Monday, 26 August 2013

Meare Heath NR - Mon 26 Aug

A Glossy Ibis had been seen at Meare Heath and then Ham Wall RSPB yesterday, but despite the bird being first seen at 12 noon news was not in the public domain until 3.00pm for some reason (I guess the finders had no access to mobile services as happens sometimes), hence I didn't know about it when I headed down to Black Hole Marsh yesterday afternoon. Never mind, no harm done as I arrived at Meare Heath at 9.30am and soon connected with the Glossy Ibis as it fed on the drained lagoon. There were plenty of other birds of interest too, with a Greenshank frequenting the back of the lagoon, a Ringed Plover on the small island area, and a Great White Egret. A Garganey was also present, but seemed to spend most of it's time sleeping, and another wader which someone told me was a Curlew Sandpiper was in fact a Ruff!
Carrying on to Noah's Lake I eventually tracked down the Osprey that's been present for a few days as it loafed around on a dead tree and another Great White Egret was seen. Two Raven harassed a Lesser Black-backed Gull before heading west.
Back towards the car park then, and as I neared the lagoon all the waders took to the air. Fortunately this made it easy to pick out the one with a white rump and as they all landed I had some very nice views of the real Curlew the company of two Ruff!
The supporting cast today consisted of several Black-tailed Godwits on the lagoon, a couple of Kingfishers and some pinging Bearded Tits which decided to stay in the reeds! So all in all a really good couple of hours out.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Black Hole Marsh - Sun 25 Aug

Down to Devon this afternoon and a visit to Black Hole Marsh to try and connect with a couple of migrant waders. As it happens it was not too difficult as within five minutes of being in the island hide I had added Curlew Sandpiper (see below) and Little Stint to the year list, a partially summer-plumaged former and two of the latter.
There were plenty of other waders present too, with half a dozen or so Common Sandpipers, a similar number of Green Sandpipers and Dunlin and a handful or Ringed Plover. A Greenshank was also present and a Yellow Wagtail was heard as it flew over south.
Unfortunately I didn't have time to hang around this afternoon, so after less than an hour on site it was back home!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 25 Aug

Another morning visit to Sutton Bingham today and again all the action (what little there was) was at the southern end of the reservoir. The highlight was a Green Sandpiper that flew south calling, but with nowhere to feed due to the continued high water levels the bird simply kept going!
A Raven also flew over, whilst the remaining interest was found in common birds flocking together in a large flock moving through the trees feeding. This flock seemed to contain loads of Chiffchaffs along with a few Willow Warblers and four species of tit. A Nuthatch and Treecreeper were heard, as was a Bullfinch.
There wasn't anything of note at all from the northern end of the reservoir.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Sutton Bingham - Sat 24 Aug

A quick visit today and it didn't really produce anything different from yesterday. The female Tufted Duck was again seen at the southern end, where up to five Ravens were seen (one or two pairs and a single bird). There were lots of hirundines feeding over the water, including a few Sand Martins. The only other interest came in the form of two Reed Buntings near the Canoe Club and a couple of Little Egrets seen in flight off the northern causeway.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Sutton Bingham - Fri 23 Aug

I spent about ninety minutes this afternoon at the reservoir, concentrating on the southern end of the site. A couple of Raven were seen sat on the top of one of the pylons an piqued my interest. However, it was pretty much routine fair for the rest of the day, with the exception of a couple of juvenile-type Mandarin and a female Tufted Duck!
As I continued around the bottom end of the reservoir I came across a large flock of feeding birds consisting of tits and warblers, with some thirty or so birds flitting through the trees and feasting on insects...but try as I might I couldn't find any scarce migrants among the common species.
A Kingfisher was heard a couple of times but failed to show itself, and a Little Egret was on the shore opposite the Sailing Club.

Arne RSPB & Studland - Thu 22 Aug

A family day today, and as we had arranged to meet "The In-Laws" at Studland in the afternoon we spent the morning at Arne RSPB Reserve. A walk around Arne was not overly productive on the bird front, a small number of Sandwich Terns and Common Terns off Shipstal Point. A walk around Combe Heath was slightly more interesting with at least three Spotted Flycatchers feeding with a couple of Treecreepers and a smart looking Willow Warbler contrasting nicely with a grotty Chiffchaff! On the heath proper a Dartford Warbler was heard calling but failed to show itself and a family of Stonechats was being rather vocal. There were also several Graylings on the wing.
Leaving Arne we drove round to Studland and met up with the rest of the family for a chilled out afternoon on the beach...not really my thing at all, but I did see a Clouded Yellow fly past and at least a dozen Mediterranean Gulls flew south. Interestingly there seemed to be a fairly constant passage, albeit small numbers, of Woodpigeons heading north for the three hours we were on the beach. Despite the close proximity of the Ring-necked Parakeet site, I felt I couldn't really vanish for a while to hunt them out!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Porthgwarra - Sun 18 Aug

I had planned to partake in a pelagic trip from Penzance this morning with four friends, but a call from the Skipper of the boat on Friday morning put pay to that due to a forecast 3 metre swell. So not to be put off we still main the trip down to Cornwall. We arrived at Porthgwarra before 9.00am and started our sea watching vigil soon afterwards...and there we stayed until 2.00pm!
As was to be expected given the weather conditions it was a fairly slow day (with the exception of a constant stream of Gannets and Manx Shearwaters). That being said during the five hours I did see singles of Balearic Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, and Great Skua (that had a bit of fun harassing a juvenile Herring Gull for a few minutes). I was also lucky enough to pick out three Storm Petrels, though trying to get anyone else on to them proved an impossible task. More routine fair was provided by a few Kittiwakes and a single Mediterranean Gull.
There was little to see on the land itself other than a few Rock Pipits, Meadow Pipits and Linnets, but we did get lucky when a pair of Choughs decided to spend a bit of time on the rocks near our sea watching spot.
We were also treated to a host of butterfly activity, with around ten species seen. I must have seen at least seven Clouded Yellows and there were also lots of Wall Browns, Graylings and Common Blues. A single Painted Lady was also seen as well as many of the commoner species.
A brief stop on the way home at the Hayle Estuary amounted to nothing as the tide was in so we headed straight back home after an enjoyable day out.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Brownsea Island - Mon 12 Aug

I took a trip down to Brownsea Island today and had a wonderful time with the family. It was also pretty good for wildlife, especially on the butterfly front with loads on the wing. The highlight was without a doubt three sightings of Clouded Yellows, one on the northern beach and two together in the garden of the café (which also sold very nice ice cream!). Other butterflies seen today included Gatekeeper, Holly Blue and Speckled Wood.
Walking through the trees we were lucky enough to see two Red Squirrels.
On the bird front a visit to the DWT reserve enabled us access to the hides to scan the lagoon. A good number of waders were present including five Spotted Redshank:
Greenshank, seven Avocet, a Common Sandpiper, a couple of Turnstone and large numbers of Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit:
There were still loads of Common Terns and Sandwich Terns present and at least half a dozen Mediterranean Gulls were seen, mostly adults but some younger birds.
There were few woodland species noted, but a juvenile Green Woodpecker kept us entertained whilst we ate our picnic lunch.
After a wonderful time on the island I made a brief stop at Studland on the way home, but failed to see any Ring-necked Parakeets...guess I'll need to head this way again then!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Ham Wall RSPB - Sun 11 Aug

A fairly quick visit this afternoon to Ham Wall and I was greeted by a Hobby over the car park as I arrived. Straight to the second viewing platform (with a pause en route to look at a Marsh Harrier) and a scan of the area. Around twenty Black-tailed Godwits were present, though most of these were seen just before I got to the platform as they roosted amongst Black-headed Gulls.
From the platform proper I saw a very brief Wood Sandpiper and a couple of Green Sandpipers. A single Snipe also gave itself up and that pretty much was all I had time to look at as I needed to get back home before it got too late!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 11 Aug

I spent less than an hour at the reservoir this morning due to time constraints and I spent the entire time around the southern causeway, parking just past the causeway itself and walking back as far as the hide.
The main area of interest was the hedgerow opposite where I parked where I could see a few birds flitting around. To my surprise one of these was a Common Redstart, only the second time I have seen this species at SBR. If you look really closely at the "record shot" below you may just be able to see the orangey tail of the bird!
Also present a Spotted Flycatcher (another bird I don't see every year on patch) and a Lesser Whitethroat amongst commoner fair. A couple of Sand Martins were keeping the local Swallows company. So some new migrants passing through the site this morning.
A couple of Common Sandpipers were flushed from the water's edge and yesterday's Little Grebes were still present in the far southern corner, today alongside a couple of Tufted Ducks.
Near the hide there was plenty of bird activity, although I must have seen nearly twenty birds they were all either Chiffchaffs or Long-tailed Tits.
Other activity today included my first Silver-washed Fritillary that I'd ever seen at Sutton Bingham.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Sutton Bingham - 10 Aug 13

I spent a couple of hours at my local patch this morning, something I've not done for quite some time. I walked pretty much the length of the reservoir and whilst there was nothing scarce around a Common Sandpiper was on the northern causeway before flying south (I later heard it at the southern end of the reservoir but didn't see it again). The only other slightly less common birds seen today were two Little Egrets near the Sailing Club.
Whilst there may not have been anything much on the rarity front, I did see plenty of evidence of successful breeding this year at SBR. A small family of Reed Warblers was a pleasant sight whilst a juvenile Green Woodpecker put on a nice show near the hide.
Near the car park a female Reed Bunting was seen with a couple of fledglings, a Coot was present with one youngster, and Great Crested Grebes seem to have faired much better this year with a good number of young present, ranging in ages too with some almost as large as the adults and another pair with young still on their backs, and a couple of Little Grebes were also seen. A Sparrowhawk zoomed low over the water and was the only raptor I saw.
One of the Herring Gulls present spent about ten minutes yawning whilst perched on one of the's a hard life loafing around being a gull!
On the butterfly front I finally saw my first Common Blues of the year, though there were just two seen. Small Coppers were slightly more numerous and I also saw a couple of Gatekeepers amongst more routine fair. It was certainly an enjoyable time "on patch" today.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Radipole RSPB - Fri 9 Aug

A morning in south Dorset and a visit to the RSPB reserve of Radipole in Weymouth. Arriving at 9.30am almost the first birds I saw were a couple of juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls in the car park, present briefly before taking flight.
I then set off for a walk around the reserve. Part way along the paths towards the North Hide I heard a Green Sandpiper calling and looked up to see it fly south. There was little of note from the hide itself, though I did hear a Water Rail call and a Reed Warbler showed well.
Retracing my steps I then walked around the "Buddleia Loop" where there were good numbers of butterflies with the pick being a Painted Lady. I also saw a couple of Jersey Tiger moths.
The eclipse drake Red-crested Pochard was showing well from the small viewpoint along the path alongside some of the more usual duck species and a few Sand Martins passed through.
Back to the Visitor Centre for a well-deserved cup of coffee and a Little Egret perched on one of the wooden bars opposite the centre. And that was that for a nice morning out.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Ham Wall RSPB - Sat 3 Aug

Back to the Levels this afternoon and Ham Wall this time. A brief look failed to produce any Little Bitterns, but I didn't really linger at the viewpoint but rather made straight for the second viewing platform. Dodging the thunder storms I did pick out a few waders including two Dunlin, at least two Green Sandpipers, three Snipe and a Black-tailed Godwit of the islandica race. I also had a distant view of a juvenile Yellow Wagtail and another Garganey.
As the rain set in I decided to make it quickly back to the car and on the way saw a female Marsh it happened this was the final decent bird I saw of the day. A pretty good day on the levels today.

Meare Heath NR - Sat 3 Aug

A morning visit to the Somerset Levels and rather than a walk out across Ham Wall I headed east on to Meare Heath. Almost the first bird I saw was a fly-over Great White Egret, closely followed by a female Marsh Harrier soaring high in the sky. Continuing onwards a Bittern flew over the path ahead of me, affording wonderful views.
The "drained" lagoon had quite a bit of water in it and as a result there were no waders other than several Lapwing. A look out over Noah's Lake produced nothing apart from a couple more Great White Egrets so I retraced my steps and returned to the car.
Another Bittern fly-by was appreciated, especially as this bird was calling in flight, quite a different sound from the usual booming. A male Marsh Harrier was quartering the reeds, and another female type was also seen. The latter flushing the duck gathered on the lagoon and a Garganey was amongst the masses and rounded the morning off nicely.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Black Hole Marsh - Thu 1 Aug

The start of a new month saw me make a trip to Devon and a visit to Black Hole Marsh near Seaton. I arrived just before 9.00am and took a walk out to the Island Hide where I was told that the Pectoral Sandpiper which was present on Tuesday night was still about (the last I heard it had flown after being spooked by a Sparrowhawk). So luck was with me this morning and a collected a nice year tick with this smart Trans-Atlantic wader.
There were plenty of birds about today and waders were obviously the most notable. I counted at least six Common Sandpipers, an adult Ringed Plover, twenty or so Dunlin (including a very distinct individual with a bill almost as long as that of a Curlew Sandpiper), a Snipe, several Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits, and a minimum of seven Green Sandpipers.
I then took a walk across to the Tower Hide. I didn't loiter here too long and didn't really see anything different, but as I left the hide a Kingfisher flew across the path over my head and skimmed across the scrapes.
I also saw a lot of  butterflies this morning, with loads of Green-veined Whites and a smaller number of Gatekeepers and a couple of Commas and Red Admirals.