Friday, 21 December 2018

Eagles,Short Eared Owl and Gyrfalcons

Date: 16th- 20th December
Mudeford quay, New Forest,Blashford,Bleadon Levels, Newton St Loe.
Some blue mostley overcast the rain.
Species Highlights: 
Red necked Grebe,White Tailed Sea Eagle, Siskin, Redshank, Meadow Pipit, Short Eared Owls, Gyrfalcon, Sparrowhawk.

Sunday and nothing new about to add to our lists so for Lauren a long overdue patch walk, her last time was September! So a slightly  dam walk up over fields only highlight here was a few Linnet. Unfortunately not a lot else going on. The Dipper was not about, let's hope shooters from previous week hae not scared it off!.

Monday morning and we'd planned a trip into Dorset stopping first at Mudeford Quay hoping for a few divers but a very distant Red Necked Grebe was almost the only bird. Tide was going out so a bacon sandwich and coffee with views across to Isle of Wight would have to do.

On way back we popped into the New forest at Lindford hoping for a glimpse of the White Tailed Sea Eagle that was causing a stir. On arriving we walked through forest scanning tree tops and floor for a odd Brambling or maybe even a Redpoll for Lauren , but Chaffinch flocks the best.

We past a few birders in forest all looking for the Eagle with different opinions of where it was, we continued walking our planned route, me saying just a bit further and got to the turn around point, just about to leave when we spotted the distant eagle typically flying almost back to where we had walked from!
Not a year tick as we'd already seen a few in Mull this year, but brilliant to sea such a massive bird soaring over Hampshire countryside. 
(sorry about picture it was around a mile away!)

After arriving back at van, we decide our last hope of seeing a Redpoll or Brambling was Blashford lakes so off to the Woodland hide and the one window looking out on to feeders.

What started as a blue sky day had now turnned into a grey and overcast day but a few birds were keeping us entertained, this lovely Nuthatch.

Chaffinches squabbling... almost a good shot.

Best bird there was the Siskin, and then it rained, so we left.

Rained continued into Tuesday so stayed in, Wednesday promised good weather and sunny spells so I headed down to the Bleadon levels, lots of birds in the estuary Redshank, Teal, Shelduck and large flocks of Lapwing, streaming across the skies. 

Could see a distant marsh Harrier hunting on the Brean side plenty of Meadow Pipits/ Skylarks feeding on the marshes.

I walked some 7 miles looking for Owls when almost giving up saw a Short Eared Owl take off from a post about 10ft in front of me, then disappear. I relocated the SEO from the sea wall. Dog walkers were letting their dogs run wild and came within a few feet of owl! 
The Owl took off.

Walking back towards the van spotted 2 Owls hunting in a far field so starting to jog towards the owls, almost there and realised my phone was missing from pocket!! Its like Mallorca all over again. Hoping the phone hadn't fallen into another puddle re traced my route searching for it....thankfully it hadn't fallen in puddle. Zipping it up returned to where owls were they'd gone!
stood waiting for a few minutes then decided to go when i'd spotted owl on a nearly by pearch. Stealthy creeping closer managed a few pictures when i thought the other owl knocked it from pearch, it took off and flew towards me.

Strange i thought when suddenly I saw the reason why.......

The reason was this a Gyrfalcon!!

A falconry bird with jesses and satellite telemetry on,  a wild bird would have been a mega find, but still great to see. Both birds then flew off high and disappeared.
On way home my van developed a problem, still waiting to see what it is!

Thursday I went off around patch, it rained almost as soon as i started with again very little being seen, apart from a few rainbows.

A few Mistle Thrush around lake, with Teal numbers rising now at 45 birds.

Dipper still not about but small birds a plenty in top woodland, Coal Tit, Blue, Great ,Chaffinch, Long Tailed tits and Treecreeper.

Walking back along drive a few Common gulls feeding with Black Headed Gulls.

In village i met Naomi from West of England Falconry who was feeding Rufus this tiny Sparrowhawk, his talon was malformed so the other Falconers didn't want him but Naomi looked very happy with him.

A real little beautie. 

So that was the end of our week only a few more days left of 2018 so I'd like to thank and wish all our readers a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Thursday, 13 December 2018

MY200BIRDYEAR completed

Date: 09-12/12/2018
Dorset, Devon Newton St Loe
Overcast with a bit of blue
Species Highlights: 
Little Bunting, Black Redstart, Surf Scoter, Common Scoter, Siberian Chiffchaff, Yellow Browed Warbler, Black Necked Grebe.
In the pursuit of my last 2 species to get to 200 for the year we decided on doing the miles Monday morning and headed down to Portland first Chiswell to be more precise and the Little Bunting which had been showing well, a early start and we arrived by 8:30am. Chatting to another birder and the Little bunting landed almost at our feet!

It made a few attempts to feed in the very busy Pebble Lane, cars, fishermen and people made it fly up and disappear but after 5 mins it came back.

A female Black Redstart was also flitting around the rooftops.

The Little Bunting is a First for me and Lauren and my 199th bird of the year.

As we had a few miles left we left after 30 mins and checked out Ferrybridge and Sandsfoot Castle, Red Breasted Merganser were the best of these location all very distant so we continued  on down to 3 beaches headland in Devon just short of Broadsands.

From the coast path we spotted the Scoters, 1 fw Surf Scoter, 5 Common Scoter. another life tick although i'm not counting it on my Life list as picture was awful!!
But counted it on my year list making 200 birds, whoohoo.
(lauren now on 190)

On a high we made the short drive to Broadsands car park where a Yellow Browed Warbler had be showing along with Siberian Chiffchaff. 
The chiff didn't take long to find we homed in on the birders in the corner of the car park on spotted it.

At least 2 of these in the bushes along with other normal Chiffchaff. 

Noticed this also, left hand picture from Devon / right hand picture from patch this year.  I think it's a Siberian Chiffchaff, only had one picture so won't add this year but, i'll look harder next year.

Saw the Yellow Browed Warbler a few times but couldn't get a picture, had brilliant views through binoculars, It all seemed a bit familiar as Lauren got a picture back in 25/10/14 at Radipole but his bird was still not on my life list.

So was very pleased to eventually get a picture.

These are Laurens pictures as it landed where she was stood!
So ended the day on 202 birds for me and 192 for Lauren a excellent day. 
Still a couple of birding trips left before the end of 2018 so still a chance Lauren will get the 200 too.

Back on patch but wednesday this week as got the dreaded dentist today, so wandered through Bath Mill with not much to report. Top fields again all very quiet, had a call from Tony and I knew Anne were out on patch looking for that Dipper so headed towards lakes.

In churchyard orchard af few bird were feeding on the fallen apples Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Redwings.

A single Fieldfare also, I wonder if it's the same one that seemed to stay in the orchard last year ??

30+ Ramblers greeted me at Waterfall, scarring away anything that would have been about.
so waited for them to move on .

Nothing much on lakes but met Tony & Anne and wandered up to where I'd seen Dipper, The Ramblers had just rambled through, just after they'd disappeared we heard a high pitched whistle followed by gunshots and gun dogs running around in top woodland, giving us little chance of seeing anything!! No Dipper was seen.

I left and walked back along back drive and was pleased to see a few Common gulls.

15 birds seen mixed up with Black Headed. 
That was almost all until I could see my house and crossing the Brook in Bath Mill a Little Egret took flight! A neighbour told me 2 weeks ago he'd saw an all white heron on brook so very pleased to see it so close to home.

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Friday, 7 December 2018

Birthday and new Patch tick

Date: 02/12/2018
Chew Valley, Clevedon, Slimbridge, Cotswold Water Park, Marshfield,Hackpen hill, 
Newton St Loe.
Drizzle, overcast,some blue sky.
Species Highlights: 
Water Pipit, Black necked grebe, Black Redstart, Water Rail, Red Crested Pochard, Merlin, Linnet, Tree Sparrow.
Our week started at Chew Valley lake with 3 Water Pipit from Morton hide, a tick for Lauren, also saw the 2 of 3 Black Necked grebes, too distant for pictures and weather like pea soup!
Even this shot of the water Pipit and Pied Wagtail difficult to see.

From Stratford the search went on for the Red Crested Pochard & Lesser Scaup that had been reported, no joy but good to see this leucistic Coot, just. 
Pictures do get better in this blog i promise!

Monday morning and we drove down to Clevedon on the Bristol coastline to see the Black Redstart, Lauren found it within a few minutes of us arriving, giving her another tick.

Next M5 to Slimbridge and some Redpoll had been seen, but not by us. The Water Rail from Willow hide was showing very well as normal.

After a couple of hours wandering around the site seeing 2 Peregrines, Common Cranes flocks of Lapwing, Wigeon and Plover and the growing population of Bewick's we headed off to our next destination.

45 mins later we were at pit 44 Cotswold water park and good views of the resident Red Crested Pochard, around 40 birds seen, much better views than my attempt a couple of weeks ago!
Male with a mouthful.

female and another tick for Lauren, still no new ones for me!

Back down the M5 and on way home we dropped into Marshfield, pulling off A46 a flock of Red Legged Partridge were  covering the lane a great site, never seen so many.

Scanning the fields and Lanes we spotted this white Pheasant a east target you'd think but apparently it's been around since 2017 and still avoiding the dumb ass shooters!

Corn bunting, yellowhammers with flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare were in good numbers and also this stunning Merlin hunting the flocks, Lauren managed better shots as i was driving!

The sun was being to set giving the Red Legged Partridge a lovely golden glow.

Buzzard feeding on worms. 
A good day was had and 118 miles travelled giving Lauren a few more ticks leaving her on 187 thats 13 left.

Tuesday was my birthday so was determined to get those last 3 ticks and headed to the Marlborough downs, had so good intel on Tree Sparrow. 
Parked at Hackpen hill and started my walk, I remember the route along the Ridgeway from 20 years ago riding my motorbike along the tracks, good times!
1000's of Linnets were swarming across the tracks and fields with Corn buntings Yellowhammers in very good numbers.

This sky when i started was blue with lovely sunshine but just 15 minutes into walk mist overcast almost dark skies were overhead. my hunt for Tree sparrow took me towards Barbury castle but all i could see was Bunting, Y'hammers and House sparrow. 
Had a call for Robert on a BOC walk around Newton st Loe  telling me he'd just seen a Dipper!!!  
AAARRRGGG (I had to wait till thursday to check that out)

Great to see Red Kites gliding over the countryside, Saw many, i mean 100's of Red Legged Partridge along with Pheasants, hoping for just one Grey Partridge but nothing.

I walked for 7 miles at this point seeing lots but photography very difficult with light and no cover a car/van hide would have been better i think, heard this Kite calling, unusual i thought.

Just about given up and about 1/4 mile from my parking spot and I saw a Tree Sparrow !!

Saw 3 birds but very jumpy these the best shots i could manage,  if only i'd walked the route other way around! 
But still a nice day and put me on 198 for the year.

Thursday and Patch walk day, time to look for that Dipper.

A very slow day it seemed with very little up over on to fields with just the one Yellowhammer seen, did see a group of 6 roe Der the most i've seen for some time. Through village and Redwings could be heard overhead with groups in most tree's, still only 2 Fieldfare on entire walk.
Lake all swans back in place did see Dad Mute trying to chase of the remaining Cygnets, Teal number at 30 now but little else to report.

Got to where Robert had seen Dipper, no sign so headed to top woodland and small stream which runs into lakes. 
To my amazement just 10 ft from water edge and a Dipper jumped up and perched on log !!

Using the trees as cover and adjusting my camera setting i got a few more shots.

Bird was singing, maybe a sign of territories ? also seemed in good condition, i left the Dipper in same spot on small stream, hoping it stays. Glen Maddison had seen the Dipper on lower section back in April 2017 but it seemed very elusive. 
Very glad to have finally caught up with it. 
This bird puts Newton St Loe Patch total on 99 species, who would have thought back in 2010 when we started looking for birds our list was at 50 species now 99, this year we are slightly down, at moment year list is 83, last year our best at 87 but still time?

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