Sunday, 29 April 2012

Meare Heath NR - Sun 29 Apr

Despite the continuous rain, Ellie decided we should all try and get out and get a bit of fresh air this afternoon. So we packed the waterproofs and headed up to Meare Heath. We placed Tristan in his pram and made sure all the wet weather accessories were fitted before heading off for a walk. In fact, whilst he stayed nice and dry and warm, we got pretty wet!
The long-staying Long-billed Dowitchers were still present and were looking rather smart in their summer plumage. A Little Ringed Plover, single Common Sandpiper and three Redshank were also present on the drained lagoon.
Several Swallows and House Martins were whizzing around and a few Swifts were also seen. A Sedge Warbler was singing away as were a couple of Whitethroats. We walked halfway along the path to Shapwick before returned to the car, hearing a booming Bittern, and then just as we approached the car park, two Whimbrel flew over heading a year tick at last!

Catcott NR - Sat 28 Apr

A break in the rain so I took Tristan up on to the Somerset Levels for an hour or so. We made straight for Catcott Lows in the hope of picking up some summer migrants, but on arrival the wind was pretty strong and there was not much variety in the way of birds. Hundreds of hirundines were whizzing across the reserve and several Swifts were also present. On the water there were several Gadwall but nothing else and a single Little Egret was also seen. However, we did not linger and came back home after another pretty unproductive afternoon.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Tealham Moor - Sun 22 Apr

A trip with Tristan up on the the Levels this afternoon. I had decided to take the boy out and give Ellie a break despite continuous showers, and when we arrived at Tealham Moor the weather was actually rather pleasant, until I got out of the car and was nearly blown away! Despite the wind I remained positive and started scanning the fields looking for Yellow Wagtails and my recent run of missing year ticks continued with a Kestrel and Little Egret pretty much the only birds I saw (apart from loads of Mute Swans). I decided against stopping off anywhere else and simply headed back home for a restful evening.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 22 Apr

Back to a bit of routine today and I dropped Ellie off at church and took Tristan up to the reservoir for an hour. The northern end of the reservoir produced nothing, so I drove down to the southern end and had a good walk. A pair of Tufted Ducks were seen and I saw my first Sutton Bingham House Martins of 2012, with half a dozen birds flying over. A Skylark was heard singing but could not be seen. Other than that, again there was little to report!

Sutton Bingham - Sat 21 Apr

A fairly brief hour-long visit dodging showers produced a single Common Sandpiper and nothing else worth reporting, so I won't bother trying to pad out this blog entry!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Briantspuddle - Sat 21 Apr

A morning trip with Tristan down to some Dorset heathlands in the hope of adding Dartford Warbler to the year list with a visit to a site that produced this species on two visits last summer. Luck was not with us today though and we drew a blank. However, several Siskin were seen, including a very smart male.
A couple of Yellowhammers flew over and a Stonechat was also seen. The "usual" warblers were about and in song and three Linnets were also present. After a forty minute walk the rain started to fall so we hot-footed it back to the car and headed back home for lunch.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Ham Wall RSPB & Meare Heath NR - Mon 16 Apr

I was lucky enough to get driven around today again as my car was in the garage getting new brake disks and pads. Ellie took Tristan and I up to the Somerset Levels where we attempted a walk around Ham Wall RSPB reserve. However, Tristan seemed to have other plans and despite being nice and snug in his pram cried continually for the duration of the walk. That being said, there were not really any birds of note at Ham Wall we didn't miss anything.
After a feed back at the car we tried again and this time headed out to Meare Heath where we had a bit more luck with both the birds and the baby! The long-staying Long-billed Dowitchers were still present, as was a Great White Egret, but a reported drake Garganey was nowhere to be seen. A large mixed flock of hirundines passed overhead.
Believe it or not the bird of the day was a Common Whitethroat seen singing in the car park, my only year tick of the day!
UK list for 2012 now at 172 species.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Arne RPSB - Sun 15 Apr

A knackered break pad meant my car was off the road today (and will be for tomorrow at least as well) but we still managed a family trip out as Ellie drove us all down to Arne RSPB reserve where we enjoyed a pleasant walk out to Shipstal Point. Despite the sun it was still quite chilly at times and there was quite a wind blowing...which put pay to seeing any heathland species.
The highlights of the walk included a pair of summer-plumaged Mediterranean Gulls that flew over and eight Sandwich Terns sat on a sand bar. On returning to the car Ellie and Tristan had a rest whilst I walked out on to Combe Heath.
Again I drew a blank with some of the speciality species I had hoped to see with the heather and gorse producing just a pair of Stonechats. However, the day was rescued by an Osprey that was sat on a perch in Middlebeare Channel. If you squint when you look at this shot I managed with my mobile and use a bit of imagination you can clearly see that it is indeed an Osprey.
So not much in the way of birds today, but a lovely day out with the family.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Winterbourne Downs RSPB & Langford Lakes - Sat 14 Apr

I awoke at 6.00am so decided to head off for a few hours birding, leaving Ellie and Tristan in bed. I drove straight up the A303 leaving the main road just east of Amesbury and heading out towards Newton Tony. I was pleased to see at least half a dozen Corn Buntings on the roadside bushes as I drove along, a few Skylarks were also seen. The reserve itself produced a few Red-legged Partridge, but little else...I was expecting as much as it was slightly too early in the season for the birds I had hoped to see.
So I retraced my steps and headed back west, leaving the A303 near Wylye and stopping off at Langford Lakes, a Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reserve that I had not visited before. I walked out to one of the hides and saw the bird I was after straightaway, a female Ferruginous Duck which was preening itself right in front of hide.
With the twitching done I spent another half an hour at the reserve adding House Martin to my year list as a mixed flock of hirundines fed over another of the lakes and a singing Sedge Warbler was another 2012 tick.
I started heading back home taking a bit of a detour across part of Salisbury Plain where I saw a couple more Corn Buntings and several more Red-legged sign of any of their grey cousins. So after a good few hours out and about I was back home in time for a mid-morning cup of tea!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Abbotsbury & Radipole RSPB - Fri 13 Apr

I had the day off work and Ellie had a hair appointment booked so I set off with Tristan down to the coast and a quick visit to Abbotsbury. I was really after just one thing, an adult male Black-winged Stilt. Fortunately the bird was still present when we arrived just before midday and showed well if somewhat distantly on the flooded field by the Swannery.
I had about ninety minutes before I needed to get Tristan home so I drove in to Weymouth to visit the RSPB shop at Radipole as I needed some more bird seed. Having parked up and paid for a parking ticket I noticed that the shop was still closed for refurbishment, despite it apparently being open in the Spring! So as I had already paid for an hours parking I took Tristan on to the reserve where we walked around the Buddleia Loop and back to the car. I heard three singing Reed Warblers, though only saw the one, so another new tick for the year, and several Cetti's Warblers were singing away, one of which was extremely confiding and showed very well just a couple of metres away from us. The tell-tale "pinking" call of Bearded Tits could be heard, though I only had a typical flight view as one darted over the reeds. A small flock of Sand Martins and Swallows passed by overhead and several Willow Warblers were also seen.
With time up we headed back home after a pretty successful trip.
Also today I saw my first Speckled Wood of the year and a few Peacock butterflies were also on the wing.
Year list for 2012 now at 165 species.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Sutton Bingham - Tue 10 Apr

A short visit late evening produced a few birds of interest. West Pool held two pairs of Tufted Duck, but there was nothing else of note at the northern end of the reservoir. From the hide a single Common Sandpiper was present and three Wigeon were still lingering. A total of four Swallows passed through.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Ham Wall RSPB & Meare Heath NR - Mon 9 Apr

Despite the drizzle Ellie, Tristan and I set off for an evening stroll up on the Levels. We popped Tristan in to his pram to protect him from the rain and walked out to the second viewing platform at Ham Wall RSPB reserve. Despite the weather there were still a few warblers singing and at least two Bitterns were booming away, a single Redshank was also present. However, there was not much else around so we retraced our steps to the car and took a walk out to Meare Heath NR.
We only walked out as far as the drained lagoon where a Great White Egret was present alongside thirty or so Black-tailed Godwits and a couple of Redshank flew in. The rain started to come down a bit more heavily so we decided to call it a day, especially as Tristan had also decided it was time to go home!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Ham Wall RSPB & Meare Heath NR - Sat 7 Apr

I took Tristan up on to the Somerset Levels this afternoon for a few hours. We started off with a walk out to the first viewing platform at Ham Wall RSPB. The constant singing of Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs followed us along the path. However, there was nothing much happening at Ham Wall so we retraced our steps back to the car and on to Meare Heath.
As we walked along, I say as we walked...I walked and Tristan slept in his papoose strapped to my front! An adult male Marsh Harrier flew past giving some great views. The partially drained lagoon still hosted the two Long-billed Dowitchers which we had gone to see a couple of weeks ago. There were also a couple of Redshank, a summer-plumaged Ruff with a smashing white head, and a flock of forty or so Black-tailed Godwits. A single Great White Egret was also present, looking splendid in full summer plumage.
The male Marsh Harrier passed over the reed beds behind the lagoon as did a Bittern. We continued out towards Noah's Lake but Tristan awoke and decided it was time for us to head home. As we returned to the car a female Marsh Harrier was seen and after a quick nappy change (for Tristan, not me) we came on home.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 7 Apr

Another quick trip to the reservoir this morning for a little over an hour, and it was pretty much as it was yesterday. There were two drake Wigeon on West Pool and a pair were present at the southern end. A single adult Great Black-backed Gull was present and a Raven flew over.
The first Blackcaps of the year were singing, with at least two heard. A couple more Willow Warblers had also struck up territories since yesterday with at least three heard singing.
However, it was pretty quiet all in all.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Sutton Bingham - Fri 6 Apr

A couple of hours at the reservoir this morning with Tristan whilst Ellie went in to town to do a spot of shopping. A quick stop off at the northern end found the five Wigeon having moved up the reservoir and feeding on the water's edge on West Pool.
I then moved on down to the southern end and spent a little over an hour checking out the area. The two adult Great Black-backed Gulls that were present a week or so ago had turned up again. A Common Sandpiper (presumably the one I saw last night) was near the southern causeway. A flock of thirty Common Gulls dropped in and then moved on south. Great Crested Grebes numbered some sixty birds, most of which appeared to be paired up.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen near the Canoe Club and a pair of Reed Buntings were also present. The first singing Willow Warbler of the year was in full song in a small clumb of trees near the hide.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Sutton Bingham - Thu 5 Apr

Another extremely brief visit on my way home from work tonight and all the action was towards the southern end of the reservoir. The five Wigeon were still present but there were finally some migrants passing through. Midway between the hide and the Canoe Club about a dozen Sand Martins were feeding over the water and two Swallows were feeding alongside them. The surprise of the day came in the form of a fairly early Common Sandpiper that flew over the water and alighted on the far bank, nine days earlier than last year's first bird (though just a couple of days before the first sighting in 2010).

Sutton Bingham - Wed 4 Apr

A very quick visit on my way home from worked again failed to produce any migrants, that being said an adult Yellow-legged Gull was with the usual Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls on West Pool for about five minutes or so before taking to the air and being lost to view. A pair of Tufted Ducks were also on West Pool.
The southern end was pretty quiet, with just five Wigeon remaining of the wintering flock and nothing else of note at all.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Kingcombe Meadows & Sutton Bingham - Sun 1 Apr

After lunch I took Tristan out for the afternoon and we set off south and a visit to somewhere different and we found ourselves at the Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve of Kingcombe Meadows, some five miles west of Maiden Newton. We had a walk around part of the reserve for about half an hour. Several Chiffchaffs were singing as were a few Blackcaps. Also, ninety-two days in to the year I finally saw my first Nuthatch of 2012!
With little else about we drove back towards home, stopping off for a while at Sutton Bingham Reservoir. The southern end of the reservoir still held twenty-one Wigeon and a pair of Tufted Duck were also seen. At West Pool another two Wigeon were seen and a single Teal. However, the highlight was a Little Ringed Plover that was sat on the water's edge on West Pool.
With time running out and nothing much else to see I set off back home before Tristan got too hungry.
UK list for 2012 now at 162 species.

Portland & Wyke Regis - Sun 1 Apr

I awoke at 5.00am and could not get back to sleep, so as I had the morning to myself I set off for Portland at 6.00am and arrived at Barleycrates Lane, Portland less than a hour later. Walking along the lane I could hear Blackcaps singing and soon saw one and then a thrush flew out of a patch of ivy and landed in the top of a hedge, a female Ring Ouzel! An excellent start to the day and then a male Ring Ouzel briefly joined the female. I continued along Barleycrates Lane to West Cliffs and then back to the car, adding Willow Warbler to my year list and seeing several Meadow Pipits, a pair of Stonechats and many singing Skylarks.
I then drove down to the Bird Observatory and took a walk out to the Bill. My first stop was the Qinetic compound where I set up my scope and scanned through the gathered auks, and amongst the Guillemots and Razerbills I found a you can no doubt tell from these excellent photos I managed to get with my mobile as the bird bobbed on the waves about half a mile away.
As I watched the Puffin two Somerset birders, Cookie and Alick Simmons joined me, we then walked down to the Obelisk where after an enjoyable chat I did a bit of seawatching whilst the others headed back inland. There was nothing much out to sea, several Gannets flew through as did another Fulmar and a second Puffin.
I then walked up East Cliffs where I saw a White Wagtail and a couple of Wheatears.
I then found a very colourful Rock Pipit and new it must be of the Scandinavian race, littoratis. As I watched the pipit John Rickards walked towards me with Portland regular John Lucas. We all got great views of the pipit down to a couple of metres. The phone then rang and it was Steve Crimp, we had arranged to meet up for the morning and he had not had as good a start to the day, dipping the Hume's Warbler and Richard's Pipit at Wyke Regis along with Steve Chorley and John Oake. About twenty minutes later the boys arrived and we continued our walk around the Bill but added nothing new to the list other then a couple of Swallows that flew in off the sea. Heading back inland Barleycrates Lane was now devoid of birds too so we all decided to stop off at Wyke Regis so the lads could try again for the two rare vagrants!
It was nearly 11.30am when we arrived and as I had promised to be back for lunch I knew I could not linger too long. More Wheatears were seen, as were a few Linnets as we walked bast the Bridging Camp. Out on The Fleet I picked out ten Sandwich Terns, but after half an hour the Hume's Warbler failed to show and I had to head off. Mr Crimp joined me and we bid farewell to the others. Steve and I failed to find the Richard's Pipit too! The phone then rang as John and Chorley had seen the warbler, so Crimper ran back and came on home having already had the bird a week or two earlier. Despite missing out at Wyke Regis I had a brilliant morning out.