SIGHTINGS MAY-DECEMBER 2012

The trip report for Hungary is finished. See here: Hungary 2012 

Sunday 30th December

We carried on our wildfowl filled weekend with a trip to the Cotswold Water Park today. At pit 28 we had 3 Smew (redhead) and 5 Goosander got up and flew overhead. We then went on a long walk from here covering various pits and ended up at the back of Swillbrook. On one pit were at least 15 Goosander, 8 Goldeneye, 200 Teal and 80 Wigeon with 20-25 Gadwall and 3 Pintail. We had a good scan through all the wildfowl and headed back towards the car looking through Tit flocks on the way.

We headed over to the Glos side and on pit 125 there was very little indeed but nearby on 114 it was packed with wildfowl. At least 300 Teal were on the water with fewer Wigeon, at least 25 Goldeneye, 6-10 Red Crested Pochard and 2 Pintail with a few Shoveler here too.
It was again a very enjoyable session and we headed for home as the weather turned once again.

In the garden the Goldcrest was back on the table enjoying the suet.

Saturday 29th December

With really shocking weather we decided to head to Slimbridge where the floods are good news for birding. We started at the Zeiss hide where a Bittern was showing very well. An amazing bird and we watched it for a while, stretching and fishing. It ended up moving into the field and appeared in hunting mode, maybe fancying a vole rather than fish. There were a lot of Teal here but scanning through the wildfowl we couldn’t see the Green Winged Teal.

We moved to the tack piece and spent time here soaking up the sheer numbers of birds. It was stunning. A carpet of Wigeon and the sky full of Lapwing with Ruff, Redshank and a single Spotted Redshank seen. Birds everywhere and most notably a huge amount of Pintail. Great to see so many with groups often flying quite close by. We scanned through the Teal again with no joy and moved on to the Holden tower. Here we watched a Peregrine put up all the birds and unfortunately it appeared to have a leg hanging down.

We enjoyed the birding for the rest of the day and noted 3 Lesser Redpoll and 12 Greenfinch heading back to the Zeiss. There was a Spotted Redshank here too but no sign of an American Teal. We ended up watching the feed and watched the light fade from the Martin Smith hide where a Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were near the bridge. Great stuff.

Wednesday 26th December

Greg and I finished the feeding station up the field today and we went for a drive around Hawling in the afternoon. The conditions meant few birds were seen and no Owls were hunting but a flock of around 70 Golden Plover was nice with a great close up of a male Kestrel.

Tuesday 25th December- MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE

Watching the garden today and a single Redpoll was in on the niger along with 4 Goldfinch. Up to 7 Chaffinch were in on the seed with 2 Bullfinch, 3 Blackcap, 6-8 Blue Tit, 3-4 Great Tit and 2 Coal Tit. A Marsh Tit has been in recently and around 15 Long-tailed Tits pass through regularly. A Goldcrest spent a long time in the garden and was even eating the fat and it’s nice to see more Starlings than previously with round 6 visiting often.

Around Hawling recently a Brambling was with Chaffinch along with at least 4 Corn Bunting.

Sunday 16th December

At least 120 WAXWING were still on Princess Elizabeth Way today and we enjoyed this stunning flock before heading to Slimbridge. At the trust it was great watching the Bewick’s Swans and the tack piece was buzzing with at least 800 Dunlin, Lapwing, Redshank, Golden Plover and we enjoyed the Wigeon, Teal and other wildfowl but there was no sign of any White fronts unfortunately. Near the car park a flock of around 20 Redpoll were seen.

Saturday 15th December

A single Lesser Redpoll in the garden today along with 2 Blackcap, 8 Chaffinch, 3 Goldfinch and 2 Bullfinch.

Saturday 8th December

A look at the Grove rowan this morning and 6 WAXWING were still present before flying off towards Battledown.

On the recent European road trip we travelled through the Friesland area in North Holland and there is some really fine birding to be had around there. On a short walk near Harlingen we stumbled across a cracking flock of 42 Snow Bunting.

Monday 3rd December

At least 26 WAXWING still at the Grove at lunch today. Greg had a flock of around 30 over Wickes and also more in a tree along Battledown road which may have been part of the Grove flock. Great to see so many around.

Sunday 2nd December

More WAXWING today as I found another 55 birds visiting the pink berried rowan in The Grove off Hales road. This road has been popular over the years and I have been checking regularly. Some great close ups of them feeding.

Saturday 1st December

After a great week away in Europe I went to catch up with WAXWING today. The 100+ strong flock on Princess Elizabeth Way performed very well. Stunning birds I just can’t get enough of. Good to see a few people there enjoying them too.

In the garden it was good to see 7 Starling squabbling over fat and 6 Chaffinch were down on the seed and a single Blackcap was on Mistletoe.

Although this recent trip to Amsterdam and Brugge wasn’t about birding, naturally I fitted some in and some great birds were seen. A short report will follow and Hungary will be published soon.


Sunday 25th November

I went back to Mandarin Way today to see if I could see the flock again. I saw a single WAXWING feeding with some Redwing.

 

 

 

Saturday 24th November

With Tom away I had to go WAXWING hunting on my own. After checking a few reliable sites and no sign of any, I tried a few good looking areas with rowan trees and stumbled across a flock of 11 bird roosting in Mandarin Way, Swindon Village. After watching them for quarter of an hour, they picked up and I couldn’t relocate. Fantastic bird.

Thursday 22nd November

A nice surprise today after training in Gloucester. I was walking back to the bus when all of a sudden the trill of WAXWING was loud and clear nearby. They were sat in a large tree on Brunswick Square and flew onto nearby aerials. They were mobile and at one point tried to drop onto a rowan in Chillingworth Mews. I left them settled trying to keep out of the wind and with plenty more berries on the rowan it would be well worth checking tomorrow. Let’s hope this is the start of many more around the county.

Sunday 18th November

A Short-eared Owl was hunting the usual field up near Hawling this evening.

Saturday 17th November

A look at Dowdeswell Reservoir and this time I managed to actually see the wintering Cetti’s Warbler. Three Reed Bunting were also seen along with 2 little Grebe, 3 Coot, 2 Moorhen and 12 Mallard.

A photo from Hungary: We managed to locate a feeding group of Geese early as they left their roost. We watched skein after skein drop in and spent nearly 4 hours scanning through them for any hidden treasures. We found a few before they were all put up by a White-tailed Eagle. There were a few hundred Crane in the background for good measure and birds constantly overhead. Stunning birding.

Sunday 11th November

At Dowdeswell reservoir at least 25 Reed Bunting came in to roost in the reed bed and 2 Little Grebe were on the water. Just as last winter I heard a Cetti’s Warbler in the reeds, just the very start of the call. The harsh “pick” “pick”. I didn’t manage to see it but will try and get good views like last year.
Maybe it is the same bird returning to winter here as I didn't hear it at all during the spring and summer. It was also great to see a Kingfisher in the river section through the woods giving good scoped views. This is the first I have seen for a while.

Saturday 10th November

A walk around a new area at Chedworth didn’t produce anything out of the ordinary.  A short stop at Cassey Compton was very productive however with excellent views of a single Hawfinch in flight, Peregrine, Raven and around 200 Fieldfare.

Tuesday 7th November

We have just returned from a cracking 4 day trip to Hungary. Some fantastic birds were seen. Loads of Geese, Crane and a few Woodpeckers and Raptors thrown in for good measure. More to follow soon.

Monday 29th October

Greg went to see the fine BLACK-THROATED DIVER at Moulden Country Park near Swindon on Sunday evening and returned this morning for a few photos. The site is very close to his girlfriend’s flat. It was a small fishing lake so the bird allowed great close up views. Also seen was a Kingfisher, Siskin and both Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebe. It just shows that birds can turn up anywhere. Come on Dowdeswell!

Sunday 28th October – Mega field bird!

Today we finished off the new duck pen up our field and were keeping an eye on the sky throughout the day. Initially 3 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk put on a nice display with Redwing constantly going over in small flocks. Their seeeep call in the air all day.

A real magic moment for us both was when all of a sudden the flight call of HAWFINCH was clear! Looking up, a single bird was seen well as it flew low over our heads. Cracker.
Also seen were a few Chaffinch, 4 Siskin and a Meadow Pipit. Great stuff.

Saturday 27th October – Finches and Thrushes

I had a really good few hours birding around the Cotswolds today. I started by heading to the west down car park up on cleeve common and spent some time getting close to a nice finch flock. They were getting onto a winter crop on the approach road and totals were a minimum of 60 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 10 Greenfinch, 10 Goldfinch, 8 Linnet and a single Corn bunting was seen.

As I was watching them around 80 Fieldfare drifted overhead calling loudly, my first of the Autumn. Great birds. Throughout the day I must have seen around 300 in various flocks, with some great close ups getting on ploughed fields. There were fewer Redwing with around 40 seen and a large flock of 30 Mistle Thrush!
A walk around the common produced around 80 Skylark together which was a great sight and 15-18 Yellowhammer with 2 Stonechat in the area they bred. Maybe this pair stays put throughout the year.
I headed to the Barringtons stopping at Bourton pits first seeing around 40 Wigeon on the water with 4 Great Crested Grebe and 12 Lesser Redpoll were in alders nearby.
At the Barringtons were at least 6 Red Kite and I returned home and set up a feeding station up our field where around 20 Redwing were in the bushes.

Wednesday 24th October

An afternoon walk up on Cleeve Common was very productive despite the low mist. I headed down to the wash pool and walking around the bushes there I pushed out 2 RING OUZEL. I always love finding these great birds.They only flew a short distance and I watched them both feeding on berries though often tucked deep in the hedge. They were very vocal and both looked like 1st winter birds with in distinct crescents.As often happens, dog walkers disturbed them and one flew further up the valley and was seen again on the walk back.

Also seen were around 40 Redwing, 20 Mistle Thrush, 3 Song Thrush and 5 Blackbird with 50 Starling overhead. A tit flock held, 2 Goldcrest and 2 Coal Tit and around 40 Chaffinch went over in two flocks along with 15 Meadow Pipit and Siskin which were heard but not seen. A Raven drifted over cronking away near the car park.

Sunday 21st October

Up the Common it was rather quiet with just a bit of visible migration. 12 Skylark, 14 Siskin and 8 Mistle Thrush went through with 3 Kestrel seen which was nice. Maybe an arrival of thrushes will come later in the week.

Saturday 20th October

Two Crossbill were over Dowdeswell Reservoir and 2 Little Grebe were on the water. I also found out that an Otter was found dead on the A40. Very sad news. It would be amazing to see one on the water and hopefully just a matter of time! It needs to be made easier for them to get in through the fence. Great animals.

Tuesday 16th October

An evening walk up at Cleeve Common was a cracker. I checked the seed board which had just 2 Yellowhammer in the bush nearby and 5-6 Linnet went over with a few Goldfinch. I then headed towards the heather enclosure and had a very nice surprise as a SHORT-EARED OWL was being mobbed by 2 Rooks up ahead. The Shorty evaded them and started to quarter the rough grass concentrating in and around the heather enclosure. It gave some fantastic flybys in the evening sun and I left it sat on a post. Always a treat to get up close to these great birds.

Sunday 14th October

Working the local patches this weekend was enjoyable as always. Up at the common, birds included 30-40 Redwing in with an increase in Blackbirds and a three Song Thrush seen. Two Stonechat were nice to see and two Green Woodpeckers were feeding on ant hills.

A flock of around 20 Meadow Pipit were mobile around the heather enclosure dropping in and picking up many times. One bird seemed very short tailed and had a different flight. Quite distinct and easy to pick out each time the flock got up. The light was fading and I never saw the bird on the floor, just when put up and it was silent which didn’t help. An interesting one.

While doing work up our field it was a very nice to add Crossbill to the list with one high over.

At Dowdeswell there were 3 Pochard in with a Reed Bunting  heard and 2 Little Grebe. A quick look up at Hawling produced good views of a Short-eared Owl. Great birds.

Tuesday 9th October

An hour up the common after work produced a new bird for me there when 2 Snipe dropped into the heather enclosure. Also seen were around 20 Meadow Pipit, a Kestrel and 15-20 Linnet. I heard 3 Goldcrest and also my first Redwing of the autumn which must have been above the low fog.

Sunday 7th October

At Dowdeswell Reservoir, 3 Little Grebe, 4 Coot and 2 Moorhen. A Water rail was also heard. It was nice to watch the garden for a bit today and a Siskin on the nijer seed was nice. I really miss watching the common garden birds, the window feeder at the flat hasn’t had a sniff.
Greg had a look up at Leckhampton hill and had 8 Golden Plover over.

Saturday 6th October

Up at Cleeve Common, at least 30 Skylark seen and a growing finch flock of around 40 Linnet, 8 Greenfinch and 6 Chaffinch feeding together on a ploughed field. 3 Chiffchaff were seen along with 4 Jay and 15 – 20 Meadow Pipit.

Friday 28th September - Sunday 1st October

A cracking weekend at Spurn again. The highlights being Greenish WarblerYellow-browed Warbler, Firecrest and some great passage.  A full write up soon.

Although the pelagic out of Bridlington was quiet, the views of Manx Shearwater were stunning.

Wednesday 26th September

We have both been checking the local patches whenever possible recently but all has been rather quiet. Up at the common conditions have been very difficult and just 2 Wheatear and 2 Chiffchaff were seen last night before getting soaked. There has been an increase in Meadow Pipit and thrushes recently. 20-25 Mistle Thrush were on the common with 6-8 Song Thrush and more Blackbirds. It was nice to see two Stonechat on wires near the masts. Were off to Spurn over the weekend and hopefully a few rare birds up there.

Tuesday 18th September

Today was Jacks graduation in Plymouth and the 3 of us stayed in Dawlish on Monday night. Despite a few beers we fitted in a trip to Dawlish Warren in the morning and were rewarded with great views of a special bird. A NIGHTJAR was roosting on a branch a feeder is hung from near the visitor centre. It’s not often you get this view of a Nightjar! Great birds. Unfortunately I read it was flushed by a photographer later in the afternoon which is a real shame as more people would have been able to see it. This was taken from the path so no need to get closer!

Elsewhere we had a selection of waders including two Bar-tailed Godwit and a very confiding Knot and Turnstone on the seawall. Two Wheatear and 4 Willow Warbler were seen and a distant Arctic Skua was offshore. A huge group of Shag were also feeding offshore which must have numbered at least 250 birds. One of my favourite reserves and a top area for birding.

Saturday 15th September

A walk up at Cleeve Coomon was quiet with 2 Wheatear seen and a few Meadow Pipit. A walk around Nottingham hill across the road from the golf club and again just 3-4 Chiffchaff seen in blustery conditions. I did see this Brown Argus laying eggs which gave me a great excuse to get the camera out.

Thursday 13th September

Greg saw a Kingfisher at Dowdeswell Reservoir today. The first seen for a while.

Tuesday 11th September
A call from Arthur Ball this morning at work and another great find in the form of two DOTTEREL on cleeve common. Straight after work I headed up and walking onto the common the first surprise was a Golden Plover in almost exactly the same spot as the Dotterel I had found last year. The first I have seen actually on the common. Heading for the 13th Fairway the Dotterel were confiding as ever and gave fantastic views in great light and a stunning setting. It was lucky I got up there quickly though as the Golden Plover dropped in to join them and after a golfer put up the ploverthe Dotterel joined them and they headed off high together. Greg came over the brow just as they picked up and managed flight views only but this was still more than others. Great birds. There was also at least 8 Wheatear and a steady stream of Meadow Pipit.

They both looked like juvenile birds to me. Fresh plumage with pale cream fringes to upperparts. Great birds, and looked so settled before the Golden Plover dropped in.

Sunday 9th September

I have again been birding Cleeve Common recently, but with the west winds there are few migrants at the moment. I enjoyed watching a female Stonechat in the heather enclosure and just a single Wheatear nearby. At Dowdeswell the water is very high still so with no exposed mud there is no chance of any waders. There were 3 Little Grebe and the adult and juvenile Great Crested Grebe providing the interest as I waited for anything to appear. A returning Osprey would be nice!

On the butterfly front it is exiting at the moment. My uncle told me about the first sightings of ADONIS BLUE and this afternoon I went up to the masts butterfly reserve and managed to see a single male and a very worn Chalkhill Blue. Four have been seen so hopefully this will be a new colony.

Adonis Blue

Saturday 1st September

A great day out in Devon today. It wasn't all about birding but we did see some crackers.

The highlight was watching Skuas for a long while over the afternoon. We had great views of 3 ARCTIC SKUA (2 light and 1 dark phase). Greg picked up the first sat on the water and we watched it chase a Sandwich Tern taking it's food. We then watched two others doing the same coming close in.Great birds.

We saw 3 Wheatear around the hide and 4 Sanderling were along the beach but it was all about watching the sea. We finished the day up on Langsdown Rock eating dinner and watched two more ARCTIC SKUA both dark phase chasing a gull very close in and sitting on the water giving awesome views. A raft of 25 Common Scoter was also seen and the Slavonian Grebe was in the estuary. Top Stuff.

Tuesday 28th August

Greg had an evening look at Dowdeswell reservoir and there were 25 Mallard and a single TEAL, a rare bird here! I joined Greg and as we were stood on the dam a HOBBY flew over catching a dragonfly before heading off over Lineover. A great bird and the first we have seen here!

Monday 27th August

Today Tom and I had a search around Cleeve Common. A  good look around the heather enclosure and wash pool produced 3 Wheatear, 4 Willow Warbler, 2 Whitethroat, 3 Redstart and a Spotted Flycatcher. The session was topped off with a surprise Whinchat on the wires of the small heather enclosure by the pylons, with views of the bird in-flight around the area – fantastic!

 

Monday 20th - Friday 24th

Some early morning and evening visits to Cleeve Common this week produced Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher with a few Willow Warbler and fewer Chiffchaff with family parties of Linnet but the numbers were down from the weekend.

I heard a Peregrine from my desk at work over the office for a few minutes but couldn't get out to see it.

In the garden are a family of Bullfinch on the niger seed and very young Blackbirds on the fat balls. I am moving into a flat in Cheltenham this weekend so no more garden birds for me but I can see the masts from the kitchen so still in easy reach of the common.

Sunday 19th August

After a big party last night, we only fitted in a quick walk up the common this afternoon but it was very productive. There has been a fall of migrants and we concentrated on the larger trees and bramble scrub. In a short time just looking in the area below the heather enclosure we noted at least 7 Spotted Flycatcher, 5-6 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff and a single Lesser Whitethroat with 2 Redstart and a Wheatear seen. The whole area is teeming with birds, Flycatchers and Redstart all over the place. Magic.

 

Saturday 18th August

It was my turn for a great walk around Cleeve Common,  heading down around the Washpool for a change. There were Redstart all over the place with at least 8 seen. I had great views of a Spotted Flycatcher with 2 Willow Warbler nearby and once again could hear the Quail. I was just looking at a young Stonechat in scrub which was a treat in itself when a raptor caught my eye. It was a cracking MARSH HARRIER! An extremely dark bird with that eye catching cream crown. It flew towards me then banked away low over the barley fields. It was then mobbed and gained height before drifting towards Hawling. A stunner. A couple of Wheatear on the way back rounded off a brilliant walk. 

A few shots of the superb Marsh Harrier

Spotted Flycatcher

   
Friday 17th August

Greg had a cracking session up on Cleeve Common after work. He managed to once again actually see a Quail with another singing so confirmed two birds above Wontley Farm. Totals of migrants were also very good with 4/5 Redstart, 6 Wheatear, 3 Whinchat and 2 Stonechat.

Greg had this Quail fly up and across the field

Stretching Redstart

 

Thursday 16th August

Another early morning walk around Cleeve Common produced a Stonechat on the common which was great to see. It has become a rare sight and a real treat to see one. The Quail was calling far more than the previous morning just through the gate along the path leading to Wontley Farm. 12-15 Swallows went through and on the walk back along the wall was another Stonechat and 3 Wheatear gave great views. Smashing birds.

Wednesday 15th August

An early morning walk around Cleeve Common before work was very windy but very enjoyable. Small flocks of around 7-10 Linnet flying overhead were noted and a few more Meadow Pipit than usual with around 25-30 were seen coming off the ground. It was great to hear a Quail calling from the barley fields above Wontley farm with 2 Hare crouched very nearby. The female Wheatear was in her usual spot and walking back along the wall towards the masts near the trig point, scanning the walls produced another Wheatear. Instantly hopes were raised for migrants and moments later we picked up a Whinchat in flight which landed on wires nearby. Very nice indeed. We scoured the area and had a Redstart flush from scrub and at least 1 more Whinchat. It appears a few migrants have dropped in and hopefully a few more will follow.

 

Sunday 12th August

After a great time in Bude catching up with uni mates I spent a few hours at Dawlish Warren before heading for home. One of my favourite reserves and again it was great birding. In front of the hide was a large flock of terns often displaying and very noisy. In amongst the 150 Sandwich Tern and 20 Common Tern was a smart adult ROSEATE TERN. Very pale compared to the Common with an all black bill and long tail streamers. A cracking bird. Also in the estuary was a huge number of Ringed Plover. Around 400! With them were Dunlin and Sanderling and also a moulting adult Curlew Sandpiper. On the migrant front it was quite quiet with 2 Garden Warbler in the entrance bushes seen. On the sea were large numbers of Shag and a few Gannet with Sandwich Tern diving close in.

 

A few shots of the Roseate Tern

 

Wednesday 8th August

An evening walk around Cleeve Common was very enjoyable with some great birds seen. A few more Willow Warbler were evident with 4 seen including two very brightly coloured young birds. A male Redstart was dropping to the ground feeding off wires and nearby was the female Wheatear. Walking down the gallops 2 Corn Bunting were chasing each other and a flock of around 15 Linnet went over before a very close flyby from a female Sparrowhawk. Close enough to look into those piercing yellow eyes! The highlight of the walk however was down near Wontley farm where at least 3 Stonechat were seen along with 2 Whinchat. The male Stonechat was constantly chasing the Whinchat away until they moved out into the middle of the field and I watched them all feeding until dusk. Great birding.

The Whinchat seconds before being chased off.

Whinchat

Stonechat

Sunday 5th August

Up on Cleeve Common, two Redstart (1 moulting male and a female) this evening along the wall leading towards west down from the masts car park, with the female Wheatear again, in a similar spot to before. Looking forward to finding more returning migrants over the coming weeks!  
Greg found the first Grass Snake in our field today. Great animals. Our work up there is paying off.

Saturday 4th August

A Redstart and 2 Corn Bunting were the highlights of a walk up at Cleeve Common.

Cleeve Common breeding Wheatear?

After being very pleased to find the juvenile Wheatear up on cleeve common Dave Pearce then spotted it following a female around the next day! Surely this proves that they have bred nearby up on the common. I went up the next day and only saw the female on the wall with no sign of the young bird after an extensive search. It would have been great to witness feeding or find where they were nesting and next year I must put in that extra effort! Great birds.

Is this the breeding female of a pair of Cleeve Common Wheatear?

Monday 30th July- Thank you for staying!

This morning Greg and I got down to Coombe Hill Meadows for first light and thankfully after a short wait the juvenile PURPLE HERON flew in and landed in the long grasses. After not being able to go over the weekend it was great to see the bird on multiple occasions in flight and at one point, right over the hide! Magic. The scene was fantastic, at least 12 Grey Heron and 4 Little Egret were fishing and fighting for the top spot. Also from the hide we saw 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 10 Snipe and a single Dunlin. 5 Yellow Wagtail also flew by and a Curlew was seeing off Herons all morning with Swift streaming through. Great stuff.

A nice flyby

Sunday 22nd July

A trip to Slimbridge today to see the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER. We weren't able to get there yesterday and thankfully it stayed! After a short while it came out from behind an island on south lake and fed with the Godwits and Redshank, showing very well indeed. A very smart bird. Also seen were 8 Avocet from the Zeiss hide and Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper also on south lake.


Wednesday 18th July

An evening walk from the masts at Cleeve Common down to the west down car park and the highlight was cracking views of a juvenile Wheatear. It would be very nice it it was a local breeder! It still had some downy feathers and posed very nicely but the cameras are in Spain with Greg unfortunately.
Also seen was 2 Corn Bunting, a Yellow Wagtail and a Hobby went over and landed in a distant tree. Very lively and plenty to look at.

Tuesday 17th July

An evening drive produced stunning views of a hunting Barn Owl catching a vole. Also 3 Corn Bunting seen on the approach road to west down car park.

Sunday 15th July

A very quiet weekend. Over our field were around 40 Swift feeding very high up which was nice to see with a few Swallows in with them a bit lower. A drive around the Cotswolds only produced a handful of Corn Bunting around Roel gate and not a lot else. Very quiet. In the garden were 3 Goldfinch and a Greenfinch. Greg is in sunny Spain at the moment notching a few goodies already.

Tuesday 10th July

The Grasshopper Warbler still reeling and showing well this evening near Wontley farm and a male Stonechat nearby. Also a Barn Owl hunting fields near to Charlton Abbots.

Sunday 8th July - At last a Groper!

Very nice to see a GRASSHOPPER WARBLER today. I was wondering if I was going to see one this year! Well found by Dave near to Wontley Farm in the Cow Parsley. Love that reeling!

A single fledged Kestrel from the nest near to our field was receiving food from the adults today.

Saturday 7th July

Not a lot of birding has been done recently, with not being at Slimbridge anymore and the dreadful weather. All rather quiet up the common this morning with just the usual birds seen. Spending some time up the field there is a pair of Whitethroat feeding young and 4 recently fledged Willow Warblers. A Cormorant flying over didn't quite get onto the field list.

An evening walk around Dowdeswell was productive despite the weather. It was very enjoyable watching the 3 generations of Great Crested Grebe and some interesting behaviour. The well-developed youngster from the first brood was taking fish from the adult and taking it to the reeds and feeding it to the two tiny recently fledged birds. The single adult seen was catching fish more regularly than I have ever seen before and it was as if the first brood youngster knew if the fish was large it would eat it itself and the smaller catch was taken to the others. Nice to take time appreciating the birds we often just walk past! Very clever family behaviour.

A Common Sandpiper was seen flying around the reservoir and attempted to land on a Mallards back and 4 Tufted Duck dropped in. At dusk around 60 Gulls dropped in, mainly Lesser Black Backed Gull with 3 Herring Gull. A Reed Warbler was heard briefly in the reed bed and also Little Grebe heard. Young should be seen soon.

Wednesday 27th June

Up the common a great sight to see a juvenile Stonechat on the heather enclosure wires. A declining breeder with only 2 confirmed broods and only 3 young this year! Yellowhammer, Skylark, Goldcrest, Meadow Pipit and Whitethroat all singing away on a cracking evening.


Monday 25th June

2 Curlew flying over the Howling cross roads this evening.

Saturday 23rd June

We decided to have a look at the high tide today down at Lydney. A 3 hour watch of the River over high tide was rather quiet despite the ideal conditions and the only seabird seen was a single Fulmar. It gave good views as it flew close by before landing on the water and being taken away on the tide.

We had a look around a few sites in the Forest of Dean and around Speech house produced a Spotted Flycatcher and Wild Boar with  2 sows and 8 youngsters seen. From New Fancy a Peregrine dashed through but little else was noted.


Around Woorgreens 2 juvenile Pied Flycatcher were being fed by the adult male and another Spotted Flycatcher was seen.

Before heading for home we popped into the Yew tree brake area and had cracking views of a singing Wood Warbler and heard Firecrest and Crossbill with Siskin also seen.

Friday 22nd June

A very productive lunch break today with the discovery of another pair of AVOCET breeding on the south lake this time. The male was flicking stones onto the scrape and both were seeing off gulls and nearby Shelduck. On closer inspection from the Hogarth Hide I was delighted to see there was a single egg and the female came in and turned it. Great stuff. There were 6 adult birds on the south lake so who knows when the Avocet breeding will stop! Also an Oystercatcher with 3 young and a Mediterranean Gull.

The second Avocet pair for Slimbridge and the county. You can just make out the egg. Lets hope they are as successful as the first pair.


Thursday 21st June

The Avocet family were showing very well on the south day today. Great to see.

Tuesday 19th June

I went today to see the fantastic Peregrines on Christ Church again. They really have grown in a week and seem very content. Amazing views as one youngster walked across towards me and was looking through the hole in the door. Just a foot away and so close I could see its yellow tongue!
This time the adults did appear and the female was watching over from a pinnacle and the male brought in a feral pigeon and plucked it before feeding it to the young. Amazing to watch at such close range. Top stuff.

Monday 18th June

A real treat this evening as we watched a Barn Owl hunting over our field. It was seen carrying food and returning to the field from the same direction. I wonder where the young are.
Also a Whitethroat still singing away.

Wednesday 13th June

I went for another drive around the Cotswolds this morning and the highlights were excellent views of Yellow Wagtail at various sites and 20-25 Crossbill at Chedworth Woods. Also a Red Kite gave a great flypast near Compton Abdale.

At least 4 Yellow Wagtail in fields on the right leading down towards Cassey Compton and at least 6 at the top of the hill before dropping down into Compton Abdale.

Tuesday 12th June

I met Dave and went to see the Christchurch Peregrine family today. All four young are still doing well and often wandering around outside the box. Unfortunately no adult came in with food while we were there so I will have to go back. Great birds.

Plenty of wing flapping

One very full female Peregrine chick. There are 2 male and 2 female young.

A walk around Cleeve Common produced at least 8 singing Willow Warbler with a minimum of 12 Mistle Thrush seen. The biggest surprise was seeing a Badger foraging in broad daylight and allowing a very close approach! It seemed healthy and ran into the gorse eventually. Great animals.

In the evening I went for a drive around the Howling area and watched a Barn Owl hunting near the run down barn in great evening light. There were also around 6 Corn Bunting in the Royal Gate area.

Wednesday 6th June
A walk around Cleeve Common ended up with getting soaked. It was lively and noisy with all the usual birds seen. A juvenile Stonechat was seen near to Wontley farm along with at least 3 singing Tree Pipit and 10 Skylark.

In the approach road fields there were at least 4 singing Corn Bunting which is great to see along with Yellowhammer. A walk around Dowdeswell produced 3 Grey Wagtail including one juvenile, 5 Coot, 2 Moorhen and a single Great Crested Grebe. At least 2 Reed Warbler were singing in the reed bed and a single Reed Bunting was seen.

Tuesday 5th June
A Red Kite circling over the field today. The second recorded.

Monday 4th June

A cracking visit to the Forest of Dean today with the family with the aim of finding some Wild Boar. Even with the crowds we found a quiet area and found 2 adult Boar with around 8-10 young near the lower hide at Nags Head. Great animals.

 

We weren't there for long but a walk produced at least 3 male Pied Flycatcher and 1 female bird, a singing Redstart and a Spotted Flycatcher. Also lots of Nuthatch and Treecreeper.

On the way home we called in at Ruardean Hill and within 5 minutes heard the magic sound of purring TURTLE DOVE. The bird was sat in a dead tree and preened and purred for the whole time we were there. It was just behind the cricket pitch. A special bird and such a shame they are in so much trouble.

 

Sunday 3rd June

A Little ringed Plover on the south lake today and on the way home a look over Bentham produced a Cuckoo.

Friday 1st June

One of the Common Crane still feeding in front of the Holden Tower today.

Wednesday 30th May
I went for an extensive walk around Cleeve common and the Bill Smillie reserve but did not produce anything out of the ordinary. Many Skylarks and at least 4 Tree Pipit with Yellowhammer and Linnet and 8 Swift over.

Later in the evening I went to Coombe Hill and had really good views of the RED-NECKED PHALAROPE with at least 10 Curlew, 1 Little Egret, 2 Cuckoo and 6 adult Lapwing with 3 young birds. A single Oystercatcher was circling the hide and a cracking male Redstart was along the canal near the car park.

Young Lapwing

Tuesday 29th May

Near to west down the female Stonechat appears to have at least one fledged young. She has done well on her own and it appears the decent weather has come just in time.

Also in the area at least 4 singing Tree Pipit and a Lesser Whitethroat. Unfortunately there has been a lot of hedge clearance up there with lots of large fires. What a ridiculous time of year to decide to rip up hedges.

Up at Lineover wood at least 3 Spotted Flycatcher making a lot of noise and chasing each other around.

At the bill Smylie reserve 2 singing Tree Pipit and at least 10 Duke of Burgundy butterflies. Also 4 Grass Snakes on the wall by the pylons under felt.

Here is a photo of the awesome Peregrine family on Christchurch: All 4 eggs hatched but one chick is a lot smaller than the others but hopefully with plenty of food coming in they will all make it.

 

Sunday 27th May

Two Common Crane went overhead and were feeding on the Dumbles for a while and also seen were 2 Greenshank and 2 Redshank from the Zeiss hide and an Avocet was very close in to the South Lake hide.

Thursday 24th May

The highlight at Slimbridge today was a Little Gull in front of the Zeiss hide with Black-headed Gulls. Also the 4 Crane remain.

Wednesday 23rd May

Greg went to see the CREAM-COLOURED COURSER today with Dave Pearce. They had some great views of the bird and then it flew off just after they left! Thank goodness they went early!

Tuesday 22nd May
Today I went with Duncan Dine to see the stunning CREAM-COLOURED COURSER on Bradnor Hill. I had been on a trip to Fuerteventura and tried to find them but with no joy, so I was eager to see this stunner. One of those birds you have seen in a book many times over the years and just hope to get the chance to see.

The bird didn't disappoint and showed very well feeding away just off the fairway in the bracken occasionally venturing onto the shorter grass. The place was so similar to Cleeve Common. It just shows anything can turn up.  

 

Sunday 20th May
The Greenshank remains and the 4 Crane gave a brilliant flyby!

Saturday 19th May
In front of Zeiss hide was a Greenshank and in the distance on the river edge was a White Goose with the Canada Geese but with no scope I really was a white blob.

Friday 18th May
The Common Crane continue to impress at Slimbridge and also seen was an Australian Shoveler or hybrid duck in front of the Zeiss and 2 Little Ringed Plover. I glimpsed an Avocet chick so they have indeed made a journey of 800m to the bottom new piece. Quite some effort at 2 days old!

Thursday 17th May
A RED-NECKED PHALAROPE today from the Zeiss hide. A smart adult female bird. A Water Rail also seen.
In the evening near Brockhampton, a Barn Owl, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 singing Yellowhammer a singing Tree Pipit and Willow Warbler and Cuckoo also heard
.

Wednesday 16th May
Quiet on the common with only 10-15 singing Linnet seen with a Whitethroat and a Yellow Wagtail went low overhead.
A walk around the Butterfly reserve produced a Cuckoo, 3-4 Willow Warbler, 1 Marsh Tit and 2 Whitethroat. A Tree Pipit was displaying below Aggs Quarry and 3 Wheatear were in the approach road field.

Tuesday 15th May

Greg and I decided we needed to see the sea and went for a day trip to Devon today hitting a few usual sites. We started at Exminster Marshes and although the weather was bright the wind was strong making for difficult birding. Here there were masses of hirundines with around 500 Sand Martin, 300 House Martin and around 60 Swallow low over the pools with 30- 40 Swift also overhead. We noted 2 Wheatear and a single Stonechat and a Bar-headed Goose was with the Canada Geese. Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler also showed well.

With it being rather quiet we headed to Dawlish Warren and on the way we stopped off at Cockwood and picked up the long staying SLAVONIAN GREBE now in full breeding plumage. A very smart bird. At Dawlish Warren our main intention was to see SAND LIZARD as the weather and time of year was perfect. We scoured the dune ridge and were rewarded with views of 4 males warming up for the day. The green on these Lizards is quite amazing. We also saw at least 6 Common Lizard and whilst searching we noted at least 2 Wall Brown butterflies.

 

Bird wise, with the very strong wind, migrant hunting wa difficult and all we noted were 2 Reed Warbler, 4 Whitethroat with 2 Chiffchaff and small flocks of Linnet. Over the sea we had 3 Common Scoter (2m,1f) close in with 3 Kittiwake and Gannets were plunging just offshore. On the beach were 8 Whimbrel and a Sanderling and from the hide we had 30 Sanderling, 25 Dunlin and around 100 Oystercatcher. 8 Sandwich Tern were also seen but a bit distant.

After watching the sea for a while and walking around scouring every area we headed back. We stopped again at Cockwood with the tide up had some stunning close up views of the Slavonian Grebe. A real cracker.

We had a look at the Powderham heronry which has at least 6 Little Egret nests with the adults very vocal and a similar amount of Grey Heron nests. We finished off the day at Topsham where the highlight was watching a Peregrine come in and take a Starling from just next to the hide. Other Birds: 2 Buzzard, single Teal and Wigeon, 8-10 Black Tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Redshank. 

 

Monday 14th May – AWESOME OWLS!

After a nice meal out we took the scenic route home and just before Brockhampton mannor we saw at least 3 SHORT-EARED OWL with 1 BARN OWL. They gave some simply stunning views coming within a couple of metres. As we were watching, a Hobby flew across and perched in a tree giving some top views with 2 Kestrel and a Buzzard also seen. It was a fantastic scene with both Owls next to each other at times with Roe Deer and Hare also in the fields. Top birds and something anyone would struggle not to get exited about seeing.

In my road the 3 Tawny Owlets are doing very well. They are very vocal and just sitting in the car they are often right over the path and dropping low down. I watched as an adult came in with a mouse/vole and fed one. Magic.

I was surprised to see the Shorties still around and it is well worth a look. I will be going back to show people and this time take all the kit for some photos too.

At work I spent lunch watching and showing people 3 Water Vole with a pair mating!

Sunday 13th May

The 4 Common Crane from the release programme still touring the reserve and grounds at Slimbridge.

Saturday 12th May

Real excitement today at Slimbridge. Just as I was finishing, the radio went with a report of 4 COMMON CRANE over South Lake! I had fantastic views of the birds as they circled a few times almost dropping in with the captive birds before heading to feed on the Dumbles. Two birds were radio tagged and they are all from the re-introduction scheme, so they are merely returning home! Great birds and a great sight.

Friday 11th May

A walk around the hides after work produced a cracking drake Garganey in the corner of the Rushy Pen. Really stunning birds and a treat to see one at such close range.

Thursday 10th May

A Hobby through the grounds at Slimbridge today being mobbed by gulls.

Wednesday 9th May

I went for an extensive walk around Lineover wood today and the highlight was a pair or Spotted Flycatcher. Great views of them singing with a lot of chasing each other round with both birds together at times looking like they were checking out potential nest sites. An excellent habitat and with a load of nest boxes Pied Flycatcher could well move in to breed if they aren’t already.

A look at results from the nest box check and 14 boxes were taken up by Tits with 3 Great Tit broods and 11 Blue Tit. The highest count we have had. Also a Blue Tit in a natural hole and Marsh Tit. A minimum of 16 broods of Tit in the 10 acres. Three open boxes have been used but two seem to have been predated or destroyed which is very frustrating. The aim is to log everything that breeds within the field.

Tuesday 8th May
A very productive walk at Sherbourne Water meadows assessing the Willow Tit situation with Dave produced a single pair with one bird singing joined by another shivering near to it. Also seen was a Kingfisher carrying food, Garden Warbler with 4-5 Whitethroat and 1 Lesser Whitethroat. Our first Spotted Flycatcher was a nice surprise along with a Hobby which gave great scoped views sat in a tree and just a single Red Kite drifted over.

On the way home we saw 2 pairs of Lapwing, one with 3 chicks.

In the afternoon I went for a walk around Cleeve Common with totals of at least 27 Wheatear and 3 Whinchat. On the approach road there were 5 Wheatear with my first Whinchat of the year with them. 14 Wheatear were seen in fields near West down with another Whinchat and on the return walk 8 more Wheatear were seen with a third Whinchat on the wall near to the car park! A Red Kite was seen very well landing in fields and I heard a Cuckoo.

 

Up our field Greg found a Marsh Tit nest with adults feeding young. A new confirmed breeding bird.

Monday 7th

May At least two Yellow Wagtail from Ziess hide today and the WOOD SANDPIPER was scoped as it broke cover very nicely. A Bar-headed Goose on South Lake and two Mediterranean Gulls were calling overhead.

Sunday 6th May

Two Yellow Wagtail on the south lake today.

Saturday 5th May

On South Lake. 1 Mediterranean Gull, Common Sandpiper, 1 Avocet and the Eqyptian Goose. Greg had c20 Knot on the river with 15 Grey Plover, two Turnstone and 1 Sanderling with about 340 Dunlin and 240 Ringed Plover. A Whinchat was by the Sluice and a Hobby went through. Later we went to pit 125 and saw the summer plumage BLACK-NECKED GREBE and a Hobby went over with around 30 Common Tern present. 2 HOUSE SPARROW in the garden! Very unusual!

Thursday 3rd May

The highlight at work today was the appearance of Mediterranean Gulls. I heard the birds over head in the morning at then had them at lunch time on the south lake. Smart birds indeed. The Avocets were very active in front of the Holden tower and the hybrid Barnacle x Canada was with Barnacle Geese on the tack piece.

Wednesday 2nd May

A visit to the Cotswold water park today. At pit 125 at least 25 Common tern and an Arctic Tern. At least c100 Swallow, 100 Sand Martin, 80 Swift and 20 House Martin, with many resting in bushes and on wires. Also seen was a Yellow Wagtail, 3 Dunlin at least 6 Reed Bunting, 2 Reed Warbler and a single Red Crested Pochard.

Swallows and Sand Martins taking a break.

At the Whelford pools nature reserve, a pair of Kingfisher and 20 Red Crested Pochard. A look at pit 74 produced 2 Garden Warbler, a Nightingale blasting out that amazing song with Cetti’s Warbler and Sedge Warbler also very vocal. Over the water was at least 8 Common Tern and a Hobby passed through being mobbed.

Elusive Nightingale and showy Garden Warbler

Tuesday 1st May

A great couple of hours spent up at Cleeve Common. The area was buzzing with singing birds. Many Willow Warbler, Yellowhammer and Linnet along with Blackbirds and Song Thrush with the constant sound of Skylark and displaying Meadow Pipit. I was scanning the area when a smart female RING OUZEL hopped out of a gorse bush and started feeding nearby. She was joined by a male and after feeding for a while the male joined the other birds and stared singing from a high perch. The first time I have heard an Ouzel singing.

Female Ring Ouzel

I continued round counting 5 Swift, 12 Sand Martin, 2 House Martin and at least 12 Swallow through with 4 Wheatear on walls above the Wash pool. As the weather started to turn again I headed home seeing a Tree Pipit in the butterfly reserve and 14 Wheatear in the approach road fields.

Singing Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff up the field with Green Woodpecker seen.