Thursday, 31 December 2015

Sutton Bingham - Thu 31 Dec

My final visit to Sutton Bingham of the year failed to add anything to the year list. In fact it was very quiet with just four Siskin seen in the car park and one of the wintering Stonechats still present near the Canoe Club. I can't complain though as I've had come cracking birds on the patch this year, including a couple of patch ticks.
I'll be taking part in the Patchwork Challenge again in 2016, hopefully I'll get a chance to start the year list off tomorrow!
Sutton Bingham year list for 2015 now at 105 species.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 27 Dec

A couple of visits over the weekend failed to produce anything much of note. A Kestrel near the Fishing Lodge was a nice find as I'd not seen one on the patch since the summer.
At the southern end of the reservoir just thirty Wigeon were present with four Teal.
Two Stonechats remained and a single Meadow Pipit was noted.

Sutton Bingham - Wed 23 Dec

A fairly brief lunchtime visit to the dam produced a flock of eighty-seven Wigeon and a single drake Tufted Duck. The Barnacle Goose was present again and four Teal we also noted.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 20 Dec

A late afternoon visit produced nothing from the dam other than a fly-over Raven so I headed to the southern end where a very wary (and un-ringed) Barnacle Goose was present with the Wigeon flock (eighty birds present today). Despite me being on the opposite side of the reservoir from the wildfowl and a number of Cormorants, my present was obviously enough to freak them out and all the birds took flight. The Barnacle Goose was calling pretty much constantly as it circled overhead before eventually landing on the water in the company of a few Cormorants. Get these for cracking photos of the Barnacle Goose!
The only other birds of note at the southern end were four Teal.
I then popped up to the northern end where a Stonechat was on the fence line south of West Pool. I walked from the car park down to the Canoe Club and back seeing one of the other wintering Stonechats but nothing else.

Yeovil - Fri 18 Dec

I popped in to Yeovil this afternoon and paid a visit to Yeovil Openspace, an area I'd heard of but never before visited. Accessed from Abbey Manor it is a small green area with a small stream flowing through it. So why was I here? Well, for a bird of course. Two Yellow-browed Warblers had amazingly been found in this area a couple of days earlier so I simply had to take a look. I spent about twenty minutes at the site during which time I had great views of both Yellow-browed Warblers. Also present a very vocal Siberian Chiffchaff (plus a second bird which looked like a very good candidate for tristis). There were a few "normal" Chiffchaffs also present, at least four, and I also located a Firecrest, which was a real surprise too. The area was a real oasis for birds and amazing that so many quality birds had turned up together in the middle of Yeovil!

Sutton Bingham - Wed 16 Dec

A few bits and pieces at the reservoir this afternoon, though nothing that different from recent visits. The Wigeon flock numbers some 118 individuals, there was nothing else of note on the water. A single Stonechat was again in the field between the car park and Canoe Club and a Meadow Pipit was in the same field. Finally, a Kingfisher was noted near the Canoe Club.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Sutton Bingham - Mon 14 Dec

There was just about enough light to warrant a quick stop prior to work and this paid off with a drake Pintail viewable from the northern causeway. It was rather nervy and when I left it had moved in to the vegetation below the car park bank. Now I know my photos have never been that good, but I've a new phone and the camera on it is really pants through a 'scope...but here goes!
A couple of brief visits over the weekend produced a flock of ten Siskin in the car park on Saturday afternoon and a Reed Bunting near the Canoe Club on Sunday evening.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Sutton Bingham - Wed 9 Dec

An afternoon visit was not really that productive at all. Highlight was a flock of thirty-one Lapwing that flew through at 4pm, other than that the wintering Stonechat was still on the fence line between the car park and Canoe Club. Some thirty or so Wigeon were viewable from the northern causeway.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

East Coker WTW - Sun 6 Dec

After my morning visit to the reservoir I quickly stopped off at East Coker WTW as I'd not visited the site for a long time. There were plenty of birds about, including three Chiffchaffs, but nothing that unusual. A couple of Goldcrests and Treecreepers were feeding with a mixed tit flock and the sewage beds held a few Chaffinches and Pied Wagtails but there was little else other than a lot of nettle stings...that will serve me right for wearing shorts in December!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 6 Dec

I spent a good couple of hours on the patch this morning and covered pretty much every area from the north right down to the southern end. Starting at the dam again there was no sign of yesterday's Scaup, but the Wigeon flock had increased slightly to 127 birds and there were two Meadow Pipits and a couple of Mistle Thrush in the horse paddock.
Round to the northern causeway and the male and female Stonechat were back on the fence line to the south of West Pool, I'd not seen them for a week or so. Another Meadow Pipit flew over and dropped in to the field.
A walk around the car park produced a flock of a dozen Siskin and they put on quite a show. There was nothing else of note around here though so I headed down to the southern end of the reservoir and checked out the area around Cotton Bridge. A total of fifty Teal were counted and a couple of Marsh Tits showed well.
On the water half a dozen Common Gulls dropped in.
A return visit mid-afternoon added a fly-over female Kestrel, my first on the patch for a couple of months, and the third wintering Stonechat was back on the fence line between the car park and the Canoe Club.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 5 Dec

With a little time on my hands I stopped off at the reservoir on my way home from work and decided that a view from the dam might be my best bet. As it happens this proved to be the correct decision. The Wigeon flock had increased to 125 birds and amongst the flock a single drake Teal. Further scrutiny located a aythya, but with the distance of the flock and the fierce winds getting anything on it proved tricky to say the least. I knew immediately that is was not a Tufted Duck as the head was big and round with no tuft present, so was it another weird hybrid? After some perseverance I finally managed better views and this clinched the identification, a first winter drake Scaup and not a hybrid of any first at the reservoir for many years. Unfortunately, distance and conditions meant there was no chance of getting a record shot.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 22 Nov

Not even sure whether it's worth adding anything to my blog for today...three Lapwing and at least three Skylark passed overhead mid-morning and a Mute Swan was a new arrival...that's it!

Sutton Bingham - Sat 21 Nov

Another quiet day and a mid-afternoon visit today. Starting off at the dam a Kingfisher was rather obliging and there were still over a hundred (107 to be precise) Wigeon present. I also popped down to the southern end of the reservoir but only found a single Snipe. The highlight today was a flock of twenty Lapwing that flew north-west over the reservoir.

Sutton Bingham - Fri 20 Nov

A quick visit on the way home from work, finished slightly early so it was still light, produced a flock of 113 Wigeon, the highest count so far this winter, and four Teal all off the dam (though some of the Wigeon flock took flight and headed south). The gull roost was rather distant tonight so it was impossible to check them out.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 15 Nov

I spent most of the afternoon at Sutton Bingham today, arriving at around 2.30pm and staying until dark. Starting off at the dam I counted forty-two Wigeon on the bank, but nothing much else. A single Meadow Pipit was hanging around with a few Pied Wagtails in the horse paddock. There were a good number of commoner "garden" birds around the Fishing Lodge and several Redwing were present. Two Grey Wagtails were also seen around the dam and Lodge area.
I then stopped off for a wander around the outflow stream where a Bullfinch but in a brief appearance, my first on the patch for a while. Singles of Coal Tit and Goldcrest were in with a flock of Long-tailed Tits, but again I failed to discover anything scarcer.
Off then to the southern end of the reservoir and a walk down to Cotton Bridge. Three Snipe were flushed form the water's edge and five Tufted Ducks (one drake and four ducks) were on the water. A further eight Wigeon were also noted, twenty Teal were counted and a single Mandarin was seen. It was surprisingly quiet with regard to smaller birds, with nothing much seen at all.
Back to the northern end of the reservoir and I took a walk from the car park down towards the Canoe Club and back. The single Stonechat was again seen in the field between the car park and Canoe Club and two Meadow Pipits flew over. Surprise of the day came in the form of a rather decomposed corpse:
My initial thoughts were of an auk, but the head and feet were missing fact it was unfortunate that the bird was long dead. After sharing the pictures on Twitter, Guillemot seemed to be the general feeling, and I tend to agree with this. It is therefore a first for the patch and therefore a patch lifer...but I don't think it fair to count dead birds on one's list!
Rounding off the day with a check of the gulls I failed to find anything unusual amongst the thousand or so birds gathered to roost, so with the light finally gone it was back home.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 8 Nov

A brief visit on Saturday afternoon had failed to produce much, though the Wigeon flock had risen to eighty-six birds and a singles of Stonechat and Meadow Pipit were noted, but I was able to spend a bit more time at the reservoir on Sunday. That being said with the rain and wind it was not overly productive!
The area south of Cotton Bridge produced seven Snipe but nothing else, so it was back to the site of the hide where forty-eight Wigeon were present before flying off north, presumably to the dam (which I had already visited and failed to see anything much of note other than a lone Mute Swan and a drake Tufted Duck, both of which were new arrivals).
A walk from the Canoe Club to the car park and back enabled me to check the gathered gulls but there was nothing that unusual present, a single first-winter Common Gull the only variation from the norm, though gull numbers were around the one thousand bird mark.
Three Little Grebes were noted, with one near the site of the hide, another off the car park and the third on West Pool. The male and female Stonechat again put in an appearance on the fence line to the south of West Pool.
Despite poor weather I managed a total of 45 species today...why did I count them all, well it was the Patchwork Challenge "Patch Day" today and everyone is encouraged to do a daily list. A good excuse, not that I need one, to get out and do some birding at Sutton Bingham!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Sutton Bingham - Wed 4 Nov

I spent a bit of time this afternoon walking from the Canoe Club to the car park and back, checking what was about and also taking a look at West pool. The male and female Stonechat were again present on the fence line to the south of West Pool and three Snipe were resting in the vegetation on the edge of the pool itself. A couple of Little Grebes were also on West Pool, but keeping pretty well hidden most of the time. The field between the Canoe Club and car park held three Meadow Pipits and another Stonechat was in this area, another female-type bird, and a Snipe was flushed from the water's edge. There were loads of Redwing present this afternoon, well over a hundred birds, and a much smaller number of Fieldfare were also noted and singles of Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush were also seen. As time wore on the gull numbers started to increase, but I didn't find anything out of the ordinary amongst those gathered.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Sutton Bingham - Tue 3 Nov

A brief visit to the dam before work actually paid off this morning with two Pintail, a first winter male and a female, present alongside twenty-four Wigeon. Unfortunately I had left my phone in the car so couldn't get a record shot, and just as I decided to go back and get it the duck took flight and headed off. A couple of Meadow Pipits were also seen this morning as well as a single Kingfisher.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2015 now at 104 species.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Radipole RSPB - Sun 1 Nov

We set off to meet some family friends this afternoon and had decided on Radipole RSPB in Weymouth as it was about equidistant for all. It was not really a chance to do any birding, but I did note a few things such as Water Rail and Cetti's Warbler plus a flyby Kingfisher, a lone adult Mediterranean Gull and a solitary Stonechat. A few other things had been reported according to the sightings board in the visitor centre, but I missed them all...including a Short-eared Owl!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 1 Nov

A short visit late morning failed to produce much in very foggy conditions. Around the fishing Lodge and dam there was at least some activity with several "garden" birds present and a flock of forty-five Wigeon off the dam. The horse paddock and dam area also hosted at least twenty-two Meadow Pipits. A single Stonechat was still present on the southern edge of West pool and a Kingfisher was also noted. Unfortunately, just as I stumbled across a feeding flock of birds in the car park I had to head off to pick up the family, wonder if there was anything of note? I guess I'll never know!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Sutton Bingham - Fri 30 Oct

An hour on patch late afternoon before the light failed proved to be somewhat rewarding despite failing to add anything to the patch year list. A total of sixty-nine Wigeon were counted as a few small flocks flew south over and appeared to land at the extreme southern end of the reservoir. Despite my best efforts I couldn't find any rare warblers but a Chiffchaff was seen and a flock of sixteen Long-tailed Tits was busy feeding along the water's edge. A male and female Stonechat were on the fence line south of West Pool and another was near the Canoe Club. Other bits and bobs seen this afternoon included a single Little Grebe off the Sailing Club and a Kingfisher. A few winter thrushes passed through, with Redwings outnumbering Fieldfares. A Raven was heard croaking away but was not seen and a Treecreeper was a surprise find in the willows on the edge of the reservoir near the car park.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Sutton Bingham - Wed 28 Oct

A quick stop off at the northern causeway before work this morning produced my first winter thrushes of the autumn with two Fieldfares and a single Redwing passing over. A small flock of five Mistle Thrushes also passed overhead along with two Meadow Pipits. The only thing of note on the deck was a flock of seventy-eight Canada Geese feeding in the newly harvested maize field at Hyde Farm.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Sutton Bingham - Tue 27 Oct

A few short visits over the past ten days have failed to provide anything worth writing about (though a male and female Stonechat had been seen a few times to the south of West Pool). However, this morning I popped up to the dam and had a quick look around before work. A flock of twenty-three Wigeon were present on the grass bank in the north-eastern corner whilst on the dam wall at least twenty Meadow Pipits were counted. A couple of Linnets and a Mistle Thrush were mixed in with the Meadow Pipits and that was really about it. Out on the water, a Cormorant was noted jumping right out of the water when feeding, much as a Shag would. Annoyingly I did not have my 'scope today as I had a courtesy car whilst my car was having an MOT so I could not get the detail I needed on the bird in question. Hopefully it will stick around so that I can get a chance for a second look, but I expect it is just an overly energetic Cormorant!!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Sutton Bingham - Fri 16 Oct

A visit after work concentrated on the gull roost which I viewed from the dam tonight. Numbers are growing rapidly and my rough counts are probably well short of the actual number of birds present (and more were arriving as I left). Highlight was a single adult Yellow-legged Gull but other than four Common Gulls there was not much more of note. Herring Gulls were by far the most numerous with at least six hundred present, Lesser Black-backed Gulls numbered around two hundred and at least one hundred and fifty Black-headed Gulls were noted.
PS: I didn't get a chance to do much in the way of patch birding over the weekend, but a quick visit on Saturday 17 October produced a Snipe and two Teal.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 11 Oct

I finally managed to get a prolonged period of time at the reservoir this afternoon and as a result managed to cover most areas. Yesterday's Little Grebe and Stonechat were both still on and around West Pool, but that was pretty much it from the northern end of the reservoir.
So off then to the extreme southern end of Sutton Bingham and a walk around Cotton Bridge which produced a fair sized mixed feeding flock consisting of the commoner tit species plus three Chiffchaffs, a Marsh Tit and a couple of Goldcrests. Overhead a pair of Ravens passed by, and a sub-adult female Peregrine whizzed through causing quite a scir amongst the various gathered gulls.
Also overhead, a single Siskin and a couple of Meadow Pipits.
On the water, Wigeon numbers had increased to twenty-seven birds and the first returning Teal of the winter was present alongside a single Tufted Duck and drake Mandarin. Highlight on the wildfowl front though was a drake Pochard that flew in from the north and after a couple of circuits landed on the water.
This was only the third Pochard I'd seen on patch in the past three years, it is somewhat of a patch rarity nowadays, and a much welcome patch year tick.
Back then to the dam and Fishing Lodge for a quick look and the horse paddock held three Meadow Pipits amongst the wagtails and there were flocks of around fifty Goldfinch and thirty Linnets to be seen.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 10 Oct

An hour on the patch late afternoon produced a Little Grebe on West Pool and a male Stonechat on the fence to the south of West Pool. A quick drive to the southern yielded two female-type Mandarin and three Tufted Ducks (two females and a male). I then took a walk from the Canoe Club to the car park and back. A nice large flock of Long-tailed Tits contained a couple of Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrests, but nothing rarer and three Meadow Pipits were also noted.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 4 Oct

A very busy weekend meant that I'd not had the chance to do anything much in the way of birding until mid-afternoon on Sunday. As a result I didn't have the time to twitch the Red-throated Pipit in Gloucestershire or the Ridgeways' Cackling Goose in Devon so instead spent a hour or so at Sutton Bingham with the sole intention of finding something decent myself. I failed!
Starting at the dam I did see a few bits and pieces, in fact this was the best spot to be on patch this afternoon, with a couple of Chiffchaff, three Linnet and four Meadow Pipits alongside a good number of Pied Wagtails and at least one White Wagtail and two Grey Wagtails. I also saw a couple of Kingfishers.
Moving round to the northern causeway I found my first Common Gull of the winter, but that was it. So down to the southern end where six Wigeon were present and a single Little Grebe was seen as well as another Kingfisher.
I rounded off my visit with a walk from the Canoe Club to the car park and back. I large mixed flock of tits held a couple of Goldcrests and a Treecreeper, but no hoped for scarce warblers. I did flush a smallish bird from the waterside vegetation but it swam quickly away before I could get anything on it, the mass of plants obscured pretty much everything. Despite searching I failed to relocate it, but I was left thinking it could only have been a Water Rail...shame really as it would've been a patch year tick!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 27 Sept

A brief visit on Saturday morning had produced a flyover Skylark and Grey Wagtail and a couple of Meadow Pipits and an equally brief visit on Sunday morning turned up the first Wigeon of the "winter", a single female bird.
However, on my way back from Abbotsbury I popped in to the reservoir and spent a bit of time around the Fishing Lodge and dam as this area had been quite productive at a similar time of day a week ago. This turned out to be the case again today as there were loads of birds around, mainly wagtails and finches. At least eight Linnets were in with around thirty or so Goldfinches and a single Meadow Pipit was loosely associating with the Pied Wagtails and White Wagtails (of which there were at least nine individuals). However, the highlight was a non-breeding Yellow Wagtail which showed really well in the horse paddock (which unfortunately is not really that viewable from public rights of way).
 This was the first Yellow Wagtail I'd seen on the patch for a little while, my only record last year was of a bird calling as it flew over, so it was nice to get good views of one on the deck and it rounded off a good day.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2015 now at 102 species. This equals my 2013 patch year list.

Abbotsbury Swannery - Sun 27 Sep

A lovely afternoon so I headed off to the coast and paid a visit to the Swannery at Abbotsbury as I'd not really made the most of my membership recently. An enjoyable stroll around the grounds produced the expected species...such as Mute Swan! There were already good numbers of duck present, with at least thirty Pintail on The Fleet and large numbers of Teal and Shoveler as well as Pochard and Tufted Duck. As I walked along a Hobby flew in from he north passed just over my head, caught a flying insect, and then zoomed off...great stuff. Scanning the far shore I managed to locate the juvenile Osprey which had been present for a week or so. It was sat on a post tucking in to a recently caught fish. A Kingfisher flew on to the adjacent post, but didn't hang around. Having missed two Ospreys at Sutton Bingham this autumn, it was nice to see one, albeit a bit distant and with it's bum pointing straight at me!
I was unable to locate the single Scaup which had also been present recently, but it was nice to visit somewhere different for a change.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Ham Wall RSPB - Sun 20 Apr

I made a quick trip up to Ham Wall RSPB reserve this afternoon. It has been quite some time since last I walked out on to the reserve and there have been quite a few changes...most noticeably the vast increase in the amount of vegetation which meant seeing anything from either of the viewing points was very difficult. I did, however, manage to pick out a couple of Great White Egrets and my first Wigeon of the autumn were also seen. The only other notable sightings were of a single Hobby near the car park and two fly-over Siskin.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 20 Sep

I was up early so popped down to Sutton Bingham to see if anything had dropped in overnight. Arriving on the patch at 7.00am there was a blanket of fog covering the reservoir! I persevered though and spent a bit of time around the Water Treatment Works (where I didn't' really see anything much) before moving up to the dam as the early morning sun started to burn away the mist.
A single Common Sandpiper was still present whilst overhead a Meadow Pipit and two Snipe were an indication that there was a little bit of migration going on. A Raven did a very obliging and close fly-past and a couple of White Wagtails were noted.
I then had a quick check of the reservoir from the northern causeway before moving on down to the Canoe Club. From here I noticed some small birds on the wire fence along the back of the field on the opposite side of the road. I managed to get close enough to 'scope the birds and discovered two Whinchats and a Stonechat. They showed really well for several minutes before disappearing, scanning to the right I soon realised why as a rather smart male Sparrowhawk had landed on the hedge! I did manage a couple of record shots of the Sparrowhawk and one of the Whinchats.
Continuing to the southern end of the reservoir I failed to find anything else so headed back home for breakfast. I quick return visit late morning produced a small flock of ten Siskin in the car park.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 19 Sep

A brief visit to the reservoir mid-afternoon was surprisingly productive. I concentrated on the area around the dam and Fishing Lodge where the horse paddock hosted a large flock of Goldfinches and three Linnets. Amongst a large number of Pied Wagtails were around half a dozen White Wagtails and five Grey Wagtails were on the dam. The dam also produced three Little Egrets (my highest count for quite some time) and two Common Sandpipers. A Kingfisher provided a splash of colour.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 13 Sep

I was able to spend a bit of time at the reservoir today. A morning visit consisted of a stroll along the water's edge from the car park to the site of the hide and back again. Whilst during the afternoon I made a quick check of the dam area.
The undoubted highlight of the day was a Honey Buzzard that flew in from the north, drifted purposefully overhead, before vanishing to the south at midday. This is only my second ever sighting of Honey Buzzard at Sutton Bingham, and was a much better view than my previous sighting. I watched the bird through my bins of about three minutes, making note of the typical long-tailed and protruding head profile. The wings were held in a dropping manner in flight rather than the shallow "V" of a Common Buzzard and the whole behaviour and "feeling" of the bird was consistent with Honey Buzzard rather than Common Buzzard.
Other birds seen on the patch today included a Kingfisher near the Canoe Club, a Siskin in the car park and a Little Egret on the dam. A couple of Skylarks were heard calling as they passed overhead. Finally, two drake Mandarin were seen in flight before settling on the water at the southern end of the reservoir.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Sutton Bingham - Fri 11 Sep

A visit after work was pretty interesting, with a drake Shoveler being the highlight. The bird was seen in flight from Hyde Farm coming in from the west it flew towards the dam, but a quick drive round to the Fishing Lodge failed to relocate it.
However, the horse paddock near the Fishing Lodge hosted a mixed flock of finches with at least half a dozen Linnets and forty Goldfinches with smaller numbers of Greenfinch and Chaffinch. The field also held five or so White Wagtails amongst a few Pied Wagtails and three Grey Wagtails were on the dam itself.
A quick check of the southern end proved fruitless and nothing was on show from the northern causeway either.

Sutton Bingham - Tue 8 Sep

The only birds of note this evening were two Whinchats on the "usual" fence line to the south of West Pool.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Sutton Bingham - Mon 7 Sep

A brief visit on my way home, in fact it was probably less than two minutes, produced a single Whinchat and a single Stonechat on the fence line to the south of West Pool.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 6 Sep

A mid morning visit to the reservoir finally produced my 100th species of bird on the patch this year, as, after eight months of searching, I managed to connect with Marsh Tit! In fact, at least two birds were seen really well in the area around Cotton Bridge. That whole area was buzzing with birds, with good numbers of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, plus Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch and Treecreeper.
Overhead a small kettle of six Buzzards was joined by a couple of Ravens and a brief juvenile Hobby was a nice surprise.
At the northern end of the reservoir I spent a bit of time at the dam, where a Little Egret flew over, and a fair few Swallows passed through during the hour I was present.
I also managed to get a photograph of one of the many dragonflies whizzing around, I believe this is a Migrant Hawker!
Sutton Bingham year list for 2015 now at 100 species.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Sutton Bingham - Mon 31 Aug

A morning visit was rained off but I was able to get out to Cotton bridge in the afternoon in the hope of finally adding Marsh Tit to the year list (a pair had been seen the previous day), but I failed miserably...though a Spotted Flycatcher was a nice find.
To add insult to injury, just as I pulled up at home I got a text saying an Osprey was over the southern end of the reservoir. If I'd stopped at the "hide" on the way home I would've seen it but by the time I got back to the patch it had vanished! That's two Ospreys at Sutton Bingham that I've missed in less than a week!

Sutton Bingham - Sat 29 Aug

An early morning visit and I was able to spend a fair amount of time on patch this morning. Starting at the dam I had a good view of a male Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail was also present. A Common Sandpiper was feeding on the bank to the north of the dam.
Driving round to the northern causeway I located two Whinchats on the fence that runs along the southern boundary of West Pool.
The southern end of the reservoir was not very productive, but a Little Grebe was worth a mention. I've not seen evidence of breeding here this year, but it was a juvenile bird!

Sutton Bingham - Fri 28 Aug

A morning visit was not that productive, and I didn't have time to do anything other than a quick scan form the northern causeway. A juvenile Peregrine was a nice surprise as it drifted over West Pool and headed north. I'd like to know how far from his nest he was. A single Common Sandpiper was on West Pool and a Raven was seen in flight.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Sutton Bingham - Thu 27 Aug

The almost usual flying visit prior to work paid off this morning with five Black-tailed Godwits present on the northern causeway. A real surprise and a very welcome one at that. I even managed to grab a couple of half decent photos of them.
A Common Sandpiper was feeding on the edge of West Pool and seemed to be the only other bird of note.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Sutton Bingham - Tue 25 Aug

A quick stop off at the reservoir on my way home from a day away attending a training course provided very little of interest until I scanned West Pool. I picked out a small wader preening, but it was only a Common Sandpiper. However, I then scanned the fence that runs along the field to the south of West Pool and found a Whinchat. I was hoping to find one as it was this time last year when the first Whinchat passed fact a year and a day to be precise!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Meare Heath NR - Tue 18 Aug

A decision to take the day off and a pleasant afternoon to boot so this afternoon I popped up to the Avalon Marshes and a visit to Meare Heath. I made straight for the drained lagoon to try and connect with the Wood Sandpiper that had been present for a day or two, but despite plenty of searching I simply failed to locate it. I did see three Knot, four Green Sandpipers, a Dunlin and a Ringed Plover alongside good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwing. A single Snipe was the only other wader seen. A juvenile Peregrine flew through and put some of the waders up, but I couldn't see anything unusual amongst the Lapwings. I also managed to pick out a Garganey amongst the assembled duck.
Whilst checking the lagoon a cyclist passed by and said he had seen an Osprey at Noah's Lake, so off I went and was lucky enough to get to the hide in time to see three fishing attempts, the final one a success and the Osprey flew to a dead tree to enjoy his mid-afternoon snack.
Another check of the lagoon on the way back to the car again failed to deliver the much wanted Wood Sandpiper, but a Great White Egret was seen in flight.
UK list for 2015 now at 184 species.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 16 Aug

A late afternoon stroll from the car park south along the water's edge and back was pleasant if somewhat lacking in birds. That being said three Common Sandpipers were on the far bank and two Mandarin were at the extreme southern end of the reservoir. The only other birds of interest were a couple of Kingfishers, which seem to be a permanent fixture recently.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Black Hole Marsh - Sat 15 Aug

News of a probable Baird's Sandpiper near Seaton in Devon broke just after lunch, so I made the decision to go and check it out. Baird's Sandpiper is on my UK list but has always been one of those species that I wanted to see again just to underline it, and having dipped the last two I'd gone to see this was really too good an opportunity to miss.
At around 2.30pm I arrived at Black Hole Marsh and walked out to the Island Hide where a very kind birder let me view the bird through his 'scope. Excellent stuff, a cracking little wader! I then got my own 'scope set up and enjoyed some great views for the next ten minutes or so. Initially I was a little concerned with the boldness of the supercilium and the wing projection past the tail, but comparing photos with my various field guides when I got home, as well as talking to a couple of exceptional birders on site left me happy that it was a indeed an adult Baird's Sandpiper.
As you will see from the photos above, there was a deposit on the legs of the bird. Presumably this was salt from a salt pan that the Baird's Sandpiper had previously been feeding on. With these being numerous in the Canary Islands and south-west Mediterranean it is possible the bird headed north from a location in the southern Western Palearctic...though I guess no-one will ever really know!
I didn't really check out much else whilst on site, but a single Ruff was seen as well as a couple of Common Sandpipers and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits and Redshank. It's been a while since I was last down this way, and I must say I am really impressed with the facilities down at Seaton. All in all a very good afternoon out.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 15 Aug

It was rather late in the morning by the time I got to the reservoir today, but a quick look around before too much human activity produced a Common Sandpiper on West Pool. A walk along the water's edge to the Canoe Club and back was not that beneficial, though I did find a Common Tern hawking over the water.
A quick drive round to the Water Treatment Works and a second Common Sandpiper was in the outflow stream, as was a Kingfisher. So not much brought in overnight, but still the odd bird to keep one interested!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Sutton Bingham - Fri 14 Aug

Heavy overnight rain did not let up when dawn broke and it looked like a complete washout for the entire day, however, I was not to be put off and headed out to the reservoir for an hour just after breakfast. Arriving at about 8.20am I scanned the water from the northern causeway but failed to locate anything other than the "usual" species. After about ten minutes I noticed a flock of eleven birds arriving from the north-east over the dam and then above the reservoir and it soon became apparent that this was a flock of terns, but what kind? Some careful scrutiny over the next 15 minutes helped by relocating to the now open car park enabled me to confirm the identity as Arctic Terns, excellent stuff and probably not that surprising given the time of year and conditions. Just as the terns passed over me again I noticed a straggler and a quick count confirmed there were now twelve birds, and this new tern was smaller and darker...a Black Tern! Within a couple of minutes of the Black Tern joining the group of Arctic Terns the entire flock headed south in and was lost to view, so with the rain now hammering it down I decided to head home for a well deserved cup of coffee!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

West Bexington - Wed 12 Aug

Late on Saturday afternoon news broke of an immature Black Stork around Arne RSPB and Middlebeare, the bird was still present on Sunday morning but family commitments meant I had no chance to try and see the bird until the Sunday afternoon, by which time the bird had flown and was not relocated until Tuesday lunchtime when it was over Portland. Again I was unable to do anything about it and again the bird vanished until the early evening when it turned up at West Bexington.
So when I woke up this morning I kept a close eye on Twitter and the pager and as soon as news came out that the Black Stork had been relocated in a stubble field west of West Bexington village I set off for the coast. Forty minutes later I pulled off the road overlooking the village to scan the area, and there it was! Still in the stubble field I 'scoped the bird distantly from the road knowing it would be a real trudge from the car park in the village along Chesil Beach and up to the adjoining fields. As it happened I made the right decision as the Black Stork took to the air at around 8.40am and after circling a few times it drifted off and was lost to view just before 9.00am.
Now I just want to state that there are some great pictures of the bird taken at West Bexington this morning, but the following do not fall in to that category...these were phone-scoped about half a mile away as the red arrow shows on the bottom picture!
I had tried and failed to see Black Stork in the UK on a few occasions, so it was great to finally remove the species from my dip list and ink it on to my UK list.
A walk around Abbotsbury village afterwards produced at least four Painted Ladies, a couple of Commas and Red Admirals and a Hummingbird Hawk-moth.

Sutton Bingham - Tue 11 Aug

More of the same today with a Little Egret on West Pool again and a single Common Sandpiper noted. A total of four Kingfishers were seen, I am pretty confident that they bred at the reservoir this year.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 8 Aug

A quick visit and the flying ants that had been noted yesterday were again present today, only this time they had attracted a flock of twenty-two Common Terns, this is the highest single count I've ever had at the reservoir and contained at least three juvenile birds.

Sutton Bingham - Fri 7 Aug

The third-summer Great Black-backed Gull was again noted today, and a Little Egret was on West Pool. The only other bird of note was a single Common Sandpiper.

Sutton Bingham - Wed 5 Aug

Another quiet day, but a juvenile Mediterranean Gull was a decent sighting for the time of year.

Sutton Bingham - Tue 4 Aug

The only thing to report today, a flock of twelve Mistle Thrushes passing over. An exceptional count for the reservoir.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 2 Aug

I made an early morning visit to the reservoir today, knowing that it was bound to get a little busy as the day wore on with sailors, canoeists and anglers all due to take advantage of the forecasted good weather. A good look around the dam failed to produce that much though, with a couple of Little Egrets and a brace of Kingfishers being seen.
The trees around the Fishing Lodge hosted a bit of variety, with a couple of juvenile Linnets being the pick of the bunch, and an indication that there was successful breeding on the patch this year.
From the northern causeway I saw another Kingfisher, this one on West Pool and a third Little Egret was also notes as one flew over heading north. A single Common Sandpiper was to be the only wader seen today.
On then to the southern end of the reservoir where five Mandarin were seen and a Raven was atop one of the pylons. More encouraging news with the sighting of three juvenile Kestrels, so evidence of another species breeding on patch which I didn't know about.
Away from the birds there were a few butterflies on the wing, with Gatekeeper and Meadow Browns being the most obvious, though I also saw a few Small Skippers and a single Common Blue.
Finally, I noted a single Banded Demoiselle and loads of Common Blue Damselflies.
All in all a good morning out.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Sutton Bingham - Thu 30 Jul

Another early morning flying visit and again it paid dividends with another Little Ringed Plover on the northern causeway alongside a Redshank.
As I was watching these two waders through my 'scope I could hear a Greenshank calling overhead, but in the bright sunlight I couldn't actually see it but it sounded very close as it belted out it's typical "tchew-tchew-tchew" call.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Sutton Bingham - Wed 29 Jul

A few quick visits over the past few days have failed to produce much other than the odd Common Sandpiper and a female Tufted Duck that was present on Monday 27 July in the afternoon. However, a little bit of excitement this morning! I had a little time before work so popped in for a quick look around, starting off at the Canoe Club. This proved to be a waste of time, though a family of Blackcaps were quite obliging. So back to the northern causeway and as I got out of the car I noticed a small wader on the causeway, a Little Ringed Plover! A quick scan of the small patch of mud near the fishing jetty produced a second bird. I must admit, I'd been thinking Little Ringed Plover would be a good bet with the water levels dropping, and sure enough that proved to be the case.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2015 now at 95 species.

Update: A return visit late afternoon failed to produce the two Little Ringed Plovers, but the third-summer Great Black-backed Gull was again present.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Ham Wall RSPB - Sat 25 Jul

I felt like I needed my passport this afternoon as I ventured "off patch" to do a little birding on the Somerset Levels with a visit to Ham Wall.
As always it was a pleasant stroll on a very warm afternoon, and it speaks volumes about how much this reserve has come on when you wander around seeing species that would have sent your heart racing a few years ago but now barely attract a second glance. That being said, it is nice to get good views of quality birds.
A Bittern was seen in flight and dropped down in to reeds fairly close to where I was stood, so some good close views. The only Great White Egret I saw was a distant bird in flight. A female Marsh Harrier did a sortie over the reed beds and a lone Hobby was noted. On the deck a flock of Black-tailed Godwits was present from the second viewing platform, most were obscured, so I could only count fifteen birds. Three Lapwings were the only other waders I saw.
All in all an enjoyable afternoon out and about.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 25 Jul

A late morning visit failed to produce much, a Little Egret was on West Pool and three Common Sandpipers were noted, there seems to have been a trickle of Common Sandpipers passing through over the last week.
There was slightly more of note in the meadow between the car park and the Canoe Club, with a good number of butterflies on the wing. I notched up eight species including some very fresh Common Blues (I presume these are a second "batch"), and my first Gatekeepers of the year. A number of the Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites looked a little worst for wear!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Sutton Bingham - Wed 22 Jul

More of the same today, with a "new" Common Sandpiper seen near the canoe club and the long-staying third summer Great Black-backed Gull present on the northern causeway with a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull again.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Sutton Bingham - Thu 16 Jul

A quick visit on the way in to work produced the first returning Common Sandpipers of the "autumn" with two birds on the northern causeway.
Both birds were still present late afternoon, and the third summer Great Black-backed Gull was also hanging around still. A juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was a new arrival and two Little Egrets were feeding on the edges of West Pool.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Sutton Bingham - Thu 9 Jul

Another very quick visit today on my way home from work and I simply spent a few minutes scanning the area from the car whilst parked on the northern causeway. I wasn't expecting anything to be honest, so it was a real surprise when I suddenly noticed two Redshank on the causeway about fifty metres from the car. A July patch year tick! Just as I got the 'scope set up ready for an attempted photo they suddenly took flight and after a brief circuit headed off south down the reservoir and were lost to view. Having missed a fly-over Redshank last month and a single brief bird last year, it was nice to connect with one.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Sutton Bingham - Mon 6 Jul

A quick mid-afternoon visit was not very productive, though an adult Great Black-backed Gull was on one of the pontoons off the Sailing Club, no sign of yesterday's third-summer bird.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 5 Jul

An hour or so on the patch late morning produced a few things of interest though nothing exceptional. The third-summer Great Black-backed Gull was again on West Pool, a real monster of a bird!
Other gull action came in the form of a juvenile Mediterranean Gull which flew south, no idea where this came from, the nearest breeding colonies are on the south coast so obviously a displaced bird having a wander. A juvenile Black-headed Gull was again present having been first seen a few days ago and a very recently fledged Herring Gull was on the northern causeway, so small and downy I wonder whether a pair may have bred at the reservoir.
The southern end hosted a female Mandarin with six ducklings, all of which were pretty well grown.
A walk around Cotton Bridge again failed to deliver any Marsh Tits, so the species remains absent from my patch year list for 2015. Plenty of positive news though with fully fledged birds feeding in some numbers in the trees, so successful breeding for many of the commoner species.

Update: A flying visit on Monday morning found yesterday's juvenile Herring Gull nestled up to a parent bird which had died. The resident Carrion Crows were showing a bit of interest in the young bird, so I don't think it's chances of survival are high. A real reminder of how tough life can be.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Sutton Bingham - Tue 30 Jun

Two Common Terns off the dam this afternoon were a welcome year tick for the patch, and rather unseasonal. I'd had a text message from fellow SBR birder Pete mid-morning and fortunately the birds were still present late afternoon, having moved from the southern arm (where Pete had found them) to a buoy just off the dam. This was my sixth patch year tick for June, compared with a big fat ZERO for the month last year!
Also present during the twenty or so minutes I was on patch this afternoon, a third-summer Great Black-backed Gull on a pontoon off the Sailing Club (this too was found by Pete earlier in the day when it had been on West Pool). A female-type Mandarin was tucked up in vegetation off the Canoe Club, and there were also two Little Egrets, one on the dam and a second opposite the "hide".
Sutton Bingham year list for 2015 now at 93 species.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Sutton Bingham - Fri 19 Jun

It's funny how things work out. At the end of a ridiculously busy week I had the Friday afternoon from hell with some major issues at work that I simply had to resolve before leaving, as a result I was half an hour late getting away from the office. A quick call to update the family was followed by a five minute stop at the reservoir to unwind before getting home. Nothing much of note at Sutton Bingham until I noticed a couple of birds flying towards me from the direction of the dam, and I was surprised to see a couple of Lapwing drift over my head and head north. Both birds were in pretty heavy wing moult, and I can only assume they are early migrants after breeding, presumably unsuccessfully. A real surprise in June and another patch year tick.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2015 now at 92 species.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Titchfield & Pagham Harbour - Sat 13 Jun

I found myself with some unexpected time on my hands today as due to a few last minute changes at work I didn't need to spend the morning in the office. So as I had not had the opportunity to twitch a long-staying American wader in Hampshire I headed off fairly early and made for Titchfield, just to the east of Southampton. Having printed maps I managed to find the small car park on Bridge Street and then take the mile walk south along the canal to view an area known as Posbrook Floods. Having passed a few birders who had already seen the target I had the necessary information and before long I was watching an adult Greater Yellowlegs through my scope. Result! It was a little too far away to get any pictures, but I thought I'd give it a go anyway!

There was very little else about, a flock of seventy Black-tailed Godwits was about it so I set off for my second port of call.
Leaving Titchfield and re-joining the M27 I headed east in to Sussex and after about an hour arrived at the small village of Church Norton just to the south of Chichester. I was able to park in the small car park near the church and take a short walk out to view Pagham Harbour.
I joined the dozen or so birders present but the second mega rare American wader of the day had gone AWOL. However, over the next two hours I was lucky enough to see the Hudsonian Whimbrel a couple of times in flight, including one really good prolonged view. I also had a couple of distant views of the bird on the deck. Also present in the harbour at least three "normal" Whimbrel and a few Curlew. I also picked up my first Ringed Plover of the year! A singing Cuckoo was also noted.
I had promised to be home by 2pm so at 11:30am I had to set off for home, but I had managed to get two cracking rare waders, I can't remember the last time I had two life ticks in one day!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 7 Jun

A visit to the patch mid-morning failed to produce yesterday's Night Heron, mind you it spent all day deep in cover yesterday. The last sighting was of it in flight at around 10.30pm last night, so I guess it may have moved on. In fact there was very little to be seen from the northern causeway so I popped down to the southern end for a walk.
Amazingly, I bumped in to a person walking two dogs, just metres past two large signs stating No Dogs, obviously the sign didn't refer to them! However, after a polite word they soon left. It's a shame that some people simply don't think the rules apply to them. Anyway, rant over and back to the birds, or lack of as the case may be!
Well it wasn't all doom and gloom as I finally added Lesser Whitethroat to my patch year list, with a singing male in the hedgerow behind the Canoe Club, better late than never. A couple of Ravens were also present and on the breeding front, one of the Mute Swan pairs have four cygnets, several pairs of Great Crested Grebes have young (probably around thirty young birds present), and there were two good broods of Mallards with pretty well-developed young.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sat 6 Jun

What a week...and it's June! I found myself with ten minutes to kill before work this morning so popped in to Sutton Bingham briefly and decided to try the area around the Canoe Club for a change. What a great decision, a Spotted Flycatcher was feeding and calling in the trees over the shed. A great year tick for the patch, and a Summer bird to boot...breeding? I hope so as the last couple I've seen here have been Autumn migrants.
Back then to the northern causeway and a quick look around. Checking West Pool I noticed a small white blob in the trees at the far end and my interest was piqued straight away. A look through the bins and my heart skipped a beat. I quickly got the 'scope out of the car and set it up. Yep, no doubt about adult Night Heron! Unbelievable. What a cracking and very smart bird. Sat in the trees in typical Night Heron hunched pose I watched it for a couple of minutes before grabbing the phone to call RBA to get the news out. Unfortunately, by the time I'd finished the call the bird had vanished deeper in to the vegetation and as I had to get to work I couldn't hang around for it to reappear. I doubt it'll go anywhere today, but I may pop back tonight (time permitting) in the hope it leaves its roost and puts on a little bit of a show. Just think, two weeks ago I was dipping Night Heron's left, right and centre on the Isles of Scilly...and now I've found my own on my patch...result!
Sutton Bingham year list for 2015 now at 90 species.

Update: A return visit at around 9:15pm produced some really good views of the Night Heron at the far end of West Pool. After roosting all day it finally popped out again at 8:45pm and showed really well, if a little distant, for a small group of assembled birders. Now I never like to disappoint anyone, so as promised to a few of those present in the evening, here is my "best" record shot of the Night Heron!
Did I mention that is was a couple of hundred metres away in really bad light?

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Sutton Bingham - Wed 4 Jun

The funny thing about birds is that you never when or where something unusual will turn up. I popped in to the reservoir this afternoon for a quick look and to be honest I was not really expecting to see anything what with it being June and Spring migration pretty much done for the year. So imagine my surprise when I found a Knot actively feeding on the northern causeway. The bird was ridiculously tame, and judging from the plumage I'd say it was a first-summer bird, having hatched last year. Now I know I'm not exactly well known for my photographic skills, but I still had a pop today just to get a couple of record shots, and the snippet of video (taken on my phone) shows just how close the bird was.
This was only my second Knot at Sutton Bingham, and this one was much more obliging than the last one. It just goes to show, you never know what will turn up on your local patch...oh yes, and there was nothing else worth a mention either!
Sutton Bingham year list for 2015 now at 88 species.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Meare Heath NR - Sat 30 May

An fairly early morning visit produced a few of the now expected species. I walked out towards the drained lagoon which was surprisingly devoid of waders, with the exception of the Black-tailed Godwit flock which numbered around 150 birds. A very smart male Marsh Harrier put on a bit of a performance and a Great White Egret flew from the reed bed at 70-acre over to Noah's Lake. From the hide at Noah's I picked up a fairly distant Hobby hawking insects and a Bittern was heard booming. So some quality birds, and pretty much what one has come to expect on the Somerset Levels!
A stop off at another site on the way home produced some wonderful views of half a dozen of the re-introduced Cranes. I know they are plastic, but it was a real delight seeing them souring over fields and then settling to feed amongst cattle. Brilliant birds!

Isles of Scilly - Sat 16 May to Sat 23 May

A week away on the Isles of Scilly, and I must stress this was not a birding trip but rather a family holiday! As a result I didn't do much birding over the course of the week, but still managed to add a few decent birds to my year list.
Taking the Scillonian III across from Penzance I got in a bit of seawatching during the crossing, the undoubted highlight was a Sabine's Gull seen well for several minutes about halfway out. A Great Northern Diver flew past and a fair number of Manx Shearwaters were also seen. Add to this a couple of Fulmars and a handful of Kittiwakes it was not a bad start to the week.
Arriving on St Mary's we got settled in our accommodation and that evening I did manage to get out for an hour or so to check out a few of the local sites for some of the rare birds I knew were around. Making for Lower Moors I stopped at Rosehill and managed some brilliant views of an adult male Little Bittern, annoyingly (and this proved to be the case all week) I didn't have my 'scope so no chance of a picture. I then walked up to Porth Hellick where after a bit of work I finally tracked down the first-summer Squacco Heron, this was only my second UK record of this species. After two quality birds in about thirty minutes things took a turn for the worse. I decided on heading back via Lower Moors and by doing so missed the sub-adult Common Crane, I didn't connect with this bird all week. The walk produced a couple of Wheatears and a Rock Pipit but on arriving at Lower Moors I was told I had missed one of the Night Herons by seconds! Again I failed to see a Night Heron all week despite a few more attempts. The female Garganey was viewable from Shooter's Pool in the presence of a female Teal, but that was scant consolation.
Sunday was a relaxed day before a day trip to Tresco on Monday. Choppy seas meant we were pretty soaked on arrival! A walk around Abbey Gardens produced Golden Pheasant, but not sure I can really tick them. A Barnacle Goose was hanging out with a few Canada Geese on Great Pool and a Greenshank proved to be the only wader of the week with the exception of the numerous Oystercatchers. A drake Shoveler and female Wigeon were also seen on the pools.
Another restful day on Tuesday and then another day trip on Wednesday, this time to St Martin's. We took it pretty easy and didn't really see much in the way of birds, though a Great Northern Diver was seen in flight off Par Beach. We caught the earlier ferry back to St Mary's and in the afternoon I popped out for an hour in an attempt to see a Melodious Warbler that had been found earlier in the day on Peninnis Head. There were a couple of other birders on site when I arrived and before too long I was able to get some cracking views of the warbler. I also picked up a Spoonbill over Gugh, an unexpected bonus.
Thursday evening saw me head out with Will Wagstaff on an evening birding cruise. This was pretty productive with great views of Manx Shearwaters and at least forty Puffins. A summer plumaged Great Northern Diver put on a good show and sixteen Common Terns were noted. Bird of the trip was a Storm Petrel which I managed to get on as it sped across the water, unfortunately I had no chance of getting any one else on to it.
The week was rounded off with another relaxing day before the Scillonian III crossing back to Penzance on Saturday morning. The islands were fog bound so our crossing was delayed slightly but once away from the Isles of Scilly the weather improved, but the only birds of note on the return trip were three more Great Northern Divers. This non-birding holiday ended with a quick detour to Land's End where unfortunately I dipped the Sardinian Warbler, this would have been the perfect end to great week, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it!
The trip list ended up on 69 species...not that I was counting of course!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Sutton Bingham - Thu 14 May

Yet another flying visit to the reservoir on my way home from work and today I managed to add two more species to the patch year list. Firstly a Hobby zoomed in and buzzed a few hirundines over West Pool before zooming off north and secondly my first patch Swifts of the year, with two seen over Hyde Farm.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Ham Wall RSPB - Sat 9 May

An afternoon in the sun and a walk around Ham Wall RSPB reserve today. From the car park I noticed at least ten Hobbies hawking insects over one of the nearer reed beds, and a Great White Egret flew in and dropped in to the same patch of reeds. A walk out to the second viewing platform produced two Whimbrel, a welcome addition to the year list, and the usual singing warblers. Over the next couple of hours I had seen five Great White Egrets and at least three Marsh Harriers. As well as hearing a couple of Bitterns, I had great views of one in flight. Hobby numbers increased with at least twenty birds over the reserve as well as a couple of hundred Swift. All in all a most enjoyable trip out.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 3 May

An hour on the patch this morning produced a few things, most noticeably the first Reed Warbler of the year at Sutton Bingham with a male in full song near the site of the old hide. A drake Mandarin was seen in flight near Cotton Bridge and a Kingfisher whizzed through. The other notable sighting was a Common Sandpiper on the northern causeway.

Fri 8 May Update: A few flying visits over the course of the last week failed to produce anything worthy of a separate blog entry! The hoped for scarcity just failed to arrive!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sat 2 May

A brief visit on my way to work proved to be a good decision as when scanning the reservoir from the northern causeway I located a tern on one of the buoys. I had a pretty good idea of what it was but decided on a better view so hot-footed to the end of the car park where I was afforded some cracking views of an adult Arctic Tern.
Always a good bird to get on the patch year list, especially as there seem to have been very few terns about so far this year. Still very little else around, though a cold and overcast morning does not tend to encourage anything much.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Sutton Bingham - Tue 28 Apr

With a little bit of time on my hands, having left for work early, I popped in to the reservoir for a quick look. Bright sunlight meant viewing the main reservoir from the northern causeway was a bit tricky so I checked out West Pool, which had been almost devoid of birdlife for the last few months. Today was slightly different when I stumbled upon a brown aythya duck, keeping close to the water's edge on the far side of the pool. I immediately noticed the white under-tail coverts and rounded back of the sign of a crest. Chestnut brown in colour with a darker back and paler flanks, a dark eye and darkish bill. Was this a female/first-summer Ferruginous Duck? However, aythya hybrids are always a possibility and something didn't look quite right, was there a hint of Pochard in there somewhere? My gut instinct was telling me this was a hybrid, a real shame but the bill and forehead didn't look right for Ferruginous Duck and were more like Pochard. A quick Tweet to get news out and a couple of phone calls so others could check it out. I guess a few second opinions will nail it one way or the other.

UPDATE: I can confirm that the mystery aythya was indeed a hybrid, possibly Fudge x Pochard though it looked as if there could even be some Red-crested Pochard somewhere in it! A very interesting bird!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Meare Heath NNR - Sat 25 Apr

I had just arrived at work when the pager went off with a *Mega Alert* alerting me of a Hudsonian Godwit just up the road at Meare heath NNR on the Somerset Levels. What followed was the longest four hours I had ever spent sat at my desk, with a constant eye on Twitter and the RBA website keeping me abreast of the birds presence I finally set off and arrived on site soon after 1pm. The new car park was packed to capacity but fortunately I managed to squeeze in to the old car park at Ashcott Corner and walked out to view the drained lagoon, along with around 500 other birders!
When I first got on the bird it was fast asleep, though it did do a little preening before settling down again. So I walked on to take a look over Noah's Lake where I added Common Tern to the year list, with two birds flying around. A couple of Hobbies overhead were also new for the year and the now expected Great White Egrets, Bitterns and Marsh Harriers were all noted.
I then returned to the throng and the Hudsonian Godwit was now feeding but was working its way in to the left hand corner of the lagoon and was for the most part obscured from view. However, with a little patience I got some great views and was able to see all the distinguishing features, including the dark underwing when it had a go at a Black-tailed Godwit. I did try and get a couple of record shots, but was more interested in seeing the bird and appreciating this third for Britain.
The only other bird of note that I saw this afternoon was a Greenshank, there were loads of other quality birds around, but I didn't actually connect with any of them...not that I minded, I saw the important one!