Monday, 25 November 2013

Sutton Bingham - Sun 24 Nov

A brief stop on my way back from Ferrybridge produced a male Pochard, which was a new arrival on West Pool and was also my 100th species of bird at Sutton Bingham this year!
A female Wigeon was also on West Pool, but soon vanished. Eighteen Wigeon were off the dam earlier in the morning.
Returning to the reservoir mid-afternoon I again walked the water's edge from the site of the old hide to the car park and back. Three Little Grebes were at the southern end and a single Teal and three Wigeon were seen.
From the car park a Peregrine caused mass panic amongst the gathered gulls and local corvids. A small number of Redwings and Fieldfares were noted and a Meadow Pipit flew overhead. The water's edge provided a Chiffchaff and a Kingfisher, and a couple of Snipe were flushed. My second sighting of a Water Rail at the reservoir in a week rounded off the visit.

Ferrybridge - Sun 24 Nov

A trip down to the coast this morning, but it ended up being a somewhat truncated journey down to Ferrybridge. There were not many Dark-bellied Brent Geese present, and there was certainly no sign of any Black Brants, so a frustrating start.
With the tide being in I only connected with a few waders, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Turnstone making up the small flock. Around a dozen Mediterranean Gulls were seen and looked as smart as ever in their snow-white winter plumage.
A passing Peregrine caused a bit of alarm and a couple of Raven passed overhead.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 23 Nov

A couple of visits to the local patch today, the first just before lunch proved to be fairly productive. I took a walk from the site of the hide along the water's edge to the car park and back. A very flighty flock of eleven Wigeon were seen from the southern causeway before they took to the air and headed north. A small flock of five equally skittish Teal were seen from the Canoe Club. I managed a new Sutton Bingham year tick as two Lapwing flew over. Also in the sky a total of three Raven and a couple of soaring Sparrowhawks, a male and female judging by the size difference.
West Pool hosted a single Little Grebe, a Meadow Pipit passed over the car park and a couple of Kingfishers were seen whizzing over the water's surface. The willows just south of the car park hosted at least four Chiffchaffs.
Returning to site late in the afternoon proved less beneficial, though the Wigeon flock had re-gathered opposite the site of the old hide and now numbered thirteen birds, and four Little Grebes were present at the extreme south of the reservoir.
The northern end of the reservoir played host to a mass of gulls, with several hundred present. Despite scanning though the flock, I could not find anything unusual. Finally, a Water Rail was heard squealing from the vegetation on the edge of West Pool.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Ham Wall RSPB - Sun 17 Nov

This afternoon I went up to Ham Wall RSPB reserve, my first visit to the Somerset Levels for a couple of months. Avoiding the masses gathered to see the Starling roost I walked out to the second viewing platform where the only bird of note was a Marsh Harrier! There were a few winter duck around, though not massive numbers and a few Lapwing were also present. As well a couple of decent Starling flocks whirling about over the reed beds a good number of Pied Wagtails also passed overhead along with some winter thrushes.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 16 Nov & Sun 17 Nov

A late afternoon visit today and a walk from the hide, or at least where the hide used to be as it was missing when I turned up! No great loss as it was in a bad state or repair and you couldn't actually see anything from it anyway. I followed the water's edge up as far as the car park and then back again. here was very little on the water but at the car park a Kingfisher whizzed by. Pick of the day was a very obliging Water Rail that was seen just south of the car park for a few minutes before finally vanishing in to the vegetation. This was the first Water Rail I'd seen at SBR for years and was by far the best views I'd had here. A single Chiffchaff was feeding in the willows under which the rail was skulking.
Back toward the southern end a flock of eleven Teal flew by looking nervous and upon scanning the pylons I realised why as a Peregrine was perched atop one of them plucking its dinner! Overhead a single Meadow Pipit and small numbers of Fieldfares and Redwings passed by. An adult and juvenile Mute Swan were also present.
A follow-up trip on Sunday morning was much less productive, though the Peregrine was again noted. I concentrated on the southern end where a couple of Teal and five Wigeon were seen. A large flock of Woodpigeons suddenly took to the air and must have numbered at least three hundred birds, quite a site!
Among the trees a feeding flock of birds contains a couple of Treecreepers and a Coal Tit as well as several Goldcrests and a few Redwing. I failed to find anything unusual amongst the commoner birds today though.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Studland & Arne RSPB - Sun 10 Nov

A day out with the family in Dorset today and it started just north of Studland where we took a walk along the beach to try and find a Surf Scoter. After getting rough directions from a couple of birders I soon located the bird feeding amongst a large number of Great Crested Grebes. As always I tried to get a few pictures, though it seemed that every time I clicked the camera on my phone the bird vanished in the swell!
Also in Brand's Bay a Great Northern Diver and several Red-Breasted Mergansers. There were also a good number of Dark-bellied Brent Geese and Shelduck present and a couple of Grey Plover flew over.
After our walk in the brisk wind we drove back to Studland village and parked in Middle Beach car park before getting a well deserved snack before playtime on the beach. Whilst walking along I noticed a couple of Chiffchaffs feeding in the trees behind the beach huts. Unfortunately I didn't have time to investigate the area in more detail, instead I had to settle for a quick look for Ring-necked Parakeets. I was pretty gutted to find the trees in which the parakeets had usually been found had been removed for some reason, so I drew a blank with regards to seeing any but I did hear one bird calling as we got back to the car.
After a brief trip in to Wareham for some lunch we spent the afternoon at Arne RSPB. A walk out to the beach at Shipstal Point failed to produce much in the way of birds until we actually reached the beach where an adult Yellow-legged Gull was on the water. I guess a raptor must have passed over the saltmarsh because a large number of Wigeon and Teal suddenly appeared and a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits joined them.
With time getting on we then headed back to the car. A Mistle Thrush and a few Fieldfares passed overhead and as we reached the small church I found a Firecrest...though it was typically mobile in the canopy for most of the time. That being said it rounded off a lovely day out.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Sutton Bingham - Wed 6 Nov

I popped out late afternoon and took a look at the reservoir and couldn't believe my eyes when I found a Great Northern Diver off the dam and viewable from the northern causeway! This is the first record for the site and unbelievably the second species of diver at Sutton Bingham Reservoir this year. The bird showed very well, if somewhat distantly, for the duration of my stay with a slight exception when it swam out of view for ten minutes. I did attempt a couple of record shots, but poor late afternoon autumnal light, distance, and a bad photographer meant I could only produce this!
Also present this afternoon, four Tufted Duck were on West Pool and a single Redwing flew over. As the light started to fade so the gulls arrived in their masses. I gave up counting Black-headed Gulls but there were at least five hundred on the water. Amongst them at least twenty Common Gulls and several larger gulls.
I left for home after a final look at the Great Northern Diver and a pretty chuffed feeling having found my second site first in a month. Hard work pays off it seems.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Sutton Bingham - Sun 3 Nov

An hour long visit mid-morning produced one of those birding dilemmas when you find something and are pretty sure you know what it is, but it does not quite show you exactly what you want to see to nail the identification without doubt. So a female Wigeon on West Pool had me convinced it was an American Wigeon due to colouration of plumage, etc. but whilst watching it, it just sat on the water doing very I was unable to see anything in the way of underwing colouration or any wing bars! If only it had given me a little flap!
Other than this cryptic duck I saw very little whilst on site. The southern end of the reservoir produced a fly-over Meadow Pipit and a Raven. Three or so Bullfinches were seen and a flock of eleven Snipe wheeled around before vanishing in to the vegetation somewhere.
Also of note today, a Red Admiral and a Clouded Yellow on the wing still...both looking extremely smart.
When I got home I received a text from a fellow birder:
"Fem. US wigeon west pool 11am. 99% sure. Dark eye and prom. white wing bar"
If only I'd spent a little longer staring at it and not rushing off I may well have got on to that wing bar too!