Monthly Archives: August 2013

An Hour at Twitchers

I managed an hour at Twitchers late morning today. There was plenty of activity but unfortunately nothing out of the ordinary. Most interesting was the amount of Mallards around with more than two hundred and fifty counted on the main lake. The only waders seen were two Common and a single Green Sandpiper. There were probably more out of sight as a Heron and Little Egret kept moving in and out of view beyond the vegetation that is blocking views of the scrape. Great-crested Grebes were active with three flying the length of the lake and four Common Terns were feeding. A quick stop at Kent End found another dozen Terns which included three juveniles.

Back Home Again

Just home again from a few days away in West Norfolk. This was a family holiday for my Mums Eightieth Birthday. So apart from a short visit to WWT Welney and a morning spent at Titchwell very little birding was done. We stayed in a large old house not far from Downham MarketIMG_1273 (1024x756) and a combination of good company, good food, a swimming pool, hot tub and games room plus very comfortable beds all conspired to stop me from getting up early every

morning of the stay. My first ever visit to Welney was not particularly productive mainly due to it being a little too early in the year. A handful of Whooper Swans

along with Yellow Wagtail and Common and Green Sandpiper were the only species of interest. Also seen were large numbers of Butterflies and Dragonflies. As always Titchwell was great giving the opportunity for me to fill in some of the gaps in my year list with five wader ticks, Ruff, Knot, Spotted Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit and Avocet plus Spoonbill. The two new hides here are great for brushing up on wader id and there was much discussion as to whether or not one of the Dunlins was actually a Curlew Sandpiper (it wasn’t). Also of great entertainment value were the wardens attempts to help people find the single Med Gull that was out amongst the large number of Black-headed. Several Marsh Harriers gave good views but no Bitterns or Bearded Tits were seen. Apart

from this, Turnstones at Hunstanton, Green Woodpeckers in the grounds of theIMG_1086 (1024x768) IMG_1249 (1024x746)house and a Tawny Owl seen on a night drive were the other highlights. There was also some aviation interst with the RAF base at Marham being only a five-minute drive away but I only managed a brief visit here as well.IMG_1190 (1024x749) The absolute highlight of the week was an hour or so spent in the outdoor Hot Tub watching the Perseids Meteor Shower, many orbiting Satellites and the International Space Station passing over.

A Little Frustrating

Today I got to spend a couple of hours on Portland, unfortunately it was work related and didn’t allow any real opportunity for birding. A couple of Great Black-backed Gulls were noted as I drove past Radipole and a very brief stop on the roadside at Ferrybridge got me Dunlin, Sanderling and Ringed Plover. Still it is always nice to get down to the coast even if it is for work.

A Little Bit of Birding….

….that was fitted in  while I was out and about today. Top quality stuff though, with amongst others I managed to see two Montagu’s Harriers, two Little Owls at separate sites, Raven, Red Kite and several Buzzards.

This evening I took the dog for a walk on the Downs near Ogbourne. As I drove down the track a Sparrowhawk shot across the road in front of me. Swallows and House Martins were feeding low over the fields and Corn Buntings and Linnets were perched on overhead wires. A few Feral Pigeons were on a barn roof and IMG_0820 (1024x773)several small flocks of Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew over towards the Water Park. Several Yellowhammers were singing and a single Skylark was flushed from the path. No Quail were heard and as time is getting on I think I may have missed out on them this year. Finally and just to show once again that good birds can turn up in the most unlikely places, have a look at this news article.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-23585329

A Couple of Hours at the Water Park.

This morning I headed out to the eastern side of the Water Park for a couple of hours birding. Starting off with a gull count came up with almost two hundred Lesser Black-backed, just under fifty Herring and sixteen Black-headed. A couple of Green Sandpipers were heard with one seen. A few Swallows and Sand Martins were around along with a single House Martin. Five Red-legged Partridge running across an area of gravel were an unexpected sighting. A Sparrowhawk was seen briefly as it glided along the hedgerow. Viewing at Round House Quarry was awkward as the hedgerows have grown up. Four each of Little Egret and Heron, three juvenile Shelduck and another Green Sandpiper were all noted along with a flock of fifteen Lapwing flying in the distance. Yellowhammers were singing and some Goldfinches flew over. Final stop was on the Bridge over the Thames at Castle Eaton. Several Swallows were feeding low over the fields, Bullfinch and Sedge Warbler were heard and a family of Swans came upriver hoping to find someone to feed them from the riverside pub garden.

Back Home

I have just returned from a few days holiday in Majorca, staying in the birding hotspot of Puerto Pollensa. Our fourth visit to this fabulous resort. It was never intended to be a birding holiday and a combination of late nights, a comfortable bed and sheer laziness meant that very little birding was done. Several evenings I set my alarm for first light and on several mornings turned it off and stayed in bed. Because of this my trip list was only a meagre twenty-five species of which twenty were birds regularly seen in the UK. House Sparrows were the most numerous bird seen, with a good-sized population in the hotel grounds. Just as the human population they seemed to spend a lot of their time on the beach, plenty of leftovers for them to pick over. Next in quantity were Spotted Flycatchers of which there were several pairs around the Hotel, followed by Wood Pigeon and Collared Doves. Quite a few Mallards were seen, on the local nature reserve and flying in small groups over the bay.Three types of Gull were seen with Audouins and Yellow-legged seen every day along with a single Med Gull that appeared over the beach for a few minutes one afternoon. Also seen regularly from the beach were a number of Shags. These spent a lot of their time on the small reefs just off of the main beach and allowed swimmers to approach to with three or four feet before moving. This obviously wasn’t the best time of year for birds and this was confirmed on the one morning that I did manage to get up early. A walk around the small La Gola reserve which is not far from the main town. Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Wren, Cetti’s Warbler, House Martin, Swift Swallow, Little Egret, Grey Heron Mallard. If it hadn’t been for the two Sardinian Warblers and a single Spotless Starling I could have been at Coate Water. THere was a good passage of Swifts on most days, all of them heading South for the Winter. I was hopeful of a few species on a boat trip around the Cap de Formentor to Cala St Vincenc. In the end the grand total seen was five, Audouins and Yellow-legged Gull, Shag, more than a dozen Eleanoras Falcons and a few Shearwaters that I think were all Balearics. Along with the birds there was some other aeriel interest provided by the Canadair Water Bombers of the Spanish Air Force. One of these is based at Puerto Pollensa but unfortunately, as there was a devastating forest fire on the island while we were there we were treated to the sight of groups of six of these planes collecting water from the harbour to dump on the flames. So a great holiday was had but I do regret not making a little more effort on the birding front.