Monday, 30 May 2016

Squacco Heron at Ogmore-by-Sea

Squacco Heron
Squacco Heron
Squacco Heron
Squacco Heron
View of the flash from corner of car park
The Watermill Pub

I was well up for a days birding somewhere different over the weekend but I certainly didn't expect to be watching a Squacco Heron from a pub car park on Sunday lunchtime. The report came through just I'd finished at Salford so I jumped on to the M5 to join the M50 for the 2 hour journey. The traffic was light considering it was a Bank Holiday weekend and I was even more pleased that there were only two other birders watching the Heron feeding on a small flash. 

The stunning bird was in full summer plumage like I saw out in the Gambia and had certainly settled in well to its new surroundings, catching a range of small fish and frogs. Squacco's get their name from their piercing call and it was interesting to note how small the bird seemed compared to the resident Grey Heron's. 

This was my ninth new UK species for 2016 and a delightful one. Easy drive, plenty of parking and only a couple of birders present. 

New arrivals at pits

Hunting hobby
Fox cub
 Little Owl on my way home
Little Owl
Distant female Ruff

Three consecutive day visits to Salford Priors over the weekend saw no movement with waders. The only waders around the site were the Little Ringed Plovers and the Oystercatchers who are trying to nest in their third location of the spring. 

Sunday mornings visit did result in two fox cubs playing before taking a hiding postition photographed above. Very cute, however I also witnessed an adult Fox removing eggs from a Mute Swans nest. Sadly last weeks pair of Pochard's were not around but I certainly haven't given up hope whilst the pair of Shelduck so seem to be continually harassed by another bird.

The highlight of the morning was a Hobby hunting over south lagoons and a Cuckoo around the central lagoon & bunds. House Martin numbers seem to be much better this year whilst I have counted over 400 Swifts on four different visits.  The water table has remained to high this spring so we have done well to record the species we have.

On Saturday I paid my third visit of the week to Upton Warren mainly to record my first Ruff of the year. Plenty of good chat in the hides as always. Avocet number have increased to a record 43 whilst there was a Shoveler brood of 18 ! 

On the way home on Sunday I called in to see my local Little Owls. After an intial game of hide and seek I managed to take a couple of images.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Short-eared Owl is mid May bonus

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl 
Shortie in flight above the pits
April Patch Challenge table
 Reed Bunting
Goosanders on main pit

When away in Norfolk last weekend Mike Inskip reported a Ruff , Black-tailed Godwit & a Grey Plover. The Plover & Ruff were the first records of the year. The red-headed Smew made a second visit of month when arriving late in the afternoon. 

The first visit after my trip to Dorset resulted in me finding a Short-eared Owl which is one of my favourite bird. The graceful Owl was hunting the central area before landing the fields my the main pit. I managed to get a couple of record shots before the bird was mobbed by the local corvids and took cover. I did return in the evening where Mark and I had some fantastic views before the bird's hunting drew attention of the corvids again. This was the first time I'd seen a Short-eared Owl at the pits and is a welcome two pointer in the patch challenge (April table above).

Our Goosander count reached three at the weekend, a strange sighting at this time of year. Three Cuckoo's were seen down at Abbots Salford in addition to one calling on the top of migrant hill. Two Pochard remain around the main pit and we are hoping they may attempt to breed. This would be a new record for the site. 

A Common Tern briefly fished the south lagoon in front of us before moving on. There really wasn't anything else of note sadly. The winds are the varied weather seem to have stopped the flow of migrants. The Shortie certainly made the week ! 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Warwickshire April sightings

The Warwickshire sightings page has been updated to include a very good April, especially for Salford Priors. All sightings are published in nationally published Bird Watching magazine. Many thanks to Jon Bowley for his efforts. 

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Sanderling & Marsh Harrier at Upton Warren

Two Sanderling
Two Sanderling
Marsh Harrier under attack
 Marsh Harrier
 Black-tailed Godwit
Coot chicks

After completing my morning walk around Salford Priors I headed over to the Flashes at Upton Warren for a quick visit. This ended up being about four hours with the reserve being full of good birds as well as catching up with Terry "Gullman" Hinnet and fellow pitter Mike Inskip.

Two Sanderling were the original star attraction and were showing well with three Dunlin. This was the first sighting of the species since May 2013. The waders were creeping closer to the hide when everything was flushed by a Marsh Harrier hunting the far reed bed. The larger gulls mobbed the Harrier every time it tried to get near to the reeds until it eventually gave up and headed south. 

Other sightings included a Black-tailed Godwit, two Oystercatchers, Cetti's Warbler, two Shelduck, Lapwings with 11 chicks, a Shoveler, four Gadwall, 34 Avocets with just one chick & five Little Ringed Plover. Finally there were three Common Tern on the education reserve as I headed back to the car.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Lyme Regis Dunlin

After a very busy Saturday, Sunday was going to be an easier day so (before spending a leisurly day walking with my parents at West Bay) I made a short walk to the front before breakfast. After passing a family of Grey Wagtails on the stream & a Rock Pipt I found a pair of Dunlin among the rock pools. The waders were very confiding and I mange to sit myself down and watch the birds feed for over an hour in fantstic light. House Martins continued to land close by pulling sea-weed off the rocks.  Sometimes the simple hours of birding are the most pleasurable.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Red-rumped Swallow at Lodmoor

Red-rumped Swallow (file image)
A new one for the reserves list
Knot & Grey Plovers
Fleet towards Ferrybridge
Returning Little Tern
 Cetti's Warbler
Chessil Beach

After seeing the Great Spotted Cuckoo I headed towards the Bill before a quick u-turn after getting a couple of texts of reports of a Red-rumped Swallow had been seen at RSPB Lodmoor. I was on the reserve within 20 minutes but had to walk towards the north side before I could see the bird well skimming over an area repeatingly. I'd never seen this species before however the bird could be easily picked out. Two lifers in the day was a real bonus. 

A Bee-eater had been seen briefly on the reserve but flew north, that would have made a nice treble. There were plenty of other great birds to see of which a number were new for the year. These included a perched Hobby, three Bearded Tits, a Knott and two Great Plover. Whilst I also osserved a hunting Marsh Harrier, Water Rail and a Common Tern.

I decided to have lunch watching over Fleetit was great to see returning Little & Sandwich Terns plus a flock of 15 Dunlin, in addition there were six Curlews. 

Great Spotted Cuckoo on Dorset Holiday

Great Spotted Cuckoo
Great Spotted Cuckoo
Great Spotted Cuckoo
The Satnav destination
Pied Flycatcher
Common Redstart

After such a fantastic long weekend in Mull, next destination would be Dorset to spend a few days with my parents in a holiday cottage in Lyme Regis. I couldn't quite believe my luck when a first summer Great Spotted Cuckoo had been found on Portland, just 40 minutes from the cottage. 

I set out at 5am hoping the bird would be around for another day. As I swung past Yeovil news emerged it was still present. The rest of the 3 1/2 hour journey went very well and with added motivation. Quickly parked up, I soon had the African migrant in my scope but in fairly deep cover. Fantastic, a third record for Dorset. It was just a game of patience to wait until a good view was granted. There was two Spotted Flycatcher & a Redstart in the same field.

After about 45 minutes the bird took flight to land in the hedgeline where I took the opportunity to take a few record shots. The bird keen to feed on a wealth of newly emerged caterpillers however a couple of the dogs were over keen and the bird flew into the housing estate.

For this reason I headed off to the Bill as I knew I could return later. This tactic paid off as I got prolonged views of the bird feeding on the bushes and on the ground.

Black Terns at Arrow Valley Lake, Redditch

Wednesday evening brought more Tern delight, this time to my local Arrow Valley Lake, which rarely has any decent birds. A five minute journey resulted in 5 Black & 2 Common Terns flying around the south arm and showing really well even enabling me to take a number of record shots.

It was great to see the Terns at close quarters and in much improved light than the previous evening, it was a shame that a local group of 12 year lads walked past shouting abusive language -a classy group of individuals, no doubt their parents are very proud.