Monday, June 02, 2008

1-9 June 2008 Wildlife Sightings blog

Still places on the rare breeding birds day out 21 June, see news for details.
8-9 June 2008 Time out from birding with my latest highlight being Blue-tailed Damselfly in the garden on 8th. A first for my home patch. I have been encouraged to rest at home after taking a 60mph cricket ball in the head, much to the amusement of friends. Once again I apologise for my appearance to those that attended the Nightjar evening! I will not be at work until 17th June so I wil be an unlikely source of information until then. Keep checking the WWT site as there may well be a good bird during this period.
7 June 2008 An evening visit to the Forest of Dean for a special Nightjar evening. This proved to be succesful, a quick look at Woorgreens and 5 singing Willow Warbler, a singing Garden Warbler and Mandarin with 4 ducklings were highlights. In place for our nocturnal target and Nightjar began churring at 2145, a short burst. Another longer chur was from the top of a fir with the cuwick call and a close flyover our heads. Further cuwick calls were heard on four occasions and long spells of churring from quite close to the track. A male was silouetted against atop a tree as it churred. We got to a closer posistion but the light had gone, further churring and wing clapping was heard topping off a good all round performance from these special birds. A total of twelve fly by or fly over sightings of Woodcock was made including very close views overhead. Both calls were heard clearly. Bats were much in evidence as were biting insects. Tawny Owls were heard in the woods. A great evening, perfect for searching out the forest night birds.
3-6 June 2008 Very little birding.
Male Red-footed Falcon MJM
2 June 2008 Still lots of small waders on the Severn, see the WWT website for details. I also had a first summer Mediterranean Gull fly N along the foreshore calling as it went and the second summer Ring-billed Gull. Two male Hairy Dragonfly were territorial in the WWT 100 Acre, at least 5 Black-tailed Skimmer, 5 Four-spot Chaser and lots of mating Azure, Common Blue, Large Red and Blue tailed Damselflies. Later in the day I could not resist going for a lovely male Red-footed Falcon near Fairford, it is a stunning bird and I have not seen this species in Glos for 19 years!. The last two were also in the Cotswold Water Park.

A nice find for Gareth Harris but the bird is resting in a private area. I see the news is on the pagers/infolines. It can be viewed from the rather narrow and potentially dangerous road with closer views from the Wiltshire side of the river. On no account enter the fields unless it is along the public right of way on the Wilts side and park sensibly, do not compromise the goodwill of the landowners/locals and Gareth's relationship with these conservation minded people.

1 June 2008 Still lots of small waders in the estuary.
Below, Sanderling (every stage of spring moult), Red Knot and Dunlin.

Friday, May 02, 2008

1-31 May Birding/wildlife sightings

Black-naped Oriole? at Whelford
Gloster Birders seeing the funny side of a 0430 start but what a glorious morning!

31 May 2008 Out at 0430 with Neil Smart, Mike King and Rich Baatsen to try to locate a reported Golden Oriole near Fairford. It did not take much effort I spotted it from the car and it turned out to be a Black-naped Oriole (unless we have overlooked another type), stunning, lovely song, very much like GO but not a vagrant, a cage jumper. Thanks tothe finder as she did very well to get the news out and share the sighting. We used the rest of the morning wisely seeing Barn Owl and best of all Grey Partridge plus many other Cotswold birds. A list of the birds are on the Gloster Birder website. It was worth going to see the look on Mikes face when he noticed the extra black markings. We also investigated a report of Purple Heron but did not relocate it, an English Longhorn Bull was a bonus. In the afternoon I headed to the FoD to try to stake out some warblers for the forthcoming id day next Saturday, highlights included a Crossbill, Garden Warbler, two very grey breeding Willow Warblers and while trying to locate a teneral dragonfly (black/yellow) along a Woorgreens forest ride at magnificent Goshawk only 20 ft away on a Woodpigeon kill, to see it twisting thtough the larches was a treat but I was more dissapointed about not being able to find the dragonfly!

30 May 2008 Absolutely no birding today as it was a family day out, I did however did manage to see/hear in waht was collectively 20 minutes a Quail and Corn Bunting near Hawling, a pair of Grey Wagtail collecting food Bourton O T Water, Red Kite soaring over Bibury, Hobby at Sherborne Water Meadows and Downy Emerald at Whelford Pools. Very nice to be in the Cotswolds and the R. Windrush is stunning. When I got home I was called about a huge flock of Sanderling (211) off Middle Point WWT and a Spoonbill was seen on the Dumbles pool. Whilst looking from the N end of the reserve and chatting to Lawrence Skipp I picked it up flying in from the S over the 100 Acre and past us to Saul Warth.

29 May 2008 Much of the same at WWT, see the website for details.

Above and below, Second-summer Ring-billed Gull WWT Slimbridge MJM

Ruddy Turnstone (one was in full breeding with a white head but this will do)

28 May 2008 A day of heavy rain which is causing havoc among our breeding waders, nests are being flooded out and it is a very sad situation to see. I did not do any birding during the morning but bumped into LPA (Pete Alder) who had had a good morning with 19 Black Tern, 3 Arctic Tern and 20 and 4 Common Tern. Later in the day I investigated a couple of gulls, one of which looked interesting, it turned out to be a second-summer Ring-billed Gull. There are still a lot of waders in the estuary, 280 Ringed Plover, 200 Dunlin, 90 Sanderling, 4 Turnstone, 9 Grey Plover, 13 Curlew and I also saw a Black Tern plus 20 Common Tern and a possible Arctic, I called in at Townfield Lake to check for Black Terns but only 1 Common and 1 Sand Martin among 250 Swift and 350 House Martin. I then checked on the breeding waders at Splatt and found one of the Lapwing sitting in water, the levels are still rising but this bird was determined not to abandon so I moved the nest, built up the ground and replaced it. They had retuned t the new site ten minutes later, I hope the eggs were not chilled through being immersed. Nearby on the estuary I saw 1 Black Tern, 26 Common Tern and 1 Arctic Tern. I almost forgot the Short-eared Owl hunting Middle Point at lunchtime!

27 May 2008 I was still seeing a lot of small waders in the estuary, 210 Ringed Plover, 45 Sanderling, 120 Dunlin, 2 Turnstone, 5 Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Grey Plover. I saw a Black Tern on the estuary and relocated it later on Townfield Lake.

Bar-tailed Godwit, R. Severn 26 May 2008 MJM

26 May 2008 More waders on the estuary for me today, 5 Grey Plover, 5 Red Knot, 40 Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, 100 Ringed Plover, 9 Curlew, 70 Dunlin. The Long-eared Owl was re-discovered along the summer walkway and roosted all day atop a fencepost trying to shelter from the atrocious weather. I did see at least one Cattle Egret on the 50 Acre/Bull Ground hedge.

25 May 2008 I saw a selection of waders on the estuary today, 8 Turnstone, 126 Ringed Plover, 76 Dunlin, 30 Sanderling, 1 Greenshank, 5 Red Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Short-eared Owl along the foreshore.

24 May 2008 As I was with Mike King this morning the hour or so spent on the estuary is better summed up on the Gloster Birder. Late afternooon was spent wandering around Woorgreens, Forest of Dean where I saw 5 Crossbill, 1 Siskin, 1 singing Wood Warbler, 1 singing Redstart and a few Willow Warblers, the windy conditions were very difficult for singing birds and for seeing them. In sheltered areas I saw a male Broad-bodied Chaser and 14 newly emerged individuals around the rides/tracks S of the pool. At least 20 Four-spot Chaser were also on the wing here with more reported N of the pool. I also noted c10 Large Red and a few Azure Damselflies.

Broad-bodied Chaser, Woorgreens, Forest of Dean 24 May 2008 MJM

Sanderling on the Severn 23 May 2008 MJM

Scarce Chaser, River Severn near Tewkesbury MJM 23 May 2008
Club-tailed Dragonfly same site/date as above MJM

23 May 2008 I went out to the Severn for a early morning walk, an intermediate phase Arctic Skua flew in at 0715, attempted to settle but the gulls drove it off, it headed NE into the misty gloom. A flock of 67 small waders held mostly Ringed Plover, later over high tide I noted 15 Sanderling 28 Ringed Plover and 6 Dunlin. 2 Red Knot were flying around. At Saul Warth a Four-spot Chaser and Blue-tailed Damselflies were on the wing by 1000 am, this made me head to North Gloucestershire on the R.Severn where thanks to Ingrid and Colin TwisselI I located my first 3 Club-tailed Dragonfly and 8 Scarce Chaser. 100,s of Blue tailed and Azure Damselfies were joined by 30 Large Red Damselfies, 30 Large Red, Common Blues and tens of Banded and Beautiful Demoiselles'. A quick afternoon search on local ponds and I saw my 6th Kingfisher of the day. I have found a new nest site locally and they are feeding young. I clocked one flying alongside my car this am and it was averaging 33mph.

22 May 2008 A good WWT 100 Acre lunchhour dragonfly search resulted in my first Large Red Eyed Damselflies of the year, c20 from viewing area plus c300 Azure, c100 Large Red, 300 Blue-tailed and c20 Common Blue Damselflies. A female Hairy Dragonfly was laying eggs but best of all was the first Scarce Chaser for the reserve near the 5 bar gate (viewing area). 2 Hobbies and 6 Common Tern were also present. The morning round fell to me and a Greenshank and single Black-tailed Godwit were seen, full list on the WWT website.

Whinchat WWT 100 Acre 19 May 2008 MJM

Dunlin, WWT Holden Tower/Dumbles Pool 20 May 2008 MJM
Wood Sandpiper, Saul Warth 21 May 2008 MJM

21 May 2008 A breeding wader survey of Saul Warth and the rest of the day looking after my chicken pox suffering daughter. A Wood Sandpiper was nice, 3 Dunlin and 12 Ringed Plover were on the estuary but the breeding wader situation is looking poor, only 4 pairs of incubating Lapwing and no territorial Redshank.

20 May 2008 Hardly any birding before, after or during work, best was a Greenshank, 2 Dunlin and the Dark-bellied Brent on the Holden Tower pool.

19 May 2008 A long list of today's birds on the WWT website, my personal highlight was seeing my first Whinchat (a female) of the year on a 100 Acre fence.

18 May 2008 Another look at the Severn's waders this morning, a few have departed but many were still present. 2 Knot, 70 Sanderling, 1 Greenshank, 2 Little Stint were among the Dunlin/Ringed Plover. I had a flock of 44 Sanderling whilst on the safari, other species noted around WWT/Severn estuary included 4 Greenshank, 2 Grey Plover, 2 more Knot and a Bar-tailed Godwit. A drake Garganey was on the Top New piece and a pair were present on the N part of the reserve. Lapwing have hatched chicks here also and Shelduck has 8 ducklings in the Decoy. At least 3 Hobby fed over the 100 Acre and c10 Four-spotted Chaser dragonflies were on the wing with four damselfly species. Yellow Wagtail are still on territory.

Red Knot on the Severn MJM

Tawny Owlet WWT Slimbridge Decoy (last week) MJM
Ringed Plover and Dunlin, R Severn MJM
Dunlin, River Severn MJM
Little Stint, R. Severn MJM

17 May 2008 I spent the period over high tide at Fretherne to hopefully sift through the large flocks of waders present yesterday, it was a good move. 170 Ringed Plover, 90 Sanderling, 2 Little Stint, 130 Dunlin, 5 Knot (two red), 2 Whimbrel, 1 Curlew, 6 Grey Plover and 4 Greenshank on the marsh were a joy to watch. On top of this lot a Sandwich Tern, 11 Arctic Tern N and c9 feeding/ranging local Common Terns made it even more enjoyable, a Great Crested Grebe was also floating out on the tide and Yellow Wagtail over/in the vicinity. In the evening 1 Common Sandpiper, 5 Greenshank, 1 Turnstone and 6 Knot were present as well as the same gang of waders.

16 May 2008 A half hour along the canal mid-morning and I spotted a Wood Sandpiper and Greenshank among the local breeding waders N of Splatt Bridge. Townfield Lake had huge numbers of House Martin and Swallow with c200 Swift and a few Sand Martin. A late afternoon/evening session at WWT and I headed to the estuary, large flocks of small waders contained many Sanderling, otherwise I did see 4 Turnstone, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Whimbrel N, 15 Curlew and a Grey Plover. On the Top New Piece a Greenshank and Common Sandpiper were present as well as male Garganey.

15 May 2008 An early start and a few more migrant s around, 1 Garganey male, a Common Sandpiper, 1 Sanderling and Little Stint early but later two flocks of c80 Waders had c15 Sanderling, the stint, a Knot, and 25 Ringed Plover, most were Dunlin. The 4 Black-tailed Godwit were on South Lake.

14 May 2008 At WWT, Tawny Owls and young were the highlight.

13 May 2008 At WWT migration has relented a little with it being much quieter now than last week. I only saw one Dunlin and 1 Greenshank to represent the migrants this morning, however the Whiskered Tern was joined by two Black Tern and this trio were just fantastic to watch on the afternoon safari, otherwise leftover pairs or possibly breeding Teal pair, Wigeon pair, 12 Shoveler (2 females), the DB Brent and 2 Cattle Egrets were the most notable birds. My first 8 Four-spotted Chaser of the year had emerged and lots more damselflies are emerging and breeding. 15-20 Hairy Dragonfly are on the wing, best viewed from the 100 Acre platform or over the stile to the new viewing area (roped off).

Garganey, South Lake, WWT Slimbridge MJM

Goldfinch MJM

12 May 2008 The Whiskered Tern was still gracing the 100 Acre. I did an afternoon Landrover safari with a good selection of birds including a Cuckoo showing well. A few Hobbies were over the 100 Acre also. Two Black-tailed Godwits were on South Lake. A pair of Yellow Wagtail are on territory also. At least six male and a female Hairy Dragonfly were on the wing between the 100 Acre viewing platform and the first pool to the N. Again large emergences of damselflies have occurred, at least 4 Azure Damselfly noted at the South Finger reedbed/extension area plus 50+ Blue-tailed and Commons, 20 Large Red, many mating laying eggs. At the 100 Acre egg laying Large Reds and mating Common Blues plus 100's of Blue-tailed.

11 May 2008 Back at WWT Slimbridge and to work.. highlights were the Whiskered Tern again and 2+ Hobbies, a Little ringed Plover also on the 100 Acre, a single Black-tailed Godwit and three male Garganey at the 100 Acre, South Lake and Top New Piece. At least three male Hairy Dragonfly were on the wing 100's of Blue tailed, dozens of Large Reds and a few Common Blues including mating pairs.

10 May 2008 I stayed overnight in the Forest of Dean with my son and we had a walk around the Nagshead RSPB reserve this morning as well as a few other sites. All the usual species were present but the Wood Warblers were great as well as at least 6 Pied Flycatcher. A Cuckoo was calling at Viney Hill and we had a pair of Tawny Owl and Ravens also. On returning home I was called by Dave Paynter to say he had a Whiskered Tern in the 100 Acre. This is a bird species I have always wanted to see here ever since we/WWT created the habitat over 17 years ago and seeing as I was on Lundy for the last one in Gloucestershire it made it all the more special. Dave is making a habit of finding May rares on Saturdays and was accompanied by Graham Maples for the find, we were looking all week for this species as there has been so many in our region this spring, a great find. A first-summer Little Gull as also present and Hobby and a few Hairy Dragonflies. Late afternoon I took my son to the Frampton Sailing Club event where he skillfully skippered a sailing boat while I got amazing views of 13 Common Tern (assumed as not all studied) and we heard Cuckoo.

Whiskered Tern at WWT Slimbridge 100 Acre, 10 May 2008 MJM

9 May 2008 An early morning walk produced nothing more notable than a Yellow Wagtail at the 100 Acre and 4 Black Tern at Townfield Lake. A high tide visit to Middle Point and a few waders were on show which included 3+ Sanderling, 30 Dunlin, 6 Grey Plover and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit.

8 May 2008 I high tide tea-break session at Middle Point and I logged a dark-phase Arctic Skua N at c1006, a Red Kite N at c1026 and a fine selection of waders. A Temminck's Stint, 2 Little Stint, 1 Turnstone with 2 N, 4 Sanderling, a party of Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwits and Dunlin and Ringed Plover In the 100 Acre I saw the 2 Cattle Egret, 2 Black Terns and 6 Black-tailed Godwit.

Large Red Damselfly WWT 100 Acre, 7 May 2008 MJM

Black Tern WWT 100 Acre MJM

7 May 2008 I spent most of the day repairing refloating tern rafts and constructing gull platforms in the 100 Acre for the second day. I did see two Greenshank and 2 Black-tailed Godwit on the BNP but best of all was three Lapwing chicks being brooded on South Lake. On returning back to the centre along the seawall a 10 minute watch produced 1 Whimbrel, 4 Sanderling, 4 Arctic Tern and 12 Black Tern N. Going back to the 100 Acre I watched a Hobby try to take the first Hairy Dragonfly of the year c10 feet from me. I saw three Hairy Dragonfly flying strongly along the ditches, the platform was the best place to see them. Also 4 boxing Brown Hare were c20 feet from the platform. A Common Blue, Blue-tailed and ovipositing Large Red Damselflies were on the wing. After adding Cattle Egret, Hobby and Hen Harrier to the 'seen from the boat' list, I added a Black Tern that dropped in and fed, often a few feet from us. It was picking off food that we were stirring up. At Saul Warth after work a pair of Wigeon, a Greenshank and Little ringed Plover were present with 2 Common Tern over. I saw two Black-tailed Godwit in the 100 Acre which were of the nominate race limosa, not islandica, they were probably the same birds that were on the BNP earlier.

6 May 2008 The tide at WWT produced many of the same birds as the last few days. 8 Grey Plover, 6 Barwit, 2 Knot, 35 Dunlin plus 10 at the N end, 4 Sanderling, 1 Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plover and 8 Curlew, a Whimbrel was over the foreshore and two over the 100 Acre E. The Short-eared Owl was hunting the foreshore too. This afternoon 4 Buzzards went over N and a Hobby was hunting the 100 Acre, best of all was a female Hen Harrier through low N and then circled Frampton/Saul before heading off high to Whitminster at 1425-1436. A Whimbrel was cruising the A38 at Claypits...late news I saw c50 Whimbrel yesterday at the same site.

Short-eared Owl WWT Slimbridge, Middle Point MJM

5 May 2008 Another productive spell over the high tide at WWT, the Harbour Porpoise being the best thing we saw, at 0748 I picked up two dark phase Arctic Skua moving upstream low over the water, a third dropped in an joined them and they proceded N together. A Common Tern was around the breakwater and 2 Commic Tern went up but while we were watching the cetacean so we ignored them.The waders were good with Bar-tailed Godwit 6 N and 7 on saltmarsh with 2 Red Knot, 10 Grey Plover, 10 Curlew, 1 Little Stint, 30 Dunlin, 1 Whimbrel, 3 Ringed Plover N and 2 on the saltmarsh briefly and 2 Sanderling, 4 headed N earlier. I also picked a first-summer Mediterannean Gull moving N, c25 Black-headed Gull in two flocks went N, Swallows were migrating N as were c100 Herring Gull. The Short-eared Owl was also at Middle Point putting on a good show. On the Bottom New Piece a Little ringed Plover and two Greenshank fed, we had another Greenshank in the Bull Ground/50 Acre and Hobby over the 100 Acre. On safari we had a couple of Large Red Damselfly and a Blue-tailed Damselfly.

Two of the six Black Terns that fed over the WWT 100 Acre 4 May 2008 MJM
4 May 2008 What a day at WWT!...I went in early and kicked off with a 4 Common Tern, a Common Sandpiper and two Black-tailed Godwits on South Lake, a Greenshank on the Tack Piece, three Common and a Little Tern through past Middle Point at 0621 reaching Hock Ditch at 0631 where joined by a fourth Commic Tern. The waders were looking good and after a search I headed back in to collect my Birdwatch Morning group of 20. During the tide I saw breeding plumaged Curlew Sandpiper (I saw 2 take off earlier but four were present), 1 Knot, 9 Sanderling, 7 Grey Plover, 6 Turnstone, 6 Curlew, 50 Dunlin, 15 Ringed Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Whimbrel on the Dumbles but 40-50 still commuting between the reserve and inland fields all day ( a flock of 18 dropped into the Top New Piece per J Budd), but best of all was a breeding plumaged Little and Temminck's Stint among them. 3 Little Egrets, flocks of Arctic Terns 16, 4, 10 and 11 through N but I thought some Commons to also be amongst them. Transferring to the 100 Acre with the group I saw Short-eared Owl hunting/being mobbed as a drake Garganey flew past and a Black Tern also at the same time, up to six were present by midday. The Buff-breasted Sandpiper showed briefly.

Between dropping off the group/breakfast and the first landrover safari of the day I managed to see the Harbour Porpoise off the Breakwater. This was a magnificent sight as it is is my first Gloucestershire cetacean.

On returning to the 100 Acre with a safari group we eventually got some views of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper with 2 Ruff.

Other species of note during the day. 4 Sand Martin N, 20 Swift N and 100 hanging around all day, 6 Yellow Wagtail N during the day. At least 6 singing Lesser Whitethroat. Two Cuckoo (at S Finger and 100 Acre).

The Dark-bellied Brent was in the Tack Piece. In the afternoon I saw a Marsh Harrier (a lot of pale markings and extensive shoulder patches onthis bird) heading S past the Holden Tower at 1450, it dropped into the Bottom New Piece reedbed for a while and then rose up and headed toward Purton. I had to cancel the pm safari due to the now soaked fields and after a session in the hides to make sure folk were getting onto birds I headed back to the 100 Acre to see if I could relocate the Buff-breasted Sandpiper but was unsucessful. I did have a Wood Sandpiper come out of the 100 Acre calling and fly off to Saul Warth being the 21st species of wader for the reserve today. The 2 Cattle Egret were also present among the cattle and two Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Common Sandpiper and c20 Whimbrel were also on view.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper (left) with Ruff, WWT Slimbridge 100 Acre 3 May 2008 MJM
Two more images of the bird follow.

3 May 2008 Back to form... three magnificent Black Terns on Townfield Lake were eclisped by a breeding plumage Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the WWT 100 Acre. It is in the company of 2 Ruff and can be seen from the platform/gateway. This bird was a great find for my boss Dave Paynter, all the constant effort I put in and Dave, once again breezes in a turns up a good bird. He was on a Landrover safari when he initially saw it. I also saw four Yellow Wagtail near Splatt Bridge and a number of Whimbrel commuting between the estuary and inland.

Whimbrel off the WWT Slimbridge 100 Acre MJM

Guillemot (if you use your imagination) from the WWT reserve.

2 May 2008 An afternoon/early evening spell fo birding ended up being very good, 6 Dunlin on the estuary along with 7 Whimbrel that went inland and a flock of c8 along the foreshore. A Cuckoo was singing along the towpath. A breeding plumaged Guillemot was found by Jake King over the tide and was only the second I have seen in Glos. A county lifer for many it has been very popular but does not appear to be well. I saw it from the WWT reserve and got the rather poor shot of it, it hauled out but got flushed back into the water by a Brown Hare. I also saw a Common Sandpiper and an Arctic Tern was with the Common Terns at Townfield Lake.

1 May 2008 A very quiet start to May, no exciting scarce birds to report but highlights after a breeding wader survey of Saul Warth were four male and a female Garganey and at least seven singing Whitethroat. A flock of 42 Whimbrel arrived from their inland feeding foray E of the canal and rested at the mouth of Frampton Pill before heading back back inland again. These birds are going as far as Claypits and S of here along the A38. 28 singing Sedge and 34 Reed Warbler were drowning out everything else in the 100 Acre reedbed. An Arctic and 5 Common Tern were also of note at Townfield Lake at 0700.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Diary/Sightings 14-30 April 2008

Short-eared Owl WWT Slimbridge, Black Rock Breakwater 29 April 2009 MJMcGill
Eurasian Shelduck and Eurasian Shelduck x shelduck sp MJMcGill
This bird has been visiting WWT for 4 years

30 April 2008 A rather quiet end to the month, 2 Yellow Wagtail, the Ruff, a Common Sandpiper and 6 singing Lesser Whitethroats were the highlight at WWT. I had four Common Terns and a Hobby at Townfield Lake, Frampton on Severn at 1650.

29 April 2008 Apart from the Shelduck hybrid above, notable birds today included the Short-eared Owl that flew in at c0825 from the N being mobbed by gulls and landed near me, it eventually flew further S to rest in the grass at Middle Point. Two of our staff conducting an amphibian trapping and virus testing session saw it head back N mid-morning. I did hear a single Willow Warbler today and 5 Lesser Whitethroats and 5 Common Whitethroats. Even more Reed and Sedge Warbler are on site with 60+ of the former seen/heard. Two Common Sandpiper and the small female (complete with pectoral band and green legs) Ruff on South Lake. I also saw the first summer Mediterranean Gull here today. A flock of 13+ Black-tailed Godwit were also here. No waders seen on the estuary today by me, a few Curlew in flight to the N only.

28 April 2008 Most of what I saw today is on the WWT website but 6 Commic Terns N upriver at 1620 and the non-existence of Willow Warbler and less than 10 Sand Martin were notable as they have both been in very good numbers lately. At least 50 Swift were over the 100 Acre/Frampton area with LPA seeing 40 heading over the Tack Piece. The two Common Terns were still on the estuary but very few waders noted, 2 Sanderling, 3 Ringed Plover and a Grey Plover! On the wat to work a flock of c30 Whimbrel were low over fields just S of Hilltop Garage A38 at Claypits, this flock was also seen yesterday.

Dark-bellied Brent Goose and Avocet from the WWT Slimbridge Holden Tower and a Cattle Egret was in the Bull Ground 27 April 2008 MJM

27 April 2008 I had more migrants this time back at work at WWT Slimbridge, I met up with Neil Smart early and covered the rounds, it was soon apparent that a fall of acrocephalus warbler had occured. We did not cover the whole reserve but 40 singing Reed and 45 singing Sedge Warbler were logged. At least two Lesser Whitethroat were heard today. Not a single Willow Warbler was seen or heard, they as usual appeared to have moved through the reserve. Things got going when after mentioning to Neil that we really should have Avocet today he announced that there is one on the pool in front of the Holden Tower. It was with the DB Brent and also toured the 100 Acre and South Lake today and was seen at the latter site am and pm. We saw male Garganey on the Top New Piece and 100 Acre today. A single Yellow Wagtail went over N and a single Whimbrel was seen with two this afternoon. A flock of 380 Dunlin were on the estuary with a Little Stint, 10 Sanderling 4 Grey Plover and 16 Ringed Plover. News of a male Montagu's Harrier filtered through and while heading to the seawall we saw a female Goshawk fly out of the hedge and head N near Middle Point and saw the Long-eared Owl again. I set up a viewing area and the Owl showed well all day and was not disturbed at all. The harrier was found by Richard Baatsen and we all want to know why he was not at his desk doing County Recorder work and out birding on his day off! We also had three Wheatear with another seen on the Dumbles. Late in the morning we saw a normal Egyptian Goose was on the road fields. A flock of 7 Grey Heron and 2 Cattle Egret were also seen.

Nick Goatman beat me to the first Large Red Damselfly of the year in Green Lane.

26 April 2008 Another very productive morning birding session locally with 2 Tree Sparrow N, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Greenshank, 2 Wheatear, 2 Cattle Egret, 2 Cetti's Warblers (very Noah's Ark esque), 1 Common Tern, 4 Ringed Plover, 19 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover and 8 Swift, a siging Cuckoo was also heard. The sparrows were good but the 2 first-summer Little Gulls that flew in from the S and fed before heading off N again were probably the highlight. The day was spent on the roof and down the chimney with the result being a lined chimney and operational woodburner. An evening walk with the family and Neil Smart was also excellent, we logged a flock of 66 Whimbrel, 8 Black-tailed Godwit (the brightest islandica I have seen this year), a Barn Owl and singing Lesser Whitethroat and the 2 Cattle Egrets again. I also saw 20 Swift over Townfield Lake, Frampton on Severn.

25 April 2008 An hour out birding and a few birds to report. I wandered about on the canal at Frampton on Severn this morning and saw my first Swift of the year, a singing Lesser Whitethroat and breeding plumaged Spotted Redshank with spectacles (it still retains pale rings around the eyes). Even more Reed and Sedge Warbler were singing from various places not heard from so far. One of the local Common Terns was fishing over the estuary.

First summer male Pied Flycatcher WWT Slimbridge 23 April 08 MJM

Long-eared Owl WWT Slimbridge 23 April 2008 MJM

24 April 2008 More spring migrants at WWT were around but a spell in the Holden Tower was my most productive part of the day. A Whimbrel was present with a newly arrived and non-breeding plumage Bar-tailed Godwit and four Curlew, 3 Arctic Terns flew N upriver (JSL had a Sandwich Tern off Middle Point). I went out over lunch and logged 2 and 9 Whimbrel, 4 Wheatear which included 3 (2:1) Greenland types and a pair of Common Tern in the 100 Acre pools. A few Ringed Plover and Dunlin were on the Dumbles edge.

23 April 2008 Yet another good day, the weather and birds were very uplifting. I went in to work early and had at least three singing Lesser Whitethroat and two male Wheatear, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Yellow Wagtail, a Siskin, some Goldfinch, 20 Linnet and a Grey Wagtail all heading N and rather pleasingly my target bird, a male Pied Flycatcher. It was a reserve first for me and remains a scarce bird here, they are seen from time to time but we generally do not hear about them until a day or two later. It was in full song and calling and was great to watch. I was on hide round duty although due to a corporate group arriving and making preparations I only got to spend 10 minutes in the Holden Tower, it was a good ten minutes though. Two Sandwich Tern flew downriver, an Arctic Tern flew up but was joined by the Sandwich Terns again. A Great Crested Grebe was also present but Terry Grant had three, the tern trio again and the 2 Little Gulls that were at Frampton yesterday. Thanks to Terry for tipping me off as to the male Redstart along the summer walkway, Steve Owen saw it here yesterday but this and the PiedFly made WWT Slimbridge feel more like Nagshead RSPB. A Sanderling was with the Ringed Plover and Dunlin flock, the DBBrent and 3 White Wagtail joined a Common Sandpiper on the pool.The day was also memorable due to discovering that the log in the hedge that I saw out the corner of my eye turned out to be a roosting Long-eared Owl,we were going to arrange viewing for the next day but it was not present.

22 April 2008 Another productive day, before work, during lunch and after work I logged a decent list of birds, I did not get onto either the 3 Common Crane that Nick lucky Goatman had fly over his workplace at Eastington (heading S) but I did see the last one he had over a number of years back. Also Colin Butters left a note on my desk saying that he had a circling Spoonbill over the WWT car park at 1515. At WWT I saw 4:1 Pintail plus a female , 5 Whimbrel, 3 Spotted Redshank, 2 Cattle Egret, 5 Yellow Wagtail N, 13 White Wagtail on the Dumbles, male Wheatear, 2 Tree Pipit, 1 Sanderling, 50 Ringed Plover, 90 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, singing Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, 30 Willow Warbler and a male Redstart was seen but not by me. A light passage of Linnet and Goldfinch was in evidence but Bob Radford reports 100's passing Berkeley.

Around Frampton on Severn I saw 2 Little Gull and a male Ruddy Duck on Townfield Lake, Greenshank, 2 male and a female Garganey and 2 Cetti's Warbler and singing Whitethroat amongst many other birds but the highlight was seeing a flock of Curlew that have built up during the day to c67 making pre-migration fly arounds and being very vocal. I have seen this at this time of year for many years now and usually hear them flying over my house in the evening. At least 4 Whimbrel were also present.

21 April 2008 A little bit of visible migration but nothing like yesterday's mammoth bird haul. At WWT I noted at least four Yellow Wagtail over N and one on the ground, 3 White Wagtail and 2 Common Sandpiper. Two breeding plumaged Spotted Redshank were in the WWT 100 Acre and 3 Whimbrel were in the field adjacent to the canal which has South Splatt reedbed within it.
20 April 2008 Apart from 14 Sedge Warbler and 10 Reed Warbler at WWT nearly everything I saw today at work is on the WWT website, highlights being male Yellowhammer and Red Kite low over N at Midday. Click on the link for todays sightings. The Pallas's Warbler was still present today.

19 April 2008 Just a little bit of birding at Townfield Lake, Frampton on Severn where Gloucestershire's first Pallas's Warbler sang and showed well to a grateful crowd. Well done to Nick Goatman on this great find and a bit of icing on the cake for him as he does put in a lot of effort locally. A couple of Nightingale were also singing and showing with plenty of Blackcap and Willow Warbler as well.

Singing Pallas's Warbler, Frampton on Severn MJM

Blackbird singing on a cold spring morning MJM

One of nine Yellow Wagtails from Splatt Bridge gate 17 April 08 MJM
Multiple occurence of Cattle Egret, Frampton on Severn MJM

18 April 2008 I had a moring stroll locally along the canal, heading North up the estuary were 5,1,1 Swallow, 6 Ringed Plover, a few large gulls but otherwise quiet. Sedge and Reed Warbler could be heard from the Green Lane in the WWT 100 Acre but this area was also quiet, highlights being lots of Sand Martin, 5 Goldfinch N 6 Willow Warbler and a Yellow Wagtail. The two Cattle Egret that were reported in the WWT diary on Tuesday and by Bruce and Jean Pendlebury on Wed 16 April were still in the field near the telephone box at Frampton on Severn.

17 April 2008 A few extra birds struggling into the wind, I had a Little Tern N @0722-0725, c100 Black-headed Gulls N, Yellow Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 55 Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plover, Whimbrel 1 over Decoy to South Lake and 3 N at Saul Warth in the evening. 2 Cattle Egrets flew from the WWT 100 Acre past Splatt Bridge and to the field adjacent to the canal (East) among the black/white cattle. A party of nine Yellow Wagtail dropped in for a few minutes at Splatt but headed North again. Nick Goatman rapidly departed my company when his mum rang with news of Pied Flycatcher in their Slimbridge garden. Cetti's Warbler and Little Grebe were on the Saul Warth marshes. At least 700 Sand Martin were around WWT/Frampton today and a passage of Goldfinch and Linnet was also in evidence, this was also witnessed by Paul Taylor/Bob Radford at Berkeley.

14-16 April 2008 All bird information of note is on the WWT website.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Birding diary/sightings 1-13 April 2008

13 April 2008 Back at WWT and a few migrants were around, I had my first two Reed Warbler of the year and nine Golden Plover some in full breeding plumage was of note as were single Ringed Plover and good numbers of commoner warblers.

Griffon Vultures, Monfrague National Park, Extremedura MJM

8-12 April 2008 A trip to Extremedura was productive despite the cold, wet weather and strong winds. A Light-bellied Brent Goose was a good find and in keeping with the conditions. Seeing it alongside Collared Pratincole and being continually flushed by Black Kite was less typical and the record must be highly notable as this is a landlocked province. Images are now on the trip report section but I will add report later.

Light-bellied Brent Goose, Embalse de Guadiloba, Caceres, Extremedura MJM.

latest news (less than 24 hrs after I e-mailed) from SEO Caceres Grupo Local.....

Hi Martin,

Is a very very interesting observation. The next day, 11th April, a local birder has seen a Branta bernicla in Casatejada (NE Caceres), probably the same bird. It was his first time with this species and he doesn't know something about subspecies. Please send to me photos, they send to him to confirm whether it was the same individual.

Light Bellied Brent is rarity in Spain. In 1984-2003, had only 10 records, all on the coast. This is the first observation in Extremadura and also the first in the interior of Spain. In Portugal coast there is another record.

If possible, it would be important to send a description and photos to Spanish committee of rarities. I attach a form to fill. Please send it to A greetings and congratulations on the observation


What a good find for the group!

Brown Hare WWT Slimbridge

7 April 2008 At WWT we did a landrover safari 0800-1030 with the target being close views of Brown Hare, this was very succesful and four animals showed very well. Also noted were the two Wheatear and in the 100 Acre, 5 Little Stint, the Temminck's Stint, 3 Spotted Redshank, a Ruff etc. Perhaps 200 Sand Martin were around today with 25 Swallow. I did see the Cattle Egret also which was chased by gulls and ended up ina tree at the South Splatt reedbed. The highlight was seeing and hearing the first brood of Coot of the year near the viewing platform.

Cattle Egret in the WWT 100 Acre marshes, 6 April 2008 MJM
and on 3rd April 2008, a habit of standing on posts...
The brightest male Northern Wheatear on the reserve yet MJM

6 April 2008 A very cold wind and a flurry of snow and migrants made for an unusual spring day. Two male Wheatear, c 20 Swallow, a House Martin, c110 Sand Martin, plenty of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff were all showing around the WWT reserve today. See the WWT website for full details. Other highlights for me were a couple of Ruff and single Black-tailed Godwit in the 100 Acre and the Cattle Egret of course.

5 April 2008 DIY but a Green Woodpecker and Grey Heron at home was OK.

4 April 2008 I was out at 0530-0730 on the estuary and Frampton Townfield Lake but the thick mist provented any watching so I listened. Highlight c30 calling Toads in the WWT 100 Acre. After some work on the house I went up onto Cleeve Hill for the afternoon with Bob Radford and bumped into Dave Pearce. We managed to locate two male and a female Ring Ouzel and three Wheatear as well as many other species typically found in this habitat. It was nice to chat to Dave about Ouzels and birding Cleeve as he is one of the Cotswolds most active and productive birders and inspired us to hang on a little longer for our reward.

3 April 2008 A stunning day, the warmest so far this year. I spent the day building a new bridge in the Canoe safari trail and was entertained by 3 Willow Warbler, singing Blackcap and 4 Chiffchaff. On the morning rounds I did not see much in the way of new birds, the 2 Spotted Redshank are turning black (JSL had a Common Tern upriver) but a flock of 27 mostly breeding plumaged Golden Plover and single Black-tailed Godwit showed that it was still happening. A flock of 22 of the latter were on South Lake and I noted 20 at Saul Warth along with my first belated Garganey of the year (2 males, 1 female) at dusk. I did see the Cattle Egret again but it was not present at lunchtime 1300-1400. The Green-winged Teal was reported again. A flock of 6 Buzzard were thermalling over the estuary with four more around the reserve. A Ruff remains on the 100 Acre and six Little Egret were present here with one at the Bottom New Piece.

2 April 2008 The Green-winged Teal and Cattle Egret were on show at the WWT 100 Acre but the pick of the day would have been the Sandwich Tern that was about the estuary early morning.

Green-winged Teal and Eurasian Teal WWT 100 Acre marsh MJM

1 April 2008 My first Swallows of the year (one in the 100 Acre and another on territory around the Top Hut at WWT) and migrant Blackcaps (two males in full song at the South Finger). At least 20 singing Chiffchaff were on site also. On my rounds 0800-1020 the Cattle Egret, 4 Little Egrets and Green Winged Teal were both in the WWT 100 Acre marsh as was a Ruff. An adult and immature Peregrine were on the sands. The egrets were busy eating toads!

Cattle Egret WWT 100 Acre marsh 31 March 2008 MJM