Thursday, 31 October 2013

Porthgwarra - Thurs 31 Oct

Now here comes a tale of everything falling on to place. I had provisionally booked today as a days holiday, but a project I was working on had overrun somewhat so I was considering cancelling my day off...that was until I got a text on Wednesday night asking if I fancied a trip to Cornwall. So after sorting various bits and pieces I was all set for an early start. Leaving home at 4.30am I met up with friends Andy and Barry and at 8.00am we were parking the car at Porthgwarra in Cornwall.
We were here for one reason, a Hermit Thrush! Now this is where things get a little interesting. Within half an hour of us arriving on site the call went up and I sprinted up the road in time to see the bird in flight before it vanished in to the vegetation. Result! Life tick, etc. However, although the view I had was enough to ID the bird I felt I'd like better views and what's more Andy and Barry missed it completely.
What followed was an at times tedious but ultimately rewarding four hour wait for the bird to show again, and when it did we were afforded crippling views of this rare North American thrush as it fed on the ground. Hermit Thrush in the bag good and proper.
Whilst waiting for the Hermit Thrush to reappear I noted several Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Skylarks passing overhead. A couple of Ravens were also seen and within the vegetation a couple of Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and a Water Rail were heard...but nothing to compare to what we had come for!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Sutton Bingham, Ferrybridge & Portland - Sun 27 Oct

A morning out and a brief stop at Sutton Bingham on my way to Portland proved successful as I found a redhead Goosander off the Sailing Club...and this was, believe it or not, a year tick! A drake Tufted Duck moulting out of eclipse plumage was also present on the water, whilst overhead I had single flyovers of Skylark and Meadow Pipit.
Off then to the coast and after negotiating Weymouth traffic I stopped off at Ferrybridge. It was blowing a gale but I did manage to scope the few birds that were present. No sign of any Black Brants amongst the Dark-bellied Brent Geese, but there were at least thirty Mediterranean Gulls and eight Bar-tailed Godwits.
A pager message then pulled me away to Penn's Weare just to the east of Wakeham on Portland where a few Ring Ouzels had been seen. A short drive later and I was trying to locate the birds but not having much success. Fortunately I bumped in to the finder who gave me directions and after a very brisk walk I had found the correct area and within minutes two Ring Ouzels showed well, despite a female Merlin flying by!
Unfortunately time was against me so I had to rush back home meaning missing out Chesil Cove and any seawatching...this ultimately proved costly as some good birds were seen in the cove later in the day...never mind, next time maybe?

Monday, 21 October 2013

Gore Hill - Sun 20 Oct

A trip up to Gore Hill this afternoon and in blustery conditions there were some good numbers of birds around if somewhat lacking in variety. The stubble field that I walked around held a flock of sixty or so Linnets, and at least fifty Skylarks, the highlight though was a single Woodlark in with the Skylark flock. Singles of Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer flew over, as did a Meadow Pipit. On the ground half a dozen Red-legged Partridge were seen, while a lone Raven drifted overhead. A good walk and enough in the way of birds to keep one interested throughout.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 20 Oct

An hour on site this morning and again I concentrated on the southern end of the reservoir and again it was pretty quiet. I did locate a nice feeding flock of tits, but they stayed deep in the vegetation and were ridiculously mobile. Overhead a single Raven, a couple of Meadow Pipits and two alba Wagtails flew south, whilst on the water a handful of Teal were flushed. The only other birds of note were a single Snipe seen briefly in flight and a Kingfisher which was heard but not seen. The most interesting sighting of the day came in the form of an immaculate Clouded Yellow, a nice burst of colour on an otherwise dreary day.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Sutton Bingham - Wed 16 Oct

Real case of chalk and cheese today. Following on from such a productive day on Sunday today at the reservoir was a major anti-climax! I spent a good couple of hours on site in the afternoon working the same areas I had covered at the weekend and saw hardly anything in the way of birds. From the northern causeway a Little Egret was seen and a Little Grebe was a new arrival.
A walk along the reservoir from the hide to the car park and back produced just one Chiffchaff which was heard and not seen and a single Meadow Pipit.
The southern end of the reservoir which was such good value on Sunday was almost completely devoid of birds. A single drake Teal was seen and a small flock of seven Stock Doves were seen feeding in one of the ploughed fields adjacent to the reservoir.
And that was that! No idea where everything had gone...let's hope for better next time!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Sutton Bingham - Sun 13 Oct

I spent most of the morning at Sutton Bingham Reservoir today in an attempt to find something different and cheer myself up as I've been struggling with a cough and cold over the past few days.
I started out by walking from the hide along the water's edge to the car park and back. There was a little bit of visible migration as three Swallows passed through heading south, whilst heading west my first winter thrushes of the autumn, with six Fieldfares and three small flocks of Redwings (a total of seventeen birds). A small number of Meadow Pipits also passed though, but no more than half a dozen birds and a single Grey Wagtail also flew south.
A small flock of eight Wigeon flew in from the north and landed on the water, and some thirty minutes later a flock of twelve flew north (the original eight were nowhere to be seen so I presume they made up the bulk of this second flock).
As I neared the car park a large flock of Goldfinches were feeding on the scrubby vegetation, and a single Siskin was in with them. I then found a bird I'd not seen at Sutton Bingham for years, a male Yellowhammer was calling from a small bush. From the car park a Little Egret was seen on the far bank whilst at least two Kingfishers were interacting and a Chiffchaff skulked around. Returning to the car I flushed a Snipe from the water's edge, counted thirty eight Great Crested Grebes and watched a Kestrel fly north.
My second circuit was round the southern end of the reservoir where I was hopeful something might be lurking. I soon found a large flock of Long-tailed Tits, some thirty or so birds, and mixed in with them a few Goldcrests, Treecreepers, Blue Tits, Great Tits and Chiffchaffs...and then something else popped in to view. It was one of those special moments when I realised that I'd found a national scarcity and a patch tick (in fact I believe it is a first for the site) as a very smart Yellow-browed Warbler gave itself up feeding amongst the bushes and trees. I watched the bird for some five minutes as the diagnostic wing bars and eye-stripe showed brightly against the greenish plumage. What a little cracker!
It was with a real spring in my stride that I headed back to the car and home for a well-deserved lunch.
NB: Unfortunately the Yellow-browed Warbler was in an area of the reservoir that has little public access...sorry.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Wyke Regis - Sun 6 Oct

A really wonderful morning with clear skies and hardly a breeze, so I set off for Weymouth and in particular Wyke Regis. Arriving on site I parked at the top end of Camp Road and planned on a walk before the inevitable twitch! Walking south towards Bridge Camp there were several Meadow Pipits and Chiffchaffs about along with a continual aerial presence of Swallows and House Martins. One of the many horse paddocks contained a White Wagtail.
Looking back towards the east I could see a line of birds looking my way, and within seconds my phone rang as Somerset birder and birding mate Dave Hellier gave me ring to tell me I really ought to be over that I hot-footed it around to where he was.
After a quick catch up I then had to wait a while before the birds I had come to see finally put in an appearance. Firstly, a juvenile Red-backed Shrike showed well, if a bit distant, and then I was treated to some good views of a Red-breasted Flycatcher! At one point both birds could be seen together. So a result all round. I had then considered a walk over to Little Sea on The Fleet or even Portland but a quick check of the time ruled both of these out and it was off home instead.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 5 Oct

Finally, a chance to get out and do some birding after three weeks of weekend commitments have ruled out any chances to go and see some feathered friends. So this afternoon I stayed local and spent a couple of hours "on patch" at Sutton Bingham Reservoir.
Parking at the southern end I took a walk round the tail-end of the reservoir. There were very few warblers present today compared to my visits a few weeks ago, so I guess most have moved through now. A small party of six Teal took to the air as I passed and three Wigeon also put in an appearance, so some winter duck back already!
A ploughed field alongside the eastern side held good numbers of Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails as well as at least half a dozen White Wagtails. A Linnet flew over and landed on a telegraph wire and everything got spooked when a Hobby flew through heading south at a rate of knots.
A Raven was briefly on one of the pylons and another brief bird was a Kingfisher as it darted from vegetation along the water's edge.
Two Little Egrets could be seen from the northern end of the reservoir and were the only birds of interest in that area.
Also today, as I crossed one area I was amazed by the number of Small Coppers present, and they were all in amazing condition. I counted forty-eight individuals, and surely missed several too. A very smart Clouded Yellow passed though and other butterflies included Comma, Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshell.