Monthly Archives: November 2015

A Four a.m Owl and a trip to Farmoor

As I was driving around the roundabout above Junction 16 at just before four this morning I was surprised to have a Barn Owl fly low across the road in front of me to the centre of the roundabout where it proceeded to hunt over the grass. It certainly isn’t surprising that so many are killed on the roads as it was only a few feet above the road. After work I had intended to do some stuff at home but when I went on the computer and noticed that there was a Grey Phalarope at Farmoor. A few minutes later I was on my way and a with no delays en-route I was there in around forty minutes. As I walked towards the causeway a couple of birders who were heading back to the car park told me where it had last been seen. After a brisk walk along the perimeter of F1 it was soon obvious that it had moved. Four Redshank and a Dunlin were at the waters edge but they all flew as I approached. Some more birders came along and said that it had flown towards the causeway. I then started scanning the water and after a few minutes picked it up flying towards me. Amazingly it landed on the water just a little way ahead of me and started to feed. I walked along so I was a few yards past it and sat down on the bank to see if it would come closer. It did and totally unconcerned by my presence passed within six feet or so of where I was sitting. Leaving it to carry on feeding I walked back towards the car. Three Grey Wagtails were amongst the Pied Wagtails. As time was getting on I had a brief but unsuccessful look for the Red-necked Grebe before leaving. Also seen were a couple of interesting aircraft that were heading for Brize Norton. They were an RAF Sentinel and a Ukranian Antonov 74. For some reason none of the pictures I took were particularly good but I have added them anyway.

A Walk at Bleakhill

Although not quite an accurate description it certainly seemed it when I went to Blakehill to see if the Black Redstart was still around. With a keen wind  blowing in my face and it starting to spit with rain I wondered if I had made a wise choice for a lunchtime stroll. A small flock Fieldfare were in the trees at the car park and a Buzzard was mewing overhead. Walking along the track the first of a few Meadow Pipits flew up from the grass. A scan of the grassland and scrub didn’t find the hoped for Merlin but I did find a couple of Stonechats. Two more Buzzards were drifting along on the far side. A flock of Starlings flew past as did several Wood Pigeons. I stopped to scan the fenceposts ahead of me and found absolutely nothing. It certainly wasn’t looking promising. However one of those magic moments was fast approaching. I caught a glimpse of a bird on the track ahead, with hopes raised I scoped it and was disappointed to see that it was just a Robin. Moving on I saw the Robin fly up onto the fence and as it did another bird appeared. This time it was the Black Redstart. It perched briefly before being chased off by the Robin. It then re-appeared a little closer. Cautiously moving forward I got some great views as it dropped down to the grass and then back onto the fence. As I started to try to get some pictures the sun came out, unfortunately dead ahead which wasn’t great. I managed to get past the bird and from the other direction managed a few pictures as it moved along the fenceline seeming not bothered by my presence. I watched it for several minutes until the Robin returned and chased it off. It flew a couple of hundred yards across the field and was lost to view. On the return walk I added Kestrel and Long-tailed Tit to the book giving a total of just twelve species for the visit.

Dusting Off the Scope

After many weeks of very little birding I actually managed a day out. At half seven myself and Pete headed off west along the M4 with Severnside our destination and Glossy Ibis our target bird. A steady run down the motorway saw I arriving at a sunny New Passage. We were about an hour after high tide so birds were starting to gather on the newly exposed mud. Several hundred Wigeon were accompanied by a good number of waders. Mainly Redshank along with Dunlin, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Lapwing and a couple of Turnstone. After scanning these for a few minutes we head along the path towards Pilning. The Ibis was soon picked up feeding in the grass along one of the lakes on the landward side of the path. It was constantly on the move and obviously finding plenty of food. A pair of Stonechats were perched on the fence and Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits were all around. Some patient scanning of the latter eventually turned up a Water Pipit, the second year-tick of the morning. Also found was a silitary Ringed Plover and a Peregrine. After a while we headed back towards the car stopping for another scan of the shoreline. This added Black-tailed Godwit and Shelduck to an already good day list. Next stop was Orchard Pools where there was no sign of the Firecrest that had been seen earlier in the week. Several each of Blackbird, Bullfinch and Long-tailed Tits were noted here. After a stop at Downs bakery for cakes we headed back onto the motorway. Then it was back into Wiltshire and a stop at Box where the hoped for Dipper didn’t show. Views of Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher and Raven made the visit worthwhile. We then had brief look ins at Slaughterford and Castle Combe but still a sighting of Dipper eluded us. We returned home with fifty-four species in the book including the two year-ticks.

In the Sun and the Fog

A trip to Marlborough gave me the chance of a quick visit to the Kennet at Axford early this afternoon. A pleasant few minutes sat on the bridge got me a Grey Wagtail, a heard only Water Rail, a Jay and three Fieldfare along with Mallard, Coot and Moorhen on the water. A back road drive home turned up two Stonechat, a flock of at least a hundred and fifty Fieldfare, several coveys of, I would imagine recently relaeased Red-legged Partridges included one of twenty-seven. A couple of Red kites were also seen. Later on, as it was still pleasantly sunny I went to take the dog for a walk at Barbury Castle. Unfortunately for the dog most of the area was swathed in fog so I decided on a quick drive along the lower road and then back to Chiseldon for the walk. As I drove along the track a large bird flew out of a small tree and across the car. With the brief glimpse I had it could have been a Buzzard or an Owl. Luckily it landed on a fence-post a little way along the track and I was pleased to see that it was a Short-eared Owl. Using the car as hide I managed to get close enough to get some pictures.