Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Early morning Slimbridge

19 Sept - A fairly brief stop at Slimbridge pre-opening before an admin day, fairly quiet, no Phalaropes despite the wind ....... Ruff and Avocet quite obliging in the early morning sun, a flyby from the resident Marsh Harrier, and lots of Warblers calling in the hedgerows. Water levels still low, autumn rains still needed for the wintering birds. A fairly late House Martin over the garden in the afternoon.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

CWP scarcities

18 Sept - A couple of good sightings today - firstly my check at Eysey revealed the Great White Egret hunting, though surprisingly concealed at times in the sallows - and then, courtesy of Kim Milsom, 3 Sandwich Terns frequenting pit 74 on and off, and they obligingly did a flyby at 6.40pm, calling loudly, when I stopped to look for them.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Autumnal CWP

16 Sept - Despite the blustery westerlies, still a good suite of waders on pit 132 - Greenshank, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, and Dunlin. A large female Peregrine was eyeing up the wader flock but didn't go for them while I was there...... also Little Egrets and a close Red Kite.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

WWT Severn Wader Festival

14-15 Sept - A fairly quiet wader festival according to reports, with the best of the bunch being the continuing presence of 3 Spotted Redshanks, one of which was obliging close to the Robbie Garnett hide on afternoon of 15th. Otherwise, some good views of cryptic Snipe, and Avocet, Redshank, Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit all present as usual, with a Greenshank from Zeiss hide over the high tide period. A Little Stint flew by calling on 14th. No nearctic waders despite the recent westerlies, but always something to see and usually at fairly close quarters to the hide. A Grey Wagtail is also being obliging at the moment, on the stream right in front of the Rushy hide.

Friday, 14 September 2018


14 Sept - The Eysey GWE seems to be fairly reliable at the moment, and as it's only a 2-minute diversion I checked for it today, and managed a record shot as it fed among the sallows as usual. Also a flyover Snipe.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Tarifa 5-8 Sept

A very successful return visit to the Straits of Gibraltar for the raptor migration, earlier in the month this time, hoping to catch the main Honey Buzzard passage. The wind was westerly, initially stronger but becoming lighter as the week progressed. Weather predominantly sunny with morning cloud, and persistent rain on the last day. Raptor passage was steady. My hunch regarding HBs paid off with an amazing early passage at Algarrobo watch point on 7th Sep - skipping breakfast and arriving shortly after sunrise, an amazing 3,500+ (three thousand, five hundred!) birds passed over heading SE towards the straits between 0830 - 1000h, at first flying very low, then gradually higher as the thermals started to develop. On arrival a constant stream of birds was visible as they left their roost in the nearby inland oak forest and headed for Africa - smart males, more barred females and dark juvs making for a masterclass in plumage. The Spanish counters remarked on it being an exceptional passage and I was very fortunate to witness this amazing spectacle, with camera to hand! Both here and at Cazalla, Booted and Short-toes Eagles, Black Kites, and both Griffon and Egyptian Vultures were passing, with smaller numbers of Marsh and Montagu's Harriers and Black Storks. There was also a passage of Swifts, mainly Pallid but with a few Alpines mixed in, along with a stream of hirundines, while the liquid calls of Bee-Eaters indicated flocks passing high and out of view to the naked eye. As always migration in action is exciting as the unexpected can always happen at any time - a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle also flew over Algarrobo on morning of 7th. Ruppell's Vulture is a speciality at Cazalla and birds were seen both 6th and 7th, as the vulture flock was attracted to a bovine carcass in the nearby valley. I also had the great honour if meeting eminent ornithologist and author Ian Newton OBE FRS at Algarrobo, as he had been in Tarifa for a migration conference. Los Lances beach is always disturbed by kitesurfers but early morning held a few waders including a juv Bar-tailed Godwit, together with the usual Kentish and Ringed Plovers, Sanderling and Dunlin. A flyby Hoopoe here was a bonus. Two short visits to La Janda revealed the ricefields to be fairly dry, but good numbers of Glossy Ibis now seem to be resident, along with White Storks. A few immature Spoonbills were also present, along with Marsh Harriers and a single juv Monty's. A flock of 4 Turtle Doves here was sadly noteworthy as this species continues to be hunted despite its continuing decline. A tourist afternoon at Vejer de la Frontera allowed a quick stop at Barbate estuary - a very good selection of waders here including Curlew Sandpiper, Greenshank and smart summer-plumaged Grey Plovers, as well as a juv Black-winged Stilt and more Kentish Plovers - and a flock of 50 or so Greater Flamingoes. All in all a very enjoyable few days, a great area for a holiday with added birding excitement on tap!

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Pit 132 at Kempsford

2 Sept - A walk around pit 132 which always looks excellent for waders. A Greenshank present for a few days still on view (after some time looking) and a Peregrine sitting on the gravel bank while 3 Hobbies hawked overhead! The raptor list completed by 2 Red Kites and several Buzzards. Snipe and Yellow Wagtails in flight, surprisingly no Green or Common Sandpipers, and a Grass Snake also seen basking in the sun.