Sunday, 17 June 2018

Rutland Water :: 16 June 2018

I looked at sightings reports from Friday and didn't see anything close. I decided to make a day of it and go further afield, specifically to catch up with the ospreys at Rutland Water.

The drive up was steady but on the slow side, so I didn't arrive until 11.15am. OspreyThe car park was quiet and I bought my entry ticket from the Lyndon Bay Visitor Centre, dropped the parking permit onto the dashboard and set off.

The feeders from the centre were covered with young starlings and they continued to the star species as I reached the first corner. Here everything changed and the farm fields to the right attracted a different cast - whitethroat sang from the bushes and the wires overhead. I dropped into the Deepwater Hide but there was nothing to see, other than the enticing view of the osprey nest pole to the far left, in Manton Bay.

As I reached an area with trees on both sides, chiffchaff started to call. OspreyQuite good views of one, but with the bright sky behind the bird was in silhouette in the photos. I pushed on to the Waderscrape Hide seeing more and more butterflies as I progressed - predominantly speckled wood.

I got to the hide and virtually all the seating was taken - I picked out one of the remaining spaces at the furthest end from the nest pole; so distant that the extra few feet were not going to be much of an issue. In the nest were the female and the two chicks. On a pole to the left was the male, eating rather a large trout. As I watched, one of the chicks stood up and started flapping its wings - what a size the chicks are Great-crested grebe(almost as big as mum).

Sedge warblers sang from the rushes out in front of the hide. Sand martins, house martins and swallows covered the water and reeds. Large flocks of greylag geese floated around, in no hurry to go anywhere.

I remember my last visit to Rutland Water and how I thought that the Shallow Water hide gave as good views, so I headed off there. Only one person in residence when I arrived - tooled up for photos with a huge 800mm lens. He passed on that the male had finished with the fish and headed into the tree behind. He had been in the hide since 08.30am and at 10.30am had watched as the Little egretmale fished in the channel between the nest pole and our hide. Unfortunately this didn't happen again while I was there.

Sand martins landed on the small barbed-wire fencing that went out into he water, as did a pair of common terns. Greylag geese got a bit rowdy as did some little egrets - there were up to 7 egrets visible from the hide at one time. A beautiful pair of great-crested grebe fished close to the hide, in the grassy weed protruding from the water, while common terns dropped into the water to our right.

The male osprey had a few circuits of the tree, landed on the camera post and returned to the nest - Whitethroatall repeated several times. Unfortunately this was to be as close as I got to the bird. Great to see but no luck with a close view or a fishing sortie.

Sightings (37) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, common tern, coot, cormorant, goldfinch, great crested grebe, grey heron, greylag goose, house martin, jackdaw, kestrel, lapwing, little egret, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, osprey, red kite, reed bunting, robin, sand martin, sedge warbler, starling, stock dove, swallow, swift, tufted duck, whitethroat and woodpigeon.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

RSPB Otmoor :: 11 June 2018

The June meeting of the Banbury Ornithological Society was an outdoor meeting at the RSPB Otmoor Reserve. This visit followed a talk in January, by David Wilding of the RSPB, who gave us an insight into the range of tasks and activities that take place on the reserve throughout the year in order to maintain suitable habitat not only for birds but also other wildlife.

The early start time of 6.45pm was to maximise the time spent at the reserve. As it happened quite a few people were already there when I pitched up at just after 6.15pm. As we approached the official meet time numbers had swelled and there was as big turnout as when we have indoor events. We were bathed in glorious sunshine - well organised!

Mike Pollard gave a short introduction to the visit and the reserve, telling us the reserve was established in 1997 and restored large areas of marshland. The reserve is now about 1,000 acres (405 hectares). WhitethroatAs he spoke we could hear the turtle dove purring from the Roman Road and cuckoo from somewhere over the car park field.

We set off and saw reed bunting and whitethroats on the wires overhead. I had a nice chat to Jo and Colin Morgan as we walked. About halfway down to the bridleway we could see garden warbler in the trees to the right; we stopped to listen to a calling cuckoo but as people ahead moved on I picked out the cuckoo in the top of a tree, largely obscured by a branch - I gathered a few ahead and scopes were trained on the bird as it stayed for a good while.

SnipeOn reaching the bridleway, we saw chaffinch feeding on the ground by the pens and snipe drumming high above. Stock dove, skylark and little egret flew across while we were serenaded by reed, sedge and cetti's warblers - unfortunately I didn't see either of the latter two. Apparently a curlew had also been seen.

A few made it to the kissing gate before the masses and headed out towards the first screen; they were afforded views of a bittern out on a feeding flight. I'm annoyed I missed that! Overhead we had more snipe drumming, all the way round to the first screen. The usual suspects from here (on the water) with the late addition of two marsh harrier, but no bittern. Sunset on Otmoor

More drumming snipe and cetti's / reed warblers on the walk back to the bridleway - a real feeling of summer about the evening. I fell back, hoping to get a better view of reed or cetti's warbler but wasn't in luck. I caught up with Jo and Colin as they paused having a drink from their flask, sitting on a bench. We chatted some more and then worked our way back to the car, stopping to see a distant hobby and listening to grasshopper warbler.

You couldn't have asked for a better evening to visit - just a shame a few of the species were only heard, not seen, and that I missed the bittern ...

Sightings (40) were: black-headed gull, blackbird, blackcap, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, common tern, coot, cormorant, cuckoo, dunnock, gadwall, garden warbler, goldfinch, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, hobby, lapwing, linnet, little egret, magpie, mallard, marsh harrier, mute swan, red kite, reed bunting, reed warbler, shoveler, skylark, snipe, starling, stock dove, swallow, swift, tufted duck, whitethroat, woodpigeon and wren.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

WkWT Brandon Marsh :: 02 June 2018

Last day before I head off to Venice to deliver some training, and Charlotte suggested we go further afield to see some birds. We decided just to stay in our normal range and opted for a visit to WkWT Brandon Marsh - we haven't been for a while and Charlotte does like the tearoom!

ChiffchaffWe arrived just after 10.00am and went out between grebe and swallow pools and then through New Hares Covert. We soon picked up lesser and common whitethroat, chiffchaff, garden and willow warbler.

Overlooking Newlands Reedbed we could hear and see sedge and reed warbler darting around. After a short sit-down Charlotte announced she was going to head round to the Wright hide; almost as soon as she'd gone, a pair of cuckoos appeared in the distance, chasing each other around a dead tree. This was to the first of a few encounters during the day.

CuckooFrom the Wright hide we spotted little ringed plover and ringed plover [#127]. We could hear cuckoo calling but didn't see them. We opted for an early lunch and from the tearoom saw great spotted woodpecker and nuthatch.

Back on the reserve we walked round to the Jon Baldwin hide and were lucky enough to see a kingfisher dart across in front of us. In the trees looking back past the Wright hide, we saw a cuckoo who hung around for quite a while.

From the East Marsh hide we saw a fleeting glimpse of a jay on the opposite bank and two redshank with a Grey heronsingle chick - the adults appeared quite mobile and the chick ran back into cover as they left.

Onto the Carlton hide and as we reached halfway there another cuckoo sighting on a sea tree stump - I had to climb through the trees to get any view at all. From Carlton we saw cuckoos in a couple of other trees and then a heron catching a tench and watched in swallow it down.

Final stop was the Ted Jury hide and there we were treated with views of male and female cuckoos, plus hobby in the air and in trees. Some good photos from one of the other birders in the hide - a real treat to Hobbyfinish the day.

As we left the hide a cuckoo dropped into a tree ahead. They appeared to be phenomenally active all day - they are perhaps getting ready for the off back to Africa?

Sightings (51) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chiffchaff, common tern, coot, cormorant, cuckoo, dunnock, gadwall, garden warbler, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, greenfinch, grey heron, hobby, jackdaw, kestrel, kingfisher, lapwing, lesser black-backed gull, lesser whitethroat, linnet, little Cuckooringed plover, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, nuthatch, oystercatcher, pied wagtail, redshank, reed bunting, reed warbler, ringed plover, robin, rock dove / feral pigeon, sand martin, sedge warbler, shoveler, stock dove, swallow, tufted duck, whitethroat, willow warbler, woodpigeon and wren.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Grimsbury Reservoir :: 01 June 2018

It has been a really busy week and I even had to work through Sunday to make up for the office being shut on Monday. The rest of the week has been 6.20am starts in the office and some late finishes. This work thing really does get in the way.

At just after 10.00am my phone pinged to let me know that I had a message - it appears I had a few but had been too engrossed in my work that I hadn't noticed. It was Steve on the WhatsApp Group saying that the pied flycatcher was still showing at Grimsbury Reservoir ... you've got to be joking! I'd missed earlier posts from @987jonty and Mark. I dropped everything and jumped in the car.

Service is improving and @987jonty had even provided a location map of where he had seen it. As I turned the corner my heart sank as I couldn't see any birders about - I needn't have worried as I soon found some on the riverbank - including Steve and Colin. They pointed across the river and there it was a male pied flycatcher [#126] and a lifer! It wasn't long and Mark turned up too.

The bird was showing really really well and it hurt not to have my camera with me. I stayed for a short while but had to get back to the office. As Charlotte was on holiday I called her and asked whether she'd mind dropping my camera off next time she was out.

Pied FlycatcherA note that the bird was still there at 11.30am and I now had a camera ... Mark was still there when I arrived but the bird was gone. Saw and thanked @987jonty for sharing (again) - @grimsbury_birds had got up too and seen it too.

My only photo (on my phone) was extra poor and Mark suggested that it could be a shuttlecock in the photo and not the bird - he could be right, it is that bad.

Thanks to @987jonty for sharing this one with me, in order that you can see what I saw.

While waiting, we had treecreeper on the opposite bank and a sparrowhawk over.