Thursday, 30 April 2015

15th February 2015

We headed down towards the Exe Estuary today to try and get some good birds, as January was very slow for birding. Tried for a second time at Dart's farm to try and find the penduline tits without any luck.

Headed to Dawlish Warren next, and for the first time this year, it actually started to feel like summer. When I arrived, a large mass of black-headed gulls were circling. I checked through for the bonaparte's gull and momentarily get excited about a gull with a pale underwing, but it was just a mediterranean gull. As I approached the hide, a found a water pipit feeding close by with a couple of rock pipits.

From the hide, a scan produced the expected selection of waders plus a 'continental' cormorant, a few red-breasted mergansers and some grey plovers. I did locate a possible adult Caspian Gull - the bird showed the typical upright stance, full chest, long legs and primaries and a clean white head. The unseasonal heat haze made it difficult to pick out specific features though, I would have been much more confident of caspian if I could see that the bird had a dark eye.

Some other birders later joined me next to the hide, and one found a Dartford Warbler in the scrub that I probably would have missed!

Spot the Dartford!

Eventually, the same birder picked up the BONAPARTE'S GULL flying past and heading out towards Exmouth before Disappearing.

This blown-up shot shows the white underwing and black trailing edge to the primaries which seperate it from black-headed gull.

A caspian gull? (Bird on the Right)

Next stop was Powderham Marsh. After having many linnets and yellowhammers, I picked up a single male Cirl Bunting which showed very openly on the side of some bushes in low light. Of course, it disappeared as soon as another birder showed up, so pointed him in the right direction, wished him luck and headed off.

Also had a barnicle goose on the saltmarsh. Headed back to Dart's Farm to see if the pedulines had shown today, but unfortunatly, they hadn't.

11th January 2015

Went to Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath today for some birding. Had my first Great White Egrets and Marsh Harriers of the year, as well as 2 male bullfinch, a jay and 3 pintail. Otherwise, just had the usual stuff.

1st January 2015 (Norfolk)

Travelled back from Norfolk this am, had a Red Kite over London.

29th December 2014 (Norfolk)

Drove up to Norfolk yesterday to visit relatives. Had a single Red Kite on the roadside somewhere between Somerset and Salisbury Plain, and at least 2 flocks of Ring-Necked Parakeets flying to roost while driving through London.

Headed off to Burnham Overy this morning, but stopped off at Mary Anne's Drive for a quick check but had nothing other than pink-footed geese. At Burnham Overy, there were already
a group of birders on the roadside, who had spent a long time watching a distant possible rough-legged buzzard perched on the ground with its back to us. Luckily, another definate one was seen flying about 20 minutes later - Unluckily, I missed it! Fortunately, a second Rough-Legged Buzzard was found on the ground, and was more obliging (if distant) - showing its pale head and chest and dark belly. I was glad I saw it, as the species is exceedingly rare back in the southwest, though I would have liked to be able to see some of the in-flight features.

Distant Rough-Legged Buzzard

Shortly after, a day-flying barn owl was located just behind the rough-legged buzzard. Also seen were brent geese, barnicle geese and more pink-footed geese on the saltmarsh.

Next stop was Snettisham RSPB. We had recieved a tip-off earlier that the Glaucous Gull has been feeding on a seal carcass. I figured that it would remain feeding until we arrived, and it still was when we arrived, so we were able to spot it from a distant. It continued feeding, even as we got close, allowing some close views.

We also had a black-necked grebe, at least 8 goldeneye and even more pink-footed geese.

Black-Necked Grebe (Foreground) with Little Grebe

26th December 2014

Stopped off at Cheddar Reservoir on the way up to Bristol today for some year listing. Stopped off at the North end first, but it was soon clear that all the birds were at the south end, so we drove round there and parked up. I soon located 3 male and 1 female Red-Crested Potchard.

Walking around a little further produced a male goldeneye diving near the waters edge. Headed back, I decided to have a second look at the RC Potchard, and refound them slightly closer in, but more dispersed. Looking back the way I had came from, the goldeneye had disapeared, but I happened across a male scaup amongst tufted ducks.

It swam close to the water edge, but swam back out again as I approached, so I had to make do with a fairly distant shot.

20th December 2014

Another early start this morning, a trip to Brean Down. We parked up on the coastal side, and walked across to the top of the NT trail at the mouth of the esturary. A few scans across the shingal ridge didn't produce the snow bunting, so we walked down a bit further, when 4 small birds flew up from on the ground and down onto the saltmarsh. Shortly after, they came back up onto the wire fence, and sure enough they were the 4 Twite. They gave very satisfying views for long periods of time.

After a while, quite a few birders had gathered around the area, and one who had seen the snow bunting a few days ago said that it spent most of its time further along the shingal, so we all headed out there. Things were looking rather hopeless, when the Snow Bunting suddenly flew up in front of us at the very far end of the ridge (typical!) It seemed not to be to bothered by our presence, and gave good photo opportunities.

We also had 2 Jack Snipe in flight over the saltmarsh. We headed back to the car at this point, and left after quickly checking the cove for the black redstart without finding it (though I doubt we were thorough enough)
Annoyed that we missed the lapland bunting by 10 minutes though!

14th December 2014

An early morning start got us to the Portland Bird Observatory by 0815 hrs, where the long-staying Barred Warbler soon appeared and started feeding at close range on some apples that had been put out. We also had at least 1 red-throated diver and a few gannets out on the sea.

Next stop was Portland Castle to look for the female eider, which wasn't showing, however we had fairly good views of the wintering Black Guillemot, as well as the usual great-northern divers and mergansers. We recieved a tip-off that 3 of the Eider were showing off Weymouth Marina, so we drove down there and very quickly located the 3 birds towards Sandsfoot castle. Whilst watching them 2 common scoters flew across my scope view which headed off towards portland. Also present were another 2 great-northen divers.

2 female Eiders

1st winter male Eider

Our final stop of the day was at redcliff point, just east of Weymouth where another group of birders were already watching the Richard's Pipit. The bird eventually flew up in the air, allowing us to hear the call and make out the much longer tail than the many meadow pipits also present.

Not a bad morning all in all!

29th November 2014

Went into Bristol to do some shopping today, so stopped of at Bishopton to look for the Rose-Coloured Starling. The bird appeared from over the rooftops and landed out in the open shortly after we arrived, offering much better viewing than the bird on Portland. This is our second record of the species this autumn.

With a Great-Spotted Woodpecker

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

22nd November 2014

Travelled the distance to Blashford Lakes today to look for the ferruginous duck and franklin's gull, but had no luck on either! However, a watch from the tern hide did produce a great white egret, a ruddy duck, two yellow-legged gulls as well as a few goosander and goldeneye and a black-necked grebe.

15th November 2014

I took an unexpected detour to Portland today, to look for the dusky warbler near the hump. It was calling frequently in the bushes, but it was difficult to pinpoint exactly where from. Another birder figured that it was actually on the other side of the bushes directly in front of us (which had made it sound as though it was on the other side of the small field). About 5 minutes later, a small bird popped out of the scrub, and I got it under my bins, and sure enough it was the DUSKY WARBLER. After calling out that it was showing, the bird flew across in front of us, and showed openly on the side of the hedge row for about 30 seconds before disapearing again.
We also had large flock of mediterranean gulls going over Weymouth to roost.

28th October 2014 (Norfolk)

Went to Holkham Gap today, another birder located the 1st winter male surf scoter just as we arrived. Also had numerous common and velvet scoters (not every day you see 3 scoter species in 1 scope view!). Also had 1000+ pink-footed geese on the freshmarsh as well as a red kite.

An escaped reeve's pheasant that crossed the road near Guist was a surprise as well.

25th October 2014 (Norfolk)

Drove up to Norfolk to visit relatives yesterday. Had 5 red kites driving through London (They are ussually in good numbers over the M3 and M25). A visit to cley today produced great white egret at best, but otherwise just a few common scoter past on the sea, a flock of bearded reedlings and large numbers of pink-footed geese.

11th October 2014

First stop today was as Ferrybridge, Weymouth to look for the two Grey Phalaropes. There was no sign so we moved on to Chesil Cove where another birder had already located the two birds just off the beach. It was very difficult to photograph them given their size and the roughness of the sea made photographing them through the scope very difficult indeed.

Next stop was Reap Lane Portland, where we instantly located the juvinile Rose-Coloured Starling amongst a flock of common starling. It dropped into the scrub shortly after though, and we didn't relocate it for another 10-15 minutes, after which it gave superbly close but brief views, thus we failed to photograph it. After this, it suddenly started to pour down, preventing any further attempts at photographing it.