Tuesday, 27 February 2018

A wake of Buzzards on patch

Date: 27/02/2018
Location: Newton St Loe + Weymouth
Weather: -1 at least cold wind, some sunshine.
Species Highlights: 
Buzzard, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Stock Dove, Lapwing, Redwing.
After yesterday's trip to Dorset for the Ross's Gull, a failed attempt, more on that at end of blog, i thought I'd catch up with my patch. So gloves, hat and a few layers of clothing on as "The Beast from the East" the so called cold front is moving in and blimey it was a bit cold out there. 
Out through Bath Mill and not much going on but on the dog track track spotted 3 distant Buzzard circling above.

On to fields and farmer ploughing field 200+ assorted Gulls were mopping up the worms and grubs being uncovered mainly Black Headed but Lesser and Common Gulls also Rook, Crow and Pied Wagtail amongst them.

Above and in hedges around field counted at least 10 Buzzards, brillant to see.

Good to see the different plumages and colours.

A few let me get a couple of shots off, more intent of looking at the other Buzzards than looking at me.

Leaving them to it and continuing along byway Linnets and Yellowhammer in normal places.

while sprinkling some seed noticed a group a birds above 7 acre wood 35 Lapwing! Took a few out of focus shots, last Lapwing on patch were 23/11/2017 so really good to see, they didn't land just flew east and out of site.

On lower fields a large group, i think largest group i've ever seen of Stock dove at least 25 birds. 
Carried on into village with not much to add to list.
apart from a pair of Grey Wagtail on the waterfall by lakes.

On along to lakes and fishing lake Ice free but top lake 1/2 frozen, tried some Lettuce with the swans, Rspb recommends in cold weather, Billy and top lake family just looked at it confused! 
luckily i also brought seed and bread, they seemed to like bread more than seed, special treat as it was cold. While feeding noticed a single egg on last years remains on the nest? very strange, don't think it gonna hatch,Ice surrounding it.

 I've contacted Swan Watch for advise, I'll update when i know.

Great to see Hawfinch still about, saw 2 birds male + female being their normal hard to see and photograph.

Greater Spotted and Green Woodpeckers seen on walk.

Lots of Rook around Patch.

Along with 35+ Redwing and a single Fieldfare, same bird i'm sure in end of drive orchard.

A good but cold walk ending on 43 species not a record breaker but another patch tick with Lapwing taking us to 63 species for the year.

Weymouth-Portland Bill

Now that trip to Dorset for the Ross's gull or not. Me and Lauren started early but as it turnned out 10 minutes too late!! Allan left earlier and got the Ross's gull at Lodmoor, the early bird get the Worm! Think we were 4 minutes behind and missed it, all day that was the pattern with this tricky gull, here's a few photos of our day.

While waiting for the Ross's at Radipole.

Did see these beauties at Lodmoor later.

2 birds present.

 Gotta love a Spoonie.

Quite a few Snipe dotted around Lodmoor too.

A few Black Tailed Godwit.

Even went to Portland Bill and Castle saw Red Breasted Merganser, extremely cold wind blowing.

Back to Lodmoor hoping Gull would return, Grey Heron had his tea, we then left and even popped in to Bowleaze Cove where at least 500+ Med and Black Headed gulls were going to roost and probably the Ross's Gull but alas we didn't see it, another day maybe.

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Thursday, 22 February 2018

First 50+ species of the year

Date: 21/02/2018
Location: Newton St Loe
Weather: Starting sunny ended misty grey, cold
Species Highlights:    Spreedsheet
Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Yellowhammer, Blackcap, Greenfinch, Stock Dove, Linnet.
Headed out patch at around 10am, out through Bath Mill and up on to fields. 
A Bullfinch pair on feeders and a quizzical jay as i left my front door. 

Skylark up and singing in the sunshine along with a very mobile Linnet flock difficult to count, 2 groups today as a Sparrowhawk kept buzzing through the flock.

While watching the Linnet and Yellowhammers had 3 Stock Dove, 
later I saw 2+1 at other end of lakes. 

Yellowhammers being on guard from the Sparrowhawk attacks.

Seemed to be plenty around today with Blue, Great, Long Tailed and Coal Tits singing in almost every tree. Also Song Thrushes singing. 
Saw a large groups of gulls from the Trigpoint down on Globe fields mostley Black Headed Gulls but could also see Lesser Black Backed and Common Gulls feeding along University Drive. While making sure there were Common gull i walked along drive and surprised to see 8 Grey Heron along the brook.

One was even on last years nest although last year Heron's on nest by 01/02 so a bit later this year.

While scanning lower lake for Siskins spotted this, Red Kite high over head but first of the year.

Was heading out towards Newbridge and Bath, but takes patch ticks to 62 already!
Just looked at last years history and on the 12/02/2017 Red Kite , amazing 9 days in it.

2 Grey Wagtails on fishing lake, plus Billy.

Top Lake Cormorant on normal tree all the regulars came to my seed, Teal number dropped a bit to 50.

7 Moorhen plus mating Coot. 
While chatting to a nice lady dog walker( i know!) she mentioned on Saturday she saw a Little Egret, nice to hear, I will not count, like to see with my eyes first.

Lots of Goldcrest singing and Nuthatch in yews trees surrounding lakes but no Hawfinch seen but think i heard 1 by keep.

Meadow Pipit back drive only 6 birds seen, a fly past in village of a female Kestrel. At horse fields cottage 4 more Yellowhammer but could be a group from top fields.

Another Male Bullfinch also here. Got home and a male Blackcap was on our feeder tree, seen female also over the last few days. 
At walk end 52 species, the first of many in 2018 I'm sure, the spreadsheets looks great with the first part almost a tick in every box!

Thanks to everyone i spoke to today, it was a good day.

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Monday, 19 February 2018

Bumper Blog Patch-FOD-Dorset-Aust

Date: From 8th till 18/02/2018
Newton St Loe- Forest Of Dean- Dorset - Aust
Species Highlights: 
Spoonbill, Short Eared Owl, Merlin, Peregrine, Great Grey Shrike, Hawfinch, Raven.
Been busy of late so this blog a bit of a catch up with plenty of pictures.

First off a patch walk with plenty going on the Linnet flock still a great sight to see with at least 40 Yellowhammer around Trigpoint, a few Siskin on Lakes and Teal numbers at a all time record with 84 birds counted by me.

Next after my successful trip to the Forest of Dean with Allan Chard in the last Blog post Lauren felt she was missing out so across the bridge we set off, our main target was the Great Grey Shrike and within Minutes of arriving at Crabtree Tree hill Lauren spotted it, her 5th attempt at it so we were both very pleased.

A Buzzard was also on the Hill looking stunning in the blue skies and early morning sunshine.

We Checked Nags Head but not much else was seen so Cannop Ponds was next with Marsh Tit plus plenty of the regulars.

The ever present Nuthatch showing nicely.

Didn't see any Hawfinch so we left around 2pm to drop in to Aust for a Short Eared Owl or two, on the drive there Lauren was giving me stick about not getting a Merlin picture despite us seeing then over the past few years, it was getting a bit of a bogey bird for me, so while i was making a hot chocolate for us she said "There's a Merlin" 
I thought yeah right!
" No Really a Merlin!!!" I quickly picked up camera and snapped away, awful picture but it's definitely a Merlin, it only landed for a minute or so then disappeared along the shore line.

We also so this fly by Peregrine but sadly no Short Eared Owl for Lauren but Great Grey Shrike and a Merlin Life ticks we ended on a high.

15/02/2018 Blue skies were forecast so headed down to Dorset with Allan Chard a early start and Lodmoor first. One Spoonbill was present but stayed asleep most of the time, a few Greater Black Backed gulls, Snipe and Lapwing also.

Was also pleased to see a few Med Gulls, something we don't see enough off around here.

We left Lodmoor and headed to Radipole.

Water levels very high after much rain so path to viewing screen was around 2 foot deep, and Allan refused to carry me to screen! A shame as 3 Marsh Harriers were putting on a great show with lots of food passes.

No much else here so headed to Portland main target being Short Eared Owls, But the stars was a pair of Ravens giving us extremely close views of these truly great birds.


On walking to top fields we did find some Owls hunting but not the views we wanted staying always distant, Allan wanted chips, Allan wanted chips !!
 So we walked to the Lobster Pot ate chips walked back up only to discover the Owls up to 4 had showed really well while we were away ! Typical.

Walking back down after waiting for a while we came across this Female Kestrel eating a vole or Mouse.

 A real treat to watch her, we kept a respectful distance but she didn't seem to mind.

The Sun was setting and on changing our viewpoint she looked stunning.

Back at the van the Ravens from earlier remembered that i'd chucked them a few chips, so i fed them some seed giving me a chance to lye down in the car park and take some really nice shots.

Work interrupted my week so Today being Sunday me and Lauren headed around patch, a Webs count on the lakes but a group of Siskin were a highlight counted around 15 birds top of fishing lake.

Great to see the Hawfinch still about 9+ birds seen including this great male.

The 9+ birds were seen in flight, 9 for sure but a another group flew over with 15 Greenfinch.

Leaving the Lakes and Uni grounds came across this Fieldfare, pretty sure its the same one from the Church yard Orchard, he seems to have eaten all the fallen apples there so these should keep him happy for some time.

Almost at a end, but saving best till last! 

We headed to Aust as the Short Eared Owls seemed to be showing well. On arriving allan Chard was there pointing out to were a Owl was sat, Nice!

Up to 4 Owls were seen over the next couple of hours.

Gotta love the eye contact from them, of course we were on road stood by van.

With the Severn Bridge in the Background the owls hunted across the marsh area.

With the odd interaction between them, screeching and squawking could be heard.

Best shot of the day goes to Lauren with the 2 Owls in close formation!!

Love Short Eared Owl always great to Watch.

A brilliant few days of birding plus a life tick for me with Merlin and 2 lifers for Lauren.
Hope you enjoy the blog as much as i do taking pictures and seeing our wonderful wildlife.

Feel free to comment 

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