Thursday, 30 January 2014

Lyme Regis - Wed 29 Jan

A trip to the seaside this afternoon and a visit to Lyme Regis, not a birding excursion today though I was lucky enough to pick up a couple of year ticks! On arrival a walk upstream along the River Lim for about half a mile finally got me some cracking views of a Dipper and a Grey Wagtail before returning to the seafront and a walk along the promenade and out to the end of The Cobb. From here three Purple Sandpipers were feeding on the rocks and showed really well in the afternoon sunshine and several Rock Pipits were milling about. Back then to the beach for a well deserved portion of chips before heading back home after a lovely couple of hours out with the family.
Year list for 2014 now at 111 species.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 26 Jan

A visit late in the afternoon today after rain for most of the day had kept me indoors (I had attempted a visit late morning but ended up staying in the car and seeing nothing!). Starting with a  walk around the southern end of the reservoir I could hear a few Teal calling and about half a dozen were present. A very smart male Mandarin Duck swam between the trees in the "flooded forest" area. Eight Wigeon took to the air and were later seen settled off the dam and completing the wildfowl present, a pair of Gadwall were also seen.
There were loads of Woodpigeons seen today so I was not overly surprised to locate a single Stock Dove, another new tick for the SBR year list, and I'm sure it was the presence of all the pigeons that attracted a Peregrine which alighted on one of the pylons. The fourth SBR year tick came in the form of a Raven that passed over. A walk along the water's edge flushed just a single Snipe so I drove up to the northern end of the reservoir to see if any gulls dropped in.
At least 250 Common Gulls passed through but failed to settle and other gulls present were just Black-headed Gulls and Herring Gulls...nothing else tonight. It was getting too dark to worry about checking the car park so I didn't bother but good numbers of Redwings passed overhead along with just three Fieldfares and the Pied Wagtail roost attracted at least two hundred birds again.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 58 species.

Dawlish Warren, Cockwood & Starcross - Sat 25 Jan

A morning off work so I managed to get in some birding instead and headed off to south Devon with my mate Steve. Arriving at Dawlish Warren at about 8.45am we went straight to the seafront for a bit of seawatching. A bit of gen from a few other gathered birders soon got us on a Velvet Scoter. Scanning the calm sea I had soon got well in to double figures with regard to Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes but that was about it. We then bumped in to the Chard Posse and after a good natter Steve and I headed up towards The Bight. A few Turnstones were seen on the groynes and then another spell seawatching. Before too long I managed to pick out a Long-tailed Duck and Steve's Gannet was a new year tick for me. At least three more Velvet Scoters were hanging out with half a dozen or so Common Scoters. A large flock of Linnets were feeding on the mudflat behind the hide but waders were limited to a few Dunlin, Curlew and Redshank with a large number of Oystercatchers. A call from Andy of aforementioned Chard Posse informed us of a Black Brant at Cockwood, so we walked back to the car adding Stonechat to my year list and ending a pleasant couple of hours at Dawlish Warren.
Five minutes down the road we parked at Cockwood and scanned the field of Dark-bellied Brents. After about ten minutes I finally located the Black Brant. This field also held a few Canada Geese and several Curlew and Common Gulls. We then crossed the railway line hoping to see some waders, but the tide was right in. No waders then but a cracking Slavonian Grebe instead.
Another message, this time from Dave, had us continuing north and stopping at Starcross. After pulling in to the car park we scanned the small pool on the opposite side of the road and soon found the Spotted Redshank amongst the other waders. Seven Greenshank were also present as well as a small flock of Teal.
It was then time to head back home as I had promised to be home in time for lunch. This meant skipping a few other sites we had considered visiting, but it had been a good morning out and in dry weather for a change.
Year list for 2014 now at 106 species.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Radipole RSPB - Sun 19 Jan

A trip down to Weymouth this afternoon and a walk around Radipole RPSB reserve. With path to North Hide being closed due to flooding it ended up being a shorter walk than I was expecting and I was restricted to the Buddleia Loop. As it happened it was a pretty quiet afternoon on the bird front with not much variety on offer. I heard several Water Rails squealing, though only one showed itself, and Cetti's Warblers were equally vocal and even more elusive to see!
A female-type Marsh Harrier was seen perched on a distant tree in the middle of the reed beds somewhere over towards north hide and on returning to the car park around half a dozen Mediterranean Gulls were seen (but most gulls simply passed by overhead without dropping in).
In fact, it was such a poor afternoon on the bird front I didn't even see the now resident Hooded Merganser! That being said it was great to get out and have a walk in the sun rather than having to dodge the rain.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sat 18 Jan

A quick visit on my way home from work at lunchtime had me concentrating on the car park, I stopped off for about fifteen minutes and managed to connect with the Yellow-browed Warbler within the first few minutes of my arrival. Again the bird showed really well until chased by a Robin after which it vanished and I failed to relocate it. A drake Teal at the southern end of the reservoir and a flock of seventeen Wigeon off the dam were the only other birds of note.
I returned later in the afternoon for a little over an hour before dark. A Little Grebe on West Pool was a new bird for the year list as were three Gadwall off the northern causeway, two drakes and a duck:
At least two hundred Pied Wagtails must have come in to roost tonight with a couple of large flocks passing over and loads settling in to the small trees. There were also a few smaller flocks of Redwing and Starling passing through and four Fieldfares were also seen. Other than that it was another pretty quiet day at the reservoir.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 54 species.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Sutton Bingham - Wed 15 Jan

Back to the patch again this afternoon and within minutes of my arrival the heavens opened and I was stuck in the car for nearly an hour! Parking at the southern end of the reservoir I did pick out half a dozen Teal but that was it so it was back to the northern causeway.
Eventually the rain eased off so I took a walk around the car park, but there was nothing much about at all. With the daylight starting to fade some fifty Pied Wagtails came in to roost and there were good numbers of both Fieldfare and Redwing passing overhead. A flock of twenty or so Goldfinch also flew over.
Just as I decided to leave and head for home a flock of duck flew south, but at distance and in drizzle and near darkness I could not positively identify them...and that pretty much summed up a dismal afternoon out!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 12 Jan

A couple of hours on patch this morning and I concentrated my efforts on the southern end of the reservoir for the most of it. There were a good number of Teal present today, with at least seventy birds present and being typically skittish. At least a dozen Mallard were also present along with a pair of Mute Swans. There were very few passerines present but a flock of nineteen Lapwings passed over heading south.
I then popped up to the car park area and had a search for the Yellow-browed Warbler, no sign today but a Chiffchaff was seen. From the car park I noticed a drake Tufted Duck fly in to West Pool where it settled for the duration of my stay. A flock of thirty-two Wigeon flew south and another flock of Lapwing passed over, this time a total of fifty-seven birds. The final bit of action came in the form of a flock of twenty-four Snipe that took off from the vegetation around West Pool, I can only think they were spooked by the remote controlled boat enthusiasts who started "sailing"!
So a few more ticks on the SBR year list and a pleasant morning out, a complete contrast to a brief visit at dusk to check out the gull roost proved fruitless with only a very small number of Herring Gulls and an even smaller number of Black-headed Gulls and I got pretty wet in pouring rain!

Meare Heath NR & Ham Wall RSPB - Sat 11 Jan

An afternoon out on the Somerset Levels and a quick look around the alders near the Ashcott Corner car park produced a female Siskin. I then walked out to Noah's Lake and scanned the water. There were loads of duck present and before long I had added Shoveler, Gadwall, Pochard and Pintail to the year list. Nothing unusual about though so I walked back to the car. As I neared the car park a Goldfinch flew over on the company of two Lesser Redpoll.
Off then on to Ham Wall and from the first viewing platform I saw a Great White Egret and both male and female Marsh Harriers. Several Water Rails were squealing away and a couple of Cetti's Warblers were also heard. A steady stream of Starlings heading west indicated the roost was well underway, so to avoid the masses and pending congestion I decided to call it a day and headed on home.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Sutton Bingham - Thu 9 Jan

I had some time off work this afternoon and was thinking of heading up on to the Somerset Levels, but time somehow vanished so I spent a couple of hours on patch instead. Starting at the southern end of the reservoir I managed to pick out a drake Teal hiding and a pair of Wigeon were also seen. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling from the trees behind me and a quick look produced the bird as it flew off!
Back then to the Canoe Club where I parked up and walked along to the car park. A couple of Meadow Pipits popped up from the field and a pair of Collared Doves flew over, both new birds for the patch year list, as was a Robin which was singing away.
There was very little in the way of birds around the car park, I heard a Chiffchaff and a couple of Goldcrests and that was it. There were however a couple of birders around today so it was good to catch up with a few friendly faces.
On the water there were hardly any gulls coming in to roost, and no sign of the Iceland Gull that was present last night. Amazing what a difference 24 hours can make! A flock of around forty Common Gulls looked as if they were going to settle but simply moved on. A Great Crested Grebe in summer-plumage gave hope that Spring is on the way and Cormorants numbered at least forty birds today, my highest count for a while. Also of note, some twenty or so Pied Wagtails flew in to a small tree in the car park to roost.
With the light failing the final new bird of a good visit with regard to the patch year list was a calling Water Rail on West Pool.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 48 species.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Sutton Bingham - Wed 8 Jan

A flying visit to the reservoir after work just before dark just to check out the gulls and unbelievably this paid dividends as I found an Iceland Gull! A patch tick for me which is hardly surprising as it is only (as far as I'm aware) the third record for Sutton Bingham following birds in January 1983 and January 1985. I did my best to get a record shot, these are arguably my worst ever photos of any sort of bird but it was nearly dark and the bird was hanging out with Herring Gulls a fair way out from the northern causeway. To aid in identification I've placed a nice red ring around the Iceland Gull, you can see it if you squint!
Judging by the plumage I would age the bird as a first-winter with an almost complete dark bill, similar size to the associated Herring Gulls and with that ivory white mottled plumage. This more than makes up for the leucistic Herring Gull that sent my pulse racing at Sutton Bingham a few years doubt about this one. Oh yes, and there was nothing else of note tonight by the way!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sat 4 Jan & Sun 5 Jan

More wet weather all weekend, a very brief visit on Saturday afternoon failed to produce the Yellow-browed Warbler but I did manage to add Kingfisher and Sparrowhawk to the patch year list and seven Wigeon were off the dam.
Sunday morning started dry-ish so I popped up to the reservoir late morning and within seconds of arriving the heaven's opened again. So I spent about forty-five minutes birding from the car. Four Canada Geese were on the grass by the Fishing Lodge and four Mute Swans, a juvenile and three adults, were also present. The Wigeon flock numbered some ten birds today and they were seen in flight today over the reservoir near the dam.
Despite the rain I did take a look around the car park. This proved to be fairly fruitless to start with and I was soon pretty wet. As I returned to the road I could hear Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests and I soon located the flock. A total of three Chiffchaffs were seen, including the very buff individual which is almost certainly a Siberian Chiffchaff. At least one Treecreeper was also seen and then I was lucky enough to see the Yellow-browed Warbler again as it flew on to a branch in front of me for a while and then vanished again. I decided that was enough so called it a day as a flock of around fifty Redwing flew south in to the rain as I headed for home to dry out.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Sutton Bingham - Fri 3 Jan

I spent a couple of hours at Sutton Bingham this afternoon, my first chance to do any birding on my local patch this year. I started at the extreme southern end of the reservoir where I saw a handful of Fieldfares and Redwings and a single Song Thrush.
It was then back towards the northern end of the reservoir and I parked near the Canoe Club and walked along the water's edge to the car park. I spent a fair bit of time around this area and just as I was about to head back to the car I heard a Long-tailed Tit calling...and as it was a year tick I hunted out a small flock. I then saw a Chiffchaff which looked exactly the same as the bird I saw a few weeks ago, all buff with black bill and legs and pale wing bar, the probable Siberian Chiffchaff. My attention was then drawn to another small bird and I couldn't believe when I lifted my bins and found myself looking at a Yellow-browed Warbler! This is the second record for Sutton Bingham, the first was the bird I found back in October of last year. So a few frantic phone calls followed as I got the news out.
The flock of feeding birds moved along the water's edge back towards the small bridge at the back of the church and then vanished. A single Chiffchaff was seen and was another year tick, this bird was the typical greenish variety! As I returned to the car park a female Reed Bunting flew from the vegetation.
I spent half an hour at the end of my visit checking the gulls. Not many around tonight, but I did head off for home before dusk so I expect most of the gulls had not yet come in. I did see a single Common Gull amongst the more routine fare. A small flock of a dozen Wigeon were present off the dam. All in all a brilliant start to the year on patch.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 36 species.

Patchwork Challenge
This year I am taking part in the Patchwork Challenge, a friendly competition to see how many species occur on your local patch, so understandably I've picked Sutton Bingham Reservoir. The area I'm covering is as follows and is well within the three square kilometre limit:
For more information click here.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Arne RSPB & Cheselbourne - Thu 2 Jan

Arriving in time for a picnic lunch it was midday when I got to Arne RSPB. After a very heavy shower which forced me to delay my walk I set off out to Shipstal Point and back to the car park for a circular walk. This gave me the opportunity to connect with a few of the commoner woodland/garden species I had missed yesterday as well as connect with a slightly less usual species in the form of eight Spoonbills. The tide was high so the only waders seen were a few Curlew and Redshank. A female Goldeneye was in Poole Harbour alongside several Red-breasted Mergansers.
On returning to the car I checked the pager to find the two Common Cranes had been seen again near Cheselbourne, so I set off back towards home with a slight diversion! When I got to the field where the birds had been I again drew a blank, so I drove a circuit round to Dewlish. A flock of twelve Little Egrets were feeding in one cow field and just as I was about to give up hope when the two Common Cranes flew right over the top of the car! Result, and a good end to the day.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Portland Harbour, Ferrybridge & Cheselbourne - Wed 1 Jan

A day out birding today and I headed down to Portland Harbour. A brief stop en route at Radipole was curtailed as it was still dark so I arranged with some friends to meet at Portland Castle, so off I went.
Arriving at bout 8.00am it was very windy and tipping it down with rain...unfortunately this proved to be the case for the entire duration of my time out. I spent two and a half miserable hours staring out over Portland Harbour. No sign of the Brunnich's Guillemot, but I did manage to see three Black-throated Divers, a couple of Great Northern Divers, the long-staying Black Guillemot, and the more usual fare. The only grebes I managed were single Little Grebes and Great Crested Grebe. A Rock Pipit added a bit of variety as it worked its way along the rocks.
I finally gave up and went back to the car to dry off and warm up. Just as I was getting ready to move on I managed to catch Steve and John whom I was planning on meeting up with earlier. They had stopped off at Ferrybridge so after the usual New Year wishes I set off to Ferrybridge.
The weather had again deteriorated, if that was possible, so I stayed in the car, adding Dunlin and Dark-bellied Brent Goose to the dismal list of birds seen today. That was about it, so off I went with a brief stop at the top end of Radipole where I did manage to see the Glossy Ibis.
On my way out of Weymouth I decided to try and see if the two Common Cranes were around Cheselbourne (they had been seen yesterday). A drive round for half an hour or so produced a covey of Red-legged Partridges and little else of note. So I tried a quick trip to Athelhampton to check the water meadows. No sign of any Common Cranes but I did pick up Wigeon and Little Egret!
And that was it, enough was enough, so back home in time for lunch with a pretty poor year list total!
Year list for 2014 now at 37 species.