Monday, 31 March 2014

Sutton Bingham - Fri 28 Mar

A visit after work today and it was pretty much more of the same. The southern end of the reservoir held four Tufted Ducks (three males and a female), which were all new arrivals, and a pair of Teal. A flock of around fifty Sand Martins were feeding overhead. At the northern end of the reservoir a Peregrine flew through heading south...and that was it!
PS: A couple of very brief visits over the weekend failed to produce anything much, so I won't waste too much time writing about it! Seven Canada Geese were seen on Sun 30 Mar as well as a pair of Tufted Duck.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 23 Mar

The only birding I managed to get in this weekend was on patch and despite a fair amount of hard work checking out Sutton Bingham for migrants, etc. I failed to find much at all really, and adding insult to injury a 1st-winter Little Gull was on West Pool for at least an hour late Saturday afternoon (my mobile phone was playing up so I missed the call)!
Sunday morning prior to 9.00 produced just twenty or so Sand Martins over West Pool and were the only birds of note early in the day. A return visit later in the morning did produce some gulls, with 156 Herring Gulls present as well as five Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A Kingfisher put in a brief appearance and there were still some Sand Martins hanging around.
My final visit came much later in the day and I concentrated my efforts on the southern end of the reservoir. Again there was very little to see, though a total of seventeen Snipe were flushed from the water's edge, eight Teal were still present and further thirty Sand Martins were feeding. There were still only a handful of Chiffchaffs in, with just three heard singing. So it's been a very quiet March so far...let's see what the final week of the month can produce!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Meare Heath NR & Ham Wall RSPB - Sun 16 Mar

A trip up on to the "Avalon Marshes" this afternoon and I after parking at the Ashcott Corner car park I started off by walking out towards Meare Heath as far as Noah's Lake. Despite the sun it was pretty windy so I didn't hold out much hope of seeing much. A couple of Bitterns were heard booming from deep in the reeds and a female Marsh Harrier was seen hunting, and that was pretty much it other than a few duck!
Back to the car park and out on to Ham Wall. I only went as far as the first viewing platform and then out to look at the new hide. There seemed to be even less on this side, but a couple of drake Garganey did liven up the afternoon, even if they did spend most of the time with their butts in the air as the fed.
And that was the end to another trip out and another weekend over!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 16 Mar

A lovely Spring morning but a visit to Sutton Bingham produced very little in the way of birds. The clear blue skies did bring out good numbers of Buzzards, with at least a dozen seen soaring over the reservoir, I was hoping that something else may join them, but a Sparrowhawk was not quite what I was after!
I did get one new bird for the year list, a single Sand Martin flew through heading north. This is probably the earliest Sand Martin I've had at the reservoir, with birds usually being recorded in the last week of March.
A walk from the car park as far as the southern causeway and then back again failed to produce much more than a couple of singing Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests, and a calling Bullfinch. Though a male Reed Bunting did put in an appearance and two Snipe were flushed form the water's edge.
But Spring seems to be well and truly on it's way (famous last words!), so hopefully a few more migrants will start passing through soon.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Sutton Bingham - Wed 12 Mar

This afternoon I decided against travelling too far and spent a couple of hours at Sutton Bingham instead, this was my first chance to visit the patch this month, and it turned out to be a pretty good visit.
From the northern causeway a pair of Tufted Duck were on West Pool and a Green Woodpecker could be heard "yaffling" from the trees near the railway line (though didn't actually show itself!). There was not much else on the reservoir so I headed down to the site where the hide was located and walked along the water's edge as far as the Canoe Club and then back again. A total of ten Snipe were flushed from the vegetation (though only five were seen together so there is a possibility that I flushed the same birds twice).
Scanning the fields on the opposite side of the reservoir I had a massive surprise when I located a Red-legged Partridge! I have this species on my patch life list but had only ever heard one bird, and that was years ago, so to actually see one was as good as a patch tick really. I even managed to get this hi-res image of it:
Popping back to the car I then carried on and took a walk around the southern end of the reservoir. There were still a few Teal around, with twenty-four birds being counted. A pair of Mandarin Ducks flew in from the south and appeared to land somewhere. It was reassuring to hear and then see a Marsh Tit, this species seems to just about be hanging on at Sutton Bingham. There followed another surprise as I spotted a Mink, a first for me here and not a welcome one!
Returning to the car three Great Spotted Woodpeckers were making heck of a din as they chased each other through the trees and a Raven passed overhead. Other new patch ticks for the year came in the form of a male Kestrel flying south and at least two Jays screaming at each other from the trees opposite "the hide".
So all in all a pretty good time at Sutton Bingham this afternoon, just waiting for the Spring migrants to start passing through now!
Sutton Bingham year list for 2014 now at 70 species.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Ham Wall RSPB - Sun 9 Mar

A couple of hours up on the Somerset Levels after breakfast in lovely sunshine was most enjoyable today. Despite not being able to locate a Firecrest that had been present for nearly a week I still had a rewarding visit, with the highlight being a small group of about four Bearded Tits, of which at least one male and a female showed really well. The usual duck species were still present out on the water and Spring felt as if it was well and truly in the air with at least four Chiffchaff singing. As I returned to the car a Bittern was booming away and rounded off a fairly short but pleasant trip out.
Year list for 2014 now at 141 species.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Marshfield - Sat 8 Mar

Heading down the M4 from our morning over the River Severn we made for a small valley just to the north of the village of Marshfield in South Gloucestershire. A brisk walk along the stream and within twenty minutes of parking the car we were watching the long-staying Red-flanked Bluetail, and what a bird. Only my second ever and much more obliging than the previous one I'd seen.
We probably spent at least quarter of an hour admiring this little gem what a great bird. A Grey Wagtail was also seen as it flitted around the stream.
Back to the car and a five minute drive down the road before pulling over to scan the countryside. Before long we found what we were looking for, a flock of at least fifty Corn Buntings as well as ten plus Yellowhammers and about twenty Linnet. And that rounded off an absolutely excellent day's birding as we jumped back in the car and drove home.

Forest of Dean - Sat 8 Mar

A trip up to Gloucestershire today and a long-overdue visit to the Forest of Dean (I'd not ventured this way for several years). Arriving at the church at Parkhead at around 8.30am after leaving home just before 7.00am (picking up a couple of mates in Yeovil en route) we were out of the car for less than five minutes as a Hawfinch flew in to the trees in the graveyard before being spooked by a few Goldfinches, target bird number one safely in the bag it was on to Brierley arriving at about 9.00am.
Parking up the track opposite the Total garage we took a walk up to Serridge Ridge and after much searching and a fortunate encounter with a chap who recognised the call we eventually connected with a small flock of at least five Two-barred Crossbills (4+ males and 1+ female)! We had brilliant views of the birds as they fed in the larches above us and a wonderful comparison as a male Common Crossbill popped in to join the flock and had a face off with a male Two-barred Crossbill. We also saw a few Siskin and lots of Coal Tits whilst in the woods.
Back at the car and after a bit of info from the same birder who helped us find the Two-barred Crossbills we were parked near Speech House and walking out towards Crabtree Hill where before too long I located the wintering Great Grey Shrike. Some cracking views of this bird too as it hunted bumble bees and perched in a small silver birch.
Another quick drive and we were at New Fancy and the raptor viewpoint. It was now midday and the weather was wonderful, as a result it was perhaps not that surprising that over the next thirty minutes we saw at least six Goshawks, as well as several Buzzards and three or so Raven. The walk back to the car provided an Adder soaking up the sun's heat and a Red Admiral on the wing for a little non-bird interest.
Off again and another quick stop at Parkend produced nothing so we left the Forest of Dean after a brilliant morning's birding.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Sopley - Thu 6 Mar

It was third time lucky today as I stopped off at Sopley and finally managed to connect with the drake Green-winged Teal. I parked at the crematorium and with nowhere near the number of birds on the water as had been present earlier in the week I walked down the road about a hundred metres and 'scoped the floods, and struck lucky pretty much straightaway as the Green-winged Teal swam along in the company of a few Eurasian Teal.
There were far fewer Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwing present today, but still lots of wildfowl including the pair of Goosander amongst loads of Wigeon, Shoveler and Pintail. I also added another year tick with a couple of Greylag Geese present on a distant bank, and then it was back in the car and off home after a good few days in south-east Dorset.
Year list for 2014 now at 134 species.

Keyhaven NR - Thu 6 Mar

I spent a couple of hours this morning at Keyhaven, though made the mistake of paying two quid for the car park when if I'd driven a twenty metres up the road I there was loads of space to park for free! I was going to take the coast path but a sign stated the path was closed, so it was along the cycle path towards Lymington, with a very obliging Cetti's Warbler putting in an appearance.
There was not much else to see along the way, so I made straight for the flooded area at the back of Fishtail Lagoon where a Long-billed Dowitcher had been present, though it did not show during my visit! A flock of sixty-seven Golden Plover were a nice sight though, with a couple of birds starting to moult in to summer plumage.
After a brief chat with a dog-walker I found out the coastal path was in fact open, so I followed this back towards the car. This proved to be much more productive, with the tidal flats producing three Bar-tailed Godwits and a couple of Grey Plover amongst the more numerous Dunlin and Turnstone.
One of the lagoons I passed held a couple of Pale-bellied Brent Geese, well apart from the Dark-bellied Brent Geese that were out on the mudflats. A real surprise came in the form of a Dartford Warbler that showed really well as it sang from a gorse bush right next to the path, and rounded off a really nice trip out.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Rhinefield Arboretum - Wed 5 Mar

A visit to Rhinefield Arboretum this morning and a pleasant walk in the Spring-time sunshine. A mixed bag on the bird front with several displaying Siskin being seen, the male birds looking wonderful in the sun. There were lots of Goldcrests about too, and I heard about three Firecrests calling but couldn't pin any down unfortunately. The usual woodland species were present, including Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Jay. When I returned to the car park I spotted a very smart male Crossbill alongside a female bird. I also managed a very brief return visit after lunch which was not that eventful...until a Goshawk flew over!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Stanpit Marsh NR - Tue 4 Mar

What a difference a day makes, I popped along to Stanpit late afternoon (after a brief stop at Avon Beach where I noted sixteen Turnstone and little else!) and the lake that was present yesterday morning had all but gone. I made for the path that follows the gold course and looked down over Priory Marsh. I located at least three Water Pipits amongst several Pied Wagtails and Black-headed Gulls.
A Siberian Chiffchaff was also seen, alongside a Common Chiffchaff.
I then walked back towards the visitor centre and out on to Crouch Hill where I scanned the area. Several Wigeon and Dark-bellied Brent Geese were grazing whilst on the water there were loads of gulls gathering, though all common least that's all I could find. A large flock of Dunlin was present and several Redshank were also seen.
A quick scout around the trees located nothing in the way of interesting passerines, except for another Chiffchaff, so as it was getting cold I decided that would do for the day.

Hengistbury Head - Tue 4 Mar

A lovely day and a very enjoyable morning at Hengistbury Head. Walking out from the main car park to the end of the beach huts, I got the Land Train back for an enjoyable rest. On the bird front there was very little around, a few Skylarks singing overhead indicated Spring is well on the way, whilst a few Meadow Pipits and a couple of Rock Pipits were seen. Other than that is was pretty much what you would expect, but a brilliant morning out despite the lack of birds.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Blashford Lakes NR - Mon 3 Mar

Slightly later than I was hoping but I did manage to get to Blashford Lakes this afternoon, arriving with a little under a hour before the car park were locked! I made straight for the Woodland Hide and amongst the gathering of feeding finches I located the long-staying Mealy Redpoll, so a result with my first target bird ticked off. Also from the hide I saw several Siskin and Lesser Redpoll amongst the more usual woodland birds. With time against me I then made a flying visit to Ivy Hide, but saw nothing different.
Back to the car and a short drive up the road followed by a walk out to Goosander Hide, where I saw five Goosander! I also saw a drake Red-crested Pochard amongst a small flock of Tufted Duck.
There were also several Pintail and half a dozen Goldeneye. Checking the time I realised I had to get a move on, so back to the car.
Ten minutes later and I was parked up at the end of Hurst Road and following the public footpath alongside Kingfisher Lake. What a nightmare, it's a private lake with very little in the way of viewing. I did see a Kingfisher and after a lot of searching I finally got the hatrick with regard to the birds I was after as I located the drake Ferruginous Duck.
After enjoying the bird for a few minutes I had to head off after a peasant few hours out.

Stanpit Marsh NR - Mon 3 Mar

A pretty brief visit to Stanpit Marsh this morning and the pretty much the entire site was under water. I headed out to Priory Marsh first, but no point really, just a lake, though a Water Pipit did fly over calling, so not a completely wasted walk. I then walked out to the visitor centre and scanned the water, lots of wildfowl, mainly Wigeon and Teal and a hundred or Dark-bellied Brent Geese, but that was about it, so I simply left!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Sopley & Blashford Lakes - Sun 2 Mar

A trip to Sopley, just north of Christchurch today, and I was hoping to locate the drake Green-winged Teal that had recently been seen in the area. Trips before and after lunch produced the same result, and that was a negative! That being said amongst the thousands of birds on the flooded River Avon I did see a pair of Goosander, somewhat unusual considering the area is usually farmland! A real surprise was a drake Ringed Teal, which I doubt made its way to the Dorset/Hampshire border from South America unaided! I wouldn't hazard a guess at the number of Black-tailed Godwit and Lapwing present, but it must have numbered around a thousand.
After lunch I made another flying visit, this time seeing a couple of Ruff and a brute of a Raven having a go at a rabbit which a Buzzard had caught and abandoned.
A couple of partridge also flew over the road but moved so quick I couldn't determine the species. A small flock of Pintail joined the mass of Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler.
I then moved on to Blashford Lakes and with limited time spent about twenty minutes in Tern Hide over looking Ibsley Water. A drake Goosander flew over whilst on the water at least half a dozen Goldeneye were present. A single Egyptian Goose was on the water's edge amongst a flock of grazing Wigeon.