I got up about half seven to the sound of the wind blowing, decided not to go to Liddington Hill so went to Coate Water instead. I parked in Day House Lane and walked around the fields to the far hide. A few Lapwing and around a hundred Teal on the floodwater. All the usual stuff from the hide with three Shelduck and a couple of Goosander fishing in front of the hide. Also a couple each of Common and Herring Gull along with the Black Headed. Walking towards the main lake a small flock of Siskin were seen. On the main lake the Bittern was showing well in it’s regular reedbed. Along Broome Manor Lane Nuthatch, Marsh and Coal Tit were feeding on seed that had been left on the fence posts. A Sparrowhawk flew across the lake and a Grey Wagtail was seen on the dam wall.
For the Sunday afternoon dog walk we went to Russley Down. A few Yellowhammers and Fieldfare were the first birds seen, followed by the first Corn Bunting of the year. A flock of at least five hundred Lapwing was good to see. One of the most interesting sights in this area are the many Saddleback Pigs which belong to Helen Browning from Eastbrook Farm. Even better this time of year as they are loads of Piglets to be seen. The birds love the piggery as well with large flocks of LBB Gulls, and Corvids. Also plenty of Starlings and Pied Wagtails. Another great area to visit with access along the road (Nell Hill) at the east end of Bishopstone village.
White fronted Goose reported with Canada’s at Corsham this morning, (Julian Rolls).
Bittern showing well in usual area at Coate Water this morning (Malcolm Royal)
What was the first thing I heard after waking at my Mum’s house in West London. A Parakeet of course, my favourite bird in all the world! Not!
No birding as such today although I had thought about going to Staines reservoir. In the end I chose to have a bit of a lie in. We decided on a walk in Bushey Park and onto the Thames at Hampton Court with a pub lunch in-between.
This is the Heron pond in Bushey Park. If you are in the area the park is well worth a visit and is a good place to see Lesser Spot. If you are visiting Hampton Court it is a good place to park, being just a few minutes walk away. Not many birds seen today with a few Egyptian Geese being the most interesting and dozens of Parakeets the least. Of more interest was an excellent meal in the Kings Arms Hotel which included a great pint of King & Barnes Sussex Bitter and a very nice cheeseboard.
Early finish Friday again. giving blood at ten past two so a quick drive to Buscot to have a scan at the Hen Harrier site. One Harrier quartering the fields was seen to catch and eat prey. Also three Buzzards, two Kestrels and fifteen Lapwing. After giving blood I was heading to my Mum’s in London. Leaving Swindon at just before three I decided that the best route to take would be via the Grey Phalarope at Farmoor. If you look at a map it is only just away from the direct route from Swindon to the Heathrow area!! Arriving at Farmoor a local birder kindly pointed me in the direction of the Phalarope. Fabulous views of the bird feeding in the froth at the edge of the reservoir. A few extra minutes scanning found the Great Northern Diver out in the middle of a very choppy number two reservoir.
Another excellent trip out. The only problem with having a great January is that there won’t be so many birds to find in February. The benefit of that will be the chance to really concentrate on the local sites. I have just realised that I haven’t spent any time at Liddington Hill yet this year.
I have driven along this road many times over the last few years, and although a nice drive with great views it has never appeared to be an area to go birding. However, over the last couple of weeks it has become a bit of a hotspot, with sightings of seven species of raptor and also, many farmland birds. Also good numbers of Deer and Hare have been seen. It just goes to show that good birds can turn up anywhere. You just need to keep on looking. Unfortunately most of the action seems to be over the border in Oxfordshire but it is certainly an area to keep an eye on. It is nice to have a local site to rival the likes of SPTA , Hawling and the Warths on Severnside.
I have just noticed from the WOS sightings page that there will be no updates until the end of the month.
Obviously this isn’t a sightings webpage but if anybody wants to send Wiltshire sightings to me for the rest of this month I will do my best to publish them each evening.
Send any sightings to me at email@example.com. Sightings for the Swindon area and the Water Park to the relevant websites as per my links.
I haven’t yet mentioned this to WOS but will e-mail David Wall this evening.
A fabulous evening so I took the dog for a long walk around the village. There is always the chance of a calling Tawny Owl. Unfortunately no sight or sound of an Owl but the stars were fantastic and just before I arrived home a shooting star blazed across the sky. Amazing.
After yesterday’s run around I had no desire to travel today. Also needing to keep things sweet at home. I am OK if I go out early and get home for ten o’clock so it was a quick walk at Coate. Well worthwhile with my first Snipe of the year. A Water Rail was squealing in the reeds and, as usual, that it where it stayed. A Green Woodpecker was more obliging. All of the regular stuff on the water although only five Goosander. I spent a few minutes looking for the Bittern but no sign, however there was a bonus with a very smart Yellow Legged Gull. A small flock of around a dozen Redpoll was also a nice surprise.
In the afternoon a family trip to Barbury Castle to walk the dog. Not much around with three Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel, plus small flocks of House Sparrow and Linnet. On the way home, just at the bottom of the hill was a superb male Merlin sat in a bush right by the road.
Back at home I gave the top of Liddington Hill a quick scan for raptors, nothing seen there but did see a Sparrowhawk arrive in the front garden. It stayed about a minute before flying off.
A good end to a great weekend of birding.
Out of bed at half four and on the road with Steve by half five. Arriving at Calshot at just gone seven, we were the fifth car in the car park. Twitch organiser Bruce Gwynn greeted us with the words “bacon rolls and tea on the go at the village hall”. On the walk to the hall a Tawny Owl flew across the road, a good omen maybe? After refreshments we went outside to wait for the Sparrows to wake. (thanks to the Calshot locals for their hospitality).
Within half an hour we had managed excellent views of the bird and had another bacon roll, actually eaten while watching the Sparrow in my scope. We then had a walk along the seafront adding Brent Geese, Rock Pipit, Stonechat and a few waders to the list.
Next stop was the Dark Eyed Junco, A hundred and fifty yard walk to the viewpoint and a fifteen seconds wait got this one on the list. Onto Eling for the Black Throated Diver, this one was a bit more work, a ten minute walk and a ten minute scan of the water. Unfortunately the wheels came off at Black Hill when the Great Grey Shrike failed to show (sounds familiar, see fourth time lucky, ninth of December). Slight consolation was a sighting of three Wilts birders (Hi Pete, Neil and John).
Back into Wiltshire to end the day at Everleigh on Salisbury Plain for Short Eared Owl. After getting pretty cold we had good views of the three Wilts birders who were still following us around and also just the one Owl. Although I can’t ever see myself going far down the twitching road but it was a most enjoyable day out.
I don’t as a rule do “twitching” but I am tempted by a trip to the New Forest area tomorrow. If it was just the Spanish Sparrow I honestly wouldn’t consider it. However the supporting cast in the area is so good that I am seriously tempted. I was hoping to go on the motorbike but not now it has turned cold and frosty. Not because of the cold but because the salt and grit on the road doesn’t do the bike any good. Major hurdle will be getting up early so I can be at Calshot before first light.