Monthly Archives: February 2021

A Bit of a Road Trip

It was nice to have a bit of a drive out in the car for work today. It started with a site visit to Newhaven where I didn’t even get to see the sea. From here it was along the coast to Bognor Regis, a town I haven’t visited for many a year. On the way I stopped off for my first break at the sailing club in Shoreham where a Black Redstart had been reported. Unfortunately no sight nor sound of it. I was going to have a quick look at the Adur estuary but the tide was in so the sandbanks that the birds are sually seen on were not exposed. I had a quick scan of the sea at Bognor with no joy and was again thwarted by the tide at Langstone Harbour where I stopped for another break. I had been hoping for a few waders here but only managed some gulls and Brent Geese. I took the scenic route home, going up the A36 to Salisbury and then on the A338 through Marlborough to Swindon. This route is slower timewise and just a mile different in distance. This is a much more pleasant route to drive especially as most of my trip had been on motorway and dual carriageways. However my ulterior motive for going this way was a Cattle Egret that had been reported alongside the A338 at Idmiston. With the way my luck had run throughout the day I was prepared for disappointment, so I was pleased to find both the Cattle Egret and a Little Egret feeding just a few yards from the road. I didn’t even need to stop to have a good view of it. so a nice finish to what had been a slightly frustrating day.

Courtesy of an MOT Test

I seem to have been really busy lately and my blog routine has fallen by the wayside so here goes in trying to get it going again. Today I had to take the Wife’s car to Hungerford for it’s first MOT. On the way I stopped at Froxfield where I saw twelve Snipe and a Little Egret along with the commoner stuff and Chilton Foliat where there was nothing at all out of the ordinary. After I dropped the car off I headed along the canal towpath to have a walk around the Freeman’s Marsh Nature Reserve. As with a lot of places at the moment it was very muddy so I was glad I had worn my wellies, Best of the twenty-nine species seen or heard were Grey Wagtail, Cetti’s Warbler, three Bullfinch and a singing Reed Bunting.

On the way home a quick stop on the Downs at Ogbourne got me a couple of Corn Buntings and a few more Yellowhammers along with singing Skylarks. A good part of the afternoon was spent cutting back a hedge in the front garden and while I was doing this a Sparrowhawk flew in and spent thirty seconds or so perched on a wall before flying off. A nice garden year-tick.

Another New Site and a Nice Surprise

After work I decided to have a walk along to the viewing area at the Swindon treatment works lagoon. This is another local site that I haven’t visited before. Some clearance work has been done on the reeds recently allowing a better view. There were quite a few birds about with Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Coot and Moorhen on the lake and Reed Bunting in the reed bed. Two Bullfinch flew over. A flock of twenty or so Teal flew up from another area of the site as did eight Cormorants. These all contributed to a total of sixteen species.

I then had a walk around the hidden lake at Witchelstowe where I put up a single Snipe and also had a Cetti’s Warbler. Again on the way home I had a quick look in at Wroughton Reservoir. Thames Water are currently doing a lot of work here and being Friday afternoon I hoped that they had packed up early and that there would be more birds around. They had and there weren’t but the reason for that was something different. I noticed that the regular group of four Swans were quite agitated and wondered why. Some disturbance in the water soon revealed the reason, an Otter was busy fishing, a long awaited Wiltshire sighting of one for me. I was able to get brief views of it surfacing several times before it moved down the reservoir and disappeared. I wasn’t able to see where it had gone but assume that it got out of the water. After a couple of minutes eight Little Grebe and a couple of Moorhen appeared, apparently Otters do occasionally take small birds so that must be why they were staying out of the way.

Coate in the Sun

After yet another lie-in I headed off to Coate Water. It was so nice to actually see some sunshine. No worries about getting wet or cold. First time for ages I have walked without gloves or a waterproof. Because of this there were more people about but as usual the further from the car park the quieter it became. I have now started to log my sightings on eBird so for the first time decided to try and do a proper count of all species. Overall I did pretty well I think although it isn’t easy with multiple viewing points for one area. I can’t say I would want to do it every time but is was fun. In all a total of forty-one species seen and apart from Wood Pigeon and Crow all were counted giving a total birds seen of nine hundred and sixty three. I had hoped for a higher species count but there were several blanks including Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Goldcrest, Pied Wagtail and LBB Gull. Again there were just two Goosander, two Cetti’s were nice as were three Snipe. Two site year-ticks were Greenfinch and Green Woodpecker. There was however a lot of song, displaying and some evidence of nest building. Roll on the spring.

Geese and Gulls in London

I was in London today on one of my regular support visits to my Mum. Having driven up yesterday evening I woke to a dull and grey sky and basically it stayed that way for the whole day. An occasional splash of colour was supplied by Parakeets raiding the fat balls in the garden and a Red Kite was seen circling as we left the house to go into Hounslow to visit the bank and to do some shopping. They are definitely moving east at a fair pace. After a few things had been done in Hounslow we headed for Tesco to do the food shop. I had remembered seeing that a couple of White-fronted Geese had been reported from Syon Park so a quick stop was made en-route. It didn’t take long to find them grazing amongst the regular flock of Canada Geese. They were a bit distant as the lousy picture shows but a nice bird to start the February bird list. Also around were a good number of Mistle and Song Thrushes but surprisingly no Redwing. Just around the corner from Syon is a spot by the London Apprentice riverside pub that is good for a short walk. We spent a few minutes here being entertained by a couple of hundred Black-headed Gulls that were feeding on the water. The flow was quite strong and they were drifting downstream on the tide for a couple of hundred metres before flying back upstream and repeating the process. As always here there were plenty of Feral Pigeons and a few Eygptian Geese amongst the Canada Geese, Mallard and Swans.