Monday, 24 April 2017

Black-Winged Stilts, Redhead Smew + Little Gull

Date: 24th April 2017
Location: WWT Slimbridge
Weather: Cloudy, Overcast but Warm
Other Species: 2 Black-Winged Stilts, 1 Little Gull (2cy), 1 Smew (Female), Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Avocet, Sand Martin, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Little Grebe, Song Thrush, Mediterranean Gull, Dunlin, Ruff

Observation: After seeing tweets all weekend from Slimbridge with the Black-Winged Stilts present, we just had a make a visit, to see them! We left early and about 10 minutes from Slimbridge we received a tweet saying there were no sign of the Stilts.. noooo!!
We arrived at 8.20am and headed straight for the Rushy. The 2cy Little Gull was present, fairly distant so not the greatest of pictures.

Can really see why they are called the Little Gull. Black-Headed Gull in shot for size comparison.

 Having a good look on the Rushy for the Stilts we spotted a Redhead Smew, a few pictures later and unsure whether it was in fact a wild bird, a WWT warden (Martin) then spotted it and pointed it out! Nice! After confirmation it was a wild bird (and possibly the Chipping Sodbury bird) we took a few more images of her.

The 6 Greylag Goslings were still present, our last visit we spotted one of the chicks looking unwell so great to see 6 are still looking healthy (if the same brood).

With most birds moving around the Rushy, we got some nice flight shots.

The hybrid Wigeon was also present today.

Determined to find the Black-Winged Stilts we moved along the Holden Walkway searching everywhere for them.

An abundance of Sand Martin and a few House Martin skimming across the water, how could we not, get some shots? Well try anyway...

Probably the best of almost 50 pictures.

Just past the Willow Hide, this Sedge Warbler popped up and gave us a song in full view!

Great to hear the Song Thrush singing it's little heart out!

Returning from Holden Summer Walkway (with nothing of note), we received a tweet.
"2 Black-Winged Stilt just flown from Hogarth Hide onto South Lake"

We rushed around to South Lake to be told they flew off minutes ago, we stayed there in the hope they would return, plenty to see including this Little Grebe.

Still no sign of them we moved onto Hogarth Hide. Again no sign but plenty of Avocet and some distant Ruff.

We carried on as normal with no further tweets, just as got to the Zeiss Hide and sat down, a tweet came in, and the whole hide left and we all rushed to Robbie Garnett Hide, on arrival we got told they weren't there by a "birder", we decided to check the Robbie Garnett Hide anyway, as it turned out, they were there!! 
These Stilts were definitely giving us the round-around and keeping us fit!

But finally here they were, showing well most of the time, but after about 20 minutes they were right down the far end of the Estuary behind the Rushy.

Great little birds and well worth the visit!

Both of the Black-Winged Stilts in shot.

Very happy, we left and checked in on the Rushy as a last check, the Smew was still present and gave us a wing flap. A great morning birding!

We headed up to Rodborough Common to try and find some butterflies but the weather wasn't great, windy and some light rain. We headed back home with no butterflies but some great year and UK ticks!

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Thursday, 20 April 2017

Thursday Patch walk

Date: 20/04/2017
Location: Newton St Loe
Weather: Grey skies and a bit of drizzle
Yellowhammer, Buzzard, Linnet, Blackcap, Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Stock Dove, Mistle Thrush, Barn Swallow, House Martin.
Not Butterfly weather so headed out round patch, Grey Wagtail back on brook and Chiffchaff in tree line with a few more up on to dog track. Plenty of Skylark in fields with at least 10 but probably more on floor. 
Got to Seven Acre and a bloke with drone was flying it over woodland moaning that the Buzzards were chasing it !! I told him maybe fly it somewhere else then, he didn't answer and carried on fiddling with it.
I've started to seed crossroads on byway hoping to attract a few more Yellowhammer (Sunflower & Millet seeds) Saw 2 Yellowhammers down by trigpoint &1 singing along side road also.
Into village and House Martins buzzing only 5 at moment with a few Barn Swallow 3/4 catching flies. Carried on to send a Cow woodland and Goldcrest, Blackcaps and Song Thrush singing. Tried my hardest to get a better picture of this Blackcap but he not having it!

Walked up Bath Spa drive to check on Heron's and Good news, at least 4 youngsters in nests, only a mother could love them ! But plenty of squawking going on.

Heard the call of a Stock dove turnned around and he was perched up behind me. Seeing more & more of these around patch.

On to lakes and Mallard numbers still very low but a few scattered around lakes and on banks under trees. Mother Mallard still has 7 young, weird cause saw the lesser last week take a few little ones. Think maybe they hide in reeds unless this is a new brood ?

The arrival of a new Mute Swan on lower lake and the 2 resident Swans doing well, bit of housekeeping. 

Think we've got 3 eggs hope a few more to be laid, last year they had 7 successful cygnets.

While sat in my normal spot a Grey Heron landing in front of me and stayed very still for some 15 mins while i munched my dinner.

No Butterflies around lake but plenty of Bluebells looking great.

Nuthatch and Goldcrest calling all around lake and this little Blue Tit checking out possible nesting holes.

2 Mistle Thrush seen on way back to village and another Harris Hawk being trained up on drive.
Into village above Farm shop and more Barn Swallows had arrived with at least 10 now some sat on the normal wires. 

So nice to see them back, whizzing along the lanes and coming within inches of me as i watched them from car park. People in the Farm shop car park seemed oblivious to them ! How !?

Another Mistle Thrush and another YellowHammer down the lanes to home was my lot and ended walk on 48 Species, i reported earlier 47 but on looking at pictures realised i saw a Herring gull fly over. 48 pretty good going. 

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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Portland Brill !

Date: 18/04/2017
Location: Weymouth & Portland Bill
Weather: Blues Skies
Species Highlights: 
Marsh Harrier, Ring Ouzel, Pied Flycatcher, Redstarts, Whimbrel, Wheatear, Raven.
Lauren off work so decided to go to Weymouth as blue skies were forecast and what a day!
Arrived at Lodmoor  first and the Swan Goose was present with the hybrid... Greylag- Barnacle ? 
Reed Warblers & Reed Bunting singing around the site always hidden but great to hear their song again, also Cettis in large numbers singing everywhere.

A few Dunlin where the only waders but Marsh Harrier and a Sparrowhawk were seen. Plenty of House Martins, Barn Swallows and a few Sand Martins whizzing overhead.

Starling looked stunning in the great light today, a small group were collecting nesting materials.

With Tweets about  Portland Bill And the amount of Migrants coming in we left and stopped briefly at Radipole on the way along coast. Again Reed Warblers singing and lots of Cettis this one showed , just !

The main action at Radipole were the Marsh Harries of which we saw 3.

From the new hide or shelter they looked ace ! Constantly cruising pass along reed line, Love the Urban backdrop.

We witnessed a Food pass and reed Collecting, such great looking birds.

Common Sandpiper and a single Egret also from the Shelter.

But still more tweets coming in from Portland Bill so we left and headed that way.
On arrivling we parked at Weston Road and headed to Barleycrates Lane. 
Redstart in good number counted at least 8 in first field a bit distant but brilliant to watch as they caught flies and perched up.

Another birder seem to be looking at something else and on chatting to him he said 
"Ringed Ouzel !" Never seen one so was excited to see and a brief look through our binoculars and Yes a Ringed Ouzel was present in first field, Picked camera up and it disappeared ! Typical, spent the next hour checking bush line with no success. But on Reap Lane Pied Flycatchers with Whitethroats and lots of Wheatears. 
Also Willows Warblers and Chiffchaff it seemed in every bush. Reeling Grasshopper Warblers also, Lauren got a good view of a Gropper but i only heard the call.

More stunning Wheatears.

Temp was rising so headed back to check on Ouzel a very brief flight and it went down hidden again, disappoint headed back to van. 
But a commotion with some Crows and Ravens they seemed to be making a lot of noise and noticed a poor single Buzzard on log in center frame. Around 30 Crows and 2 Ravens kept dive bombing him Amazing to watch Crows even made contact with the Buzzard, he flew off with Crows in hot hot pursuit! We left for lower bill and lunch.

We walked from Lighthouse car Park up west cliff edge and Guillemot & Fulmars coasting past.

With Skylarks singing in Fields and scrapping in the skies, territory squabble ?

 Was really pleased to to a small group of Whimbrel around 4 birds.

Wheatear numbers must have been in the hundreds!

But when they look this nice you don't mind seeing them back!

After a quick drop in to see the beautiful Little Owl Redstarts and Wheatear were here too, in the bushes that the surround the Quarry.

When arriving back at car park a group of Crows and this stunning Raven where sat picking up chips that someone had left, the Crows left as we approached but the Raven just sat. A brilliant end to a Brilliant Day.

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