I was at work on Saturday with no chance to see any birds. On Sunday morning I went with my Wife who was going shopping at the Barnfield Lidl / Food Warehouse. As we couldn’t both go in I went for a walk along the old railway path towards Moulden Hill. There were plenty of birds around with six species of Warbler heard or seen including the hoped for Grasshopper warbler that has been reported in the area recently. Having been unable to get to my regular Kennet Valley site for these I was pleased to get one on the list.
In the afternoon while having a break from gardening I had a Raven soaring over the garden. This was another year-tick, much later on in the year than usual as normally I see them quite regularly at Liddington. Back at work on Monday and i should have been going to Poole which gives me a chance to scan Holes Bay. However plans changed and I ended up going to Salisbury, Gosport and Basingstoke. At Salisbury there was a Goldcrest singing for most of the time I was delivering, Gosport had the tide right out this time but all there was on the mud were a few gulls along with the jellyfish in the Cockle Ponds. I needed to have a driving hours break on my way back from Basingstoke so was able to stop on the industrial estate on the south-side of Greenham Common. From here there is a path which come out not far from the fire plane. I spent just under forty-five minutes here during which time I logged twenty-one species including (as I didn’t have my camera with me) good views of Woodlark and Dartford Warbler. I had hoped to at least hear a Cuckoo but it wasn’t to be.
As mentioned before the only difference lockdown has for me is not being able to travel far on my days off. So on Saturday I stopped for a walk at Coate Water which is on my route home from work. A successful visit with Common Sandpiper, House and Sand Martin being year ticks. On Sunday I went to Crawley and Gosport for work gives me a pleasant drive through Pulborough and then over the South Downs. Gosport was disappointing as the tide was in so that meant no waders on the mud. However a large number of jellyfish in the Cockle Ponds at Walpole Park were an interesting sight.
I even had a year tick amongst the forty-five species seen, Common Tern on a lake next to the A27 at Chichester. Yesterday evening some time was spent in the garden to see the Space X launcher go over the house. We had hoped to see the Starlink satellites but couldn’t but did manage a single meteorite along with three other satellites.Today was a day off and I chose to walk to Liddington Hill from home. I woke at 07.05 and looking out the window saw that the hill was obscured by mist. I had breakfast and left the house at 8. As I headed towards Liddington there were many Skylark and Corn Bunting singing and sun was just starting to burn off the mist so I had my timing right. A couple of flyover Yellow Wagtails were a nice year-tick. On reaching the western slopes of the downs I soon picked out a couple of Ring Ouzels feeding on the grass along with another heard in the hedgerow. On the higher part of the slope were the first of many Wheatear. They were spread out all along the slopes so hard to count but I reckon at least thirty were around. A few Swallows passed through and Red Kite and Buzzard were overhead. Four more Ouzels were seen along with eight Fieldfare and three Whitethroat.
. There were also plenty of Yellowhammer, Linnet and Mipits. The Wheatear and Ouzels were very flighty so I struggled to get any decent pictures however in the end one Wheatear was more confiding so I did manage some. In all I noted a reasonable thirty species.
This morning I left home at about half-seven for a walk to Folly Farm and Liddington Hill. Other than corvids and village birds the first notable bird seen was a Red-legged Partridge wandering across the main road near to the farm shop. Not something it would have got away on a Friday morning in normal times. I could already hear singing Skylarks and it wasn’t long before the first jangling song of a Corn bunting was heard. Both of these songs were to accompany me for most of the walk. With the naked eye what I initially thought was a Buzzard in a field turned out through the binoculars to be a Hare which kindly started to practice some solo boxing just as I took a picture of it. Yellowhammer, Linnet and Goldfinch were added to the list along with Blackcap and my first Whitethroat of the year. Unfortunately it was a real skulker, not wanting to come out in the open at all. A Sparrowhawk shot across the path sending a few Yellowhammers into a panic. Further on I started to scan the hillside and soon picked up a couple of Wheatear with a group of eight found a little nearer to the hill. Unfortunately there were no Whinchat with them. While I was watching them a small flock of six Fieldfare flew over which was a surprise as I thought they would all have gone by now. No sign of any Ring Ouzels but to be honest I spent most of the walk checking out the higher ground for Wheatear than hunting the hedgerows. In all a pleasant but pretty chilly walk with a total of thirty species seen.
Things are still pretty busy at home and work so struggling to get on here regularly to post. I have made two visits to Coate Water recently. On Sunday I walked there and back from home and today my Wife dropped me there on her way to work and I walked around the lake and then home. With forty-six and fifty species seen respectively both were fairly productive. Over the two walks the species total seen was fifty-seven. on the walk on Sunday one of the first birds seen was a Ring-necked Parakeet, the first I have seen in the village and only my second in Wiltshire. I was not surprised to see it as it had been mentioned on our local facebook group that there was one in the area. Amazingly I saw another one at Coate Water, another site first. Sedge,Reed and Willow Warbler were all new for the year and I also managed a couple of Wiltshire year-ticks. The algae is already making an appearance, a fair bit earlier than normal and there is plenty of breeding activity with at least three Swans on nests and the first Mallard ducklings seen today. Today Little Egret and Cetti’s Warbler were both new to the site for 2020 and a single Pochard was still hanging around. Today I saw a Red Lite with a damaged wing feather. On Sunday I managed to get a picture of an empty M4. I never thought that would happen midway through a Sunday morning.Back in Chiseldon the floodwater still hasn’t turned up a single decent bird. The water is rapidly receding in this dry spell so my hopes of a wader or two are rapidly receding. In the garden the Starlings, Jackdaws and House Sparrows continue to entertain. My Wife saw a Pied Wagtail by the pond but it had flown by the time I got downstairs. Also with the amount of fish in the pond I am surprised that we haven’t had a visit from a Heron. I seem to be having a run of getting some quite decent photos so please bear with me for this selection.
From Coate Water,
South of the M4,
With a couple of days of giving training this week I haven’t been out and about as much as previous weeks. Also not much seen on the drive into work either. So I was quite pleased to find myself heading down the M4 to Aberdare and Mountain Ash this morning. With time to spare between the two deliveries and a statutory break required I stopped in my usual lay-by near to the River Cynon. With a forty-five minute break to be taken this also gave me a chance to fit in my daily exercise. Learning from last week this time I had my camera with me. I wandered along the footpath to cross the bridge to the riverside path. Song Thrush, Wren, Dunnock and Chiffchaff were all singing. Just a couple of Mallaeds seen from the bridge with a Heron found soon after. After watching the Heron catch a couple of prey items I carried on. There were plenty of birds in the trees along the path but I was concentrating on the water. Next bird found was a Yellow Wagtail and as I was watching this I heard a Dipper call. It was a little further upstream beyond another bridge but by the time I had moved along it had disappeared. I spent the next few minutes following it and another along the river, they were quite flighty and each time I got close they flew on until I guess reaching the end of their territory they changed direction and flew back downstream. I eventually managed to get some reasonable pictures before I needed to get back to the truck. As I crossed the bridge into Mountain Ash I saw another Dipper perched on a rock and with the lights on red managed to get a couple of distant pictures of it. As always I appreciate how lucky I am being able to get out and about as I do even though I am actually working.
As I work in the food supply chain and my wife and daughter both work in schools life is carrying on almost as normal for our household. I count myself as being very lucky spending most days out delivering to our shops all over the Midlands, the South and also the South of Wales. In fact, at the moment, due to the lack of traffic driving is way more pleasurable than usual. I count myself as beinWith a bit of planning for where I take my statutory breaks I can one day be watching Dippers on a Welsh river and the next scanning the sea somewhere along the South Coast. There are also the not so interesting days when I am plodding up the M5 to Birmingham or enduring the screeching Parakeets of West London. Also on my usually around 02:30 drive to work I get to see a good amount of wildlife including Barn and Tawny Owls along with plenty of mammals. Both Liddington Hill and Coate Water along with some good mixed habitat around Chiseldon are within easy walking distance of home giving me the opportunity of some varied bird walks. Last week was particularly good with Dipper and Purple Sandpiper added to the year-list along with Oystercatcher and Little ringed Plover in Wiltshire when I managed to take a driving break at the Cotswold Water Park. The previous week got me Sanderling and this week Sandwich Tern. The last few days have also added Wheatear, Ring Ouzel and Swallow to the notebook on local walks. A flyover Redshank was a nice surprise near to Liddington at the weekend. We also get regular low-flying Red kites over the garden while Skylarks can be heard displaying over the nearby farmland.
Lousy Phone Pictures from the work sightings.