Tuesday, 28 January 2014

White Winger in Dorset...

An adult Glaucous gull has been wandering up and down the length of Fleet in Dorset for the past couple of weeks and seems to have more or less settled around West Bexington. Andy Grinter managed to catch up with it on Sunday and a fine looking beast it is too:

Adult Glaucous Gull: Andy Grinter
Adult Glaucous Gull: Andy Grinter
Adult Glaucous Gull: Andy Grinter

Monday, 27 January 2014

Dawlish Warren

The opportunity for my first proper birding since Christmas presented itself on Saturday. It feels like such a long time since I've actually got in the car to go somewhere off patch. It was a toss up between going to West Bexington to see the adult glaucous gull or heading to Dawlish Warren in the hope of seeing a few more birds. Much as I love gulls and would liked to have connected with the glaucous, Dawlish beckoned with the chance of getting the Bonaparte's gull, long-tailed duck, velvet scoter and maybe something else too. So Dave Helliar, Andy Grinter and myself set off for south-east Devon.

There were plenty of red-throated divers, a couple of great-northern divers, loads of brent geese, a few velvet scoter, common scoter and red-breasted mergansers off the sea wall but no sign of the Bonaparte's or a long-tailed duck seen the day before unfortunately. We headed back to Starcross to try and see the resident slavonian grebe and managed to add that to our list for the day. Just as we were leaving another birder informed us that a black brant was just up the road with a large flock of dark-bellied brents. Dave soon picked it out near the back of the flock and it showed quite well though distant.
Black Brant with Dark-bellied Brents: R. Harris

After watching the black brant for some time, we drove to the other side of Starcross to look for a spotted redshank which frequents the river Exe here each winter. As it was approaching high tide we decided to check the flooded field opposite the river and it was soon found picking it's way between a flock of curlew, a real beauty too but too far for a photo.

When I got home this fine male sparrowhawk was sitting on the back fence contemplating where he'd gone wrong and missed his lunch...nice contribution to the Garden Bird Survey though nothing else present as a result.

Male Sparrowhawk: R. Harris

Monday, 20 January 2014

Sun at last!

It makes you feel so much better when the sun's shining and we saw another dose of brilliant sunshine over the weekend - much welcome after the rainfall we've had recently.

As my 'better half' was busy working on Saturday and Sunday, I kept the boy entertained and out of the way so that she could concentrate on the business at hand. This meant a trip to Charmouth for a walk on the beach (with hundreds of other people). The only birds of note were a couple of Stonechats:

Should be a water pipit on there...but there wasn't.
The Jurassic Coast, looking towards Golden Cap
note: much of the beach use to be cliff - huge
landslides in the last three weeks.
Another Stonechat
And the sun continued for a few hours this morning too, making my daily trudge around the patch more bearable than normal.

A bright and sunny Chard this morning
Although if you live in the centre of Chard, you could be
forgiven for thinking it was a pretty crap day!
Approachable Robin
Just as approachable Dunnock

Monday, 13 January 2014

Somerset 'Flooded' with sunshine & birds!

Last Saturday saw a brief respite in the non-stop rain of late and Dave Helliar managed to get out and see some of the spectacular floods covering much of the Somerset levels at the moment. He managed to see some nice birds along the way too...all photos courtesy of Dave Helliar:

West Moor from Hambridge
West Sedgemoor from Red Hill
West Sedgemoor towards Oath and Stathe
Midelney pumping station
Some of the Whooper swans on Tealham Moor
Whooper swan, Tealham Moor
Muchelney from Midelney pumping station
Sunset at West Moor
Sunset at Midelney

Long-tailed duck with pochard at Cheddar res

Monday, 6 January 2014

Brixham Birding Bonanza!

Dave Helliar had a brilliant day on the English Riviera at the weekend. A return visit to Brixham harbour landed brief views of the Iceland gull followed by better views of the still present white-billed diver. In addition there were loads of great northern divers, 2 black-throated divers a long-tailed duck, eider and black guillemot. Also 9 purple sandpipers on the end of the breakwater and a distant red-necked grebe.

Purple sandpiper: Dave Helliar
Long-tailed duck: Dave Helliar
Long-tailed duck: Dave Helliar
Black guillemot: Dave Helliar
Great Northern Diver: Dave Helliar
Eider: Dave Helliar

Just along the coast Broadsands produced the obligatory cirl buntings as well as a Siberian chiffchaff and an amazing 62 great-crested grebes out in the bay!

On the way back Topsham produced a female black redstart and another long-tailed duck at Bowling Green Marsh.