Saturday, 29 July 2017

Farmoor Reservoir :: 29 July 2017

Decided to visit Farmoor Reservoir and see if I could catch up with the ruddy shelduck. A bacon butty set me up for the morning - Charlotte and I were on site by 9.20am. By the cafe we started with two Egyptian geese, coot and mallard. Which way to go? We couldn't see any birders around so opted to take the causeway first and hope to bump into someone.

Common term were fishing left to F2 and no long after we set off, a hooter sounded and around a dozen boats carrying two fishermen each steamed out. That might make some of the birds mobile.

Soon a turnstone could be seen on the left wall - Turnstonegot a couple of photos before it hopped down onto the waters edge. As it did so, I saw another bird run ahead of it; it turned out to be a sanderling [#143]. I spent a bit of time following the sanderling up the causeway while Charlotte checked out the hide. Eventually the sanderling flew back passed me, and I doubled back. I then had sanderling, turnstone, common sandpiper and dunlin.

Just as we approached the end of the causeway we chatted to an birder who had caught us up and when I asked about the shelduck he suggested it might not be there as it hadn't appeared in the early morning reports; if it was there he suggested it would be on F1. We then had common tern land on a buoy right.

We dropped down to the Pinkhill Reserve only to find that, Sanderlingdue to antisocial behaviour, the hide was locked. Bugger. We did enjoy the walk and sight of large quantise of quince fallen on the paths. We returned back onto the perimeter path and quickly checked round F1 - no obvious sighting of the shelduck and so opted to complete the circuit round F2.

Passed a couple of (juvenile?) female red-crested pochard and stopped to watch a fisherman land a sizeable rainbow trout. As it was netted we talked with a birding couple passing in the opposite direction - the shelduck was indeed on F2 and not far ahead. Close views of the ruddy shelduck [#144] allowed some decent photo opportunities.

Not far left we had a hobby high right then some Ruddy shelduckjuvenile willow warbler in the trees. Another, or one of the previous Egyptian geese was feeding on the grass with a group of greylag geese.

We then decided to have a coffee in the cafe before heading home.

Today's sightings (35) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, buzzard, carrion crow, common sandpiper, common tern, coot, cormorant, dunlin, Egyptian goose, great black-backed gull, great crested grebe, great tit, greylag goose, hobby, house martin, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, mute swan, pied wagtail, red-crested pochard, robin, ruddy shelduck, sand martin, sanderling, starling, swallow, swift, tufted duck, turnstone, willow warbler, woodpigeon and yellow-legged gull.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

BOS Bicester Wetland Reserve :: 23 July 2017

Got in touch with the BOS Warden for the Bicester Wetland Reserve and he offered to show me round this morning. A good result, other than meeting at 8.30am - this week's lie in gone :-)

Disturbance to the reserve is kept to a minimum by viewing from hide or screen. Bicester Wetland Reserve is managed by the BOS on behalf of Thames Water. This is a member-only site due to the hazardous nature of the site, heavy moving equipment and hazardous areas. Created in 1999, Bicester Wetland Reserve was the result of an agreement between the BOS and Thames Water. The 7ha site was previously used for the disposal of sewage sludge from the nearby sewage treatment works. Channels and scrapes were excavated with supporting bunds and water control mechanisms.

Arrived on the dot and met Alan Peters at the foot of the Tower Hide. Reed warblerWe climbed the steps and he explained how the key system worked. We watched as 7 green sandpiper fed at a distance. We had a fly-by from a kingfisher and then Alan spotted a snipe wading from an island to the bank.

Alan then took me across a stile and onto the rest of the reserve. We passed a swallow nesting tower which has, as yet, not been used. A number of goldfinch, dunnock and whitethroat flew ahead of us and onto the left fencing as we went.

We reached a field with a kestrel nest box on the left and crossed to a new gate and fence, running alongside the train tracks. Alan explained that they are going to plant a large number of whips along this boundary to replace hedging removed when the train line improvements were done - this should provide a screened access to the new hide at the end of the field.

A pheasant briefly caused some excitement. Green sandpiperThe farmer, who grazes 8 cattle in the field for management purposes, joined us in the hide for 5 minutes or so and chatted about the little owls seen along the far hedge. Alan was running a tight schedule so we left and returned to the cars. We drove to the gate where I was instructed on the padlock system used. Alan then left and I returned to the Tower Hide for half an hour. Had good sights of wren, reed warbler, blue and great tits plus a noisy arrival from a dozen canada geese.

A pleasant first visit and now that I have a key, I'll be back.

Sightings (22) were: blackbird, blue tit, carrion crow, dunnock, goldfinch, great tit, green sandpiper, grey heron, house martin, kingfisher, little egret, magpie, mallard, moorhen, pheasant, reed warbler, robin, snipe, tufted duck, whitethroat, woodpigeon and wren.

WkWT Brandon Marsh :: 22 July 2017

Dropped into WkWT Brandon Marsh again to see if I could get a longer and better view of the green sandpiper. Not starting so early this week and so Charlotte came along too. Arrived before the Visitor Centre opened and so walk round the back and off round Grebe Pool. Suspected I saw a pair of garden warblers playing in the bushes but through substantial foliage - later confirmed from my photos. As we got into New Hares Covert we stopped and individually saw treecreeper and buzzard. As we exited onto Swallow Pool we were entertained by a whitethroat. At this point Charlotte had something in her boot and so we pushed on to the Wright Hide. From here we could see a couple of sand martins being fed by parents in the nest wall. Many more lapwing to be seen too.

Considering the time of day, the butterflies were out in number. There has been a noticeable emergence of gatekeeper. Also enjoyed the meadow brown, small tortoiseshell, red admiral, comma and various whites plus a male banded demoiselle.

Comma butterflyGatekeeper butterfly


We decided to turn back to the Visitor Centre for a coffee and while there had good views of many fledgling blue and great tits. We also had greenfinch and great spotted woodpecker.

Great spotted woodpecker

Knowing that the rain would come at sometime before lunch we pushed on and stopped in the Teal Hide; from here we could see three green sandpipers. Mission accomplished. Charlotte then spotted a hobby hunting for dragonflies over the seedbed in the distance.

Nothing additional to be seen in the Green sandpiperEast Marsh Hide we stopped to look in the Carlton Hide - nothing at all ... to reward our patience a reed warbler showed briefly. Finally into the Ted Jury Hide but again pretty devoid of any views. Shame ... I think I'll wait for a new arrival before visiting again.

Sightings (39) included: blackbird, blue tit, bullfinch, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, common tern, coot, dunnock, garden warbler, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, green sandpiper, green woodpecker, greenfinch, hobby, jackdaw, lapwing, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, oystercatcher, pied wagtail, reed bunting, reed warbler, robin, rock dove / feral pigeon, sand martin, sedge warbler, song thrush, swallow, treecreeper, whitethroat, woodpigeon and wren.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

WkWT Brandon Marsh :: 15 July 2017

Rain was forecast and so I opted for an early start and hopefully beat the rain. Reports of a green sandpiper at WkWT Brandon Marsh suggested this was the place for today. Due to the early start I was unfortunately on my own. A couple of spots on th windshield as I left Banbury headed for Southam - would the rain get here earlier than forecast?

Arrived on the reserve for just before 8.00am and still dry. Made my way down to Teal and East Marsh Pools where the sandpiper had been reported in the last few days - also reported on River Pool. Saw a juvenile green woodpecker land in a tree, calling loudly as I watched. Green sandpiperNo sign on Teal Poole so crossed to the East Marsh Pool - one person already there and as I sat down I asked whether he had seen the green sand ... he had, just a few minutes before - hopeful!

In about five minutes the green sandpiper [142] appeared on the right side of the island directly in front of the hide - result. Satisfied that today's objective had already been achieved (only 8.15am) I continued watch, picking up sedge and reed warbler, redshank, both male and female blackcap and three little ringed plover.

At around 9.45am I though I would pack up and head back but before I could, the rain started to fall. I spent a good 45 minutes watching and enjoying the Dunnockview but unable to return without getting a little wet. As the rain stopped I made my exit and was back to the car before 11.00am.

Sightings (31) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, carrion crow, chaffinch, common tern, coot, cormorant, dunnock, gadwall, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, green sandpiper, green woodpecker, grey heron, lapwing, little egret, little ringed plover, magpie, mallard, moorhen, redshank, reed warbler, robin, sedge warbler, swallow, teal, tufted duck, woodpigeon and wren.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Great Tew :: 10 July 2017

Another Outdoor Meeting for the Banbury Ornithological Society. We met in Great Tew at the free car park on the left as you enter the village. Some of the planned route passed by the site of the Cornbury Festival; they were still clearing up from the festival and so it was suggested we take a short route out and return the same way, only in reverse.

About 20 people walked and I talked for some of the way with Jo Morgan, one of Charlotte's work colleagues. Quite a few hirundines in the sky and an odd view of a song thrush on a ledge of a stone built house - I'd have expected it to be spooked by our presence but it presumably thought it was camouflaged (it nearly was).

A dozen or so swallows sat on a fence while we saw red kite and buzzard overhead. We were warned to listen out for marsh tit as we started and fortunately we saw one [141] in an area of brambles. While watching we also saw a treecreeper.

Long-tailed tits fed in numbers along one path while little grebe fished in the waters of a pond.

On the return we caught sight of a jay flying off having listened to it calling from a nearby tree.

I'll try to come back here to see if I can find any of the goldcrest supposedly present, but not seen on this occasion.

Sightings (19) included: blackbird, buzzard, collared dove, dunnock, goldfinch, great tit, grey wagtail, house martin, jay, little grebe, long-tailed tit, mallard, marsh tit, red kite, song thrush, swallow, treecreeper, tufted duck and woodpigeon.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Rutland Water :: 8 July 2017

It has been about 25 years since I last visited Rutland Water. Last time was with a group of friends and we cycled around the perimeter of the site - around 23 miles if I remember correctly.

I'd seen that the final osprey chick in Manton Bay had fledged so dropped in to have a look. Another warm and sunny day. Unfortunately Charlotte didn't feel up to joining me this time and so I was just on my own.

The osprey nest in Manton Bay has been in use since 2007. OspreyThe first birds to breed on it were translocated male, 08(97), and Rutland-fledged female, 5N(04). 08(97) was one of the first ospreys to be translocated to Rutland Water, in 1997.

Paid up for parking and headed out along the path to the Waterscrape Hide. I wanted to make sure I caught up with my target bird so Manton Bay was a must. Met a nice couple of volunteers in the hide - the chap had been a metallurgist / microscopist and was from Scotland. Now retired, he and his wife had been volunteering on the osprey project since 2005.

I still find it comical watching cormorants roosting in trees - OspreyI think more so with larger numbers, around 12 in each of two dead trees.

Not difficult to spot the ospreys [139] were across the bay, flitting between the cross pole and the nest - female (2AN) and male (2AM). A heat haze made it difficult to get photos at this distance. Right in front of the hide a pair of sedge warblers played silently. Three Egyptian geese [140] cruised past, again at some distance - another year tick. Spotted a water vole cross the water directly in front but too fast for a photo.

I decided to drop into the Shallow Water hide as it might afford a different perspective on the ospreys - in some ways it is better. From here the birds got closer with pied wagtail, little egret, Little egretcommon tern, mallard and black-headed gulls all parading by - the pied wagtails were busy feeding their young with the abundance of flies.

Shame Charlotte wasn't here but I won't leave it so long between visits

Sightings today (38) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, buzzard, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, common tern, coot, cormorant, dunnock, egyptian goose, gadwall, goldfinch, great crested grebe, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, house martin, lapwing, little egret, little grebe, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, osprey, oystercatcher, pied wagtail, redshank, reed bunting, sedge warbler, swallow, swift, tree sparrow, whitethroat, woodpigeon and wren.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

East Leake Quarry :: 01 July 2017

We joined the increasing number of birdwatchers rushing to a quarry to catch a glimpse of seven bee-eaters usually seen in southern Europe. Bee-eaterThe bee-eaters, rare visitors to the UK, were spotted at the Cemex quarry, in East Leake, Nottinghamshire. The RSPB said the birds have been seen mating and it may be likely they will nest at the site. One of the few positives of climate change? People obviously know I am interested and started sending me emails on Friday - Difficult to turn up the opportunity.

Arriving at site we could see the RSPB organisation in full flow with a field given over as a car park. Even at this hour there were at least 50 cars parked up. The RSPB staff asked if we needed directions but it was obvious where we had to go ... just follow the line of people heading out or returning to the car park.

Small groups stopped at various points along the path, scopes and cameras pointed at a large tree. We decided not to stop at any of these and walked to the very end of the path - this position afforded the best views as the resting beaches were clear of the foliage.

We spent an hour of so being entertained by the bee-eaters, watching through the scope. Amazing how you get drawn into a single species and hardly notice the sand and house martins buzzing close overhead and virtually through the crowd.

The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust had a stand at the best vantage point - it works in partnership with minerals firm Cemex - they said it was the first record of the species in the county since 1970.

Neal Trust Reserve :: 12 June 2017

Phil Douthwaite guided us round the newest, BOS manged Nature Reserve – The Neal Trust Reserve There is parking just off the Fosse Way B4455 just outside the BOS. SP293512.

A substantial group headed down the track to the wooded area and listened to an informative introduction from Phil. We didn't go through the wooded area but instead turned left and round. Not far ahead we crossed a brook where we had a flypast from a kingfisher.

The meadows provided for a range of butterflies and flowers - it was helpful having a few Orchidist along with us. Hemlock stood two meters high as we passed through the fringe of woodland.

We passed a barn, introduced as the most expensive bird box in Warwickshire. As we approached some people saw a barn owl exit, stage right ... unfortunately not a disappointed me. However, just minutes later we were afforded views of a bard owl hunting across the edges of fields on the other side of the dip.

A beautiful walk and one well worth remembering for butterfly watching.

Sightings (20) included: barn owl, blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, buzzard, carrion crow, chiffchaff, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker, jackdaw, kestrel, kingfisher, long-tailed tit, magpie, rook, song thrush, swallow, swift, woodpigeon and wren.