The good run of August birds continues with a juvenile Woodchat Shrike at Blakehill near Cricklade. When I got the text this morning I was working and heading for Abergavenny. I finished work at just befor twelve and headed straight out to Blakehill. A couple of birders returning to the car park confirmed that it was still around so I headed off on the short walk along the track to the viewing point. There were several people looking but the bird wasn’t showing. After a few minutes I picked it up on some brambles. It dropped out of sight again but then reappeared allowing all present to get on it. A lovely bird, my second in the UK and both in Wiltshire.
I watched it come and go for a few minutes before heading home. Back home a check of the garden Buddleia found in excess of fifty butterflies with the painted lady showing again, this time in a better position.
This afternoon the Buddleia in the garden was host to a good number of butterflies. At one stage there were at least thirty individuals of six species. Small Tortoiseshell were the most numerous with few Peacocks and small whites along with singles of Red Admiral, Brimstone and best of all a Painted Lady. Unfortunately this one was hardest to get a picture of but at least I managed something. All the pictures were taken at some distance from the bedroom window.
Having checked the weather forecasts I decided on early afternoon for a trip to the Water Park. Having arranged to meet Pete at Eysey at Two O’clock I headed off along the A419 in lovely sunshine. However as I came over the top of Blunsdon Hill I wasn’t happy to see the whole of the Water Park obscured by rain. We arrived together and spent the next twenty minutes sat in our cars scanning the lake through rain covered windscreens. There were plenty of birds to see with in excess of three hundred Canada and Greylag Geese, three species of gull and plenty of ducks. Eventually the rain stopped and we ventured from the cars. A scan of the main pit found a couple of Sandpipers, five Pochard and a Heron. Moving on to the new workings across the road there were many Pied Wagtails, three more Common Sandpipers and a couple of Greens. A Greenshank flew in calling loudly and settled on the far side of the pit. Three Little Egrets, four Teal, A Little Grebe and plenty of Pied Wagtails completed the birds seen. We then moved along to 306 which was quiet. A few Ducks included two Shovelers along with two more Green Sandpipers and a Blackwit. The sound of a jet taking off from Fairford brought the highlight of the afternoon for me as a U2 appeared above the trees as it climbed out heading off to the USA.
On my way home from work and with the rain just started I had a short stop at Coate Water, walking in from the Broome Manor end. I was hoping for a Black Tern but no such luck, As consolation there were a large number of Hirundines feeding low over the main lake. Three hundred or more I reckoned. A fairly even split between Swallows and Sand Martins with a few House Martins as well.
On Saturday we took the dog for a walk at Chilton Foliat. On the way there a quick stop at Froxfield found a single Green Sandpiper and a couple of Moorhens. AT Chilton Foliat we did a circuit from the Littlecote Road, over the river bridge on the main road and then through the village and back to the car via the woods and the wooden footbridge. A few Brimstones were seen and on the wide-water were a good number of Mallard, some Tufted Duck, a couple of Little Grebe, Greylag Geese and a single Little Egret. Walking through the village we decided to stop at the pub for a drink. However at over £7 for a pint of Bitter Shandy and a White Wine and Soda we shan’t be going again. It was quiet in the woods with just a Nuthatch heard. Back at the river there were more Mallards and quite a few Rainbow Trout, some of them a really good size.
Sunday morning saw myself and Pete at the Water Park. For a change we started of walking through the old Cotswold Community site to Lake 87. On the surrounding fields was a flock of around a hundred and twenty-five Canada Geese including ten with neck collars. On and around the lake were thirty plus Lapwing, A single Common Sandpiper and numerous ducks, mainly Mallard with a sprinkling of Tufted. Then it was onto Kent End for another look at the two Garganey. Also here were four Little Ringed Plover. We then went to Lake 16 were we had been told there was a Black Tern (thanks Nigel). Indeed there was and we had good views. Final stop was 68a were again Black Tern had been seen. Unfortunately as we arrived the heavens opened and we got absolutely drenched. With no chance of seeing anything we squelched our way back to the car and then home.
On my way to work early this morning I came across a fence-sitting Tawny Owl. Amazingly it didn’t fly off when I stopped the car so I managed to get a picture of it. This afternoon I paid another visit to Coate Water to check out the Spotted Sandpiper. As usual it was showing well from the first Hide. This time there was a Common Sandpiper in the same area and the Spotted didn’t seem top appreciate it being there. On several occasions it was seen to try to chase it away. There is still a steady stream of birders visiting, nice to have our local reserve on the national map. Also around were several Common Terns with at least three juveniles being fed.
After a quiet time on the birding front with just a couple of trips in the last few weeks it took a First for Wiltshire to get me out again. On Sunday afternoon I had come in from working in the garden and noticed an alert on my phone. I wasn’t expecting it to tell me that a Spotted Sandpiper was at Coate Water, viewable from Hide 2, just five minutes from home. I was on my way in less than five minutes and a few minutes later I arrived to find Pete and his wife standing disconsolately by a locked Hide 2. A quick phone call ascertained that the bird was actually viewable from Hide 1. After a brisk walk we were sat viewing what was Wiltshire’s first and my second Spotted Sandpiper. Also seen here were a few Common Terns and a Kingfisher. After a few minutes I had to leave as I had to get home as we were going out for a meal. For some reason I hadn’t taken my camera so this afternoon (Tuesday) saw me back in the Hide. The bird was out of sight and after a few minutes we saw it fly off to the far end of the lake. After a few minutes it returned, making a brief stop on the Tern Raft en-route. It then proceeded to give great views allowing a few reasonable pictures to be taken. Other birds of interest were a Mandarin and couple of juvenile Common Terns being fed by their parents. So a great bird seen and photographed. It is really good that after a few good local rarities over the last couple of years we have had a national one turn up here.
Just back from a holiday in Majorca I fancied another evening trip out to Savernake. With Pete I left home before eight and was on site in Savenake by around half past. Jay, Wren, Yellowhammer and Wood Pigeons were all seen or heard and at 21.20 a Nightjar briefly churred. A few minutes later I saw a flash of white across the clearing, maybe the wing patch of the Nightjar. A couple of minutes later it churred again. After this nothing and no sighting. On the way home we had great views of a fence sitting Barn Owl and then two brief glimpses of a Little Owl as it flew on the periphery of the headlights.