With some good birds around at the Water Park I have made three more visits recently.The first was on Sunday when my wife myself, the wife and the dog walked from Waterhay to the Reed hide alongside 68A/B and returned via the Thames Path. In all forty species were seen and heard, unfortunately this total didn’t include the Marsh harrier and an Osprey reported over Swindon also failed to put in an appearance. My next trip out was to Twitchers on Monday where a short visit found Common and Gren Sandpipers but no Whimbrel. I had also checked the field next to 83 with no joy. Today I headed out there again. Nothing around 83 but Twitchers came up trumps with five Whimbrel on the edge f the scrape. Looks like I have missed out on the Marsh harrier though as it hasn’t been reported since the weekend. A look in at Eysey on the way home got two Common Sandpipers and a Ringed Plover. Earlier this morning I had a short walk at Liddington Hill It was very cold and relatively birdless with the highlight being two Grey Partridges. Daily visits to the flood water at Chiseldon have had Gadwall, Mallard, Canada Geese and Moorhen but no sign of Yellow Wagtail or any waders yet. On Friday I am off to my sid=sters in Northern France for a few days so I am hoping for some good birds. Of course one or two megas are bound to turn up locally while I am away as has happened on previous trips there.
The plan for today was an early start and a long morning at the Water Park. An evening check of Twitter showed reports of a Broad-billed Sandpiper at Goldcliff reserve at Newport. A life tick just an hour away made it a no brainer so six o’clock saw myself and Matt heading off along the M4. We arrived at Goldcliff within the hour and headed straight off to the reserve. There were already a good number of birders on site and it was confirmed that the bird was showing well. After finding a space at the first screen it was a case of running through the Dunlin flock to find it. With various directions being given we soon found the bird and although initially it was asleep it eventually moved to give great views. Nice for my 200th bird of the year to be a lifer. We were really lucky as the conditions were ideal with the sun at our rear showing the birds in a great light. Another lousy picture but it is the one facing left about twelve birds in off the main group.
It’s the only one facing left
It was similar enough to the Dunlins to be easily missed when in amongst a flock so congratulations to the finder. Also seen here were coming on for a hundred Avocets, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Greenshank and a Little Stint. Marsh harrier was seen and a couple Of Yellow Wagtails flew over. From here we headed back towards home with a stop off at Severn Beach / New Passage. After stocking up at Downs Bakery we wandered off along the path to Pilning. It was really quiet here and with a biting north wind pretty chilly as well. There was no sign of yesterdays Garganey and the only Yellow Wagtail seen was a flyover bird. A few White Wagtails were amongst the Pied and there were three Wheatears around. Plenty of Warblers were heard and seen in the hedgerow. From here we headed off to the Water Park hoping to find the Marsh Harrier that has been around for a couple of days. Our luck ran out on this oneas we missed it by just a few minutes. A Hobby was a nice consolation bird and Matt got his fist Swift of the year. As at Pilning there were plenty of Warblers around. We managed good views of a Cetti’s but Reed and Sedge stayed well hidden. All in all a great day with four year ticks with one being a lifer. I am slowly getting closer to the 300 mark that I would like to break this year. (3 more to go). Arriving back in Chiseldon a quick check of the flood water found that the Ruddy Shelduck had returned after being absent for a couple of weeks.
I have been working for the last three days so apart from daily visits to the Chiseldon Flood Water where the three Gadwall seem to have to taken up residence. Today I went out to the Water Park for a couple of hours arriving about the same time as the rain. A quick look in a Eysey gave just a Green Sandpiper and a Little Egret. Next was Lake 16 where I was hoping the rain would have dropped some Terns down. No Terns but a large number of Sand Martins and Swallows along with a couple of House Martins. I then went to Twitchers where again there were a lot of Sand Martins and Swallows with just a single House Martin and three Swifts. Because of the rain most of the viewing was done from the car Chiffchaff, Cetti’s, Sedge and Willow Warblers were all heard as was a Green Woodpecker.On the way home I had a quick look at the field next to 83 but there weren’t any Whimbrels, just a Mallard and two Swans.
There always seems to be one day in the spring when most of the migrant warblers put in an appearance and today was that day. With the forecast good I was up early and off to the scrubby area adjacent to lakes 43 and 65 at the Water Park. I had a quick look at Eysey on the way and managed four Little Renged Plover and a couple of Pied Wagtails. Arriving at the scrub I immediately heard Cuckoo, Whitethroat and Nightingale. The first two were easily found but the Nightingale took a little bit of time to find and I only managed a brief view. Another Nightingale was singing as were Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Cetti’s, all of which were seen. A Sedge Warbler was heard but not found and finally Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat went onto the list. With five year ticks in the book I headed off to Twitchers. Just a quick look here and a Common Sandpiper was a Wiltshire tick. Next was Waterhay where I was planning on a good look over 68C. Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen on the walk along the Thames Path, Cetti’s was heard and a pair of Bullfinches seen. On 68C were at least five Reed buntings and a couple of singing Sedge Warblers. They weren’t giving themselves up easily and was a good fifteen minutes before I managed to see one. Final sighting here was a soaring Sparrowhawk. That was meant to be it for birds for today as I had a fair bit to do at home. However everything including dinner was fininshed before seven so I decided to head off to Knighton again. The usual trio of Chiffchaff Willow and Cetti’s Warbler were all performing and a Mandarin was found perched high in a tree. At just before half past seven a Gropper started to reel and I was lucky enough to see it fly. Warbler number nine for the day. Finally another was nother was heard and seen on the walk back to the car.
After a no birding day I managed to sneak off to Knighton after dinner. The hoped for Groppers didn’t perform and it was left to three Cettis and around sixty Swallows to make the trip some sort of worthwhile.
Today Pete and I had planned to go to Salisbury plain and despite the forecast of rain that is what we did. We started with a short walk at Liddington Hill and had a brief glimpse of what we think were two Ring Ouzels in the hedgerow. There was no sign of the Whinchat that were seen earlier on in the morning but no matter as we hoped to see some on the Plain. Unfortunately by the time we arrived on the east side of Salisbury plain the rain had set in so the planned walks were cancelled and we ended up doing most of our birding from the car. We had a good start with a Red Kite and two Grey Partridges pretty well the first birds that we saw. From then on it became a little more challenging but we soon managed to add Corn Bunting, Mipit, Linnet, Reed Bunting and Lapwing to the list. Despite the rain the Skylarks were singing well and there was hardly a time when we couldn’t hear one singing. A good scan of the grassland found our first Stone Curlews of the year with good views of two birds. After a stop for lunch we carried on adding Stonechat to the seen from the car in the rain list. Two Mallards were wandering around on one of the tracks but flew off to one of the many wetter areas as we approached.
It then actually stopped raining and we managed a short walk in one of the more vegetated areas. Here we heard a Whitethroat and added several other species to the list. These included Yellowhammer, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Swallow. A flock of twenty Fieldfare was a surprise having expected them all to have headed off north by now. Our final stop was at Weather Hill Firs where we added Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Chiffchaff and Song Thrush. In all we managed thirty-four species which wasn’t bad considering the conditions. A repeat visit will be made on a nicer day.
As is the way at this time of year there are always a few year or county ticks on offer. I started off with a morning walk from Folly Farm towards the Ridgeway. Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers and Skylarks were all singing well and a flock of around twenty-five Linnets was feeding on a newly ploughed field.At the first copse were more of the same birds. Reaching the first gate and heading for the old rifle butts it all changed with hardly any birds to be seen or heard. One of the Kestrels was perched on top of a Hawthorn and half-a-dozen Mipits were lining the fence at the top of the slope. Heading back towards the gate a tuck tuck call alerted me to the presence of a Ring Ouzel. A fine looking male was flying in from the south and I watched as it flew by and then landed on the top of a nearby tree. Nice to have a good clear view after the skulkers of yesterday. Back at the copse a male Wheatear flew up and away across the fields clearly showing its white rump. After lunch I headed off to the Water Park. At Eysey there were three Little Ringed and a Ringed Plover. Also two each of Dunlin, Lapwing, Shelduck and Little Egret.
The big lake had a single Oystercatcher and a handful of Shoveler. Moving onto Twitchers there were six Black-tailed Godwits flying around. Three Oystercatchers flew up from the scrape and a single House Martin passed overhead. The final walk of the day was to take the dog around Coate Water. Highlight here was a flock of nine House Martins. Nuthatch, Marsh Tit, Blackap and several Chiffchaffs were also seen.
Today started with an early morning visit to Liddington Hill to look for Ring Ouzels. I strolled along the hedgerow to the west of the castle finding good numbers of the regulars but no sign of migrants. I went about halfway along before crossing into the field to check out the other side of the hedge. I was almost back to the start point when I saw a bird fly up into the hedge, quickly getting the bins onto it. I had a rear three quarter view which showed off the silvery wings. After a few seconds the bird disappeared into some ivy and wasn’t seen again. A few yards further on and another Ouzel flew out from the back of the hedge and away. Also around were the usual Linnets, Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings. Later on in the morning I went to Coate. Good numbers of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers in song along with a single Cetti’s. There were quite a few gulls on the main lake along with my first Common Tern of the year. Duck numbers are now well down with Tufted being the most numerous. Just two teal were seen along with a few Gadwall. Also seen here were three Roe Deer.
The day was finished off with an evening dog walk from Folly Farm. There was no sign of this mornings Redstart but flocks of Linnet and Corn Bunting numbering fifty plus and thirty plus along with several Yellowhammers and Chaffinches were good to see. Also around were two Buzzards and a pair of Kestrels.
Today was treatment day and on the way into the hospital I heard Green Woodpecker, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. I got out at three o’clock as I felt oky headed over to the Water park for another look for the Garganey. No joy and apparently it hadn’t been seen all day. Highlight here was a flock of nine Curlew. Back at home and the dog needed a walk. I was going to go to Liddington but changed my mind as climbing hills was probably not the best of ideas. So instead I went to Knighton again.Very enjoyable on a lovely evening. Best of the twenty-seven species seen and heard were seven and eight respectively of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, Four Cetti’s, Green and Great Spot Woodpecker, five Swallows, House Martin, and two Mandarins. Still no Sedge or Gropper.
Due to the weather and having had a plasterer at the house all day I was itching to get out for a while this evening. A dog walk at Coate was the plan until I got a text reporting a Garganey viewable from Twitchers. Another text arrived, Pied Flycatcher at Stanton Park. So it was off to Stanton where neither myself and Martin Adlam managed to find the Flycatcher. Plenty of birds around though with the best being a couple of Goldcrests and a Siskin. My wife saw a Treecreeper and Nuthatch was also seen. Ten it was off to Twitchers where again there was a lot of activity. A single female Goldeneye was on the main lake and on the scrape were 3 Pochard, a few Shoveler, some teal and Wigeon. Also two Little Grebes one of which was chasing a Moorhen around. My first Cuckoo of the year was heard as were Cetti’s, Willow and Sedge Warbler. Three Swallows passed through but of the Garganey, unfortunately there was no sign.