Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Portland Obs visit 2

Redstart (age 5)
Back down today at Portland for another day's ringing & birding at the Obs. A much quieter day in terms of numbers of birds but made up for quality of birds present on the Island. A great start to the day with amazing sunrise at 6am when arrived followed shortly with nice flurry of Willow Warblers, Blackcap, Chiffchaff & Redstart moving through the gardens & scrub. About 8.30 we had fantastic views of a Hobby flying in off the sea, straight over the Obs, land briefly in some trees before continuing northwards across the island.
Hobby-Portland Obs
Migrants numbers were considerable low but throughout the day but managed some great views of Pied Flycatcher (female), Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Redstart's, Grasshopper Warbler, House Martin & Swift all from the Obs.

After some heavy showers of rain in the late afternoon, migrant numbers picked up with small movement of phyllosc's moving through. Seawatch off the Bill produced 11 Whimbrel, Arctic Skua(pale phase, Gannets, Auks& Manxies on passage).

Upon returning back to the Obs produced several Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Garden Warbler in the garden and a single Reed Warbler. While watching a female Pied Flyatcher around the hut field a Short-eared Owl flew right over me from the sea and continued across CEF(Crown-estate-fields). Cracking views of it but shame I had camera in bag so only managed distant record shots.

 To end the day's birding finished off nicely with cracking views of the 1st Whinchat of the year and good views of a Garden Warbler at the Obs. Swallow passage picked up again and on the way back home I saw several Wheatear in field near Southwell.

Short-eared Owl-Crown Estate Fields

Northern type Willow Warbler
Standard type Willow Warbler (much yellower plumage)

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Siberian Chiffchaff on the patch

Quick look on Mill Lane around the patch this afternoon between the wintry showers produced some nice quality birds rather than quantity. Found a very smart pale phyllosc warbler been very elusive in the blackthorn hedge along Mill lane. On first views showed bright white belly, white supercilium extending beyond the eye, very pale grey plumage (head, mantle,wings). A bright green wing panel on the wing got me excited thinking I found a Bonelli's Warbler. The Warbler showed well on few occasions peeping and flittering out of the hedge, occasionally flycatching. Behaviour of the bird sulking in dense cover, tail bobbing, flycatching and constant movement in the dense cover made full on views brief.

Both Hannah & myself achieved good views of the bird for about 10mins.

I ran back for the camera and returned after a heavy shower, with luck the bird was still present but proved even more elusive. A few more brief views of the bird revealed absence of bright yellowish rump (feature of Bonelli's Warbler). Despite the bright white belly and supercilium through off a 100% confident ID of the bird.

The bird never showed again but we are both certain that It was Siberian Chiffchaff after scrutiny research. A nice spring patch record. Call was never heard so 100% ID will never be certain. I never managed any images of the bird as it never showed well after our first views. Took plenty of notes & sketches. Hopefully the bird sticks around for a few more day's to be refound.

Other highlight's seen include 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Whitethroat, 6 Blackcap, 6 Willow Warbler and 20+ Chiffchaff, single Swallow flew north.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Portland Bird Obs birding

Was down at Portland Bill for some early migrant birding. Some nice birds seen today including 1st Grasshopper Warbler of the year, 2 Redstart, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 3+Wheatear, 60+ Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Common Whitethroat and possible brief sighting of Nightingale at the Obs. Out on the sea nice view of Bonxie's, Arctic Skua, Manxies, Common Scoter & summer plumaged Great Northern Diver. Missed the Osprey over the Obs.

Quick look at Suckthumb Quarry in the afternoon on way home, single Redstart & several Willow Warbler all of note. Small passage of Sand Martin & Swallow passing North.

At Ferrybridge good numbers of Whimbrel (30+), Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Curlew, Oystercatcher, White Wagtail and pair of Raven all of note.

Back on the local patch at Sherborne this afternoon (15.00-18.00pm). Went for walk around the farm & down towards the river scrub.

Weather warm & sunny with strong northernly wind. Good numbers of migrants passing through though many been elusive in breezy weather. 2 male Redstart, 12+ Willlow Warbler, several Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, Whitehroat, 40+ House Martin (flying west). Stock Dove at the farm yard.
Most hidden phllyosc's on sheltered side of scrub out of view!!

Be brilliant to know if any of these Willow Warblers passing through the patch this evening were in the garden at Portland Obs at 7am this morning!!?? Most likely but very exciting to wonder about that!!

Migrant numbers certainly picking up over the last few day's, hoping for big fall in the next week (hopefully)!! Watch this space

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Patch sightigs 24th/April/2016

3 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Common Whitethroat, 12+ each of Chiffchaff & Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler in decent numbers along river egde scrub. A single Cetti's Warbler (along the river) was a nice patch find.
Flyover Hobby hawking insects, quick look at cattle fields produced single male Yellow Wagtail with 3 Pied Wagtails.
The first Spotted Flycatcher of the year near the garden in the orchard.

Lesser Whitethroat

Friday, 22 April 2016

Patch sightings & Sutton Bingham

Weather quite miserable throughout the day so not ideal for much migrants on passage, although a break in the rain during late afternoon on the patch was quite fruitful with Pied Flycatcher(female), 3 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 12 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat moved through the garden.

Quick look at Sutton Bingham aswell 7 Common Sandpiper, 24 Great crested Grebe, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 2 Cormorant, 100+ Swallow and 50 House Martin.

No sign of yesterday's Lesser Whitethroat's on the patch.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Patch sightings 21/April/2016

Went for a decent walk around the local patch today, very productive migrant wise. Found at least 6 Lesser Whitethroat's in the blackthorn hedge behind the farm near the railway line. This area of mixed scrub habitat borders the River Yeo is fantastic for migrants as a stop off "refuelling station". This is the first spring site record of Lesser Whitethroat, a long awaited addition to the spring migrant list.
All previous 16th records occured during autumn passage in September. A great start of to patch birding.

Further along the willow scrub and dense hedgerows, Willow Warbler & Chiffchaff were moving in small numbers. Elusive Nightingale gave brief view and started singing in the blackthorn. This is the 5th site record and 2nd this year for the patch with the previous record in the garden nearby!!!

1 Female Redstart, 6+ Whitethroat, 10+ Blackcap, 2 Skylark, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting along with Stock Dove &2 Green Woodpecker were nice additional bonus to the day's birding.

Lesser Whitethroat
Blackthorn hedge where the Lsr Whitethroat's were.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Maiden Castle Corn Buntings

A few images from recent visit to Maiden Castle, Dorset to see some Corn Buntings. Was not disappointed. Over 40+ birds present along the fence line and in the fields. Some birds giving amazing close up views singing like a pair of  jangling car keys right beside me!! A very special bird and a true shame they are extinct in Ireland all because of change in agriculture practises, habitat loss and impact of intensification. It is great to see such good numbers in Dorset at these unique open field sites. A truly wonderful bird with great character and always a joy to watch at close quarters.


One of four Hobbies seen chasing Swallows over Ham Wall car park this afternoon...Giving amazing views and putting on a fantastic Ariel acrobatic display pursuing a single Swallow which unfortunately was caught. A truly magic birding moment to watch.

Migrant Influx

Over the past few day's has seen a massive influx of spring migrants across the UK. Particularly along the south coast. Recently on Portland Bill has seen an influx of 500+ Willow Warbler, 100+ Wheatear, 1000's of Swallows and House Martins, Little Ringed Plover's, Whitethroat's, Redstart's, Pied Fly's, Ring Ouzel's, Tree Pipit and Cuckoo all arriving in from Africa and the Mediterranean. Portland has popped up some great birds including Bluethroat, Subalpine Warbler, Red-rumped Swallow, 3 Hoopoe and Serin in recent day's. Spring migration really has kicked off to a great start.

Recent sightings on my local patch in the last few day's includes first big arrival of Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Sedge warbler and Reed Warbler present in the hedges, willow scrub, sewage work scrub and the river embankment. Flyover of Tree Pipit & Yellow Wagtail over the last few days.
Large passage of Swallows & House Martin's on a regular basis.

Sightings from today on the patch: 20th April 2016

50 Willow Warbler
40+ Chiffchaff
10+ Blackcap
2 Lsr Whitethroat
5 Sedge warbler
1 Reed Warbler
1 Hobby

Trip to Ham Wall today produced some fantastic birds:

4 Hobby
3+ Bittern
Glossy Ibis( resident bird)
Garganey (2 drakes)
1 Little Ringed Plover
2 Cuckoo (1st of the year)
2 Swift
6+ Whitethroat
20+ Blackcap
20+ Willow Warbler
Unidentified harrier sp (ringtail, very obvious pale neck collar and white face markings)

Few photos below of some of the latest migrants seen over the past week.

Cracking views of the Hoopoe last week showing very well down to a few metres...very confiding. My 4th British Hoopoe!!!

Willow Warblers out numbering Chiffchaff on some fay's. 50+ on the patch today!!

Plenty of Chiffchaff about now..some started nest building

Wheatear on the patch

Whitethroat giving lovely views

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Pied Flycatcher

Despite the windy, wet weather, had stunning male Pied Flycatcher in the garden earlier this afternoon...1st of the year!! 4+ Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, single Blackcap and flyover Peregrine with Common Buzzard in ploughed field best of today.
See what tommorow bring's....................................

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Sherborne Sewage works sightings

Sherborne Sewage Works: 10:00-14.30

100+ Swallow & 20 House martin, 40+ Willow Warbler, 20+ Chiffchaff, 6 Blackcap, 1 Northern type Willow Warbler, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff, 4 Grey Wagtail and 1(male) Redstart.

Northern Willow Warbler

Plenty of Swallows and House  Martins on passage

Willow Warbler
Blackcap (male)


Friday, 8 April 2016

Black Redstart

Stunning male Black Redstart giving lovely views on rooftops by Tesco multi-storey car park this afternoon.

Quick look at Nine springs produced single Firecrest, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, Grey Wagtail, 10+ Chiffchaff and pair of Kingfisher

Thursday, 7 April 2016

White Stork twitch

A rare opportunity arose when a White Stork was sighted a few days ago in the Ham Wall/Westhay Moor region of the Somerset Levels. Last year I missed out on a local White Stork seen near the Yeovilton area during the Summer and this time I really fancied having a go and seeing this magnificent bird.

Last year Hannah and myself took a trip to Extremadura and we saw White Storks every single day of the 2weeks holiday we had. They are such a abundant bird nesting on church towers, tall buildings, power line towers and nearly always several around any wetland habitat we encounter. The White Stork is very common in the Mediterranean regions of souther Europe and thousand's migrate over the Staris of Gibraler in southern  Spain to breed in towns and cities of Spain, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, Germany and stretching across to their stronghold in Eastern Europe.

Hopefully in the near future with impacts of climate change, warming temperatures and increasing populations, birds such as the White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret, Night Heron may get a strong foothold as breeding species in the UK just like how the Little Egret, Cranes and Great White Egret have now done. With Little Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Night Heron, Purple Heron breeding on occasions.....only a matter of time before White Storks come across.

This bird that I went to see is an adult bird and most likely overshot Spain on it's migration to Europe due to the glorious weather and southern winds and now dropped down in the Somerset levels alongside Little Egrets and the long-staying Glossy Ibis at Tealham Moor near Burtle village.

Once I arrived there were several birders with scopes and cameras looking towards a  flooded field and straight away, unmistakeable a White Stork casually feeding beside a Little Egret and several Mute Swans!!

The Stork gave some fantastic views no more than 100+ metres awat from the road side. I fired off a few shots of the Stork and watched it as it feed alongside some Egrets (dwarfed in size by the stork). This White Stork is a British first for me. A nice addition to my UK life list and  my year list.

On my way back I had good views of the Ham wall Glossy ibis and Cattle Egret present near by to the Stork...... Really getting a feel of Spain again with these Mediterranean species feeding on vast wetlands!!! Other highlights of the day was cracking close up views of a male Gadwall, drake Garganey and plenty of Swallows hawking insects overhead.

A great start to Spring migration...Lets hope a Hoopoe or Woodchat Shrike turns up nearby or on the local patch. Watch this space...........................

Trip to Slough

Last week took a short trip to Slough for bit of birding and exploring of a new area I have never been too. With so many lakes, reservoirs, wetland habitat and dense woodland it is hard to believe that all this amazing wildlife if right on the doorstep of London City, Heathrow airport and busy motorways.
I visited a few locations including Black Park, Langley Park and Stocker's Lake all located with the Colyn Valley of Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

Weather was perfect for the few days and with many sightings of spring migrants such as Swallows, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff I was hoping to catch up on some migrants in the area.
Over the few day's I had some great views of many Ring-necked Parakeets, Red Kites, Goshawk, Buzzard, Blackcaps and Swallows were quite abundant.
Highlight of the trip was finding a superb male Lesser spotted Woodpecker drumming on an Oak Tree at Stocker's lake.

Black Park turned up some great birds including displaying Goshawk, nest building Red Kites, dozens of Mandarin Duck, Green Woodpeckers, Woodlark, Willow Warbler, Jays and a Hobby. There was plenty of birds in full song, Thrushes carrying nesting material, drumming woodpeckers and displaying raptors soaring on the thermals. The heathland at black park despite been over run by public visitors shows great potential in May for watching hawking Hobbies, Dartford Warbler and Green Woodpeckers on the Ant Mounds.

Male Blackcap's in full song now

Ring-necked Parakeet at Langley park

Tame Jay allowing close up views

Stunning Great crested Grebe at Stocker's Lake
It was a fantastic few days and I even managed to see and photograph (record shot wise) of a Muntjac Deer, plenty of Roe Deer around and baby Rabbits.
Easter Bunny :)

Record shot of male Muntjac. Check out the small tusk like teeth

Both parks were spectacular for watching soaring raptor's. Here are a few images of Buzzards, Kestrel, Goshawk and Red Kite. The area is also great for Ospreys, Sparrowhawk, Hobby, Harriers and  the off chance of a rare raptor!!

Buzzard ( pale phase type)


Red Kite

Looking forward to the next time I return to do birding in the Slough area. Full of potential with some great wildlife!!