Sunday 29th December 2013

   Right then, last days birding of the Xams period, back to work tomorrow!!! Why am i even thinking about it???

   A return for the Brunnichs Guillemot, at Portland Harbour. First stop was Ferrybridge for everyone to have a pee. There were quite a few Dark-bellied Brent Geese there, with some Black-headed and and a few Meditearanean Gulls.

Brunnichs Guillemot
   Then onto the Guillemot, but this had the same problems as the last time! Always elusive, although when it showed, it showed brilliantly, but always briefly!!! This is the best i could manage today....

   Other birds were similar to the birds last time. Although this time i managed some Merganser pix too, and in nice light too!

Red-breasted Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser

   Now back to work, shit.......................................................................................and the end of 2013!

   Happy New Year to everybody, especially my blog followers, as you will be the only ones know i actually said that!!!!!

Saturday 28th December 2013

   After the excitement of Boxing Day, a quiet day (it rained most of it, so not really quiet), then a decent day, so off to Brixham Harbour for the White-billed Diver. Seems Harbours are the place to be at the moment, due to the crappy weather, all the decent birds seem to be hiding out in them!!! Great news for us birders, and photographers alike (hopefully, if we get ant decent light).

   As we walked out along the breakwater, the usual sight of Turnstones greeted us, they were all along the walls. Practically the next bird i saw was the White-billed Diver, and it was fairly close in. Continued to walk along, and got some decent enough views and some pix of it. But, never going to compete with the Hayle Estuary bird a few years back, that showed ridiculously well.

White-billed Diver
White-billed Diver
    Other birds in this Harbour included a Great Northern Diver, and upto 5 Black-throated Divers. Outside of the Harbour walls there was a Long-tailed Duck, Guillemots, Razorbills, lots more Great Northern Divers., and on the jetty bit, on the end of the breakwater, were at least 5 Purple Sandpipers.

   Another great day, lets hope they all stay, so we can all get some better shots.

    Xmas is not normally this good for birding!
Defo not moaning though............
White-billed Diver

Black-throated Diver (Juveniles)

Thursday 26th December 2013

   Sat at home, weather cold, dull and rainy. What to do tomorrow? Just a quick look on Twitter, and.....get ready we are off to Portland Harbour!!!!!!!!! The Twitter feed that got us up and going, was a photo of "an odd looking Guillemot!!!!" Its a Brunnichs, before i had got into the car, the whole world had agreed with me. We got there, and the bird was hiding amongst the yachts and boats. But, viewable with binoculars, even better with a scope though! After everyone messing around trying to get close enough for decent photos, and the bird disappearing, it showed really well, but was a bitch to photograph, due to it diving and coming up in some random place!!! Did though manage a couple of good pix.

Brunnichs Guillemot
Brunnichs Guillemot

   This is a bird no-one was expecting on the South coast, although as far as i remember, there is a record from Dungeness?
   Other birds in the Harbour included quite a few Great Northern Divers, at least 2 Black-throated Divers, a Winter plumaged Black Guillemot, lots of Red-breasted Mergansers, a duck Eider, Razorbills and a couple of Gannets. That was without trying too hard, as we spent all the time around the Brunnichs!
   What a great Xmas prezzy..........think most will agree?

Sunday 22nd December 2013

   A trip to Slimbridge WWT today, so at least i can be in the hides when the crappy rain hits!!!!! There were a lot of Ducks and Waders on the flooded fields. Pintail, Wigeon, Teal were there in their hundreds, there were lots of Lapwing and Golden Plover, both were estimated at about 3,000, amazing sight when they all went up! There were also quite a few Dunlin and Redshank, and i had at least 2 Ruff. In the same field there were about 30 or 40 Bewicks Swans, and unto a dozen White-fronted Geese, along with the usual Greylags. Then onto the Holden Tower, and on the Dumbles there were similar birds, alongside Barnacle Geese, a Dark-bellied Brent Goose and a Peregrine. Then i picked out a Common Crane too, while there another 3 flew in, and they joined together and flew towards the Zeiss hide area. The rain came down extremely heavy while we were there!!! So heavy at times you couldn't see out of the windows. So obviously we waited until it stopped!

Pintail (Drake)
   When it finally stopped, the sun came out....different! We went back to the Robbie Garnett hide, and i did finally manage some photos. While there one of the Common Cranes flew in and landed nearby. Not a bad day in the end i suppose.....

Common Crane

Pintail (Duck)

Pintail (Pair)


Saturday 14th December 2013

   Today saw me at Severn Beach again for the Desert Wheatear, this time the sun was out, still cold though….

   The bird showed really well this morning, showing no signs of being ill, or wet as it was yesterday. It pulled in a bit of a crowd too…..As it should, stunning little bird.

Desert Wheatear
Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear
Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear
Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear

   Lots of photos i know, sorry, but thought it was worth it, don't you???

    Later, we crossed the river to try for the Two-barred Crossbills again, the weather changed a bit, got really windy and dull. But i walked along Serridge Ridge anyway, a birder told me he and seen them an hour ago, so there was hope. In the Beech woods, i found a flock of Chaffinches, and there were some Bramblings mixed in too. As i came towards the end of the ridge track, i heard some bird song behind me, i thought it was Crossbills, but higher pitched with other song mixed in. Two-barred Crossbills, i had heard them before, so i began to look. Then in a Larch, behind 2 others, there they were. I called to another birder, and while i was setting up the camera, he counted them, 11 in total….Got a couple of photos, bit too distant I'm afraid, and not too good either, before they flew off towards Crabtree Hill.

Two-barred Crossbill

Friday 13th December 2013

   Managed to get a couple of hours off work today, so i could try to photograph the Desert Wheatear.

   Pull up in the car in the drizzle, to see Mike King there. The bird had disappeared into the gardens, just before i arrived. About 2 minutes later, there it was, about 2 feet from Mikes head, on the fence. Then it flew down onto the front lawn of the house, and stood on the doorstep!

Desert Wheatear

    From here it flew back to its regular site, by the flats and electricity substation building. After only about 5 minutes it disappeared again though. It didn't show for about an hour, during the rain. It reappeared on the grass by the substation. Then flew to the beach, but it was very flighty while i was there.

Desert Wheatear

   It then flew back to the flats, and found some paving slabs to sleep under. It stayed there until almost dark, when i left. Hope its still there tomorrow, it won't have to go far for food, as there are loads of mealworms around the roost site now! Fingers crossed…...

Wednesday 11th December 2013

   A quick look at my phone, just before pulling away from the work car park, saw me driving to Severn Beach to try to get there before dark! Got there with just enough light to see the 1st winter male Desert Wheatear. It had disappeared!!!!!! Luckily, we refound it and it flew up onto a roof, good view even in that light. Then flew down onto the beach. Lets hope it stays for a few days, and i can manage to get there in the light, to get some photos.

Sunday 8th December 2013

   Nice sunny day today, again. Chew to see whats about. First stop was Woodford for the juvenile Black-throated Diver, but there was no sign, lots of yacht activity may have moved it on. Onto the dam, and the Long-tailed Duck, which was the closest i had seen it so far, not close enough for decent photos though.
Pink-footed Geese
   Then Herons Green pool, and the pair of Pink-footed Geese were still feeding there. The duck numbers are building up, but none close enough for photos.
   We moved onto Cheddar Reservoir, but as my stupid knee was still playing up, i decided to view just from near the 2 car parks, lots of ducks in quite close at the Axbridge end. Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Mallard and Goosander and a lot of Canada Geese too. But, i couldn't find the Long-tailed Duck. We decided to go back towards Chew, via Cheddar Gorge.
Grey Wagtail

   We stopped at the car park and after a couple of minutes a Dipper came in, so out came the camera, it was getting quite close, but was flushed accidentally by a couple of walkers. I followed it down stream, and found there was a pair, along with a Grey Wagtail.

   Got back to Woodford and found the Diver was still about, but the light had almost gone by then. There were a few Goosanders and a drake Goldeneye there as well. Also the pair of Egyptian Geese, probably the 2 adult birds, the 4 youngsters were nowhere to be seen, so the 4 reported at Portishead Boating lakes were probably them.



Saturday 7th December 2013

   Another try to see the Two-barred Crossbills in the Forest of Dean today.

Common Crossbill (Male)
Common Crossbill (Female)
   All the usual stops on the way are really quiet today, again!!!! Maybe its just not been cold enough yet, for the birds to need feeding? So, off to Brierley for the Crossbills. I walked along the grass track, which had been the area where the birds had been some days this week. But, that was very quiet too. I made it up onto the hard track, without seeing anything at all!!!! Then all of a sudden, i could hear Crossbills, and what i think was the Two-barreds as well, but i can't see them, where are they??? After about 10 minutes, all the calling had moved back towards where i had come from. A couple of people walked along and we had a chat, they were looking for Crossbills too. They walked off, and no sooner had they gone 20 yards, the Crossbills came back, about 20 of them. I called them back, and we spent about half an hour looking at them. Sadly, for me, they were all Commons, the couple were quite excited though, having never seeing them before!! Nice. But, they never really came down low enough for me!

Marsh Tit
   After there we went onto Cannop Ponds, to take a look at the feeders there. The last few times there have been NO birds here, after a tree fell onto the bird table a couple of months ago. But, after a little wait the birds came back. Blue, Great, Coal and a pair of Marsh Tits, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Dunnock, Robin and chaffinch were all there.

Marsh Tit