Saturday, 30 April 2016

Musbury - Sat 30 Apr

A trip down to Devon this afternoon and to Lower Bruckland Ponds just south of the village of Musbury. Although I'd heard about this place by reading Tweets and Blog posts by some of the local Axe Estuary birders I'd never actually been here before. Well more fool me, it was gorgeous. A small nature reserve consisting of a few small ponds and a lovely café come visitor centre...which serves very nice ice cream! So why was I here? Well, a bird of course! A Hoopoe had been showing well in a sheep field opposite the ponds and I was fortunate to bump in to local birder Tim White (who is also an amazing photographer!) when I arrived on site and within a few minutes was watching the bird. The Hoopoe was only a few yards away and good be seen really well through the hedge, and in keeping with tradition I took a few shots with my phone...
To be honest, there was not much else happening, so after my celebratory ice cream I drove down to Black Hole Marsh, just north of Seaton, for a walk around. But other than some Shelduck and ten Black-tailed Godwits the marsh was devoid of birds!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Sutton Bingham - Wed 27 Apr

I was awake early this morning, so instead of lying in bed I got up and spent some time at the reservoir before returning home and getting ready for work, having breakfast, etc.
I started off at the dam where I counted a total of twelve Common Sandpipers but nothing else of note. Round then to the northern causeway where another four Common Sandpipers were seen. I then noticed a wader on one of the pontoons off the Sailing Club, so out with the 'scope and unbelievably a Whimbrel was sat there!
My second record of Whimbrel for the year, following the four birds I saw ten days ago. Other bits and bobs this morning included singing Whitethroat and Blackcap and a couple of Grey Herons (of which I'd not seen any on the patch for a while). So although nothing new for the patch year list it was a good trip out and certainly blew away some cobwebs.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Sutton Bingham - Sun 24 Apr

I spent around ninety minutes at the reservoir late morning and concentrated my efforts on the southern end around Cotton Bridge, mainly due to the presence of sailors, canoeists and anglers utilising the vast majority of the reservoir for their various recreational activities.
Quick stops at the Fishing Lodge, Water Treatment Works, northern causeway/West Pool and the site of the hide failed to produce anything and I almost gave up but a stop at the southern causeway produced a flock of twenty-one Common Sandpipers which provided just enough interest for me to decide to explore the southern end.
There were plenty of birds about with at least ten singing Blackcaps and six Willow Warblers holding territory, the latter of which was a marked improvement on the single bird I heard last year. A pair of Marsh Tits put on a really good show whilst overhead a couple of Ravens were seen and a single Sand Martin was amongst the Swallows and House Martins.
Six Teal were still hanging around, will they move on or will they stay for the season?
As I moved round to the far side of the reservoir, there is no public access to this part of the site, I could hear a Lesser Whitethroat singing, albeit distantly. Moving on a few hundred metres I could hear a second bird much closer and within a few minutes it popped out in to the open and showed extremely well for several minutes. This is the first Lesser Whitethroat I've actually seen at Sutton Bingham for a few years so it was good to connect with this often skulking warbler.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Sutton Bingham - Sat 23 Apr

I managed about thirty minutes at the reservoir this morning before work, and it proved to be worth the stop with my first Whitethroat of the year in song in scrub along the railway embankment and the edge of West Pool.
Twelve Common Sandpipers were noted from the northern causeway, with another three on the southern causeway.
Another patch year tick in the form of a singing Reed Warbler in waterside vegetation near the site of the old hide.
Overhead a total of three Ravens were noted. Not a bad start to the day.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2016 now at 88 species.
NB: A quick stop off at the reservoir late afternoon produced a first-summer Great Black-backed Gull.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Sutton Bingham - Mon 18 Apr

I managed a few minutes at Sutton Bingham this morning before work, stopping on the northern causeway for a quick scan. Not much about although four Common Sandpipers were present. However, I did locate a very nice Northern Willow Warbler (ssp. acredula) feeding in scrub in the corner of West Pool. The bird showed down to a few feet as I stood next to the fence and was a real beauty looking like a completely washed out and greyish version of the "normal" Willow Warbler we are more familiar with. This was a new sub-species for me at Sutton Bingham.
A brief stop on my way home tonight produced three Tufted Ducks (2 drakes and 1 duck) on West Pool.

Ham Wall RSPB - Sun 17 Apr

With it being such a lovely day I headed up to Ham Wall RSPB for a walk this afternoon...and it was a pretty good decision. As I got out of the car I had two Great White Egrets fly over and land in the nearest reed bed! Walking out I paused at the first viewing platform and found a very smart drake Garganey whilst on the opposite side of the path the drake Ring-necked Duck that I had missed on my last visit was showing well...not a bad first twenty minutes out!
I then walked out to the second viewing platform accompanied by singing Reed Warblers and booming Bitterns. From the second viewing point I saw a couple of Marsh Harriers, a White Wagtail and another three Great White Egrets. I then crossed the stream and made my way back towards the car stopping off to view the area just before the path out to the new hide. From here I saw another drake Garganey and a dazzling Yellow Wagtail. The long-staying Glossy Ibis was also showing well and a supporting cast of two Common Sandpipers and around seventy Black-tailed Godwits added to the scene.
All in all it was a brilliant afternoon out!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 17 Apr

I was up and out fairly early this morning, arriving at the dam at Sutton Bingham soon after 6.30am and it was rather chilly, the thermometer on the car registering minus two! That being said, despite the chill it was a lovely morning. Scanning from the dam it was evident that there had been a good arrival of Common Sandpipers, with fifteen being counted around the water's edge. A couple of drake Mandarin were also seen.
I then moved on round to West Pool where a further three Common Sandpipers were present before parking in the car park and walking down the length of the reservoir. A total of seven more Common Sandpipers were counted, including five together at the Canoe Club (bringing the total up to twenty-five birds), but the highlight were four Whimbrel which I put up as I walked through the field between the car park and the Canoe Club. I was pretty pleased to get this species on to the patch year list as it has been a few years since I last saw any at Sutton Bingham.
Other bits and pieces seen today included a scattering of the commoner summer warblers and four Linnets.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Sutton Bingham - Fri 15 Apr

A typically brief pre-work stop at the northern causeway produced two Common Sandpipers. It's getting to the time of year when they should be almost daily for a week or two as they start passing through.
There was a bit of a surprise this morning though in the form of a Shelduck that was seen in flight before landing near the dam. Amazingly this is my third 2016 record (totalling five individuals) of this "less than annual" visitor, meaning I have seen more Shelduck at Sutton Bingham this year than I have over the last decade combined!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Sutton Bingham - Mon 11 Apr

With reports of Little Gulls across the country I simply had to stop in at Sutton Bingham on my way home just in case any had made it to the patch...what I didn't realise was that there was a text message on my phone (which was in my bag and out of earshot) telling me that this was indeed the case!
As I got to the northern causeway I saw a chap I recognized and there was John Rickards wondering how I'd got the message so quickly! Over the main reservoir were two adult Little Gulls looking amazing in the afternoon sun and showing really well and they were in the company of a Common Tern. After missing the last Little Gull at Sutton Bingham (in 2014) due to a phone malfunction I was glad to finally connect with this species first at the reservoir since 2001! I didn't have time to hang around long, so after a good look at the Little Gulls I headed on home feeling in rather a good mood.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2016 now at 85 species.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Sutton Bingham - Sun 10 Apr

An hour on the patch late morning was a mixed blessing. I found the first two Common Sandpipers of the year on the dam (the exact same date as last year), but it would appear I missed an Osprey earlier in the day as the warden reported a large bird that spooked all the gulls before heading over West Pool at 8.30am.
There were still a few Teal knocking about at the southern end of the reservoir, with a total of eight birds being seen and a single drake Tufted Duck was also noted.
A couple of singing Willow Warblers were good to hear and Chiffchaffs seem to have increased in number too.
Finally, an early afternoon visit in heavy rain failed to produce any news arrivals, though at least twenty Swallows were feeding over the reservoir.

Sutton Bingham - Sat 9 Apr

A spectacular site this morning with six Common Cranes circling the northern end of the reservoir over Hyde Farm. Now I would love to add this species to my patch list, but in all honesty I can't as these birds were from the reintroduction scheme up on the Somerset Levels. Now there is a wild bird amongst the "plastics", but I could not determine whether any of the birds I saw in flight were ringed or not so I'll pop it down as an almost!

Sutton Bingham - Fri 8 Apr

A couple of quick stops today with mixed results. A pair of Mandarin were on the bank to the east of the Sailing Club early morning but there was nothing much else to write home about. A return visit late afternoon did produce two adult Great Black-backed Gulls though, always a good bird to get on the year list especially with the patch being a small inland reservoir.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Sutton Bingham - Thu 7 Apr

I've managed a couple of quick pre-work visits this week, and yesterday produced my first patch Blackcap of the year with one in sub-song near the site of the old hide. Today added another spring migrant with my first House Martin of the year over West Pool with ten Sand Martins. Also this morning a male Kestrel showed well at the southern end of the reservoir and a couple of Linnets were seen close to the Canoe Club.
Sutton Bingham year list for 2016 now at 81 species.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Sutton Bingham - Fri 1 Apr

An early morning visit produced my first patch Willow Warbler of the year feeding in trees on the edge of West Pool...a stark contrast to four Fieldfare in a paddock near the Canoe Club! A single Swallow and three Sand Martins (the latter having dropped significantly in number compared to recent days) were over West Pool and three pairs of Teal were at the southern end of the reservoir.
A return visit on my way home from an evening out produced a calling Yellow Wagtail passing by somewhere in the dark above my head!