SIGHTINGS APRIL-JUNE

Monday 27th June
We haven't been doing a lot of birding recently. We have both been down to Slimbridge but unfortunately 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 Warblers 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 circuit 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 in front 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 each other 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 bird boxes 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 definitely 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. Unfortunately Squirrels 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 strange. Initially 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 strong 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 myself 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.
Wheatear
 
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.
Redstart
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