Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Ham Wall RPSB - Wed 31 Jul

It took me an age to get to Ham Wall this morning due to a traffic accident at Ashcott village. After two U-turns due to traffic congestion and another because of a road closure, it was a case of fourth time lucky and eventually I was parked at the Sharpham end of the RSPB reserve and was able to get out for a walk.
I made straight for the second viewing platform, but did stop at one point as I could hear some Bearded Tits calling from the reeds, and I did manage to see one bird as it flitted across the reeds.
On arriving at the viewing platform I had a good scan across and was surprised by the number of waders. A flock of around one hundred Black-tailed Godwits were present and Lapwings numbered around fifty birds. Slightly more unusual, two Greenshank and two Dunlin, and a couple of Green Sandpipers rounded off the wader contingent.
A Garganey flew in from the left and dropped on to the water before vanishing behind some vegetation and rounded off a good morning out despite the traffic issues!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Lodmoor RSPB - Mon 29 Jul

This morning I headed off to Weymouth and took a walk around the RSPB reserve of Lodmoor. Walking anti-clockwise around the reserve from Beachdown Way the first birds of note were not really seen until I got the scrape opposite the car park. An adult Mediterranean Gull was resting and a Common Sandpiper and two Black-tailed Godwits were present.
Continuing onwards I stopped near the tern rafts where a flock of 37 Dunlin were seen and four Sandwich Terns were resting on the fencing.
Further on again and I was surprised to see a female Ruddy Shelduck and a second bird which appeared to be an Australian Shelduck, though it was roosting and seemed a little too pale, so I guess some sort of hybrid is probably the most likely option.
Another Dunlin was present from the "hump" on Beachdown Way as were two more Common Sandpipers. Alongside an Oystercatcher two Whimbrel were roosting. I then carried on back towards the car, hearing a Bearded Tit calling along the way. As I neared the car a Sparrowhawk caused a bit of a stir over the reserve, sending most of the gulls in to the air alongside eight Black-tailed Godwits. All in all a pretty nice start to the day.

Ham Wall RSPB - Sun 28 Jul

A morning visit to Ham Wall today and I was pleasantly surprised to see two of my mates from Reading when I arrived at the "Little Bittern Viewpoint"! After a nice chat with Nigel and Mickey I left them waiting for the Little Bitterns and made my way straight to the second viewing platform where I bumped in to a couple of other friends. Another bit of banter followed and then a bit of birding. Before too long I had finally added Green Sandpiper to the year list...and over the next half an hour I connected with three individuals.
A Bittern was seen very briefly, in fact, to be honest, I just saw it's wing as it dropped in to the reeds! I also saw both male and female Marsh Harriers, and three Snipe and several Lapwing were also seen from the viewing platform.
With plenty of young birds about as well it made for a pleasant morning out.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Ferrybridge & Hilfield - Sun 21 Jul

My planned early start somehow evaporated in to nothing so it was gone 9.00am by the time I arrived at Ferrybridge this morning. I paid for an hour's long stay in the car park and was soon scanning the mud looking to see what waders may be present.
A fair sized flock on Dunlin provided a bit of interest with nine Sanderling mixed amongst the flock adding a splash of colour with some very nice summer-plumaged birds. A few Ringed Plover were also present and the rockier areas held three Turnstone. A summer-plumaged Knot was another nice find as it fed in a channel in front of me (I over-looked it on several occasions).
A good number of Little Terns were flying around and alighting on the mud, including what appeared to be a fairly recently fledged bird. A total of at least forty-six Mediterranean Gulls were present and displayed various ages of plumage.
It was then back to the car and towards home, but I made a slight diversion to Hilfield where Honey Buzzard had been seen a few days earlier. I wasn't really expecting anything, but as I scanned the skies from the ridge I did see a Red Kite!
A walk around this small Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve produced a good number of butterflies which included Silver-washed Fritillary, Small Skipper and Ringlet. With time flying by I realised that I must get moving as I was visiting friends for lunch and thus ended a good morning out.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Lodmoor RSPB - Thu 18 Jul

A last minute decision on Wednesday night to book today off work turned out to be a good one as it gave me a chance to head down to Weymouth and visit the RSPB reserve of Lodmoor. Arriving just before 9.00am I headed straight for the "Band Stand" viewing point.
On arrival I was pleased to bump in to a few birders that I knew and after the normal pleasantries I concentrated on the small Dunlin flock and contained therein a very nice White-rumped Sandpiper!
This is only the second White-rumped Sandpiper that I've seen, and funnily enough the other one was also at Lodmoor RSPB way back in 2000.
So with the rarity safely ticked off I continued around the reserve. A couple of Greenshank were present and amongst the small number of gulls present there were a pair of summer-plumaged Mediterranean Gulls. A female Marsh Harrier was hunting over the reed beds, causing a bit of a stir amongst the residents!
Interestingly enough, there were around twenty Common Terns present. The colony had deserted overnight a month or so ago, but apparently several birds had just arrived. Whether or not they will attempt breeding again this late in the summer or not is anyone's guess.
Anyway, by now it was getting extremely warm, so it was straight back to the car and air-conditioning!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Hethfelton Wood - Sun 14 Jul

This morning I was trying to find a site for Woodlark...but I couldn't and so instead I found myself at Hethfelton Wood just outside of Wool where a walk in the morning sun failed to produce anything much in the way of birds other than a Raven soaring overhead, but did produce a few butterflies.
I saw a total of seven different species of butterfly, with Gatekeeper being new for the year as were at least four Silver-washed Fritillaries (which are always great to see)...and that pretty much sums up the morning!

Black Hole Marsh - Sat 13 Jul

Somewhere different this morning and a trip down to Devon and the Axe Estuary where I visited Black Hole Marsh in the hope of some early waders. It was mid-morning by the time I arrived and I spent about half on hour or so in the "Island Hide".
There certainly were a few waders about with the highlights being a juvenile Little Ringed Plover and a very flighty Whimbrel. There were at least half a dozen Common Sandpipers feeding around the edges of the marsh and a small number of Lapwings, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits.
One of the small islands hosted a hot and tired looking summer-plumaged Mediterranean Gull, which despite the stiflingly hot conditions still looked extremely smart!
To be perfectly honest I didn't really see much else, especially in the way of anything unusual or unexpected, and with it approaching midday it was obvious that any birds would be lying I headed back home.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Ham Wall RSPB & Meath Heath NR - Sun 7 Jul

After a very quiet day with regard to birds on Saturday (a returning Common Sandpiper at Sutton Bingham Reservoir being the only bird of note) I popped up to Ham Wall first thing on Sunday and was surprised to find the car park already full. An hour on site produced flight views of the female Little Bittern and then two males together!! I also had a Common Tern hawking over the reed beds and water whilst a female Marsh Harrier was seen perched in a bush. I was also lucky enough to get several good views of Bitterns, with three birds being seen including one stood out in the open...until I got my scope on it to take a picture that is when it vanished in to the reeds!
Back to the car park and on to Meare Heath where a Garden Warbler but on a good show. The drained lagoon held the usual suspects though no Great White Egrets were seen on this visit...a surprising occurrence nowadays. A Grass Snake was a nice sight as it crossed the track near me, and as I returned to the car I was treated to another fly-by Bittern and a handful of Bearded Tits darting over the reeds (though I heard several more calling). All in all a pretty good morning out in bright sunshine and temperatures hitting 30 degrees!