Monthly Archives: September 2013

Almost made it

Well the intention was to be at the Water Park for first light but I actually got there at half-seven so not that far out. I started with a quick look at the scrape from Twitchers and then a scan of Kent End. No sign of Ibis so I headed off somewhere that gave me a vantage point to scan the skies. And for the next hour and a bit that is what I did to no avail. No matter as there were plenty of birds around to watch. Mainly Wood Pigeons mind but whatever. Actually I managed around twenty-five species including Green and GS Woodpecker, Buzzard, Jay and Bullfinch. On the way home I checked out 97, 301 and Eysey but nothing of interest was seen.                                                                                                                    In the garden this afternoon there were plenty of butterflies including four Comma and a Red Admiral.  Also some fungi growing on an old log.

Marlborough was my final outing of the day and on a convoluted route home I managed to grab pictures of a Fallow Deer in Savernake and a Green Sandpiper at Froxfield.

Cut Short at Coate

Plan One today was a trip to In Focus at Slimbridge as I need to get a new pair of binoculars. However as it has been pretty quiet there this week I switched to Plan Two. This was to go to Ace Optics and LCE in Bath and then onto Chew Valley Lake for some birding. A couple of phone calls were made and neither had stock of the binoculars I wanted to look at. As I am hoping to go to Norfolk next week I decided that I would go to Cley Spy instead as they do have stock. So what to do today? A couple of hours at Coate Water was decided on. It appeared fairly quiet to start but when I got to the Broome Manor end of the lake there was a fair amount to be seen. A flock of around sixty Wigeon was unexpected and there were five Little Grebes at the margins. Three Chiffchaffs had been heard. A few

Herons were flying around and there were quite a lot of gulls, mainly Black-headed. The leisurely walk was cut short when I got a call reporting fifteen Glossy Ibis at the Water Park. So it was a brisk walk back to the car and a fast drive to Kent End to find, as expected, no Ibises. A couple of other locals, Bob and Neil had arrived so we decided to have a little hunt around. After drawing blanks at 74, 97 and 301 we were joined by Chris who was the one who had seen the flock. He informed us that they had flown soon after he arrived at Kent End after they were chased around by a Swan. I headed off to check out Eysey and Round House whilst the others returned to 74. End result birds not re-found. The problem with CWP is that there are many places that birds can go where they cannot be seen. Hopefully they will reappear tomorrow. If i can get up early enough I shall spend a couple of hours looking first thing. Roving autumn flocks of Glossy Ibis have become an annual event over the last three or four years. Can’t be a bad thing.

Short Distance Twitch

I was in the mood for a ride out on the bike and with the Red-backed Shrike still at Greenham Common decided to combine the two. I made my way to Newbury via the back roads and on arrival at Greenham Common spoke to a couple of birders who confirmed that the Shrike was still showing. So it was a quick change out of my bike gear and a brisk walk over to the fire plane which is the area the Shrike was frequenting. Good views of a Green Woodpecker on the way over. I could see a small group of people obviously looking at the bird and soon found it, prominently perched atop a large bush. I joined the others and spent a few minutes watching the Shrike. It made a couple of sorties from its perch and then returned. I moved around a bit to try for a couple of pictures which came out okay considering I wasn’t that close, unlike the Salisbury Plain bird of last year . The bird then became more mobile, finally settling low down in another bush and much harder to see. I decided to head off to see what else I could find. As usual there were plenty of Linnets around, another couple of Green Woodpeckers were seen and at least eight Stonechats which unusually were chasing each other around. Usually you only see them perched. While I was watching the Stonechats I noticed a gird moving about in the Gorse. I finally got a good look at it to find it was a Dartford Warbler. Every bit as good as the Shrike. With time getting on I headed back to the bike, quite happy to have had two year ticks.

On the way home I stopped off at Chilton Foliat and Froxfield. Just the usual birds at Chilton Foliat , also about a dozen trout feeding by the wooden

footbridge. At Froxfield, along with a few Canada Geese and Mallards were a Little Egret and a Green Sandpiper. On my way home from here I added Buzzard and Red Kite to the day list.

An Irruption of Craneflies

After dropping my daughter at work in Marlborough this morning my Wife and I took the dog for a walk on Fyfield Down. Although pretty quiet on the bird front there were good numbers of butterflies around. The most interesting thing was the large number of Crane Flies around, numbers were well into the thousands. In some places clouds of them were flying up from the grass as we walked through. On the bird front, the most numerous seen was Pheasant also a few Red-legged Partridge. Other than corvids, pigeons and gulls there were a few Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches, a couple of Blue and Great Tits and single Yellowhammer, Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker. A few Swallows were passing overhead. Plenty of butterflies were seen with the best being a Clouded Yellow, we got great views as it flew around but it didn’t settle long enough for me to get a picture. Other species seen were, Small and Large White, Tortoiseshell, Small Heath, Meadow Brown and Speckled Wood.

Quiet at the Water Park

The Water Park was my destination this afternoon. The weather was pretty miserable when I got there but improved through the afternoon. I started at Twitchers and there wasn’t a lot going on. A single Green Sandpiper was the best bird seen. Moving on to Kent End things didn’t improve with just a single Little Egret and fourteen Lapwings. Fifty or so Starlings were on the wires along Cerney Wick Lane. Lake 97 had a few gulls and forty-eight Lapwings. Final stop was 301 where there were another eighty-five Lapwings. A few Common Blue butterflies were seen and a Field Grasshopper managed to find its way into the car.

Liddington and Coate

While driving home from town this morning I had a good but brief view of a Hobby in hot pursuit of what I think was a Swallow. Later on it was off with the dog to Liddington Hill. As usual I parked at Folly Farm and then just walked theIMG_1933 (1024x766) field margins. The regular Goldfinches were at the copse along with twenty or so Linnets and a single Chiffchaff. A Red Kite was being mobbed by eleven Crows but appeared not to be particularly bothered by them. Two Ravens were seen again, they appear to have taken up residence as this is the third time I have seen them in a week. Fair numbers of Swallows and House Martins were passing over, as were a couple of low-flying Chinooks which put up every Wood Pigeon aroundIMG_1939 (1024x755) as they flew over. One Tortoiseshell and a few Whites were the only butterflies seen and I was honoured to have a Red-legged Shield Bug (i think) land on me. ItIMG_1946 (1024x732) wouldn’t keep still for a picture and soon flew off again. Back at home there were plenty of butterflies on the Buddleia. At least a dozen Tortoieshell, a few Whites and a single Comma. In the evening I headed over to Coate for the last hour of daylight. Highlights here were thirty-five Gadwall, two Little Grebe and three Kingfisher sightings. A mixed flock of about two hundred gulls built up and then at just gone seven they all flew off towards the Water Park. House Martins and Swallows were feeding over the fields, there seem to still be good numbers of these passing through.

Groundwork at Southleaze

I paid a brief visit to the lake at Southleaze this evening. A new fence has been put up which makes parking more difficult. Also the earth moving has now reached the adjoining field. Not good. However there was a bit of interest with two Green Sandpipers, a single Teal and at least a dozen Moorhens. A flock of at least 20 House Martins and Swallows passed through and there were more than a hundred gulls on and around the freshly turned ground. On the canal at Witchelstowe were a few Mallards, and single Moorhen and Heron.

There Is Still a Lot I Don’t Know

Another morning that I didn’t manage to get out of bed early enough. So the plan for a drive out to the Water Park was changed to another walk at Liddington. Fortunately for me, the Little Stints that moved on yesterday afternoon had not re-appeared so I didn’t miss out. I drove up to Folly Farm and the first decision was whether or not to wear a coat. I decided I wouldn’t as I only intended walking rather than sitting around. First birds seen were a few Swallows feeding across the field with the sheep in. Three Buzzards and a Red Kite were using the updraft to soar along the ridge. A Charm of around twenty Goldfinches was moving between the stubble field and the Copse and a few gulls were passing overhead. Further along the ridge a couple of Ravens were soaring and tumbling and were

then joined by a third. A Kestrel flew up from the ground ahead of me and a Sparrowhawk shot through the bushes, presumably having seen some small birds, which was more than I had. No Wheatears or Yellow Wags again. This time last year I saw both on every visit. It then started to rain so I decided to short-cut back across the stubble field to the copse and then back to the car. I flushed four Red-legged Partridges and a few Skylarks as I walked across the field. When I arrived at the copse there were a few birds flitting around and as the rain had stopped I decided to watch for a few minutes. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Great and Blue Tit were all seen. I then picked up what I first thought was a Goldcrest moving restlessly around in the middle of the trees. It disappeared for a couple of minutes and then popped up fairly close to me. I then realised that it wasn’t a Goldcrest as instead of the crown markings it had a lightish eye-stripe and wing bar. I don’t carry my Field Guide when I walk around here as I never expect to see anything particularly unusual. I knew what it wasn’t but the only thing I could think it could be was Yellow-Browed Warbler, a bird I have only seen once before. From what I could remember it didn’t seem right but I couldn’t think of anything else. The internet signal was poor for looking online for id and it didn’t show again so I decided to call a couple of people to get advice. Pete was non-committal and Nigel suggested Greenish Warbler. Pete arrived about half-an-hour later, without his Collins and we watched for another few minutes before I had to go. Back home I checked the books and found it did seem that Greenish Warbler was a good possibility. Hopefully it will hang around and the identity confirmed otherwise it will be “another one that got away”. Two lessons learnt. If you don’t know your birds, carry a field guide all the time and study the field guide more so that you do know your birds! Later on at home my daughter found a young Newt crawling around on the decking. I managed a picture before putting it out in the garden.IMG_1923 (1024x768)

Braving the Cows

I fancied spending some time on and around Liddington Hill today. I also needed to give the dog a good walk. However there are a lot of cows with calves on the hill at the moment and they can be a bit skittish when dogs are around. Anyway I decided to give it a go and it worked out okay. The calves are a good bit older now and not so bothered. I walked from home, up past Folly Farm and up to the Ridgeway before walking the edge of the ridge back to the Hillfort. There were a few birds flitting around in the hedgerow along the lane. Two or three Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest were seen along with another warbler that had a prominent eyestripe. I only managed a brief glimpse and it was into the light, from the size I can only think that it was a Sedge Warbler on the move. Several more Chiffchaff were seen along the way but apart from Goldfinches and Linnets, very few other small birds. Red Kite was seen on three occasions and there were several Buzzards around, including three making the most of the wind over the hill itself. Best sighting was a group of four Ravens that were determinedly heading east whilst being hassled by some Crows. A few Swallows were also noted heading south. No Wheatears again and also no Yellow Wagtails around the cattle. Coming down from the hill I crossed a stubble field and managed to flush a Corn Bunting and a handful of Skylarks. Two Speckled Woods and a few Whites were the only butterflies seen. Not surprising considering the cool breezy conditions. Other interest was provided by a Microlight and a couple of tractors working the fields. Final species total was a hard-earned twenty-six, not including the mystery warbler.

A Different sort of Clouded Yellow

Highly Recommended (and much easier to photograph).IMG_1887 (616x1024)