Well it sure was great weather for birding today. However instead of being out and about with the optics I was working all day. I did manage a bit of a bird list starting with a Barn Owl on the roadside near Bulford. Driving past Blashford Lakes just as dawn was breaking and being unable to stop was frustrating as there have been some good birds here lately. Quite a few swans were on Harbridge Meadows and I see from Birdguides that some Bewicks were reported there during the day. Jay, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare and my first Redwing of the autumn were seen along with three Kestrels and numerous Buzzards, most of them stood around in the fields. A covey of a dozen or so Red-legged Partridges made a change from the masses of Pheasants. By the pig farm at Old Sarum were at least a couple of hundred Lapwings and a few Starlings. Three Roe Deer, a Muntac and a couple of Hares gave some four-legged interest.
Needing a break from working on the house I had decided to try for the Rose Coloured Starling that has been frequenting Friary Road in Bishopston Bristol for almost two weeks. With the weather forecast looking positive I rang Pete to see if he fancied joining me. To be honest I am not keen on birding city streets on my own. I picked Pete up at just before nine and after braving the traffic in West Swindon we were soon heading west on a damp and misty M4. The relevant road was easily found being just off of the main Gloucester Road. There was somebody already on site, a photographer who had seen the bird about fifteen minutes before we arrived so we got to see a picture of the Starling taken at point-blank range. Way to close for a 300mm lens apparently. This is quite an interesting area with a variety of properties, some nicer than others. Also close was a school, something that nowadays can make loitering with binoculars seem a little dodgy! More birders arrived, at one stage there were nine of us and we attracted interested comments from passing locals. A few knew what we were looking for with one lady informing us that she regularly saw the Starling by her back door. A few birds were around, House Sparrows and normal Starlings the most numerous along with pigeons, gulls and Blue Tits. By now the mist had been burnt off by the sun, the morning chill had gone and it was quite pleasant. After about an hour the Starling suddenly appeared from along the road. It landed atop a tree and just as I got the bins on it dropped down into the gardens. Apart from a couple of brief glimpses as it fence-hopped that was it for another hour. Main interest in this period was a Sparrowhawk passing over. Somebody then called the Starling and all got a good view as it sat at fencetop level in one of the gardens for a mere minute or so. Happy with the views Pete and I decided to head off. As we did the Starling decided to leave as well and we watched as it flew up and onto the roof of a nearby building. It them moved to the top of some trees along with a couple of local Starlings. Here it stayed for just a minute or so allowing a couple of poor record shots before it dropped down out of sight. So it was back to the car and onto the motorway. So ended a successful trip with my thirteenth new bird of the year.
….. of which the morning was spent either painting or driving around Swindon to Wickes, Screwfix, Plumbase and B&Q returning various unused stuff from the work at home. I did manage a walk out with the dog around the Badbury loop. Birds were few and far between. I managed three Crows, single Wood Pigeon and Wren, three Goldfinches and a small flock of Long-tailed Tits.Tomorrow is looking a bit better and I have a plan!
Yesterday I had hoped to fit in an hour or so of birding after work. However a text from Ikea saying my delivery would be arriving between three and four put paid to that plan. After work today I had a quick look in at Wroughton Reservoir. Nine Little Grebes today and a few other assorted wildfowl. I then needed to go to Marlborough and managed to fit in a drive along the Grand Avenue. As it was raining heavily I wasn’t expecting to see much and I was right. I managed one small mixed flock which consisted of a few each of Chaffinch and Blue Tit, two Coal Tits and a Nuthatch.
Although I woke early this morning the attraction of a warm bed easily beat a cold and wet walk. Then it was on with the decorating for most of the day. At a little past three with the skies brightening I decided to head over to Coate Water for an hour or so. On the horse paddocks along Dayhouse Lane were around forty Black Headed Gulls and twenty-five Pied Wagtails, also a few Starlings. On the floodwater were a good lot of Teal. I was halfway through counting them when they all decided to take to the air and head off towards the nature reserve lake. I reckon at least eighty. Around ninety Canada Geese were feeding on the grass along with a few Mallards. Fourteen Snipe were counted along the muddy margins and both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over. Returning to the car I had another count of the Wagtails and found that the flock had more than doubled. At least fifty-two counted with more flying off before I managed a count. Then it was back home for more painting and the cooking of an evening roast.
Having had little opportunity for birding recently I was hoping to fit a couple of hours in today before painting duties. In the end I managed a half-hour at Nightingale Wood early morning and a quick stop at Froxfield this afternoon. Nightingale was pretty quiet with Snipe and Bullfinch being the best birds seen. Froxfield was almost devoid of birds with just three Little Egrets, and singles of Heron, Moorhen and Pied Wagtail the only birds seen. Unfortunately the weather tomorrow isn’t looking good either so the birding famine continues.
On my travels today along with the usual Kites and Buzzards I saw, at various places four Jays flying across the road. After work I managed an hour or so of birding which was better than I have managed over the last few days. Building work almost finished now so hopefully back to normal soon. First call was Wroughton Reservoir where with some difficulty I counted a dozen Little Grebes. They just don’t seem able to stay on the surface for more than a few seconds at a time. Also here were the usual supporting cast along with a Great Spot calling from the trees. On the edge of the airfield was a flock of at least three hundred Fieldfares, a couple of Kestrels and three Buzzards. Around Barbury Castle Corn Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Chaffinch and House Sparrow were seen. A little later leaving Morrisons I could hear a large amount of House Sparrows. I located them across the road in a small clump of bushes. Only a handful were seen but it sounded like there were a good few in there.
A combination of work and building work / decorating at home is not allowing me much time for birds at the moment. This morning a fifteen minute stroll along the seafront at a grey and blustery Worthing turned up four species. LBB and Herring Gull, Pied Wagtail and Feral Pigeon. On my home later on a quick look in at Wroughton Reservoir gave me ten Little Grebes and twenty-six Lapwing were in a field just outside of Chiseldon. If I can get out of bed early enough I shall go somewhere tomorrow morning before decorating starts. Not sure where yet, I will decide if I manage to get up.
I managed to fit in a little bit of birding on my home from work this afternoon. I needed to stop in at Waitrose so made Southleaze Lake my first call. There were just five Teal and two Mallard on the lake. However the main interest was on the areas that have been levelled on the opposite side of the canal from Waitrose. At least forty Pied Wagtails were feeding around the pools of water with more flying in. A pre-roost gathering I would think. Alongside them were a few Linnets and Goldfinches. I just mast it to Wroughton Reservoir before the light went. Today there were eleven Little Grebes plus the usual other wildfowl. The other bird of interest today was a Tawny Owl which, from home, I heard calling at around four this morning.
As yesterday evening was clear and the moon was up I headed out for an owl drive. My route was the back road to Marlborough then through Savernake along the lanes to Chilton Foliat, then Aldbourne, Wanborough and home. Unfortunately nobody told the owls that I was out and the only one seen was a Tawny in Savernake. I had a good view of it though as it flew up from alongside the Grand Avenue carrying what appeared to be a mouse or vole in its beak. There were things to see though with plenty of Rabbits, two Roe Deer, one of which had a fine set of antlers and singles of Muntjac and Hare. This morning I was up fairly early having woken to hear quite a few Canada Geese flying over the house. They were heading south presumably having roosted at Coate. This afternoon at just gone five I saw several heading back the other way. Back to this morning which saw me going for a walk from Folly Farm
up to the Ridgeway. The sun was causing a bit of a problem as it appeared over the hill. Anything ahead of me was either silhouetted or impossible to see. First birds heard were Mistle thrush with three being seen and then a singing Corn Bunting. Walking along the track to the copse I saw a few more Buntings, Yellowhammer, Linnet and Goldfinch. At the copse were Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird and Great and Blue Tits. Moving on and heading directly into the sun there were a lot of birds in the hedgerow. Mainly small stuff but three of Blackbird size flew up, luckily one headed across the field away from the sun allowing me to identify it as a Ring Ouzel. Probably the other two were as well but I could not relocate them to confirm. Up nearer the Ridgeway I crossed a field flushing at least thirty Skylarks which flew up and around calling before landing again further along the field. Several more were seen as I walked on.From the Ridgeway and looking east all of the valleys were filled with low-lying mist. A flock of Fieldfare passed through with a good couple of hundred birds with several landing in the trees. Gulls were drifting over as did two Buzzards and a Kestrel. Retracing my steps a scan of the fenceline found three Stonechats.
There was a male and two females which I watched for a few minutes as they moved along ahead of me. The only other addition to the walk list of twenty-six was a Red Kite that flew along the ridge. Back at home, I was sitting out in the sun having my lunchwhen a Red Kite appeared overhead, seeing that I had smoked salmon in my sandwich it soon moved on. A trip to drop some stuff off at the Prospect Hospice gave me a chance to stop at Wroughton Reservoir. Seven Little Grebes, six Mallard, three Gadwall, two each of Tufted Duck and Mute Swan along with Moorhen, Coot and a flyover Green woodpecker were seen. There was no sign of the Lapwings in the fields at Hodson after seeing a hundred or so yesterday.