Saturday, 22 April 2017

Farmoor Reservoir :: 22 April 2017

Another opportunity for a morning walk with her indoors. Chose to head down to Farmoor Reservoir this time to see if I could see the Bonaparte's gullBonaparte's gull that had been there for much of the week - would it be normal Saturday morning with the target bird scarpering the night before?

Got there in sunshine but a slight breeze - this would prove to be beneficial in keeping the flies at bay. Spotted the terns fishing at a little distance, a single swift overhead [#109] and rather a cute family of mallard. As advertised the Bonaparte's gull [#110] was found at the south end of F2. Reed buntingIn the water predominantly it managed at one point to catch and eat a small fish with little or no effort - perhaps why it hasn't moved on. The fisherman also reported high success with the rainbow trout.

We popped down to the Pinkhill Reserve and spotted a few sedge warbler on the way, as well as both red kite and buzzed being mobbed by crows. Good views of reed bunting and a single little egret from the hide, as well as more sedge warbler. Common tern

We'd heard many chiffchaff as we walked but not seen any. We were afforded a view of one as we made our way back to the reservoir. Across the causeway there was a distinct increase in the number of flies, due to the very still conditions and the re-emergence of the sun - got quite warm too.

Sightings today (31) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, Bonaparte's gull, buzzard, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, common sandpiper, common tern, coot, cormorant, dunnock, gadwall, goldfinch, great great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, house martin, little egret, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, red kite, reed bunting, rook, sedge warbler, swift, woodpigeon and wren.

Grimsbury Reservoir :: 21 April 2017

Started early, catching the 05:59 train from Banbury to London Marylebone and then a visit to the US Embassy for a Visa. Only a quick circuit after work today.

Surprisingly quiet with little on the move, other than crows and rooks overhead. Little ringed ploverThe first real sign of life was the flock of linnet along the fence edge on the west side of the reservoir. A look in the copse yielded nothing but at least I then found a couple of little ringed plover [#108] to add to the year list.

As I got round to the east side a couple of swallows and house martins flew over, but skimming the water only briefly before moving on.

Met @987jonty and @grimsbury_birds as I went back to car park. I'll await a report of the marvels they found after I left. Today sightings (24) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, bullfinch, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, dunnock, goldfinch, greenfinch, grey wagtail, jackdaw, linnet, little ringed plover, magpie, mallard, moorhen, pied wagtail, robin, rook, song thrush, starling, swallow and woodpigeon.

Monday, 17 April 2017

RSPB Otmoor :: 15 April 2017

Reports of cuckoo and redstart at RSPB Otmoor enticed us to take our morning walk there. On-site and booted by 9.15am we talked briefly with another visitor in an already full car park. Grasshopper warblers could be heard reeling In the field adjacent to the car park. With quite a lot of trees and shrubs it would be a challenge to get a sighting, unless luck was on our side.

Along the path we stopped at a break in the hedge and the fence to the seasonal path, closed at present due to 'weather'. The gropers could be heard to the left and passages of goldfinch and reed bunting adorned the tops of the trees. HareSoon a lone skylark ventured above the tree line in it's characteristic accent and decent. We continued on to the feeding station, again seeing large numbers of goldfinch. Although closer now, we couldn't catch a glimpse of the gropers (at least two reeling). At one point we thought our luck was in but it turned out to be a linnet and not the singing bird.

Now along the path on Greenaways we could hear numbers of sedge warbler (#104). They obligingly rose and dropped into the reeds; unfortunately my ability to follow and catch the bird in the act only resulted in out of focus blobs. Fleeting views of reed warbler (#105) were also enjoyed. Drumming snipe also passed overhead. A hare also made its way parallel to our path, fortunately not so fast that I couldn't get a couple of photos.

Great spotted woodpeckerNothing spectacular at the hide so we progressed down to the first screen. Got first views for the year of swallow (#106) and then house martin (#107). Unfortunately no sign of any of the harriers, nor bittern, either from the first or second screen. No sight or sound of the cuckoo either.

On the return from screen one to the gate, we saw the flock of lapwing take to the air. Wondering what had spooked them we turned to see a red kite swoop down, being mobbed as it did, to snatch something from the ground. Unfortunately we didn't see the target and the kite continued being mobbed as it flew off directly away from us.

Great spotted woodpeckerAs we passed the feeding station we came upon a great spotted woodpecker which made Charlotte's day. 3.2 miles walked but slightly disappointed how quiet the reserve was, bird-wise. Perhaps the breeze and temperature? Maybe a few weeks and I'll go back to see what else materialises - hopefully the turtle dove.

Today's sightings (36) included: blue tit, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, dunnock, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, grey heron, house martin, kestrel, lapwing, linnet, long-tailed tit, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, pheasant, pochard, red kite, redshank, reed bunting, reed warbler, robin, rook, sedge warbler, shoveler, skylark, snipe, swallow, tufted duck, woodpigeon, wren and yellowhammer.

Friday, 14 April 2017

West Kilbride Seamill Beach :: 13 April 2017

Visiting the folks and celebrating Ailsa's birthday in West Kilbride / Seamill. Lucky to pick up a deal at Seamill Hydro and tasty meal down at Scotts in the Largs Yacht Haven.

Sitting on #99 species for the year, I popped to have a look over the hotel wall into the brook, Rock pipithoping for dipper. Noticed that some of the wall was now in the brook, cutting down the water passage. No dipper but grey wagtail and then sand martin [#100].

On the final morning I woke early and went for a walk, before breakfast and before the others woke. A bracing wind greeted me on the beach, as did the grey seals on the rocks offshore. Then found a couple of yellow-legged gulls [#101] on the beach at the outflow of the brook. Flocks of eider [#102] flew low across the choppy water.

Numbers of rock pipit [103] scurried around the rocky beach, including one carrying nest building material. Curlew stayed distant, calling from the rocks. EiderNothing was fishing offshore, at least not visible from the shore perhaps the wind playing a part or perhaps just the hour.

A beautiful start to the day, but a cold one. Sightings (29) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, carrion crow, collared dove, curlew, dunnock, eider, goldfinch, great black-backed gull, grey heron, grey wagtail, house sparrow, jackdaw, lesser black-backed gull, magpie, mallard, oystercatcher, pied wagtail, rock dove / feral pigeon, rock pipit, rook, shelduck, song thrush, starling, teal, wigeon, wren and yellow-legged gull.

Draycote Water :: 09 April 2017

Looking on Twitter in the morning I saw that @draycotebirding had spotted three Long-tailed titBN grebes in the evening following our morning visit - apparently not seen for almost a week then spotted after I'd been - good at hiding or just poor at finding them?!

Decided to have another go so dropped back into Draycote Water. Decided on a full circuit, this time anti-clockwise. Chiffchaff, blackcap were entertaining but not the target bird. Long-tailed tits loving the early morning sun as was song thrush and a pair of great spotted woodpeckers around the trees behind Biggin Bay.

Unbelievable ... another circuit and another dip on the BN grebe. ChiffchaffWorst still, a Lon-tailed duck dropped in later in the day. This early morning slot may not be ideal ...

Sightings today (34) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, common sandpiper, coot, cormorant, dunnock, fieldfare, gadwall, great crested grebe, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, greylag goose, jackdaw, lesser black-backed gull, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, pied wagtail, reed bunting, robin, rook, song thrush, starling, teal, tufted duck and woodpigeon.

Draycote Water & Daventry CP :: 08 April 2017

Wanted to catch up with the black-necked grebes so I decided to have a go at Draycote Water. Charlotte had been struggling to get her walking distance up so joined me for an early start. SkylarkFrom photographs earlier in the week the birds had been spotted from Rainbow Corner, round Draycote Bank to the valve tower. Chiffchaff were quite vocal and showed high in trees. Large numbers of great crested grebe on the water but no sign of BN.

Bumped into Helen and Gerry on the way out. On the return we spotted a pair of red-legged partridge in a field adjoining the park. Joining them were three skylark, chasing one another around a foot off the ground, occasionally stalling and dropping into the vegetation. 3.2 miles, a nice walk, met friends, but no BNGs. Consoled ourselves with a hot chocolate and coffee at the Visitors Centre.

Reports of another BN grebe at Daventry CP so we decided to make for there. TreecreeperParked up and started an anticlockwise circuit. Good views of long-tailed tit, chiffchaff, blackcap and treecreeper but no BN grebe. It appears that it was not visible from the path but was near the dam (SW corner) along with RN grebe. Time was short so didn't backtrack to find it (5.8 miles in total for Charlotte).

Sightings at Draycote (26) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, coot, cormorant, dunnock, gadwall, great crested grebe, jackdaw, magpie, mallard, red-legged partridge, reed bunting, robin, rook, skylark, tufted duck and woodpigeon.

Sightings at Daventry CP (24) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blackcap, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, common tern, coot, cormorant, great crested grebe, great tit, greylag goose, herring gull, jackdaw, lesser black-backed gull, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, mute swan, robin, treecreeper, tufted duck, woodpigeon and wren.