Sunday 30th December 2012

   A trip to Chew today produced very little again, except a few Goldeneye dotted about the lake. There were a couple of flocks of Winter Thrushes to be found about too.

Saturday 29th December 2012

Pied Wagtail
    Cold, dull and crappy day again on the Levels! The best of which was Catcott Lows. A Great White Egret showed fairly close at times, a Whooper Swan was still there, though always distant, and a female Marsh Harrier put things on edge. The usual Lapwings and Snipe were amongst the Ducks.
    Second best were the 10 Whooper Swans at Tealham Moor, showing fairly well, even in the crap light.

Saturday 22nd December 2012

Coal Tit
    Forest of Dean today. Sadly not a lot going on, weather still not great either! Had the usual species, the 5 more regular species of Tit, including Marsh. Mandarins were around Cannop ponds, and we heard Siskins and Crossbills over in the gloom.

Tuesday 18th December 2012

    A Barn Owl flew over the car again, driving to work this morning. Over the A38, near Almondsbury.

Saturday 15th December 2012

Bohemian Waxwing (Adult Female)
   As i said, a return to the Waxwings this morning. I managed to get myself parked nearby and pointed my camera out of the car. There were 15 birds again, in the bigger tree behind the shrub, with the berries on it. One came down then another, i got about 10 shots, then a few more came down. Then while watching through the camera they flew off, i looked up to see someone walking by. That cant be helped as it is a main road, but......they didnt come back!!!! I waited for 20 minutes, drove around looking for them, went home, came back and drove around again...nothing. Got home to find that, out of those 10 shots, only one was in focus properly. Well the tree was swaying about, and the light was rubbish... thats my excuse anyway.

   Lets hope we get another flock close soon. There are still berries on that same tree. Sadly the Waxwings dont read this blog, so they wont know that!

Friday 14th December 2012

    15+ Waxwings near home tonight, on Kings Weston Avenue. Back tomorrow for photos hopefully as it was nearly dark tonight.

Sunday 9th December 2012

   Slimbridge WWT. Thought it was a good easy choice just to get some photos. sadly, not long after i got to the hide, the sky clouded over. Oh well, im here now, lets give it a go. The fields in front of the Robbie Garnett hide were flooded, but there were loads of birds. Ducks included Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shoveler, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Pochard and Mallard. There were Mute and a few Bewicks Swans. Also there were plenty of waders feeding, Dunlin, Redshanks, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwits, Golden Plover and Curlews. Trying to get flight photos is not easy in failing light, and it only got worse.

Black-tailed Godwits
Lapwings (and a Dunlin)
     Decided to go to the South Lake and search there. When i got there, there was very little there, but soon all the waders started to arrive from the surrounding fields. Black-tailed Godwits, Redshanks and a Dunlin. Then i spotted the long staying, Long-billed Dowitcher flying in, as usual it landed as far away as possible from the hide! It did get closer a bit later, but by then the light had gone, but all in all, not too bad an afternoon.

Bewicks Swan

Saturday 8th December 2012

   Nice, sunny, but cold weather, so i had my first chance to give the Temmincks Stint, which had been showing for a few days, at Steart/Stockland Reach in Somerset, a go. So, after a fair and muddy walk, probably a mile+, i was watching the 1st Winter bird, which had been originally ID'd as a possible Least Sandpiper. The yellow legs showed well, and you could see why the finders had thought this possible! The bird showed well, but just too distant for the best photos, i took some anyway, and crossed my fingers that it would come closer. After an hour or so of walking along the edge of the ditch, it reached the end of it. The ditch then turned towards where we were standing, maybe it would follow this, better photos, maybe??? It seemed to take ages to get right to the end, stopping, feeding, preening all the way! It got to the end flew, bugger! But, it flew towards the seawall and landed a lot closer, lots of photos were taken before it walked away from us, and then decided to stretch its wings a bit more. It flew around the fields a bit, 'trilling' as it went. I then lost it in the sun, and it went quiet. About 3minutes later it flew back over the seawall, calling again. It landed near to its original spot, then ran away and flew again. This time its disappeared for longer, and had not returned by the time i left. I found out it returned a bit later though.
Temmincks Stint
   Also there was some large flocks of waders. Mainly Dunlin and Redshanks, but also a lot of Lapwing and Golden Plover. I also found 11 Avocets on the walk back. In the field near the Temmincks field was a flock of 50+ Stock Doves, lots of Starlings and 100+ Linnets. Two or three Buzzards were there and a couple of Kestrels were seen too.
Temmincks Stint

   While still at Steart, i was told that a friend had found some Waxwings nearby in Combwich. So, that was to be our next stop. Sadly, as usual with Waxwings, they had disappeared by the time we got there.

   We then moved on to Catcott Lows. There was a fairly close Great White Egret there. No rings this time. Quite a few Snipe flew around the reserve. A distant Kestrel, was the only Raptor though. Only a few ducks there at the moment, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Pintail. I then noticed a swan which had come a bit closer than the others. It was a adult Whooper, one of the Tadham birds maybe??
Add caption

Wednesday 5th December 2012

    A flyover Barn Owl this morning on my way to work. It flew over the A38 about 6.15am. First time i have seen one there!

    No sign of the Waxwings in Latteridge on the way home though, there were a few Thrushes about and a Green Woodpecker in the Apple tree.

Tuesday 4th December 2012

    Had a look around Yate, dinnertime and after work, for Waxwings today. No sign though.

    Driving home and keeping my eyes peeled, i actually managed to find 6 Waxwings, feeding on an Apple tree, near Latteridge. Sadly nearly dark so were just shapes really!

Saturday 1st December 2012

   Somerset Levels.

   First stop was Ham Walls RSPB. From the first viewing platform, we had  quiet a nice variety of birds, especially after the fog lifted. We had a Great White Egret showing well directly in front of the platform. Another was seen flying farther away at least 3 times. The one showing in front of the platform was a ringed bird. Its left leg had an Orange ring above, what looked like a Green ring. On its right leg was another Orange ring above a metal one. I think this is one of the regular ones here. After a bit of a search of the net, i think this is one of the breeding females from this year. I am sure i will be told if i am wrong!!!
   There was also just one sighting of a Bittern, unusual now here, as they are normally showing quiet regular, must be the time of year i suppose? Three Marsh Harriers were seen from the platform too, a female and two males, one looks like an adult, the other looks like a younger one. A few different species of duck were seen and unusually a lot of Snipe were seen, at least when they were flying anyway.

Marsh Harrier

   On the way home, we stopped at Tadham Moor, where there were 10 Whooper Swans, 4 adults and 6 juveniles.

Whooper Swans

Sunday 25th November 2012

   Fairly local day again today, due to crap weather. There had been some Waxwings reported in Weston-super-Mare, so that was our first stop. No sign!! Was told while waiting that there was a juvenile Great Northern Diver showing well on the Marine lake, so that was the next stop. It was really close in too. That was until i got my camera ready and walked to the shoreline. It then decided to stay as far away as possible, then the rain came, and didnt it rain!!!!! Got some really poor shots, due to the distance and the weather, they all went in the bin!!!! Lets hope for better photo opportunities next weekend!

Sadly, later in the week i found out the Diver had died!

Saturday 24th November 2012

   As it was raining and dull, i decided a trip to the Forest of Dean, was the best bet. As you can bird from the car in some places. As it turned out it was very quiet everywhere we went. The best of a not very good bunch was, quite a few male Mandarins all performing for a female, showing right off! A Marsh Tit was visiting the feeders at Cannop ponds, where there were 2 female type Goosanders too.

Sunday 18th November 2012

   A trip to Oldbury Power Station today, to look for a Yellow-browed Warbler, in the nice sunshine. What a pain in the butt!!! I heard it fairly early after arriving, but seeing it was not easy at all. We did manage it, and it became easier to see as the day went on. Sadly, not easy enough to get photos though.
   There were a few other bits seen while we were there. A pair of Bullfinchs, a Chiffchaff, Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, and a few Fieldfares and Redwings going over.

Saturday 17th November 2012

    A visit to the Levels today, what could we find?

   Greylake RSPB was first stop. A walk around, nothing found, even after a friend had told me that some visitors, had heard and maybe seen Bearded Tits there! No sign for me. In the distance towards West Sedgemoor a big flock of waders took off, there were probably c1000 Golden Plover, and the same number of Lapwing. Quite a few Snipe flew around too. But, no sign of any Raptors, so i dont know what had put the wader flock up? Around the fields near the reserve there were flocks of winter Thrushes (Redwings and Fieldfares).
   As there seemed to be rain in the air, we decided to go to Catcott to sit it out in the hide. Not a lot happening, until a female Marsh Harrier flew across the back of the reserve, and away. Luckily for us, she returned about half an hour later, and put lots of birds up, which had previously been invisible in the grass and sedges! Quite a few Snipe, probably 30+, were seen, along with a little flock of 6+ Meadow Pipits.

Common Snipe

Marsh Harrier (Female)
Common Buzzard
    Driving through Burtle a very pale Buzzard posed briefly for some photos, before flying off.

  Last stop was Chew on the way home, which saw the Ring-necked Duck again in Herons Green along with 3 Scaup. But, not a lot else!

Sunday 11th November 2012

   A really bright, sunny winters day again. This time the Bonapartes Gull at Dawlish Warren was calling to me! When i arrived it was rather distant on one of the 'groynes'. But the tide was on its way in, so it may get closer. It did! I walked along the beach, and managed some half decent shots. The light was brilliant, but always at the wrong angle. I know, typical photographer, never satisfied!!!!!!

Bonapartes Gull
   Sadly there was not much else to see on the sea there. So we drove around to Bowling Green Marshes RSPB reserve. I walked to the viewing platform. There were at least 3 Red-breasted Mergansers there, a Little Grebe and a Kingfisher. A couple of flocks of Dark-bellied Brent Geese flew over as well. As i walked back towards the hide, a Sparrowhawk put all the thrushes up from the Hawthorn hedge. From the hide there was a big flock of waders. Going through them saw c180 Avocets, 100+ Redshanks, 50+ Black-tailed Godwits, a few Bar-tailed Godwits in amongst them too. Half a dozen Greenshanks, 30+ Dunlin and a few Lapwing were also there. In the hedge at the back, not disturbing anything, was a fast asleep Fox. Even the Rabbits didnt seem worried!

Dark-bellied Brent Geese

Saturday 10th November 2012

   A nice sunny, but cold day today. Visit to Chew to see if anything was photographable. Quite a few winter Thrushes about today. Best of the day was from Stratford hide. There were 6+ Scaup there, as well as double figures of Goldeneye, and a drake Ruddy Duck, along with all the other 'usual' ducks.

Greater Scaup (1st Winter Drake)

Greater Scaup (Duck)

Greater Scaup (Juvenile)


Sunday 4th November 2012

    A trip to Chew today. Not massive amount to see, but some decent things. A drake Ring-necked Duck in Herons Green Bay showed distantly. Also there were 2 Scaup, both female types. A drake Red-breasted Merganser, the same one which has been about for quite a few years now, he was AGAIN following a female Goosander about everywhere! All these around Herons Green Bay, and distant. But showing close there was a female Tufted Duck, with a rather big white blaze around the base of her bill, almost Scaup-like!

Tufted Duck

Saturday 3rd November 2012

   Another visit to Sand Bay to look for the Hoopoe, and it showed well again!! Nice bird.


Sunday 28th October 2012

   A trip down to Sand Bay near Weston-super-Mare today. There has been a Hoopoe about for a couple of days. The light was not as good as yesterday, but it was still as cold and windy, there was even some rain in the air. Unusual for this year, NOT!!!!!!

   More birders around than i expected, but the bird showed well, if flighty. There are lots of walkers and dog walkers in the area where the Hoopoe is favouring, which doesnt really allow it to settle for too long. People and dog walkers, are not really to blame for flushing the bird, as most do not know they are doing it, but some of the so called birders there are a pain! Oh well i should be used to that after 2 weeks on the Scillies, but it is still frustrating, when you spend a fair amount of time, trying to get close enough for photos, and then someone rushs up straight towards the bird, and off it goes!!!!! Now dont get me wrong, we have all flushed birds accidentally, trying to get too close or other reasons. But, most of us have learned from these mistakes, but NOT some. Right enough whinging and back to the photos. Sorry about that rant. Did manage some photos after the worst offender had left!


   A quick visit to Chew before the rain really came down, saw at least 7 Pintail at Herriotts pool, and 2 late Swallows there too.

Saturday 27th October 2012

    Portland was the destination today, lots of really good migrants there yesterday, just hoping some will stay. Sadly the night sky was very clear overnight. Oh well still worth a try. Driving down the pager messages read 'NO SIGN', of the Daurian Shrike or the Siberian Stonechat. The one bonus was the Shrike had not been reported before 11am for the last 3 days! So was it still there? Nice sunny day, but cold and windy. Lots of people and lots of cars all around the Obs, when we got there, so hard to park, but plenty of eyes to find things. In the Obs car park, i asked a couple of friends if they had seen anything? 'NO' came the answers. Another pager message, NO SIGN of the Subalpine Warbler. Is this gonna be one of those days i thought. We went to look see what else we could see, when there was a small rush of people coming out of the Obs. There had been a garbled message on someones phone, something had been seen at Culverwell. Turned out to be the Shrike, well at least we got the best one of the birds from yesterday. It took a little while to get decent views, but always too distant for good photos.
    We went down into Weymouth for something to eat. The drake Hooded Merganser was still around the visitor centre at Radipole. When we returned to Portland, we went down to the Bill, to look for a Red-throated Diver, which had been around for a few days. Luck continued 'NO SIGN'. There had also been a male Black Redstart reported around the coastguards cottages, so we had a look. I found 2 female/1st winter male types, in the coves along the coast, before we got to the cottages. When we got to the cottages we found there were at least 4 birds there, including 2 were stunning males as well.

Black Redstart (1st Winter Male/Female)
Black Redstart (Male)

Black Redstart (Male)
    Luck changing maybe????? Try again for the Shrike again. This time not so many people around, but the light was not so good. Luckily we soon found the bird and eventually it showed really well. Really nice looking bird.

Daurian 'Isabelline' Shrike

Sunday 21st October 2012

   Day in Cornwall today, there should be a few bits about. First stop after breakfast was the Cot Valley, to look for Chough and anything else i can find. As i drove down the valley, i heard a call from the trees, it sounded like a Yellow-browed Warbler, but sadly i didnt hear it again. So i drove down to the bottom car park, there were quite a few Gannets going past over the sea, but not much else. Then a Chough called and flew over the valley. I followed it up the hill, and found it and another. But, they flew further around the coast before i could get any photos. A message on the pager said there was a Long-eared Owl & a Dartford Warbler at Lands End. I arrived there and asked a birder about the Owl. He said he had seen it fly into the scrub, but it was too dense and too wet under foot, to go in. We then had a very late Swift fly over, sadly neither of us could make it anything but a Common Swift. It is probably a Juvenile, see what you think...? Would be interested to find out.

Common Swift
Common Swift
   While watching the Swift, a female Merlin flew through. Which was nice.
   After watching the Swift i noticed that 2 Choughs were fairly close, so wandered down to photograph them. Sadly, again, there were lots of walkers & dog walkers around and they kept flushing the Choughs. They didnt fly far, but always away from the camera. I did eventually get some decent shots though.


   After a couple of very enjoyable, if windy, hours at Lands End, i decided it was time to move on. I drove around to Kenidjack Valley, where there had been a 1st winter Red-breasted Flycatcher. There were about 4 people there already. The bird showed briefly, but after while it began to show at regular periods, showing well at times, and in nice light for a change. Then the drive home, but all in all a good day, and a decent 2 weeks.

Red-breasted Flycatcher
Red-breasted Flycatcher

Saturday 20th October 2012

   Last day of my 2 weeks on Scilly then, that went rather quick, especially after things have dried out a bit. Taking the tent down, and then getting all my gear over to the pick-up area, is the first item today. Nice sunny warm day too. All done, and a quick, short walk around the Garrison, brought me nothing really. So, to the Scillonian club, no beer for me though, yet! Chelsea on the TV early today, so as there are a few people there, i dropped off the rest of my gear, and went off to Porth Hellick.

Ring-necked Ducks
   Got to Porth Hellick, nothing from the Stephen Sussex hide. Walked down to the Seaward hide, and there were my quarry for the day, 3 Ring-necked Ducks!
Ring-necked Duck (1st Winter Drake)
Ring-necked Duck (1st Winter Duck)
   A Pomarine Skua and an Arctic Skua, were best of the few birds that were seen from the ferry, on the return journey.

Friday 19th October 2012


  Third trip to Bryher, this time i was up for the Blackpoll Warbler, Coal Tits still to back it up though. Quite a few birders searched, but didnt find the Blackpoll all day! Luckily the back-up, the Coal Tits, fell into place this time. A friend told me that he had seen them in the pines, further along the track from where i was. I took a walk along, and they showed really well, with any even showier Goldcrest. The Coal Tits are of the Irish form hibernicus, which shows more yellow in the cheeks, and slightly diferent colouration elsewhere too.

Coal Tit
Coal Tit
Coal Tit

Thursday 18th October 2012

Red-breasted Flycatcher
   After seeing the Solitary Sandpiper, in the middle of the field at Old Town, the rest of the day was spent around the Dump Clump, sounds awful i know! But the weather was much better today. Too many birders in the Clump, so i went to photograph the Red-breasted Flycatcher that was very nearby.
   Took it in turns to try and photograph the Flycatcher and the Warbler and finally managed to get both.
Red-breasted Flycatcher
Humes Yellow-browed Warbler