Sunday dog walk again and today we decided to walk to Coate Water and back. Heading out of the village past the Washpool we saw five Wrens in the first half-mile or so. Also a Grey Wagtail along the stream. There was quite a lot of birdsong to be heard, mainly Robins. Not a great deal of bird interest at Coate with just the usual stuff seen. Two Chiffchaffs were heard chiffchaffing and there were a lot of Moorhens feeding in the large areas of algae on the main lake. Back at home a Red Kite and a Buzzard were circling over the house and late afternoon a number of Swallows and House Martins were feeding high up. A few Brimstones were also seen in the garden.
I have recently built a small pond in the front garden and this afternoon was pleased to see that the local House Sparrows were using it to wash in. At one point there were a couple of dozen around. They were taking it in turns to stand on the Lily pads to wash. Very entertaining to watch.
Another successful Saturday morning dog walk from Folly Farm this morning. First bird seen was a Kestrel perched by the gate at the start of the track to the copse. Then around half-a-dozen Swallows flew over. Heading along the track the first of several Robins was seen, passage birds I imagine. There were plenty of Linnets and Yellowhammers to be seen and Corn Buntings and Chaffinches seem to have reappeared after a few weeks absence. Heading through towards the Ridgeway I saw three buzzard, a Red Kite and another Kestrel. on the grassy slopes were a couple of Meadow Pipits and a Goldfinch but no sign of any Wheatears. Heading back towards the track a familiar call from around the old rifle butts announced the presence of a Ring Ouzel. I sat down to see if it would appear and within a minute or so it did, a fine male obligingly perching atop a Hawthorn. A passing Magpie caused it to fly and I watched it until it landed in the hedgerow alongside the track. Heading a little further along towards the Castle there were plenty more Yellowhammers. Three more Swallows passed over and two Jays were moving along ahead of me. It was then time to head back to the car, as i walked towards the copse the Ring Ouzel flew out of the hedge and back to its original perch. Again a Magpie sent it into cover. Back at the copse were three or four Chiffchaff, some Blue and Great tits and a Dunnock.
…to the day when I made a pre-work visit to the Water Park in the hope that the juvenile Black Tern would still be around. I started at Kent End where I saw Greenshank, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Kestrel and a party of around twenty-five Swallows. Then it was onto Twitchers for a look at 74. Almost straight away I saw the Tern which was sitting on a buoy just to the left of the rafts. After a few minutes it flew and started to patrol up and down the lake busily feeding. Not much else of interest seen, just three Lapwings that flew up from the scrape. However a worthwhile visit with a Wilts year tick in the bag.
This afternoon my wife and I took the dog for a seven mile walk from Hackpen Hill to Fyfield Down and back. We left the car park and headed south along the Ridgeway until we reached the recently restored Dew Pond. We then followed an overgrown Bridleway to Totterdown Wood. After passing through the Wood we emerged onto the Downs and took a haphazard route around until we found ourselves back on the Ridgeway. It was then a pleasant walk back to the car. Birdwise it was fairly quiet with Linnets being the most numerous. A few Yellowhammers and Meadow Pipits were seen as was a Single Green Woodpecker, and three Swallows. Raptors noted were single Red Kite and Buzzard, two Kestrels and a family group (I assume) of four Sparrowhawks. The best sightings were a pair of Stonechats and two Grey Partridges. Butterflies seen were Green-veined Whites, Meadow Browns and Speckled Wood.
I took the dog for a walk around the Liddington Hill area this morning. It was very misty but there were loads of birds around. First seen was a Blackcap and then the first of several Chiffchaffs. Linnets, Goldfinches, Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers were seen in good numbers and a single Wheatear was picked out in the rough grass. A Yellow Wagtail was heard flying over. Seven Canada Geese flew over calling noisily and a flock of around thirty Swallows were feeding low over the fields. Sparrowhawk and Buzzard were noted and a Jay was an unusual sighting for this area. Five thrushes were seen heading east. they could have been Fieldfare but were more likely to have been Mistle. Twenty -three species in all and this would probably have been higher if I hadn’t had the dog with me.
First stop today was Blakehill to see if the Wryneck was still around. As I arrived I saw Robin looking for Brown Hairstreaks along the lane and he said that he hadn’t seen it. Neither did I but I notice that it is reported again on Birdguides. Still had a pleasant walk and a good few birds were seen. Two female Redstarts were the best with a smart Lesser Whitethroat running them a close second. At least a dozen Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers two Reed Buntings and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were amongst the other species noted. Also seen were a couple of Slow Worms. There were also masses of Blackberries and Sloes in the hedgerow.
At ten to eleven the first of two U2 Dragon Ladies due to leave Fairford today was heard taking off. This was my cue to head back to the car as the other one was due to depart at 12.00. After a quick look at the War Memorial I headed off
to Fairford arriving in good time to enjoy seeing the U2 depart.
With time to spare before starting work I had time for a bit more birding. Around ninety Lapwing, 3 Greenshank a Green Sandpiper and four Little Egrets were at 306 and at 305 I watched two Hobbies gorging on dragonflies. Only a small number of birds here again with just two each of Little Egret and Heron, a few gulls and Mallard and three Mute Swans.
I found this Southern Hawker in my utility room last night. It was still there this morning so I moved it out into the sunshine. After a few minutes it flew and started to patrol around the pond. About twenty minutes later it found its way into the kitchen so I had to catch it and put it out again. According to my daughter it was in the kitchen yesterday as well and managed to find its own way out.
A day in London today for me and my mum and I headed off to Richmond Park. Starting at Pembroke Lodge we were surprised to find that Tenors Unlimited were performing an outdoor session http://tenorsunlimited.com/. We then walked along to King Henry’s Mound where unfortunately the famous view to St Paul’s was not great due to the hazy conditions. Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Nuthatch and Parakeets were seen here. After soup and a roll we headed off for a walk at Pen Ponds. On the drive there we had good views of Red and Fallow Deer.
At Pen Ponds a Hobby was being harassed by Black-headed Gulls. Birds of interest on the lake were Herons, Red Crested Pochard and Egyptian Geese. one of the Herons was hunting in deep water looking quite strange with no legs showing. Plenty of Dragonflies around with Emperor, Migrant and Brown Hawker.
On the way back to mum’s house we stopped at the Town Wharf in Old Isleworth for a drink. A great pub right on the river with good beer, a few birds (Grey Wagtail being the best) and aircraft approaching Heathrow to watch. Also seen was a boat paddle floating downstream. Hope they had a spare. Possibly the best bird of the day was seen standing on the front of a moored Dutch Barge, the Cathja http://www.cathja.org/. Haven’t been able to identify it yet.
On my way home this evening I left the M4 and took to the back roads hoping to find some Owls out enjoying the Harvest Moon. Unfortunately none seen but I did manage, Bats, a Fox, a young Badger, a Hedgehog and three Roe Deer so still worthwhile.
Today I decided to have a ride out on the motorbike. Planned route was into Farmoor, Brize Norton, Fairford, Pit 306, Twitchers Gate and back home. This took in Wilts, Oxon and Glos. I arrived at Farmoor at around half twelve and having been greeted by a yaffling Green Woodpecker then spent a pleasant couple of hours wandering along the causeway, stopping to eat my sarnies, and then back again. The main feature was the large amount of Geese around F1 which has been partly drained. Several hundred Greylag and Canada were seen. Numbers of Pied Wagtail ran into three figures and a couple of Grey and Yellow were also seen. For a change I managed some half decent (by my standards anyway) pictures of them as well. It was pretty slow on the wader front with singles of Ringed Plover and Black-tailed Godwit along with four Dunlin. As usual with waders here they were all very confiding. Not many gulls around with most of what was there being Black-headed along with a few Lesser Black-backed and a single Greater. A handful of Swallows passed through and Red Kite and Sparrowhawk were seen passing over. As was a Global Express Business Jet heading for Oxford Airport. Then it a cross-country ride to the Water Park via Brize Norton and Lechlade. Nothing going on at Brize and a quick stop at Lake 125 found four Common Tern. After another look at Air Force One and a couple of other planes at Fairford it was along to 306. No Great White Egret today, just one Little, A Greenshank and forty or so Lapwings. At 305 I was surprised to see a total of just thirteen birds which included three Little Egrets. Usually there are many more here. Finally it was Twitchers where I was hoping to find the Marsh harrier that has been around for a while. No sign of the Harrier but a hunting Hobby was nice to see. A Cetti’s called ad there were thirty-two Cormorants on the rafts. Duck numbers are building up with Pochard, Tufted, Shoveler and Gadwall all noted along with a single female Goldeneye. Seventyish Lapwings were flying around and a single Greenshank was calling.