Monday, 24 October 2016

Grey Phalarope......

23 Oct - very nice views at the w/e of the obliging Grey Phalarope at Farmoor, feeding unconcernedly very close to the assembled photographers, and indeed on occasions swimming towards them.....typical behaviour by an arctic species. Fairly regular in recent autumns at Farmoor, though unusually this record does not follow on from westerly gales, the wind having been predominantly easterly for several weeks.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Osprey, and autumnal CWP

20-21 Oct - A fairly productive couple of days. I headed to Soudley pond in the Forest of Dean for first light on 20th, and the small gathered crowd was rewarded with a good view of the Osprey that has been present here for a couple of weeks - it flew in and spent a few minutes perched up, then had an unsuccessful dive before heading SE towards the Severn. Interestingly, it has a distinctive tail with missing feathers giving a Kite-like appearance, so could possibly be tracked on migration.
My other stop on 20th was pit 119 in the eastern CWP at Lechlade, where the reported Great White Egret was obligingly feeding just off the track and could be viewed at leisure - with a nearby Little Egret for comparison. A huge size difference!
This morning, 21st, was another beautiful autumnal morning and the highlight at Shorncote was a very obliging pair of Stonechats in the sun..... Snipe and Green Sandpiper seen, a few Redwings were around and also my first CWP Fieldfare of the autumn. Good numbers of passerines included 2 Grey Wagtails and at least 35 Reed Buntings, and the usual Cetti's Warblers and Water Rail were calling.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Yellow-browed Warbler?

17 Oct - a brief walk at Waterhay pre-work, and a presumed Yellow-browed Warbler calling by the old hide, distinctive, but not seen.....not too far-fetched given the numbers in the UK this autumn..... and one in Cheltenham today! Also a few Redwings on the berries at 68c.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Spurn at its impressive best......

15 Oct - One of my most memorable birding days in the UK for a long time, prompted by the first mainland record of Siberian Accentor (following on the heels of the first for the UK as a whole, in Shetland). I left home at the fairly civilised hour of 5.30am, and arrived on site knowing the bird was present for a 3rd day - by 9.15 I was watching it feeding, down to a distance of 3m. A striking Accentor that I've seen previously in China, and a product of the prolonged easterlies of the last 2 weeks. These same winds meant the Spurn peninsula was heaving with migrants - the first bird I saw when parking was a Short-eared Owl coming in - and thousands of winter thrushes were arriving overhead, mainly Redwings, but Fieldfares and Song Thrushes also in evidence, with continental Blackbirds and a juvenile Ring Ouzel also seen. The hedges were heaving with Goldcrests, and amongst them I saw 2 Firecrests and 2 stunning Pallas's Warblers,
the latter seen well in the sun that appeared late morning, showing its stripes and yellow rump. A Dusky Warbler was uncharacteristically obliging in the canal zone reeds, and a Jack Snipe bobbed in the grass from the hide while a Woodcock flew round.
A Shorelark had been obliging for a couple of days by the Bluebell car park, and posed for the camera while creeping across the shingle. Bramblings were also around both perched and moving through, together with Tree Sparrows, Siskins and Redpolls.
Redstart and Black Redstart also obliged later at Easington. Even a last few Swallows were moving south. Late morning, both Bean and White-fronted Geese moved through S overhead. Lots of birds, and many birders, a classic east coast birding experience, exciting, and very memorable. And fantastic organisation by the Spurn staff on site, especially parking, to avoid upsetting local residents.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Slimbridge again......

13 Oct - A brief visit en route to Cheltenham, and 18 Knot on the South Lake amongst the Black-tailed Godwit flock, also a Spotted Redshank with c25 Redshanks. Very nice autumnal light again. Nice views of Teal from Martin Smith hide. Probably the last fine morning of the current spell.

Sunday, 9 October 2016


9 Oct - a beautiful, sunny autumn day,too nice to stay in. First stop Frampton and after a fairly long wait I had brief views of the Yellow-browed Warbler.... calling frequently but very difficult to se....not my pic! Also groups of Redwings going over calling, and an obliging Tawny Owl watching us from a tree hole. At Slimbridge, fairly distant views of the Pectoral Sandpiper from Zeiss hide, found earlier in the day. Also excellent light for the Knot and Black-tailed Godwits on South Lake at high tide. An enjoyable afternoon.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

CWP - Jack Snipe jackpot........

7-8 Oct - A look in at pit 74 on 7th revealed that the Black-necked Grebe is still present, and, famous last words, looking settled......
On 8th, Robin Griffiths had reported up to 3 Jack Snipe, and I located one on the bank near the rafts. Amazing views of it for the next hour or so.....feeding in the open, exceptional for such a cryptic and skulking species, bobbing in textbook fashion and displaying the compact shape, shorter bill and facial markings diagnostic of the species - with a Common Snipe nearby for comparison. Online photo (not mine!) from Spurn canal scrape. Black-necked Grebe again present.
My first visit to Shorncote in a while did not reveal any great surprises, but nice to see 2 Stonechats returned hopefully for the winter. Also present - Little Egret, Water Rail, Cetti's Warbler and Chiffchaff, with duck numbers building, including approx 40 Teal.