Saturday, 29 April 2017

Sutton Bingham - Sat 29 Apr

Last night's singing Whitethroat was belting it out from the railway embankment bordering West Pool during a quick visit this morning. Six Common Sandpipers were present and a Kingfisher was seen carrying food, which is an encouraging sight. Finally, a drake Tufted Duck was also seen.
A return visit in the afternoon yielded a dozen Common Sandpipers plus a fly-over Kestrel and Raven. A Little Egret was also seen.

NB: Late news for Sat 29 Apr - the warden heard a wader calling this morning, though he did not see it he thought it was either a Redshank or Greenshank. At 8.30pm an Oystercatcher flew down the reservoir.

Riseley - Tue 25 Apr to Thu 27 Apr

A few days away on business this week and I was based in Riseley, just south of Reading in Berkshire. Obviously being on business I wasn't able to do much in the way of birding, but just down the road was Wellington Country Park which I thought might be worth a visit...until I saw the £11 entry fee! Fortunately, after a bit of driving around, I found a pull in at the back of the country park where, by standing on the door sill of the car, I could get a bit of a view of the lake! Quite a bit of effort just to get a birding fix, but it was enjoyable none the less.
I only managed a couple of brief visits whilst away with the pick of the birds being a pair of Egyptian Geese, a single Common Sandpiper and a fly-over Hobby. Overhead Red Kites were ever present, with my single highest count being of twelve birds up in the air together. Four Barnacle Geese were grazing in a nearby field and a couple of Red-legged Partridge were feeding in the garden of the hotel that I stayed in.
So a few bits and pieces of interest whilst away, including a couple of Corn Buntings seen near Stonehenge whilst I was in transit!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Sutton Bingham - Sun 23 Apr

An early morning visit turned up a couple of Greylag Geese...most unexpected. Originally present off the dam they moved to the southern end before flying of north after which I was unable to relocate them. Also from the dam a total of nine Common Sandpipers and an unseasonal adult summer-plumaged Black-headed Gull flew through.
Moving to the southern end of the reservoir there were three Mute Swans new in and what was presumably last weeks pair of Tufted Duck and the pair of Teal were noted again. A Little Egret flew in to the southern end but I guess didn't like it much and flew back north after ten minutes or so.
A Reed Warbler was in full song and a Raven passed over. Finally, three Sand Martins and a few Swallows trickled though. A return visit in the afternoon produced a Kingfisher but nothing else!

Sutton Bingham - Sat 22 Apr

A real patch scarcity today with a singing Cuckoo present somewhere in trees south of the Fishing Lodge. I first heard it calling in the morning and then again during a return visit later in the day. This is the first Cuckoo I've heard singing at Sutton Bingham for more years than I care to remember.
As well as today's Cuckoo there was also another surprise, just a week or so after my first ever Spring Sutton Bingham Wheatear today I found two more, one of which is shown below!
Other birds present today included a Little Egret on West Pool and ten Sand Martins, five House Martin and a good number of Swallows passing through. More Common Sandpipers today with seven birds counted.
Yesterday evening a drake Mandarin was on West Pool briefly.
Sutton Bingham year list 2017 now at 89 species.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 19 Apr

Three hours at Sutton Bingham this morning and not really that much to show for it. The southern end of the reservoir provided most of the interest with a pair of Tufted Duck and a pair of Teal present and a Snipe was an unexpected surprise given the time of year. Four Common Sandpiper were also noted at the northern end of the reservoir. Highlight of the morning though was a fly-through Feral Pigeon!!! OK, it's rather pants, but it does give me a much-needed Patchwork Challenge point, and they all count!

Shapwick Heath NR - Fri 17 Apr

A trip up to the Avalon Marshes this afternoon, and after the disastrous walk around Ham Wall RSPB dodging dog walkers and seeing no birds a month or so ago, today I walked out on to Shapwick Heath...good call!
Starting at the drained lagoon I soon picked out a rather smart adult Little Ringed Plover, a real cracker. Other birds on the lagoon included single Ruff, Lapwing and Redshank plus a flock of seventy-one Black-tailed Godwit.
I then walked on to Noah's Lake where a Great White Egret flew up from the reeds and a Bittern treated me to a prolonged fly-by. At least four Bitterns were also heard "booming" away and a male Marsh Harrier was also noted.
All in all a brilliant hour or so out and no dogs!

Sutton Bingham - Fri 17 Apr

OK, I know, I've not posted any updates for a while...but I've been busy. Over the past week there have been a few things passing through at Sutton Bingham, primarily Common Sandpipers with the highest count being eight birds today.
Other bits and bobs of note since my last posting include a fly-through drake Mandarin on 14 Apr, a Little Egret on 13 Apr and 14 Apr. The first Reed Warbler of the year was seen and subsequently heard singing on 14 Apr and a snippet of the song can be heard here:
The first Lesser Whitethroat heard singing on 16 Apr. A flock of forty Linnet was present near the Canoe Club on 15 Apr and a Skylark was in the same area on the same day. Finally, an unseasonal Common Gull was noted on 14 Apr with two Great Black-backed Gulls.
And there we have it, you are now pretty much up to date with what's been happening at the reservoir recently!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Sutton Bingham - Mon 10 Apr

A surprise find this morning with a Wheatear present on fencing around the horse paddock just south of West Pool. After picking up Autumn Wheatears over the years (including one last year) this is my first Spring bird at Sutton Bingham.
Sutton Bingham year list 2017 now at 85 species.

Sutton Bingham - Sun 9 Apr

Back on patch this morning and my first Common Sandpiper of the year was a nice find. A couple of Willow Warblers were in song and a pair of Swallows were on wires near the Fishing Lodge. Amazingly four Great Black-backed Gulls were present this morning and two drake Tufted Duck were also noted.

Cornwall - Sat 1 Apr to Sat 8 Apr

A week long trip to Cornwall with the family, so this was not a birding holiday! Mind you, I never go anywhere without my optics so over the course of the week I was able to get in a bit of birding and see some quality bits and pieces.
The Saturday was spent mainly travelling, so didn't really give me an opportunity to do any birding, but Sunday started well with a pair of Cirl Buntings in the garden of our holiday cottage and a walk down to the creek produced a singing Blackcap and two Greenshank, as well as another Cirl Bunting. During a relaxing afternoon on Pendower beach I managed to pick out sixteen Great Northern Divers, seven Common Scoter and a Razorbill off shore. A couple of Gannets and a Fulmar also passed by. The day ended with a Swallow flying over our cottage.
Monday started with another quick walk down to the creek where a female Red-breasted Merganser was present. Off then to Carne beach and a quiet morning, though a Peregrine and first-winter Kittiwake provided a slight distraction. In the afternoon we went to Porthcurnick beach where a Long-tailed Duck was just a few feet offshore. I had no idea it was here, but I later found out it had been around for a few weeks.
On Tuesday we were faced with a bit of drizzle (out only "bad" weather of the week), so I set off for Pendower and spent the morning doing a seawatch. It was pretty productive with a couple of Black-throated Diver, twenty-three Great Northern Diver, a Slavonian Grebe, six Common Scoter and four first-winter Mediterranean Gulls being the highlights. A couple of Sandwich Terns were off Carne beach in the afternoon.
A bit further afield on Wednesday with a trip across the King Harry Ferry and a go at sea-kayaking at Loe Beach. A great experience, though somewhat tiring! Not a lot to report on the bird front his morning, but in the afternoon we popped along to Portscatho where a few divers were off the seafront, including both Black-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver.
The day ended with a Barn Owl flying past our garden and a calling Tawny Owl.
Thursday dawned bright and clear and so we took a walk down to the local creek, and with the tide out we were able to cross the small causeway and take an extended walk. On the exposed mud I soon picked up two Whimbrel, two Curlew and a Greenshank, whilst a couple of Little Grebes were in the channel. After lunch I headed down to Carne beach and walked out to Nare Head...which was a fair hike. Pick of the birds in this area was a single Chough. There were still over twenty divers in the bay, and three Mallard! The Barn Owl flew past the cottage again in the evening.
Our penultimate day and it was a really relaxing day, spent mainly on the beach. Nothing to add on the bird front, though I did loiter on the patio in the evening and managed to get great views of the Barn Owl (but a terrible photo) as it again flew past, two Tawny Owls were heard.
The final day in Cornwall and we started off at Porthcurnick beach, where the Long-tailed Duck was again seen. Seven Sandwich Terns were off the beach as well as a distant diver. After grabbing Cornish Pasties for lunch we drove up to Purcuil and overlooked the estuary, enjoying our final moments of the holiday before driving back home.
The final trip list was 72 species, not bad for a non-birding holiday!