Another mini milestone reached today when the site reached 10,000 views. Also I have almost reached 250 posts. Amazed I can still think of things to say and even more amazed that you are still interested in what I get up to.
So as always, Thank You.
I hadn’t long left the car when I realised I wasn’t dressed for the conditions, cool and with a hint of rain and me with a thin sweatshirt and no coat. It had seemed okay when I looked out the window half-an-hour earlier. With just pigeons, corvids and gulls seen in the first few minutes it appeared that the birds weren’t impressed with the conditions either. A Redstart was heard by the gate at the end of the track from Folly Farm but it wasn’t showing. A few more birds were seen with Great and Blue Tit, Yellowhammer and Kestrel into the book. Only a few Crows were seen along the ridge and on the castle itself where a few Swallows and Meadow Pipits. A lone Wheatear popped up on the fence and a Yellow Wagtail flew over. Heading back along the bottom of the field, a fair-sized Charm of Goldfinches were again feeding in the shelter belt and on approaching the gate again the Redstart was seen on the fence giving the opportunity for a poor quality photo. It disappeared back into the hedgerow so I sat myself down on the damp grass hoping it would come out so I could get a decent picture. After fifteen minutes I gave up and headed home for a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie.
I decided against a long journey so headed to the Water Park for a good long walk. Starting from Waterhay I planned to follow the Thames Path to the Reed Hides and then back along the side of Lake 68. great start at Waterhay with three Black-tailed Godwits feeding in the soggy field next to the car park.
A few Pied Wagtails and Black-headed Gulls were also here along with a lone House Martin overhead. The first of a few Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard and there were loads of Long-tailed Tits in the hedgerows. A Grey Wagtail flew over and along with the regular birds a Common Gull and some Wigeon were seen on various lakes. Two Green Sandpipers were in flooded fields and a Little Egret flew up from the river. From the far hide Bar-tailed Godwit, Shoveler, Little Grebe and six more Little Egret were seen on the scrape. It is just a pity that closer views are not possible. Heading back along the side of Lake 68 several Herons were on the banks and the first of four Jays flew across the lake. Finally I had good views of a Green Woodpecker. Seen but not heard were two Cetti’s Warblers and a Willow Warbler was seen to add to the numerous Chiffchaff that had been around. I arrived back at the Waterhay car park to find that there were now seven Godwits and a few Swallows were overhead. Next I headed over to Fairford to see the two B52 bombers at the air base. While here I stopped in at Whelford Pools where there were several of the neck tagged Canada Geese. Then it was off home with a return visit to Fairford in the afternoon to see one of the B52’s fly in. For me, without doubt the best thing I had see flying today. I have added a second aeroplane picture. If you look closely you can just spot a gull over the wing.
Another walk onto the top of a breezy Liddington Hill this afternoon. There were quite a few Swallows passing overhead and at the top a small flock of Meadow Pipits were flying around. Along the ridge were a Wheatear and a Liddington first for the year of Whinchat. A flock of around eighty Goldfinch were feeding on some cover belt and two Kestrels were seen. Plenty of Corvids, Wood Pigeon and several Lesser-blacked gulls along with a couple of Herring Gulls were seen
This evening I took the dog down into the valley between Chiseldon and the motorway. Very few birds around. A few Wood Pigeons and Crows and plenty of gulls heading for the water park. Also around thirty House Martins feeding up for their long journeys. Apart from those all that was seen were a couple each of Blackbirds and Pheasants, also Robin and Buzzard heard. On the mammal front were a few rabbits and two Muntjac. With things to do at home tomorrow afternoon I am hoping to get out somewhere on Saturday. Either staying near home with a long morning at the water park or a bit of a drive, perhaps to the Somerset Levels and Chew Valley.
Seen on a stop at Coate after work were twenty Lapwing and a few Teal on the floodwater along with a dozen Pied Wagtails and around twenty House Martins overhead. In with the horses were a few more Pied Wags and a single Starling. Just a few Swallows around the farm and the usual flock of House Sparrows. Later on a walk up to Liddington Hill with the dog, four Buzzards, 2 Kestrel, 2 Chiffchaff and a solitary Pied Wagtail were seen. Also a couple of flocks of Corvids and plenty of gulls.
I decided on Russley Down for the dog walk this evening as I hadn’t been there for a while. With a couple of the fields being worked by tractors there were plenty of gulls around. Of the ones that I looked at they were all Lesser-black Backed bar one Herring Gull. A couple of the flocks numbered around three hundred. A couple of large flocks of Corvids were also noted. Heading up onto the Downs from the Ridgeway a Wheatear flew up from the track, a Yellow Wagtail was seen overhead and also two Skylarks. A handful of Swallows flew over and a Hare was seen. At the pig farm there were many more corvids and gulls, also here were a few Red-legged Partridge and a couple of Pied Wagtails.
With a busy family based weekend ahead the prospects for birdwatching didn’t look good. And I wasn’t wrong. The first half of Saturday morning was spent shopping in Marlborough and the rest of it, plus a good chunk of the afternoon was spent in the garden. I managed to get out about three and headed up to Liddington Hill to carry out a task that I had been intending to do for ages. For the Millenium a group built some decking and added a memorial to Richard Jefferies and Alfred Williams next to the The Trig point on the hill. I thought it a shame that they hadn’t repainted the Trig so finally I got around to doing it. To me it now looks a lot better now, restored to it’s original colour. I am still wondering if the base should also be painted. There are traces of paint on it suggesting that at one time it was white. I am thinking that maybe it will be too much and would spoil the look of the whole thing. In the evening it out to town to have an Indian meal for my son’s birthday. On returning home we sat out in the garden until almost midnight. I had already decided not to go on the WOS walk at Oare. I needed to go back to Marlborough so went via Chilton Foliat, not much on the broadwater but a group of fifty-four Canada Geese were on the water to the west of the bridge. Next stop was the wooden footbridge upstream where five Little Grebe plus a few ducks and a Greylag Goose were seen. A couple of Nuthatch were heard, a Chiffchaff was singing and a Green Sandpiper flew over calling loudly. Final stop was at the large pond at Froxfield where eight each of Mallard and Moorhen where counted. A lone House Martin appeared followed by a small flight of Swallows. During the afternoon a couple of Red Kite were seen from home and there were a few Swallows and House Martins about. Early evening I took the dog out and ended up doing just over six kilometres up onto Liddington Hill and back. Four Buzzards and a Kestrel were taking advantage of the wind to soar along the ridge. Best of all were three Wheatear showing well on the fence. Also seen were Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch and a couple more Kestrels.
A bit of watching from the garden late this afternoon gave a reasonable total of fly over birds, three types of gull, three corvids plus Swallow, House Martin, Goldfinch, Collared Dove and Wood Pigeon. All common but always nice.
After work I popped into Stanton Park to see if the Little Owls were out enjoying the sunshine. Again nothing, pretty sure they must have moved on. After giving blood and with just an hour or so spare it was another brief stop at Coate. All the ducks flew as I arrived leaving 20 Lapwing on the mud and a few Swallows dipping the water. A Buzzard was overhead and two Grey Wagtails in with the horses. On the spur of the moment I drove up Folly Lane before heading home. A good move, for as well as meeting another local birder allowing me to put a face to another name there were loads of Raptors around. A combination of thermals and I guess chopped up Rabbits from the combining had attracted at least eight Buzzards and four Red Kite which were all either soaring, quartering the cut field or lounging around on the bales and the ground. Also seen were singles of Kestrel and Raven plus a few Swallows and Goldfinch. On arriving home I was watching the local House Martins feeding when a Hobby lazily drifted across. A new addition to the seen from the garden list.