Saturday, 30 March 2013

Portland - Sat 30 Mar

This afternoon I headed south and drove down to Portland. I was hoping to see a Bluethroat that had turned up earlier in the day (the third one on Portland in the last week and as I had not been able to go and see either of the others). On arrival in Weston I was told that the bird had been showing well feeding in and around a small pool, and within minutes I got some cracking views of an adult male White-spotted Bluethroat.
There were loads of Chiffchaffs feeding in and around the same area, but not much else in the way of migrants.
Returning to the car I then decided to have a quick stop at Barleycrates Lane where I added Wheatear to the year list. A couple of Song Thrushes and a Blackcap were also seen, but there were no hoped for Ring Ouzels.
Driving back through Weymouth my first few Sand Martins of the year were whizzing over the water at Radipole RSPB reserve.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Sutton Bingham - Sat 24 Mar

This afternoon I just popped up to the reservoir for an hour or so and had a good walk around the southern end of the reservoir. Wildfowl were represented by sixteen Teal and a pair of Tufted Duck, and a Little Grebe was heard calling.
There was nothing much else on the water but I did see my first two SBR Chiffchaffs of the Spring. Three Bullfinches (one male and two females) were seen and a Kestrel put in a fleeting appearance. A single Snipe was flushed from the water's edge.
Overhead, five Meadow Pipits flew north and a flock of about three hundred Starlings also moved northwards.
The northern end of the reservoir produced absolutely nothing of note!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Morden Bog - Wed 20 Mar

Having dipped the Great Grey Shrike at Sixpenny Handley twice this year I decided to try and see the one present at Morden Bog instead this afternoon. I had tried and failed to see this particular bird back in November on a flying visit, it had then gone missing for most of the winter but was now back...only I didn't see it!
In fact, there was not that much to see at all and a couple of Meadow Pipits were the only birds I saw on the heathland itself, whilst the conifers hosted a few Siskin and Goldcrests.
I had hoped to pick up a few year ticks this afternoon on this patch of Dorset heathland, but nothing added to the list and to make matters worse a pager message appeared stating that the Sixpenny Handley shrike was showing well this afternoon!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Ham Wall RSPB - Sun 17 Mar

Despite fancying a change of scenary, I found myself at Ham Wall this afternoon as I was hoping to connect with the drake Ring-necked Duck that had turned up at the reserve a week earlier. Despite waking up to snow this morning, it was a wonderful spring afternoon with lovely sunshine and a pleasant temperature which made for a nice walk out.
Passing the second viewing platform I continued on and eventually located the Ring-necked Duck roosing in some vegetation. After a while it awoke, started preening, and then swam off out of site. I had another look for the Ferruginous Duck which was proving elusive, until it suddenly swam across a channel with a handful of Pochard.
Walking back towards the car, I paused at the second viewing platform in the hope of getting better views of the long-staying Pied-billed Grebe. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when I didn't see it. A sub-adult Marsh Harrier flew through and a Bittern was booming from the reedbeds.
On the drive back home the road through Berhill was closed due to an accident so it was a slight detour on towards Street before cutting across to Walton Hill to get back on track. This diversion produced an unexpected bonus in the form of a very obliging Barn Owl that passed in front of the car, ending a pleasant afternoon out.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 17 Mar

A late morning visit today and it produced a few birds of note. I went for a walk at the southern end of the reservoir. A couple of Snipe were flushed from the water's edge and two Roe Deer bolted from the undergrowth, making me jump a little! A Marsh Tit was calling away and eventually showed itself whilst seven Wigeon and a handful of Teal were also seen. A Sparrowhawk drifted overhead and a total of forty Great Crested Grebes were present today.
Returning to the car I drove up to the northern end of the reservoir where a Little Grebe was seen briefly before it vanished in to the reeds when spooked by a fishing Cormorant and a Reed Bunting was singing away...a sign that spring is on the way?

Saturday, 16 March 2013

East Coker WTW - Sat 16 Mar

I was at a bit of a loss as to where to go this afternoon, I was later leaving the house than I had hoped so I decided against the Somerset Levels and instead stayed local, taking a walk out to the sewage works at East Coker, a location I had only discovered a couple of weeks ago.
As with most sewage works, there is no public access so you have to try and see what you can from public footpaths, however, when I arrived today I met a couple of ladies tending to their horses and it just so happened that one of them owned the field next to the sewage works. The Farr charm worked its magic and I now have access to the field which gives me the opportunity to cross said field to a raised bit of ground and have a wonderful views of the beds.
As I crossed the field to my vantage point at least half a dozen Meadow Pipits flew up from the waterlogged ground (another couple were feeding on the beds themselves). Scanning the beds there were a lot of Pied Wagtails, a couple of Grey Wagtails and at least one White Wagtail. As was the case on my last visit there were some Chiffchaffs about, with four feeding. I also relocated the paler Chiffchaff I had seen previously and with some cracking views alongside the other Chiffchaffs it was obvious this was a Siberian Chiffchaff!
A few spots of rain started to fall so with a small flock of Redwing flying overhead heading north and a Yellowhammer putting in a cameo appearance we headed back towards home glad to have been able to get some fresh air this afternoon.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Sutton Bingham - Sun 10 Mar

A very quick visit to the reservoir this morning failed to produce anything much of note. Three Mute Swans at the southern end were new arrivals, whilst nine Wigeon and a handful of Teal were also present and viewable from the hide. Two Raven flew overhead.
At the northern end there was even less to see, ten Canada Geese were off the dam before flying north, and a dozen Common Gulls flew through.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Radipole RSPB - Sun 3 Mar

A trip down to Weymouth this afternoon and a walk around Radipole RSPB reserve. Despite bitterly cold winds we enjoyed a good walk out and around the Buddleia Loop and back...we started out towards the hide but soon turned round to ensure we were at the Visitor Centre in time to get a hot drink. The now resident Hooded Merganser put on a good show and as we wandered around the reserve we managed to hear a couple of Bearded Tits, and one flew over the reeds in front of us. We also saw the usual ducks and a Reed Bunting.
On returning to the Visitor Centre we tucked in to a cake and a coffee and whilst Ellie and Tristan had a play with various blocks and crayons I had a look for the Iceland Gull that had been coming in to bathe for the last couple of evenings. I gave it until 5pm, but the gull failed to appear. Several Mediterranean Gulls were present though, some of which were in very smart breeding plumage. A first-winter Yellow-legged Gull was also seen before we had to head on home.

East Coker WTW - Sun 3 Mar

I took a walk around East Coker and headed off to that most attractive of features, a sewage farm! I had never paid a visit to the East Coker water treatment works and when I arrived I was surprised by how many birds were present. A Yellowhammer and Skylark flew over but the interest was to be found on the sewage beds themselves.
Finding a slightly elevated area I was able to look over the beds and see what was about. Wagtails were evident, with at least six White Wagtails and two Grey Wagtails feeding among a couple of dozen Pied Wagtails. Two Meadow Pipits and a couple of Goldcrests were also seen.
Amongst five Chiffchaffs was a very pale bird with clean under parts and greyish upper parts...almost certainly a Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis). As we headed back to the car a Marsh Tit put on a good show.
A flying visit to Sutton Bingham Reservoir produced just eight Wigeon opposite the hide, and amazingly much of West Pool and the southern end of the main reservoir was frozen over.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Abbotsbury & Ferrybridge - Sat 2 Mar

An afternoon trip south and a visit to Abbotsbury. Rather than park in the beach car park and walk along Chesil Beach, I drove past the swannery and parked on the road so that I could scan the Fleet with my scope. After much searching I finally located the three Long-tailed Duck and around five very sleepy Scaup. There was not much else out of the ordinary to be seen so we jumped back in the car and headed off to Ferrybridge.
A Black Brant had been seen earlier in the day, but when we arrived there were only a handful of Dark-bellied Brent Geese and nothing any rarer. So I took a walk over the road to check out Portland Harbour. Scanning the water I soon found the two Velvet Scoter that had been present for quite some time, and at least twenty Black-necked Grebes were seen. Other birds on the water included loads of Red-breasted Merganser and at least forty Mediterranean Gulls, some of which were in splendid summer plumage.
Time was against us so I headed home (a brief stop at Radipole RSPB to see if the Iceland Gull had popped in proved unsuccessful).