Monthly Archives: December 2019

A Day in Geneva

My Mum is spending Christmas in the Jura region of France not that far from Geneva and the family decided the best way for her to get there was to fly and as she is eighty-six and partially sighted I found myself with the opportunity to accompany her on the flight which gave me the chance of a day sightseeing. We flew out on the Sunday afternoon and for the first time ever I used airbnb to find my accommodation. After a good flight over from Gatwick courtesy of Easyjet and a good nights sleep first light found me heading for the Lake Geneva via Lidl to pick up a Pain-au-Chocolat for breakfast. House Sparrow and Feral Pigeon were the first birds seen and then on the lake Goosander, Goldeneye and RC Pochard along with BH and YL Gulls. Walking along towards the City I soon added Tufted, Pochard and Great Crested and Little Grebe. There were good numbers of wildfowl but not in the numbers I had expected from looking at online reports. What was good though was how confiding the Goosander were. Unlike our local birds that move off quickly as soon as you get close these ones did the opposite and started to come closer. A Red-breasted Goose was a surprise but presumably not a wild bird. In all just twenty-two species were noted with only Crow and Blackbird added to the land bird list although to be honest I wasn’t looking that hard. Main disappointment was not finding any Ferruginous Ducks which was my target bird. However birds were only a small part of the day so most of it was spent just sightseeing and shopping. All in all a most enjoyable day was had despite no snow and many heavy bursts of rain. Another, as usual good flight with Easyjet I arrived home at half-ten all ready for Christmas.

A Quiet Few Days

Apart from some early morning Barn and Tawny Owls and a quick look in at Barbury for the Short-eared it has been a bit quiet on the birding side of things. Today I had a walk at the Water Park. It is the wettest that I have ever seen there with several paths and roads that are usually okay covered in quite deep water. I didn’t even attempt the Thames Path back to Waterhay from the Reed Hide. Highlight was some great views of Marsh Harrier both hunting and perched. Plenty of wildfowl with good numbers of Pochard and quite a few Pintail the best. Also a couple of large (200+)flocks of Lapwing over.Bullfinch, Treecreeper, Kingfisher and five Curlew the best of the rest.

Hungerford and the Plain

A trip to Hungerford this morning to get the car serviced. It works quite well as I drop the car then go for a walk through Freemans Marsh to Cobbs Farm Shop and then walk back into the town along the canal. The walk starts at the canal bridge in the town, then along the towpath to cross at the first swing bridge by the church. Ten follow the path onto Freemans Marsh. It was pretty cold, -2 when I started and they weren’t many birds around. Wrens, and Robins were the first seen along with a few Goldfinch and Chaffinch. It livened up a bit with several Fieldfare and Redwing about along with single Song Thrush and Bullfinch. The river has split into two along here and the path runs alongside one part. Just Moorhen seen along here but on reaching the bridge over the other part a Little Egret flew up and a Kingfisher was sitting in a bush from where it dived into the river before flying off. Presumably it had caught something. A small flock of Lapwing passed overhead, a Reed bunting was calling and another flock of Goldfinch were feeding in some Alders. A good scan of them picked up a couple of Siskin. After a wander around the Farm Shop where I was tempted but did not succumb it was over to the canal for the walk back. A calling Kingfisher shot along the canal closely followed by another. One of them obligingly perched in a bush allowing me to get some reasonable pictures. Whilst here I got a brief glimpse of a Cetti’s as it shot into the reeds.

With the car now ready it was back to the garage to collect it and then a drive down to Salisbury Plain. Merlin was the target bird and I was very lucky to find one fairly quickly. It gave good views perched atop a bush before flying along the track. It briefly landed on the track before flying off out of sight. A couple of Kestrels and Stonechat were the best of the rest with no sign of any Hen Harriers. Also noted were some fair sized flocks of Starlings.

On the drive back I saw a couple of Rd Kites and Buzzards to add to the reasonable day-list.