Monthly Archives: May 2020

At Work and at Play

This week I have had a couple of trips to Poole which has allowed me to check out Holes Bay. Unfortunately no sighting of the hoped for Osprey or Spoonbill bu nice all the same. I also managed to take some breaks on Salisbury Plain and got my first Grey Partridge of the year along with a Hobby, a few Apaches and a Hawker Hunter, a pretty rare sight in the skies nowadays. Last night I remembered to go outside for the ISS pass and also saw the HTV-9 supply ship a few minutes after.

Today we had planned a family day out and I suggested a walk from Aust Warth to New Passage. We got away from home in good time and with excellent timing, we all, including the two dogs got great views of the Collared Pratincole as it flew between the Salt Marsh and the reserve. There were plenty of other birds to be seen and Greenshank was another year-tick. Despite the wind we were able to enjoy a picnic not far from the waters edge from where we watched a group of Starlings feeding on washed up seaweed.

Some Proper Birding

With lockdown restrictions relaxed it was nice to be able to get out to do some proper birding. I had a couple of days off work so early Thursday morning saw me at the Water Park. Various sites were visited throughout the morning and  managed just shy of sixty species which included seven UK year ticks. These were Hobby, Marsh Harrier, Crane, Nightingale, Cuckoo, Whimbrel and Cattle Egret. It was good to see large numbers of Martins, Swallows and Swifts as these seem to have been pretty scarce up until now. Fairly early on I heard and then saw a U2 depart from Fairford, later on it returned and I was able to get over to the base to see it doing some circuits. Somehow I hadinadvertantly managed to set my camera to Black & White and only realised part way through the day.

On Friday I headed for Salisbury Plain with a diversion en-route to look for a Hoopoe that I had seen mentioned on Twitter. As expected I couldn’t find it but discovered an interesting new to me corner of Wiltshire. On the Plain I managed to get twenty-eight species including NFY Stone Curlew along with several Whinchat and Stonechat. There were also a few helicopters around to add interest.

At home there has been plenty of activity, mainly with the regular Sparrows, Starlings and Jackdaws but I dd get a new garden tick with a flyover Little Egret and there have been some Grey Herons around as well.

Saturday late afternoon got me to Savernake on a family walk. There was quite a bit of activity with a Treecreeper giving me a Wiltshire tick. The pond at Thornhill was interesting with Broad-bodoed Chaser above the water and dozens of tadpoles in it. On the way home we picked up an Italian takeaway from Pinos in Marlborough which was very nice. Obviously it isn’t as good as a sit down meal; but it is nice to be able to support these places through the hard times.

Another Week Gone By

Busy at work again and no bird friendly runs so not much seen until the weekend. Had a really productive walk to and around Liddington yesterday morning. I took a different route this time, starting by going to the top of the Castle, then along the Ridgeway and back home via Folly Farm. As on previous walks there was the the constant song of Skylarks, I ought to try counting them all but that would restrict the other sightings. However I reckon the total must have been somewhere around a hundred. Also plenty of Corn Buntings but only a handful of Yellowhammers. After the fall of Wheatear last Sunday I only saw one this week but two Whinchats were excellent. Also had two female Ring Ouzel and my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year. This was number 150 for 2020, just over six weeks later than last year. In the afternoon I had Buzzard, Red Kite and Sparrowhawk from, low over or in the garden. The Sparrowhawk was really landed on the aerial on the roof setting all the Starlings off. Typically my camera was in the house and I rushed in to get it only to see the hawk flying off as I came back out.

Ths morning I did a short walk to the river at Barnfield while waiting for The Food Warehouse to open. Not much was seen but a sad sight was a dead Tawny Owl on the bridge. This afternoon we had a walk from home to the second hide at Coate with a reasonable selection of birds seen. At Coate were the first Canada Geese goslings that I have seen this year. Also a good few lambs in the fields.