Sunday, 26 February 2012

Abbotsbury - Sun 26 Feb

As it was such a lovely afternoon I took Tristan down to the coast for a few hours and we drove down to Abbotsbury. I forked out a small fortune to park in the beach car park and then walked east along Chesil Beach for about a mile, which on the shingle and carrying a baby and optics was very hard going! Reaching the edge of the Swannery I had a rest and scanned The Fleet. In the afternoon sun it really was a lovely view.
A female Marsh Harrier was gliding over the reedbed which was a pleasant surprise. Scanning over the water I picked out a couple of Scaup associating with a small flock of Tufted Ducks.
I then returned to the car, and as I did so a Fulmar drifted over my head heading towards Portland. I then spent about fifteen minutes seawatching in the hope of picking out the three Velvet Scoters that had been about for a couple of weeks (and had been reported earlier in the day off the beach). But despite all my efforts I could not locate them and a Great Crested Grebe was the only bird out on the water. It was now 3.00pm and so I had to call it a day and get Tristan back home to mummy for his afternoon feed.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 26 Feb

A usual Sunday morning visit with Tristan whilst Ellie was at church didn't really produce that much in the way of new birds at the reservoir, but some of the long-staying visitors were still about. The two Great White Egrets were again present just south of the Canoe Club. The male Reed Bunting was still singing away and about 150 Teal were counted. A Meadow Pipit flew up from in front of me as I walked along and a female Sparrowhawk drifted over.
Fifty or so Wigeon were still off the Fishing Lodge and off the picnic area car park, the four redhead Goosanders were still about.
Four more Teal were on West Pool but that pretty much summed up the birds seen today.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Chilton Moor - Wed 22 Feb

I had big plans for this afternoon and a visit to the Dorset coast with Tristan was planned, until the rain descended and as a result I took the boy up on to the Somerset Levels for a couple of hours whilst Ellie had a rest.
We drove up to Chilton Moor, just to the north of the village of Chilton Polden. I had not visited this part of the levels before, but found it easy enough by following instructions on the SOS website. I was hoping that one or more of the wintering Short-eared Owls would put in an appearance, but the drizzle did not fill me with confidence. I parked the car and got Tristan kitted up and as we were getting ready I was surprised to see a Short-eared Owl fly in and land in the small field right next to the car...result.
As the rain closed in it was pretty obvious that I was not going to see much else this afternoon, though there were several hundred Lapwings in the various fields. So we headed back towards home, making a quick stop at Greylake RSPB reserve...but saw nothing worth reporting!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sutton Bingham - Sun 19 Feb

An early start as I had promised to let Ellie catch up on some sleep so I planned on taking Tristan down to Radipole RSPB Reserve in Weymouth for a few hours. However, no more than twenty minutes in to the journey the car in front kicked up a stone that at first chipped and then cracked my it was a quick turn round and a stop off at Sutton Bingham instead.
My first stop was at the south-east corner near the Life for a Life remembrance garden. A Jay flew up in to one of the trees and I could see twenty Wigeon leaving the water to graze on the grass. A brief stop near the Water Treatment Works produced just a couple of Coal Tits and a Song Thrush so I made for the northern causeway.
West Pool again held a Great White Egret but it flew off shortly after I arrived. There were at least twenty Snipe present in the rough fringes and a couple actually flew out on to the mud to feed. A female Grey Wagtail was also seen.
I then drove down to the hide and took a walk along the path back towards the Canoe Club. The Great White Egret that had flown from West Pool was now present with its mate, though both were a little flighty. Some sixty Teal were counted and a Meadow Pipit flew over calling. A male Reed Bunting was singing out his territory. We had now been out for over two hours so I decided to head back home after a somewhat curtailed trip out!

Sutton Bingham - Sat 18 Feb

A brief visit this morning as we were heading out for a big family lunch, so I only spent about an hour at the reservoir with Tristan whilst Ellie got ready to go out. There were loads of Common Gulls this morning, I counted at least seventy-three individuals, a much higher than normal number. There were also over sixty Cormorants present, including at least three of the Continental race, sinensis.
On West Pool there were four Wigeon and a further sixteen were off the Fishing Lodge. West Pool was also playing host to one of the Great White Egrets.
A quick look from the Canoe Club produced thirty-six Teal and a Great Spotted Woodpecker, and before I knew it time was up and we had to head off.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Wyke Regis - Fri 17 Feb

After a very eventful and successful morning my luck ran out this afternoon. I took Tristan down to the coast whilst Ellie had a few things to do and we drove down to Wyke Regis and took a walk out past the Bridging Camp towards Littlesea.
I was hoping to find the Hume's Warbler I had seen last year, but despite a good search I drew a blank. Furthermore I also dipped out on the long-staying Richard's not a good afternoon. However, I would rather dip two year ticks and get a lifer in one day than the other way round!!
I did pick up a couple of year ticks though as two pairs of Goldeneye were on the Fleet and a near summer-plumaged Mediterranean Gull flew past. A Raven flew over several times calling and as I walked back to the car I saw a female Black Redstart in the Bridging Camp complex...which would have been a year tick too if I hadn't have found a male whilst at work earlier in the week!
UK list for 2012 now at 128 species.

Rhiwderin - Fri 17 Feb

Having already booked the day off work, I took it as an omen when news broke last night of a Common Yellowthroat in Gwent. So I was up at 5.00am and on the road soon after, arriving at the site just on the outskirts of the village of Rhiwderin at 7.00am. There were already about twenty cars in the alloted field when I got there, and cars continued to arrive over the course of the morning.
For ninety minutes I waited, scouring the hedgerows and corners of the large field until the shout went up that the bird had been seen. I was at the bottom of the field and the bird was halfway up, so a sprint uphill (along with over a hundred other twitchers) followed and we then had a mass stake-out of an ivy bush. By this stage there must have been some three to four hundred birders on site, several of which I recognised and it was a pleasure bumping in to my old mate Lee Evans. This shot gives a rough idea of how many briders had made the trip, there were just as many behind me and on the other side of the hedge!
Another painful wait and the call went up again, the bird had moved even further up the hill so another mad dash, so much so I left my scope behind! But I saw the bird as it flew between clumps of vegetation. I soon saw it again and thought I had better go and retreive my scope.
Returning to the masses I then got really lucky as I managed to see this first winter male Common Yellowthroat perched in some brambles. It showed really well for about a minute before vanishing again. So with the bird seen I headed back home soon after 9.00am after a very successful morning.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Sutton Bingham - Thu 16 Feb

The same again tonight both in location and birds. The four redhead Goosanders were still present off the northern causeway, and a female Tufted Duck was also present. West Pool held eight Wigeon sat on the small puddle that remains.
The two Great White Egrets were still opposite the Canoe Club. I took a walk around the extreme southern end of the reservoir, and on the small pool that was now the only patch of exposed water south of the picnic area there was a flock of at least 150 Teal. A Peregrine did a fly past and was really the only other bird of note that I saw this evening.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Sutton Bingham - Wed 15 Feb

Another late afternoon/early evening visit to the reservoir and I again took Tristan along so that Ellie could get a bit of rest. I started off at the northern end of the reservoir and soon located a couple of redhead Goosander. A new year tick for me and a bit of a surprise considering the ever falling water level. I managed a typically poor record shot, but in my defence the light had nearly gone by the time I attempted this!

Other than a several hundred gulls coming and going there was not a lot else to be seen so I headed south and parked by the Canoe Club, deciding against driving further south as there was nothing but mud!
A Treecreeper was calling from a tree next to me, and before long gave itself up...another year tick! The two Great White Egrets were still present on the far shore before flying north.
I returned to the northern causeway and there were now four Goosanders present, all redheads. The two Great White Egrets were now on the shore just off the causeway and a flock of thirty-nine Wigeon were swimming off the dam.
As the light dwindled and duck set in a small flock of a dozen or so Redwings flew north and the two Great White Egrets circled about and then flew in to a tree opposite the car park to roost for the night, and I took that as a hint to get Tristan back home to mum!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Sutton Bingham - Tue 14 Feb

A very quick visit with Tristan tonight before it got too dark because Ellie had to pop in to town. Not a lot about in the way of variety though the two Great White Egrets were still present. A flock of around 150 Teal were gathered in a tight mass at the extreme south of the reservoir on a pool that had remained after the continued draining of the reservoir. A couple of Reed Buntings were again present this evening.
From the northern end of the reservoir there was little about apart from several hundred Herring Gulls and Black-headed Gulls, but that was about it so we came on home and made a Valentine's dinner for mummy!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Sutton Bingham - Sun 12 Feb

The weekly visit to Sutton Bingham whilst Ellie was at church was a mixed bag today. The water levels had dropped significantly, I think Wessex Water are doing engineering work, and most of the water that was present was covered in a thick layer of ice.
I made straight for the hide and took Tristan with me for a walk. Opposite the hide the two Great White Egrets that I had seen last week were again present, but flew south about fifteen minutes after I had arrived.

There were a few Teal present and a Peregrine flew over. A flock of twenty or so Redwings flew over and five Shoveler passed over heading north.
I then drove up to the northern end and on the small area of exposed water by the dam contained two Shoveler which had been joined by the five Shoveler that had flown over half an hour earlier. Seven Tufted Ducks were also present and a few Great Crested Grebes had remained. No time to hang around though as a text message from Ellie let me know that she was waiting after chuch!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Avon Beach & Stanpit - Sat 11 Feb

A trip to the coast today as we had a family outing to Mudeford to see Grandma and Grandpa Wild. After a lovely roast lunch we headed down to Avon Beach for a brisk walk and I took the opportunity to scan the sea in case there was anything of note out on the water. There was not much about, though I did find a Great Northern Diver and half a dozen Great Crested Grebes were seen.
I then took off on a slight detour whilst everyone else returned home for a cup ot tea and drove down to Stanpit, parked up and took a stroll along the Fisherman's Walk. A few Dunlins and Redshank were present and I also saw eight Avocet, my first of the year. However, I was hunting for a Spotted Sandpiper and I eventually tracked it down feeding on the mud.
As I had promised to be only half an hour I did not hang about and instead drove back to meet up with Ellie and Tristan and the grandparents!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Combe St Nicholas Sewage Works - Sun 5 Feb

Leaving Sutton Bingham at 3.30pm I had about ninety minutes before I needed to get Tristan back home to Ellie for a feed, so I weighed up the options and decided to head to Chard and within half an hour I had found Combe St Nicholas Sewage Works, near the village of Pudleigh. Andy had text me to say that a Siberian Chiffchaff (of the race tristis) and a Yellow-browed Warbler had been found at the site earlier in the day.
I found a small flock of Long-tailed Tits and a few Goldcrests and figured this was my best chance to find any other birds and before long I located a very smart and extremely grey Siberian Chiffchaff. With one of the target birds ticked off it only took me a few more minutes to find the Yellow-browed Warbler, in fact it found me as it popped up in the hedge in front of me! I didn't hang around as I had my deadline, but as it happened I did not need to after a brilliant afternoon of birding with my son (not that he knew much about it as he slept most of the time!).

Sutton Bingham - Sun 5 Feb

Having had some lunch Ellie and I were deciding what chores we needed to do this afternoon, then the phone rang and it John Rickards, one of the few Sutton Bingham regular birders. He was calling to let me know that two Great White Egrets had just flown in and were at the southern end of the reservoir. This was a bird I had never seen at Sutton Bingham and had missed the previous one by a matter of minutes, so I quickly got Tristan ready and we zoomed back to the reservoir. Luck was with me this time and before long I was watching two adult winter-plumaged Great White Egrets.
I also recounted this morning's Gadwall and got up to twenty-nine birds. There were also eight Tufted Ducks and a female Pochard, so a few birds had arrived over the course of the day.
Before long John turned up and so did Barry Matthews, another of the SBR regulars. John had also seen a wader earlier in the day and identified it as a Knot, a short walk failed to locate the bird but after bidding farewell to the lads I stopped off at West Pool and relocated the Knot with four Snipe. Get this for a cracking photo:
It was now 3.30pm and I had been given another tip-off with regard to birds, a text message from my mate Andy Grinter had informed me of a couple of decent warblers near Chard, so Tristan and I headed off to our next stop.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 5 Feb

Just an hour long visit this morning whilst Ellie was at church and what a difference a day makes, most of the ice had gone from the main reservoir and from the northern causeway I could see only eighteen Wigeon and a pair of Shoveler. There were nowhere near as many birds as I had counted yesterday afternoon.
So I drove down to the hide and realised that in fact there were probably more wildfowl present today than had been at the reservoir yesterday as I was met by a host of birds feeding on the water's edge and swimming around.
Because the birds were all spread out it made it harder to get accurate counts, but there were approximately three hundred Teal and a similar number of Wigeon. A further three Shoveler were seen and a dozen Gadwall were also present. However, Tufted Duck numbers had dropped to six individuals. It was good to see so many Gadwall (I've only ever seen single brids or pairs at the reservoir in the past), and I even managed to get a few record shots of some of the ducks present today.

A small flock of twenty-six Lapwing flew north and before I knew it the hour was up and Tristan and I had to go and collect mummy from church!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Sutton Bingham - Sat 4 Feb

Despite some pretty heavy and steady snow I had promised to look after Tristan whilst Ellie went shopping this afternoon and because of the weather I just popped up to Sutton Bingham. When I arrived I couldn't believe it, West Pool was completely frozen over and most of the main reservoir was covered in ice also, leaving just a few open patches of water open for the birds.
As I parked up on the northern causeway a small flock of seven Lawings flew over, as did a single Snipe. A further two Snipe were feeding on a small patch of mud on the edge of West Pool and on the main reservoir there was a flock of 284 Wigeon, a massive jump in numbers from my last visit. A couple of Gadwall and half a dozen Teal were present and Tufted Duck numbers had risen to twenty-five birds. As I was about to head down to the southern end of the reservoir a couple of Linnets flew over calling, my first of the year.
With the whole of the southern part of the reservoir covered in ice it was perhaps unsurprising that a small area of water halfway between the hide and the Canoe Club was packed with birds. I counted 278 Teal, but some were out of site behind vegetation, so there were probably a few more. Six Wigeon were seen and another Snipe was present.
As it was too cold to take Tristan out for a walk I headed off after a pretty productive trip.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Hilfield LNR - Wed 1 Feb

As it was such a lovely afternoon, if somewhat cold, I decided to try and get a bit of birding in before doing the weekly grocery shop and popped to the local nature reserve of Hilfield about ten miles south of Sherborne. I was feeling confident that I may get some good birds when a Red-legged Partridge crossed the road in front of me as I neared the car park. However, as I got out of the car I was greeted by the sound of gunfire and it seemed that everyone in that part of Dorset was out shooting today. I'm against the shooting of any animal for sport and the constant ringing of shotguns going off somewhat ruined the afternoon and blew any chances of seeing much in the way of birds.
That being said I did see three Goldcrests flitting through the vegetation feeding constantly, the high ground was surprisingly covered with a thin layer of snow in parts, making it hard for these tiny birds to fine anything much to eat.
A flock of twenty Lapwings flew over heading north in to Somerset, probably frightened by noise, and amongst several Woodpigeons wheeling overhead I picked out a few Stock Doves. Other aerial activity came in the form of two pairs of Ravens.
Due to the "sporting" activity of the Country Folk I cut short my trip and headed back to Yeovil and a visit to the supermarket!