Monday, 31 October 2016

A Fantastic Day Near The Mendips!

Date: 31st October 2016
Location: Westhay + Cheddar
Weather: Blue Sky, Calm Winds and Sunny
Other Species: 
Observation: Teal, Wigeon, 10+ Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, Shoveler, Great White Egret, Great-Crested Grebe

Westhay Highlights - 15+ Bearded Tits
Cheddar Highlights -  1 Lesser Yellowlegs, Snipe, 1 Mandarin Duck, 2 Great White Egret, 1 White-Fronted Goose
Chew Valley Lake Highlights - 4 Bewick Swan, Kingfisher, Common Gull, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Reed Bunting, 3+ Cetti's Warbler

As Monday's are my days off, me and Wayne headed down to Westhay as the Bearded Tit's seemed to be popping up lately. As if by magic on our arrival the fog cleared and the blue skies appeared, and after 5 minutes chatting to other birds (who had been there for some time). Initially only a pair were present but after a further 10 minutes and just like the buses, a further 15+ flew in! Here's a few of the shots we got!

In the sunshine, cracking little birds!

Pair of Female Bearded Tit's.

Another cracking Male posing for us!

They were feeding on the gravel on the boardwalk and showed extremely well down to 5-10 feet most of the time. After 200+ images all taken with our 400mm lenses and around an hour photographing and watching them we left them to it. This is a new life tick for me, although Wayne has photographed them back in 2014.

On our way home, we popped into Cheddar Reservoir as I hadn't had chance to see the Lesser Yellowlegs yet due to work commitments! Although Wayne has been down previously.

We even managed some nice low-level shots, the bird was around 30 foot away but came right over in front of us at one point!!

Whilst led photographing the Lesser Yellowlegs, the single White-Fronted Goose swam across in front of us, didn't manage both in one shot but a nice isolated shot none the less!

We left both the Lesser Yellowlegs and White-Fronted Goose with the other birders who were constantly arriving, and had a wander around the rest of the Reservoir, not much else to photograph as they were all out on the drained islands but 2 Great White Egret and the Female Mandarin Duck by the second tower.

We stopped off at Chew Valley Lake on the way home also, and the 4 Bewick Swan were still present from Herriott's End, and a fly-past Kingfisher ended a fantastic day with 2 new life ticks under our belt!

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Friday, 28 October 2016

Cheddar Reservoir - Lesser Yellowlegs - Take 2

Date: 27/10/2016
Location: Cheddar Reservoir
Weather: Overcast, brief spell of sun
Target Species: Lesser Yellowlegs
Left home with a blue skies heading for another go at the Lesser Yellowlegs at Cheddar as it was still showing well. As I headed down through the amazing Cheddar Gorge, cloud appeared and misty conditions! But still better than Monday so carried on, arrived and at least 10 birders were very close to edge of Reservoir in fact about 40ft closer than I was Monday!
So stood next to them, later lying in the duck poo, but worth it!

Light here still a bit grey.

But it did get brighter.

And closer!

Took a lot of photos as after 30 mins the birders that were there left leaving me on my own.

The bird seemed to like the puddle right in front of where I was lying!

After watching for 2 hours it started to clean and gave a wing flap to dry off.

A great little bird, really enjoyed watching it at such a close distance and was still there feeding away when I left. With other birders arriving as I was leaving.

On way to Cheddar noticed a large group of Starlings at the top of the Gorge in fields, they were still there, so many the wires where bouncing!

Sat in van it was like my own little murmurations!

They continued to feed in field often all flying back up to wires, light bad at this point so left and tried Chew Valley on way through.

Despite numerous tweets could only find Common Gulls or Mew Gulls of note but really like these gulls, they seem to scrap and chase all the other gulls off. Great attitude!
A really nice day and met some nice people and saw some excellent birds!

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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A 48 mile dash to see Lesser Yellowlegs.

Date: 25/10/2016
Location: Slimbridge - Cheddar Reservoir
Weather: Misty, Bad Light turning Misty, Bad Light.
Highlight Species:
Buzzard, Pintail, Great White Egret, Lesser Yellowlegs
Thought I would head up to Slimbridge, weather was grey and misty with the chance of rain so why not? Oh yeah full of kids, half term! Through the mist from the Rushy Hide saw 3 Buzzard in the 2.5 hours I was there. Sitting on fence line and a bit of worming.

From the Martin Smith Hide see this mist!

Same Buzzard but from Robbie Garnet Hide.

Shame this Buzzard wasn't facing the other way, but great wing span all the same!

Walked around the other hides but this the quietest without kids and crying parents! This Buzzard looking to the distance and so was I, thinking of leaving. 
Checked Twitter and a Lesser Yellowlegs at Cheddar Reservoir!! 
So clunk click, M5 it was.

Gps said 75 minutes and it was on the way home, well not really but had 2 hours so what the the hell.
Making good time headed straight to Cheddar Tower and was amazed to see Cheddar Res so low! 
Spotted Lesser Yellowlegs almost instantly.

Was feeding at about 60ft from Reservoir edge, 3/4 other birders were there when I arrived, Twitter travels fast.

Seemed very happy feeding despite this lawn mower, and still misty conditions.

A lovely bird, I think it was the Steart one, which left Steart on Sunday which was spooked by a lawnmower! 
It must have got used to it now? The bird originally comes from USA or Canada.

Also about 2 Great White Egrets, water So low that there were Great and Little Egrets here.

Seems to be so many in Somerset almost common!

A few more shots of the Lesser Yellowlegs and home, but with a misty start and misty end the Lesser Yellowlegs definitely brighten up my day!!

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Thursday, 20 October 2016

Red Wings and Autumn Leaves

Date: 20/10/2016
Location: Newton St Loe
Weather: Cloudy but Dry
Little Grebe, Water Rail, Redwing, Marsh Tit.
Full list here 

Headed out on the Patch today, very little on my feeders not even the Goldfinches! Lauren heard a Tawny Owl calling this morning, out the front of the house around 7am, but doubt this the reason, maybe weather? Anyway out through Bath Mill, Grey Wagtail's present, but little else until Fields, 6 Redwing over, and 6 Skylark, down on Lower Globe Fields, a large group of Gulls mostly Black Headed Gulls, Lesser Black Backed Gulls and Herring Gulls present.

Into Village and normal stuff here but fewer Pied Wagtails today. At Church saw 2 Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, this one tapping away on highest tree. One Marsh Tit in workshop Covert.

Kingfisher sat on bottom lake cleaning and 6 Mallard present. 
Top Lake.. Little Grebe back! While sat, heard the scream of a Water Rail couldn't locate but will keep ears and eyes open next visit. 
Very distant but Little Grebe.

Max zoom!

Left lakes and out through the now very busy Bath Spa University.
Could hear Redwing in Yew trees.

A group of 25 to 30 busy feeding on berries.

Lovely birds but not really staying still!

But on home with a total count of 45! 
Not bad, but just before home the Autumn colours really showing up! 

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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Lytchett Fields > Brownsea Island

Date: 17th October 2016
Location: Lytchett Fields + Brownsea Island
Weather: Heavy Rain Showers > Blue Skies
Lytchett Fields - Kingfisher, Snipe, Marsh Harrier, Pied Wagtail, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit
Brownsea Island -  Greenshank, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Buzzard, Greater Black Backed Gull, Grey Plover, Jay, Green Woodpecker, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Spoonbill, Grey Wagtail, Brent Goose, Nuthatch, Kingfisher
Full List Here

Observation: Bright and early start to get to Lytchett Fields for high tide. After a long walk down the Drive, we arrived at Lytchett Fields, walking along the footpath there were numerous Stonechat on the tops of teasel along with Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit flying around on the mud. From the first viewpoint, plenty of Dunlin, 400 to be exact. The Fields were full of birds but no pictures as early morning sun was blinding! Thanks to Ian Ballam for counting them! We had to move on to catch the first ferry over to Brownsea Island, little did we know after walking a 2-mile detour we arrived at Poole Quay as Poole Bridge is closed for essential maintenance, so beware!.

As we got onto the boat, the Lesser Yellowlegs was tweeted at Lytchett Fields by Ian Ballam!

Arriving onto Brownsea Island, 2 Spoonbill were present, but once we arrived into the first hide we were told all 39 Spoonbill had flown in the direction of Arne for Autumnwatch, typical!

The reflections in the first hide were stunning. Here's a few images:

Most of the hides were very crowded so didn't stay long in the second one.

On finding the Peacocks, no sorry, I mean Squirrels! They all seemed to favour the Church area where a mass of people had gathered to see them. The Red Squirrels were very tame climbing over people's belongings until the Peacocks interrupted, which the number of the Peacocks seems to have increased alot since our last visit in 2014.

This is how close they get!

Pesky Peacocks!

After lots of blurry shots of Squirrels and a few in focus... We headed back for one last look in the hides, hoping the Spoonbill had returned!

The birds on the Lake were very active because of a Buzzard being present.

Waiting for the boat back to Poole, a double rainbow lit up the skies! A lovely end to a stunning day.

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