Sightings September - December 2013

Tuesday 31st December

Greg and I went for a great day down to Brixham followed by Portland today and a report for the day with photos will follow soon. One of the  star birds.

Sunday 22nd – Sunday 29th December – Provence at Christmas Tour

I have been away on another great tour with Naturetrek seeing some of the Provence regions top birds. 132 species included huge numbers of wintering Grebes, thousands of Crane and Bewick’s Swan and White-fronted Geese were unusual for the camargue. We had great views of Bonelli’s Eagles and a roost of Rock Sparrow with Wallcreeper delighting the group. Surprises included Wryneck and a Pelican Sp.

Sunday 15th December
Greg and I had hoped to go for the Desert Wheatear today but with negative news we spent some time up our field and walked the larch stand at Dowdeswell. There was nothing unusual seen in very poor weather. A Siskin on the feeders from the hide and around 80 Redwing on sloe berries were the the days highlights. 

Saturday 7th December

Greg and I headed down to the forest today and after a bit of searching had cracking views of at least 8 TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL. They were in the middle of the Larch stand from Serridge Ridge and showed well for us feeding with Common Crossbill, Siskin and Redpoll. A great sight and superb birding. We also heard a Willow Tit and saw a single Brambling.

Two-barred Crossbill with a Common at the bottom - top birds.

Thursday 5th December - A stunning bird from Guyana - Vermilion Flycatcher

Monday 2nd December - Back from Guyana

I have recently returned from a fantastic tour to Guyana  with Naturetrek spending 2 weeks travelling through the country exploring the various habitats and encountering some fantastic birds and wildlife. Around 280 birds were seen with 5 of the 8 species of primate encountered along with Giant Anteater and Giant River Otter. I will publish photos soon and write up a full report.

The stunning Guianan Cock-Of-The-Rock

Locally Greg had a great day in the forest catching up with the Two-barred Crossbills and the Great Grey Shrike. The hide is completed at our field and two Goosander on Dowdeswell reservoir was the reward for patch commitment.

Wednesday 13th November - Guyana 15th - 29th November
I am off to Guyana tomorrow evening with Naturetrek and will update again on my return on the 29th November. I hope to have lots of photos of rainforest birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and scenery.

Sunday 10th November
A cracking sunny day today and despite all the great birds in the county I just had time for a quick walk up the hill and Dowdeswell. A single Corn Bunting on the common with c15 Yellowhammer was the highlight with c25 Skylark and Linnet were feeding in approach fields.

Saturday 9th November
Cleeve common – 4 Stonechat, 5 Goldcrest, 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker high over heather enclosure and a single Bullfinch. Also 22 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 3 Blackbird and 12 Linnet. Kestrel along the approach road and 4 Mistle Thrush.

Sunday 3rd November

I have not done much birding over the last week. I found some Otter scat just outside the office but at Dowdeswell the camera ended up in the river! Not good. No action from that for a while.

Monday 28th October

With a power cut at the office because of the storm I had time  to visit Alresford Pond after work and saw– c60 Teal, c25 Shoveler, c12 Gadwall, 1 Pochard, 11 Tufted Duck, 2 Shelduck, 2 Pintail, 14 Cormorant, C50 Black-headed Gull, 6 Common Gull, 20 Coot (numbers building) 1 Green Sandpiper. Pied Wagtails gathering to roost but no Harriers.

Sunday 27th October - update

With visitors for the weekend no birding around Hampshire. Greg has done a great job getting a hide sorted at our field in Mill lane. The feeding station is ready for action again this winter! The Otter has been on the camera again but but no improvements on the photos. This was what the feeding station looked like most of last winter and lets hope for more of the same this year!

Thursday 24th October

At work a Brambling was in the rowan with the thrushes showing well and a flock of 9 Crossbill went over on the lunchtime walk.

Wednesday 23rd October

A brief Ring Ouzel at work this morning on a Rowan that I unfortunately didn't see. c50 Fieldfare, c20 Redwing. In the evening a a Hen Harrier was over the Reed bed at Alresford Pond. It went to roost at 5.55. Also 25 Shoveler, 40 Teal, 20 Gadwall, 1 GBB Gull, 50 Black-headed Gull, 1 Water Rail.

Tuesday 22nd October

Around 30 Fieldfare and 4 Redwing with a few Blackbird and a Song Thrush feeding for most of the day on a Rowan near the office. Also a late Swallow over.

Sunday 20th October - Sightings update

Sunday 20th October

4 late Swallow over Old Winchester Hill today. A look at Alresford pond did not produce anything out of the ordinary but 3 Cetti's Warbler were heard calling.

Saturday 19th October

Stella and I had a trip out to the New forest today.

In the new forest at Beaulieu Road station – 2 Stonechat, c10 Meadow Pipit, c20 Redwing and a Mistle Thrush.

At Keyhaven lagoons we saw the Long-billed Dowitcher a flyby Merlin chasing Linnet briefly and a range of waders. A single Greenshank was with Redshank, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and Turnstone. A single Bar-tailed Godwit was with 3 Black-tailed Godwit and c6 Med Gull were offshore. A Wheatear was also showing very well.

We later saw the Red-breasted Goose at Sturt point with Brent Geese.

Wednesday 16th October

OTTER on camera again between Sun 13th and Tues 15th October. Not the best shot but it's still around!

Sunday 13th October - Sightings update

Saturday 12th October

At Cleeve common – 1 1st winter RING OUZEL below the heather enclosure. Heard alarm calling ans then showed on and off in an elder. Also 12 Fieldfare over, small flocks of Linnet and Goldfinch, 4 Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler.

West down area – Slow Worm and c100 Linnet flock.

Later around Hawling – c100 Skylark flock c50 Goldfinch flock, Stonechat. 15 Lapwing and 50 Golden Plover. Yellowhammer and 3 Corn Bunting.

Tuesday 8th October

Another day at sea today out in Lyme Bay. The sea was not quite as flat as Sunday but we still managed to find 3 White- beaked Dolphin. It was a brief but close up view as they were by the boat for a short time and one fully breaching. We found masses of sea birds including at least 40 Great Skua, 25 Storm Petrel, 3 Arctic Skua and 1 Balearic Shearwater.

Sunday 6th October

I was out in Lyme Bay today with Naturetrek and it was a great day despite not finding White-beaked Dolphin which we had hoped for. The highlight was getting great views of a MINKE WHALE! We had close up views as it came near the boat and watched it surface many times. The other treat was finding a large pod of around 30-40 Common Dolphin first feeding and then all coming around the boat and following us for around half an hour. Great animals to watch.  3 Harbour Porpoise were the other cetaceans encountered. Bird wise we saw 4 Balearic Shearwater, 1 Manx Shearwater, 3 Great Skua and 2 Storm Petrel. There were also Meadow Pipits, a few Pied Wagtail and Skylark and 2 Swallow out over the sea. Gannets and small Guillemot rafts were often seen on calm seas.

Wednesday 2nd October

This evening I had a look at Alresford Pond and was rewarded as a ringtail Hen Harrier came in to roost. Also two Pintail were in with the wildfowl.

Update from our field. We had realised back in July that two BARN OWLS were using a natural hole in a large oak up our field but as the weeks went on we thought the breeding had failed or the pair had given up and moved somewhere else.

However this is what Greg saw on the 3rd September on the edge of the hole: A lovely fluffy young Barn Owl. Very late in breeding! Really great news that the pair successfully bred on our land!

Saturday 28th – Monday 30th September - Spurn Bird Obs

Our 7th visit to Spurn this weekend with some fantastic birds seen. Star of the show for me was watching Yellow-browed Warbler and we had fantastic views of this little gem of a bird. A full trip report to come soon.

Wednesday 25th September

Wolves and Bustards tour – 20th – 24th September

I have just got back from a fantastic tour in north western Spain with Naturetrek. The main goal was to see the IBERIAN WOLF and we spent every morning and evening scanning for this rare and elusive mammal. After finding scat, tracks and hearing them howling, on the morning of the final full day we finally saw them! What we think was an adult female and at least 3 mature young were running around, playing and interacting together. We watched them for around an hour! A really exciting encounter!

There was some good birding too. In around an hour out on the steppe land we watched a flock of around 40 Lesser Kestrel hawking insects, Marsh Harriers, Golden Eagle, Tawny Pipit, Crested Lark, Red Kite, lots of Yellow Wagtail, Great Bustards and a Water Rail on the most tiny pool!

There were lots of Pied flycatcher around along with Stonechat and Whinchat and we had great views of grounded Vultures with 2 Black Vultures in with 11 Griffons.

All this with great company, food and wine. A top tour.

Wednesday 18th September

A look after work produced a fine juvenile BLACK TERN over Alresford pond. This is the new hants patch and there are lots of birds at the moment. The gull roost is building with c450 Black headed, 2 Mediterranean and singles of Common, Lesser and Greater Black–backed Gull.

Also on the pond were 39 Lapwing, 3 Green sandpiper and 1 Little Egret with the usual wildfowl.

Over the cress beds was a flock of around 20 Meadow Pipit. With winter flocks building and a changing scene for a lot of birds some such as a few local House Martin are still feeding young.

Greg was birding the Glos patch and had a Golden Plover up on Cleeve Hill.

I am off on tour again with Naturetrek to northern Spain searching for Wolves until next Tuesday so hopefully some exiting updates then!

Sunday 15th September

Greg and I headed down to the Slimbridge today and saw the Crane wandering in front of the Zeiss hide with 8 Ruff and a Spotted Redshank also here. The Ruddy Shelduck was also seen, in with the collection birds.

We saw a couple of Wheatear out on the dumbles and a Yellow Wagtail was bathing just in front of the rushy hide where Snipe, Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit were showing close up.

We then headed for the river with the high winds promising a seabird but unfortunately there was also horizontal rain which spoiled it.

Wednesday 11th September - Recent wildlife sightings.

I have just got back from a fantastic week away in Ardnamurchan with Naturetrek and the tour was a real success. There were many highlights but the star of the show was the Pine Marten.  At least three individuals were visiting to feed just outside the accommodation and with an outside light we had amazing views. I made a walk way to feed them towards the window and at one point one was feeding  on the windowsill while our noses were touching the glass the other side!!! Amazing animals. More photos and a video will follow but here are a couple.

Other highlights included Otter, Golden Eagle, White–tailed Sea Eagle, Red-throated, Great Northern and Black-throated Divers, Twite, Hen Harrier and many more.

To add to all this on one morning I found a male TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL just outside the accommodation!

I was up early to find Otters with a couple of the group and after failing we decided to look for Crossbill that had been around the day before. About to give up a spruce cone fell from high above us and on looking high into the tree a small flock of crossbill were indeed feeding. The first bird I looked at down the scope was not what I expected! What a corker!

Back in Glos Greg has been working the patches and had some real success with the camera trap we have set up at Dowdeswell! He recorded a second video of a feeding Otter along with photos of an adult Water Rail and a Stoat! Top stuff! It is amazing how much happens on this one bend in the river and how much uses that rock!

Click here for the Otter video: Otter Video number two

Monday 2nd September

At work there were hundreds of hirundines resting up on wires, bushes , root tops and in fields.  It was a real spectacle when they all got up! There were around 250 House Martin, 200 Swallow and 3 Sand Martin.
After work, half an hour watching Alresford pond produced 2 Water Rail, 11 Green Sandpiper, 1 Snipe, around 50 Teal, 110 Black headed Gull and a Shelduck. As I was about to leave a juvenile/female Marsh Harrier came out of nowhere and flew over the pond putting everything up but quickly moved out of sight towards the far end.

I am off to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula tomorrow on the Scottish mammals tour with Naturetrek. Lots of awesome wildlife to be found.

Sunday 1st September

Greg and I decided to go for a look up at Leckhampton hill for a change to see if we could see anything moving. On stepping out of the car we heard a Tree Pipit and saw it high overhead going south and near the old dilapidated farm buildings there was a smart Wheatear.  We were pleased with the start and it soon got even better as Black Redstart flew up from near the Wheatear onto the roof top. A really smart bird.

A few Swallows and House Martins were all that were seen moving and a Spotted Flycatcher was with a tit flock. Returning to the car we stopped and had some nice close views of the Black Redstart again around the buildings.