Sunday 27th November 2011

   After reading plenty of reports of a Rough-legged Buzzard showing well near Arundel, West Sussex, i decided to contact a mate, Nick Bond, who lives close-by. He said he would meet me there and show the best places for the bird.
    We parked at the 'Triangle' car parking area, and from there we saw a female type Merlin chasing a Skylark around. There were plenty of Buzzards around in the sunshine, with one very pale one, which i had seen there earlier in the year, while looking for the Pallid Harrier which had been there. Nick arrived, a  ring-tailed Hen Harrier chased the flock of small birds, and then we walked to the 'best' place to view the bird. But, sadly the wind had turned around from yesterday, and the bird decided to stay on the other side of the valley today! Luck of the draw i suppose. There were at least 2 Red Kites in the area too. Also seen were some Corn Buntings and Grey Partridges.
    Maybe next time i will get some shots.

Saturday 26th November 2011

   Decided to got to the Levels today, but when we arrived there the weather changed, dull and horrible, and rain. So, Catcott and the hide was the best idea. There was a flock of Redwings and Fieldfares in the trees along the track to the car park. The usual ducks there, Pintail, Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler mainly. There were still quite a lot of Snipe around too. Only slightly odd bird was a Great Spotted Woodpecker, which flew across the open water!
   The weather was still crap, so we decided to go back via Chew. The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper showed again with the Dunlin flock. Two Black-tailed Godwits were in the same area, but no sign of the Dowitchers. The Egyptian Goose was still in Herons Green bay.

Sunday 20th November 2011

  This morning saw me take the very long drive to Northumberland. I was hoping to see the Greater Yellowlegs, a very rare wader in Britain. I had seen them in the US a couple of times, but the draw of an Eastern type Black Redstart in the same county did the trick. Now to find the birds. A pager message said the bird had flown from Hauxley (which seemed to be the best place early in the morning to see the bird, and best for really close shots), before we had arrived. Another message said the bird had been refound at East Chevington, South pool. We arrived at the North pool, wrong one, to news the bird had disappeared again!! Had a quick look through the birs on the pool. There was a fairly large flock of Geese, mainly Greylags, but there were probably 25 White-fronted Geese and a smaller amount of Pink-footed Geese. A few waders there too, Dunlin and Redshanks.
   We decided to go to Hauxley to hope the Yellowlegs would relocate there. Around the car park there was a small flock of Tree Sparrows. I spoke to the warden who explained where the bird gets normally. Again the pager went off, the Yellowlegs was at Cresswell pond! Got there fairly quickly and the bird was there, seen from the hide, but the other end of the pool, so i went to that end only to find it back at the hide end!! Giving me the run around, but did manage some distant shots.
Greater Yellowlegs
   With probably only an hour and a half of light left, i decided to go to Holy Island for the Redstart. After parking the car and a fairly quick walk along the beach, there was my second quarry. This bird showed really well as the light went, but well enough, i suppose.

'Eastern' Black Redstart (form phoenicuroides)
   Bloody long drive home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But, two stunning birds ticked off.

Saturday 19th November 2011

   A surprise phone call from Nigel Milbourne yesterday, saying there was a probable Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Blagdon, WOW! Another rarity, at the lakes! Drove home and straight to Blagdon, no sign!! "Bugger. Try again tomorrow". So this morning saw my Dad and me at Blagdon, along with quite a few others as you can imagine. No sign again. The Long-tailed Duck was still showing well though. We had already sort of planned our day, so decided to head home and then onto Devon for the Desert Wheatear. As luck would have it, as i drove passed the Blue Bowl Inn, the pager went off, the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper had been relocated at Chew, from Herriotts bridge. Turned around in the car park and was there in minutes. No sign. There were about 8 birders there, they said it had walked out of sight behind the reedbed. After a rather frustrating 10-15 minutes a small flock of Dunlin appeared. Scanned through them, still no sign, but another small flock then flew in, "There it is". Brilliant, tried to get my Dad on it, but it disappeared again. Not to worry as we had seen one in Kent a few years ago. The Spotted Sandpiper was also popular, as were the 2 Long-billed Dowitchers which had arrived from Blagdon too.
Desert Wheatear (1st Winter Male)
   Home, then off to Man Sands, Devon. Not been there before, but was fairly easy to find. After about a 3/4 mile downhill walk, i got to the Coastguards cottages, and within minutes there was my first male Desert Wheatear, brilliant (again). We stopped off at Broadsands on the way back home, but nothing really to mention, only Great Crested Grebes there.

 Not a bad day then. Desert Wheatear, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Long-tailed Duck and 2 Long-billed Dowitchers!!!!

Sunday 13th November 2011

  Change of scenery today, well to start with anyway! A trip down to Catcott Lows was surprisingly good, the last trip there and there was no water at all. This time there was plenty. A big flock of Lapwing, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Pintail was hiding some other goodies. Loads of Snipe which were only really on view when they were flushed by a Peregrine, which flew through at least 4 times. After one flush, i picked up a Reeve flying around with the Lapwing. While trying to get my Dad on it, we found 2 more Ruff as well. There was also c.100 Golden Plover there too.
Golden Plovers

Peregrine Falcon

   We drove through Blagdon on the way back. We found an early female Goldeneye and a juvenile Long-tailed Duck in the bay near the Lodge. Then briefly back at Chew, there was an adult Bewicks Swan from Herriotts bridge, this bird had been seen at Blagdon in the days before.

Long-tailed Duck

Sunday 6th November 2011

More of Chew today. The drake Goosander was again in Herriotts channel, this time he was with an eclipse drake Red-breasted Merganser. There were at least 6 Dunlin showing on the mud from Herriotts bridge, along with 3 Golden Plover and a Black-tailed Godwit. I decided to go to Priddy, just for a chance of maybe catching up with some Crossbills. As it turned out, i was in luck! 2 males & a female flew over not long after we arrived, a couple of Siskins also flew over.

Saturday 5th November 2011

 An afternoon trip to Chew turned up a few good birds again. Including a drake Ring-necked Duck, a drake Ferruginous Duck and the Spotted Sandpiper still. But, there were also my first Goosander, a drake, for the Autumn/Winter in Herriotts channel. An Egyptian Goose was showing well in Herons Green bay.
Eguptian Goose

Goosander (Drake)

Sunday 30th October 2011

   Another visit to Chew today. A Green Sandpiper, a 30+ flock of Linnets (not a really common sight at Chew), and a couple of Little Egrets were the best of the bunch at Herons Green. The Spotted Sandpiper showed again at Herriotts pool, but not for the camera again. There were at least 3 Water Rails showing in the channel. Stratford hide had been decent for quite a while now, so we decided to go take a look. As we got out of the car in the car park a flock of c20 Thrushes flew over, mainly Fieldfares, but there were 2/3 Redwings too. From the hide we had soon seen the drake Ferruginous Duck, drake Ring-necked Duck, a 1st Winter/eclipse drake Scaup, a drake Ruddy Duck and at least 1 (maybe 2) 1st Winter/eclipse drake Red-breasted Mergansers. Not a bad day at all!

Saturday 29th October 2011

   As there was a fairly high tide last night and this morning, i thought i would give Aust Warth a try, see if there were any Short-eared Owls around. The tide was not quite high enough really, but as it got to its peak a Shorty flew out of the grass and was chased by Crows, it flew towards the 1st Severn crossing and then out across the river. A couple of minutes later i picked it up again as it came back to the warth. It landed in the long grass and that was the end of that, as the tide was had turned and was going back out! Also there, was a Kingfisher which showed well for a minute or so, before disappearing down the Pill!

Wednesday 26th October 2011

    Tried after work yesterday for the female Pied Wheatear at Thornbury Yacht Club, Oldbury-on-Severn, sadly by the time we found where we were going, it was almost dark and pouring with rain! So, i went back today after work again, much better weather helped. The bird showed well, then the rain started again, but at least this time we could see the end of the clouds, so i waited around. The clouds and rain cleared and the Wheatear showed really well again. This is the first record of Pied Wheatear in South Glos and Avon (as was).
Pied Wheatear (Female)

Monday 17th October 2011

    Back to Chew again today, to have a look for the Spotted Sandpiper at Herriotts pool. Got fairly decent views today, but not exactly showing well for the camera. Oh well, will have to try again if it stays!

Sunday 16th October 2011

   Just a quick afternoon visit to Chew and Blagdon today after recovering from Scilly. Nothing much happening at Chew, but at Blagdon there were 2 Long-billed Dowitchers in the wader flock. The flock also included 2 Black-tailed Godwits, at least a dozen Golden Plover, some Dunlin and a Ruff. Near the Lodge there was a juvenile Long-tailed Duck, showing well with a flock of Tufted Duck.