A busy day today which included a return trip to North Bradley. En-route I saw four each of Kestrel and Buzzard and a couple of Jays along with several small flocks of Starlings.
After decorating for most of the weekend I promised myself a day out on Monday. South Coast here I come. Sibe Stonechat at Titchfield, Ring-billed Gull back at Gosport and if I fancied going a hundred and fifty-five miles from home there was a Red breasted Flycatcher at Beachy Head. So with the forecast good I loaded up the bike and set the alarm for six. Alarm goes off and the morning blues set in. So much for a clear morning with sunshine, windy and damp outside. No fun on the bike so unload the stuff into the car and go to the Water Park instead. Good at Shorncote but no sign of the Bearded Tits. Water Rail, Cetti’s, Bullfinch, Reed bunting, Green Woodpecker and Sparrowhawk all good though. I later find out that they appeared twenty minutes after I left. Such is birding. I then moved back into Wiltshire and did the walk from Waterhay to the Reed Hide. Not so much around here but Jay, Chiffchaff, twenty-five Little Egrets, another Sprawk and twelve Curlew not a bad haul. After watching Starlings by the car park I headed home via Eysey where a Peregrine was sat atop the mound.Also here were a few gulls and a Little Egret.
In the afternoon, after seeing on Twitter that the good birds were all showing on the sun-bathed South Coast (will I never learn to stick to a plan!) I decided to head for Salisbury Plain. Maybe a Hen Harrier or a SEO would cheer me up. Neither showed but a total of seven Stonechats was unexpected.
Today it was more decorating but a quick visit to the Post Office in Wroughton allowed a stop at the reservoir, where seven Little grebes were noted. Then an essential trip to Marlborough gave me some more time out. The route home took in Froxfield, two Little Egrets, 3 Green Sandpipers and a Grey Wagtail. Chilton Foliat, over a hundred Mallard, twenty plus Gadwall and five Little Grebe. I was saddened to see that the nice bit of woodland adjacent to the road by the bridge has been, in what appears to be an act of enviromental vandalism (please correct me if i am wrong on this), obliterated by heavy machinery and bonfires. Hopefully there is good reason but not nice to see. Before and after pictures show the difference. (before pic taken from http://swindonbirdsandwildlife.blogspot.co.uk/ courtesy of Google Earth) Then it was a stop at Axford, Grey Wagtail and Kingfisher, before heading home.
Having seen that rain was forecast this morning I didn’t bother setting my alarm. When I woke at just gone eight and saw that it was dry I got up and headed off to Nightingale Wood. I think only my second visit this year to what was, when I worked close by at Honda, a site I visited almost weekly. It started off slowly with very few birds around but picked up throughout the walk. The first of four Jays was one of the first birds seen followed by a couple of Greenfinches. On what is now a fairly overgrown Brook Meadow a single Snipe was seen. It is a great shame that there this area is not being managed anymore. It could be such a great place for birds but now is neglected and looking a bit sad. By the small pool a couple of Goldcrests were seen and a Great Spotted woodpecker was heard. I walked along the unkempt and overgrown banks of the Brook seeing very few birds. Near to the River Cole another Woodpecker was heard and then seen. In the hedgerow across the river was a small flock of birds, this consisted of Long-tailed, Great and blue Tits and a couple of Bullfinches. The ringing area was in use so I didn’t stop. Carrying on across the field I saw two more Jays and my first Fieldfare and Redwings of the Autumn. Seven Collared Doves were perched on overhead cables and a couple of small flocks of Starlings were flying around. Back towards the car park four more Goldcrests and a couple more Bullfinches were noted. In all I noted a reasonable thirty-one species in around two hours.
A little later in the day a short stop was made at Wroughton Reservoir. On the water three Little Grebes, and five Gadwall were noted along with Tufted Duck, Mallrd, Coot Moorhen and Mute Swan. It had just started raining and this seemed to bring down some Lapwing. These circled over the water, initially around a dozen but soon building up to forty-nine birds.
My wife,daughter and I took the dog up onto Liddington Hill this afternoon. It was breezy at home in Chiseldon but when we got to the top of Liddington it was really blowing. As it was also damping very few birds were seen. A few corvids were up and a single Kestrel was effortlessly using the updrafts to hunt. Two Meadow Pipits briefly popped up from the long grass and a Red-legged Partridge was heard. Towards the Aldbourne road a large flock of gulls was following the plough and that was it.
After work this afternoon I spent an hour at Coate Water. I was hoping that something of interest had been blown in during the day. No such luck but still plenty of birds to be seen. A large number of birds were at the Broome Manor lane end of the lake, presumably the most sheltered spot. There were at least two hundred Canada Geese and plenty of Coot. Also here were Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Gadwall and Shoveler. Four species of gull were loafing around on the water, none showing much inclination to fly. Thirty or more Mute Swans were scattered around the lake. I then moved onto the Hides. From the first Hide I was watching two Grey Wagtails chasing each other around. They were moving from fence posts in the water onto the bank and then back to the posts. Suddenly a Sparrowhawk appeared from the trees and made an attempt to catch one of them. It was unsuccessful but that was the last I saw of the Wagtails. From the far hide were good numbers of Wildfowl, quite a few Grebes and twenty-one Cormorants. The same or another Sparrowhawk flew low across the water and a Little Egret was preening on the far bank. Final sighting as I walked back to the car was a Green Woodpecker undulating across the field into the trees beyond. So no wind-blown rarities but a good but a good variety of birds seen.
Another day in London and I started with an early morning walk in Osterley Park. No sign of the Little Owl in its usual tree but there were a couple of Parakeets here. I noticed on one of the London blogs they have been called Marmite Parakeets as you either love them or hate them. http://winowendyswildlifeworld.blogspot.co.uk/ . Moving on to the Ornamental Lake there were a few Mallard, a Heron and a Shoveler, also a flock of Feral Pigeons on the bank. The wild lake had more Shoveler, Mandarin, some Tufted and Gadwall along with Great Crested and Little Grebe, Cormorant and some more herons. Six Egyptian Geese flew over as did a flock of around forty Goldfinches. Parakeets were all around with at least thirty counted. Nuthatch and Great-spotted woodpecker were heard and a green was seen in bounding flight across the lake. An Acer was giving a great display with its red leaves. Two Jays were noted as were a group of nine Mistle Thrushes on a newly ploughed field. Later in the morning my Mum and I went along to Richmond Weir and Lock where we spent a pleasant hour watching the world go by. Although it is usually just the commoner birds seen here it is always very pleasant. Especially today as we sat out in the warm autumn sunshine. Highlights here were a Grey Wagtail, a Greater Black-backed Gull and a Cormorant that after posing with its wings out went fishing and caught and devoured a good-sized fish.
Also seen were some nicely coloured Feral Pigeons,
Tufted Ducks, Black-headed gulls, a few Egyptian Geese and a colour ringed Canada Goose.
Final sightings of the day were of some more Airbus 380’s both from the Lock and then from the garden of my Mum’s house.
Back in London for the weekend and managed another visit to Staines Reservoir. The weather wasn’t as nice as last week with more wind and some light drizzle at times. Pretty similar on the bird front with over a hundred Cormorants and several types of duck with Goldeneye being new. Plenty of Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails again along with singles of Linnet and grey Wagtail. A small flock of Starlings was frequenting the Causeway. Two Black-necked Grebes were nice to see as was a Little Gull that appeared for a few minutes after some light precipitation. Aviation interest included an Emirates A380 departing Heathrow.
Heading off I decided to spend an hour on the perimeter road at the airport watching the departing aircraft. I was fortunate to see another two A380 take-offs and during a quiet period was tempted to take a photo of a number 482 bus.
With the sun shining I decided on another walk around Liddington Hill. No dog today so a bit more leisurely. After an unsuccessful quick look for the Stonechats I set off around the base of the Hill and then up onto the ridge.
It was really lovely in the sunshine and also fairly warm.Several Skylarks were passing over with one or two singing. A few Meadow Pipits were flushed from the grass and a Kestrel and a Buzzard flew over. Eight Magpies were squabbling around the Butts before flying off towards Folly Farm. The first real thing of interest then flew over, a British airways A380, probably heading for Cardiff. Moving on I finally saw a few birds in the hedgerow. Mainly Linnets and Yellowhammers along with Great and Blue Tit and a Wren. I then heard a Ring Ouzel. Standing quietly I saw some movement, then a Song thrush emerged followed by what I think was from a very brief view may well have been a young Ouzel. Another bird appeared flying across to the hedgerow from a clump of hawthorn, a male Ring Ouzel. It was quite flighty moving from bush to bush calling loudly before it flew off towards the Butts. On my walk back I didn’t see it again but did add Mistle thrush to the list when three flew off ahead of me. Also seen were a Red Admiral and a small Tortoiseshell. Finally for a change a couple of pictures of the sheep that are roaming the hill.
First today was a drive around the Barbury area. not a great deal seen other than corvids and pigeons. Skylark, Song Thrush and Kestrel were also seen as we’re two Swallows. here was a bit more variety at Liddington Hill later on in the morning. Several flocks of Linnets moving around along with a few Meadow Pipits, Goldfinches and Skylarks. A single Song And five Mistle Thrushes were seen but surprisingly no Redwings. Three Kestrels were hunting and one each of Roe Deer and Hare were flushed. the best birds were seen at the end of the walk with a pair of Stonechats showing well.
On a last-minute visit to London today I managed a brief stop at Staines Reservoir. With less than an hour which included walking to and from the car I wasn’t able to do a thorough search of the reservoirs. Still plenty to see with Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal and Tufted Duck with a probable female Scaup on the far bank. Lots of Great Crested Grebes and over a hundred Cormorants. Very few gulls but a Greater Black-backed was seen. Non water birds noted were Starling, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Goldfinch and Pied Wagtail. Unfortunately no sign of yesterdays four Water Pipits. With all of this backed up by the planes in and out of Heathrow it was a pleasant hour.