Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Sutton Bingham - Wed 31 Dec

So my final visit to the patch for 2014, and I managed about twenty minutes after work which just about gave me time to scan the gull roost. I picked out four Mediterranean Gulls amongst the masses, three adult birds and a second-winter. Not much else of interest this evening, though a flock of 103 Wigeon were off the dam. A nice little visit to round off what has been an enjoyable year concentrating on Sutton Bingham rather than travelling far and wide for year ticks.
Year list for 2014 now at 205 species.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Sutton Bingham - Mon 29 Dec

I managed to get to the reservoir late afternoon and was able to check out the gull roost. A single adult Mediterranean Gull was located, but the pick was an adult Yellow-legged Gull. A couple of Kingfishers were seen and thirty-six Wigeon were off the dam.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 28 Dec

A visit during the afternoon produced five male Bullfinches, I didn't see any female birds amongst them, feeding in trees at the Canoe Club, and three Shoveler (two drakes and a duck) were with half a dozen Wigeon at the southern end.
There were very few gulls present today!

Ham Wall RSPB - Sat 27 Dec

With the excesses of Christmas over and done with for another twelve months, it was a trip up to the Avalon Marshes this morning and a visit to Ham Wall. Making use of the very smart new car park I walked out to the second viewing platform, seeing a small group of four Lesser Redpolls feeding in alders along the way. Form the second viewing platform I saw two Marsh Harriers but surprisingly few wintering duck.
Walking back to the first viewing platform a Bittern provided us with a very fine fly-by view and was certainly the highlight of a quiet but enjoyable visit.

Sutton Bingham - Tue 23 Dec

A flying visit on the way in to work produced a pair of Raven and a Meadow Pipit flyting over West Pool and a Kingfisher perched in one of the small trees that over hand the water.
Returning later in the day I had a bit of time available so checked out the southern end of the reservoir, an area I'd been ignoring of late. Two Water Rail were heard calling and fifteen Snipe were flushed from the water's edge. A flock of around seventy Teal were keeping company with twenty or so Wigeon but were very flighty and almost impossible to scan fully for anything different.
I then set off for the northern end of the reservoir and checked out the gull roost. I could only find a couple of Mediterranean Gulls tonight so decided to pop across to the dam to see if anything was loitering in that area.
From the dam a further eighty-nine Wigeon were present but the only other bird of note was a single Kingfisher, and with the light nearly gone it was time to go home.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Sutton Bingham - Mon 22 Dec

Pretty much more of the same during a brief visit to check out the gull roost this evening. Three Mediterranean Gulls were present tonight, an adult and two second-winters, so definitely some different birds today, and they took a bit of finding amongst two and a half thousand Black-headed Gulls. Some fifty or so Common Gulls were present and Herring Gulls were in to four figures with an estimated one thousand in the roost.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 21 Dec

A little under an hour on the patch this morning and all the interest, if you can go that far, was from the dam. A single drake Wigeon was the only duck of interest and a Little Egret was feeding on the water's edge. The horse paddock hosted at least a hundred Redwing and the feeders at the Fishing Lodge were attracting good numbers of commoner birds, including a small flock of a dozen Greenfinches, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Treecreeper.

Sutton Bingham - Fri 19 Dec

Quick visit on the way home tonight and just three Mediterranean Gulls in the roost, a single adult and two first-winters. Around fifty Common Gulls also present in the roost tonight. A drake Tufted Duck was new in on West Pool, where are all the diving duck? Twenty-seven Wigeon were off the dam and three Kingfishers were also seen.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 14 Dec

What a difference a day makes! Another late afternoon visit and today I pulled up on the northern causeway and noticed a fair number of gulls gathered on West Pool, somewhat unusual as they tend to drop in straight on to the main reservoir. Scanning this flock it soon became obvious that the vast majority were Common Gulls, with around a hundred present as well as twenty or so more on the main reservoir. I usually only have small counts of Common Gull at Sutton Bingham, so a three figure count was impressive. Another surprise came in the form of seven Mediterranean Gulls also on West Pool, and posing very well...unfortunately the battery in my phone was dead so no chance of getting a few records shots. Turning my back on West Pool I scanned the main reservoir and was amazed to find more Mediterranean Gulls...the final total was twenty-three birds, nineteen adults, a single second-winter and three first-winter birds. This more than doubles my previous site record count of Mediterranean Gulls. The only other birds of note tonight were a couple of Snipe that flew up from the edge of West Pool, presumably to visit the local fields to feed.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 13 Dec

A late afternoon visit turned up two adult Mediterranean Gulls in the roost, but not much else. I had a fleeting view of a Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail flew over. Other than that it was pretty quiet, though there were a good number of Cormorants present tonight, some sixty birds were counted.

Sutton Bingham - Fri 12 Dec

I managed to get away from work earlier than usual this evening, which meant I was just about able to get to Sutton Bingham before dark. Due to road closures I had to go round the houses and as a result made for the dam. Scoping the water I counted a flock of one hundred Wigeon, my highest count at the site for quite some time, and amongst them a single drake Shoveler. The gull roost must have numbered at least 2500 birds, mainly Herring and Black-headed Gulls, the light was not good enough to investigate the birds closer. Twenty-six Great Crested Grebes had gathered off the dam to roost also. A quick drive round to West pool produced a couple of Snipe flying off but nothing else.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Sutton Bingham - Wed 3 Dec

I was able to spend a bit of time at the reservoir this afternoon, and it actually paid off as I found a drake Pintail amongst a flock of forty Wigeon viewable from the northern causeway. A single drake Teal and three Gadwall (two drakes and a duck) were also present. So a mini wildfowl influx today!
I then took a walk from the Canoe Club south along the water's edge as far as the "hide" and back again. Not a lot to be seen though I did discover a first-winter Stonechat that was pretty active as it flitted from perch to perch. A Kingfisher also put on quite a show as it sat in a small willow overhanging the water (a second Kingfisher was seen briefly in flight). Overhead just a single Meadow Pipit was noted.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 108 species.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 23 Nov

A little under an hour at the reservoir this morning and I managed to add another species to the patch year list. A drake Pochard was present and showing well at times from the northern causeway. Amazingly this is only my second Pochard at Sutton Bingham in the past two years...a species that used to be present here in good numbers during the winter months.
The only other birds of note were seven fly-over Meadow Pipits.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 107 species.

Sutton Bingham - Fri 21 Nov

A brief visit on my way home from work and a scan of the gathering gulls failed to turn up anything different, though a couple of Mediterranean Gulls and a leucistic Herring Gull had been seen prior to my arrival! As the light faded three small flocks of Snipe left West Pool and headed east, a total of twenty-one birds.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 16 Nov

A short visit late morning again failed to turn up much, though a male Blackcap feeding on the railway embankment was a bit of a surprise. A single Meadow Pipit flew over and there was a considerable movement of winter thrushes. During the half an hour or so that I was present several hundred Fieldfare and Redwing passed through.

Abbotsbury - Sat 15 Nov

This afternoon I headed down to Abbotsbury and a walk around the Sub-tropical Gardens, however, I did manage a quick scan out to see from the beach first...where I saw two adult Mediterranean Gulls and three Kittiwakes.
Wandering around the gardens I was somewhat surprised at the lack of birds, though the weather was rather gloomy and it was getting late. No sign of any Firecrests today, so I dare say I'll pop down this way again and have another go.

Sutton Bingham - Wed 12 Nov

Another flying visit late in the day and the first Fieldfares of the winter were seen, with a small flock of just three birds feeding in trees with eight Redwing. Out on the main reservoir three Wigeon and a female Tufted Duck were the only birds of seems a long time ago when there were large flocks of duck at Sutton Bingham.

Sutton Bingham - Wed 5 Nov

A quick visit to the reservoir late afternoon and I just concentrated on the northern causeway and West Pool. It was pretty quiet but a Water Rail was heard calling from the water's edge on West Pool. The small patch of vegetation in the corner nearest the railway bridge held a feeding flock of Long-tailed Tits with a single Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest amongst them. Just one Redwing put in an appearance and a Bullfinch was also noted.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Huntspill & Steart WWT - Sat 1 Nov

I managed to get a day out with a couple of birding mates today and we headed to north Somerset for a complete change of scenery. I'm not sure why but I very rarely venture in to the north of my county, somehow going north seems to take's uphill I suppose!
Anyway, an early start had us arriving at Huntspill and parking in the village by 7.30am and we walked down to the sluice, scanning the area around us. Pretty much the first things we saw were a few fly-over Redwing and then a female Merlin drifted past us. Over the next hour or so there was a steady passage of birds heading south, primarily Chaffinches, but also several Redwing, Skylark and Meadow Pipits...I also thought I caught the call of a Woodlark, but couldn't nail it down. At least three Stonechats were also seen.
On the estuary there were large flocks of Avocet, Knot, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit alongside smaller numbers of Curlew and Redshank. A small group of Grey Plovers flew through and a single Whimbrel was seen in flight.
We were also treated to some great views of a second Merlin as it flew in and landed on a fence a few metres in front of us, but typically flew off just as I was about to take a photo. A third Merlin, this time a male, was also seen, as were two Peregrines. However, there was no sign of the long-staying juvenile Pallid Harrier this side of the river.
After a couple of hours we were starting to get hungry so it was back to the car for a late breakfast or early lunch before driving round to the opposite side of the estuary to visit the newly created WWT reserve at Steart. It has been several years since I was in this neck of the woods and the new reserve looks cracking...however we failed to see much in the way of birds whilst we were present. We dipped out on the Pallid Harrier and this cost us so much time we missed the opportunity of heading to Dunster and the chance of Snow Bunting and Hoopoe...hindsight is a wonderful thing! A Great White Egret was seen at Steart, as was yet another Merlin and another Peregrine (this time a juvenile bird). So not the best of afternoons but all in all a brilliant day out and it was great to catch up with some old friends for the day.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Budleigh Salterton - Sun 26 Oct

Another trip out this afternoon and a jaunt down to the Devon coast and the small town of Budleigh Salterton. Things didn't go entirely to plan and the visit was cut short, but I did manage to see the Grey Phalarope that was on the estuary near the river mouth.
As you can see it was pretty close, less than two metres away at times, so even I managed to get some half decent pictures of it! What a cracking little bird!
A single Black-tailed Godwit and a couple of Rock Pipits were also present, though I must admit I didn't really have the opportunity to spend any time looking for anything else!

Sutton Bingham - Sat 25 Oct

After the trip to Abbotsbury I spent an hour before dark viewing Sutton Bingham Reservoir from the dam in the hope that something special may drop in to the gull roost. I'd not had the opportunity to check the gulls as the gathered in the evening for a long time, so I was quite looking forward to it.
Birds constantly streamed in to the reservoir during my visit, but I was able to estimate the counts as follows: 2500 Herring Gulls, 200 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 800 Black Headed Gulls, a single Common Gull and a first calendar year Yellow-legged Gull. It was a pretty impressive site!
Also tonight three Kingfishers and a Little Egret on the dam.

Abbotsbury - Sat 25 Oct

A trip down to the coast this afternoon and I made for Abbotsbury, with my first stop overlooking the Swannery from the road. I set up my 'scope and scanned The Fleet and before too long picked out the three Scaup that had been present for a while, I believe the female has been here all summer. As I was watching the Scaup an interesting and familiar call made me look up, and a Richard's Pipit flew over heading west, followed by a couple of Meadow a very good size comparison! That was a really unexpected bonus!
I failed to pick up anything much else of note on The Fleet so drove down to the Swannery and took a walk up to St Catherine's Chapel and back. I failed to locate the Yellow-browed Warbler that had been seen near the entrance to the Swannery, in fact the only birds of note were a couple of fly-over Ravens. But it was a lovely walk and a great trip out.

Sutton Bingham - Thu 23 Oct

I managed another morning at the reservoir today and started off by checking out the extreme southern end of the reservoir around Cotton Bridge, etc. The flock of Wigeon which has been near the dam for the past few days was today around the south of the reservoir and being typically flighty, so my presence soon put the flock in to the air and I counted fifty-four birds as they headed off. Overhead eight Meadow Pipits and five Skylarks passed by and a couple of Raven were also seen.
West Pool hosted a single Tufted Duck and the first two Common Gulls of the winter were on the main reservoir off the northern causeway. A couple of Kingfishers were also seen.
However, the highlight of the morning was not related to birds at all. As I was creeping around the water's edge near Cotton Bridge movement in the water caught my attention, after a few minutes I was treated to some amazing views of what I presume was a family party of Otters, a female and two kits I would guess. The three Otters put on quite an amazing show as I watched before they finally vanished...amazing stuff and I was less than five metres away.

Sutton Bingham - Tue 21 Oct

I managed to spend three hours at Sutton Bingham this morning and as a result was able to cover most of the reservoir. Starting at the dam I noted nineteen Wigeon grazing on the bank, with a dozen Meadow Pipits and a White Wagtail on the dam itself. Two Raven drifted overhead.
On then to the Car Park and a walk around which failed to produce much at all other than a couple of Chiffchaffs! I then bumped in to a fellow birder who mentioned that he had seen a first-winter Mediterranean Gull on West Pool earlier in the morning, so along I popped but could only find three Tufted Duck. He then told me of another bird he had found near the Canoe Club...this time it was a patch year tick, so after thanking him I zoomed off and less than five minutes later I was watching a very smart Stonechat!
I think this must be the first Stonechat I've seen at Sutton Bingham for about three years, so I was pretty pleased to connect with it. A couple of Skylarks flew over whilst I was watching the chat.
Off then for a quick walk around the southern end of the reservoir but this was a dead loss with no birds at all...but I did round the morning off with four Clouded Yellows!

Arne RSPB & Studland - Mon 20 Oct

A trip out today and I headed down to the Isle of Purbeck, starting off with a morning at Arne RSPB reserve. The day started out pretty well with a fleeting view of a Firecrest in the car park before I walked out to Shipstal Point.
From the small beach a Sandwich Tern was feeding in the channel and a flock of none Dark-bellied Brent Geese dropped in. Overhead small parties of Goldfinch, Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Siskin flew through.
Walking back through the heathland two Dartford Warblers could be heard calling. I also 'scoped the saltmarsh where nine Spoonbills were typically asleep on the sandy spit amongst a number of Shelduck, Curlew and Redshank.
The walk back to the car was pretty unproductive, but it was a nice start to the day.
After a picnic lunch I drove round to Studland and parked at Middle Beach. A quick walk south along the cliff top produced a single Ring-necked Parakeet which showed really well perched in a tree...unfortunately the battery in my phone was flat thus preventing me from obtaining one of those high-quality photos that I like to include from time to time!
Out on the water a flock of nine Black-necked Grebes were feeding and at least twenty Mediterranean Gulls were present. My attention was distracted from the sea however when a foraging party of birds flittered through the vegetation. Amongst the many Long-tailed Tits at least one Chiffchaff was present and frustratingly I could hear, but failed to see, a Yellow-browed Warbler!
Back to the car and I was planning on checking out Hartland Moor, but the rain struck and so I called it a day and drove on home.

Ham Wall RSPB - Sun 19 Oct

For the first time in what seems like an age I took a trip up on to the Avalon Marshes today and visited Ham Wall RSPB reserve. A walk out to the second viewing platform produced a flock of ten Ruff amongst a number of Lapwing, at least 150 birds must have been present, and at least nine Snipe.
A Great White Egret was present from the viewing platform, and a second individual was showing from the first viewing platform. Two Marsh Harriers hunted over the reed beds, causing mayhem amongst the wildfowl. A Kingfisher rounded off an enjoyable afternoon visit.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 18 Oct

Another fairly brief visit to the patch today, and I concentrated my efforts on the area around the dam where the grassy bank played host to a flock of 109 Canada Geese and ten Wigeon. Great Crested Grebes numbered thirty birds, I guess a few more would've been present in the southern arm as well. A couple of Raven flew over and single Meadow Pipit and Grey Wagtail were on the dam itself. A small flock of twelve Chaffinch were feeding around the Fishing Lodge.

Sutton Bingham - Thu 16 Oct

A fifteen minute stop at the reservoir on the way to work provided very little of interest, however, the field just north of Hyde Farm hosted 375 Black-headed Gulls, and around forty Pied Wagtails. Some thirty-one Meadow Pipits passed overhead whilst I was scanning the fields, as did a couple of Jays.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 12 Oct

I popped up to the reservoir after lunch for about an hour or so and today concentrated my efforts on the area around Cotton Bridge at the extreme southern end of the site. A flock of twenty-five Wigeon was the pick of the birds, though a couple of Skylarks and at least eight Meadow Pipits flew over. Other birds of note around Cotton Bridge included a Nuthatch and a Bullfinch.
Two Little Grebes were on the water off the southern causeway and a Kingfisher was seen from the northern causeway. Again, there was no sign of the Osprey.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 11 Oct

I spent a couple of hours at the reservoir this morning, parking up by the site of the hide and walking along the water's edge as far as the car park and then back again. There was a little bit of visible migration with at least six Skylarks (a new patch year tick!) and five Meadow Pipits passing overhead. Jays have been very noticeable over the past week or so and four birds were seen today and three Ravens also drifted over.
On the ground there were still several Chiffchaffs milling about with at least half a dozen birds recorded as well as four Goldcrests. West Pool hosted a female Tufted Duck and a Reed Bunting and the final sighting of note was of four Wigeon that flew south. Not a bad morning on the patch really.
I popped back to the reservoir for a shorter visit in the afternoon, this time concentrating on the area around the dam. After a stay of about seven weeks the juvenile Osprey had finally moved on, I guess the recent dismal weather was enough to convince it that Africa may be worth the trip after all!
A small flock of five Linnet flew over and there were four Meadow Pipits around the dam. The Little Egret was also present still.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 105 species.

Sutton Bingham - Fri 10 Oct

Just a quick visit early evening on the way home from work and I popped in to the Fishing Lodge and checked the northern end of the reservoir from the dam. The Osprey was again present and a Little Egret was feeding on the dam. The flock of Wigeon had increased to twenty-seven birds.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Sutton Bingham - Wed 8 Oct

A quick visit after work this evening and I spent about ten minutes only at the reservoir and I concentrated on the north-east corner scanning the area from the dam. The juvenile Osprey was still present, again perched up in its favourite tree, though in strong winds and after the heavy rain over the last couple of days I wonder just how much longer it will hang around!
The grassy bank west of the dam held a fair-sized flock of Canada Geese (I must admit I didn't count them though) and twenty Wigeon. Not much this evening in the way of smaller birds, but a juvenile Swallow flew through battling against the winds.
The only other bird of note this evening was a Raven which landed in the top of a tree and was subjected to a constant barrage of abuse from a Jackdaw.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 5 Oct

I managed to spend about thirty minutes at the reservoir this morning and made straight for the dam and a quick look around. To my surprise the juvenile Osprey was still about, it did a couple of circuits, freaking out the gulls, and then settled in the ash tree it seems to be favouring.
On the dam a few Pied Wagtails were present along with four Meadow Pipits, at least two White Wagtails, and a Grey Wagtail. A Kingfisher did a fly-past and a single Little Egret was still about. Finally, a Mistle Thrush was foraging in the horse paddock situated below the dam.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 28 Sep

I made a couple of visits to the patch today and it provided more of the same really. Starting at the dam there were six White Wagtails still and a pair of Grey Wagtails, the small horse paddock held six Meadow Pipits and two Little Egrets were feeding on the water's edge. Two Kingfishers were seen at the outflow stream. No sign of the Osprey this morning, but it was still about and during the afternoon I saw it a few times. The only other birds of note today were in the ploughed field at the bottom of the hill north of Hyde Farm where a further eight Meadow Pipits and another White Wagtail were seen.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 27 Sep

I managed to squeeze in about half an hour at the northern end of the reservoir this afternoon and I concentrated on the dam. The Osprey was still viewable as it perched in the ash tree that seems to be its new favoured viewing point. On the dam itself were half a dozen White Wagtails and a Grey Wagtail alongside a few Pied Wagtails. Two Little Egrets were present and a Common Sandpiper was still knocking around. A couple of Meadow Pipits were present and I also found rather an interesting gull.
My first thought was an argentatus Herring Gull, sometimes called a Scandinavian Herring Gull but I'm not so sure after studying the photos again and getting feedback from a few argentatus would be pretty rare in the south west, especially this time of year.Gull expert Rich Bonser suggested that it could be a hybrid Herring x Lesser Black-backed, while another suggestion is that it simply a 3cy Lesser Black-backed. Gulls never fail to amaze me, they are so varied and full of surprises.
Finally, six Wigeon were present off the dam, though they did not linger and flew south.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Sutton Bingham - Thu 25 Aug

Having arranged access to a private part of the reservoir I spent a bit of time after work at the northern end near the dam, please note there is no public access to this part of Sutton Bingham. The Osprey, which I thought may have gone, was still around and favouring an ash tree (apparently this has been it's preferred perch for a few days but is completely hidden from public rights of way). The dam hosted a load of birds, with a single Common Sandpiper being quite a late bird and a large flock of wagtails, including a single Grey Wagtail and about a dozen White Wagtails amongst a similar number of Pied Wagtails. At least four Meadow Pipits were also present here. Just as I was heading back to the car, four Wigeon flew over.

Sutton Bingham - Wed 24 Sep

A couple of hours on path this afternoon and I spent pretty much the entire time walking from the site where the hide was located north along the reservoir to the Canoe Club and back again. There was no sign of the long staying Osprey today, so perhaps it has moved on after three weeks at Sutton Bingham? However, six Wigeon off the Canoe Club were new and could be a sign that winter is on it's way! Two Raven flew over and that was pretty much it.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 21 Sep

A couple of trips to the reservoir today, starting off with a later morning visit which produced a bit of interest and a sign of some migration. Pretty much the first bird I saw was the juvenile Osprey being harassed by a couple of Carrion Crows over West Pool, it then drifted south and was lost to view.
A Snipe was flushed from the northern causeway and I heard a Common Sandpiper but failed to locate it. Overhead a good number of Meadow Pipits were passing through, and unbelievably the second Tree Pipit of the week!
I returned later in the day, but the weather conditions were not quite so good as it was more overcast and certainly a bit cooler. The Osprey was still present and viewable from the northern causeway as it rested in a tree. There was still a slight trickle of Meadow Pipits, with around ten moving through and over the reservoir at least five hundred Swallows were feeding. Several Chiffchaffs were around the site. The last bird of note was a Kingfisher seen zooming over the reservoir towards the Sailing Club.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Sutton Bingham - Thu 19 Sep

I managed a quick stop off at the reservoir this morning, no sign of the Osprey which was still here yesterday morning, but a Little Egret on the northern causeway and lots of Swallows feeding over the reservoir and adjacent fields. Then from out of nowhere I got a Sutton Bingham tick! A Tree Pipit flew over calling! Despite scanning the skies I was unable to see the bird, but the call is diagnostic so no problems with the identification.
A return to the reservoir mid-afternoon failed to produce much more other than a juvenile Hobby which spent a bit of time attempting to hunt over West Pool.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 14 Sep

A late morning visit produced a bit of variety from the northern causeway, though nothing much else of note. A Common Sandpiper was seen zooming over the water until lost to view near the Fishing Lodge and a Little Egret was feeding on the dam. Highlight though was a juvenile Osprey showing well from the northern causeway and even better from the car park until flushed by a sailing boat.
Though I can't say for sure, I'm pretty certain this is a different bird than the one seen last weekend because as far as I know there have been no sightings at the reservoir for a week.
Returning later in the day I spent nearly an hour around the Water Treatment Works as the bushes seemed to be alive with Chiffchaffs, there must have been at least twenty birds...but try as I might I could not find anything more unusual amongst them. A couple of Meadow Pipits flew over heading north and other bits and pieces seen around here included a few Goldcrests and Grey Wagtails. I then drove on round to the southern end of the reservoir, but failed to see anything other than Great Crested Grebes. A quick stop near the Canoe Club produced some great views of the Osprey as it hunted, I managed to see one unsuccessful fishing attempt...spectacular stuff! On then to the northern causeway again and a surprise find with a female Shoveler being present...where was that earlier in the day? Another tick on the patch year list.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 103 species.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Sutton Bingham - Fri 12 Sep

Quick stop off at the reservoir today on the way in to work and not a lot to be seen, especially as the early morning fog that gathers in the dip that is Sutton Bingham Reservoir during Autumn mornings was hampering the view. I did stop off at the top of the hill by Hyde Farm, where I found a Spotted Flycatcher along with a few mobile Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. Always nice to see Spotted Flycatcher at Sutton Bingham as it no longer breeds on site and is no way a guaranteed year tick on patch.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Sutton Bingham - Mon 8 Sep

Unbelievable luck this morning. I left for work slightly earlier than usual and this gave me fifteen minutes to check out the reservoir and I managed to add another species to the year list. A group of four Garganey appeared from nowhere, landed briefly on West Pool before getting spooked by a Buzzard and then pegged it south. Result!
I also saw a single White Wagtail feeding with three Pied Wagtails on the ploughed field near the Canoe Club. I've been keeping an eye on this particular field for a couple of weeks in the hope something might drop in, next time I hope it's something that will count on my Patchwork Challenge list as White Wagtail is only classified as a subspecies!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 7 Sep

The Osprey was still present late morning near the Canoe Club but was slightly more mobile during the afternoon as it was first seen at the southern end as it made it's way north up the reservoir, last being seen making a fishing attempt neat the Sailing Club and then drifting east and becoming lost to view.
More importantly today I notched up my one hundredth species of bird on patch this year with a fly-over Yellow Wagtail! I must admit that I feel this is quite a landmark as my patch is a pretty small inland reservoir. I managed 102 species in 2013, so with three and a half months to go it'll be interesting to see how the rest of the year goes and what more I can add.
By the way, a Meadow Pipit flew over with a load of Swallows mid-afternoon too!

Sutton Bingham - Sat 6 Sep

The recent run of Whinchats continued today with two birds at West Pool, favouring the same area as the previous five birds this autumn, the fence line on the left hand side of West Pool as you look at it.
The only other bird of note was the juvenile Osprey which has been present for a few days now.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Sutton Bingham - Wed 3 Sep

I spent a few hours at the reservoir this afternoon and it turned out to be a pretty profitable visit. Scanning the fence along the edge of West Pool I located a total of four Whinchats, my highest ever count of this species at Sutton Bingham as they tend to pass through in ones or twos. They were joined by a female Reed Bunting for a short while.
Walking from the car park south along the water's edge I was checking the Chiffchaffs feeding in the small sallows and willows when I noticed an Osprey perched on in a tree on the far bank! Unfortunately it did not hang around and soon took to the air and headed north, I was unable to relocate it. This is the third Osprey I've seen on the patch this year.
Just to the south of the Canoe Club I picked out a falcon hunting over the fields opposite, a Hobby! Within a few minutes it had been joined by two more with all three hawking insects.
Returning to the car park I failed to see anything else of note, but some cracking birds this afternoon.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Meare Heath NR - Sun 31 Aug

This afternoon I made my first trip up on to the Somerset Levels for a couple of months and it was well worth the trip. Parking at Ashcott Corner I walked east towards Meare Heath and Noah's Lake, stopping at the drained lagoon to check out the mass of birds assembled there. Before too long I had noted four Green Sandpipers, half a dozen Dunlin and four  Ruff and a roosting Garganey. A single Great White Egret was also present and the arguable highlight a moulting adult Curlew Sandpiper. A Water Rail was also seen on the fringes of the pool skulking in and out of the reeds.
I then headed off to the hide that overlooks Noah's Lake and almost the first bird I saw was a very smart Osprey.

Not a lot else was seen from the hide so I retraced my steps back towards the car, pausing again to look over the waders before heading on home after a lovely afternoon out in the sun with some good birds to boot.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 31 Aug

I must have spent less little more than quarter of an hour at Sutton Bingham this morning as I had other commitments so literally popped in whilst passing by...and unbelievably I managed to add another bird to the patch year list. A Greenshank flew in and did a couple of circuits of West Pool, attempted to land once or twice then gave up and gained height before vanishing to the south, all the while calling away with that piping trisyllabic "tui-tui-tui"! A real unexpected bonus as it looks like the chances of any mud being available for waders this year will again be zero.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Sutton Bingham - Wed 27 Aug

A flying visit to the patch on the way to work and I spent literally minutes at the northern end of the reservoir. Just as I pulled away I noticed the gathered gulls suddenly take to the air so I slammed on the brakes and grabbed my bins and looked to the skies expecting to see something and sure enough an Osprey was overhead. I watched it for about a minute before it drifted south and was lost to view.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 24 Aug

A while since my last blog entry simply because I've not actually seen anything much. An entire morning on the patch last week failed to produce anything other than a good number of Chiffchaffs and a few flying visits have only yielded a couple of Common Sandpipers and the odd Kingfisher!
Today was slightly different though as a mid-morning visit produced a couple of really good birds for the patch. Scanning the fence line at the edge of West Pool I found a Whinchat and a Redstart! A real result, with only my third record of Redstart (and second in two years) and the first Whinchat on patch for a couple of years.
As it happens there was not much else about other than a single Little Egret feeding on the dam and the outflow stream hosted a Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 98 species.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Wydcombe Estate NT - Tue 5 Aug

My first ever trip to the Isle of Wight today, and the main reason was to see the breeding Bee-eaters. When the National Trust released the news a week earlier I had run the idea past my better half and we decided to make a family day of it, so I booked the ferry and because it was a mid-week sailing it cost less than fifty pounds for the return trip.
An uneventful journey and we arrived at the special viewpoint on the Wydcombe Estate at around 12.30pm, and within a couple of minutes I had seen one Bee-eater with prey flying almost over the car. Over the next hour I had a couple more flight views and some good, if a bit distant, views of at least two different birds perched on wires. Absolutely brilliant stuff, and although I had heard a Bee-eater on the Isles of Scilly last year, this firmly planted it on my UK list. I attempted some photos, but the birds were distant!
Not a lot else in the way of birds as the rest of the day was spent doing family things, but I didn't mind, it had been a very successful trip to a place I'd never been to before.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Middleton Lakes RSPB - Sat 2 Aug

A trip "Up North" today to twitch a pretty rare bird! Up soon after 4:00am and on the road within the hour, myself and two friends arrived at Middleton Lakes RPSB reserve in Staffordshire at around 7:40am. Luckily we bumped in to a local chap who pointed us in the right direction and by 8:00am we had seen our target bird, albeit in flight only...a summer-plumaged Pacific Golden Plover!
After about an hour of waiting for the bird to emerge from vegetation it did another fly-around and then settled for the remainder of our stay, affording brilliant views and enabling me to pick out all the characteristic plumage features. A brilliant bird and well worth the trip.
Whilst on site I also saw a couple of Snipe and two Common Sandpipers. At least two juvenile Little Ringed Plover were also present and there were good numbers of Common Terns, including several recently fledged birds. A Grasshopper Warbler was briefly heard a few times. After a couple of hours on site we headed back home and got caught in holiday traffic on the M5, so a bit of cross-country driving got us back home by early afternoon after a very successful twitch.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Sutton Bingham - Thu 31 Jul

After a few flying visits over the past week or so, which yielded very little other than a few Common Sandpipers passing through (a maximum count of eight on 29 July) and the odd female-type Mandarin.
Today I had some time to invest at the reservoir and started off at the Northern Causeway where the sallows in the corner of West Pool held a Sedge Warbler, I presume this was a passage bird as I've not seen or heard any Sedge Warblers at Sutton Bingham for the duration of the summer. At least one Lesser Whitethroat was also skulking in this area. A single Little Egret was near the Sailing Club.
A quick look around the church failed to produce anything, though a pair of Swallows have successfully raised young.
I then spent about ninety minutes walking around the southern end of the reservoir. Warblers were pretty plentiful, with a good number of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, including several young birds. I also located a single Reed Warbler, again I have no idea whether this species successfully bred at Sutton Bingham this year, I somehow doubt it due to the lack of singing birds since mid-May. I was also pleased to see a couple of juvenile Willow Warblers, I had only heard one singing Willow Warbler on patch all year. A couple of Kingfishers whizzed over the path right in front of me at Cotton Bridge and a pair of Raven drifted overhead.
It was a brilliant morning for butterflies, with thirteen species being seen. The highlight of which were two, possibly three, Clouded Yellows. I also saw Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Small Skipper, Common Blue, Comma and Common Blue amongst others. There were also several different dragonflies and damselflies about, I failed on identification for nearly all but I'm pretty sure one of the larger dragonflies was a Migrant Hawker...must try harder with odonata, or get an ID guide!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Sutton Bingham - Tue 22 Jul

Not much chance recently to get out and about due to various reasons, none of which I will bore you with. The few flying visits I have made to Sutton Bingham over the past couple of weeks have failed to produce much other than Common Sandpipers! A quick visit in the morning produced three juvenile type Mandarin on West Pool and an adult Peregrine on a pylon at the southern end.
However, this afternoon whilst scanning through the four hundred plus large gulls gathered I came across a Great Black-backed Gull, this bird was moulting to second winter plumage and was a beast of a gull...a really nice bird and by no means an annual visitor to the reservoir. The following photos show the size of this bird compared to a Mallard and a Black-headed Gull....what a monster!
The only other bird of note today was a Little Egret.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 95 species.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Sutton Bingham - Mon 7 Jul

After a clear night I figured I had very little chance of seeing yesterdays waders, and indeed there was nothing other than a couple of Common Sandpipers this morning perched on one of the pontoons off the Sailing Club. However, what I did find was a real surprise...two Common Scoters off the northern causeway!
These are the first Common Scoter I've seen at Sutton Bingham for a number of years and were a most unexpected sight this morning! With little time left to get to work before 8.00am I had to zoom off, but a great find and a brilliant addition to the SBR year list.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 6 Jul

A fairly brief visit late morning failed to produce much, though eight Common Sandpipers were on the southern causeway, so obviously some wader migration starting to take place. the only other bird of note I saw was a Kingfisher, again from the southern causeway.
Frustratingly, in the early evening I had a text to say a Redshank and a couple of Green Sandpipers had dropped in (there had been a very heavy thunderstorm mid afternoon), but as I was just finishing my second glass of wine I had no chance of driving over to see them!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 29 Jun

A morning at the reservoir produced two Common Sandpipers on the northern causeway, the first returning birds and a sign of Autumn late June! A Kingfisher flew across the reservoir and was lost to view near the Sailing Club and a Little Egret was perched up on the water's edge.
I spent the most of the rest of my time on site concentrating on the southern end of the reservoir where on the water a couple of drake Tufted Ducks. Nine Stock Doves were feeding on one of the newly mown fields and around Cotton Bridge a Marsh Tit was seen alongside a fairly large family party of Blackcaps. At least one Treecreeper was heard and a Kingfisher put on a bit of a show.
I then returned to the car and drove round to the Water Treatment Works where a Grey Wagtail and a Little Egret were feeding in the outflow stream, my third Kingfisher of the day zoomed along the stream and rounded off a nice trip out on patch on the bird front. It was also a pretty good morning for insects with Banded Demoiselle and Broad-bodied Chaser seen at the outflow stream, whilst elsewhere on site both Azure Damselfly and Blue-tailed Damselfly. Butterflies were also present in good numbers with my first Ringlet of the year and a few Small Skippers alongside good numbers of Meadow Browns, Marbled Whites and Small Tortoiseshells.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 22 Jun

My first proper visit to Sutton Bingham for about a month and a few things of interest, surprisingly given the fact it's mid-June. The southern end of the reservoir played host to a female Mandarin with one juvenile bird, so looks like they bred successfully at the reservoir this year. A drake Tufted Duck was also present and Great Crested Grebes seem to have had a good season with at least twenty young birds present. A Kingfisher also whizzed by as I was scanning the area from the southern causeway.
From the northern causeway it was pretty quiet, though a Hobby was soaring overhead before gathering pace and flying south. Also flying through a single Little Egret, again going south.
Lots of butterflies on the wing today, with my Marbled Whites of year alongside lots of Meadow Browns and a few Small Tortoiseshells. I also saw a single Small Skipper.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Fingringhoe Sand Quarry - Wed 18 Jun

This afternoon I stayed close to the cottage and popped along to the sand quarry. It was pretty quiet though there were a few bumblebees around, I could identify the White-tailed Bumblebee easily enough but the other species was a little more tricky and I think they were Red-shanked Bumblebees...but I'll happily stand corrected! Just round the corner from the sand quarry was the barn where I had seen the Little Owl a couple of days earlier, so I stopped off and within a few minutes two Little Owls put in an appearance.
Also from this site I saw a distant Marsh Harrier, a nice way to end the day.

Flatford - Wed 18 Jun

A trip in to Suffolk this morning and a visit to Flatford, the location of the mill in John Constable's painting "The Hay Wain". It was a lovely spot and unknown to me there was a small RSPB reserve, really just a wildlife garden, but very pretty if only home to commoner birds.
Whilst sat enjoying a coffee a Kingfisher flew down the river and a Lesser Whitethroat could be heard singing. I also noted a couple of Banded Demoiselles and a Broad-bodied Chaser. So not a lot to see on the bird front but a very interesting spot and a enjoyable morning out.

Fingringhoe Wick EWT - Tue 17 Jun

Back out after breakfast and another visit to Fingringhoe Wick, this time I concentrated on the eastern edge of the reserve and this paid dividends as I had some amazing views of purring Turtle Doves, at least two birds were singing and another two were seen in flight. Brilliant stuff! Unfortunately the pose for the camera (digi-binned today!) was limited to its tail end!
Walking round to overlook the estuary produced an Essex Skipper, a new butterfly for me, whilst on the estuary waders included Redshank, Curlew and a few Grey Plover. As I returned to the car a Cuckoo was singing, a Garden Warbler put in a brief appearance, and the small pond near the visitor centre held a Little Grebe feeding a youngster.

Abberton Reservoir - Tue 17 Jun

Our cottage was not far from the large Abberton Reservoir, and this morning I decided to pay the site a visit before breakfast. There are two causeways that cross the reservoir and I started on the eastern causeway where scoping across the water I could see several Common Terns feeding over the water. There were also good numbers of Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Mute Swans. A Little Ringed Plover was sat on a shingle area and hardly moved during my stay, so I presume it was on eggs.
A Corn Bunting was a nice surprise as it perched on a barbed wire fence and a couple of Linnets flew over.
I then moved down to the western causeway, known locally as Layer Breton causeway. From here I could hear a purring Turtle Dove, but couldn't see it. I did see a very smart male Yellow Wagtail though feeding on the causeway and four Egyptian Geese were resting on one of the small islands.
A return visit at the end of the day produced two Green Sandpipers from Layer Breton causeway

Fingringhoe Wick EWT - Sun 15 Jun

Sure enough a day later I found myself back at Finringhoe Wick reserve. It was a lovely hot afternoon but my timing was off again as I arrived on site with a little under an hour before the reserve shut for the day! So it was a quick walk around the centre of the reserve today where I was treated to some wonderful views of a singing Lesser Whitethroat and heard another singing Nightingale.
The approach road had produced another Little Owl, this time hanging out around a barn, and a fly-over male Marsh Harrier.

Fingringhoe Wick EWT - Sat 14 Jun

In Essex for a week, tagging a few days holiday on to the trip up for a friends wedding and today I popped the mile or so down the road to the Essex Wildlife Trust reserve of Fingringhoe Wick, startling a pair of Red-legged Partridges from the side of the road as I drove along. I arrived at 6.30am and the gate to the reserve was closed, however, there was parking off the road so leaving the car I took a stroll around for about an hour. I was greeted by the singing of at least four Nightingales, though typically they were well hidden in the undergrowth. There were also several Cuckoos on the reserve with probably five different birds either seen or heard. I didn't really get much of a chance to explore the reserve fully as I needed to head back to our cottage for breakfast, but it looked promising so I knew I'd be returning at some stage over the next week.
I took a slightly route back to our cottage and passed through a sand quarry, a few birds about such as Skylarks and Stock Doves and a large colony of Sand Martins, highlight though was a Little Owl...unbelievably the first owl I have seen this year!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Morden Bog NR - Sun 1 Jun

Despite still suffering with a head cold and blocked sinuses I had no option but to drive down to Morden Bog this morning to see the mega rarity discovered yesterday! Arriving on site just before 7.00am I joined the few hundred birders already present and spent an hour enjoying some great views of a Short-toed Eagle! The bird spent the entire duration of my stay perched in a pine tree in the near distance, and fortunately the gathered masses were all pretty sensible and everyone was content viewing the bird from a distance to avoid flushing it. As usual I tried my best to get some top-quality images of this major rarity, and despite the distance I think you can tell that this is indeed a bird:
The Short-toed Eagle attracted quite a bit of avian interest too, with a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Green Woodpecker, a Mistle Thrush and a pair of Carrion Crows all giving it a bit of stick! Other birds seen whilst on site included several singing Tree Pipits, a nice male Stonechat and a fly-over Siskin. A bit of a surprise came in the form of an adult Mediterranean Gull which flew over with a small number of Black-headed Gulls. All in all a brilliant start to the day despite the fact I felt awful!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Exton & Topsham - Thu 29 May

Well today was one of those days when a really rare bird turns up in twitchable distance and I was stuck at work with no chance of going to see it until later in the afternoon! To make matters worse this was a species that I had previously dipped and was well up there in my "most wanted" list...and despite being present for nine days had not been correctly was a 1st summer Ross's Gull!
So after a long wait and a close eye on the birds news I finally got off after work and drove straight to Exton and the small railway station as the bird had last been reported from here. I was the only birder on site which did not bode well and over the next couple of hours I had managed to see a distant Little Gull, a very smart summer-plumaged Knot feeding with Dunlin and a few Sanderling, a couple of Whimbrel and good numbers of both Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit.
A few more birders turned up including a couple who had been watching the bird very recently just to the south...but for some reason had not shared this with the bird news channels, thanks guys! I did happen to locate a small gull but I could not convince myself that this was what I was looking I waited and it got later and later.
Fortunately I had been in contact with a few mates during the course of the day and as a result I got a phone call a couple of minutes after 6pm telling me the bird was showing at Bowling Green Marsh RSPB reserve at Topsham. What followed was a sprint to the car and a mad drive to the other side of the estuary and then another sprint to the reserve. Ten minutes later I was watching a very smart and very cute looking Ross's Gull! Within seconds of my arrival the Ross's Gull took flight with a large number of Black-headed Gulls (and a Mediterranean Gull) affording me a good look at the black-tipped wedge-shaped tail amongst other features. Luckily it landed and spent the remainder of the time that I was on site sitting around looking pretty.
To be perfectly honest I didn't really look at anything else whilst I was at Topsham and when the rain set in I took that as a sign to get on home after nailing my second lifer of the week!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Briantspuddle - Mon 26 May

After Portland I still had a bit of time before needing to get home, so I drove up to an area of heathland near Briantspuddle in the hope of picking up a few extra birds for the year list. No sign of any Turtle Doves today, though apparently a couple of pairs are about, but I was treated to some cracking views of Woodlark. One bird with food, so obviously young birds around, and another that was in full song over my head for a good five minutes or so.
There were also at least three Tree Pipits in song and a pair of Siskin flew over. A Yellowhammer was heard somewhere in the near distance and a small family party of Stonechats were also seen. Finally, on the bird front, a Hobby passed low overhead affording some brilliant views.
There were also several Small Heaths on the wing this morning.
Year list for 2014 now at 181 species.

Portland Bill & Ferrybridge - Mon 26 May

My first trip to the Bird Observatory at Portland Bill of the year, and I couldn't have picked a better day really. After dipping more Common Rosefinches than I've had hot dinners today everything seemed to fall in to place and I finally connected with one of my real bogey birds. Ok, it was only a first-summer male so lacked the red hues of an adult, but I really didn't care as I managed to get some brilliant views from the Bird Obs patio and heard it sing on a few occasions. So Common Rosefinch is finally off my dip list!
As well as the Common Rosefinch I also struck it lucky with a male Serin also present in the Bird Obs garden and again this showed really well for a while. When both finches vanished within minutes of each other I decided to take a walk down to the Obelisk and see if anything was happening out to wasn't! I did see my first Fulmar, Kittiwake and Guillemot of the year though!
Back then to the car and I left the Isle of Portland and made a quick stop at Ferrybridge. Not much happening here either though there were around two dozen Little Terns milling about. A Common Tern flew through and on the mud a Dunlin and two Sanderling were present. I also added another common bird to my 2014 year list, this time Ringed Plover!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Sutton Bingham - Mon 19 May

An early morning visit before work this morning proved to be a good call. I parked at the Canoe Club and as I approached the water's edge the gathered gulls went ballistic, I knew it wasn't me that had caused the fuss and so I quickly scanned the sky expecting to find a raptor...and I did! An Osprey was getting it from the various gulls and then a few Rooks and Jackdaws joined in. The Osprey tried to settle then decided it had had enough and flew off strongly to the north. A real case of "right time, right place" for me this morning. The only other bird of note during my 30 minutes on patch was a singing Reed Warbler that had good imitations of Goldfinch, Swallow and Blue Tit in it's repertoire.
NB: A couple of flying visits to the reservoir over the past week have proved to be uneventful, though a count of eleven Mute Swans on 13 May was a record count for me at Sutton Bingham. Two drake Mandarin were also seen on 13 May.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Ham Wall RSPB - Sun 11 May

With the strong, and a little chilly, winds I decided against the coast and instead popped up on the Somerset Levels and spent a couple of hours at Ham Wall. I did mange to add Garden Warbler to the year list, but again it was very quiet. It's a sign of the times when the "only" birds of note I had were a Great White Egret and a couple of booming Bitterns! There were several Swifts feeding over the reserve and these attracted the interest of a single Hobby. A Lapwing flying through west was the only other notable sighting.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 11 May

Really quiet on patch this morning. Starting at the southern end I took a bit of a walk but other than a large number of House Martins feeding (one of which nearly took my nose off as they flew so close to me) and about a dozen Swifts there was nothing about. A stop off at the northern causeway produced just a single Common Sandpiper.

Corscombe - Sat 10 May

A trip up to Corscombe this afternoon in the hope of seeing the Hoopoe which had been present for much of the week. I wasn't feeling too confident as there had been no news all morning, it was windy with heavy showers, and some idiot had been flushing the bird all Friday afternoon! As it happened my pessimistic attitude proved to be the right one, sure enough not even a sniff of the bird. I did see a Cuckoo and a couple of Skylarks, but that was about it.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Lodmoor RSPB & Radipole RSPB - Mon 5 May

A family trip out to Weymouth and after dropping my lovely wife off in town to do some shopping I headed off to Lodmoor RSPB reserve to twitch a Black-winged Stilt! After a bit of a walk I reached the little viewing shelter and was told the bird was currently out of site on the marsh, but it didn't take long until it came back out in to the open and showed well, if distantly, for the next five or so minutes. A few Common Terns were milling around overhead and a Dunlin was the only other wader I saw during the relatively brief visit.
Back then to Radipole for a cup of coffee and flapjack and whilst looking through the gulls I relocated the Iceland Gull that had been seen on and off over the past few days, much to the joy of the birders present. Unfortunately I had left my scope in the car else I could have got one of those brilliant record shots that always liven up my blog posting! A sub-adult Sandwich Tern was also present and the rather flamboyant Hooded Merganser was trying to pull a female Tufted Duck (I didn't fancy his chances!). We did attempt a bit of a walk but time was against us so we headed back home after a great trip out.
Year list for 2014 now at 171 species.

Sutton Bingham - Mon 5 May

An early start this morning and a little over two hours on site before breakfast. As it happens this was a good move with some decent birds around despite the clear skies overnight. I started off near the Fishing Lodge where a scan over the reservoir and adjacent fields produced my first patch Swifts of the year.
A brief stop at the Water Treatment Works and outflow stream was hardly worth it with a Grey Wagtail being the only bird of note.
Off then to the extreme southern end of the reservoir and the boundary of my Patchwork Challenge area. Again nothing out of the ordinary but then as I scanned the area back to the north and the reservoir proper a Hobby shot through causing a bit a panic amongst the local Woodpigeon population.
A walk along the water's edge failed to produce much but as I reached the Car Park a Greylag Goose flew in from the north and settled on the water, I wasn't expecting that! I retraced my steps back to the car and then drove up to the northern causeway and parked up for a while. Three Common Sandpipers were about and a small flock of seven Tufted Duck were new arrivals. As I scanned the gulls that had started to drop in to the reservoir I suddenly came across a small wader whizzing by, fortunately I was able to see the bird pretty well as it continued south and the nice black belly showed this to be a breeding plumaged Dunlin! This rounded off a brilliant start to the day, four new ticks for the patch list.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 92 species.

Ham Wall RSPB - Sun 4 May

Up to Ham Wall this afternoon and in bright sunshine I had a most enjoyable visit. I made pretty much straight for the second viewpoint where I found four Whimbrel, a good start to the afternoon out. A couple of Hobbies flew around overhead and at least three Bitterns gave cracking views. Several Swifts were wheeling around and a couple of Cuckoos were heard, though I didn't manage to see any. The usual warblers were in full song and a very fine Nightingale but on rather a good show for the gathered masses (news of this particular individual is out in the public domain now), though one or two "birders" felt the inclination to get almost in the bush with it, though luckily for them they moved away before I got close enough to say something! So a cracking afternoon out and a couple of year ticks to boot.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 4 May

I spent about an hour or so at Sutton Bingham this morning, but it was again pretty quiet. A total of four Common Sandpipers were seen along the water's edge just to the south of the Canoe Club and a fifth bird was feeding on the slipway at the Sailing Club.
A Lesser Whitethroat was heard singing and showed very briefly and I managed a patch year tick with a  singing Sedge Warbler at West Pool.

Chard Reservoir - Sat 3 May

A trip to Chard Reservoir this afternoon to see their long-staying Little Gull, and sure enough it was still there when I arrived and was feeding constantly over the water for the duration of my visit. A cracking bird, if only the Sutton Bingham one had hung around!
Not much else was seen during my visit, a Goldcrest with nesting material, a couple of Treecreepers and a Nuthatch in the woodland and several singing Blackcaps was about it. But nice to take a stroll around in the afternoon sun.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Sutton Bingham - Tue 29 Apr

A real flying visit on the way in to work proved to be worth while as a pair of Shelduck were present at the southern end of the reservoir opposite the site of the hide. Quite a surprising find, and the first Shelduck I'd seen at Sutton Bingham for a few years. The only other bird of note was a fly-over Raven.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 87 species.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Town Tree Nature Garden - Sun 27 Apr

In between visits to Sutton Bingham I managed to get out this afternoon to this small nature reserve near Martock. It had been many years since I had been here and despite constant rain whilst I was walking around I had an enjoyable time on site. A very obliging Sedge Warbler put on a bit of a show soon after I left the car. A pair of Gadwall were on the large pool and a very pale Buzzard caused a bit of mayhem as it flew across the fields. Other birds seen today included a couple of Goldcrests and a pair of Jays. A nice little trip out, despite getting soaked!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 27 Apr

A visit to the reservoir late morning produced a cracking summer plumaged adult Black Tern hawking over the water and viewable from the northern causeway and the car park. I really nice find and given the recent weather conditions I had been hoping one would drop in. A Common Tern, which caused a few discussions given that it was a pretty pale bird, was also present. I had initially dismissed this bird as a Common, had another look later in the day and thought Arctic, then saw the bill in better light and the diagnostic black tip confirmed my first thoughts! One of the things I love about birding, you're always being kept on your toes.
I didn't see anything else of note in the morning, but did pop back in the evening and both terns were still present. A Kingfisher was also seen at the southern end of the reservoir and the first real numbers of House Martins were present.

Meare Heath NR - Sat 26 Apr

A fairly short trip out this afternoon and I spent a some time at Meare Heath where the only birds of note were a Little Ringed Plover on the drained scrape, alongside two Lapwing and sixty-one Black-tailed Godwits, and a male Marsh Harrier. Very quiet but it was pretty overcast and extremely windy!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Sutton Bingham - Tue 22 Apr

A flying visit before work and the Common Tern was still present near the Canoe Club and two Common Sandpipers were on the southern causeway.
I spent a little longer on patch later afternoon and added Reed Warbler to the patch year list with a very obliging (though very quiet) individual near the car park. A couple of Linnets were also seen.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 84 species.

Ham Wall RSPB - Mon 21 Apr

Making the most of the Bank Holiday sunshine we took a family trip out to Ham Wall RSPB this morning and enjoyed a good couple of hours out. A leisurely walk out to the second viewing point produced singing Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler...all new for the year list.
From the second viewing platform a Cuckoo was heard singing and a Great White Egret looking magnificent in breeding plumage was fishing along the reed edge. A total of three drake Garganey were seen and three Marsh Harriers also put in an appearance. A single Bittern was seen in flight, though at least three were heard booming.
Several butterflies were on the wing including a good number of Orange Tips.
We retraced our steps back towards the car and stopped briefly at the first viewing platform where a very smart male Bearded Tit put on quite a performance and rounded off a really nice morning out.
Year list for 2014 now at 162 species.

Sutton Bingham - Mon 21 Apr

An hour on patch before breakfast and my second tern in as many days, this time a Common Tern working the reservoir between the Canoe Club and site of the hide.
The only other birds of note this morning, a Willow Warbler and a pair of Tufted Ducks.
I popped back late afternoon and the Common Tern was still present as were a pair of Linnet. A slight surprise in the form of a Snipe which flew south over the reservoir.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 20 Apr

A couple of quick visits to the reservoir over the past few days had failed to produce much, highlights being a drake Mandarin and seven Common Sandpipers yesterday. However, a visit this morning produced my first Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat of the year with the former seen near the Canoe Club and the latter singing on the far side of the reservoir. A pair of Teal were seen along the water's edge near where the hide used to be and a pair of Linnets were also present.
At about 9.30am the rain started so it was off to do other things for the remainder of Easter Sunday. That being said, a flying visit late afternoon/early evening proved worthwhile as an Arctic Tern had been brought in by the heavy rains and was seen for a couple of minutes from the northern causeway before appearing to head off north when the rain eased off briefly.

Arne RSPB & Best Wall RSPB - Fri 18 Apr

A trip down to the RSPB reserve at Arne today with the family. So with picnic lunch packed we set off, arriving at around 10am and taking the walk from the car park out to Shipstal Point and back again. It was surprisingly quiet on the bird front, with the pick of things on offer being a singing Tree Pipit. With the tide being in it made for poor viewing with regard to any waders, just a few Curlew and Redshank about.
After our picnic lunch we set off to Wareham and I had a quick look over Best Wall RSPB reserve, nothing! Well, there were loads of gulls wheeling around overhead before they passed off eastward, mainly Black-headed Gulls but a good number of Mediterranean Gulls in with them...a really distinctive call helped separate them. I finally had a signal on my phone and a quick check of the pager informed me of an Osprey at Arne, so back in the car and back to Arne.
Some ten minutes later we were back and I took off, heading straight for Combe Heath and within a few minutes had some great views of the Osprey perched on the same post where I had seen one last year. Heat haze and distance made it tricky to get any sort of half decent photo.
Walking back to the car a Stonechat was seen and a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits flew through. A nice day out with the family and a couple more year ticks.