Sightings 2014


2014 was a superb year of wildlife both here in the UK and around Europe. Greg and I traveled to Hungary in late Spring for a fantastic week and I led and co-led 7 tours with Naturetrek (Somerset, Coto Donana, Coto Donana/Extremadura, Extremadura, Spanish Pyrenees, Finland -Wolverines and La Palma). I also got away to Portugal to look at setting up a new tour and also to Sweden on our mammals tour and Islay on a staff trip away.

Finding a Dotterel was a patch highlight on Cleeve Common and away from birds, seeing a Eurasian Lynx in Sweden and Wolverine in Finland completed Europe's "big 5" for me having also seen Brown Bear, Wolf and Bison previously. I will put up some photos from these tours and local sightings in due course.

We are still working on our field and getting some exciting camera trap results and updates on this will also be posted. I will aim to put up monthly highlights, photos and videos so please check back for updates.

June - December

The opportunity to update the website really became difficult and hence no updates at all. We have been seeing some great wildlife and I will try and get some photos uploaded from local sightings and also from the tours I have been lucky enough to lead with Naturetrek. Here's to improving the website in 2015!

Tuesday 10th June

Again a lack of updates and both of us have been out of the country. We have just got back form a superb weeks birding in Hungary finding many new birds.

Tuesday 13th May

Again with two weeks straight in Spain a real lack of updates. We had some superb birding on our annual visit to the Brecon Beacons with many migrants in and the highlight was watching 4 Ring Ouzel at close range.

Coto Donana and Extremadura was fantastic and I will try to put some photos up soon.

Greg has had a couple of Whinchat at Cleeve Common and great to have a Grasshopper Warbler at Dowdeswell for the second year in a row!

Thursday 10th April - A lack of updates

It has been a real struggle recently to find time to update the website. I have been away in Spain with Naturetrek exploring Coto Donana, and off again soon in the busy spring season. I spent a great weekend on the Isle of Wight with Stella and Greg has been working the home patches as always.

We both managed to get to Slimbridge last weekend to catch up with the Hooded Crow and Tiaga Bean Geese which was great.

A few pics from the last few weeks and hope to add more soon with more updates.

Woodchat Shrike in Coto Donana

Slimbridge Hoody

Female Adder near the Kilkeney Andoversford

Sunday 16th March

Up the field in the morning and enjoyed the Redpoll fest with Greg and Dave Pearce. One, possibly two Mealy Redpoll were on the feeders. One looked very very pale and large. Heavy billed though and a clear Mealy. Stock Doves displaying and Nuthatch near the gate again.

A walk with Stella near to Hilcot and a Peregrine was seen flying low over a field and at least 100 Fieldfare together.

Finishing the weekend up the hill and enjoying the sunset at least 100 Common Gull streamed over towards Cheltenham.

Saturday 15th March

Cleeve Common – Parties of Linnet going over and lots of Skylark. C15-20 seen on a short walk along the wall and back. A Common Lizard but no Adders seen around the pylons. A pre-mig flock of Fieldfare numbering at least 180 birds in approach road fields.

The Mealy Redpoll again on the feeders and I noticed this bird is ringed so different to the bird seen and photographed previously! An increase in numbers with at least 18 Lesser Redpoll. Also singing Marsh Tit, 2 Greenfinch and 2 Bullfinch. At least 80 Redwing roosting in bushes in a pre-migratory flock.

Mealy number two

Sunday 9th March

We had a cracking few days away last week in Brixham and saw some great birds. The star bird was a summer plumaged Red-necked Grebe that Greg found on the Tuesday before I arrived. A full report with photos will be posted shortly.

Phone scoped Red-necked Grebe

At our field today whilst planting trees the Mealy Redpoll was still on the feeders with around 5 Lesser Redpoll and there was Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone and a Red Admiral on the wing.

A wander around Cleeve Common and a few Linnet were seen with around 6 Meadow Pipit and a Red Kite went over.

No Adders were found on a brief search but a Common Lizard was seen.

Monday 3rd March
On the scenic circuit after work I saw: Two flocks of Golden Plover, c15 and c25. They were circling and calling and looking like they wanted to come in and land.
Grey Partridge were heard calling and at least 6 Hare and 5 Roe Deer were in fields. Around 15 Fieldfare suddenly came in looking like going to roost in a hedge.

Sunday 2nd March
A very nice surprise today at our field feeding station when Greg found a MEALY REDPOLL. We had superb views from the hide with the bird only a couple of meters away from us. Obviously bigger, frosty all over appearance with a white rump and white cheeks with clear white wing bars. A cracker.

Various photos of the Mealy Redpoll

Also at the feeders: 8 Lesser Redpoll, 4 Bullfinch (2pairs) 2 Coal Tit (surprisingly not seen at the feeders until today this winter) 9 Chaffinch, 4 Goldfinch, 4 Robin, 5 Dunnock, 3 Great Tit, 2 Blue Tit, 3 Long-tailed Tit and a Wren. A Raven was also low over the field.

The first Coal Tit this year at the feeding station! Beauty

Niger seed is enjoyed by all!

Saturday 1st March
A cracking day today and Stella and I went for a walk at Chedworth. On the way we saw a Stonechat near Cassey Compton and enjoyed a nice walk along the old railway line by the Roman Villa. We headed for the Fox pub at Barrington and on the way saw a flock of at least 200 Linnet on winter crop near Windrush. After a nice pint we went for a walk from Barrington trig and saw 2 Grey Partridge and at least 18 Hares chasing each other around. Back near the car a Great Grey Shrike was seen.

Sunday 23rd February

Some birthday birding today around Hawling in the evening. We watched a Barn Owl and a Red Kite went over before a cracking Merlin flew in landing in the shorty field. It then got up and bombed around in the wind giving good views.Skylark and Yellowhammer were singing and a single Reed Bunting dropped in to roost.

Saturday 22nd February

A walk up at the Barringtons with family was very productive today. We saw 2 Great Grey Shrikes with talk of a possible 3rd bird being on site. A Red Kite and 2 Grey Partridge were seen and the highlight was finding a Black Redstart in the old farm building along the track and on the Oxford border. It flew out of the building and was seen perched in a hawthorn before flying into the hedge line and sheltering from the wind.

At our field, 5 Lesser Redpoll, 9 Goldfinch, Marsh Tit and 2 Siskin. No sighting of a Nuthatch at the feeders this winter.

Sunday 16th February - Weekly update

On the way home through the forest we had a quick stop at Cannop ponds and saw 8 Mandarin and a Goshawk was displaying from New Fancy.

We had a productive few hours up our field again, checking and clearing all the nest boxes and all are ready to go again for another breeding season. 2 Redpoll were chattering away with a pair of Bullfinch on the niger seed and around 15 Redwing in the hedges. A Stock Dove went over, 4 Buzzard were circling and a Marsh Tit was at the feeders.

Saturday 15th February
A good session up our field birding and sorting nest boxes. Birds seen from the hide were: 4 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Siskin, 8 Goldfinch, 9 Chaffinch, 1 GS Woodpecker, c6 Dunnock, 2 Bullfinch, c4-5 Blue and Great Tit, Blackbird 2. A Raven and Kestrel were over the field and 10-15 Redwing were seen in hedges.

Greg had a Barn Owl hunting up at Hawling.

A pair of Goosander were on the river Monnow from the Gate House pub on a night away in Monmouth.

Wednesday 12th February - Hants birds
An early morning visit to the Drayton Farm cress beds produced 2 Water Pipits. They were chasing each other around for a while before feeding. Also seen were around c12 Meadow Pipit, c10 Pied Wagtail and 2 Grey Wagtail.
On Alresford Pond there was a real shortage of Wildfowl. Two Pochard along with c15 Gadwall, c15 Tufted Duck and just 2 Teal. A Red Kite flew over Drove lane on the drive to work.

Monday 10th February
Greg had 33 Greenfinch near Glenfall School

Tuesday 11th February
A Woodcock over the M3 on the way home from work.

Saturday 8th February

Greg and I went off to Marshfield today and spent a fantastic few hours with the Red-flanked Bluetail. It stayed hidden in hawthorn bushes occasionally coming down to take mealworms and sitting for a long period in full view. A smashing little bird.

On the way home we popped into Slimbridge and spent a great couple of hours enjoying the thousands of birds. From the holden tower the Glaucous Gull was extremely distant over the other side of the severn! Two Little Stint were again on show with 3 Ruff on the tack piece and 3 Crane and a Peregrine giving great flybys . We finished by spending a long time working through the geese with Greg eventually picking out the Greenland White-fronted Goose. Looking at all these birds through the new ATX 85 Swarovski scope was great. Very impressed.

A real record shot! The Greenland White-fronted Goose was finally picked out.

Sunday 2nd February
At least 150 Fieldfare worming on the approach road to Cleeve Common with around 200 Starlings and 30 Linnet. 50 Fieldfare were on the common and 40 Linnet.

Saturday 1st February
A really enjoyable day today pointing out birds around the hides at Slimbridge for the festival of birds. The tack piece was a real spectacle with thousands of birds being kept of their toes by a male Peregrine. There were birds everywhere and the highlights of the day were great views of 2 Little Stint, the Greenland White-front, Brent Goose, Avocet, Ruff and 3 Crane and of course the Bewick's Swans which gave regular fly bys. A top day.

Monday 27th January
On visiting the hospital to get results of my knee scan it was a nice surprise to see at least 18 Redpoll chattering away in a silver birch.

Sunday 26th January
Some cracking cotswold birding today. Over at Great Barrington trig point there were two Great Grey Shrikes! Both birds showed very well at times but were mobile. At around 4 a Hen Harrier appeared and quartered a rough field for a short time and appeared to be a young bird. c20 Yellowhammer and a few Reed Bunting were also around with 2 Red Kite and a Kestrel.

On Bourton Pit – c80 Wigeon, 1 Teal, 2 Great Crested Grebe, c25 Tufted Duck and 4 Grey Herons

Around Hawling there were many Fieldfare with at least 150 birds worming over fields giving great views and a flock of 12 Greenfinch were also in a rough field.

Sunday 19th January 
A trip to the forest today – At Crabtree hill it was rather quiet. There was no sign of the Shrike and 3 Brambling near the car park was the highlight.
At Parkend there were 4 Hawfinch coming in to feed in the Yew trees by the cricket pitch. Great views of them feeding alongside Greenfinch and Chaffinch.

In the afternoon a look around Brierly and Serridge produced at least 10 TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL. Showing very well and very vocal. Trumpeting and brief song. I watched them for a long time as they just moved from larch to larch before flying off in the Woorgreens direction at 2.50.

On the beech mast were around 70 finches. c30 Brambling and c40 Chaffinch. At least 2 Hawfinch were in the beech trees with 2 also in trees just opposite the garage near the car.

Male Two-barred Crossbills. At least 10 birds counted and probably a few more than that.

Roe and Fallow Deer seen today.

Saturday 18th January
A thorough walk around Dowdeswell today. In the woods a probable Goshawk drifted over but it was a silhouette and very brief.
Fresh Otter Scat also found on the rocks and a Water Rail was heard with a minimum of 24 Reed Bunting coming in to roost and a Grey Wagtail heard.
Only 2 Mallard on the water! There is no weed because of the carp and hence not even a coot let alone a Grebe.

Munjac, Roe and Fallow Deer seen today.

Sunday 12th January
This afternoon 4 of us went down to the forest of dean for a walk and some lunch. At Crabtree hill we had great views of two Hawfinch not far from the car park and walking past the Hemlocks heard the Trumpeting calls of the Two-barred Crossbill. We did not see the birds but it was great to hear them. Walking on, there was no sign of the Shrike in a short look. A nice flock of c60 Siskin and c20 Redpoll were in alders. Near the car park again there was a very large tot flock foraging through the leaf litter with 2 Bullfinch.

Saturday 11th January
A visit to Slimbridge today in great conditions.
From the Zeiss Hide we saw; Water Rail 2, Brent Goose 1, Avocet 4, Shoveler c120 and the sky was full of Lapwing and Golden Plover as it was all day.
Moving to the tack piece we saw Little Stint 2, Peregrine 1, White-fronted Geese c100 and enjoyed all the wildfowl in fantastic light. Two Crane from the great crane project dropped in as we were watching.
We decided to move on to Saul and went for a walk along the river. Here we noted c4 Skylark, 9 Little Egret, Green Sandpiper 1, Chiffchaff 2 and Snipe 2.
A great day with stacks of birds!

Thursday 9th January

4 Kestrels on the way back from Hampshire.
On the approach road to West Down – A Merlin chasing finches was great to see. Small birds in the area were c40 Linnet c25 Chaffinch c5 Reed Bunting 2 Greenfinch 2 Bullfinch and a Brambling heard only.
Around the Hawling area – Sparrowhawk 1, Kestrel 2 and a huge corvid flock numbering at least 1000 birds. A Barn Owl gave stunning views catching a Vole just a few meters from me, evading a Kestrel and heading off. Later the Barn Owl was seen fighting with a Short-eared Owl coming to the ground. The Shorty stayed on the ground hoping around and seemingly finding something to eat. Worming like Buzzards?

Sunday 5th January

We went to have look at the Great Grey Shrike near Daglingworth today and had excellent views of the bird that was viewable from Overley Road. Also around were c20 Skylark c20 Linnet and c15 Fieldfare.
Greg later had a Peregrine over our field and in the garden was a female Blackcap.

Saturday 4th January

At our field - c50 Redwing, 3 Bullfinch, 12 Goldfinch, 1 Greenfinch, 3 Chaffinch. No sign of any Redpoll on the feeders so far this winter.

3 wintering Blackcap (2 fem, 1 male) at Garden Road.

A report of our Brixham/Portland day out here: Brixham Day Trip Report


I hope everyone has had a fantastic Christmas and Happy New Year.

Neither of us have had much time recently to update the site and this year I will hope to update it once a week with anything interesting. Wether it be local sightings, results from camera traps or interesting photos from any tours and holidays abroad. We keep a diary of the wildlife we are seeing and this is what gets added to the website along with interesting photos. We hope it is of interest.

2013 was a fantastic year. Greg had I had a fantastic tour to Poland and I had 7 successful tours away with Naturetrek. 2 in Spain, 2 in France, Italy, Scotland and Guyana. On a local front Greg and Jack constructed a superb hide at our field and we continue to keep the feeding station well stocked and enjoy recording the birds and wildlife there.

A big success for 2013 was the discovery of Otters at Dowdeswell reservoir and our camera trap had some excellent results. We now have another (after the other one drowned) and will continue to publish results.

Here's to a great 2014 and we hope for lots of great wildlife.