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.