With my 300th UK species still eluding me my thoughts had turned to the Great knot that has been at Titchwell for a few days. Having read a couple of Blog reports from Oxfordshire birders who had made the trip ( http://blackaudibirding.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/get-knotted-16th-june-2016.html , http://oxfordbirder.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/titchwell-great-knot.html ) I decided that, if it was still around on Thursday I would go for it on Friday. My plan was to drive up to Titchwell on Thursday evening, grab a few hours kip in the car and to be on the beach for Dawn. Pete was up for the trip as well so half-eight on Thursday evening found us heading east on the M4. Managing to beat the overnight road closures and various heavy downpours an uneventful journey saw us arrive in the car park at Titchwell at just gone midnight. After some poor quality sleep we woke a little after four to the sound of a cuckoo. A couple of Oystercatchers flew over calling loudly and several Swifts were also noted. After a quick freshen up in the toilets we headed for the beach arriving at around twenty to five. On the way we had great views of the sun rising over the reserve. We weren’t the first to arrive having been beaten there by about ten minutes by a birder from Winchester. It was a beautiful morning with little cloud or wind. Several Sandwich and Little Terns were feeding out to sea and there were a few waders on the water’s edge. The tide was on its way in and as it rose more waders started to appear. The flock of Knot grew to around three to four hundred but of the Great Knot there was no sign. Oystercatchers, Curlew and a handful of Grey Plover flew in followed by more Knot. It was now near to seven o’clock another birder who had joined us earlier on the beach had decided to go to Brancaster to check out Scolt Island. He called us to say there was no sign of the bird there either. A couple of large flocks of Knot flew in swelling the numbers towards a couple of thousand birds.
There were now seven or eight of us searching. There were several Red Knot in the flock but no sign of the target bird. Just before half-seven some more small groups of Knot flew in and finally the Great Knot put in an appearance. Unfortunately it stayed on the seaward side of the flock so although we never got to see the bird in the open we still had excellent views. After about ten minutes the birds as one all flew up with the flock splitting into two groups.
The smaller headed for the freshwater at Titchwell while the rest went off towards Scolt Head Island. Of interest on the beach was the massive amount od presumably dumped by a storm empty razor clam shells. There we thousands and thousands of them all along the whole length of the sands.
We then headed for the Parrinder hide where we spent an hour or so enjoying the many birds on the freshwater lagoon. The highlight was a couple of Spotted Redshank and several young Avocets.
We left Titchwell at around a quarter to ten and after stopping for a celebratory breakfast at the Chill Out Cafe near Guyhirn arrived back in Swindon at three.
A day spent at home today after my penultimate chemo session yesterday. The regular Red Kite was low over the gardens at least three times during the day and this evening I had a Scarlet Tiger Moth in the house.
After a few days with very little birding done I hoped that a weekend away in the forest of Dean would turn up a few good birds. We were staying at the Fountain Inn at Parkend http://www.fountaininnandlodge.co.uk/. Having watched Dippers many times from around the Inn it was nice to be actually using it. On arrival we wandered down to the stream and almost immediately saw a Dipper perched on a rock in the middle. On our approach it flew off along the stream. After checking in and unloading the car I took another stroll out and this time found a juvenile Dipper that handily stayed long enough for me to get a couple of pictures.
I had some thoughts of headed out in the evening to try for Nightjars but the evening menu and selection of real ales soon put these thoughts out of my mind. After breakfast on Saturday morning we travelled the short distance to for the reserve at Nagshead. Pied Flycatcher was the target bird here but despite spending a lot of time watching nestboxes and scanning the woodland we didn’t manage to find one. According to a lady at the visitor centre they have had a very poor season with many nests failing Consolation came in the form of a brief sighting of a Wild Boar (another lousy pic) and a much better one of a Redstart (a much better pic). From here we did touristy things for a while before ending up by the River Wye at Symonds Yat. Here a pleasant stroll along the river turned up six Treecreepers, three Nuthatches, four Grey Wagtails and best of all two Firecrests. Also here were large numers of Banded Demoiselle.
Then it was of to Blakeney where we got Fish and Chips that were eaten alongside the Severn at Newnham. Finally the lure of the local ale banished all thought of Nightjar. Today we headed for Lydney harbour where a walk along the river added half-a-dozen more species to the trip list including the unexpected sight of two Partridges feeding amongst the stones on the riverbank. They flew directly away from us so I didn’t get to see if they were Grey or Red-legged. We ended the visit with a great Sunday Carvery back at he Fountain which come highly reccommended as a place to stay or eat if you are in the area. Good food and Ale and friendly staff made it an enjoyable stay. In all forty-six species were seen or heard.
Yesterday evening Pete and I headed off to Greenham Common for Nightjar. We arrived at half-eight and headed for the area west of the missile silos from where they had been reported. This was a new part of the site for me and is quite different to the main area. The first bird started to churr at a little past half-nine not long after we had a Woodcock fly over. We headed towards where we thought the bird was and Pete managed a brief flight view which I missed. Another bird started to churr on the other side of the open area but wasn’t willing to show itself. A Barn Owl flew over carrying prey. We then headed off along the track back towards the car park where a Nightjar was still churring. Also along here were some noisy young Tawny Owls. We were within a few yards of the car and almost under where the bird was when it stopped and presumably flew away. So with two birds heard but not seen by me it was an enjoyable but slightly disappointing visit.
Popped over to Fairford to catch the B52’s returning from todays mission. Timed it well as I arrived just ten minutes before they did.
Last night I headed off to Savernake again on the hunt for a Nightjar. I arrived at around half-nine in what seemed perfect conditions. Reasonably warm, very little wind, and plenty of moths around. On arrival Song Thrushes were singing along with Blackbirds and Robins. Three or four Tawny Owls were calling and several bats flying around. I stayed until a little past half-ten with not a sniff of a Nightjar. It is looking as if they may not have returned this year. On the walk back to the car a Barn Owl flew across the track but I| had no luck with Glow Worms either. It was treatment day today so no birds but I did have the first decent moth in the house which I believe is a Small Magpie..
Also had this one in the garden and I know it is a lousy picture.
A few hours on Salisbury Plain this afternoon were extremely productive with thirty-three species noted. Highlights included a dozen Red kites and Buzzards circling in a thermal, a female Peregrine seen catching a Stock Dove which with help from a male was plucked and eaten, a pair of Stone Curlew with one young, four Quail heard and a Curlew. Also noted were three Whinchat, a Stonechat and a heard only Cuckoo. As usual there were many Skylark s singing and also plenty of Whitethroats and Corn Buntings.
With no birding at all this week I needed to get out today. I was at work first thing (04.00) and after a trip to Portsmouth was home at just gone ten. I had seen that there was an open day at a Heuchera specialist near to Lymington and as this is one of my favourite plants decided to go and have a look. After a good journey down I spent an enjoyable hour looking at and buying plants. http://www.heucheraholics.co.uk/ Then it was time for some birds. With nothing of any interest showing locally I decided on a return visit to Franchises Wood. I was just climbing over the stile into the wood when I heard first a Firecrest and then a Wood Warbler. The Firecrest was ignored as the WW was my target bird. Within a couple of minutes I had tracked it down and then spent the next twenty minutes watching it patrolling its territory almost constantly singing and calling. Its whole body could be seen vibrating as it sang. At one point another bird came close and the two had a little competition for a minute or so.
Ther were plenty of animals to be seen with many Ponies, Donkeys and Cows encountered on or close to the road.With the target bird in the book I decided not to walk any further and returned to the car. To avoid Salisbury I took an enjoyable back route through West Dean, crossing into Hampshire as I headed for Salisbury Plain. I was running out of time so just had a short drive around managing to see Stone Curlew, Stonechat and Whinchat.