Tuesday, 30 April 2013

At last...sunshine!

Not particularly warm but sunny at least. A patch walk this morning before work didn't yield too much, just 3 whitethroats and a single yellowhammer but good photo ops with some of the commoner species:

Yellowhammer: R. Harris

Yellowhammer: R. Harris

Tame dunnock: R. Harris

Monday, 29 April 2013

More of the Woodchat...

Such a beauty, this female woodchat shrike has been present near Chew Valley res for about a week now. Andy Grinter caught up with it yesterday and managed a cracking photo of it -

Woodchat Shrike: Andy Grinter
Common sandpiper, Chew Valley Res: Andy Grinter

More Black-winged Stilts for Somerset!

After a general influx of stilts last year it was great to hear that two had been found at Ham Wall RSPB reserve on the Somerset levels again on Saturday. Couldn't make it out to see them myself but DH and AG managed to see them before heading down to Yarner Wood in Devon with the hope of summer arrivals high on their agenda...

Black-winged stilt, Ham Wall: D. Helliar

Black-winged stilt: D. Helliar
Unfortunately the unseasonably cold weather meant that Yarner Wood wasn't quite as good as should be this time of year with only a handful of Pied Flycatchers of note.

Mandarin drake, Yarner Wood: A. Grinter
Slow worm: A. Grinter

Nuthatch with food: A. Grinter

Friday, 26 April 2013

More Siskin!

Considering it was a garden/patch tick just a couple of weeks ago, it was very good to see another three siskin in the garden last night feeding on the sunflower hearts. Grabbed a pic and a short video:

Female siskin: R. Harris

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

All quiet on the western front...

Western front of Chard that is. The best I could russel up on patch today were 5 yellowhammers, 15 linnet and 2 whitethroat including this nice male who was determined to battle it out with a military helicopter circling overhead...

Whitethroat: R Harris

This morning my local colony of grey mining bees was still very much in hibernation but by lunchtime today, it was different story!

Andrena cineraria, Chard: Roger Harris

The entire left-hand bank as far as the tree in the distance is the colony. One of the biggest I've ever come across.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Woodchat and other goodies...

Dave H just spent the weekend in Cornwall and came back with some nice shots of the Cornish choughs,

Choughs, The Lizard: Dave Helliar

Chough: Dave Helliar
After connecting with the afore mentioned whiskered terns, he then managed to catch up with the lovely adult female woodchat shrike at Chew Valley too:

Woodchat shrike: Chew Valley Res

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Whiskered terns, Shapwick Heath

It was one of those days today. Didn't think I was going to be able to go anywhere first thing this morning but that all changed when I saw a tweet for two whiskered terns out on Shapwick Heath. A quick text to Andy Grinter and we were meeting up to go out and take a look. They were certainly there and giving great scope views as they fished around the far side of Noah's lake but no decent photo opportunities. Both managed a few record shots and I did manage to get a bit of distant video when they settled - you can't see the second bird, which is hidden behind the black-headed gull. There were also six arctic terns present.

Whiskered tern: R Harris

Whiskered tern: R Harris

Whiskered tern: R Harris

Whiskered terns: R Harris

Whiskered tern: R Harris
Whiskered terns: Andy Grinter
Blackcap: Andy Grinter

Friday, 19 April 2013

Cirl Buntings...

I use the term loosely, there were only three present but that's to be expected at this time of the year. This is the only perk I get each year from visiting my accountant ('perk' and 'accountant' - not two words normally used in the same sentence), he lives in Torbay. I always sneak a look in to see these beauties and I'm always glad I did...

Male Cirl Bunting, South Devon: R. Harris

Male Cirl Bunting, South Devon: R. Harris
However... there was a CWAD too. He walked his Labrador around the site perimeter, watching me all the while, then right through the area where the cirls were feeding (and he could see I was looking) and then came back to ask if I "was looking at something rare". I couldn't help myself, "it is now mate, you and your dog frightened the bloody birds off". He actually looked surprised, completelely unaware of his surroundings. Unfortunately in an hour of waiting, none of the birds returned, so a couple of birders who turned afterwards dipped out. He was definitely a CWAD!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Somerset Hoopoe!

About time something turned up! With the weather just on the change and migrants starting to arrive, this hoopoe at Westhay and Burtle was a welcome though distant bird for Dave Helliar and Andy Grinter at the weekend:

Hoopoe: Dave Helliar
All we need now are woodchats and rollers and it will really feel like spring!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Waxwings at Chideock

There are still waxwings turning up, including a flock at Chideock in Dorset, as photographed by Andy Grinter:

Waxwings, Chideock: Andy Grinter

Waxwing, Chideock: Andy Grinter

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Tufty comes up trumps...

I've been trying to catch up with red squirrels on the I-O-W for some time now, with no luck. Today that luck changed when I saw two together on the east side of the Island:

Red squirrel: Roger Harris

Red squirrel: Roger Harris

Other than that, it's been fairly quiet - just the obligatory meds, all in summer plumage and looking very smart, if only from a distance...

Mediterranean gull: Roger Harris

Also looked for and found these 'yellow' legged gulls on the Island again this year. Odd birds - clearly not michahellis but with distinctly yellowish/pink legs? Personally I think it may be down to something they are eating. There were two like this in and around the Seaview Wildlife Park near Ryde, which coincidentally is home to a large wildfowl collection including flamingos. They sell food to feed the birds and it could be that the gulls are picking this up too and effecting their pigmentation.

Monday, 8 April 2013

More Spring arrivals...

Since I've been in the Isle of Wight, there's been an influx of less common migrants. Of particular note are the numbers of stone curlew turning up in the south west, including a flock of 6 in Dorset near Moonfleet and another two at West Bexington. Both Dave H. and Andy G. caught with these flocks respectively and a visit to Raddipole resulted in Andy picking up the garganey there too:

Drake garganey, Raddipole Lake, Dorset: Andy Grinter

Pair of garganey, Raddipole Lake, Dorset: Andy Grinter
and the resident Hooded Merganser:

Hooded merganser, Raddipole: Andy Grinter
Meanwhile, Dave Helliar got to grips with more Dorset goodies...

Stone curlews, nr Moonfleet: Dave Helliar
Great-grey shrike: Dave Helliar
Stonechat: Dave Helliar

Woodlark: Dave Helliar
Woodlark: Dave Helliar
Sand lizard: Dave Helliar

Wouldn't have thought it warm enough for sand lizards!  What a great shot.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

'Wight' spotted bluethroat

Great start to a family holiday on the I-O-W. Last night I had both little and barn owls just outside our cottage and this morning I popped down the road to see this long-staying male white-spotted bluethroat at St Helen's. Nobody there when I arrived and there's plenty of good bluethroat habitat at The Duver! After wandering aimlessly for 20 minutes, a couple of CWAD put me out of my suffering by directing me to where it was usually seen (thank you! Not a phrase I'm use to saying to CWAD but in this case they saved me a heap of time). There was just one guy there trying to get photos and me, although we were joined by another birder just before I left. It showed very well indeed and in brilliant sunshine. What a gem!

W-S Bluethroat, St Helen's, I-O-W: R. Harris

Bluethroat: R. Harris
W-S Bluethroat: R. Harris

Definitely a W-S Bluethroat!: R. Harris 

W-S Bluethroat: R. Harris

W-S Bluethroat: R. Harris

W-S Bluethroat: R. Harris

A very confiding bird showing down to 10ft - always very impressive birds. If it hangs around it could be on my 'must see again' list for later in the week.

Finally one of the more common residents at Carisbrooke Castle...

Jackdaw: R. Harris