Saturday, 31 January 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sat 31 Jan

My final trip to the patch this month and I failed to add anything else to the year list. The three Barnacle Geese were still present (and with the birds still at Catcott Lows these are actually different birds and not potential wanderers as I thought they may have been).
A small flock of just eight Wigeon were off the dam, but Great Crested Grebe numbers seem to have increased with over thirty birds present, including at least two pairs displaying. A Kingfisher put in a typically brief fly-past and a first winter Mediterranean Gull was also noted.
Four Meadow Pipits were in the field between the car park and the Canoe Club and a Buzzard flushed four Snipe from West Pool. I didn't have time to linger for the gull roost tonight, but still had an enjoyable hour at the reservoir.

Sutton Bingham - Wed 28 Jan

A bit of a surprise at Sutton Bingham today when I found three Barnacle Geese amongst a flock of one hundred Canada Geese off the dam. It's been a few years since I'd seen a Barnacle Goose at the reservoir, and the last one was almost certainly a feral bird. Of course, it's possible these three were as well, but with sightings of apparent wild birds (un-ringed adults) on the Levels in the past few days it could be these are the same birds.
I wasn't able to stay too late tonight due to other commitments so many gulls were still arriving when I left, but amongst those gathered to roost I failed to locate any Mediterranean Gulls tonight, but there were at least fifty Common Gulls. A single Kingfisher was the only other bird of note.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2015 now at 51 species.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Radipole RSPB - Sat 24 Jan

An afternoon trip to Weymouth and walk around Radipole in the winter sun was enjoyable if slightly marred by the fact I missed the Greenland White-fronted Goose that had been present for a couple of days. That being said I was treated to some amazing views of Bearded Tits today, with three males and a female all putting on splendid shows feeding on the reed heads despite a bit of a breeze. The drake Hooded Merganser was also rather obliging by the Discovery Centre. Two Mediterranean Gulls were also noted.

Sutton Bingham - Fri 23 Jan

As I was able to get away from work a little early I popped in to check the gull roost tonight, and it was a good job I did! There was an amazing count of sixty-one Mediterranean Gulls present amongst the roost, a site and county record count. Most of the birds were adults, but a few first winter and second winter birds were mixed in for variety. The gull roost also comprised of 1700 Herring Gulls, 1000 Black-headed Gulls and twenty Lesser Black-backed Gulls...not a bad gathering and birds were still arriving when I left.
Also present tonight a total of fourteen Tufted Ducks, the highest count for a while, and ninety-five Wigeon off the dam. Three Kingfishers were seen and a couple of Snipe flew out from West Pool as the light started to fade. A small flock of nine Redwing also passed through.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Sutton Bingham - Wed 21 Jan

I managed a little bit of time at the reservoir this afternoon, but it was still pretty quiet. There were about 120 Teal on the water at the southern end, with twenty-six Wigeon, a further eighty-nine Wigeon were off the dam. A single Meadow Pipit flew over whilst a Treecreeper was feeding away on one of the gravestones at the church. I finally added Fieldfare to the patch year list, with six birds present on trees opposite the car park. A few Common Gulls passed through but there was little else going on. Finally, two Kingfishers were seen chasing each other and a couple of Bullfinches were noted.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Sutton Bingham - Sun 18 Jan

A flying visit on yesterday lunchtime on my way home from work paid dividends as I found a Stonechat flitting around on the left hand side of West Pool. A pair of Wigeon were resting on West Pool itself, but I did not have time to look for anything else.
However, today I was able to spend a little more time on the patch. A morning visit and a wander around the car park added a fly-over Skylark and a Treecreeper to the patch year list. Half a dozen Meadow Pipits were in the grass in the field to the south of the car park and a Kingfisher whizzed by.
Returning later in the day I had a good walk around Cotton Bridge, but failed to see the small flock of Lesser Redpolls that had been present earlier in the week. I did see a Bullfinch though and flushed ten Snipe from the water's edge. Around forty Teal and thirty Wigeon were tucked away at the southern end of the reservoir, with another fourteen Wigeon off the dam. A pair of Bullfinches were at the Water Treatment Works and five Tufted Ducks had appeared on West Pool.
With the daylight drawing out I had to head home before the gull roost really got going, and despite adding a few more species to the patch year list I left feeling that the day had not really delivered.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2015 now at 46 species.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Ham Wall RSPB - Wed 14 Jan

A flying visit to Sutton Bingham at lunchtime failed to produce anything other than sixty-four Wigeon off the dam and a fly-over Meadow Pipit so I headed up to Ham Wall RSPB reserve this afternoon.
A walk out to the second viewing point produced a few things of note. A single Great White Egret was showing pretty well from the "2nd VP" and three Marsh Harriers were also seen. A managed a couple of year ticks with a single Lesser Redpoll feeding in an alder tree and three Bullfinches showing well, if a bit flighty.
The expected wildfowl were present alongside a good number of Lapwing. A nice afternoon out despite grey skies and a bitter wind!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Sutton Bingham - Wed 7 Jan

A late afternoon visit to check out the gull roost was actually worth while today (a visit yesterday evening had failed to produce anything of note). Around five thousand gulls had gathered by the time I left when the light started to fail, and amongst the masses I located seventeen Mediterranean Gulls, sixteen adults and a first-winter. It is very possible that there were a couple more as due to the location of the roost tonight I could not check the entire flock.
The bulk of the gull roost consisted of Black-headed Gulls (c.2500) with a similar number of Herring Gulls. Thirty or so Common Gulls and half a dozen Lesser Black-backed Gulls made up the rest.
The only other bird of note tonight was a Mistle Thrush, whilst a flock of around 150 Linnets were present a couple of miles down the road between East and West Coker.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Weymouth & Portland - Sat 3 Jan

Today I managed a day out birding with Steve and Steve, two of my oldest friends and fellow birders. We had planned on stopping at a couple of sites on our way down to Weymouth, but heavy rain meant a slight change to the schedule and instead our first quality stop of the day was at Ferrybridge.
A quick stop produced five Pale-bellied Brent Geese amongst the flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese, but with nothing much else to be seen we drove round to Portland Castle for a while. Before too long I had managed to locate both the female Eider and the Black Guillemot, both of which had been around for a while. A single Great Northern Diver was also noted before we headed up to Portland Bill.
Parking at the Bird Observatory we walked down to the Bill, stopping at the "Obs Quarry" to pick up Little Owl. At the Bill we bumped in to friends from Reading who were day-tripping and after a quick catch up we set off to try and find a few bits and pieces. After a bit of a struggle we finally found five Purple Sandpipers on the rocks with a couple of Turnstones. The wind was blowing hard so this made sea-watching tricky, a few Gannets and Kittiwakes along with a movement of Razorbills and Guillemots was all we could manage.
Back to the car and a brief stop at Pennsylvania Castle woods where we added Blackcap and Chiffchaff to the list and then off Portland and in to Weymouth.
We made straight for the eastern end of the town and the walk up to Redcliff Point where a Richard's Pipit had been lingering. With very little effort we soon found the bird and were treated to some cracking views.
Whilst watching the Richard's Pipit we got a tip off about some Black Redstarts in Weymouth proper so back to the car and off again.
Parking near Nothe Fort we walked around to Newton's Cove and after a fair bit of searching found three Black Redstarts, whilst in the bay four Slavonian Grebes were seen. Time was starting to creep by, so off again and we headed to Langton Herring.
Arriving in the village we parked the car and walked out towards Rodden Hive, and a very smart male Marsh Harrier flew by as we trudged along. Reaching the water we were treated to a mass of birds, with large numbers of Coot, Wigeon, Teal, and Pintail plus a few waders, including a Greenshank. The fields behind held lots of Dark-bellied Brent Geese and forty Barnacle Geese, but despite searching we could not find the Greenland White-fronted Goose that had been seen on and off in the area.
Back to the car again and our final stop of the day was Abbotsbury, but the rain had returned making scanning The Fleet all but impossible, so we called it a day and came on home. All in all a great day out despite inclement weather and it was goof to catch up with some good friends.
UK list for 2015 now at 100 species.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Studland - Fri 2 Jan

A visit to Studland this afternoon, and I tried and failed to see any Ring-necked Parakeets today...seems to get harder every time I visit to see one of these green beauties. In fact there was very little of note that was land-based (I missed another Firecrest too), but the sea was very productive. Off the south beach I found a Red-necked Grebe which was an unexpected surprise, there were also six adult Mediterranean Gulls. I then moved on to middle beach where I saw two distant Black-necked Grebes and a flock of twelve Common Scoters. A little more scanning of the sea over the next hour or so produced a very smart Great Northern Diver and a Slavonian Grebe feeding close to the shore. This rounded off a most enjoyable day out!
UK list for 2015 now at 76 species.

Arne RSPB - Fri 2 Jan

Down to south Dorset today, and I started off at Arne RSPB reserve. A few of the common woodland birds were around the car park, but I failed in locating any Firecrests. I then walked out to Shipstal Point and scanned the water and soon located a female Goldeneye and a few Red-breasted Mergansers. Both Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwits were seen, the latter far more numerous, and a flock of Avocets were seen distantly in flight.
On the heath I was lucky enough to see a female Dartford Warbler before then finding two males, typically perched in the winter sun atop a gorse bush...though as soon as I got my scope out to get a picture they vanished!
The "usual" flock of Spoonbills were present, and numbered a massive thirty-one birds, my biggest ever flock in the UK. A few Pintail were amongst the Teal, Mallard and Wigeon.
All in all a good morning out before returning to the car for a quick sandwich.

Ham Wall RSPB - Thu 1 Jan

A trip up on to the Somerset Levels this afternoon and walk out to the second viewing platform at Ham Wall produced a few things, but considering it was less than a week since my last visit there were some glaring omissions! Two Great White Egrets were seen, one from each of the viewing platforms, and a small flock of Greylag Geese flew in to the area in front of the second viewing platform. The commoner wildfowl were present, though still not in massive numbers. A couple of Cetti's Warblers were heard, as were at least two Water Rail. I headed back to the car just as the hordes arrived to view the Starling murmuration!
UK list for 2015 now at 44 species.

Sutton Bingham - Thu 1 Jan

I only managed a quick thirty minute trip to the patch this morning, but I managed to see twenty-five species during this short visit. Nothing that out of the ordinary, just a pair of Wigeon and a drake Tufted Duck off the dam and a Kingfisher did a fly-past. Other than that, it was routine fair, but a steady start to this year's patch list.