Sunday 27th May 2012

   An afternoon visit to the Forest of Dean for todays birding. Not a lot happening really. A Pied Flycatcher, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and a Redstart were the highlights.

Saturday 26th May 2012

   Down to the Somerset Levels. Not the best of starts, as we had not even got to the levels, when we were involved in an accident. As a result a cyclist went right through my rear windscreen. So not a great day, as had to wait around until a new windscreen was fitted. Drove the short distance to Westhay, to wait around. A Bittern was heard booming, and a Cuckoo was singing and then did actually fly over the car park. As we were getting bored waiting i drove to Ham Walls RSPB for an hour before going back to Westhay for the fitting. At Ham Walls, we had another Cuckoo and a Bittern in flight. A female Marsh Harrier was seen distantly from the 1st viewing platform. Only other things of note were a few Dragon/Damselflies, including this Four-spotted Chaser.

Four-spotted Chaser

Tuesday 22nd May 2012

   News of a Cream-coloured Courser on Sunday in Herefordshire, didnt get to me until yesterday, but i was at work with no camera gear, bummer!!! So today i made sure i had my stuff in the car, and hoped it would still be there when i finished work. 
   It was! So i made the nearly 2 hour trip after work, i had been to the golf course here before, on my way to Mid-Wales, for a Dotterel. But, that had disappeared before i got there. Second time lucky i hope! I walked across the golf course, to find it was not showing and had been a pain all day. Fortunately it walked from the bracken, out onto the fairway not long after i arrived. I got some fairly decent shots, but the light was always in the wrong place. 
   I waited until most of the other birders had followed it up the fairway, and decided to get into a position and wait! I walked across the fairway to where it had been running around a while before. I laid down and put my camera on top of my bag and just waited. The bird after a while walked towards me, closer and closer, until i was happy with my photos. It would have come closer, but one birder (idiot), decided to walk around the back of me, with NO idea that the bird watched him all the way! It gradually moved away from me back onto the fairway. I gave up then!!! But got some decent shots, i hope you agree?

Cream-coloured Courser
   This was my second ever Cream-coloured Courser, but my first adult. The other being the 1st Winter bird on St. Marys, Isles of Scilly in October 2004. I think i have heard that this is the first Spring record for Britain. If i am wrong please let me know.

Sunday 20th May 2012

   Somerset today. To start with Thurlbear Quarrylands, to look for Duke of Burgundy butterflies. Sadly the weather was not really warm or sunny enough. We did have Grizzled Skipper, Large White and Small Heath, but little else. Bird life highlights there though were Nightingale and Marsh Tit, the latter a first for the site, for me anyway!

Grizzled Skipper
  Catcott, Westhay and Tadham/Tealham produced very little either sadly. Highlights being 3 Hobbies at Catcott. Then watching a pair of Great Tits feeding young, in a nest box which was on display at the Cafe near Westhay. The owners had very cleverly put a sign up saying "Occupied", which made me laugh, very smart.

Saturday 19th May 2012

   Trip to the Levels again today. Went to the Curry Moor area to look for a White Stork, which had been around for a while. Sadly it had flown off. But, we did have 2 Egyptian Geese and a male Yellow Wagtail there.
   The levels trip was cut short by the news of a Great Reed Warbler at Weston Sewage Works. Thats where we head next then obviously!!!
   We got to the sewage works not knowing exactly where the bird was. I stopped at the first car park and got out to look. As i did this, the finder drove passed, stopped and told me where to look. "Thanks!"

Great Reed Warbler
   We then parked at the far end of the UV pools and listened. It was singing, but distantly. We were soon joined by a few other birdwatchers. One 'famous' birder said "It sounds like it is at the other end of the pools". No-one else thought it was that far away, but said to give us a wave it they can see it from down there. To our surprise thats exactly what they did as soon as they got there!!! Just shows how loud Great Reed Warbler song really is. The bird showed quite well for a fair while after that.

   This was an Avon tick for me, as i missed the last one at Chew, due to being in Turkey!

Sunday 13th May 2012

   Nothing much to report from yesterday, just the journey back across to Penzance, and an unsuccessful evening search of Marazion beach for a Kentish Plover.

   So, today before breakfast, we searched Marazion again, no luck again. There were some Whimbrel there though.


Pearl-bordered Fritillary

   Then for the journey home, heading for Blagdon first for the Squacco Heron, which had set up home there after i had driven to Cornwall! To break the journey up a bit, i headed to Haldon Forest and the butterfly walk, to look for Pearl-bordered Fritillary. Turns out they were easy, and everywhere around the area.

   Then to Blagdon! The bird showed well, and was much better looking than could be told from the last shots i got.
Squacco Heron

Friday 11th May 2012

   Really nice, sunny day today. Went upto Peninnis to see the Woodchat Shrike, it showed briefly, but then disappeared. The Red-rumped Swallow had been reported again this morning, so here we go again. Hopefully get some better flight shots today, with the improved light.

Red-rumped Swallow
     The Cuckoo showed really well again today.


     Got back to the digs and remembered there had been a Swift roosting on a building nearby, so i grabbed the camera and found myself stood in the middle of the road photographing it soon after. This is the first time, as far as i can remember that i have seen a Swift do this!

Thursday 10th May 2012

   Nice start to the day, so unsure of where to start today.

  Had a wander around the Garrison before breakfast, not a lot happening there though. Luckily after breakfast the news came out that the Red-rumped Swallow had been refound, or a new one had been found, at Porth Hellick. So off to Porth Hellick again. The bird was there flying over the bay, but sadly the weather changed not long after i arrived, and the rain set in for a while. The bird gradually seemed to disappear from view for longer periods, as the tide went out, then it disappeared altogether. The usual by now Cuckoo or two were seen. A Wheatear on the beach, a small flock of Whimbrel and some other waders, including Ringed Plover and Turnstone were there too.
   Walked up towards the airfield when the weather cleared up slightly, saw the Pink-footed Goose, which had become a regular in the fields around there.
   We returned to the beach a bit later to find the Red-rumped Swallow sat on it!

Red-rumped Swallow

   Also a very showy Wren was along the edge of the beach there.

   Then came the news of a Woodchat Shrike on Peninnis! So, started to walk around to there, and the weather cleared up nicely, apart from the wind. The Woodchat showed well, but a bit too distant for the camera sadly.  I had one Manx Shearwater and some Gannets, fly past the end of Peninnis, as i walked up to the top.

Wednesday 9th May 2012

     Not such a nice day today, started OK, but then the rains came!

     Walked around Porth Hellick again, looking for the Red-rumped Swallows, that had been reported for the few days before we arrived. But, sadly no sign. A few migrants were seen before the rain, Reed & Sedge Warbler, Cuckoo, Blackcap and Chiffchaff. A few Butterflies as well before the weather changed, Red Admiral, Holly Blue & IOS Speckled Wood.


Sand Martin

Sand Martin

     I got to Lower Moors hide just before the really heavy rain started, luckily. From there i saw all the usual Hirundines, but not much else. A very wet young Rabbit fed right in front of the hide for a while too.

Tuesday 8th May 2012

   Nice long walk today, did most of the island in fact. From Hugh Town, we went to Porthloo, up over the Golf Course. Passed Newford Duckpond, Watermill Lane and Cove. Through Green Farm, Carn Vean tearooms, down to Porth Hellick and onto Lower Moors. At least we dont have to walk up to the campsite, that hill would be a killer after that.
   Down to the birding. At Porthloo beach there were some Whimbrel again. Some Swallows were landing on the beach, in quite a strong wind. Up over the Golf course there were quite a few hirundines and Swifts flying around, and another flock of Whimbrel. Not a lot at Newford, the usual Chiffchaff and some ducks there. The bottom of Watermill Lane, near the pond was my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year. WE walked around to Carn Vean tearooms, where we heard a Grasshopper Warbler and saw a Sedge Warbler. The next decent bird was a Cuckoo singing and showing really well on Porth Hellick down.

   Not a bad start i suppose, lets hope for some decent stuff in the next few days.
Isles of Scilly Speckled Wood

The Isles of Scilly subspecies of Speckled Wood was also seen today.

Monday 7th May 2012

   After a decent nights sleep, i had a wander around the Lands End area. Had all morning, before meeting Wayne at the train station in Penzance, and then onto Scilly. Over for the rest of the week for a friend, Jon Hall's 50th birthday. Will be good to see some of the lads again. The wander saw me drive down some of the valleys, but see not much. Seems to be a theme running here!!! Got to Lands End Airfield, St Just, where there were a flock of 27 Whimbrel. Then in the valley i bumped into some people who said they had seen some Chough there earlier. As they walked off, 3 Chough flew into the valley, and landed near the path. I walked down, and my usual great timing kicked in, when a dog walker and his dogs came up the track. They flushed obviously!!!! They did come down near the bottom car park and then flew around, before disappearing behind a hill. Did have a Holly Blue and a Large White butterfly in the valley too. When i came back up to the airfield the Whimbrel numbers had gone up to 31, not bad.
   Picked Wayne up from the railway station, had a bite to eat and onto the Scillonian III to St Marys. The ferry crossing was not too bad, pretty calm and some fairly good birds too. The best of them being 20+ Manx Shearwaters, Arctic Skua and a Bonxie.
   Checked in at the B&B, then to the Scillonain club to meet up, good night had by all.

Sunday 6th May 2012

   After waking up in the car, trying to get the cricks out of my neck etc., recovered enough to have a wander around again. Then to Davidstow Airfield to see if there were any migrants. But, not a lot. A couple of Swallows around the old tower, quite a few Pied Wagtails, some Skylarks and a few Wheatears.

Northern Wheatear

Saturday 5th May 2012

   Drove to St Teath in Cornwall, for my friends Seth & Sami's wedding. Bit different, but good day had by all. Outdoor wedding and reception, sleeping in Teepees! Well i would have done if i had known which one was mine, at 3am!!!! Slept in the car instead. Birdlife in the valley included Marsh Tit, Bullfinch, Chiffchaff and a few other woodland species.

Wednesday 2nd May 2012

   A report of 2 local Wood Warblers today, while i was at work. Took my chance to go to Aust Cliffs, on the remote chance the one there would be around still. A little wander around thinking 'no chance', but then a short rattle gave it away, it then sang and called quite often in the 15 minutes i had there. Only 15 minutes as i had arranged to pick my parents up, "oh well i can always come back down after", or so i thought! On the way i had a phone call to say there was a Squacco Heron at Chew!!!

Wood Warbler

   Originally identified distantly as a Cattle Egret, it was re-id'd when it flew over Herriots from the main lake. sadly when we arrived it had not been seen for half an hour. A wait of at least another half an hour and i relocated it at the back of the pool! It was very distant. The bird sat on top of a tree for 20 minutes before flying down, and was relocated by 2 birders in a field. As the last of the birders disappeared around the corner to view the field, the bird flew along the edge of Herriotts pool back towards the main lake. My camera settings were all wrong, but managed to get this poor record shot in flight. Hopefully will get better if its stays around???

Squacco Heron

Tuesday 1st May 2012

   Just a quick look at Aust Warth on my way home from work, saw this Short-eared Owl showing well. Also showing well and singing, was a male Lesser Whitethroat.
Short-eared Owl
Lesser Whitethroat