Thursday, 6 May 2021

Whiskered Tern at the Swannery

Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern resting (@ajordanwildlife)

Flying towards us

Whiskered Tern in flight (@ajordanwildlife)

View from teeth back towards path

View of Swannery

Happiness when a plan comes together

Feeding over sand bar

Chesil Beach

Dorset has been very kind to me over the last few years especially in May as I tend to always spend a few days away with parents in Lyme Regis. Birds observed include Great Spotted Cuckoo, Short-toed Lark, Golden Oriole, Nightjar & also saw Subapline Warbler in east Devon. No holiday this year with restrictions in place but I was not surprised when another great bird was discovered on Sunday at the Abbotsbury Swannery. 

A Whiskered Tern was seen feeding and flying around the Fleet which backs onto the Swannery. In all honesty I never considered the bird sticking around as they rarely do so I duly made other plans. And yet the bird was reported all day Monday & Tuesday, and with bad weather coming in on Saturday it was time to put a plan together for Wednesday morning.

The tactic would be to wait for postitive news then head south, for a journey around 3 hours 20 mins. We left as planned as soon as the first report hit BirdGuides. The journey was pretty smooth however with 90 minutes to go we received negative news from birders at site, we remained hopeful and carried on regardless although slighly less hopeful.

Parked up safely, £2 for 2 hours, on the beach car park a birder approached us to show us where to go and informed us "the bird is showing really well" ! I had to ask him to repeat himself before we set off on a fifteen minutes shingle beach walk. We must have passed half a dozen happy birders who had all duly seen the bird.
Shingle is always a tough walk but the prize was in sight. 

At the end of the walk there were a number of tank teeth which everyone stood on to get views of the lake in front of the Swannery. Within a few seconds we picked up the Whiskered Tern flying and feeding low above the water. The bird was small & had a distinctive shallow tail fork and was very dark. It never once stopped flying during our visit and gave us one incredible fly past when being chased by a local Common Tern. The Whiskered Tern is classed as a marsh tern and breeds in southern europe.

Many thanks to Andrew Jordan (@ajordanwildlife) for sending me a couple of fantastic images to use on the blog.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Lesser Yellowlegs continues Worcestershires good form


Lesser Yellowlegs

Squire with Malvern in background


Yellowlegs with light lifted on image

                                   Squires photo shows range of bird

Video footage

On the back of the 1st winter Bonaparte's Gull being found at Upton Warren, Gavin Peplow discovered Worcestershire's second ever Lesser Yellowlegs in shocking bank holiday weather. 

The Squire & I had to wait for the following day to head to Clifton for some evening viewing. For the first forty minutes the bird was quite distant and feeding around a large water pump. Just when we were debating leaving a Redshank chased the Yellowlegs towards giving us for a much improved viewing, the dainty & delicate bird looked stunning in the scope. 

Although the light was fading and the suns position was far from ideal I managed to get a couple of nice shots & video from the top of the slope. It was great to see so many local birders had seen the bird earlier in the day & admirers continued the following day having seen the reports on social media.  Additional sighting including 6 Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover, 4 Redhank & 2 Yellow Wagtail. 

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Grizzled Skipper at Honeybourne

                         Grizzled Skipper - Rather pleased with this image

As I've reported on other blogs, it's been a very cold & wet April which has held back many species of butterfly. I did finally have a decent session on Sunday when I recorded four Grizzled Skippers at Honeybourne. More days in the sun ahead I hope.

A bank holiday Wryneck & Otmoor

                                           Wryneck (Borough Hill)
                                               Spotted Redshank
                                                Drake Pochard  
                                                    Glossy Ibis
                                                  Marsh Harrier
                                                 Marsh Harrier
                                          Distant video footage

RSPB Otmoor was our chosen destination for bank holiday Monday hoping the hegdrows might give us a bit of cover from a cold wind. Otmoor isn't a place I've visited often and I tend to always side with Slimbridge for that type of days birding. We landed around 8am to find the car park, complete with singing Garden Warbler, almost full. 

The paths and the signage are excellent the only downside is having to walk back the same way you walked out. There was a number of first sightings of year for us including a Spotted Redshank, Glossy Ibis, Marsh Harrier & feral Barnacle Geese. The warblers around the reserve were in great voice, most teased the camera with posing and then diving for cover. A male Cuckoo feasted on a hoard of catterpillars it had found and the Lapwings displayed above us throughout our visit. Red Kites were circuling until we left Oxfordshire and diverted to Borough Hill in Northamptonshire where a Wryneck had been located. With a heavy storm approaching we manged to watch the fabulous Wryneck for about ten minutes before making a run for the car. The drive back was through some very heavy rain underlining how lucky we had been to make the most of the morning.

Progress continues at the pits

                                                  Yellow Wagtail
                                               Lesser Whitethroat
                                          Morton Bagot Bluebells

                                             Path of dreams
                               This yound deer greets me most mornings
                                                Yellow Wagtails
Yellow Wagtail

Five visits this week and still I managed to miss the best passage on Tuesday due to work when 8 Arctic Tern went through & a Dunlin also had a short visit on the spit.

Paul added our first Little Egret of the year on Friday & followed this up by picking up a Goshawk the following day when registering 67 species as part of West Midland Alldayer.

Sundays count undertaken by Jon & Chris (County Recorder) - 7 pairs of Little Grebe, 1 Cormorant, 1 Little Egret (on main pool), 1 Grey Heron, 3 pairs of Mute Swans and 2 nests, 10 Greylag, 20 Canada Geese, 3 pairs of Gadwall, one new brood of Mallard (now 4), 87 Tufted Duck, 1 Sparrowhawk, 8 Buzzards, 1 Kestrel, 2 Coot broods out, pair of Oystercatcher, 5 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Lapwing, 4 Black-headed Gull, pair of territorial LBB Gulls and 3 more through, 4 Herring Gulls,  3 Cuckoos (two male, 1 female), 40 Swift, 20 Sand Martin, 50 Swallow, a few House Martins, total of 6 Yellow Wagtail, 1 female Whinchat at Pophills, 1 male Wheatear; counts of singing warblers included: 2 Cetti's, 9 Sedge Warbler, 25-30 Reed Warbler, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 15 Common Whitethroat; 3 pairs of Long-tailed Tit, 3 Jay, 2 pairs of Yellowhammer and the white Reed Bunting.

Year list now stands at 110. Thanks to everyone for their contributions.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Ticking along nicely

                           Grasshopper Warbler(one of my fav pics ever taken)
                                      Second Gropper of the morning
                                                 Common Terns
                                                Distant Little Gull
                                             I just liked this photo
                                                    Little Gull
                                              Video montage
                                                Wood Sandpiper
                                             Arty Wood Sandpiper
                                  Bonaparte's Gull(taken from footpath)
                     Close up taken by John Belsey from inside the reserve

There has been some nice birds to be seen over the last week all within twenty miles of home in a range of habitats. This started on the previous Monday when I found two Grasshoper Warblers at Morgrove Coppice. On Saturday I nipped over to Earlswood to see my first Little Gull & Common Terns of the year. Then after being battered by the wind all Saturday afternoon at the cricket I headed for a bit of cover on Sunday for my annual Nightingale pilgrimage. On the way back home I called in at Clifton where I enjoyed great views of a Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Wheatear & 20+ Yellow Wagtail. A Wood Sandpiper at Grimley rounded the morning off nicely. 

On Tuesday, John Belsey discovered a Bonaparte's Gull at Upton Warren which I visited on my lunch break becoming my 147th species of the year.

Not quite time for the bunting

          Saturday cricket is back - Gussy sending this into church yard for six
                                        Two Common Sandpipers
                          Large Red Damselfly - always the first to emerge
                                                 Yellow Wagtail
                               Main pit showing worrying willow growth

Well it's been an interesting couple of weeks at the pits with our year list rising from 97 to a very reasonable 107. Most of our additions were predictable however two certainly were not. Those additions as follows Reed & Sedge Warbler, Hobby, Common Whitethroat (18/4), Redstart (19/4 singing male), Cuckoo (22/4), Swift (24/4), Sandwich Tern (22/4) & LITTLE BUNTING (25/4).

I've been going to the pits most days and but some days I just need a change of routine and bird somewhere I can't normally go before work. So I had a lovely day in south Worcestershire which was somewhat ruined when I got a call from Jon saying there was a mega at the pits. Typical !

Details of Jons news :

A LITTLE BUNTING - an adult in summer plumage, was flushed from long grass at the back of the main pit towards the end (nearest the old works) - it flew into the hedge and began calling "tick...tick". Really MEGA view of it on top (the best I've had of this bird, including in China, as they are usually quite skulky). It then dropped down into the hedge and I followed it north for about 10m or so, as it flitted around warbler style within it. I lost it when it moved down on the other side of the hedge and out of view - so could be feeding on the grass track on that side. As no one else had arrived by 1015 (and my phone battery dead - sorry) I walked back along the path but no sign, but could still be in the field margin on the other side.

We organised a small team to meet at 3.30pm where we had a good search for 2 hours without luck. We were all disappointed.

Also at the pits on Sunday (from 0735 onwards): 7 pairs of Little Grebe now, 7 Cormorant, 2 Grey Heron, 17 Mute Swan and 2 nests, 13 Greylags, 20 Canada Geese, 3 pairs of Gadwall, 3 broods of Mallard out, 111 Tufted Duck, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrels, 1 very pale adult Peregrine flew NW, 1 Oystercatcher flew over, 2 pairs of Little Ringed Plover, 5 LBB Gull, 1 Herring Gull, 1 male Cuckoo (showing well on ground at main pit), 5 Swifts, 70 Sand Martins, 50 Swallows, 70 House Martins, 1 Meadow Pipit, 5 Yellow Wagtails, 2 male Wheatears, 2 singing Cetti's Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler heard at main pit, 7 Sedge Warbler, 14 Reed Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, lots of Common Whitethroat, 2 Ravens, 1 Siskin flew north and all the usual stuff.