Sunday, 26 August 2012

Whit Moor - Sun 26 Aug

Somewhere a bit different this afternoon as I took Tristan out for a walk (well I walk and he sits in his carrier on my back!) up on the Levels and out on to Whit Moor, just east of Long Load. This moor had been pretty productive during the floods earlier in August but the water levels had dropped off recently. Despite this I thought it would be worth a walk anyway. We followed the main track out over the moor and I had to watch my footing as I dodged mud and puddles in just my trainers!
A large flock of Little Egrets took to the air and I counted forty birds, plus a few others scattered about the moor, there were also a good number of Grey Herons. A Peregrine caused a bit of a stir as it passed over the moor. I also heard at least three Yellow Wagtails calling from the fields.
As I continued the outward journey a small flock of five Yellow Wagtails actually flew over my head from the west. A minute or two later another ten passed over and then amazingly another flock flew over...this time of thirty-one birds and with a few more stragglers later on I must have counted around fifty Yellow Wagtails this afternoon!
The walk back to the car was also pretty productive with a Wheatear being seen, a Reed Warbler finally pinned down as it "chacked" away in the sedges, and a Whinchat also present.
Another disturbance over the fields, this time caused by a Common Buzzard, flushed a couple of Ruff, and judging by the size difference they were presumably male and female birds. A single Snipe also took to the air and expressed its annoyance as it called loudly as it flew over us.
Before we knew it it was time to get home for tea, but it had been a very enjoyable afternoon.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 26 Aug

Not a lot happening at the reservoir today, and water levels are nearly up as high as they were earlier in the year, so no chance of any passage waders dropping in for sure. I started off at the hide where a Little Egret was feeding on the far bank before flying south. A pair of Teal were also seen again and two Stock Doves flew over.
I then drove up to the car park and had a quick scout about. The local hirundines suddenly got rather vocal and as a looked up an adult Hobby soared overhead befor flying off north-east. And that pretty much sums up the birds of interest at SBR this morning!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Wyke Regis - Fri 24 Aug

Tristan and I braved the weather this afternoon and headed south to the coast and paid a visit to Wyke Regis, a site which has produced some real quality birds this year. Today ended up being no exception, though I thought our luck was going to be out due to the incessant wind and steady drizzle.
Upon arrival we were lucky enough to have a slight break in the rain and so after parking up took a walk towards the Bridging Camp, scanning the paddocks in the hope of locating the 1st-summer Woodchat Shrike that had been present all week. There was no sign but I did see a male Stonechat and the slightly scarcer Whinchat. A couple of Wheatears were hunkered down in one of the fields in an attempt to avoid the worst of the weather.
Time was against us as the traffic around Dorchester and Weymouth was dire so we had arrived later than planned, so we had to return to the car. On the way back I noticed the "Bull, No Entry" sign that had been mentioned on the pager, so stopped and had another look about. Fortunately, Tristan was pretty happy in his backpack, so when a saw a smallish black and white bird dart out of a bramble bush and then back again I was able to set up my 'scope feeling confident that I'd found what I was looking for. Sure enough over the next five minutes I was treated to several feeding sorties as the Woodchat Shrike searched for food. The only down side was that when it returned to its favourite bush it was out of site, so no chance for me to get one of my quality record shots! As we returned to the car a Common Tern flew overhead.
So despite the weather and traffic we had a great afternoon out.
UK list for 2012 now at 211 species.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Wayford Woods - Tue 21 Aug

Somewhere different this afternoon as Ellie, Tristan and I took a trip to a place I'd not been to for years, Wayford Woods, to the south of Crewkerne. We had a very enjoyable walk through the woodland and whilst we did not see much in the way of birdlife, there was plenty about that could be identified by voice alone with Goldcrest, Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker amongst others all being rather vocal in the treetops.

Sutton Bingham - Tue 21 Aug

An hour long visit this morning was enjoyable for the number of birds present it not the quality, and I can only put this down to the fact that there were no canoeists, sailors, or anglers about so it made for a quiet and pleasant trip.
A female Tufted Duck and a couple of Mandarin were present from the northern causeway, and pretty much summed up the interest at this end of the reservoir.
A walk from the hide to the Canoe Club and back was pretty productive. On the water the adult Yellow-legged Gull was again present. There were several small passerines feeding in the small sallows and willows on the water's edge which some very smart and bright juvenile Willow Warblers feeding alongside one or two rather scruffy looking Chiffchaffs. A small family group of Whitethroats and a male Reed Bunting were also seen as well as a single Lesser Whitethroat.
So no major rarities or scarcities this morning but it's always good to get up close to the commoner species.

West Bexington - Mon 20 Aug

The first of a few days off work this week and we all headed down to the coast after lunch and visited West Bexington...a location chosen because of an elusive Wryneck that had been present for a couple of days. When we arrived Tristan had to have his bottle so whilst Ellie sorted out the hungry little man I did a quick scan of the sea, and amazingly connected with an Arctic Skua! It was pretty much the only bird out to sea.
Unfortunately, this proved to be the highlight of the afternoon on the birding front as despite a fair amount of searching we failed to locate the Wryneck. We did see a single Wheatear on the beach and that was the only bird we saw that was slightly out of the ordinary.
There were loads of butterflies on the wing though, and we saw a very smart Common Blue (only my second of the year believe it or not) and a Painted Lady amongst the more abundant Meadow Browns and Speckled Woods. So whilst our twitch proved unsuccessful it was an enjoyable family afternoon out.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Sutton Bingham - Sun 19 Aug

Slightly less than an hour at the reservoir this morning as we were running late getting Ellie to church. The was pretty much nothing to see on site, until a pair of Teal flew past me whilst I was standing by the hide. I've had my suspicions that a pair may have spent the summer at the reservoir, but this could have been a migrating couple.
Soon afterwards my attention was drawn to a falcon as it headed towards me from the far side of the reservoir, I soon realised it was a Hobby carrying prey and as it reached me it started calling. This call received an enthusiastic reply as a second bird came from behind me to join the first where they exchanged the prey in flight. Quite a spectacle and then both birds vanished as quickly as they had appeared.
A quick walk along the road from the hide to the southern causeway produced a single Mandarin as it swam from the near bank away from me.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Lodmoor RSPB - Sat 18 Aug

More father and son time this afternoon and a trip south to Weymouth and a walk around Lodmoor RSPB. I was after a couple of species that had been reported earlier in the day according to my pager and it did not take me too long to connect with my first target as I located the two Wood Sandpipers near "the Hump".
The first of three Common Sandpipers was seen in the same area with others near the tern islands and then near a flock of roosting gulls. I headed towards the gulls in the hope of finding the second target of the day and when I spotted another birder he saved me a bit of effort as he had the Little Gull I was after in his 'scope (note the size comparison of the roosting Little Gull alongside the Black-headed Gulls).
Excellent stuff...both birds safely ticked off and not a moment too soon as the gulls suddenly got spooked and took to the air, the Little Gull vanished from site as he headed towards the bay. I continued the circular walk but other than a single Swift and a pair of Snipe that whizzed around over the reserve I saw nothing of note.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 18 Aug

A quick hour long visit to the reservoir this morning with Tristan whilst Ellie went in to town to do some shopping. I took a walk down to the southern end of the reservoir, but it proved to be fruitless with the only bird of note being a Peregrine atop one of the pylons and three Sand Martins that flew through heading south.
The northern end proved equally unproductive with just two Little Egrets standing out from the commoner fair. Of interest, there were at least seventy Great Crested Grebes at the reservoir this morning and a Kingfisher was heard calling but we failed to see it.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Sutton Bingham - Thu 16 Aug

A family trip up to the reservoir this afternoon after work, and Ellie, Tristan and I parked by the hide and walked up to the northern causeway. It was pretty quiet on the bird front and the recent rain (I seem to have been saying that all "Summer") had meant water levels had crept up again. That being said we did see a single Common Sandpiper as we walked along. When we reached the northern causeway I located a Little Egret near the Sailing Club, but there was not much else of note at this end of the reservoir. Our return walk to the car failed to produce much more, though the adult Yellow-legged Gull did fly past us heading north, and Tristan decided it was time for his tea, so it was back home!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Sutton Bingham - Sun 12 Aug

My usual hour long mid-morning visit with Tristan whilst Ellie was at church and a few birds of note today. A quick stop at the northern causeway produced an adult Great Black-backed Gull sat on one of the pontoons off the Sailing Club and a Common Tern off the dam. Four Little Egrets flew from the shoreline next to the Sailing Club and headed south.
Down to the southern end of the reservoir and I soon relocated three of the Little Egrets as they fed on some of the exposed mud. Also present a single Green Sandpiper and two Common Sandpipers. Two Mandarin were skulking around on the fringes of the water. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was also present briefly on the water before taking flight. A Peregrine was perched on one of the pylons.
I did pick up a SBR mammal tick today as a Weasel ran across the road in front of us! On the butterfly front there was nothing different today, and I could not begin to identify a large dragonfly that buzzed in front of me very briefly!
All in all a good trip out and after bumping in to some old friends that I had not seen for years we ended up being a little late picking up Ellie from church!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Meare Heath NR - Sun 5 Aug

A family trip out this afternoon and a pleasant walk up at Meare Heath. We failed to see that much in the way of birds, although the seemingly ever-present Great White Egrets were present with two adults and a juvenile bird being seen. A Raven flew over and then loitered in a tree for a while. A flock of thirty-seven Lapwing flew over heading west and were the only waders noted as the second lagoon which is usually so good for waders is full of water. A single Gatekeeper was on the wing and was the only other sighting of note whilst we were out.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 5 Aug

I was hoping for a chance to catch up with the guys I usually go birding with this morning as it was family service at Ellie's church to which she always takes Tristan. However, because I had left it late trying to organise anything no-one else could make it and instead I popped up to the reservoir after dropping the rest of the family off.
From the northern causeway I noted a Little Egret as it flew from the shoreline near the Sailing Club and headed south down the reservoir (I could not relocate it later so it may have kept going). Also on the water an adult and juvenile Great Black-backed Gull, both of which were being mobbed by the other large gulls present. West Pool held a small flock of Canada Geese which seemed to be new arrivals, and a male Reed Bunting was seen in the waterside vegetation.
I then headed down to the southern end and scanned from the hide. Water levels have dropped a little meaning there is a bit of exposed mud and this had attracted a few passage waders, with two Green Sandpipers and five Common Sandpipers present. A couple of Sand Martins passed through, only seeming to linger for a few minutes before heading south. On the water the number of moulting duck seem to have increased and amongst the Mallards was a single female Teal. Also present a family group of seven Mandarin, including several juvenile birds so it looks as if the species has successfully bred at SBR again this year.
Finally, on the butterfly front, at least two Gatekeepers were on the wing near the hide and a very fresh looking Meadow Brown was also seen.
All in all a pretty productive morning this morning, especially as I had originally planned to travel further afield.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Black Hole Marsh, Seaton - Sat 4 Aug

Ellie was out all day attending a friend's Hen Party, so I had the pleasure of looking after Tristan for the day. A quick trip to Sutton Bingham in the morning produced nothing at all of note, but in the afternoon we drove down to Seaton and took a walk around Black Hole Marsh.
There was a surprising number of waders present considering the time of year and before long I had seen five Common Sandpipers, single Green Sandpipers, Dunlin and Redshank, three Lapwings, seventeen Black-tailed Godwits, and two Greenshanks (unbelievably my first of 2012!).
Out on the estuary there were loads of gulls, but I could not find anything out of the ordinary amongst the commoner species.
Whilst on site I also saw a few Gatekeeper butterflies, and after about ninety minutes on site we headed back home so that Tristan could have his tea.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Sutton Bingham - Wed 1 Aug

I took the day off work today as Ellie had a few things she needed to sort out, so I was on Tristan duty all morning. We started off with a trip up to Sutton Bingham to see if anything was about. We stayed at the northern end of the reservoir and took a walk around the car park area where a mixed feeding flock contained several Chiffchaffs amongst the commoner tits. A Song Thrush was looking after two recently fledged juveniles, and a juvenile Goldcrest was also seen.
Out on the water I saw three Common Terns feeding off the dam, but there was nothing else out of the ordinary. Four Swifts flew over heading south-east and that rounded up the birding action for the morning as it was time to take Tristan home for his lunch.