Saturday, 29 April 2017

29th April 2017

Had my first Swift of the year over the house this morning.

Headed down to Portland this afternoon to look for the eastern subalpine warbler, a subspecies I haven't seen before. In the 5 and a half hours I was here we heard it singing and calling at close range, and although it got claimed 3 times I never got any definite views. A bit fustrating but at least I didn't miss a full species tick.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

26th April 2017

I had a Little Egret fly over near Yeovil College around midday for the last two days in a row. This is quite a scarce species in Yeovil now so certainly a good record. I suspect it may have roosted either at Ninesprings or somewhere along the river Yeo last night, and could possibly be the same bird I had fly over last November.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

22nd April 2017

Headed down to Rodden Hive with Lewis this afternoon to try and finally defeat my number one bogey bird: kentish plover. Parked up at Langton Herring and walked down the track to the fleet seeing my first whitethroat of the year on the way. After scanning for a while, I picked up a large flock of Dunlin, Sanderling and Ringed Plovers. Scanning through it was near-impossible given the distance, heat-haze, and the fact that the flock frequently took the the air. After a while, I noticed a group of Ringed Plovers closer along the opposite shore. On the first scan I picked up the Kentish Plover! It was hard to see through the heat haze, but it clearly had the right pattern on the underparts. I handed the scope to Lewis who couldn't see it, and when I looked again all I could see were Ringed Plovers. I was starting to question if I'd actually seen it when I got it back under the scope. Thankfully it wandered closer to the shore line and once the heat-haze died down, we had good but distant views of the bird, now clearly a male. A few Common Terns was all else of note.

Kentish Plover - Rodden Hive

While we were walking back to the car, we saw the report of a red-rumped swallow at Lodmoor, another bird which has eluded me several times now. There was no further sign when we arrived and there were few hirundines around so we headed straight over to Radipole in the hope of relocating it. However, while at Lodmoor we did notice the swan goose which has been up and down this stretch of coast recently.

escaped swan goose - Lodmoor

There were no hirundines on the main lake at Radipole so we headed to the top of the Buddleia Loop. From here, we could scope large numbers of Swallows and Sand Martins at the north end of the reserve, but no luck with the red-rumped. A single House Martin was a year tick for me and on the walk back we had 2 Cetti's Warbler and a showy Reed Warbler. The usual hooded merg was still on the lake also.

The Radipole hooded merganser

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

17th April 2017

Headed up to Black Down with Lewis this evening to search for the Dotterel. We headed up to the area it had been seen and started scanning to no avail. We wandered around the area until Lewis picked it up fairly distantly through my scope. I approached the bird carefully but in the end it walked up to me! A very obliging bird, and definitely worth taking the evening off to see it!

Dotterel - Black Down

Friday, 14 April 2017

14th April 2017 (Shropshire)

After seeing that the night heron had been re-found at Venus Pool in Shropshire, Lewis and I headed off at around 12:30. Due to bad traffic, we didn't arrive until 16:45, however the Night Heron was showing on arrival, and eventually came out into the open. I've been eager to get better view of this species since the distant in-flight views I had at Shapwick a few years back, so it was well-worth the journey. A single Green Sandpiper was the only other species of note.

Night Heron - Venus Pool

Green Sandpiper - Venus Pool

Edit: The Night Heron has now moved to Shrewsbury where it has been identified as the North-American subspecies hoactli. Looking at my shots, the lack of any white around the eye is actually quite obvious. Zooerliste shows that this subspecies is not held (or at least recorded as being held) in captivity anywhere in Europ, and this bird has coincided with an influx of birds into Iceland. A discussion on the bird can be found on birdforum:
Edit: Reviews of the photos has shown that all other birds in the influx were actually european race birds including the 3 in Iceland, meaning that this bird doesn't meet the pattern of vagrancy.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

11th April 2016

Drove home from Norfolk today and had single Red Kites from the M25 and the A303. It would seem rude not to take a look at the very confiding male Great Bustard from the release project at Stonehenge as I was passing! Also had 2 Corn Buntings near the visitor centre.

released Great Bustard - Stonehenge

Monday, 10 April 2017

10th April 2017 (Norfolk)

Had a look at Sculphorpe Moor for the first time in a few years. Wandered up to the two furthest  hides seeing a couple of Marsh Tits, a large flock of Sand Martins and Swallows and a couple of Red Kites. Also had a buzzard-sized bird dart over my head and then quickly disappear over the tree line, based on the sprawk-like jizz it may well have been the female goshawk that was reported here earlier in the month.

A look from the Fen Hide produced my first views of Sedge Warbler this year. The bird tables provided fantastic photo opportunities of the variety of species including Bramblings, Bullfinches, Reed Buntings and even a pair of Mandarins! Could spend a whole day in that hide!

Brambling - Sculphorpe Moor

Chaffinches - Sculphorpe Moor

Bullfinch - Sculphorpe Moor

Reed Bunting - Sculphorpe Moor

Dunnock - Sculphorpe Moor

Collared Dove

Mandarin - Sculphorpe Moor

Sunday, 9 April 2017

9th April 2017 (Norfolk)

Headed up to Norfolk on the 6th to stay with family, and had a couple of Red Kites as is pretty much guaranteed now.

As there isn't much in the way of rarities in Norfolk at the moment I decided to spend this morning looking for the golden pheasant in the Wolferton Triangle. I saw the birds on Brownsea a few years ago, though I know not every birder is satisfied with these so I was keen to upgrade.

I arrived at 6:35am and drove a slow loop around the triangle to no avail before pulling over before the give way sign on the northern side. There was a great dawn-chorus, including singing firecrest and distant woodlark.

About 10 minutes later, a birder who was parked on the south side pulled up beside me and told me that the pheasant was headed towards me through the rhododendrons, and that it should be about to cross the gap further back down the road. Needless to say I quickly backed the car up and got to the gap in the vegetation. I only had to wait a few seconds before hearing its explosive call, after which the Golden Pheasant burst out from the vegetation and strutted across the gap. Views were breif and obscured, but I was estatic! and somewhat relieved that I wouldn't have to hang around all day.

Golden Pheasant - Wolferton Triangle

Decided to park up and wander north, which proved a good decision as I soon had one of the Woodlarks I heard earlier in a song flight. Other highlights included a flock of Bramblings, 2 Lesser Redpolls and both Muntjac and Roe Deer.


I wasn't too far from Titchwell so decided to stop there next. This produced another group of Redpoll, plus 2 each of Garganey and Red-Crested Pochard plus my first Sand Martin of the year and a Chinese Water Deer. On the sea, there were brilliant number of Common Scoter, amongst which I picked out at least 5 Velvet Scoters and a single Long-Tailed Duck, plus 2 each of Whimbrel and Sandwich Tern.

Garganeys - Titchwell

Red-Crested Pochard - Titchwell

Linnet - Titchwell

News then came through of a kentish plover at Breydon Water - a species that I've missed out on several times due to one reason or another. I headed over but stopped to check the news about half an hour before I was due to arrive and read that it had flown off. Knowing all too well how breif kentish can be, I headed back home. 15 minutes after getting back, and of course it was relocated! and as I'm visiting family, I couldn't really drive all the way back. That makes 7 missed kentish plovers in a row now! One day...

Sunday, 2 April 2017

2nd April 2017 (Hampshire)

Lewis and I headed over to Posbrook Flood this afternoon for the stilt. On arrival, other birders pointed out a Barn Owl roosting in a hollow Tree. While we were watching it, a Water Vole appeared on the steam in front of us and gave great close up, though breif views.

Barn Owl - Posbrook Flood

We walked along to the main flood where the BLACK-WINGED STILT was sleeping on the far side of the water. Eventually it woke up and started feeding. It circled the whole pool eventually ending up close enough to get some decent record shots. Also of note was a female Pintail and 2 Mediterranean Gulls.


Easy to forget just how long those legs are!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

1st April 2017

Stopped off at Langford Lakes on the way home to search for the Jack Snipe, as I haven't seen one since 2014. Walked along to the Meadow Hide. Scanning produced plenty of Snipes, and my first 2 Green Sandpipers of the year. Eventually, I saw one of the bobbing Jack Snipe in the vegetation to the right of the pool. This was followed by the other bird, but both stayed mostly under cover the whole time I was there so I had to settle for some poor record shots:

The 2 Jack Snipes - Langford Lakes

Green Sandpiper - Langford Lakes