As yesterday evening was calm and reasonably warm I decided on another visit to Savernake to try for Nightjar. This time the Wife and dog came as well. On arrival we took the dog for a walk and had four passes by Woodcock. One of these had two birds flying together. Apart from this it was the usual Blackbirds, Robins and Song Thrushes singing. As it got darker a couple of Tawny Owls started to call and a few Bats were also seen. Unfortunately no sight or sound of a Nightjar.
Started on Tuesday evening with an evening visit to Savernake in the company of Martin and Pete. Very disappointing with no sign of Woodcock or Nightjar, the best bird was a Great Spotted Woodpecker and the highlight a good number of bats seen. Thursday saw me on a flying visit to Stanton Park to try and catch up with a Wiltshire Spotted Flycatcher. This i managed along with Blackcap and Bullfinch. Today Pete and I headed south to Franchises Wood where our target birds were Wood Warbler and Redstart. We managed nether of these but did manage a bonus bird with a flock of t least twenty-five Crossbills putting in an appearance. We heard Firecrest but didn’t manage to see one. We then moved on to Acres Down where the hoped for Honey Buzzards weren’t playing. We did manage several Common Buzzards, a pair of Sparrowhawks and another heard only Firecrest. To finish we ended up on Salisbury plain where we found a couple of Stone Curlews amd apart from Skylarks very little else. In all a pleasant day out but not quite what we hoping for in the way of birds seen.
My original plan for today was to go to Franchises Wood in the south of the county to try for Wood Warbler and Redstart. However this changed with the arrival of a Stilt Sandpiper at Fishtail Lagoon Pennington. I had a medical appointment at Moredon at nine and after this I checked to see if the Sandpiper had stayed overnight. It had so it was game on. I usually do the drive south early doors and it takes well under two hours. Today it was nearer two and a half so it was just gone twelve before I was parking the car at Keyhaven. A brisk eyes straight ahead walk to Fishtail was interrupted by a couple of couple of Little terns flying across the path. When I reached Fishtail I could see a couple of birders on the far side of the lagoon. I walked round to where they were and a quick scan soon found the Sandpiper busily feeding in full view.A times it was close to a Blackwit and a Dunlin giving a good size comparison. After watching for a while I headed further along the coast path to Jetty Lagoon where two male Garganey were showing well. Then it was about turn to head back to the car. A Spoonbill was on Fishtail and I spent a couple of minutes watching three Little Terns that were flying around. Reed Bunting, Reed, Sedge and Cetti’s were seen on the walk back as were Common Tern and plenty of Little Egrets.
Back at the car was was undecided whether to go to Acres Down or to stop off on Salisbury plain on the way home. In the end the Plain was the choice and I was rewarded with sightings of three Stone Curlew and a Grey Partridge along with three heard only Quail. Also noted were Corn Bunting, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit and thirty or more Skylarks.
After an unsuccessful Falcon hunt at the Water park after work yesterday I planned to get out early this morning to give myself a good chance of seeing it. However a combination of yesterday mornings four am start for work and a barbecue in the evening meant that I didn’t wake until half eight. With sightings already reported I managed to get out there for around ten. Walking along the Thames path heading for Lake 59 where it had been seen I managed t get my first Reed Warbler of the year so at least I had something new in the notebook. The news from other birders was that it had been showing well but appeared to have moved onto Lake 72. After moving on to 72 and scanning for a while I decided to go back to 59 and then try 68. However after meeting up with Nigel and Graham the news came through that it was still on 72. An about turn and back we went. Nothing doing on arrival but after a few minutes it returned giving great views as it flew and fed over the lake. Eventually it started to climb and headed off to the north. This pleased a Gloucester birder who was watching as it entered Glos airspace making a good county tick for him. Several Hobbys were about giving a chance to compare the two birds. Satisfied with the views I started off on the trek back to a very full Waterhay car park. Also seen were a couple of Cuckoos, Green Woodpecker, Jays and Little Egrets.
I was sat at home feeling bored so despite the less than ideal conditions decided to head for Savernake for an hour or so of crepuscular birding. Driving along the Grand Avenue many Song thrushes and Blackbirds were singing. I first headed for the Column where a Cuckoo was heard. Then it was back to the Grand Avenue where after ten minutes or so a Woodcock was heard and then seen. Soon after a Tawny Owl started to call and eventually at least five were heard. Also seen were two Muntjac, a Roe Deer and a few bats.
The only birding planned today was a walk along the old canal at Moredon after my medical appointment in the afternoon. That all changed this morning when I got a text saying that there was an Avocet on the scrape at 74. So at a little gone eight I was heading for the Water Park. On arrival Martin, the finder was still there with his scope trained on the bird. An oh so easy county tick. Other birds around were a black Ruff, three Oystercatchers and several Common Terns. Cetti’s was heard and Whitethroat seen
After yesterdays top birding it was a day at home mainly doing the garden. An afternoon dog walk on the Downs got all of the expected birds including my first Wiltshire Yellow Wagtails of the year.
With a day of birding already planned for today all John, Pete and i had to decide was where to go. That decision was easily made with the arrival of a Great Spotted Cuckoo at Portland. As a UK Lifer for all three of us a real no brainer. We left my house at six and headed south. As we were passing Martin Down we decided on a short stop to try for Turtle Dove. A good call as we heard and then saw one just a few yards from the car park. Thenit was onwards to Portland. On arrival at Reap Lane we were encouraged to see a small crowd actively scoping a small group of bushes. After a quick look through someone elses scope to see the Cuckoo motionless deep in the bushes it was out with the bins to find it for myself. Despite its location some reasonably good views were had. It was then a case of waiting for it to move out into the open. While waiting we had a female Redstart and two Spotted Flycatchers to watch. After half-an-hour or so the Cuckoo flew out and landed fairly close giving everyone an excellent view and also for the photographers to start chasing it around. Apparently this was causing a fair level of upset later on in the morning.
Then it was onto the Bill where a few minutes of seawatching managed Gannet and Fulmar along with a few Auks. These were better seen around the Pulpit Rock with many Guillemots, a few razorbills and a couple of Shags noted. The rest of the walk round came up with little else so we then headed off to Ferrybridge. Here we managed Little and Sandwich Tern and a small group of waders contained Dunlin, Sanderling and a single Ringed Plover. Final stop was Lodmoor which had been graced by a Red-Rumped Swallow all morning. Unfortunately it and most of the other Swallows upped and left just a few minutes before we arrived. Also seen here for about thirty seconds had been a Bee-eater.These two would both have been UK ticks for me finally getting me to three hundred. But hey we got the target bird so it didn’t really matter. We spent a bit of time cecking out the reedbeds and had good views of Marsh Harrier amongst others. We then started off for home with a detour onto Salisbury Plain where we added Stone Curlew, 2 Curlews and a few Whinchats to the list.
Today myself and Matt Pringle went birding at the Water Park. We started off at Twitchers with at least four Black Terns, Several Common Terns and a probable Arctic Tern. A Redshank was seen on the scrape and a Cuckoo flew across the lake towards Waterhay. Another birder saw a Kingfisher but we missed it. A Garden warbler was heard but we didn’t manage to see it. We then headed of to walk along 68A / B. Here we did manage to see a garden Warbler along with Blackcap and several Whitethroats. Further along the lake we could see several Terns including a couple more Black. Moving along the lake we reached an open area to view from. As we arrived a small Tern flew past, Little Tern, a great catch, only my second in Wiltshire. It flew along to the end of the lake and while watching it Matt picked up a Little Gull. This was followed up with a definite sighting of an Arctic Tern. We spent the next twenty minutes or so watching four species of Tern and a Little Gullbusily feeding along the lake. Also seen was a Kingfisher. Moving onto the hides at the end of the lake we had fleeting glimpses of a couple of Reed Warbler and another Kingfisher but not much else. Two Oystercatchers were in a flooded field along with a lot of Canada and Greylag Geese. Heading back along 68 almost all of the Terns had gone leaving just the Little Gull to be watched. We then cut through the hedge to walk back on the Thames Path alongside Lake 59 where we saw a Red Crested Pochard with three ducklings. On the corner before the hide we heard and then saw a Nightingale. Then followed a wading session where the water was not far off the tops of our wellies. It was then back to Twitchers for the last twenty minutes or so of our trip. There were still a couple of Black terns over 74 but the scrape was our main focus. We managed to add Whimbrel, Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Dunlin to the day list which ended up at fifty-three on what was one of the best days birding I have had at the water Park.
After spending some time driving around Swindon getting a few things sorted I headed off to the Water Park. When I left Swindon it was pouring but amazingly it cleared just before i arrived at Twitchers. There were more out of towners here today. A group from the west midlands who had been staying in the area for a couple of days. They were very pleased to have seen Red Crested Pochard. Guess we tend to take these for granted forgetting that they are pretty rare across most of the UK. It was pretty quiet to start with just a few Common Terns flying around. There were a few more over on 68 and while watching them a Black Tern popped into view for about fifteen seconds. Some time spent scanning the scrape eventually got me five Dunlin, 2 Redshank and a Ruff. This wasn’t the breeding plumage male seen later on in the day but a much plainer individual. Probably a female. As I was scanning the Scrape a flock of birds flew across. Following them I found a flock of a dozen Black Terns, I watched them for a short while then came off of them when I caught a wader flying the opposite way. When I looked again they had disappeared. I thiught that they had flown away but as some were reported in the afternoon I guess they must have gone down somewhere on the scrape. I then headed off to lake 16 which is usually good for Terns. I was in luck as there was an Arctic Tern mixed in with around a dozen Commons. I then headed for Eysey but unfortunately the rain arrived there ahead of me. Not fancying a soaking I just did a quick scan of 305e picking up a couple of LRP and singles of Oystercatcher, Gadwall and Teal. So another successful visit with a bit of luck with the weather.