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.