Nothing new seen on the early morning dog walk. Then it was off to Newlyn, Mousehole and Penzance. A bracing walk at Mousehole with sightings of Turnstones, Cormorants and Gulls followed by the nicest Fish Pie I have ever had at Pam’s Pantry. Then it was on to Penzance where my son was catching a train home. He came down with us for a short stay. Wife and daughter headed for the shops and I headed for the sea wall to look for the Black Redstarts that have been around for a few days. Unlike me, they were sensible enough to be keeping out of the wind and weren’t showing. I did manage to add Black-headed Gull to the trip list though. More luck at the Jubilee Pool with great views of four Purple Sandpipers and a couple of Rock Pipits. Taking advantage of the extra hour of light this evening we drove to Cape Cornwall for a walk. There were several each of Rock and Meadow Pipits here along with single Pied Wagtail and Raven. On the climb up to the monument a Peregrine drifted over, another first for the year. This or others were seen twice more. At the top it was an effort to stand up the wind was so strong. Out to sea were plenty of gulls and a couple of Cormorants. The hoped for Chough were nowhere to be seen.
Woke up this morning to sunshine although still cold and windy. On an early walk to the coast path the only possible miggramt was a Chiffchaff skulking in the Gorse. Out to sea were Gannets, Cormorants and a few Auks. After breakfast we went to Lands End. On a stroll along the coast path we saw Fulmar, Shag and GBB Gull. On the land Stonechat and my first of the year Wheatear were seen. To be honest I was concentrating more on the views than the birds. Later on in St Ives we watched Turnstones trying to emulate pigeons by picking up crumbs from around people’s feet. Back at the cottage we wandered out to watch the sunset over the ocean and finished the day with fish and chips.
A leaving do night out in Swindon was not the best way to prepare for driving to Cornwall this morning. However we were only an hour late leaving and had a good journey down. Buzzard, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Raven were all seen on the way down. We arrived at out cottage just outside Sennen before three and after settling in took a walk down to the coast path. Surfers and Gannets were the main interest here. We then drove to Sennen and had a walk wet and windy walk along the front. Rock Pipit, Oystercatcher and Sandwich Tern were seen from here. A promising start considering the conditions. Lands End and St Ives are on the plan for tomorrow on what promises to be nicer day.
Another busy day so a couple of hours at Liddington Hill was the bird fix for today. Several large flocks were around. Mixed finches and buntings at the copse, along the southern end of the ridge was another flock, this one consisting mainly of Linnets with a few Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers. Back along towards Liddington there were at least two hundred each of Fieldfare and Starling feeding on the grass. Other birds seen were Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, a single Meadow Pipit, a few singing Skylarks and a mix of corvids, gulls and pigeons. On the way back I stopped to chat to a photographer who had set up at the copse. He had seen a couple of Wheatear down by the road to Badbury. I spent a few minutes looking with no success. I am off to Cornwall tomorrow on a family holiday. Hopefully a few decent birds will turn up while we are there.
A few pictures of the not so exciting avian visitors to the garden.
So much for taking it easy now while I am having a few weeks off of work. This morning consisted of taking my daughter to the Dentist, shopping in Go Outdoors and stopping at the bank. A quick look in at Wroughton Reservoir got me five Tufties, two Gadwall and single Coot, Moorhen and Mute Swan. Plenty going on in the garden with most of the regulars seen plus three Rooks who had taken a liking to the biscuits I put out. Finally at just before three I was able to get out for some birding. Another trip to Liddington Hill with the dog. With three layers on, plus a coat I was toastie in the cold easterly wind. The usual mixed finch and bunting flock was at the copse but there was very little on the western flank and only a Sparrowhawk seen at the top of the hill. I then headed a little further south towards the Ridgeway. Finally some birds with quite a few Yellowhammers, Corn Buntings, Chaffinches, Fieldfare and Blackbirds plus one each if Linnet and Meadow Pipit. Another group of birds then flew up from a large heap of straw and one of them was a Ring Ouzel which obligingly perched in a bush. A male giving a good view of the white chest markings. Then another male flew from the same area followed by what I think was a female although I wasn’t quite sure. The first Ring Ouzel is always one of my highlights of the year. Heading back to the car there were plenty more Yellowhammers around, also a couple of singing Corn Buntings and finally a male Pheasant by the car.
A simple title but not a simple day. Most of the morning was spent back at Honda signing farewell paperwork. Then it was back home for more admin duties. Managed some time checking out the feeders, it was interesting watching the Blue and Long-tailed Tits moving through. Where I live is a linear habitat and all the birds seemed to be moving in the same direction so it seemed that there were many different birds passing through. Later on in the afternoon my wife and daughter needed to go to Marlborough. I drove them there and then went on to Savernake with the dog. Very quiet with a handful of Blackbirds, two each of Buzzard, Great and Long-tailed Tits plus single Wren and Nuthatch. Can’t say I could blame them, it was pretty unpleasant with the biting wind. And we have got off very lightly in this area.
After a couple of quiet days on the birding front, just a quick walk around Coate with my daughter and the dog on Friday and a bit of garden watching yesterday it was good to be able to get out today. With the way the weather was, a walk from home up onto the Ridgeway was maybe not the most sensible of choices but I have invested in some good walking gear so it makes sense to use it. Initially and unsurprisingly there were very few small birds around, just flocks of pigeons and corvids feeding in the fields. Around Folly Farm there were a few Fieldfare, Chaffinches and a single Reed Bunting. Just before climbing up to the Ridgeway I stopped for a coffee. Scanning the fields I picked up on a few small birds feeding on the ground. I then realised that there were a large amount of birds here. In all I estimated at least three hundred with a mix of Finches, Thrushes, Starlings and Buntings. Also in the area were a few corvids and gulls. Very little along the Ridgeway with a single Buzzard being the only new species. Dropping down to Lower Upham a male Sparrowhawk shot across the track. Along the railway path I added Kestrel, Goldcrest and Mistle Thrush and back at Chiseldon the regular Green Sandpiper was still at the flood water. Back at home I had some lunch and then prepared a casserole for dinner this evening. Then it was time to drag the dog out for a walk to Coate Water and back. Other than a Hare, very little was seen along the railway path but after crossing the curly-wurly footbridge over the M4 things picked up a bit with quite a few Fieldfare and Redwing flying about. The water on the right of the second hide, unusually held a Great-crested and a Little Grebe along with the more usual Swans, Mallards and Coot.On the reserve lake were plenty of Gadwall and a few more Shoveler than of late. Also two female Goosander. A dozen or so Canada Geese were lazing in front of the hide. In stark contrast on the island, another group were noisily and aggressively chasing each other around. Two Shelduck were fast asleep in the middle of the mayhem around them. A single Sand Martin, my first of the year was feeding over the water. I can’t imagine that there were many insects to be caught. On the flood water were a few Teal and Wigeon and two Snipe flew up as I approached. Apart from fifty or so Black-headed Gulls the main lake was quiet. In front of the first hide, the feeders were a hive of activity with numerous tits flying in and out. Five Chiffchaffs were feeding here along with a single Reed Bunting, two Rats and a Squirrel. The Great White Egret was seen feeding in the reeds, surprisingly difficult to see. Nothing new was added on the walk home so the day ended as the title says with around twelve miles walked and fifty-four species seen.
As you may have guessed from the previous post I have decided on a change of direction in my life. After eighteen and a half years at Honda I have made the decision to move on and to try something different. Hopefully this will allow me a little more time and flexibility for birding. We shall see.
There is great excitement amongst Twitchers in Wiltshire today after a rare bird was found nesting at the Honda factory in Swindon. The discovery of the first breeding record for Britain of a Lesser-Spotted Redundancy Pigeon was made today whilst a Honda employee was clearing his desk prior to leaving the company. The good news is that the bird did not appear to be bothered by the disturbance and is still happily sat on its nest. The bad news is that the nest is in an area that the company will not allow birdwatchers to access. Fortunately a picture has been taken and I have been given permission to reproduce it here.