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.

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