Friday, 29 November 2019

Slimbridge to Newton St Loe

25th-28th November
Slimbridge, Barrow Tanks, Eastville Park, Newton St Loe
Weather: Rain to Blue Skies
Species Highlights: 
Whooper Swan, Bewick Swan, Long-Tailed Duck, Great Northern, Diver, Goosander, Kingfisher.
Our week started with a trip to slimbridge, mostly grey skies, low shutter and high ISO, but was a good day, the first few from the Willow Hide.

Next off a few Bewick Swan always good to see them return.

Pintail drake looking fabulous as always.

A Tufted duck incoming not to miss out from the action.

The view across the  Severn into the Forest of Dean, a bit overcast you could say.

Pheasant such a beauty cleaning up under the Feeders.

Flocks starting to build with Golden Plover, Dunlin and Lapwing taking to the air, the culprit.....

Peregrine Falcon.

It was raining all morning but with nothing to do and the chance it may clear up I headed to Chew, couldn't see the Green winged Teal through the gloom so went to Barrow tanks and the rain stopped! 
 The Long Tailed duck was cruising past in tip top condition.

Walked around scanning for the two Divers black Throated and Great Northern but could only find the later. Unfortunately he had fishing line attached to his bill and I watched him struggling to remove it, fisherman continued to cast and catch Trout unaware.

1/2 hour from Eastville Park and Mr. Chard a quick message and I met him at the park, that morning a female Goosander had arrived and we took a few pictures.

Just the one flypast over Newton St Loe this year, 2 years ago we had 21 Goosander on top lake!

Eastville park is a great place with resident Dipper, Kingfisher, with a constant stream of walkers, dog walkers and kids, but this means most of the wildlife lets you get that bit closer.

This Grey Heron stalking just feet away from us.

The light almost gone, he looks like a old man in a trench coat! 
But the feather detail look great.

Patch walk day and I awoke to clear blue skies, with high hopes I started my walk out through Bath Mill, It all seems silent...not until I was on top fields did I see anything, Skylark and Meadow Pipit feeding in stubble. Into village, seeing a few things but not many photos.
Distant Buzzard calling over bottom lake.

Top Lake and the Whooper still present with Common Gull keeping him company, the Mute Swans down the other end of lake today.

36 days and counting.

Little Grebe and 10 Teal present and 3 Common gull, one of my favorite gulls.

Walked along back drive to University and and a group of Meadow Pipit on wires along with a male and female Stonechat, first time seeing them here. Ended walk on 45 species so a good day. Nothing to add to our 200 counts.

Wayne Year Bird List: 205
Lauren Year Bird List: 195

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Friday, 22 November 2019

Sanderling to Treecreeper

18th-21st November
Porthcawl, Barrow Tanks, Newton St Loe
Blue Skies, Very Overcast & Grey.
Species Highlights: 
Sanderling, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Purple Sandpiper, Black Throated Diver, Long Tailed Duck, Treecreeper.

In pursuit of now Lauren's effort to get to #200BirdYear we headed of on Monday morning to Porthcawl again, 3rd week in a row!
Red-Backed Shrike, plus Firecrest, Siberian Chiffchaff had been seen so off we went, our first stop was at Newton Point and a few waders, in fact Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Purple Sandpiper, Grey Plover and Oystercatcher.

A excellent little spot, dog walkers moved on the birds after a few shots, from here we drove the short distance to Porthcawl to look for the Red-Backed Shrike, finding the field and no sign so we met a couple more birders who were looking with no sign we turned around and re-entered the field where now 3/4 birders were lined up watching the
Shrike by the time we got to them the bird had disappeared, after almost a hour still no sign. We moved on to Kenfig a Chiffchaff was the best of it. A walk from there down to Sker across badly marked footpaths, Golf Course (say no more!!!) prove unsuccessful.

A Black Throated Diver was at Barrow Tanks, so on way home we dropped in. The Diver as they normally are, was in the middle of the tanks but a year tick for us both.

Long Tailed Duck looking great, also present was a Snow Bunting but despite other birders seeing this bird we couldn't locate, mainly due to a Sparrowhawk and the sun disappearing.

The Sun had now dropped below the skyline so we headed home with 2 ticks for the day.

Busy at home, decorating my next outing was Thursday and this week I had company, Tony Cook joined me. We started off slowly but once into Village had little pockets of birds, the Yews near Newton St Loe Church prove to be good with Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, and Greenfinch, sorry skies were very grey and photography was a challenge.

3/4 Greenfinch also feeding on berries.

A closer subject Robin, looking for a snack.
Send a Cow woodland we had a good flock of Blue tits, Great Tit and Treecreeper.

Kingfisher, Grey Heron on bottom lake and flocks of Goldfinch.

While trying to work out if there was anything else in the Goldfinch flock a Treecreeper flew and landed close to us.

It stopped and just sat there allowing me to get some decent shots, a bit unusual!

Whooper Swan still on top Lake, 28 days days now.

At the Dam end it came within feet of us!

Also Top Lake 150+ Black Headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull and Herring Gull it was full of Gulls, with more circling overhead. This Raven flew over checking out the commotion on his Patch.
Me and Tony ended our walk with a respectable 45 species.

So another week over and a further 2 ticks added to Lauren's list, join us next week to see if she'll get the last 5..... or not.

Wayne Year Bird List: 205
Lauren Year Bird List: 195

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Friday, 15 November 2019

Tick, Dip, Dip, Tick

10th- 14th November
Newton St Loe, Forest of Dean, Kenfig, Mumbles, Chew Valley.
Drizzle, grey skies
Species Highlights: 
Great Grey Shrike, Kittiwake, Whooper Swan,Fieldfare, Green Winged Teal.

On the 10th wandered out to Newton Park Whooper Swan still present, but with little else to show for my effort, but excellent that our Whooper is still present.

Monday 11th November we'd planned a trip to Forest of Dean, a few more ticks were on the cards, but overnight a Shorelark had arrived at Newton Point, NR. Porthcawl where we had such a great time the previous week, Not to change our plan we headed to Forest of Dean first for the shrike first. We spent around 2 hours searching but found it on the footpath!

It then flew towards us and perched on a high tree, so big crop but a cracking bird. News of the Shorelark were still positive so we rushed back  and drove to Newton Point....News came to us it had gone! Note to self "Lifer, must go to this bird first!!" 
Almost there we decided to drop in to Kenfig as a Slavonian Grebe was there, Nope. We then walked a fair distance to where we saw the Snow Bunting last week as a Long Tailed duck was present , nope! Walked back to van feeling cold and fed up.

Lauren needed to get something to add to here total so Kittiwake's at the Mumbles seemed our best bet, on arriving at pier, no sign of the Kittiwake but Lauren spotted then distantly floating out at sea, pheww!

Wednesday was my next outing and at a loss headed up to Marshfield, almost nothing  seen so made a loop and dropped into Corsham Lake, Goosander had been seen that morning so high hopes. No Goosander and very little else except for Fieldfare dotted around lake.

Spent a while sneaking up on them only for them to suddenly fly off, I wondered why looked behind me a dog and walker said what you doing!! "Nothing now" I replied!

I did managed a few shots against the grey and cold skies.

Then the Goosander landed but never stayed in view. A message alerted me to a Green-Winged Teal at Chew, Lauren working from home so picked here up and headed to Chew for a lifer!

Not the views I wanted, but a lifer and can always improve a record shot I suppose, while still at Chew we also saw the Yellow Legged gull another tick for Lauren.

14th Nov was Thursday and even though it was pouring down I headed out to Newton Park, Whooper Swan still present and into it 22nd day.

I'd  driven out to village and on short trip back this Sparrowhawk sped across road and perched up looking for a target. that was the end of a mixed week of high, lows, 250 miles driven and 20 miles walked. 
But with Lauren getting closer to her 200 and me exceeding not all bad, and beats working!

Wayne Year Bird List: 203
Lauren Year Bird List: 193

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Friday, 8 November 2019

Chough'ed to get to 200, sorry :)

3rd - 7th November
Newton St Loe, Chew Valley Lake, Porthcawl, Southerndown, Cheddar, Barrow 
Getting colder, from drizzle to blue skies.
Species Highlights: 
Whooper Swan, Red Throated Diver, Merlin, Snow Bunting, Red-billed Chough, Long-Tailed Duck.


Sunday 3rd November 

Lauren hadn't had time to see the Whooper Swan so we took a wander out to lake, House Sparrow are spread around village looking fine in the now winter sunshine.

Past the fishing lake there seem to be a big group of Goldcrest around 5 birds with more scattered along Top Lake.

The Whooper Swan still present but tucked into the far bank.
 We've since learnt that Janie from Bath Spa took a picture on the 24th at 14:07, I left the lake on the 24th at 13:53 !!

As we were walking back home news of a Red Throated Diver at Chew Valley Lake came in. A new bird for us both so we headed down to Woodford Lodge, Lauren spotted it and this was 199 for me and 186 for Lauren. When we arrived it was at it's closest and just kept swimming into middle of lake.

Monday 4th 

We had planned a trip to Porthcawl, Wales for a Snow Bunting, I'd already seen the Bolrenge bird but happy to make the journey. Rain on the journey there but stopping in the car park the sun started to shine and we had a lovely walk along the Porthcawl coastline, Oystercatcher, sleeping with passing Greater Black Backed Gull, Herring Gulls.

Lauren on top spotting form saw a Merlin and photographed it just, but ID'able from picture, I missed it!
The Snow Bunting hadn't moved from the previous day, feeding on the Golf green, a lovely little bird and Lauren on a roll with another tick.

We walked further along the coast and unbelievable I almost stood on another Snow Bunting, this one slightly bigger and much paler.

We think Male Non-
breeding juvenile.

Moving much faster but giving us some good photo opportunities.

Plenty of other birds at Pink Bay/Sker area and some friendly locals, Skylark singing and chasing each other around.

Stonechat always happy to pose.

With Starling, Meadow Pipit and Wren dotted along coast we had a great time here.

Tata Steel works could be seen in the distance, not sure what was being pumped into the atmosphere?

Just before the car park we spotted a few Golden Plover too.

Our plan was from here to head to the Gower for Red-Billed Chough but another birder mentioned Southerndown for Chough so on the way home thought this a better option.

A stunning walk we spectacle scenery and to make it even better we heard a Red-Billed Chough flying above us, distant photograph confirmed this, my #200bird of the year!!!

We climbed to Dunraven Castle with even better views back along to Porthcawl and the Gower. 

 A selfie to celebrate getting to 200 Lauren now on 189.

While sat we heard more Chough and 2 Birds were circling over cliffs, we managed some better shots, weather was on the turn so darker grey skies but happy to get better views.

We spent a further 20 minutes watching these great birds, a lifer for Lauren, I'd previous seen them at Botallack, Cornwall.

Much colder and greyer on the walk back to Car Park but a few Hardened Surfer were braving the frigid waters.

A great place and will definitely return.

5th November

Popped out to the Lake, Whooper Swan still present, 16 days.

6th November

I headed down to Cheddar for another Diver Great Northern but walked half way around and it poured down continued round with no sign of the Diver, this Great Crested Grebe and plenty of Coots were the best of it.

Dropped into Barrow Tanks for a look at the Returning Long-Tailed Duck, looking for his Tufted female from last year?

The day before it was at Chew Valley but think it prefers Barrow Tanks, Barrow Gurney. Just to say you need a permit to visit this site.

From there stopped of at Chew Valley and Stratford hide, A  brief view of this Kingfisher in not ideal conditions, misty grey skies.

The now normal flypast Great White Egret.

2 minutes of sunshine this Mute Swan looked great.

7th November

Thursday Patch walk before work that evening, 2 Buzzards were circling over Seven acre, but very quite up over fields and into village.

Top Lake, Cormorant on it's favorite perch against the autumn leaves.

Whooper stretching its massive wings ( 6.75 - 9.2 feet : 2.1 - 2.8 meters) 
18 days present.

A good number of Grey Heron scattered around lake, but hidden in the trees.

Being so little about I decided to walk up to Park Farm and down past Pennsylvania Farm, with a large flock of 35 Skylark, 20+ Chaffinch and even 15+ Yellowhammer in the freshly cut field proved to be a good option. Large numbers of Pheasant were about ready for the Christmas shoot, lets hope a few escape!

Almost home a this Green Woodpecker flew towards me landed in nearby tree, keeping a eye on me. 
So another week over and the magic target reached for me, Lauren still needs a few but still hope, a few more trips planned before Christmas and you never know what might come in.

Wayne Year Bird List: 200
Lauren Year Bird List: 189

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