Sightings 2013

Sunday 28th April

We went down to Frampton for a picnic today and on the sailing lake there were still a minimum of 48 Arctic Terns. Quite a sight to see so many, dipping and swooping over the lake. 4 Swift were also high up  overhead.

A look over the river and we saw 4 Whimbrel and a few waders were close in with around 20 Dunlin and 20 Ringed Plover seen.

Friday 26th April

Greg went to the common and had – 5 Wheatear, 2 female Redstart, 2 Whitethroat, 6 Willow Warbler and 1 Chiffchaff.
A Slow Worm and a Whitethroat were up the field and 10 Redpoll are still around the feeders.

Thursday 25th April – A pair of Firecrest nest building!

I returned today to see the Firecrest and noticed it began to collect feathers, taking them to the same spot on an ivy covered pine trunk. Two were soon confirmed and I had more great views. They saw off a Chiffchaff that came to close and often fed high in the canopy.

Wednesday 24th April - FIRECREST

After work today I went for a walk around Hiltingbury lakes again. After 3 Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler I heard a more exiting sound as a FIRECREST was singing nearby. I soon located the bird and watched it feeding at eye level for a while before it moved higher into the trees constantly singing. They really are stunning little birds. The place was full of bird song and has real potential for attracting migrants.

Tuesday 23rd April

Before work I had a look over Alresford pond. I watched for 45 minutes and the highlight was noting my first Swift of the year. Also seen was a Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher, 2 Great-black backed Gulls and a single Shoveler.
On the lunchtime walk one of the Little Owls saw off a Stoat.

A Reed Warbler was calling in the reeds. On the drive home I looked over the cress beds seeing 2 Green Sandpiper and a very close Barn Owl flyby near a box.

Sunday 21st April

I had a look over Witcombe Reservoir but there were no Terns and nothing of note was seen. At Dowdeswell around 30 Swallows were resting up on the causeway.

Update from the week - Some sightings will now be from Hampshire and around the Naturetrek office near Cheriton and others will back around Glos at the weekend.

Saturday 20th April

It was quite quiet up the common in a brief look. 4 Wheatear were in approach road fields with 1 on the common. 2 Whitethroat were in brambles.

Thursday 18th April

The Whinchat still, before work but not at lunchtime. A Whitethroat was around a nearby cress bed along with 3 Willow Warbler 2 Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap.

Wednesday 17th April

The male Whinchat still on the lunchtime walk at work today and also a male Wheatear.

Tuesday 16th April

On the lunchtime walk today we found a superb male Whinchat in exactly the same spot as the Redstart! A real cracker. There were more Willow Warbler around and after work I had my first Whitethroat of the year in brambles. 3 Green Sandpipers were at the Alresford cress beds and a Kingfisher next to the road by Alresford lake.

Greg had a Tern Species (Common or Arctic)  migrating north in the middle of the Cotswolds near Cold Aston! It was most likely an Arctic with the numbers passing through at the moment.

Monday 15th April - Redstarts

On the lunchtime walk today I found a male Redstart working along a fence line and Greg also found a nice male behind the auction house in Leckhampton! Great birds.

Saturday 13th April

Up at the common it was rather quiet today in poor conditions. On the approach there were at least 2 Brambling with Chaffinch and a few Linnet. One was a cracking male in almost full breeding plumage. In the fields were 150 Fieldfare, 2 Mistle Thrush, 1 Redwing and 6 Starling.

On the common there was 2 Chiffchaff and 11 Golden Plover in fields with 18-20 Skylark seen singing. No other migrants were seen

Up the field was a single Swallow going through and a low flying Raven.

Later at Dowdeswell Reservoir was a Common Sandpiper, our first of the spring along with 2 Willow Warbler busily feeding around the reeds. 5 Tufted Duck and 3 Mallard were the only wildfowl with 5 Coot and 2 Moorhen seen. 6 Swallow went through.

Friday 12 April

A bit of passage at lunch today with Swallows, Sand Martin and House Martin heading north. On the way home I saw a Barn Owl fly low across the A34 and narrowly missed being hit by a lorry.

Thursday 11th April

My first House Martin of the year today

Wednesday 10th April

A very nice surprise today in the form of 2 Yellow Wagtail. They were just past Tichborne on the way into work feeding on some muck and then flying into a horse paddock. Later around 150 Redwing were gathered and chattering. A pre migratory habit it seems?

Tuesday 9th April

A visit to the cress beds again after work produced: 20+ Meadow Pipit, 8-10 Pied Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail and a Little Egret. Two Swallow went over.

On the drive home I stopped off a few times seeing 2 Little Egret a pair of Gadwall and 3 pairs of Lapwing displaying. There were 6 Hare and a flock of around 20 Greenfinch. On another small cress bed on the way home was another Green Sandpiper and Little Egret.

Sunday 7th April

This morning up the common there was a single male RING OUZEL with around 40 Fieldfare a few Redwing and 2 Mistle Thrush. A Green Woodpecker was also feeding in amongst them.
Later there were 4 Wheatear seen a single Golden Plover and far more Linnet with around 40 seen in small flocks. Many Fieldfare were on the common and a Badger was out again foraging.

Saturday 6th April

A good long walk around Cleeve Common produced 2 RING OUZEL feeding with Fieldfare. I watched them feeding on worms for a long time. They were always very close to some remaining snow where it was wet and more worms! They were occasionally scrapping with the Fieldfare and each other for them! Great birds. Also seen were 2 Wheatear a single Swallow going north and a Red Kite.

A real surprise was a Woodcock which I saw very briefly when a dog flushed it. I have never seen Woodcock on the common before. Two Badgers were also turning over cow pats. This is the third time I have seen Badgers feeding like this here in broad daylight! A cracking walk in glorious sunshine! That has to be the biggest surprise.

Near the house and up the field there are Redwing that seem very tame at the moment.

Tuesday 2nd April

After work I checked out cress beds near Alresford where a Water Pipit has wintered and had really great views. It is starting to come into its fine summer plumage. Also here were 6 Green Sandpiper.

Sunday 31st March

There hasn't been much time for birding the patch recently as I am now working for Naturetrek which  is based near Winchester. There are some great birds around the office including Barn Owls and Kingfisher and  I did manage a bit of birding around the Key haven area. Here I saw my first Wheatear of the year, around 15 Mediterranean Gulls and a very showy Spotted Redshank among many others waders. 

This weekend has been spent in the stunning Brecon Beacons but with the freezing conditions there were few birds around. A pair of Dipper and close up Ravens were nice but no migrants. The first Easter I've not managed Wheatear here.

Wednesday 20th March

A flock of around 80 Linnet along the gallops on Cleeve Common with a single Brambling in with them. Later over fields near Charlton Abbots were 2 Barn Owl and I watched one catch two voles before resting up. Great birds.

One full Barn Owl

Tuesday 19th March

Around 200 Chaffinch, 25-30 Brambling, 40 - 50 Yellowhammer and 30-40 Skylark getting down on a stubble field on the approach road to Cleeve Common today

Monday 18th March - The Somerset Levels with Mum and Dad

We decided on Ham wall first and were soon watching a Kingfisher sat over a channel and arriving by the first area of reeds it was really buzzing in the Spring sun. The pinging of Bearded Tit was instantly heard with Cetti’s warbler seen, Bitterns booming and Water Rail squealing. I managed to glimpse a female beardie low in the reeds but it soon worked further away.

We continued on and from the second platform there was a Great White Egret and a selection of wildfowl including Teal, Wigeon, many Shoveler and a few Pintail. I had a good scan for the Pied-billed Grebe but only saw 3 Little Grebe and a single Great crested. A Bittern gave a great flyby here and Snipe could be seen in the shorter areas of reed.

We continued on for a while before turning back and I waited out until eventually the Pied-billed Grebe showed itself. All of a sudden it just appeared in front of the platform. I had been hearing a funny call I could not put my finger on whilst waiting and when the grebe came out it revealed itself as the culprit. It was a very loud call almost like a crane and matched an alarm call described online. It was doing this call over and over and sounded very un grebe like.


There was also a female Scaup here with some Tufted Duck.
It caught a good sized fish, struggled to get it down and then headed back into the reeds. A pair of Marsh Harriers were also seen here and I heard my first Chiffchaff of the year.

Before heading for home we had a walk on the Shapwick side and 3 Great White Egrets were on the shallow pool with 6 Back-tailed Godwit. A really bird filled few hours in a fantastic habitat.

Sunday 17th March

A Woodcock was flushed up the field this afternoon and Brambling are still coming to the garden feeders.

Saturday 9th March

A surprise today with the news of two KITTIWAKE on Pittville Park. The new hotspot of Cheltenham it seems! When we arrived there was one adult bird sat on the water with Black-headed Gulls and it flew close by us at times.

Sunday 3rd March

Two Brambling were in the garden today with 2 Redpoll and Siskin and up the field there were the usual big numbers. Around 25 Redpoll and 12 Siskin with more Chaffinch than usual with 21 on the ground and now 2 Brambling.

I stayed down near Winchester this weekend and went down to Keyhaven for a look around before returning home. There were around 150 Brent Geese with Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank and one very tame Greenshank. In the harbour were 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Great Crested Grebe and 3 Little Grebe and on a nearby body of water were 6 Pintail with Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler.

Many Red Kites were seen on the journey.

Sunday 24th February

The feeding station up the field is attracting a lot of birds at the moment with at least 17 Siskin and around 30 Lesser Redpoll getting through the niger seed. The female Brambling is in often with Chaffinch and a couple of Greenfinch. The area is full of birds!

In the field behind the house there were at least 3 Brambling coming to the feeder.

Sunday 17th February

The feeding station up the field was buzzing today. Numbers were at least 11 Siskin, 15 Lesser Redpoll, 6 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Greenfinch and 2 Bullfinch with 2 Coal Tit a Marsh Tit, 3-4 each of Blue Tit and Great Tit with 4-5 Long-tailed Tit. 2 Nuthatch are also regulars. A great scene.

Saturday 16th February

Greg went to have a look at the Great Northern Diver this morning and nearby in the park was a LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER.
It called once and was then seen off by a Great Spot. It was first in the Aspens around the car park in Albemarle Gate and then flew towards the lake and over the lake towards the houses.

Up the field are at least 15 Lesser Redpoll with 7 Siskin and 1 Brambling.

Friday 15th February

Greg saw around 15-20 Waxwing today in the usual spot on Princess Elizabeth Way and yesterday I went down to Pittville Park to enjoy the Great Northern Diver at lunch

Tuesday 12th February

We have recently returned from a great week away in Poland. We spent a lot of time searching for mammals and saw some great birds along the way. The snow made it a really stunning scene. A trip report will be published shortly.

Thursday 31st January

News of a GREAT NORTHERN DIVER on Pittville Park today had me heading down to see it on my lunch break. The bird was showing fantastically well close in near the boat house and then moved out onto the main lake to preen. It was totally oblivious to all the noise of nearby workers. A really great find and starting to look very smart in its summer plumage! Top bird.

Sunday 27th January- Festival of birds

A cracking day at Slimbridge today, birding the reserve and showing the public as many great birds as possible. The highlights were two Bittern showing at the same time and 3 Tundra Bean Geese in with all the White fronts. Redpoll, Ruff, Snipe, Bewick’s swans and all the wildfowl made for a great day.

This Bittern showed well for much of the day with another in the reeds near the Kingfisher hide.

One of the Tundra Bean Geese with the White-fronted Geese

Saturday 26th January

A Reed Bunting again in the garden today along with 2 Fieldfare and 2 Blackcap. The Lesser Redpoll were again preforming well up the field. I went early to see the Hawfinch and had superb views of 5 feeding in the yew. Great just to watch them going about their business. Top birds.


Friday 25th January

Greg went to see the Hawfinch again today and managed to see at least 5 with 3 coming down and feeding on the path! Not on our seed but it seems they may well do. 12 Chaffinch and 2 Greenfinch were on the seed hopefully encouraging the Hawfinch to join them! The large flock has not been seen recently but are probably still around.

Up the field the Redpoll count is up to 27 now and Goldfinch are enjoying the teasel. 3 Reed Bunting have been regulars in the garden.

Tuesday 23rd January

Greg flushed a Woodcock off an area of soft ground by a spring up our field and again the feeding station has been bringing in many birds. At least 15 Lesser Redpoll are now in with the female Brambling along with all the other regulars.

Monday 21st January – Pied Wagtail roost

All winter I have been watching the Pied Wagtail roost on Winchcombe street in on my way back from work. The numbers this winter have got up to around 150-175 and they always choose the trees closest to the street lights for that extra bit of warmth. It was interesting with this cold snap as on Thursday, numbers were down to only around 40-50 and on Friday evening with the snow there was not one single Wagtail in the roost. Where did they all go? Maybe they came in later than usual and I missed them or found a better site. Today there were again around 40 birds in just one tree. 

Sunday 20th January

Hawfinch on Dowdeswell Hill

Last Thursday Greg made a cracking find on Dowdeswell Hill. Whilst working in a garden near the church a group of finches dropped in on top of a Beech tree and included at least 7 HAWFINCH. We have returned to the area over the weekend and the maximum count we have managed is 18 and there may well be more!

They are favouring the Yew trees and rest up in the Lime and Beech. We have cleared an area of snow and put a load of seed down but there are plenty of food trees in the area keeping them happy at the moment. Also in the area are 10-15 Greenfinch, 6 Bullfinch, Siskin, Marsh Tit and a Kestrel with Chaffinch already getting down on the seed. A really great area.

A footpath runs beneath one of the favoured yews and starts down the road from the church. The birds can often be seen from the road resting up. If visiting please stick to the footpath as they often get into trees in private gardens.

In the garden the weather has brought in at least 12 Blackbirds with 2 Fieldfare an increase in Chaffinch to around 12 the Goldcrest and a single Reed Bunting and Pied Wagtail and two Blackcap are also regulars.

Up our field the feeding station is really buzzing at the moment. At least 12 Lesser Redpoll are regulars with a few Chaffinch and Goldfinch at least 4 Bullfinch, 2 Nuthatch a Treecreeper and a nice addition today was a female Brambling on the niger.

A really great weekend of birding. Finches galore!

Sunday 13th January

Up the field today were 5 Lesser Redpoll along with 4 Bullfinch. A Marsh Tit was coming to the table along with the regulars including the 2 Nuthatch.

Later along the approach road to west down were at least 150 Linnet with around 40 Chaffinch and at least 2 Brambling with them.

Friday 11th January

More Lesser Redpoll have been coming to the niger seed in the garden this week. With birds in every day and a max count of 6. I always enjoy looking at the variations in these birds. Greg took a few photos of one which was a bit larger and paler than the others today. Hopefully with the cold weather more will come in. The Goldcrest has also been a regular on the fat, something which we have not seen before this winter.

A classic Lesser Redpoll

Possible Mealy Redpoll. A larger, frostier bird with two distinct white wing bars.

Sunday 6th January

Greg and I took our Grandparents to see the Waxwing in the morning and although when we first turned up there was no sign they appeared after a short time and we had great views of the 22 birds. A Peregrine Falcon also went over very low as we were leaving.

In the garden the regular 3 Blackcap were in and 6 Goldfinch and up the field we planted some trees and 4 Bullfinch were nice to see.

Saturday 5th January

Stella and I went out for some lunch today and driving around the Cotswold's stopping off a few times. At Cassey Compton we went for a walk along the river and 20 Mallard went over and 4 Mandarin (2 pairs) got off the river. 6 Siskin also went over but no sign of any Hawfinch. A Little Egret was on the flooded field. On the approach road to Withington we went for a short walk in a marshy field and flushed at least 10 Snipe.

Up our field a Lesser Redpoll was on the niger seed and 2 Nuthatch were showing well.

Friday 4th January

At Dowdeswell Reservoir today a Kingfisher was seen along with 7 Mallard on the water with two Little Grebe

Tuesday January 1st

Happy New Year - Lets hope 2013 is filled with great birds and wildlife

I went to see the WAXWING on Princess Elizabeth Way again today and around 20 were seen resting and feeding before a male Sparrowhawk came dashing in, flushing them and they didn't return. They have been around for a while now, great birds I could watch every day.

In the garden the Goldcrest was in again with 3 Blackcap and a walk up the common was rather quiet and produced 40 Fieldfare a Goldcrest and a few Linnet and Yellowhammer.