Saturday, 28 May 2016

Wildlife Trust Summer Leys :: 28 May 2016

My second visit to @wildlifebcn #SummerLeys and this time I was accompanied by Eilidh. Started off early and got there around 8.40am. The car park was much quieter than last time so probably there would be no special birds viewable from the Pioneer Hide - this proved to be the case. Only thing of note for me was a lone pochard, picked out by Eilidh and a little ringed plover.

We progressed onto the path around the site and soon came across garden warbler not far from where I saw it last time. Red-legged partridgeIn the field to the right was a flock of mute swans but passing through the flock were two red-legged partridge - we took photos of ladybird and other insects as we waiting on the partridges progress across the field and eventually they got close enough for a shot.

At the feeders we were spoiled by around five pairs of bullfinches, two squirrels, marsh tit, chaffinch, blue coal and great tits. As we got through the first Reed warblergate we were lucky enough to hear and then spot some obliging reed warblers. As we got onto the high path beyond the second gate we found sedge warblers and then the nesting sand martins. At one point a goldfinch was hanging on the edge of one of the holes in the wall; who knows what it was doing.

We turned for home and didn't encounter anything new until we were almost back to the car - a willow warbler singing in a high tree dragged us back a few tens of metres to see what was singing. The bird looked a little fluffy and perhaps could have been a juvenile?

Only good experiences here so far. One to keep on my list.Willow warbler

Sightings today (44) included: swift, woodpigeon, black-headed gull, carrion crow, canada goose, greylag goose, reed bunting, mute swan, cormorant, tufted duck, mallard, common tern, gadwall, shelduck, jackdaw, coot, great-crested grebe, lapwing, magpie, pochard, lesser black-backed gull, little ringed-plover, great tit, robin, long-tailed tit, chaffinch, dunnock, garden warbler, red-legged partridge, green woodpecker, buzzard, blue tit, wren, coal tit, greenfinch, marsh tit, bullfinch, goldfinch, blackbird, reed warbler, sedge warbler, sand martin, starling and willow warbler.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

RSPB Otmoor :: 14 May 2016

Dropped into RSPB Otmoor early morning for my annual pilgrimage to see the turtle dove. Sedge WarblerAs I got to the car park I could hear a turtle dove "purring" on the other side of the hedge. Not bothering with walking boots or a coat I picked out binoculars and my camera and shot off to find it. A couple of hundred metres and I found it high in a tree with the sky and light behind, not conducive to good photographs. I too some all the same. I returned to the car, suited up and headed down the track. At the first gate I met one of my work colleagues with his wife, coming the other way - they had been on the organised dawn chorus walk which had started at 5.00a.m. Bit early for me after the long week I'd had.

Heard both the turtle dove and a cuckoo calling as I continued along the path but didn't set eyes on either. WrenDid start to see sedge and reed warbler (and hear many more) in the reeds running either side of the path. As I got near to the turn for the wetlands hide I had garden warbler to my side and snipe plus oystercatcher over. A skylark ascended, as they do, and hoped for what seemed a couple of minutes before dropping back to the field beyond the trees. Apparently the greenshank had moved on and the cuckoos had been giving a show in the sun, predictably before I got there at 8.30a.m. A few redshank were visible from the gate. Linnet, reed bunting and yellowhammers were still hanging round the wetlands hide.

Common tern appeared at several points as did marsh harrier and red kite, the raptors being mobbed by lapwing. The lapwings were also having a go at any crows if they came near. Stopped to talk to a chap who tried to point out the location of the barnacle goose but it appeared to have dropped from view, although Ross's geese were visible but very distant.

At the first screen a single male pochard was diving front left and two common terns were balancing on various poles swooping and perhaps passing food? At the second hide there was not much to report but as I sat a cuckoo flew straight over the hide (no call) and off over the conservation area - a female up to no good? - so quick that I only had time to pick up the camera but couldn't get a shot off.

On the way back I stopped looking out over Otmoor and talked with Derek Latham. He had his big lens on (Sigma 300-800mm) and was waiting for the hobby. Turtle DoveEventually the could be seen across Big Otmoor and slowly they got closer - we waited patiently but eventually they disappeared again and I left to head home.

As I neared the turn for the feeders I could see a couple listening to the turtle dove, again it was behind the tree line. They eventually bored of waiting and As no one was around I had a try at playing "turtle dove call"; it certainly had an effect and the bird took off, circles and landed in-view a couple of trees along. A better view for photos.

As I turned to the carp ark I heard chiffchaff again but they were in the dense bushes. ChiffchaffBuoyed by the success of my playing birdsong I had a go with chiffchaff. Wow ... They certainly took notice and started flying across my head, back and forth across the path. I readied my camera, played again and got quite a nice shot.

A very pleasant visit.

Sightings (48) included: turtle dove, chiffchaff, common whitethroat, sedge warbler, goldfinch, mute swan, skylark, mallard, red kite, lapwing, chaffinch, swift, greylag goose, rook, carrion crow, blackbird, reed bunting, snipe, oystercatcher, canada goose, cormorant, reed warbler, redshank, garden warbler, robin, little egret, yellowhammer, linnet, coot, jackdaw, blue tit, house martins, woodpigeon, shoveler, ross's goose, wren, tufted duck, common term, swallow, dunnock, pochard, buzzard, cuckoo, marsh harrier, gadwall, hobby, pheasant and long-tailed tit.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Grimsbury Reservoir :: 13 May 2016

I dropped into the Reservoir to see the arctic tern reported by @987jonty earlier in the day. GoldfinchFortunately for me the tern had stayed, and it appeared to be the same for @987jonty! Picked up both lesser and common whitethroat, blackbird, reed bunting, song thrush, arctic tern, great-crested grebe, lesser black-backed gull, mallard, coot, goldfinch greenfinch, carrion crow, rook and grey heron.

I continued onto the Borrow Pit to see if the channel wagtail was showing but no sign. The grasshopper warbler heard earlier in the day was also silent. A good try. Unfortunately as light levels were low, shots of the tern were pretty poor.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Draycote Water & Grimsbury Reservoir :: 11 May 2016

A beautiful Thanksgiving Service for my friend Marion today. Afterwards I decided not to try and get back to work before the office closed and instead made a late afternoon visit to Draycote Water. Caught up with the white-winged black tern, although distant, but had closer views of up to 29 black tern, along with artic and common terns. Also had four dunlin and two oystercatchers over. On the way back to the car I was treated to views of skylark, goldfinch, yellow wagtail, linnet and a mass of hirundines, predominantly swifts.

Sanderling The traffic was busy around the Tescos roundabout when I got back to Banbury so I decided to detour to Grimsbury Reservoir. This turned out to be a good idea as sightings included sanderling, common sandpiper, greenfinch, goldfinch, grey wagtail, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, blackcap and bullfinch. Also met up with @987jonty and @grimsbury_birds who had spotted a spotted flycatcher but it had gone into hiding since I arrived.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Wildlife Trust Summer Leys :: 07 May 2016

This was my first visit to the Wildlife Trust's Summer Leys Nature Reserve. SpoonbillFound it easily after an early start. I was surprised by the number of cars already in the car park but on talking to a guy unpacking from his car, four spoonbills has been reported earlier in the morning. Fortunately I got to see these from the main/closest hide before they took off at around 8.30am. I stayed in the hide for a good while and picked up three grey plover (one male summer plumage), wood sandpiper, ruff (one male summer plumage), redshank and a ringed plover. @987jonty had obviously picked up the reported spoonbill sighting as he also appeared apparently seeing the spoonbills leave from the carpark.

Onto the reserve and again many warblers in attendance - Blackcaplots of blackcap and garden warblers but also numbers of sedge. At one point the path was diverted to protect an area where sand martins are nesting - they were hunting overhead around this area.

A good visit which takes the year total to 121.

Today's sightings (46) included: grey plover, ruff, wood sandpiper, black-headed gull, common tern, mute swan, spoonbill, redshank, tufted duck, shelduck, coot, greylag goose, mallard, oystercatcher, great-crested grebe, teal, grey heron, moorhen, shoveler, cormorant, gadwall, carrion crow, woodpigeon, rook, ringed plover, reed bunting, jackdaw, garden warbler, chaffinch, robin, chiffchaff, magpie, bullfinch, wren, blackbird, goldfinch, great tit, blackcap, greenfinch, blue tit, long-tailed tit, sedge warbler, sand martin, swift, dunnock and buzzard.

Wood sandpiperGrey plover

Sunday, 1 May 2016

RSPB Otmoor :: 30 April 2016

After my successful trip to BOS Balscote Quarry I headed off to RSPB Otmoor. Sedge WarblerI was slightly worried that I should be making a trip somewhere else as I might just see the same as when there a few weeks earlier. I needn't have worried. As I arrived I had 9 buzzards climbing in the thermals, with a red kite mischievously mobbing each of them in turn.

Picked up my first lesser whitethroat there this year along the path to the feeder, not much had changed. But a soon as I stepped onto the main path into the RSPB site there was a noticeable increase in warbler activity. Soon spotted reed warbler and then sedge; constantly showing and calling here and all the way round to the second screen. The sun was out and so were the grass snakes.

Grasshopper WarblerJoined a couple of guys who were waiting for a grasshopper warbler to show; a great tick for me as I never seem to be able to find them. Showed regularly through the afternoon.

There were so many sedge warbler on view that you had to concentrate to make sure you didn't overlook a calling warbler, such as the many whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, willow warbler and chiffchaff. Appears I missed a garden warbler from yesterday's reports.

Grass snakeThe noise coming from the conservation area beyond the second screen was just deafening. I was lucky enough to catch sight of another life tick as it trailed behind a flock of canada geese, landing out of view.

I needn't have worried, a great day out and perhaps I can get to Summer Leys sometime soon.

Species noted (36): chiffchaff, blue tit, rook, great tit, mallard, coot, lapwing, whitethroat, canada goose, reed bunting, wren, goldfinch, chaffinch, pheasant, coot, reed warbler, grasshopper warbler, sedge warbler, willow warbler, tufted duck, carrion crow, greylag goose, mute swan, mallard, blackcap, great-crested grebe, common tern, buzzard, red kite, #####, cormorant, magpie, grey heron, marsh harrier, shoveler and goldfinch.

BOS Balscote Quarry :: 30 April 2016

Got up to try out a site a bit out of my normal range; Summer Leys, Curlew Sandpiperadvertised as an old gravel pit transformed into a haven for breeding and wading birds (@987jonty posted from there recently).

However at 7.25am I got a message from @grimsbury_birds as I tucked into my breakfast - the curlew sandpiper was at Balscote Quarry again. A quick shower and dashed to see it before it moved off-site again. Thankfully joined a growing number to see this, a pair of little ringed plovers and a dunlin. Also enjoyed lesser whitethroat, whitethroat and a lesser redpoll, the latter visiting the niger feeder.

Species noted (22): curlew sandpiper, dunlin, little ringed plover, mallard, pied wagtail, canada goose, carrion crow, rook, blackbird, chaffinch, linnet, cormorant, lesser whitethroat, yellowhammer, greenfinch, lesser redpoll, buzzard, blue tit, robin, magpie, great tit and whitethroat.