Thursday, 29 June 2017

28th June 2017 (Nottinghamshire and Ceredigion)

Lewis and I left Yeovil at 3am to try for a couple of lifers in two counties I've never visited before. First stop was for the bee-eater flock at East Leake in Nottinghamshire that is showing signs of breeding. We arrived at around 6:45am. The weather wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it was still pretty cold, dark and wet. We were the first to arrive on site, shortly followed by two other birders. After some confusion on where the watchpoint was, we set up and waited. An hour went by with no sign, and it was looking like eiher the poor weather had driven the birds off, or they simply wouldn't be active in it. At around 8:30, we heard the calls, and a drenched Bee-Eater flew up into the tree in front of us. Success! We also had at least 2 more Bee-Eaters in flight and a Green Sandpiper.

Bee-Eater - East Leake

Next stop was Aberaeron, Ceredigion. On the drive through mid-Wales, we saw a minimum of 5 Red Kites from the car window. Shortly after arriving, Lewis picked up the 1cy female KING EIDER not far off shore. A great bird to see as they're quite a bit rarer in the south of the country, a nice car window tick as well as another lifer! Also of note was a Red Kite over the car park and another 2 Red Kites on the drive home.

KING EIDER - Aberaeron
Seemed to be feeding well on crabs around the river mouth.

A successful trip and brings me to a total of 5 lifers over the last 4 weeks! Almost 11 hours driving but well worth every minute!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

24th June 2017

Headed down to Lodmoor this afternoon for the ALPINE SWIFT, which was showing on arrival. A great bird showing at very close range and my third lifer in the last 3 weeks. How long can I keep up this streak? A quick look around the rest of the reserve produced a few other bits and pieces but nothing too unusual for thie site.


Mediterranean and Black-Headed Gulls - Lodmoor

Common Tern - Lodmoor

dark-billed Common Tern - Lodmoor

Lapwing - Lodmoor

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

19th June 2017 (Glamorgan)

The night heron I saw in Shropshire earlier this year was found to be of American race and, as it appeared during an influx of european night herons to the UK and Iceland, it's cast doubt over the birds origins in my mind. Night heron is a species which I've had a checkered history with so when the report came in that the european-race bird had remained as Cosmeston Lakes for a second day, I was determined to plaster the species on my list once and for all!
Left home after work at around 5:30pm and headed towards Cardiff, but due to traffic on the M4 I didn't arrive until 8:15. On arrival, birders informed me that the bird had flown across the lake, but no one had seen where it had landed. After a few stressful minutes, another birder relocated the Night Heron through my scope. Success! The bird was flushed closer by a canoe, allowing me to get some decent shots clearly showing the more extensive white over the eye. Also noted were the duller wings, dusky underparts, some yellow on the lower mandible and a grey back, making this bird a 2nd year I believe. A great bird and well worth the travel time!
Night Heron - Cosmeston Lakes
Comparison of the facial pattern of the American bird at Venus Pool (left) and the European bird at Cosmeston Lakes (right). Note the amount of white surrounding the eye.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

17th June 2017

Headed to Acres Down today in the hope of getting Honey Buzzard. I waited at the Acres Down watch point for 6 hours, in which time I had 3 Goshawks and singles of Red Kite, Peregrine and Dartford Warbler. Also heard a day-churring nightjar.

Goshawks - Acres Down

Red Kite - Acres Down

Next stop was an undisclosed site where honey buzzard has been seen recenly, however I didn't see anything here except for a couple Buzzards and a female Marsh Harrier.

16th June 2017

Headed to Dancing Ledge this evening to try and finally connect with my most overdue species: Puffin! After a bit of searching, I picked out a pair with the rafts of Guillemots, and eventually I tallied up 4 birds. Also had  singles of Razorbill and Shag and a few Kittiwakes and Fulmars.

Puffins - Dancing Ledge

Friday, 16 June 2017

15th June 2017

Lewis and I headed up to Avalon Marshes again this evening. We headed past Meare Heath where we had the Glossy Ibis and 2 Great White Egrets. We arrived at Noah's Lake where we were put onto the adult Purple Heron, though the bird was distant and the light was terrible. Other highlights included a flyover Bittern and a Little Owl from the car window.

Purple Heron - Shapwick Heath

Glossy Ibis - Shapwick Heath

Great White Egret - Shapwick Heath

Sunday, 11 June 2017

11th June 2017

Headed up to Ham Wall this evening to try and get the little bittern and red-footed falcon for Lewis. Unfortunately, is was a double no-show, the only compensation coming in the form of a flyover Cattle Egret, 2 Great White Egrets and 3 Cuckoos.

Cuckoo - Ham Wall

Song Thrush - Ham Wall

Ham Wall

10th June 2017 (West Sussex)

News broke at midday that the elegant tern found in Hampshire earlier this week was refound at Chruch Norton, Pagham Harbour. The site is over 2 hours away from Yeovil, and with only an hour until high tide, I assumed the bird would be long gone by the time I got there. I kept watching the reports and indeed, the bird disappeared for long periods. Lewis texted me to say he was free at 4pm. I checked the sightings and the tern was back! I gathered my supplies, picked up Lewis and headed for West Sussex.

We arrived at the Pagham Harbour car park at 18:40. I visited the site once in 2015, so followed the same path towards Chruch Norton. The walk was longer than I remembered, but we were awarded on arrival with flight views of the ELEGANT TERN! It spent most of its time in flight or hidden in amongst the tern colony and flirting with one of the local Sandwich Terns. Eventually, we got the on-the-deck views that allowed me to get some acceptable record shots, and allow us to get a proper look at the long drooped crest and long two-tone bill, quite distictive compared to the sandwich terns. Other species of note this evening include a single Black Tern and several Little Terns and Mediterranean Gulls.

ELEGANT TERN - Church Norton


Black Tern - Church Norton


Little Tern - Church Norton

Pagham Harbour