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.