Sunday, 30 September 2012

Ham Wall RSPB - Sun 30 Sep

An afternoon family trip out today and we decided to go up to Ham Wall RSPB reserve as we had not ventured that way for several weeks. There was a feeling of winter approaching, not in the weather (it was a lovely afternoon), but there were a number of returning wildfowl on the reserve. A flock of thirty-one Wigeon flew over and there was also a fair sized flock of Shoveler and Gadwall on the water. A single Great White Egret was the rarest bird seen this afternoon.
A buddleia played host to a couple of Red Admirals and a Comma and there were lots of dragonflies on the wing.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 30 Sep

Just an hour at the reservoir this morning, and it looked as if there was not going to be much happening, and indeed from the northern end there was nothing of note at all. So down to the south and a short walk around. A few Swallows passed through south and a couple of Meadow Pipits flew over calling, as did a Yellow Wagtail. On the water there were at least fifty Great Crested Grebes.
One slight surprise, a Comma was sunning itself on a bramble bush.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Portland & Ferrybridge - Sat 29 Sep

An afternoon out with Tristan and a jaunt down to the Isle of Portland to twitch a Red-backed Shrike! Arriving just after 3.30pm I parked in Southwell and walked towards the Bill and then up on to the fields. I bumped in to three other birders, none of which had seen the bird, so I left them to it and trusted my instincts and made for a vantage point where I thought I might have a chance. And sure enough my gut instinct proved correct as within minutes I was looking at a very smart female-type Red-backed Shrike. After a good look I managed to attract the attention of the other birders in the area and get them on the shrike also. So job done and good job too as there was little else about other than Meadow Pipits.
On the way back home I stopped off at Ferrybridge and walked along to view the assorted waders on the mud. I set up my 'scope and saw a nice lot of Ringed Plovers and Dunlin and a single Sanderling. Three Black-tailed Godwits were also present and I also got on two Curlew Sandpipers that had been present for a few days. But time was against us and we had to get back home for dinner, so no time to stop anywhere else but a lovely afternoon out.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Briantspuddle - Wed 19 Sep

Ellie had a meeting this afternoon and so I had the opportunity to take Tristan out for a couple of hours, so we headed south and paid another visit to the small heathland reserve just outside Briantspuddle. As we got out of the car a couple of Siskins were calling and flitting around in the top of the fir trees. We then walked out on to the heath where I was hoping to connect with Dartford Warbler having missed the species on my two previous visits to the site this year. As I waited and scanned the gorse a couple of small flocks of Meadow Pipits flew over, they really seem to be on the move at present. Eventually, I heard a Dartford Warbler calling from a patch of gorse behind us, but only saw a flick of a tail as it vanished into the undergrowth...and that was it! Time up as Tristan needed to get back for his tea, but another year tick...albeit a crap view! Oh yes, and I also saw my first Small Copper of the year, and it was a beauty.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Batcombe Hill - Sun 16 Sep

A quick jaunt to the south of Yeovil this afternoon and Tristan and I took a walk around Batcombe Hill. It was a route I'd never taken before and after an easy first couple of kilometres it soon changed in to an up hill slog and my lack of fitness really told by the time I got back to the high ground. What birds did I see for my efforts? Not of the fields I passed through contained a jittery flock of around twenty Meadow Pipits and the only other birds of note were a couple of fly-over Stock Doves. A couple of Speckled Wood butterflies were also seen.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 16 Sep

Just an hour with Tristan at the reservoir this morning and gain it was pretty quiet. There was nothing of not on the water but two small mixed flocks of hirundines passed through heading south. The first Meadow Pipits of the Autumn also passed through, with three being seen. Whilst standing on the water's edge near the hide a couple of Jays flew over and a Nuthatch and a couple of Chiffchaffs could be heard calling from the trees on the far bank.

Greylake RSPB - Wed 12 & Sat 15 Sep

Two trips to Greylake RSPB this week to try and see the Spotted Crake that has been showing so well for just about everyone who has gone to see it. Wednesday's trip with the whole family was so uneventful (we dipped the bird) and saw nothing else worth writing about so I didn't bother with a blog entry. However, Saturday's trip was slightly different!
I say slightly different in so far as I saw a flock of forty Lapwing fly over the reserve during my visit with Tristan and at least ten Meadow Pipits also passed overhead, but with regard to the Spotted Crake it was déjà vu. Because of timings revolving around Tristan's dinner and nap times I just couldn't get to the site during the prime times for seeing the bird...and it cost me both times.
Now the big question I try again?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Chard Reservoir - Sun 9 Sep

A family trip out the afternoon and we all took a very pleasant, though a bit too long, walk around Chard Reservoir. The water levels here are much lower than at Sutton Bingham, but despite that I could not locate any passage waders. In fact, there were almost as few birds here as there were at SBR this morning. Both Nuthatches and Treecreepers were heard calling and probably the best bird of the trip was a Marsh Tit. But that was pretty much it!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 9 Sep

An hour long visit whilst Ellie was at church was pretty unproductive. There was nothing of note from the northern causeway so I took Tristan down to the hide. When I counted over twenty canoeists on the water I knew I'd be hard pressed to see any birds, and other than a Chiffchaff in one of the waterside willows that proved to be the case. However, I did finally see something a bit different as the adult Yellow-legged Gull dropped in and settled on the water at the southern end of the not a complete dead loss.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Gore Hill - Sat 8 Sep

I was at a real loss as to where to go this afternoon, I didn't have enough time to twitch the Monarch butterfly on Portland so I ended up just south of Yeovil and a walk around Gore Hill. Whilst I did not see an massive amount a huge flock of Linnets numbering at least two hundred birds were present on the large ploughed fields and they attracted the attention of a passing Hobby that made a rapid hunting sortie. A couple of Wheatears were also seen as were a pair of Red-legged Partridge, but that was pretty much all I saw...but it got Tristan and I out of the house and gave Ellie a mission accomplished.

Lodmoor RSPB - Thu 6 Sep

After work today was my first chance to travel down to Lodmoor RSPB in Weymouth to twitch Britain's second confirmed Short-billed Dowitcher (it had been a nervous day or two of waiting since the bird had been re-identified having been put out as a Long-billed Dowitcher when first found at the weekend). Leaving work I made good time until getting stuck behind a tractor, a hold-up that cost me about five minutes and proved costly as when I joined the throng of birders I was told the bird had flown in to the centre of the reserve a minute before my arrival!
Over the next hour I waited patiently, seeing a couple of Water Rails, a few Mediterranean Gulls and a Green Sandpiper. Then, all the gathered birds took to the air, so I thought the Dowitcher would join didn't! Around fifty or so Black-tailed Godwits, a dozen Dunlin and a Ringed Plover all wheeled around. A handful or Yellow Wagtails flew overhead but still no sign of the bird I was after.
Then a cry went out from behind, as one intuitive birder had walked round to the road and higher ground and he shouted down to the rest of us that the bird was a mad rush followed as we all had to walk best part of a mile to get to the higher ground which was only a few metres behind us! Luckily I was one of the first to get to this viewpoint and after a quick look through another's scope got the bird in mine before it again flew out of view. Some of the birders present missed it again, and I felt for them, but could not easily hide my elation at this mega rare transatlantic vagrant. So Short-billed Dowitcher adds itself to my UK list and pushes me ever closer to the magic 400 mark!
A quick walk back to the car produced a few more flocks of Yellow Wagtails, at least seventy or so birds must have passed through whilst I was on the reserve, and a few Bearded Tits could be heard calling from the reeds. My final sighting of the day was a Slow Worm which I nearly trod on.
Thinking it already dead I gave it a little prod, which soon woke it up and eventually it slid in to the grass and off the path. A fairly late night and I missed Tristan as he was fast asleep when I got home, but a cracking bird!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Abbotsbury & West Bexington - Sun 2 Sep

I had originally planned for an early start and full morning of birding as it was Family Service at church so Ellie usually takes Tristan along, however, we were all exhausted so I spent the first part of the morning entertaining Tristan whist Ellie caught up with some much needed sleep. Anyway, by 9.15am I was on the road and decided to head down to the Dorset coast as I only had a couple of hours to get in some birding due to the fact we were off to a wedding vow renewal service at 1.00pm.
So it was a bit of a rush and I headed straight for Abbotsbury in the hope that the juvenile Black Tern that had been present for a couple of days would still be wasn't. In fact there was very little of note so I did not hang around long and simply drove further down the coast to West Bexington.
When I arrived I bumped in to Mike Morse, a West Bexington stalwart and fellow table tennis player, and he soon updated me on the Wryneck that was present (whether or not this is the same bird I tried to see a week or so ago with Ellie and Tristan, I do not know). As I neared the location a couple of other birders (including Somerset lads Cookie and Alick) were present and a glimpse through the reeds yielded this:
So target located and I then moved a little further down the beach to try and get a better angle, and I was lucky enough to be able to watch the Wryneck for five minutes as it sat on a fence post.
It eventually flew on to the path and vanished in to a small patch of vegetation, so I left it alone and walked back to the car. Other than a Wheatear and being attacked by a dog it was an uneventful return journey and a brief seawatch failed to produce anything.
So I retraced my steps and headed back to Abbotsbury to see if the tern had hadn't. There was still nothing much of note so at 11.00am I drove back home (a slight detour to Sutton Bingham also failed to produce anything!).