After taking a load of stuff to the tip I had a walk in Savernake. Other than Warblers there wasn’t much about. Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat and Willow Warbler were all seen. Quite a few butterflies on the wing with five species seen. Highlight was a Barn Owl that was watching me from his box. I then stopped off at Froxfield where there were three each of Little Egret and Lapwing.
A few birds were noted today on the pre and post work dog walks. This morning on the Badbury loop were the usual Corn Buntings and Skylarks along with a Whitethroat and a Garden Warbler. This evening along the Railway Path were a few Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Also seen were a couple of bats.
With a lot to be done on the domestic front this weekend there wasn’t a lot of time for birds. Two quick visits to the Coate flood water and a leisurely walk from home to Coate and back yesterday evening was about it. The flood water visits turned up a single Redshank and my first Yellow Wagtail of the year along with Lapwing, Reed Bunting and Swallows while on the evening walk there was a Grey Wagtail, a Common Sandpiper and low over the lake dozens of House Martins and Swallows. The dog walk this evening got me a soaking and three singing Corn Buntings.
As the day progressed and the rain got harder my plan for an evening on Salisbury Plain was looking pretty crazy. However as I had to drop my daughter in Marlborough for five and pick her up again at half-eight and that my wife would be out until nine I decided to go anyway. Also the weather forecast was suggesting the rain may clear by six. It turned out to be a good decision. I dropped my daughter off, collected my free coffee from Waitrose and stopped off in Savernake to drink it. What birdsong there was drowned out by the sound of the rain on the car roof. Things were not looking good. As I approached the Collingbournes I could see a faint brightening of the sky to the west and on reaching the edge of the plain the rain had stopped and the cloud was starting to break up. The first bird seen was a Corn Bunting that was singing on wires over the road. I stopped to take a picture and could also hear a Skylark. After taking a couple of pictures of a Pigeon and a Jackdaw I moved on. I then stopped to take a picture of the brightening sky. It was certainly starting to look promising.
Having done so I decided to give the surrounding fields a scan. Lots of corvids and a few Hares. In the field beyond this was a Lapwing. More Corn buntings, Meadow Pipits and a Whitethroat were seen
and Cuckoo and Lesser Whitethroat heard. A bird flying in the distance caught my eye and a quick look confirmed it as a Short-eared Owl, the first of two seen. A dead Badger, Yellowhammer and Swallow were next and a small bird in the middle of the track turned out to be a Skylark that wasn’t bothered about moving
out of the way of the car. A Kestrel and Stock Doves were around some farm buildings and the second Owl was down by the side of the track.
I finished off with a very confiding Corn Bunting, cars certainly make good hides,
two Red-legged Partridge, a heard only Green Woodpecker and another distant Cuckoo calling. Twenty-four species in all which considering the earlier weather was about twenty more than expected.
As if I hadn’t done enough today I took the dog for an hour and a half walk up to Folly Farm and Liddington Hill. It was a lovely evening and as usual the Corn Buntings were in good voice. A couple each of Red-legged Partridge and Buzzard were flushed along the lane to the Farm. It was quiet around the Copse but the hedgerow at the base of the downs was fairly busy with Yellowhammers, Chaffinches and Linnets. Also seen were a few Skylarks and gulls and a single Whitethroat along with a plane flying from Lower Upham airfield.
I had decided not to go on the WOS walk to Greenham Common, instead I headed off for a morning at the Water Park. I started at Twitchers where there was plenty of action. The Nightingale was singing from deep in the hedgerow and a Cuckoo was calling from Pit 95. Amongst others, Sedge and Willow Warbler and Whitethroat were also in full voice. Sand Martins, Swallows and my first Swifts of the year were feeding low over the lake as was a single Common Tern. A check of the scrape came up with very little of interest. Another Cuckoo started calling from the direction of Waterhay and eventually I found it sat high on a tree across the lake, another year tick. I then drove to Waterhay where after a quick check on the Whimbrel field (nothing) I set off along the Thames Path. My intention was to walk to the Reed Hides, spend a while there and the back along the path past 68A. Warblers a plenty again with six species seen and two others heard. I was pleased to get good views of a Garden Warbler but despite plenty of Reed Warblers being heard not one was seen. A check of the scrape from the far hide found a single Oystercatcher, I could hear Curlews but couldn’t see them. A pair of Wigeon were amongst the Coot and Tufted Ducks on the lake. A Treecreeper was a good find in the trees here. From the Reed Hide I saw a few Reed Buntings, two Red Crested Pochard and some Coot chicks.
The walk back was pleasant with another sighting of Cuckoo and also of three Curlews and a Whimbrel flying off of the scrape. On the way back to Twitchers I looked in at Kent End, just Little Grebe added here. Back on 74 and there was a bit more action on the scrape with Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Redshank and Common Sandpiper seen. I was joined by Bob Philpott and we both spent some time trying for a picture of a Whitethroat that was nest building in a clump of bushes.
Almost everytime it perched it was hidden behind teasels. Bob was just getting ready to go when he saw four large birds approaching from the east. A quick look with the bins and we realised that they were Cranes, they briefly circled before dropping down out of sight behind some trees between 74 and 68. After a flurry of activity on our phones to get the news out we started scanning the area they had landed in. After a few minutes they appeared as they moved in a line along the bank at the back of the area between the lakes. When they came out in the open we could see that as we had suspected they were all ringed birds. Presumably from the Slimbridge / Somerset release project. By now things were getting crowded as local birders alerted by the text messages started to arrive. Rounding off an excellent day two more Whimbrels were found on the scrape. In all sixty-seven species were seen or heard.
Today I went up to London to see my Mum and my Sister who was over from France. A planned stop at Staines Reservoir was shorter than hoped for due to the traffic on M4. Still worthwhile though with a few Arctic Terns amongst the Commons. Hundreds of Black-headed Gulls were seen along with a few Lesser Black-backed. The only Ducks seen were Mallard and Tufted. A Great Northern Diver was drifting around on the southern reservoir. Last time I saw one here it was spending ninety percent of its time underwater. A couple of Oystercatchers were feeding along the waterline. No hirundines were seen, obviously conditions were not right. Later on had a walk along the Thames at Richmond with only Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Starlings and Parakeets seen.
Incidentally this is my six hundreth post.
Following on from a couple of days spent in the Telford area which included my
first visit to Ironbridge, this morning I had a pleasant walk at Coate Water. A Common Sandpiper here was my one hundred and fiftieth UK species seen this year. This is one day later than last year and the same date as in 2012.
Considering I have only made two proper birding trips out of county this year not a bad result. Anyway back to Coate Water. I arrived at a few minutes before eight and spent just over two hours on a circuit, starting from Dayhouse Lane, around the lake, past the flood water and back to Dayhouse lane at Coate Farmhouse. A total of forty-four species were seen along with three of butterfly and Roe Deer. Two Common Sandpipers were seen, the first near to the Diving Board, the other on the Boat Club launching deck. Also seen in this are was a pair of Blackcaps, the first of many, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and a pair of Long-tailed Tits. From the dam end I had seen a Tern flying in this area but it had now moved on so although it was most likely to have been a Common I shall never know for sure. Surprisingly there were no hirundines over the water and on the water there were just a few Gadwall, Tufties, Coot, Great Crested Grebe and LBB Gulls. Moving through the woods I added Great Spot, Song Thrush, Blackbird and a few tits and Chaffinches. Around the first hide the Herons were noisy and a Sedge Warbler was singing. Along the track towards the second hide were Linnets, Goldfinches and a couple of Jays. Near to the second hide a Cetti’s was heard but not seen. Before the flood water there were three Roe Deer in the
field, a Buzzard flew over and the first butterflies were seen, Orange Tip and Tortoiseshell. The flood water was quiet with just Shelduck, Lapwing and Canada Geese, including one with the neck collar LN. No wagtails on the horse fields and the first Swallows were seen around Coate Farmhouse. Back on Dayhouse Lane and it was more Blackcaps and Linnets and a pair of mating Woodpeckers. Brimstone butterfly was also seen along here.
The rest of the day consisted of driving around Swindon looking at Sofas, another visit to the new Waitrose at Wichelstowe, into Wootton Bassett to collect the dog from the kennels and cooking a roast dinner.
After a bit of a late night I failed to get up early as intended for a quick walk around Coate Water. In the end all I managed was a mid-morning look at the flood water. A fair bit going on with a dozen Linnets and a few Swallows by the farmhouse. On and around the water were; a few each of Canada Geese and Mallard, 2 Teal, 1 Shelduck, 4 Lapwing and 2 Green Sandpipers. Along the hedgerow there was Song Thrush, Blackcap, Chaffinch and Wren.
Having managed to get up reasonably early i headed out to the Water park. The decision to be made was should I go to 43 which is on the Gloucestershire side or stay in Wiltshire and visit Waterhay / Cleveland lakes. Although the area around 43 is more compact I decided to do the longer walk from Waterhay. Before I parked a quick check was made on a field that is favoured by passage Whimbrels. All that was found was a female mallard just sat on its own in the grass. Starting from the car park I headed along the Thames path past 68d and c. There was a lot of birdsong but not many sightings. Chiffchaff, Willow, Cetti’s and Sedge Warbler were all heard and not seen. The only Warbler seen along here was Blackcap. I had been hoping to see Cuckoo but didn’t even hear one. At the Hide by 68c a Cetti’s was calling just a few feet away, a brief glimpse was had as it moved around deep in the foliage. Leaving the Hide, it or another was calling from the scrub next to lake 59. Another few minutes peering into the bushes was rewarded when the bird popped out and could be seen in full voice right out in the open. A little further along there was a Blackcap in full song. Cutting through a gap in the hedge i came out by 68a, on the water were a few Coot, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe and a total of fifty-six Mute Swans.
18 of the 56 Mute Swans
Just along the path here is an area that has previously been home to Whitethroat and today was no exception with a bird singing away on the top of the bushes. Further on a singing Willow Warbler posed to have its picture taken.
Blackcaps were again plentiful on the final leg back to the car park. In the large field before reaching the car I saw one of two Wheatears that I had been told about. From here I moved along to Twitchers, not the best place to watch from in the morning as you are looking straight into the sun. However i did manage to pick out a couple of Dunlin on the spit at the front of the scrape. Over the water there were quite a few Swallows and Sand Martins. A couple of Sedge warblers were seen as were two Bullfinches. I had planned to stay here for a while but got a text from Nigel Pleass informing me that, at Eysey a Peregrine was showing well. As Eysey was my next intended stop anyway I headed straight there and found the Peregrine sat on an island in the middle of the lake. This was my fourth year tick of the day, I am now one short of one hundred and fifty. That was pretty well it for birds today. The rest of the day consisted of; a shopping trip to the new very nice Waitrose at Wichelstowe, taking my daughter to work in Marlborough and a couple of hours gardening. I did manage a walk along the old railway path with the dog where amongst the commoner stuff I saw Linnet, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting.