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Saturday 31st August

Cleeve Common 6:45 – 8:45. We met Russ and soon had a very nice surprise as a juvenile Goshawk was flushed from low gorse and flew low over the fields. It looked huge as it powered away! A new bird for the common!

Other birds were 3 Redstart, 4 Whinchat, 1 Stonechat and small flocks of Linnet, with around 5 Yellowhammer and 4 Skylark. Two Kestrel were around along with a some showy Whitethroat.

We later checked Dowdeswell:  The highlight was watching a juvenile Peregrine come in and take a white dove that was flying over the water! Great birds and it was the first time either of us had seen a Peregrine make a kill. We also saw:

1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Little Grebe, 2 Great Crested Grebe, around 20 Mallard,Moorhen Coot and 1 Grey Heron.  The very confiding Roe Deer was also seen well and the Terrapin was on a rock.

Thursday 29th August

I went to Beacon Hill before work today and the area was lively with birds.  There were 4 Spotted Flycatcher , 2 Tree Pipit, 3 Redstart (one of which a smart male feeding on elderberries) and I had great views of 2 Firecrest with a single Goldcrest also seen and 4 Bullfinch.

At lunch we had a Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart and hundreds of hirundines and after work there were 7 Green Sandpipers on Alresford pond with a single Wigeon in amongst the Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Mallard. A few Sand Martin also passed through.

Wednesday 28th August

Glos birding: Greg was working Cleeve common this morning and saw:  6 Wheatear, 9 Redstart, 1 Tree Pipit, 5 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 3 Whitethroat and a Red Kite. Also a Fox.

Hants birding: A cracking day today – I heard a Little Owl on the cycle in to work and watched a Peregrine over the office. On the lunchtime walk an OSPREY appeared out of nowhere, circled low overhead before moving away – awesome.  A Redstart was also around with a large gathering of around 200 hirundines (70 -30 Swallow-House Martin). 2 Whitethroat and around 15 Linnet were in hedgerows and 5-6 Greenfinch have been in the hedgerow recently.

Tuesday 27th August

Greg  had a  first for Dowdeswell in the form of a Shoveler and  2 Teal were also in. Wildfowl galore!

I had a Whinchat at work with a Wheatear on the cycle home, 4 Little Egret were on the river with a Green Sandpiper.

Saturday 24th August- Monday 26th August  – Pots beer festival weekend!

Greg, Jack and Karin came down to visit for the weekend and although a lot of time was spent sampling local ales some good birds were also noted. Checking twitter and birdguides was driving us mad with the east coast invasion! Highlights of the weekend as follows:

Saturday 24th August

Two Yellow Wagtail and 4 Grey Wagtail were on Alresford cress beds in amongst around 20 Pied Wagtail and at a local pub we spotted a Water Rail fly out of the reeds squealing.

Walking across the fields to the beer festival we saw 2 Whinchat.

Sunday 25th August

Today we went down to Keyhaven with the highlight being great close ups of Curlew Sandpiper. At least 7 were seen, mainly juveniles with 1 moulting adult. Other totals were as follows: Turnstone 30, Dunlin 100, Ringed Plover 30, Grey Plover 40, Knot 4, Redshank 6, Lapwing 4, Snipe 6, Curlew 20, Med Gull 3 and Wheatear 8.

Monday 26th August

At the moment I am trying to find a local patch to watch and today went up to Beacon Hill. I am always drawn to high points and this place holds potential.

The area was full of Spotted Flycatcher. A party of 5 were together busily feeding and chasing each other and then further on I saw another 4 birds. I think they were family parties. I also heard a Firecrest and saw Willow Warbler 5, Chiffchaff 2, Redstart 1, Garden Warbler 1 and a Marsh Tit.
There were stacks of Butterflies and the highlight was a Silver- washed Fritillary and a Clouded Yellow.

In the field near the house where we saw the Whinchat was a single Redstart.

Glos Birding -

Greg got home and checked Cleeve Common seeing: Whitethroat 3, Chiffchaff 1, Willow Warbler 1, Whinchat 5, Stonechat 1, Redstart 1, Wheatear 2, Corn Bunting 3 and 2 Clouded Yellows being the butterfly highlight.

Thursday 22nd August

An excellent day today. The lunchtime walk at work was very productive with lots of migrants in. Two Redstart were found along with a single Spotted Flycatcher, 4-5 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, and 1 Lesser Whitethroat. Great stuff.

After work we went for an explore and headed to Old Winchester Hill. It had some resemblance to Cleeve Common and it felt good wandering on sunny slopes looking for migrants. In a short walk I saw 2 Redstart and 2 small flocks of Linnet c10 and c15. There were stacks of butterflies with many Chalkhill Blues, Whites, Small Heaths and Gatekeepers. The highlight was 2 Clouded Yellow and a single Silver-spotted Skipper.

Clouded Yellow

Silver-spotted Skipper

On returning home Greg informed me of some great news. For those that don't know we have had a camera trap set up at Dowdeswell reservoir over the last couple of months with some great results. First we had the amazing footage of the Dowdeswell Otter. I had found scat a couple of times and it didn’t take long to catch the culprit on camera with a short video clip of it hunting.

Follow the link for the video

The Dowdeswell Otter

We were amazed and very happy but have not had any further footage for the past 6 weeks or so. We have also seen Grass Snake, Grey Heron, Muntjac Deer and today Greg sent me a very nice photo of a juvenile Water Rail! A real cracker!

Juvenile Water Rail! - Another confirmed breeder for Dowdeswell!

Tuesday 21st August

I had a great weekend up at Rutland at the bird fair promoting Naturetrek and managed a few decent birds too including Osprey, Little Gull and Ruff from the Swaro tower. Greg had a good session up on Cleeve common yesterday as he found 1 Whinchat, 3 Redstart and lots of Willow Warbler were in, along with 2 Corn Bunting.

I am lucky enough to be visiting Guyana in November and spent last night in Mayfair at a Wilderness explorers event learning more about the country.

I hope to get some more photos up soon from recent travels and hopefully some top local birds!

Tuesday 13th August

With the water levels down and some exposed mud Greg has been checking Dowdeswell regularly and this evening had a Hobby hawking insects and a Common Sandpiper is new in. Very nice!

Sunday 11th August- Looking through Moths!

We caught far more moths than we expected and I will put up a full list soon when it is compiled. Later up at Cleeve Common we saw 5 Kestrel and saw 1 Redstart hearing 2 others.

Canary-shouldered Thorn

Antler Moth

Saturday 10th August

Greg had a good walk around Cleeve common noting 6 Redstart and a flock of around 40 Linnet. Two Red Kites also drifted over. I went up in the evening seeing a single Redstart and a Wheatear. After making a moth trap we put it into action and caught lots of moths!

Wednesday 7th August

I have just returned from a fantastic weeks holiday in Croatia. As well as relaxing on the beaches we managed to see lots of wildlife with some great birds, butterflies and reptiles seen along with lots of sea creatures. We visited Krka national park and had two excellent dives. I will publish a trip report and some photos soon.

Friday 26th July - Photo update.

I have been lucky enough to be away in Europe a lot this spring with Naturetrek and will make an

effort to produce some sort of write up for the tours and put up lots of photos.

Here are a few from Extremadura, Abruzzo in Italy and the Camargue.

Great Spotted Cuckoo - Extremadura

Blue Spot Hairstreak - The Camargue - (Les Apilles)

Banded Darter - Camargue

Large Pincertail - Camargue

Squacoo Heron - Camargue

Apennine Chamois - Abruzzo National Park

Bluethroat - Gredos Mountains

A successful moth trap at Naturetrek HQ produced these beauties as well as many others:

Elephant and Small Elephant Hawk Moth - A nice comparison.

Privet Hawk Moth

Tuesday 23rd July

Greg found a single White Admiral at Dowdeswell today.

Monday 22nd July

Greg found a Juvenile Wheatear up at Cleeve Common today with a Redstart nearby.

Sunday 21st July

There has not been a lot of time for getting out and about recently so a real lack of updates. I have just returned from a fantastic week in the Camargue with Naturetrek and I will get some photos up soon.

Thursday 4th July

Greg had 2 Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers whilst working on Battledown hill today. Also a Garden Warbler at Dowdeswell Reservoir.

Sunday 30th June

Cracking views of a juvenile Kingfisher at Dowdeswell today. Perched on a stick we put in years ago over a small pool. Also lots of Beautiful Demoiselle.

Monday 24th June

Greg made a nice find on the local patch this evening in the form of a Grasshopper Warbler reeling at Dowdeswell Reservoir. The first time we have recorded this bird here. Great stuff! I spent some time there yesterday and saw the Great Crested Grebe with 4 young. A single Grey Heron was fishing and Little Grebe were heard along with Reed Warbler. There are hundreds of Common Spotted Orchids out at the moment with a few Pyramidal Orchids making for an impressive floral display!

Up our field the Barn Owls are still using the hole but we are not certain what stage they are at. No young can be heard. Grass Snakes and Slow Worms are still regular the under tins .

One patch of Spotted Orchids

Pyramidal Orchid coming into flower

Sunday 16th June

I have now moved down to Alresford and haven't been out birding much recently. Greg is keeping watch on the Barn Owls up the field and it appears that they are on eggs. Very exiting to have these birds breeding on our land! Today 4 Slow Worms and 2 Grass Snakes were under tins!

Sunday 9th June

I spent some time this evening watching our field Barn Owls. Great birds and giving some amazing views.

Here is one of the Bears from Italy. I will get some more photos up soon.

Sunday 1st June

There hasn't been much time for birding recently. I have just got back from the Abruzzo national park in Italy and the highlight was seeing 2 Marsican Brown Bears! We also managed to find 3 Abruzzo Chamois and birds included Collared Flycatcher, Honey Buzzard, Rock Thrush, Golden Eagle and lots of fine Red-backed Shrikes with 2 Wrynecks in the garden. Some spectacular scenery and around 20 species of orchid including the Lady Slipper made for a special week.

I did have two Redstart singing around Belas Knap today.

Friday 17th May

 This weekend I had an afternoon to myself with Tom not about, so decided to sit up the field outside the Barn Owl nest hole with a camo net over me and the digiscoping kit. After forty five minutes the sun shone on the hole and one appeared. I watched the bird for thirty mins before the other one appeared for a few minutes, then both birds went back into the hole. What an experience with these stunning birds - hopefully they have a successful breeding season, fantastic.    

 Both birds

Sunday 12th May

A Lesser Whitethroat was singing very close to our field today and a Slow Worm was under a tin. 2 Green Woodpeckers were also showing well. At lineover wood I heard and saw a Willowchiff. It started calling as a Chiffchaff and finished as a Willow Warbler. I have never heard this before, an amazing sound. I watched the bird briefly and it appeared to be a Chiffchaff.

I have now finally published the trip report for Poland earlier in the year. Click here
Poland 2013

Greg was in Wales recently and found a pair of Whinchat in Dare Valley.

Thursday 9th May - Away with work in Extremadura

I have just returned from a fantastic week in Spain on my first Naturetrek tour. We first stayed near Trujillo, exploring the Steppes, Monfrague National park and made a short visit to Arrocampo reservoir and then moved up to the Gredos Mountains to the north.

The highlights were: Many Great Spotted Cuckoo, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Montagu’s Harrier, lots of Calandra Lark, Lesser Kestrel, Hoopoe, Golden Oriole, Roller and Bee Eater. An array of raptors included all the vultures with Golden, Booted, Bonelli’s and Spanish Imperial Eagle all seen. Purple Herons, Little Bittern, Great Reed Warbler, Savi’s Warbler and Purple Swamphen were all at Arrocampo with Gull Billed Terns overhead and a surprise Grey Plover!

In the Gredos Mountains we saw the amazing Spanish Ibex, a stunning Bluethroat, Rock Buntings, Rock Sparrow and 2 smart Rock Thrush. Stacks of Black Redstarts were always around with Ortolan Buntings and a wood full of Bonelli’s Warblers making for a special visit.

Back at home Greg has found a Barn Owl nest in our reserve area! What a great find!