Friday, 30 March 2012

Sutton Bingham - Thu 29 Mar

I took Tristan up to the reservoir for a walk before dinner and we parked at the hide and followed the water's edge up to the car park before returning to the car. The two adult Great Black-backed Gulls were again present and a Linnet flew over singing.
There were still twenty-three Wigeon at the southern end of the reservoir and West Pool held two remaining Teal.
Still no migrants other than a few Chiffchaffs, but the superb weather will surely mena birds are simply flying through without stopping.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Sutton Bingham - Sun 25 Mar

Two visits to the reservoir today, my usual morning visit whilst Ellie was at church and then a follow up visit late in the day. Highlight today came in the form of a pair of Great Black-backed Gulls that spent most of the day lingering at the southern end of the reservoir.
Also at the southern end of the reservoir, twenty-three Wigeon were still present along with half a dozen Teal. A "new" Chiffchaff had arrived and was in full song halfway between the Canoe Club and hide, its face was encrusted with black pollen stains. A croaking overhead made me look up and a Raven passed by flying east.
West Pool produced four Tufted Ducks, new arrivals which will no doubt quickly move on. Two Wigeon and five Teal were also on West Pool as was a Little Egret.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Meare Heath NR - Sat 24 Mar

I took Tristan up on to the Somerset Levels this afternoon as it was such lovely weather, and very warm...the thermometer in the car indicated a very summery 22 degrees centigrade! I arrived at the Ashcott Corner car park at 3.15pm and walked out along the path. I could hear at least two Bitterns booming, but they kept themselves hidden in the reedbeds.
Tristan just would not settle whilst we were out, so it made it very hard to do much in the way of birding. I did however manage to get a good view of the two first-winter Long-billed Dowitchers as they fed on the partially drained lagoon. Also present a Ruff, a few Redshank and a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits. A single Great White Egret was also present for a while before flying off north.
Because the little man wouldn't stop crying I had to cut short our visit and get him back to the car, and to make things rather frustrating he was quiet as a mouse once he was strapped in to his car seat...never mind, at least I got to see the dowitchers.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Sutton Bingham - Wed 21 Mar

With there being nothing out of the ordinary to chase I ended up spending an couple of hours with Tristan at Sutton Bingham Reservoir instead. I took a long walk around the southern end of the reservoir and there was a fair bit of activity in the small woodland. At least two Treecreepers were seen and a Nuthatch was heard calling (I'm still awaiting my first view of this species in 2012!), other vocal birds included both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers. A single Marsh Tit was seen and a calling Kingfisher was glimpsed through the vegetation as it headed down the feeder stream. Overhead a Meadow Pipit flew north and a pair of Bullfinches were a nice sighting.
Returning to the car I counted twenty-seven Teal on the water alongside a pair of Wigeon and a Little Egret was a new arrival. At least three Chiffchaffs were now singing away.
The northern end of the reservoir was very quiet, with West Pool holding twenty-three Wigeon and four Teal and nothing of note being on the main reservoir, but another two Meadow Pipits flew over as did three Greenfinches.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Wyke Regis - Sun 18 Mar

As it was Mother's Day my present for Ellie was to give her a few hours for her to do what she wanted and I took Tristan out to ensure she wasn't disturbed. I had considered a visit to my folks, but having spoken to Mum earlier in the day I knew they would be out.
So instead I took Tristan down to the coast again and a visit to Wyke Regis to see if we would have more luck at the site then we did a month ago...and fortunately we did. I made straight for the small copse where the over-wintering Hume's Warbler had taken up residence. Despite spending about forty minutes searching for the bird, with half a dozen other birders, I only heard it calling from deep in the undergrowth, and knowing I could not spend all afternoon waiting for a fleeting glimpse I decided to try for other target bird, happy enough that I had at least heard the Hume's Warbler.
I walked back towards the Birdging Camp and got lucky with some smashing views of the long-staying Richard's Pipit, I had a go at some record shots with my phone, but it was rather too far away.
The size of the Richard's Pipit really stood out as it fed in the grass alongside a Meadow Pipit. Also in the same area as the pipits I saw three Wheatears and a Black Redstart. However, before I knew it our time was up and I had to get Tristan back home for his afternoon feed, but we had a successful afternoon out.
UK list for 2012 now at 153 species.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 18 Mar

An hour long visit with Tristan whilst Ellie was at church produced the first singing Chiffchaff of the spring just south of the hide. From the hide there were twenty-five Wigeon and ten Teal present, and Great Crested Grebes numbered some forty-nine birds.
Two Stock Doves flew in from the south and landed in a tree opposite the hide. A single Fieldfare was seen and at least two Meadow Pipits flew over. A pair of Long-tailed Tits were carrying nesting material and five Snipe were flushed as I walked past the southern causeway, a small flock of seven more Snipe also flew through.
There was very little happening at the northern end of the reservoir as water levels had risen sufficiently to enable the sailors and canoists to take to the water. Ten Teal were on West Pool however.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

West Bexington & Abbotsbury - Sat 17 Mar

After a morning at work I settled down and watched the first of the Six Nations matches before recording the others and taking Tristan out for the afternoon, thus givign Ellie some time to herself. Setting off at 2.45pm I drove down to the coast and arrived at West Bexington around 3.30pm. I walked east towards the Coastguards Cottages in an attempt to finally connect with the Velvet Scoters that had been off the coast here for the entire winter.
After a mile of walking of muddy shingle I set up my scope and scanned the sea. It was rather overcast weather and the wind meant there was a real swell on the water. This made it difficult pinning down any birds, however, I did locate a Great Crested Grebe and a Razorbill, but no ducks. A couple of Kittiwakes passed by as did a Gannet or two.
My first Wheatear of the year was located in one of the fields behind the beach, surprisingly it was a female. The same field also held a large flock of a couple of hundred Common Gulls and two splendid summer-plumaged Mediterranean Gulls.
Returning to the car I spent twenty minutes scanning the sea and eventually located the Velvet Scoters, with three birds present. I was also able to point them out to a fellow birder who had made the trip from the Blackdowns.
Leaving West Bexington I made a brief stop at Abbotsbury. Scanning the area from the car I got on the two Scaup I had seen a couple of weeks ago, only this time they were much closer and I didn't need to walk miles on shingle to see them! There were also three Barnacle Geese grazing on the meadow (these are widely believed to be genuine wild birds). Time was against me though and Tristan reminded me that it was nearing his dinner time, so off we headed back home.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Kingston Maurward & Lodmoor RSPB - Wed 14 Mar

A three hour trip out with Tristan this afternoon saw us heading south and making a brief stop at Kingston Maurward, a mile or so east of Dorchester. After a bit of driving back and forth and a quick look online to get a grid reference I found the field I was looking for and on the far side the Cattle Egret that had been present for a few days. So with the twitch completed I took Tristan on down to Weymouth.
I had decided to take a walk around Lodmoor RSPB reserve as a few birds had been reported from the site over the last couple of days. I parked up and walked around the reserve. Pretty much the first bird I saw was a male Marsh Harrier (an unusually dark bird). Continuing my walk there was not really much else of note until I was over half way round and had reached the muddy area that is normally good for waders. Ten Black-tailed Godwits were present and a Ruff was an addition to the year list. Two Spoonbills were fast asleep (something Spoonbills seem to do a lot) in the middle of the reserve...just a week after seeing one on the Somerset Levels, another two today!
As I neared the car the Marsh Harrier did another fly past and dropped in to the reeds, presumably on some prey. As I watched the path of reeds a Bearded Tit flew up and across the reedbed before dropping out of site. I could also hear birds calling as I stood by the car, but could not locate them anywhere! To round the afternoon off a single Sand Martin flew over before banking and moving back over the reserve proper. Another lovely afternoon out with the boy!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Torr Reservoir - Sun 11 Mar

After a relaxing afternoon I kept my promise to Ellie and took Tristan out for a couple of hours so she could catch up on some much needed sleep. It was 5.00pm when we set out, but forty-five minutes later we arrived at East Cranmore and after parking the car we were viewing the reservoir by 6.00pm.
The Richardson's Canada Goose was still present and I had good views of it in a field alongside the reservoir, a Bar-headed Goose was also present with with Canada Goose flock.
But the main reason I had come to Torr Reservoir this evening was for the gull roost. Before long Julian Thomas, a fellow Somerset birder and friend of mine, pointed me in the direction of a 2nd-winter Iceland Gull. During the next hour two more Iceland Gulls (another 2nd-winter and a 1st-winter) flew in to the roost and a 2nd-winter Yellow-legged Gull was also seen.
We also saw a single Green Sandpiper on the water's edge.
At 7.00pm it was dark and time to go, Julian kindly gave Tristan and I a lift back to our car to save us a walk and then it was off home for dinner after a brilliant evening's birding.
UK list for 2012 now at 143 species.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 11 Mar

After dropping Ellie off at church I took Tristan along to Sutton Bingham Reservoir for an hour. We stopped on the northern causeway and I scanned West Pool. Five Wigeon and five Teal were present and a single Snipe scurried in to the undergrowth and vanished from sight.
I then drove down to the hide and had a bit of a walk. Some fifty Great Crested Grebes were on the water, several of which had paired up and were displaying to each other. There were also twenty-two Wigeon and three more Teal, with another three Teal off the Canoe Club. A lone drake Tufted Duck was the only other bird of note on the water.
As we returned to the car a Goldcrest was singing away in trees above our heads and a Siskin was calling as it flew over heading west.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Ham Wall RSPB - Sat 10 Mar

A late afternoon visit to the Somerset Levels today (I wanted to watch Wales vs Italy in the Six Nations) and Ellie, Tristan and myself made a family trip up to Ham Wall RPSB reserve. We parked at Sharpham and walked west on to the reserve proper.
The evening was filled with bird song, we could hear several Cetti's Warblers and a few Water Rails, and at least three Bitterns were booming.
We walked as far the the main viewing area before retracing our steps and returning to the car. Several fairly large flocks of Starlings passed over our heads as we walked along. A single Chiffchaff was seen feeding with Long-tailed Tits and a few Fieldfares and Redwings also passed by overhead.
Two Ravens flew south and the dwindling duck numbers still held a female Pintail amongst the commoner species.
After a good hour of walking we were back at the car and heading home for dinner after a pleasant evening out and about.

Sutton Bingham - Fri 9 Mar

I made an hour long evening visit to the reservoir with Tristan just before dark, and it was more a matter of quantity rather than quality today.
Some five hundred plus Herring Gulls flew in and bathed before flying south, they had all departed by 6.00pm. About fifty Black-headed Gulls were also present along with a couple of Common Gulls and a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Despite the influx of "white-wingers" this winter SBR never seems to attract any vagrant gulls.
West Pool held four Teal and six Wigeon, and a further twenty-six Wigeon were off the dam.
A Goldcrest was singing near the hide and was the only bird of note at the southern end of the reservoir.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Catcott NR - Wed 7 Mar

A trip up on to the Somerset Levels this afternoon and I took Tristan to Catcott for a look around. We arrived at about 4.00pm and whilst the light was perfect it was really windy. As I neared the hide three birders left, telling me that there was still a Spoonbill present, though it was distant. So we entered the hdie and no sooner had I sat down then Tristan started kicking off, so as there was still another birder present I made my apologies and went back outside!
As it happened, it worked in our favour because the distant Spoonbill flew in closer and landed about twenty metres from us as we viewed it from behind the wicker screen, you can see the "bling" on its legs in the second photo, though I'm not sure where it was ringed. As it happens, it was also a Somerset tick for me.

As I scanned over the water three Dunlin flew past and then landed on the mud and began feeding alongside some of the many Wigeon. On the water there were good numbers of Pintail, Shoveler and Teal and a few Lapwings were present on the small banks.
A small raptor passed through heading west and it didn't take long to realise that it was a male Merlin, a nice bonus for the afternoon. From the car I also saw a pair of Stonechats and three Bullfinches flew in and landed in a tree nearby.
Before I knew it, it was nearly 5.30pm and I had promised Ellie that I would be home by 6.00pm, so off we rushed after a pretty good afternoon out.

Ringing Update
I reported the rings for this Spoonbill and had a reply back today (9 Mar 12) from Otto Overdijk in Holland. This bird was ringed as a nestling in 2007 in Schiermonnikoog, Holland. Since then it has ranged over a vast area and has been reported in Kent, Norfolk, Devon, Cheshire, Suffolk, back in Holland and now in Somerset! A very well-travelled bird indeed.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Sutton Bingham - Sun 4 Mar

After a morning of heavy rain it cleared up after lunch so I took Tristan out for a couple of hours, though we stayed close to home and simply called in at the reservoir to see what was about. The water level is starting to rise again, so I guess the pollution concerns have past, though it may simply have been the volume of rain over the previous 24 hours that forced the levels up.
West Pool held a dozen Teal, but not really anything else. Off the Sailing Club three Tufted Duck were fast asleep on the water. The gull flock was smaller than normal, but I guess we were earlier in the day that our usual visits. About half a dozen Common Gulls dropped in alongside the more usual species.
The southern end of the reservoir was equally quiet, with no sign of the Great White Egrets that had been present for over a fortnight. However, a fly-over Stock Dove and Meadow Pipit added a bit of interest. The Teal flock was near the Canoe Club, and numbered some sixty birds. But finding nothing else we decided to head back home.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Radipole RSPB & Lodmoor RSPB - Sun 4 Mar

I met up with Steve, Steve, John and Andy at Radipole RSPB at 8.30am and the rain was still hammering down. Despite the weather we set out and soon located the long-staying Hooded Merganser, though despite it coming pretty close for a while I could not get a photo of it!
We then walked out to the hide, hearing several Cetti's Warblers and Water Rails along the way, but not anything that out of the ordinary. Arriving at the hide we finally saw a Cetti's Warbler flitting around in reeds in front of us and two Chiffchaffs were sheltering from the rain in a bramble patch. As we walked back to the car I saw a Water Rail and it rushed in to the undergrowth.
As we were already pretty wet we decided to go on to Lodmoor RSPB and struck it lucky when we got out of the cars and a Bittern flew over! A walk around the reserve produced few birds of note, though we did see about half a dozen Black-tailed Godwits. A look out over Weymouth Harbour did yield a couple of new birds for the day, with a Great Northern Diver being seen and a single Razerbill. Completing the circular walk I called it a day as I had promised to be back in time for lunch, and to round the morning off a female Marsh Harrier drifted over the reed beds. Despite being soaked to the skin I had an enjoyable morning out and it was great to catch up with my mates. Of course, as soon as I got home the sun started shining!

Ferrybridge & Portland Harbour- Sun 4 Mar

An early start and a morning out with my birding mates was planned as Ellie was taking Tristan to the Family Service at church. I drove down to Weymouth, arriving at Ferrybridge at 7.00am in pouring rain! I still managed to do a bit of birding from the car and a flock of waders contained about twenty Turnstones and a similar number of Ringed Plovers and Dunlin, a single Sanderling was also present.
I then drove round to the Sailing Academy and scanned Portland Harbour, but other than a few Red-breasted Mergansers there was nothing about. Since the development of the harbour there seem to be very few wintering divers and waders nowadays. It was now just gone 8.00am and I drove back to the centre of Weymouth to meet up with the others.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Mudeford Quay - Sat 3 Mar

After being at work all morning I was at a bit of a loss as to where to take Tristan this afternoon, but as the weather was actually better than forecast Ellie and I thought we'd all go out for the afternoon and headed down to the coast and Mudeford Quay, this also enabled us to pay a surprise visit to "the in-laws"!
Arriving at Mudeford just after 3.00pm we took a walk around the quay however, it was really windy so we moved the car so that it overlooked the sea and whilst Ellie sat in the warmth of the car I did a spot of seawatching. The wind was causing quite a swell but eventually I picked out an adult male Long-tailed Duck as it flew in from the east and settled on the water briefly before doing another fly past. Two female Eiders also flew through.
There was nothing else that I could see out on the water and another walk about produced a single Rock Pipit and very little else of note. So we headed off and went for a cup of tea with Tristan's grandparents!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Cary Moor - Wed 29 Feb

An afternoon out with Tristan and we headed up to Castle Cary and took a walk along the Macmillan Way towards Cary Moor. I was hoping to find some Tree Sparrows, this site has been pretty reliable for them over the years. I reached the set-aside field and soon located a fair sized flock of birds. Scanning through the numerous Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings and Chaffinches I eventually located a smashing Tree Sparrow. Despite a continued search I could not find any more, but I suppose one is all you need for your Year List.
On the small pool a pair of Little Grebes were present along with a Little Egret. As I returned to the car a flock of Redwings flitted through the trees in front of me and a female Kestrel was perched on a telegraph wire staring intently into the field below it.
I had planned on driving on to Torr Reservoir but Tristan had other plans and started getting grumpy, so we headed back home instead so that he could have a feed!
UK list for 2012 now at 133 species.