Monthly Archives: February 2012

Weekday birds

I had the pleasure of having two teeth extracted this morning and had decided to have the afternoon off of work. I decided to do a bit of birding on the way home. Starting at the old Moredon Canal I was hoping for a wintering Chiff-Chaff or Blackcap. No such luck, it was pretty quiet here with only a couple of Bullfinch and a Goldcrest  worth noting. Next stop was Coate Water to have a look for the Dunlin. Bird was found almost immediately, asleep on the dam near the car park I wasn’t feeling great so headed home for a sit down. I needed to pop out to Wroughton so stopped for a look at the reservoir. Six Little Grebe were the highlight here along with thirty-seven Tufted Duck and nine Gadwall. I see from today’s sightings that two Smew were seen at Coate today. Another great bird on the list.

Dog Walking tick

Took the dog for his evening walk tonight. Walked down past the Washpool and was scanning the bank with my head torch to see the sheep. Found myself looking straight into the eyes of a Tawny Owl sat on the lower branches of a tree. I turned the light low and watched for around forty-five seconds until the Owl flew off towards the Church. Another Wilts first for the year.

Coate Water

The Bittern is now into its sixth week at Coate and is still showing well albeit at a challenging distance for the photographers. Another sighting of a Dunlin yesterday (Mike and Sue Phelps). This may well be the same bird that was seen on the second. If so, where has it been hiding itself?  The year has started well here with Peregrine, Yellow Legged Gull,  Pintail,  Brent Goose, Goldeneye and regular Mandarin already on the year list. It is also probably the best place in the county for seeing Goosander . Hopefully the run will continue throughout the year.    (pic by Tony Martin).Photo of a Dunlin

A day of Owls and Waders,

My Son is off on his travels with the Air Force again so I decided to go to Brize Norton to see his plane take off. It was an early start as he was due to leave at 06.40. As you may have noticed from earlier posts I am always happy to drive around the country lanes during the hours of darkness. My reward this morning was a total of four Barn Owls, three of them at new places for me. After seeing his plane take off (an hour and a half late) I headed back towards Lechlade for a bit more birding. A Merlin was on a roadside post just outside of Bampton and a large flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover (first of the year) near Kelmscott. A walk by the Thames at Buscot Weir gave nine Goosander and couple of Greenfinch. Over to Lechlade to check out the Swans was worthwhile with two Bewicks accompanying the 67 Mutes. It was still a bit early for Harriers but I headed home via the Coleshill Road anyway. Eight Hares, three Roe Deer and a Buzzard were my reward here.  Back at home I was clearing one of the bedrooms ready for decorating, regular checking of the front garden gave first a Greenfinch!! Since I said on Friday I haven’t seen one locally they have all decided to follow me around. The Redwing and Goldcrest again and then a superb Male Bullfinch which was only the second garden sighting in the twenty five years I have been in this house.                                                                                    Half one saw me heading out for lunch( a flask of soup and a sandwich). I had decided to go to the River Kennet at Chilton Foliat. This is always a good area during a freeze as many birds move to take advantage of the wide water by the road bridge and the many gravel bars a little way upstream.  It turned out to be a good choice with five Snipe and four Green Sandpipers on the gravel bars and three male Pintail and seven male Goosander on the wide water. Also seen were a good count of sixty-eight Gadwall, seven Little Grebe a Little Egret and the bonus bird, a Woodcock, another year tick. Another great lot of birds with four Barn Owls, five species of wader, two year ticks, a great garden sighting and all within a twenty mile radius of home.                                                                                 Okay it’s not as exciting as Norfolk but I still think our local birding is great.

And today…

Today I had a lot of family stuff on so started with a lie in. First off was a bit of garden watching along with a cup of tea. Seen with the normal stuff was a Goldcrest and a couple of Goldfinches which was nice. Mid morning I was out in the car taking my son over to his base at RAF Benson in Red Kite country and as usual plenty were seen. A bit frustrating with no time for birds as I needed to be in Marlborough with my wife at half one for the Opticians and a bit shopping. Fortunately we got back in good time so I headed off for a walk on and around Liddington Hill.  And what a fabulous afternoon, although very cold, there was no wind and it was really pleasant being out. Not many birds at first with Linnet, Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer seen. Three Mistle Thrushes flew over. A Lapwing appeared to be a bit confused as it seemed to be marking territory as it flew around calling loudly. Then a ringtail Hen Harrier flew by giving great views. Not much else seen other than this Pegasus Microlight flying from Lower Upham airstrip. It must have been pretty chilly up there! A few Fieldfare were seen on the way back along with some more small groups of Yellowhammers. Driving back down the lane from Folly Farm I stopped to check out a couple of … GREENFINCHES, at last. It isn’t often you can be happier having seen a Greenfinch  than a Hen Harrier!       To round the day off nicely when I got home I saw three Redwing and two Wrens in the Holly tree in the front Garden. Not bad for a non-birding day.

Today I heard a Greenfinch!!

Unfortunately though, I didn’t see it. Strangely enough I haven’t yet seen a Greenfinch in Wiltshire this year. In fact I haven’t seen many at all. We are all aware that they have been affected by an outbreak of trichomonosis, but I have been surprised by how few seem to be about, certainly in the places that I am used to seeing them. The one’s I heard today were at Coate Water. I did look for them but with no success. There was more open water today and the ducks were a little more spread out than last time I was here. A good number of Gulls were loafing around on the ice, noisily flying up whenever people started throwing bread to them. No sign of the Bittern again, maybe it has moved on as it hasn’t been reported for a few days now. From the bottom hide the other are of open water could be viewed, around two hundred Teal were standing around the edge and a handful of Goosander and a couple of Mandarin were actually swimming around. A Buzzard and a Heron flew across the lake and that was about it. On the way back to the car I met up with a group of local birders who had ventured out from the pub for a while. Hi Felicity, nice to put a face to the name. Back by the dam the regular Barnacle Goose was swimming around with the Canada’s along with a few more Goosander.

Grand day out

Braving the snow at seven this morning meself and  Steve headed south for the Wiltshire Orni. field trip at Blashford Lakes. Apart from some black ice near Durrington we had an uneventful drive down. Two Stonechats were a nice drive by sighting inbetween Amesbury and Salisbury. First stop was Harbridge Meadows where we quickly found the Swans, soon picking out the one Whooper and five Bewicks. We were first to arrive at Blashford and went into the Teal Hide to check out Ibsley Water. A wide selection of ducks included several Pintail and Goldeneye. Once the others had arrived we wandered around the three hides here, steadily adding to the day list. No Yellow Legged Gulls were found but two Greater Black Backed were nice to see. Lunch was taken by feeders at the visitors centre adding Siskin, Nuthatch and Greater Spotted Woodpecker. Some of the group saw a Kingfisher on the river. Next stop was the Ivy South Hide where one of the three Bitterns was seen. The highlight here was a Cetti’s Warbler that came into the open giving great views. On the way to the Woodland Hide a Water Rail was seen by all of the group. At the Woodland Hide the activity at the feeders was non-stop with Siskins and Redpoll the best visitors with a supporting cast of Nuthatch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Tits and Finches. This concluded our visit to this fabulous reserve. We ended up with just over fifty species for the day.

Heading back towards home, we stopped at Figheldean on the River Avon to look for a Great White Egret that has been in the area for a while. Despite four of us searching we drew a blank. Next stop was Salisbury Plain where we watched three Short Eared Owls quartering the rough grassland. All in all a fine day’s birding with a final day total of sixty-two.

Coate Water

A quick hour at Coate this afternoon. Nothing special seen, I seem to be missing all of the more unusual stuff over the last few days. There are only a couple of patches of open water on the main lake and just one on the other. It brings some of the ducks a bit closer than usual which is nice. A couple of hundred Teal were crowded around the open water opposite the bottom hide, along with a couple of Goosander and Mandarin. Just the one Grey Wagtail today and the hybrid tufted was showing well. A call in at Liden Lagoon on the way home gave another Grey Wagtail and another couple of Bullfinch which seem to be everywhere this year.

Off to buy some veggies.

Although I went shopping last night I had already planned to go to Marlborough to buy my veggies at the market. The simple plan was to walk there and get the bus home. I left home just before eight and headed for the Ridgeway. There were plenty of birds around with flocks of Linnet, Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Fieldfare. On reaching the Ridgeway I saw what was to be the best bird of the walk, a ringtail Hen Harrier drifting along in front of me, always a great bird to find. A small group of Bullfinch were nice to see along with plenty of other small birds. Dropping down towards Marlborough, on Poulton Down great views of  half a dozen Red Kite to add to the several Buzzard already seen. Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were added to the list as well. Reaching the Kennet at ‘Minal’ I saw a couple of Little Grebe, a Grey Wagtail and heard a Cetti’s Warbler. On reaching Marlborough I did my bit of shopping and was contemplating going for a well deserved pint. However the X5 bus  was due, so I decided to get off home. For the sum of £3.30 (no wonder people don’t use the bus) I headed home adding Lapwing to the day list which ended up at forty species seen plus three more heard. Not bad for a nine mile walk and just over four hours from start to finish.

Bird while you shop

Doing the shopping in Sainsbury’s this evening and saw a Robin flying around in the store. Apparently it is a regular customer having nested in the warehouse last year (Thanks to Steve for the info). It was certainly causing some interest with many customers watching it as it flew around.