I had to drive over to Didcot this evening. Unfortunately, to get there on time I had to go on the M4 and A34. However, I was able to return on the quiet roads through Wantage and Ashbury giving the opportunity for a bit of Owl hunting. I struck lucky just to the east of Ashbury with a Barn Owl sitting on a roadside post. It obliged by staying put as I drove slowly by. A nice bird to finish a good month of birding. This is another new Barn Owl site for me. I really must make an effort to list of all the places I have seen them.
Great White Egret Figheldean (Birdguides). This bird or another has been reported in this area on at least three occasions. From the little I know of the area, access to and viewing of the river is not easy, it maybe that this bird is in this area full-time and just not showing very often.
Thanks to those of you who have sent me sightings while the WOS sightings page has not been active.
A fair bit on at home today so no intention of going far. Saw the fog when I got up so just went for a walk from Chiseldon to Hodson and back. It was pretty hard going with even the tops of some trees disappearing into the fog. It seemed that every other bird I looked at was a Blue Tit. I heard a couple of Buzzards fly over, but no chance of seeing them. Greater Spotted Woodpeckers were vocal with two out of five seen. A couple of Marsh Tits were nice. When I stopped for my coffee I decided to test out Malcolm’s fourth law of birding, “that if you look at a tree for long enough you will eventually see something interesting”. It doesn’t work! I tried it on three trees and all I managed to see was four Blue Tits, and nothing else!! Things improved slightly with a Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail and a small flock of Redwing. Final birds seen were a couple of Common Gull on the green near the house.
In the late afternoon a quick circuit of Coate Water with the dog but nothing much of interest, three Goosander about the best and no sign of the Bittern.
A bit of a quiet end to January’s birding as I am not likely to see anything on Monday and Tuesday as there is still not enough light either side of wokr.
Today was about fitting the birds around all that real life stuff that needs to be done.
Started off at first light in Marlborough for some shopping, fruit and veg at te market and then to Sumbler’s butchers (the best in town) for the Sunday roast. Next stop Savernake for a couple of hours birding before my eleven o’clock appointment at Specsavers. I was greeted by a drumming Greater Wooded Spotpecker and calling Nuthatch, a flock of Chaffinch was scanned for Brambling with no luck. A Lesser Wooded Spotpecker was heard but couldn’t be found, nether could the big Green one when that called. More luck with a Raven that flew over calling loudly. Plenty more Chaffinch seen, also several mixed Tit flocks which included both Coal and Marsh amongst the more common ones. Two Goldcrest and two Bullfinches seen along with a Buzzard. Four of the named Oak Trees were visited, these were; Old Paunchy, The two Saddle Oaks and White Road Oak. Every year I promise myself that I will visit all twenty two of these Oaks but it never seems to happen, maybe this year.
After Specsavers it was off home where my Son persuaded me to go with him to Liddington Hill to have our lunch by the trig point. Not much seen other than a couple of Buzzards and a flock of Fieldfare. Back home for a couple of hours in the Garden. Digging and clearing an area for a new Hornbeam hedge.
Finally I drove to Russley Down for a coffee and cake while having a scan for Owls and a listen for Grey Partridge. Stopped to take a couple some photos of the Pigs (see post of the 22nd).
It was fairly quiet on the bird front, the highlight being a large flock of Starlings around the Pigs. Also seen were some Fallow and Roe Deer but no Grey Partridge or Owls. Still it was nicer than sitting at home drinking coffee.
Friday afternoon birding again. First stop Stanton Park for Little Owl. Guess what? NO OWL. Then onto Buscot for my lunch. Arrived and got my lunch out, then I realised NO FLASK!! nightmare, birding without a flask, bad news. This was the first time I have visited here and not seen a Hen Harrier. A couple each of Kestrel and Buzzard, plenty of Skylarks, Roe Deer and Hares. Next stop was the meadows at Lechlade, 42 Mute Swans and no Geese.
Main reason for heading out this way was that a walk had been arranged at a private lake near to Lechlade where a Great Northern Diver has been in residence since before Christmas. A brief stop at one of the smaller fishing lakes en-route was worthwhile with Kingfisher seen. Arriving at the walk to find a group of birders were already scanning the lake. I joined them and we scanned and scanned and scanned and guess what? NO DIVER. A walk around a couple of adjoining lakes was productive with a group of a dozen displaying Goldeneye, 71 Shoveler and Common Gull seen. Unfortunately still NO DIVER. As we walked back to the cars the skies darkened and we were caught in a heavy hailstorm. And guess what? NO WATERPROOFS. Many thanks to Gareth Harris and Ben Pollard for arranging this event.
Finally it was back to Buscot, hopefully for Short Eared Owl. After about a quarter of an hour scanning, one SEO appeared, followed soon after by another. I watched them hunting for a few minutes and then moved onto another viewpoint. There were three other birders here and they had been watching three Short Eared Owls, one of which was sitting in the middle of a field. Then a Barn Owl appeared, we watched it work along a hedgerow, frequently perching on fence and gate posts. Another great bird added to the sightings here. On the drive home I had good views of a Buzzard and around 20 Greylag Geese at Coleshill.
Corsham Lake, White Fronted Goose, 5 Goosander 3m 2f, 2 Green Woodpecker and 2 Reed Bunting (Jenny Elvin/Liz Stephens).
………and nothing else. No matter though as it was a lovely clear evening again with Jupiter still prominent in the sky. I thought I heard a distant Tawny Owl calling but it was hard to be sure with the constant background drone from the motorway.
Report of a Bittern at Langford Lakes today (Birdguides).
Second winter Iceland Gull at Brookbank Lake Steeple Langford 15.15. (WOS Grapevine).
Peregrine Falcon seen flying from Hodson towards Coate Water. (Mike and Sue Phelps).
Red Kite south over Lawn Swindon. ( Felicity Cobb)
Three Little Egrets Covingham/ Coleview;
Red Kite Nightingale Woods
Two Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard Stanton Park
A Great White Egret was seen at Hungerford today and was reported as flying west towards Wiltshire. It would be worth having a look around Chilton Foliat and Froxfield to see if it has got a taste for Wiltshire food.