Sightings 2011
Wednesday 16th November
The drake SCAUP still on Dowdeswell this evening with a Mallard for company and a Little Grebe also present. There were 24 Mallard and a single Tufted Duck on the main reservoir. Whilst watching the main reservoir the Scaup flew overhead circled and went back high towards the top pool but was not there just before I left. It may have moved on.
Tuesday 15th November
The Drake SCAUP was still present this morning feeding on the top small pool.
A Red Kite was seen on the way to Bourton.
Monday 14th November
A drake SCAUP on Dowdeswell reservoir this evening. It is on the top smaller pool and showing very well. The only duck on their. Thanks goes to Arthur Ball for letting me know.
2 Red Kites were seen over fields on the way to Bourton.
Saturday 12th November
Greg went this morning and got the GREAT GREY SHRIKE in the fog. It was sat proud at the end of the heather enclosure below the bench. I went with a mate down to Slimbridge and enjoyed the masses of birds there. It was great to see the Bewicks swans with young birds, the White-fronted Geese were from Holden tower and a huge flock of around 700 Golden Plover were seen. Snipe, Kingfisher and Peregrine were other highlights along with all the wildfowl as winter numbers are building.
We finished by heading to Frampton and from the 100 Acre had good views of a Short-eared Owl and on the return walk had fantastic views of a Barn Owl hunting at close range over the field next to the canal. A great days birding.
Sunday 6th November
We went to Frampton this afternoon and from the 100 acre platform spotted a Short-eared Owl sat on the bank to the river and then watched it hunt before it was pushed away by corvids. Greg was lucky enough to see a Bittern very briefly in flight as it got up above the reeds and dropped in again all to quickly.
Saturday 5th November
Greg and I went to see the cracking SQUACCO HERON today at Attenborough NR. It showed amazingly well feeding under the bridge catching fish with ease. A stunning bird! We saw a skein of around 300 Pink-footed Goose fly overhead and a nice selection of wildfowl including many Pochard and 3 Goldeneye before heading for the STEPPE GREY SHRIKE. The shrike wasn't quite as showy as the heron but it did come close enough for some good views enabling us to see its defining features.
Friday 4th November
I went up Cleeve common this evening despite the weather and it paid off! It was alive with thrushes! Redwing were lifting from almost every hawthorn and flocks of Fieldfare chucked away, passing overhead. The star of the show however was a cracking male RING OUZEL in the valley above the washpool. I found it feeding on the sodden grass and didn't flush it allowing the chance to get some cracking views! I watched it for about 20 minutes running around on the grass pulling up worms. It's always a treat to watch these birds. 
Tuesday 1st November
A Short-eared Owl again near Hawling and good views of a Tawny Owl near Brockhampton this evening.
Sunday 30th October
Good birding up the field today. Loads of Redwing on the sloe berries again with a great flyby from 2 Raven and the Kestrel again showing well.
Wednesday 26th October
I went this morning to Oldbury to see the PIED WHEATEAR and it showed very well around the Sailing club. It was feeding very close by and flycatching totally oblivous to the onlookers. It often fed close to a Northern Wheatear allowing a nice comparison. Also seen were around 40 Dunlin,30 Curlew, 4 Redshank with 6-8 Meadow Pipit and a Reed Bunting. 2 Harbour Porpoise were a nice surprise heading up river.
On the way home I poped into Slimbridge and saw an Avocet from Zeiss hide but the recent Spoonbill managed to evaded me. Nice to see the first few Bewick's Swan back and an increase in numers of returning wildfowl. 
Saturday 22nd October
Stella and I went down to the somerset levels today for a walk. We had some brilliant views of both male and female Marsh Harriers hunting low over the reedbeds and a Great White Egret was showing very well. As it came in to land amongst the wildfowl it sent them all diving and splashing, making it an impressive scene.
A Bittern was seen in flight and we saw what im pretty sure was a Mink swimming across a channel into the reeds. It was a glorious day and there were loads of Red Admiral's around and many dragonflies.
Friday 21st October
A drive around the fields near Hawling was very producutive this evening. I had some great views of a flock of 23 Golden Plover and 45 Lapwing before noticing a small falcon sat in a ploughed field. It was a MERLIN and I got some of my best views before it headed off. What a great bird! I finished watching 2 SHORT-EARED OWL hunting over their usual spot. There really are few better birds to watch. Stunning! At one point there was a dog fox mooching about and they were both in the scope as the foxed glanced up at the shorty. Great stuff. Also seen was a flock of around 80 Fieldfare 10-15 Redwing  and a Little Owl was heard.
Monday 17th October
A Red Kite very low over a field on the way to Bourton
Wednesday 13th October
I only had time for a look up the field before dark but it produced my first Redwing of the year as 6 got up from the hawthorns and a single Fieldfare flew overhead. Its always great to see and hear these birds and extra special when their the first of the year.
Greg had 5 Snipe at Dowdeswell and a Barn Owl over the reeds! 
Thursday 6th October
Up at Cleeve common, at least 35 Skylark, 20 Meadow Pipit, 3 Wheatear and 6 Stonechat. This is the highest count of Stonechat I have had for a while. I know they bred successfully this year. Hopefully they stay in these sort of numbers. 
Sunday 2nd October -Magic moments!
Memorable birds do not have to be rarities and that was proved once again today. Whilst planting some trees up our field a cracking RED KITE came drifting overhead. It circled very low for a bit and gave some stunning views before drifting towards Charlton Kings. What a bird! A great addition to the field list! Just a shame we didn't have the camera!
Saturday 1st October
This week has been another rather unproductive week of looking at Dowdeswell and my best  bird of the week came when a Wheatear was found running about in the leisure@ carpark before playing badminton.
Today we headed to Slimbridge and although no rare waders were found there was a really nice selection from the Zeiss Hide. 5 Curlew Sandpiper were seen with around 20 Redshank and 2 Dunlin. 2 Spotted Redshank were in amongst the Redshank with one being a smart juvenile bird. There was a group of 5 Greenshank roosting and 2 Grey Plover dropped in briefly which was a bit of a surprise. There was also around 10 Snipe showing. A really nice selection.
Wednesday 28th September
We have only had the time to get in quick visits to Dowdeswell Reservoir recently. A few Mallard and Moorhen with singles of Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe. We're just hoping for a repeat of last year!
Sunday 18th September - A chance to get to the trust at last!
A trip to the WWT today was brilliant with the Buff Breasted Sandpiper showing well, a fantastic bird. Strickingly dainty and long legged. It was walking around on the dumbles and it was great we were allowed to get so close! We even saw it flying around and calling. The Dotterel was also a little cracker close to Golden Plover and showing well just off the saltmarsh. There was no sign of the Semipalmated Sandpiper though. Unfortunately it was a bit of a rushed visit but well well worth it as always. A quick look over Dowdeswell in the evening produced a site tick with a hunting Peregrine Falcon giving us an amazing flyby, also a Common Sandpiper.  
Saturday 17th September
We went for the Spotted Sandpiper early this morning and after a bit of a search found the bird and had some excellent views. Also seen were 2 Turnstone a Wheatear and a small mixed flock of Dunlin and Ringed Plover. Unfortunately there was no time to head to Slimbridge, just hope the birds there stick around!
Tuesday 13th September
A Snipe on Dowdeswell Reservoir this evening
Monday 12th September
An evening look over the river from Fretherne, an exhausted Fulmar was grounded; Tom and I managed to catch it and left it in the capable hands of James Lees for a bit of TLC.
Sunday 11th September
Today we went on an outing to Oxford with the family and couldn't resist a look over Farmoor reservoir. The juvenile White-Winged Black Tern was showing being a new bird for us both and a Little Stint and Dunlin were on the causeway giving stunning views. We had a good look for the Citrine Wagtail in the flock of around 50 Pied and 20 Yellow Wagtail with no luck.
Saturday 10th September
Tom and I headed down to Slimbridge to have a go at the a adult Sabines Gull with no luck unfortunatley. We had 2 Bar-tailed Godwits flying down river with a few Common Tern and had good views of Green Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit from the Robbie Garnet. A young Little Ringed Plover was nice to watch on the rushy and on the way home we poped in to the sailing lake where the Black Tern was still showing well with 5 Common Tern.
Thursday 8th September
A Gannet on the runway at staverton today that was approched by ground staff and flew off low east from the airfield. Also 5 Wheatear at Cleeve common by the gate and at least 50 Meadow Pipit getting up from the heather enclosure.
Saturday 3rd September
A Spotted Flycatcher at our field today with at least 4 Willow Warbler. Also an adult and juvenile Kestrel. 3 Slow worms were under tins.
Thursday 1st September
Not much to report from Dowdeswell but a rarity is surely only a matter of time. It looks good at the moment. A Kingfisher is pretty regular at the moment.
I have put up a few reports including Spurn from this year, our recent Spain holiday and a pelagic from St Ives. They are all in the trip report section and links here: Spurn - May 2011Spain Holiday and Pelagic
Tuesday 30th August
At Cleeve common today there were 2 Wheatear and 2 Redstart seen with around 20 Swallows resting on wires. There seems to be a lot of young Skylarks in the grass which is a great sign. A Yellow Wagtail was heard but not seen.
Young Swallow resting up, before the long journey!
Tuesday 23rd August
Up the common again this lunchtime and scanning the wires of the heather enclosure was a real treat! Redstart followed by Whinchat and Wheatear and then more Redstart. There were at least 5 Redstart on the wires and posts at the same time and seemed to be everywhere along with 2 Whinchat and at least 7 Wheatear with 2 Stonechat also nearby . The biggest surprise was seeing a Badger walking around inside the enclosure. It was rooting up the ground really close to me! Must be starving to be out feeding in broad daylight. We need some rain to soften the ground for them. I heard Yellow Wagtail and then tracked them down and watched two feeding near some sheep down from the enclosure and 2 Raven flew low overhead. Plenty to be seen up there at the moment!
Sunday 21st August
At least 4 Whinchat, 6 Wheatear and a Redstart up the common this afternoon.
Saturday 20th August
I went for a look up the common again this morning and this time took the camera. Still plenty about. At least 7 Wheatear seen with 4 Whinchat and 2 Redstart with all the usuals. This time they were all around the electric fenced area just before the heather enclosure. The birds often perched very close!
Friday 19th August - Birds up the Common.
I went for a walk up at Cleeve common this afternoon and it was great to see some migrants about. Birds everywhere! 
As I pulled up a Meadow Pipit dropped onto wires by the pylons and I headed onto the common in perfect conditions. Behind the small pond I heard the wheet of a Redstart and looked closely to see if I could pick it up. The bird flitted out and flew into a larger area of gorse and although only on it for a second it looked very dark, possibly a Black Redstart. I saw movement in the bushes but it fell silent and I could not get back on to it. I had to press on with limited time a little frustrated but with high hopes! 
On walking towards the heatehr enclosure a Wheatear got up and three Skylarks took to the air with a young bird walking very close by. On scanning the wires of the enclosure a Whinchat was seen with another Wheatear on the next post. It became apparent a fair few birds had come in! I was stood scanning the heather when all of a sudden 7 Whinchats were on the wires all close together in one scope view! Why didn't I have the camera!  At least 4 Wheatear and 2 Stonechat were near by. Linnet were also dropping onto the wires which were covered in birds! I had good views of 2 Common Redstart and 2 Whitethroat were around the fence. The common can be void of birds one day and buzzing the next. Well worth a visit over the weekend. Watching all the Whinchats dropping down and feeding and popping up at close range is magic!
Sunday 14th August
I have had a check of both Dowdeswell reservoir and Cleeve common over the last couple of days. At the reservoir a single Common Sandpiper and a Green Sandpiper are present with 4 Little Grebe on the main reservoir and one on a small pool. Unfortunatley one juvenile was found dead over the dam the day after we returned from holiday. Such a shame.
Up the common its rather quiet with just one Redstart a few Whitethroat seen. Very few migrants at the moment.
Tuesday 2nd - Tuesday 9th August - Back to Puerto de la Duquesa. 
We spent a cracking week on the Costa Del Sol with family, friends and girlfriends and of course fitted in a bit of birding. 
I will write a trip report soon, highlights included Little Bittern, Alpine Swift, Short-toed Eagle, Purple Heron and many more.
Tuesday 26th July
I have been out in Cotswolds a bit recently and again just checking Dowdeswell reservoir with all the usual birds still there. Near where the main road forks and leads towards Naunton one way and Bourton the other there were 4 Yellow Wagtail and at least 3 Corn Bunting. We have seen many Yellow Wagtail (around 15 different birds) near the reservoir by Stowell again. There are also Corn Bunting here and Greg was lucky enough to actually see a Quail! They call very close to the path hear and luckily for Greg it was actaually on the path!  Other than that a Marsh Tit is a regular in the Garden and a Barn Owl has been seen hunting in the field next to ours recently which is great! 
Tuesday 19th July
On Dowdeswell Reservoir the grebe families are still doing very well and a Grey Heron was trying to down a carp. A Grass Snake was under the tin and a Cormorant was on the top pool with 2 on the main reservoir.
Tuesday 12th July
At Dowdeswell reservoir the Little Grebes have fledged with 3 being fed on the top lagoon. There is nothing else new to report here. I then went for a drive up around the cotswolds later in the afternoon and had some great results. I drove around stopping regularly and produced some really good birds walking along the bridleway by the reservoir compound at SP096142 near Stowell, where I had been told was a good spot. Here there were at least 2 singing QUAIL. One was extremely close just a few yards away just into the crop but despite being so close I still did not manage to glimpse the bird. It was good luck for it to be singing so close to the path! As the Quail was singing YellowWagtails were flying around with at least 4 seen but probably more. Also there were at least 3 singing Corn Bunting here. It was really great to see the place so full of birds! A Little Owl was also seen in a nearby tree. These are birds I seem to be seeing less of unfortunatley. Some realy great birding!
Friday 8th July
While at work I had good views of one of the christchurch Peregrines bringing prey back, and later on  there were 8 Grey Herons on Dowdeswell reservoir.
Tuesday 5th July
The site has had some issues recently, being off air for a few days! Thankfully it is all sorted out now. I went for a good walk round Cleeve common yesterday and saw one Juvenile Stonechat with an adult, many Linnet with young seen, at least 20 Yellowhammer, 15 Skylark and 2 Tree Pipit with at least 8 Meadow Pipit displaying.
At Dowdeswell Reservoir today the highlights were a Green Sandpiper and a juvenile Water Rail. The water level is still dropping and the next rarity is surely around the corner. Also seen were the 2 adult and 3 juvenile Great Crested Grebe, 2 adult Little Grebe, 25 Mallard, Coot and Moorhen with young and 3 Tufted Duck. 3 Grey Heron and 2 Cormorant were also seen with one catching a carp.
Monday 27th June
We haven't been doing a lot of birding recently. We have both been down to slimbridge but unfortunatley didn't catch up with either phalaropes! We have been keeping an eye on Dowdeswell and the water level is down again which greatly increases the chance of a quality bird dropping in. There are Great Crested and Little Grebe with young and 2 juvenile Grey Herons are regular. Reed Warbers and Reed Buntings can be heard and seen in and around the reed bed and their was a Common Sandpiper a few days ago.
Wednesday 15th June
Greg and I went back to the forest and had really great views of a singing Firecrest at the Cyril Hart Arboretum. For quite a dull evening the crests were in great voice! We then went to boys grave and had stunning views of the Nightjars and Woodcock. 4 Nightjars were seen and a pair were giving an amazing display around our heads. Such awesome birds! Woodcock were often flying directly over head and two were seen together at one point. We did manage a few photos but internet problems mean we cannot update the site from out computer so no pics.
Sunday 12th June
With the news of 8 Snow Geese at Slimbridge even the awful weather and a hangover didn't put us off going for a look. We saw the birds on the water infront of the ziess hide and then they flew to feed on the dumbles. Really great to see. Hope it turns out they are from the other side of the pond to keep the cynics quiet but either way, well worth a look. Also 2 first winter Mediterranean Gulls on the south lake and stacks of Shelducklings!
Wednesday 1st and Tuesday 7th June - The wonders of the forest!
I have been a bit lazy on the updates recently but I have been doing a bit of birding. Last week I took a work colleague down to the forest of dean to show him some of the star species he had never seen. To start we went to the Yew tree brake area and had good views of two FIRECREST both seen carrying food. Its fantastic that these little gems are breeding here! A real treat. They were doing a curcuit of feeding and returning to the same clump of trees. We also saw Redstarts going into a nest hole, Pied Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, Cuckoo and Tree Pipit around the Woorgreens area. The place was buzzing! We finished the evening at Boys Grave where a male Nightjar gave a great display and did us proud by perching in a tree right infront of us and churring away. What great birds! At least 3 Woodcock were also seen here.
After this success I went with Greg yesterday and we had even better views of the FIRECREST feeding happily a bit lower in the trees. I could watch them for hours! We also had a flock of around 30 Crossbill feeding nearby. They were first detected by the sound of the shredded cones being dropped to the floor. Firecrest one side and Crossbill the other!
Around the cyril hart arboretum we watched a family of Redstarts for a while, with the adults busily feeding 3 young. We then finished of course with the Nightjars. Two males were churring to eachother and we had our best ever views of them both flying around in the light! It is always a buzz hearing and seeing these amazing birds.
Firecrest with a beak full of insects.
Saturday 28th - Sunday 29th May - Weekend at Spurn bird observatory
Despite the unpromising conditions, another cracking couple of days birding. Full report up soon but the highlight undoubtedly was (Greg) picking up a BLACK KITE coming off the north sea and flying directly over our heads. Magic!!
Tuesday 24th May
An evening walk at Coombe Hill was very enjoyable. At least 8 Sedge Warblers were heard with 1 showing very well and a Lesser Whitethroat was also along the canal with numerous Common Whitethroat. From the hide the 2 Eqyptian geese were there with 3 Grey Heron close in to the hide and a single Dunlin was on the scrape. The Lapwings and Shelduck were very vocal with a Fox wandering through and Swifts were giving some amazing flyby displays. Lots of Reed Buntings were seen and a Brown Hare came very close to the hide.
Sunday 22nd May
We went camping in Wales this weekend and despite the shocking weather on saturday night it was good fun. Luckily the tent did not blow away and some decent weather on sunday allowed a bit of birding. 2 Sanderling and 3 Ringed Plover were on the beach with around 15 Manx Shearwater offshore. 2 Rock Pipit were displaying with a Kittiwake close in
Thursday 19th May
We went for an evening scan of Dowdeswell reservoir and saw the Great Crested Grebe family with 3 young and again just one adult Little Grebe. Moorhen and Coot were present along with a few Mallard and 5 young. There are very few birds actually on the water at the moment. Way down on what it has been. I watched the reeds, hearing at least 2 Reed Warbler and seeing a male Reed Bunting with 4 Swallow and 6 Swift over the water. Greg scoured the smaller pool and turned up a female MANDARIN with 2 young. This is the first time we have recorded Mandarin here and they have evidently bred!
Later in the evening Stella and I watched a Swift fly very low overhead and go into a crack in the roof of house on Marle Hill Parade. It was going at such pace and so close you could hear the air rushing over its wings. What cracking birds. There is also a very good population of House Sparrow along the road. All houses should be built with holes and gaps in them!
Wednesday 18th May
This evening we checked the birdboxes up the field and revealed mixed fortunes. Again the open boxes didn't have any success. A Blackbird built a lovely nest in one and then either deserted or got predated which was a real shame. The Tit boxes did well with 11 boxes having successful broods of Great Tit and Blue Tit. Again in 3 there were nests that appeared to have been deserted having laid eggs! One was definatley a woodpecker that had bored out the side. Young Blackcap were seen along with Long tailed Tit and Green Woodpecker. There are at least 3 Robin broods (one tucked under a bucket) with Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush always around. Stock Dove and Kestrel nested in adjacent fields but not ours and the Little Owls also seemed to have moved to the next field. Unfortunatley Squirells took over two of the big boxes. All in all a good year with more birds than ever being seen on a walk around with Kestrels hunting over the field regularly now.
Young Blue Tits very close to leaving the nest! 8 I think
Tuesday 17th May - Christchurch Peregrines
Today I went with Dave Pearce to see the superb PEREGRINES that have made Christchurch their home. It was brilliant to see them so close up. The female was sat on her 3 chicks with one egg left. It is unlikely now that this egg will hatch, lets hope the 3 chicks thrive! There was not much action while we were there as the male left the church and did not return. That just means I will have to go back! Thanks Dave for letting me go up. Very impressive indeed! 1st photo below by Dave and the second by Terry Fenton from a couple of days ago.
The female briefly showing us her chicks
Friday 13th May - A nice surprise
I just did a spot of patch birding around Dowdeswell reservoir and Lineover this evening and had a nice surprise.  From the lineover wood side I picked up a raptor heading directly overhead and thought it looked strage. Initailly flying very purposefully it started to cirlce and I got the scope on it to reveal it was a female MARSH HARRIER! It was very dark below as it flew over with a distinctly long tail and through the scope when circling the cream head could be clearly seen before it drifted away as quickly as it appeared! Just shows anything can show up. This bird was passing across woodland and then circling high over sheep fields. On the reservoir was a pair of Tufted Duck, 4 Coot, 2 Moorhen, 2 Swift, a single Little Grebe with the 2 adult and 3 very young Great Crested Grebe. 
Tuesday 10th May
I went to Slimbridge this morning and saw the colour ringed Wood Sandpiper on the south lake. Also here was Garganey, a Common Tern and Oystercatcher with young. A Little Ringed Plover was from the holden tower and 2 Lesser Whitethroat were along the path. A Little Egret and a Reed Warbler showed well from the Martin Smith hide.
I headed for fretherne for high tide but it was a bit of a non event. Despite the stong wind the tide was not high enough to push birds in close and nothing other than a few Swallows moved through. All that was seen was a group of Curlew with what I think was a Grey Plover but they were always distant. A Wheatear was seen and a Kestrel was hunting nearby. A quick look at the sailing lake produced a flock of around 40 Sand Martin.
On the local front the Great Crested Grebe have 2 chicks on Dowdeswell reservoir and a look up at Cleeve Common was productive with 2 Stonechat, 4 Whitethroat, singing Yellowhammer and Linnet and a Yellow Wagtail went over quite low. My first up the common.
Monday 9th May
After getting thrashed at football we went for a walk around Bentham Landfill. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling in the same spot as before and 2 Cuckoo were showing very well nearby. One was flushed from the ground and then came back to the same spot twice. Maybe checking out a nest to lay in. 4 Linnet were also noted.
Sunday 8th May
No sign of the Dotterel at dusk this evening.
Saturday 7th May
I had my first screaming Swifts of the year around buildings at work seeing 4 birds and then I went to savour the DOTTEREL again watching it feeding just a few yards away. Now into its 4th day and no need to digiscope this time. Runners were almost tripping over it running directly along the pipeline. 
Friday 6th May
I went to the river straight from work but didn't time it too well with the tides. On court lake were a pair of Mandarin, with a Common Sandpiper, 2 Common Tern, 2 Black tailed Godwit and a Kingfisher on the sailing lake.
On the river with the tide out there were a few Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Ringed Plover, a Dunlin and  5 Whimbrel.
I went to check on the Dotterel but the storm hit and I had a very quick distant scan not seeing the bird. It may still be there though.
 Greg on digiscoping duties
DOTTEREL UPDATE - Still showing very well this evening.  
Despite seeing negative news today about the bird I had to have a check this evening. The little beauty was still feeding happily just the other side of the recently laid pipeline. It can sit very low and still in amongst the stones. I sat still and the bird ran to within 10 feet! Magic!
Thursday 5th May
The DOTTEREL still present this morning at Cleeve Common. Showing very well as the sun broke through the clouds. Favouring the area near the recently laid pipeline.
An absolute stunner
Wednesday 4th May - It's great when a plan pays off
A visit to Cleeve common this evening produced a cracking DOTTEREL. I had them in mind on the drive up (as I have many times) but never expected to find one feeding away not far from the pylons!
Walking across towards the heather enclosure I thought I would thoroughly scan all the short grass I could see and head up towards the golf course for a change. After around 10 minutes and just a few Rooks I hit the jackpot. A stunning Dotterel! (male i think). It was first picked up at some distance stood still quite low to the ground. Hurrying to get the scope off my back I stopped myslelf getting exited thinking maybe a Mistle Thrush, but it was to be my lucky day. Two runners didn't stop the bird feeding as they ran right past it and i'm really pleased a lot of the regulars managed to get onto the bird. I will be up there again before work to see if it stays the night. What a bird.
The view that clinched it- A great feeling after many many hours up the hill
Friday 29th - Tuesday 3rd May- Away up north.
Fantastic long weekend away in the lake district and north pennines. Full report to follow with photos. Highlights being lekking Black Grouse, Goshawk, Red Grouse, Merlin and Short Eared Owl.
Friday 22nd April - Monday 25th - Away in Wales
A brilliant Easter weekend away camping in the Brecon beacons produced some stunning birds. The weather was perfect and the area was buzzing with birds all ready to breed. Redstarts were singing from almost every tree it seemed! They could be heard all day long and at one time a scan of the tops of the trees produced 4 singing males.
Singing male Redstart
A cracking male Pied Flycatcher was found constantly coming down to investigate a hole near the house and it was great to spend time watching the bird defending its hole at one stage chasing away a Redstart and another rival male bird. A female was also seen briefly further up the valley. 
male Pied Flycatcher
A walk to Pen-y-fan produced singing Tree Pipit, 6-8 Wheatear, many Ravens and single Red Kite. At a nearby Waterfall a Dipper was feeding and 6 Green Hairstreaks were around a hawthorn with a Skylark showing very well in the grass.
Green Hairstreak
There really were birds everywhere with Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Pied Wagtail and Swallow all seen well around the cottage, with a Cuckoo heard every morning. It is the first time I have been when the migrants have returned and it was brilliant to see the area so alive! Cracking birds, great company, plenty of drinking and a win for united. Great stuff.
Greg came for the last night but before that had been in Tenby. At a campsite he had at least 5 reeling Grasshopper Warbler with Sedge and Cetti's Warbler. Sea watching produced Razorbill, Guillemot, Kittiwake and a Puffin with Manx Shearwater and a single Chough also seen.
Wednesday 20th April
Greg went this morning down to Witcombe and the 20 Waxwing were still feeding in the orchard on the right, before you get to the church. Heading on to Bentham Landfill 2 Grasshopper Warbler were reeling with one showing very well. Also seen nearby was a Wheatear.
Reeling Grasshopper Warbler - Pic by Greg
A video of the bird reeling can be seen below. An amazing sound! A second can be heard faintly in the background responding.
Click the link to see the video:   Reeling Grasshopper Warbler
A walk up at Cleeve Common produced a single Wheatear, with at least 10 singing Willow Warbler and 2 Chiffchaff. At least 6 Green Hairstreak were also seen around a hawthorn on the valley of the wash pool.
Tuesday 19th April - Super Spring Waxwing!
You don't associate spring birding with watching WAXWING but that was what this morning was all about. An early morning visit to Witcombe was well worth it as the birds were feeding again in the Mistletoe tree by the church. 20 of these stunning birds were counted and they came down to drink regularly from a nearby puddle. Magic!
On the reservior were 2 Common Sandpiper, at least 6 Great Crested Grebe and a Little Grebe
I decided to go to Bentham Landfill to try and get on the Grasshopper Warbler and along with Terry Fenton we saw 2 birds which showed well at times in brambles and long grass. 1 bird was creeping along the ground flicking its wings in display. I have never seen this before. Hopefully they breed here! Also seen were at least 10 Whitethroat, 2 Reed Bunting 2 Wheatear, a Skylark, a Green Woodpecker and a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker. As we were leaving I heard my first Cuckoo of the year.
In the evening I went with Greg to Cleeve Common and he picked up a single male RING OUZEL on top of a bush near the washpool. We watched Gregs first Ouzel of the year until the bird was flushed by dog walkers. Also seen was a Wheatear and 2 Kestrel.
All in all some cracking spring birding!
Monday 18th April
A reeling Grasshopper Warbler at Bentham Landfill this evening but there was no time to locate the bird.
Thursday 14th April
A walk around Cleeve Common this evening produced 5 Ring Ouzel near the washpool. They were feeding in the field behind the fenced off wall. 4 birds got up and circled overhead before heading towards the heather enclosure and 1 female stayed and showed very well sat in a tree in the fading light.
Ouzel on the horizon
Tuesday 12th April
Today I went down to Slimbridge for a look around and saw some great birds. From the Ziess hide the Spotted Redshank was coming into summer plumage and a Knot was also seen with the large flock of Black-Tailed Godwit. As I went into the Robbie Garnett it was very quiet but luckily the Garganey was just around the corner showing extremely close to the Stephen Kirk hide. So close you could hear it dabbling! Also here was a Wigeon and 2 Gadwall and From the Holden tower 2 White Wagtail were at the edge of the scrape. On the way back I had another look at the stunning Garganey and from the Martin Smith hide there was a cracking Little Egret showing the pink lores of breeding plumage and my first Green Sandpiper of the year showed well. I had a scan over the sailing lake and court lake before going home but there was nothing out of the ordinary. A flock of around 150 Sand Martin came in to feed on the thousands of midges which were great to see and many Blackcaps were heard in the bushes
Thursday 7th April
A brief look at Cleeve Common produced my first Common Whitethroat of the year along with 5 Wheatear and at least 4 singing Willow Warbler and 6 singing Chiffchaff. 2 Swallow flew low over and 2 Skylark were seen well. There were 2 more Wheatear on bare mud along the approach road.
Tuesday 5th April- Another arrival
Another trip to Cleeve common this morning and again this evening but no Ring Ouzel this time. It was very windy which didn't help. I did however find a cracking male Redstart feeding around the bushes just up the valley from the washpool. It gave some great views and sang briefly. Also seen were 3 Wheatear near the cow field with lots of Meadow Pipit and 6 Skylarks. 2 Brambling were also seen feeding by the side of the approach road.
Also Greg found a Slow-Worm at the field today
Monday 4th April - The Ring Ouzel arrive
This morning up at Cleeve Common I was pleased to find 5 RING OUZEL. 4 males and a female. The birds were first seen in a bush above the washpool and then moved towards the heather enclosure. They were all feeding together around the gorse bushes showing very well. Getting close to them was difficult as they are very flighty birds but once they started to feed they allowed brilliant scoped views. Using the gorse bushes as cover I managed to creep close enough for a few photos of these cracking birds. I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers increase over the coming days. Lets hope so!
A selection of Ring Ouzel Photos below
Sunday 3rd April
We decided to go for the FERRUGINOUS DUCK today over at Lydiard Park near Swindon as neither of us had ever had seen one before. As we turned up the bird wasn't on the main lake but thankfully had just moved onto the smaller pool. It showed ridiculously well with a few Tufted Duck. A cracking looking Duck! There were Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe on a very fertile lake!
Drake Ferruginous Duck
Later up our field there was a Singing Willow Warbler with 6 Chiffchaff and a singing Blackcap.
Saturday 2nd April
An evening look at Coombe Hill produced 2 Little Ringed Plover with a single Ringed Plover also there with the 2 Egyptian Geese and 2 Little Egret. On the way home I had my first 2 Swallow of the year on wires.
Friday 1st April
Tom and I went to pit 114 this afternoon to see the LONG-TAILED DUCK, it showed well at times but was a always a little distant, what a great bird though.  
Distant record shot of the Long-tailed Duck
Wednesday 30th March
No sign of any Ring Ouzel up the hill this morning but a dog walker said she saw a male near Wontley farm on Saturday. A Wheatear was showing well very close to the car park and the 2 Stonechat were in their usual area.
Tuesday 29th March
An early morning visit to Cleeve common produced a single Wheatear, 2 Raven, 2 Stonechat and 39 Golden Plover. There was no sign of the Black Redstart.
Monday 28th March
This evening I went up to Cleeve Common. It was a beautiful evening and not a breath of wind!!! I was pleased to find the Black Redstart was still around. It was halfway between the pylons and the gate leading to west down car park and showed well. It did move a bit further down the hedgerow in the adjacent field but was still feeding when I left. Also seen around that area were 6 Wheatear. They were on the walls and then all started feeding in the field near the Black Redstart. The males really are stunning birds! Around 25 Meadow Pipit were also feeding and a flock of around 30 Fieldfare flew over.
Black Redstart
Friday 25th - Sunday 27th March - Family trip to Norfolk
We had a cracking trip to the North Norfolk coast with some great birds seen. I will write a full trip report soon. Highlights included thousands of Geese, Marsh Harriers, Snow Bunting, Black Redstart, Water Pipit, Bearded Tit and many more!
Friday 25th March
Before leaving for Folfolk a Willow Warbler was singing and and feeding up our field. My first of the spring. 
Wednesday 23rd March
We went early this morning to have a look over the sailing lake for the possible Ferruginous Duck but after a good scan couldn't see it. There were 8 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Pochard and around 30 Tufted Duck. Over on court lake there were 2 Mandarin and 6 Gadwall with around 20 Mute Swan.
After work I had a look again at Coombe Hill where 2 Little Ringed Plover were seen along with similar birds as yesterday. The 2 Egyptian Geese were displaying close infront of the hide.
Tuesday 22nd March
At Coombe Hill today, at least 3 Chiffchaff were along the canal with 4 Bullfinch and a Reed Bunting. From the hide there were around 12 Curlew with one colour ringed bird. The Shelduck and Oystercatcher were very vocal and 2 Little Egret and 4 Grey Heron were seen along with a single Redshank. The 2 Egyptian Geese that have been seen recently were also grazing to the left of the hide.
Egyptian Geese
Saturday 19th March
Today we went to try and see the Black Necked Grebe that was seen yesterday in Bourton-on-the-water but unfortunatley the bird must have moved on. We did see 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Goosander, 8 Red Crested Pochard and an Aythya Hybrid maybe a Scaup x Tufted Duck.
Saturday 12th - Sunday 13th March - A spot of birding in Devon.
This weekend I was away in Devon with Stella, staying at a lovely B&B in Brixham. On Saturday we drove the short ditance to Berry head and spent a few hours here walking along the cliffs looking for wildlife. A Peregrine showed very well sat on the cliff edge and it was great to watch all the Guillemot sorting out thei nesting positions on the cliffs. 
Peregrine Falcon
Scanning out to see only produced a few Shag and rafts of Guillemot but a Harbour Porpoiseclose to the head was great to see. Fulmars were always giving a great display and many were paired up with 2 Rock Pipit also noted. I heard my first Chiffchaff of the year and near the car park 5 Cirl Bunting were showing well.
Showy Cirl Bunting
In the afternoon we had a walk around the harbour where many Turnstone were feeding around the boats and off the breakwater 2 Purple Sandpiper were feeding with them. Hundreds of gulls were seen following in a fishing boat with a Gannet joining them. The day was topped of by watching United seeing off Arsenal in the FA cup.
Purple Sandpiper
On Sunday after a cracking full English we headed along the coast stopping at various points. First up was broadsands and whilst walking along the coastal path I picked up a female Black Redstart flitting around on the rocks. It was constantly on the move but did stay still long enough for good scoped views. As we were watching the bird we were both surprised when another Harbour Porpoise surfaced just meters off shore! You just never know whats going to show up! It was again quiet on the sea with just a single Great Crested Grebe seen and after failing to see the Firecrest that had been seen around the car park we headed on our way.
We continued along the scenic coastal road stopping regularly to get some stunning views across the bay. We called in to Dawlish warren for a bit and were instantly on the second Black Redstart of the day near the visitor centre. This time a cracking male! It was very busy with the great weather, and with motor boats on the sea there was very little close in. I did pick up 2 Velvet Scoter with what I think was the female Surf Scoter close to them but they were at quite a range. A single Eider and 6 Red-breasted Merganser were a bit closer in. After a short walk we returned to the car noting 2 Stonechat and our 3rd Black Redstart of the day, with the female seen sat on the fence.
Male Black Redstart
We decide to head to Topsham to get some food and on the way I had a quick look over the railway line at cockwood. This is a great place to view the estuary, requiring no walking and often producing the goods. There were loads of birds to look at in a loveley scene. Bar-tailed Godwits, loads of Oystercatcher, Dunlin, RedshankCurlew and two Little Egret were all busy feeding close by.  I scanned the water and with the many Red-breasted Merganser a female Goldeneye was seen and shortly after I found the long staying Long-tailed Duck feeding near the wreck. It was great to find this bird in such a short space of time and it showed fairly close in. A flock of around 30 Brent Geese were also seen flying towards the golf course.
Immature male Long-tailed Duck
We headed to Topsham before hitting the M5 and saw the female Smew from the hide and watched the Avocet on the river. We finished the weekend eating fish and chips to the sound of the Curlew as the sun went down. A great weekend!
 Thursday 10th March - Superb Shrike!
This afternoon I went to see the GREAT GREY SHRIKE that has been seen near Charlton Abbots and the bird didn't disappoint. I had to wait a little while and then located the bird just up the hill past Waterhatch farm. I watched the bird for around 2.5 hours as it fed around the setaside field. It spent some time on the fence line across the field, where it sat on the piles of brash and at one point was perched in one of the oak trees. Luckily for me it spent most time in the hawthorns lining the path working its way up and down giving some stunning views. It was great to watch the birds behaviour and it hovered far more than I expected often for quite some time. I watched it catch and eat 3 Bumblebees and 2 others were impailed on the hawthorn to save for another time. With a bit of sun over the last couple of days these bees must have just come out! 
I left when 2 dogs flushed the bird and it flew high heading over towards the otherside of the farm. Once the bird had left I checked the bushes finding 4 Bumblebees spiked on the Hawthorns with one still moving! What a great bird and a privilege to watch it going about its business.
Tuesday 8th March - Stunning Brambling
There has been around 10 Brambling with other finches in the field behind the house so i put a feeder over there in the hope of getting some decent views and photos. They are feeding very confidently now.
Sunday 6th March
Up the field 2 Stock Dove were seen well and the female Kestrel was seen hunting over the rough ground. A Marsh Tit was noted with 2 Green Woodpecker also feeding. A nice Great Spotted Woodpecker visited the fat cake in the garden and in the field behind the house there are still at least 8 Brambling. I put up a feeder and one male that came down was almost in complete breeding plumage. Stunning finches!
Friday 4th March - Back to see the the dove from above!
This morning I was up early and went back to Chipping Norton to try and get some better views of the Rufous Turtle Dove. Now that he crowds have died down it was a far more enjoyable experience. There were only around 20 people there and 6-7 of us watched the dove for around 45 minutes in the garden. It was feeeding on the raised beds and came to the table. We were able to set up scopes and get stunning views of the bird.It was brilliant to see the bird so close up! I managed a few decent digiscoped photos. Lots of other birds in the garden with Brambling, Bullfinch, a Reed Bunting and good numbers of Greenfinch. A Peregrine was also seen sat on the large chimney.Many thanks to Steve for welcoming us into his home. A short video of the bird feeding on the table can be seen here:
On the way home it was nice to see 5 different hovering Kestrel, with a flock of around 175 Linnet, 30 Yellowhammer, 20 Chaffinch and 3 Brambling feeding on the road side near Hawling.
Thursday 3rd March
At Slimbridge today i caught up with the Spoonbill that is touring the reserve. This shot was taken from the lathbury hide but it is very mobile
From the kingfisher hide there was a lovely flock of 12 Ruff with 2 Dunlin, a Redshank and 2 Snipe. The ruff were showing very cose to the hide and it was really noticeable the difference in size between male and females and their leg colour was also stickingly different with some bright orange and others very dull. A Stock dove was also seen in a tree nearby.
On the Tack piece the Lesser Scaup was still present and also seen was the female Greater Scaup. Cracking birding once again.
2 Siskin were also feeding in the garden early morning before being flushed by a male Sparrowhawk.
Wednesday 2nd March
On the way to schools in Tewkesbury I had a scan at Bredons Hardwick. There was a redhead Goosander and an Oystercatcher aswell as 15 Cormorant and 2 Great Crested Grebe. No sign of the juvenile Whooper Swan I saw a few weeks ago though. There was also 12 Stock Dove together in a tree top near the lake.
Saturday 26th February
We headed to Slimbridge today and had stunning views of the Lesser Scaup and Greater Scaup from the Robbie Garnett hide. It was a fantastic scene with so many birds on show and so close! The White-fronted Geese were grazing in the field with Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank also noted.
One of the male Scaup was always very close to the Lesser Scaup and was chasing her around the pool at one stage. They really seemed to have paired up. It was great to appreciate not only the more unusual ducks but also to be so close to the Wigeon, Pochard, Shoveler and Tuffties. It's amazing how many birds these fields support!
Walking to the south lake the Pink-footed Goose was with the Greylags near the path and 2 Meditteranean Gulls were picked out. It would be great if they did breed this year.
We finished by watching the Scaup again before heading for home.
All in all a top day. Great birding, great win for united and England did the French!
The look of love! One of the drake Scaup wouldn't let the Lesser out of its sight
his Bewick's swan will soon be taking the long journey home to Russia!
Friday 25th February
Up the field today were 2 Green Woodpeckers, 2 Stock Dove and 2 Nuthatch showed very well with one coming to the nut holder. More boxes have been put up ready for the breeding season! 
Wednesday 23rd February - A birthday present in the garden
It was a nice surprise today to see a MEALY REDPOLL in the garden again was with 6 Lesser Redpoll. A Mealy was seen at the end of the year but we have just had lessers in since then. When seen side by side the Mealy really does stand out. Also seen was a cracking male Brambling and 2 Bullfinch.
Mealy Redpoll
Monday 21st February
In the garden today was a lovely fluffy Lesser Redpoll at the bird bath and a pair of Bullfinch were on the sunflowers. We have never Bullfinch visiting the feeders before. Great birds.
Saturday 19th February
Whilst visiting friends in London i had the chance for a walk around Tooting Common. I saw a few small flocks of Ring necked Parakeet flying over and watched 2 preening eachother in a tree and going into a nest hole. On the lake were around 8 Tufted Duck with 2 Egyptian Geese and many Coot and Moorhen. The football pitches were covered in Black Headed Gull with a few Common Gull and 2 SongThrush, 12 Chaffinch and a Goldcrest were also seen.
Thursday 17th February - Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove
Today i went back to Chipping Norton for the dove. When I arrived the news was that the bird had been seen behind 41 again but had been missing for around an hour. I  started walking around looking in all the trees and after an hour or so i found myself scanning through the large row of trees the other side of the field from infront of number 50. My scope passed over Woodpigeon, Woodpigeon and more Woodpigeon and then bingo! There it was, a Rufous Turtle Dove preening happily high in the tree. After making sure it was definatley it I shouted to the others up the road. Soon everyone there was on the bird. It was a great feeling and the bird sat there for around 25 minutes preening and stretching before flying. The bird was relocated shortly after just a few trees along and we watched it again from Lord's Piece Road. This road gets you a bit closer. A guy came out and was saying how the bird had been down on seed in his garden earlier in the day. The Dove was with a flock of around 15 Woodpigeon and they all flew off back towards the leys at around 1.30.
The view i got when my scope landed on the bird.
On the way home, I went through Hawling. Around the triangle there was a huge flock of finches with at least 15 Corn Bunting, lots of Yellowhammer, Chaffinch and a single Brambling was seen. On the way home a flock of 30 Linnet were feeding and a Peregrine flew low across a field and landed, giving good views.
Corn Bunting
Monday 14th February
An early walk around Cox's meadow today didn't produce any drumming Woodpeckers as hoped but there was a lovely flock of around 25 Siskin in the alders. I spent some time watching them and checking through the many other tits and finches. A Reed Bunting was also seen in the bull rushes. Up the field there were 6 Bullfinches and the Kestrel was seen again, perched quite near the Box
Sunday 13th February
It was awful weather today but Greg and I decided to go down to Slimbridge anyway for a look around. The two Greater Scaup were on show on the rushy and along the tack piece it was a great sight with hundreds of birds to be seen. Ruff, Redshank and Dunlin were seen with Golden Plover, Curlew and Lapwing. It was quite a spectacle when a Peregrine drifted overhead putting them all up. A female Brambling was seen under the feeders along with a Reed Bunting. On the way home we had a look over court lake to see if the Lesser Scaup was there but there were very few birds. The rain was still coming down so we headed for home.
Tuesday 8th February
I had the chance for a quick look at Coobme Hill today and saw 12 Teal, 2 Snipe, a single Curlewand 4 Shelduck. A smart Peregrine drifted low infront of the hide after being mobbed by a Grey Heron. In the garden there was a female Brambling and the first Marsh Tit for a long time.
Saturday 5th February
While sorting out the birdboxes up the field we flushed a Woodcock today.
Thursday 3rd February
I had a drive up to Cleeve Hill early and on the approach road to Westdown there were at least 300 Linnet with around 30 Brambling in with them along with a few Chaffinch and Yellowhammer. Also seen was a singing Nuthatch and around 6 Grey Partridge.
In the evening i had a look over Bentham Landfill site and saw 10 Common Snipe with 2 Jack Snipe. No matter how slowly you walk looking just infront of you they always flush from under your feet! There were also 3 Green Woodpecker here. There are still plenty of Lesser Redpoll in the garden.
Wednesday 2nd February
I haven't been able to do much birding at all recently but still good numbers of Lesser Redpoll in the garden today with 3 Blackcap still. 
Monday 24th January
There were 2 female Brambling in the garden today with a crcking male coming in last week. Still around 8-10 Lesser Redpoll and 3 Blackcap.
Tuesday 18th January
On Dowdeswell Reservoir 2 Redhead Goosander. They have been there for a few days now. Very little else just a Tufted Duck and a few Mallard. 2 Dipper again seen behind the Cheltenham Park Hotel, one sat for a long period of time on the stones before the waterfall and was singing. This is viewable from the car park just look right directly behind the function room. A walk around pittville lakes produced 15 Tufted Duck with a Sparrowhawk displaying.
Wednesday 12th January
Jack spotted 2 Dipper whilst at work yesterday on the river behind the Cheltenham park hotel. We went back today in the awful weather and had excellent views of one bird feeding in the rapids. They really are great birds to watch. There appears to be lots of suitable spots for nesting so i will be keeping my eye on them over the coming months. A quick look at the reservoir produced just 2 Tufted Duck and 12 Mallard but a flock of around 80-100 Greenfinch was good to see.
Tuesday 11th January
This afternoon Stella and I went to the Cotswold Water Park. On pit 30 we saw 7 Smew (2male) and 5 Goosander (2 male). They were a little distant but it was a great scene with them all together at one point. Other birds seen were Little EgretGoldeneye and Wigeon grazing. 
Monday 10th January
Again the garden full of Lesser Redpoll. 14 counted this morning along with the 3 Blackcap(2m,1f). Many of the Redpoll appear to rest in the bushes in the middle of the field behind the house. There are lots of birds in this small area and on closer inspection revealed 4 Brambling (2m,2f) with around 10 Chaffinch, 6 Greenfinch, 4 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Reed Bunting and 1 Siskin which landed briefly before flying off. Im hoping the Brambling will follow the Redpoll and feed in the garden regularly.
Male Brambling
Wednesday 5th January
Loads of birds in the garden today. I counted 25 Lesser Redpoll in at the same time. On every feeder, the table on the floor and in the tree. They are everywhere! Unfortunatley no sign of the Mealy though. There were maximum counts of 8 Goldfinch, 6 Chaffinch, 10 Blue Tit and 3 Blackcap in.
Tuesday 4th January
The MEALY REDPOLL again this morning briefly on the feeders now with 20 Lesser Redpoll! Also a female Brambling,6 Goldfinch, 3 Greenfinch and 8 Chaffinch. It seems the more Nijer feeders you put up the more Redpoll you get!
Stella and I then went to Slimbridge and after initially struggling looking through the birds on the big pen the LESSER SCAUP showed extremely well right infront of the Peng Observatory. It was first asleep then fed for a while flew off and then returned just as I was about to leave.
Lesser Scaup
Also seen were the two Greater Scaup also out on the rushy.
The two Greater Scaup
The carpet of Wigeon is very impessive and a Snipe was also seen well.
Sunday 2nd January 2011
Today I recieved the news that the rarities committees, after analysing the photos, are happy that it was indeed a MEALY REDPOLL that was in the garden! It returned on the 31st seen by Greg but was not seen on new years day. The maximu count for Lesser Redpoll is now up to 9.We will be keeping a close eye on the feeders! Thanks to Mike King "The Gloster Birder" for helping to confirm the identification. Lets hope it stays around!
Greg also went to Slimbridge for a brief visit, the highlight being the showy pair of Greater Scaup on the rushy.
1st Winter male Scaup
Saturday 1st January
Happy New Year!
Lets hope 2011 brings lots of great birds and wildlife!