Briantspuddle. Parking the car I walked out over an area of heathland surrounded by mixed woodland, and on a lovely afternoon it was a really pleasant afternoon.
On the heathland itself I saw a very smart male Stonechat and a couple of Yellowhammers.
In a patch of gorse I could hear a warbler singing and knew at once that it was a Dartford Warbler and within a minute or so I was watching male bird no more than eight feet away...brilliant stuff and a female bird was present too. Great to know that a few have survived the last two harsh winters.
I then entered the woodland and could hear my target bird, with at least one Turtle Dove purring away deep in the trees. As I continued my walk I entered a clearing and a Turtle Dove took off from in front of me and flew in to the trees.
On my return to the car I failed to see anything else that unusual, so I headed back towards home.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Sutton Bingham - Mon 6 Jun

After a weekend where family parties, bad weather, and a poorly wife meant no chance to get out and about, I popped up to Sutton Bingham after dinner for an hour to see what was about and to get a bit of fresh air. A brief stop at the northern end of the reservoir produced a Stock Dove and several Swifts feeding high over West Pool.
I then made for the southern end where a couple of Reed Buntings were singing, more Swifts were passing through heading north, and a Whitethroat was in full song. I also saw six seperate sightings of juvenile/female type Mandarin ducks which involved at least two individuals.
As the light started to fade a few large gulls headed south and then a couple of unseasonal Black-headed Gulls also flew south.
Some signs of successful breeding today, with two pairs of Great Crested Grebes with young and also a few Mallards with ducklings. As I set off home a flock of thirty Canada Geese had flown in and were on the water off the Sailing Club.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Sutton Bingham - Thu 2 Jun

A lovely evening and Ellie and I fancied a bit of fresh air but couldn't be bothered to travel any distance so we simply popped up to the reservoir for an hour. It was much quieter than last night, but the Little Egret was again present opposite the hide and a total of ten Grey Herons were also about.
Three Tufted Ducks flew in from the north and there was a gathering of nearly forty Mallards, most of which were entering eclipse plumage. The only other bird of note was a singing Reed Bunting.
A couple of late flying Common Blue butterflies and a single Meadow Brown were also seen.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Sutton Bingham - Wed 1 Jun

After being stuck indoors all day doing chores, Ellie and I popped up to the reservoir for an hour before dinner. As has been the case over the past few weeks it was pretty quiet, though the Little Egret was again present at the extreme southern end of the reservoir.
A few butterflies were doing their best to catch the last few rays of sunshine and we saw a couple of Meadow Browns, a single Speckled Wood, and three or so Common Blues.
The highlight of the day however was a Cuckoo that flew over our heads as we stood outside the hide. It then landed in a nearby tree and started calling. This was the first Cuckoo I had seen at Sutton Bingham for years!
The final surprise of the day came in the form of an Arctic Tern which was feeding over the reservoir and was viewable from the northern causeway.