A Hit and Miss Weekend

Saturday morning started with some shopping in Marlborough followed by my wife and I taking the dog for a walk in Savernake. We followed the route that I took earlier in the week which was through the Arboretum to Thornhill and back to the car via Braydon Hook. It was even quieter than the other day with only nineteen species seen. Best was a Heron on the pond, the rest were the usual expected species. We didn’t hear a single Great Spot which again was a surprise. In one area the grass had been churned up by an animal. Probably Badgers but I did wonder if it could have been a Wild Boar.IMG_2430 (1024x680) Also of interest was the part eaten remains of what looks to be an Adder that the dog found in the grass not far from the pond at Thornhill. Something had feasted well on it.

On the drive via the back roads home a Stonechat was seen in its usual area near to Axford. I managed a quick picture through the windscreen before it flew off.IMG_2436 (1024x682) In the afternoon I headed over to the Water Park. Again looking for Oystercatchers and then to go to the gull roost at Lake 16. Oystercatchers weren’t seen at Eysey or Kent End although three Green Sandpipers were seen at Eysey. I checked out Minety Lane for the Great Grey Shrike but as it hadn’t been found throughout the day wasn’t surprised that I didn’t find it. Next was 28, 28A and 30 to look for the Smew. Again not seen but a Kingfisher on 28A was some consolation. Finally no sign of the Glaucous or Med Gulls at the roost. The plan for Sunday morning was a first light visit to Ashleworth Ham near Gloucester where a Green-winged Teal was in residence. This plan went out the window when I had to pay a late evening visit to the hospital with an issue with chemo side effects. I didn’t get home until a little after two in the morning. However I did still wake quite early so got up and headed out to Nightingale Wood. The visit started well with a large mixed flock of Thrushes and Finches on the access road. It got better when I managed to find the elusive Siskin flock along the first part of the path to Roves Farm. There were at least thirty quietly feeding in the Alders, so easy to miss if you don’t catch a movement from them. I searched in vain for a Lesser Redpoll amongst them. I then noticed a couple of birds drop down beneath the trees, a quick scan found a dozen or so Siskins and three Lesser Redpolls feeding on the ground.A great result as these were both county year ticks. Moving on there were plenty of birds to see with Bullfinch, Song Thrush, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker seen. On the lake were two Herons, two Mallard and a Little Grebe. Also of interest was a Cormorant that flew up from the River Cole. In all thirty-two species seen here.

Then it was back home to do some work in the garden. While checking my phone during a drinks break I saw a Tweet saying that a Black Redstart had been seen on a building site at Redhouse in North Swindon. Obviously I had to go for a look. I found the site quite easily but unfortunately neither myself or Nigel ( who I had called with the news) managed to find the bird. Walking around housing estates isn’t my favourite kind of birding but sometimes just has to be done. Last time I birded in this area it was a successful visit for Waxwings. Today I managed Pied Wagtail, Starling, Crow, Jackdaw and LBB Gull. Thanks anyway to Elliot for getting news of the sighting out.

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