Tuesday, 30 May 2017

30th May 2017

Had to head up to Steart this evening to try and finally defeat my number one bogey bird: gull-billed tern. I've narrowly missed the last 3; I missed last years bird in Wales and the bird on the Teign the year before both by one day, and I missed a bird by a matter of hours either way at both topshom and exminster in the same day in 2015.

It wasn't showing when I arrived, but thankfully I didn't have to wait long to see the GULL-BILLED TERN feeding from the Mendip Hide. It moved around the marshes quite widely, always landing either at a distance or out of view. The bird disappeared by the time Cliff and Dave Dawe arrived but eventually it flew onto the mud in front of the hide giving much better views for all.


Cream-Spot Tiger - Steart

Very glad I made the effort this evening! I think if I'd gone later like I usually would, I would have missed the bird as it disappeared about 15 mins after I left.

The birding is starting to shift from quantity to quality!

Monday, 29 May 2017

29th May 2017

Headed up to Ham Wall this evening for some year ticks. When I arrived, there was no sign of the red-footed falcon, so I made my way towards where the little bittern has been barking. On the way I had 3 Great White Egrets, a few Little Egrets and couple Hobbies. I picked up an unusual looking egret overhead, and scope views confirmed it was a stonking summer-plumaged Cattle Egret. Once arriving, I only had to wait a couple minutes before someone noticed the male LITTLE BITTERN sat on top of the reeds quite close by. It gave fantastic prolonged views before flying a short distance and disappearing into the reed bed. I haven't managed any decent shots of this species the last couple times I've seen them here, so I was very pleased.


Great White Egret - Ham Wall

Hobby - Ham Wall

Walking back towards the car park produced a single Cuckoo. I passed two birders I was talking to earlier and they informed that the falcon was now showing. I headed on until I reached the right spot, and a quick scan produced the female RED-FOOTED FALCON. The bird was quite distant, but I was happy just to have seen it; it's my first since 2015.


Cuckoo - Ham Wall
Grey Heron - Ham Wall

Well worth the journey and the walk, glad I made the effort this evening.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

27th May 2017 (Suffolk and Hampshire)

I've been too busy to do much birding over the last couple weeks, so I took the opportunity to go for a lifer this bank holiday weekend.

I got to Lakenheath, Suffolk just before 8am. I walked out to the river path and on the way heard grasshopper warbler, garden warbler, bittern and bearded reedlings. The Marsh Warbler was singing on arrival and eventually I saw a acro hop up onto the reeds. I quickly got my scope on it, and though it took a while to get everyone on it, we all had great views! Interesting to hear it mimicking both chiffchaff song and call.

Marsh Warbler - Lakenheath Fen

Interesting to see how it mimicked a chiffchaff.

Time was getting on at this point, so I decided to skip the savi's warbler (which I saw last year) and try for grasshopper warbler, a long-overdue bogey bird for me. Unfortunetly, I didn't get sight or sound of any other than the one I heard distantly early morning, though the search did produce Short-Eared Owl, 2 Cuckoos, Hobby and a Kingfisher.

As I headed back south then along the M25, I had at least 2 Red Kites and an unexpected flyover Black-Tailed Godwit.

Stopped off at Martin Down, Hampshire on the way back. A short walk produced a couple Corn Buntings, plenty of Yellowhammers, Linnets and Skylarks and heard a lesser whitethroat. Eventually, a scan of some vegetation just happened to turn up a single Turtle Dove.

Turtle Dove - Martin Down
Corn Bunting - Martin Down
Yellowhammer - Martin Down

All-in-all a good day. A couple of good acros did turn up in Norfolk/Suffolk that day, but to my knowledge, neither were twitchable.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

16th May 2017

Had to take a trip down to the south coast after work this evening for a couple lifers. First stop was Portland Bill. I found Cliff soon after I arrived; he had kindly waited to show me the 1st summer Golden Oriole in the Crown Estate Field. What a smashing bird!

Golden Oriole - Portland Bill

Next stop was Cogdon Beach for the short-toed lark. I parked at the NT Car Park and headed down to the beach. From here, I could see a group of birders a fair way away, so I started in that direction. I met them whilst they were walking in the opposite direction and they said the bird was almost impossible to see amongst the vegetation. They said that it had stayed put for a short while near a burnt log, but otherwise it was just down to luck. I thanked them and kept walking, now the only person on site. I reached the log, and almost instantly a small pale bird flew a short distance. I got the scope on it and there was the Short-Toed Lark! It showed fairly well for about 10 minutes or so before flying a short distance again, after which I didn't see it.

Short-Toed Lark - Cogdon Beach

Very glad I made the effort to get down here this evening, I certainly didn't expect to get two lifers after work today!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

10th May 2017

Had a male Whitethroat in a song flight on the way home today, my first in Yeovil since a pair stayed at the Openspace for 4 days in 2014 (excluding one I heard only along the river Yeo last year). This has become quite a scarce species in Yeovil since most of the suitable breeding habitat in north Yeovil was cut back several years ago. Certainly it's had fewer records than lesser whitethroat here in recent years (3 commons over the last 3 years compared to 3 lessers last year alone) so a good species to see here again!

Saturday, 6 May 2017

6th May 2017 (Gwent)

Headed up to Goldcliff Pools near Newport this morning. Arrived at about 8:15, and I soon had both Common and Lesser Whitethroat. I walked to the new platform where the 2 Temminck's Stints were already showing, a somewhat overdue lifer for me. I wandered around the reserve for a while seeing 2 Little Ringed Plovers, a Wheatear, heard a flyover tree pipit and had a few other year ticks.

2 Temminck's Stint - Goldcliff Pools
Avocet - Goldcliff Pools
1 of 2 Little Ringed Plovers - Goldcliff Pools
Greenshank - Goldcliff Pools
Common Whitethroat - Goldcliff Pools

Monday, 1 May 2017

1st May 2017

Headed to Haddon Hill to look for the two-barred crossbill this morning. Didn't arrive until 10, and soon after leaving the car I had a Tree Pipit and a large flock of Lesser Redpolls.

Lesser Redpoll - Haddon Hill

Walking west along the pine belt failed to produce any crossbills, but I did locate a singing male Wood Warbler. I decided to search the line of pines further east of the car park, a fairly long walk producing only a firecrest (heard only) and another Tree Pipit, though this one showed well enough for me to get a decent phone-scope shot.

Tree Pipit - Haddon Hill

On the return walk, I found a male Redstart, followed by a second male and a female. Whilst watching them, a single Common Crossbill flew over calling, the only one I saw/heard all day.

Redstart - Haddon Hill

I continued searching for another couple hours, producing just a flyover Cuckoo, a Spotted Flycatcher and a few other bits and pieces. A good day in a beautiful location, with plenty of compensation for the dip. A nice change of pace to the usual twitching.

Spotted Flycatcher - Haddon Hill
Willow Warbler - Haddon Hill
Stonechat - Haddon Hill