Friday, March 31, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 31 March 2006.

Image 1 A Willow Warbler at the Holden Tower, WWT Slimbridge. J.S.Lees.

At least 7 Mediterranean Gulls from the Holden Tower feeding with a large flock of Common Gulls after the very high tide ( like yesterday ) went out. 3 adult-summers, 2 2nd-summers and 2 1st-summers. 4 Willow Warblers near the Holden Tower, 10 Chiffchaffs around the centre, 3 Cettis Warblers around the reserve, 50-Sand Martins, 3 Little Egret, 2 Kingfishers, 400 Wigeon, 5 Siskin south. Over high tide 3 Little Stints,
6 Dunlin,14 Ringed Plover, 130 Golden Plover high south in several groups, 15-Black-tailed Godwits, 11 Oystercatcher.

Image 2 The Severn in flood. The view from Splatt bridge gateway. M.J.McGill.

At least 2 Knot, 8 Black tailed Godwit, 40 Curlew and a medium-sized slim, greyish falcon that has been around for a couple of weeks. It initially looks Merlin-like when first seen but size, tail length and structure become apparent on scoping.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 30 March 2006

30 March 2006 Yet another blustery and eventually wet day. Some more arrivals were noted today. At the Holden Tower between 0900 and 0950 an adult Kittiwake headed upriver, a Sandwich Tern flew past and settled for a while on the Tack Piece flood. A second-summer Mediterranean Gull was on the Top New Piece with 17 Black-tailed Godwit , the male Greater Scaup and three Little Egret. The Dumbles held a Little Stint, c12 Ringed Plover and c10 Dunlin before it flooded. At least three Swallow and 10 Sand Martin hawked over the floods. Two Willow Warbler were along the track with a third at the 100 Acre.

A first-summer Mediterranean Gull was also seen today on the river. A flock of 50 Sand Martin were over the 100 Acre with two Jack and 4 Common Snipe seen in the Bull Ground. It seems that two pairs of Kingfisher are present at the breeding site and have excavated in the same face. I will investigate this on Sunday.

Right: The Dumbles in full flood, if the seawall was not there we would have some very interesting wetlands. The difference in height/levels is clear.

The Sandwich Tern resting on the Tack Piece floods 30 March 2006. M.J.McGill.

A flock of 3 Lesser Redpoll and 2 Siskin were in the Decoy marsh garden.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

WWT Slimbridge/local sightings 29 March 2006

Image 1 First-winter Little Gull 29 March 2006 M.J.McGILL.

I went to see the first Little Gull of the year after work at Frampton Townfield Lake. At WWT today a number of migrants had arrived. On the Dumbles at least 28 Ringed Plover, 2 Little Stint, 20 Dunlin, 10 Oystercatcher and two immature and one adult Peregrine. A flock of 18 Black-tailed Godwit were on the Top New Piece, A Little Egret at each end of the reserve (South Finger/50 Acre). Three male Wheatear were at Middle Point and the first reserve record of Coal Tit in 2006. The 100 Acre was quieter for migrants with 30 Sand Martin, 1 Kingfisher and the Spotted Redshank with 15 Redshank. Further Sand Martin action was noted over the carpark 4 at 0730, 18 over 50 Acre, 25 at the Holden Tower between 0730 and 0900. The first-summer male Greater Scaup was on the European enclosure pond. At least 17 Chiffchaff were noted around the site, the two Kingfishers are showing well at South Finger and winter finches were noted with 1 Brambling over, 1 Siskin hanging around the Decoy with 3 Lesser Redpoll.

Image 2 The same as above. It is a shame it was overcast, the pink tinge to the breast was just visible in the scope. A few Swallows and large numbers of Sand Martin were hawking over the lake.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 27 March 2006

27 March 2006 Another windy day with showers. A flock of 7 Sand Martin headed south at 0730, 10 downriver at 0830 and 44 were feeding over the 100 Acre at 0845 and six around the Tack Piece scrape at 1130. Also earlier in the day flock of c35 Golden Plover flew past the Holden Tower where a single Dunlin and one adult Kittiwake battled south downriver and later a first-winter milled around then went upriver. A flock of c25 new Black-tailed Godwit arrived and joined the two that were already present. A further 4 were in the 100 Acre with a Spotted Redshank and 28 Redshank. A first-summer Mediterranean Gull was also on the river. At least one Lesser Redpoll was in the South Lake bridge alders and up to five Chiffchaff were seen around the site. A first-winter female Greater Scaup was on the Tack Piece scrape with the Pochard and Tufted Duck flock.

A lunchtime visit to Frampton Townfield Lake produced 250-300 Sand Martin and two female Goldeneye. Two Swallow were also seen here today.

Monday, March 27, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 27 March 2006

27 March 2006 A blustery and very wet day but most welcome from a wetland management and drinking water point of view. We had at least 50 Sand Martin (20 South Finger, 20 in the 100 Acre, 10 Holden Tower) on site between 0900-0945 with others moving through during the day. Two Chiffchaff were in song at the South Finger with the first summer drake Greater Scaup on the flash. Nine Golden Plover were mobile being seen in the 100 Acre and from Holden Tower. Also from Holden Tower 0730 to 0800 were 11 Ringed Plover, 1 Grey Plover, 40 Dunlin, 1 Little Stint and 10 Oystercatcher over the tide. A female Kingfisher was at the Holden Tower also with another in the 100 Acre and the breeding pair active at the South Finger nest site. A Little Egret was also at the latter site. Tufted x Pochard and White-cheeked Pintail x Cape Teal hybrids were on the Top New Piece. The South Lake held 7 Ruff and three Lesser Redpoll in the Alders by the bridge. The reserve count of Wigeon shot up to 1300 today after being around 500-600 last week.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Image 1 The first Male Northern Wheatear of the year at Middle Point WWT Slimbridge 26 March 2006 M.J.McGill.

Around the reserve today the six remaining wintering Ruff were joined on South Lake by a seventh, this bird fed away from the group and was very active. Two Black-tailed Godwit were on the Top New Piece along with most of the duck. Two Little Egret, 203 Pintail, 150 Pochard, a Sand Martin, a Barn Owl (from 100 Acre viewing platform), three Cetti's Warblers, a male and female Merlin, Peregrine, 28 Dunlin were on the 100 Acre with up to 50 Golden Plover.
A Little-ringed Plover was on the 100 Acre yesterday (MK).

Image 2 A Peregrine in the 50 Acre, WWT Slimbridge 25 March 2006 M.J.McGill.

Anser birding half day in the Forest of Dean 25 March 2006

A male Brambling at Highnam Woods 25 March 2006 J.S.Lees.
Male Common Crossbill at Woogreens 25 March 2006 J.S. Lees
We met up at New Fancy View and spent until 1300 birding various sites around the Forest of Dean. At least 15 Brambling, 3 Hawfinch, a displaying female Sparrowhawk, Red Deer and numbers of overflying Siskin were noted at Brierley. A pair each of Mandarin and Grey Wagtail plus displaying female Goshawk with attendant male were seen at another site. At New Fancy view what appeared to be three different displaying female Goshawk each with a male were seen over different parts of the forest. At one point Sparrowhawk was up with them for a good comparison. Views were prolonged with some closer sightings for good measure. A pair of Crossbill flew past. A further search of sites only added commoner species but another pair of Grey Wagtail, Mandarin, Little Grebe, Treecreeper and two rosy Lesser Redpoll drinking were appreciated. A walk around Woorgreens area added the breeding Greylag Geese (nesting/behaving naturally in such a suitable habitat). More Siskin and one Lesser Redpoll were seen as well as a perched male Crossbill (well done Bob). We then moved onto RSPB Highnam Woods where a very busy selection of woodland passerines were around and on the feeders (a great display). Nine Brambling (six males), a pair of Siskin, Nuthatches, 2-3 Great-spotted Woodpecker and Marsh Tits performed brilliantly alongside the commoner tits and finches.

Friday, March 24, 2006

WWT Slimbridge 23 March 2006

Image 1 The WWT Slimbridge wintering female Merlin 23 March 2006 M.J.McGill. This bird can be seen on 100 Acre fencepost tops or from Splatt Bridge gateway on the foreshore driftwood.
The mass clearout of birds is more obvious as each day passes. There are still high numbers of Pochard (200) and Pintail (250) for late March. Three Ruff on 23 March with two Black-tailed Godwit all on South Lake. Only 70 Dunlin and 150 Curlew were present on the river with 100's of Common and BH Gull. The seven Bewick's Swans departed overnight after a very flighty day on 22 March, before this they slept in the same place on the Top New Piece every day for a couple of weeks.

Image 2 Meadow Pipit, one of a handful of displaying/breeding behaviour birds in this cold weather. Many more should now arrive with a break in the weather.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 21 March 2006

Male Northern Pintail (with zebra stripes) on the Rushy 21 March 2006 J.S.Lees. This bird has been present for a few days and it is very unusual to see this plumage with dark head in March. 202 were counted in the Rushy today.

This Stock Pigeon/Dove trapped and ringed in the Swan Pipe 21 March 2006 M.J.McGill. We often catch a few in March/April every year. Often overlooked, this delicate bird is great to view in the hand. The large flocks of the past are unfortunately a distant memory, I hope the population bounces back.
Fewer birds noted today. 1 Little Egret, 180 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Black-tailed Godwit (none yesterday), 278 Pintail, 7 Bewick's Swans, 16 Redshank, 1 Barnacle Goose.

WWT Slimbridge sightings 20 March 2006

20 March 2006 James Lees caught it this morning. It appears to be the first ever ringed at WWT. Around the reserve today were 40 Dunlin, 19 Golden Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Little Egrets, 1 Chiffchaff, 4 Ruff, 5 G.C. Grebe, 12 Siskin, 3 Lesser Redpoll (one male very rosy), 40 Redwing, 40 Chaffinch, 30 Reed Bunting.

Image 1 First-summer male Greater Scaup at WWT Slimbridge 20 March 2006 M.J.McGill

Image 2 First-summer male Greater Scaup at WWT Slimbridge 20 March 2006 M.J.McGill

Monday, March 20, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 20 March 2006

20 March 2006 Sightings today included two Little Egrets in the Bull Ground/100 Acre (a third flew into the Tudor Arms car park ditch at The Patch) you can have a pint of Two Swans (WWT 60th celebratory ale) and add another bird to the beer garden list. 1 Spotted Redshank, 10 Oystercatcher, 4 Redshank all on the estuary mud, 19 Golden Plover, 15 Dunlin, 40 Lapwing, 150 Teal, 300 Wigeon, 50 Pochard, 50 Shoveler, 1 Stonechat, a Chiffchaff and 2 Cetti's Warbler were all around the 100 Acre. A flock of 12 Siskin and three Lesser Redpoll kept visiting the alders around the centre entrance. The 7 Bewick's Swans remained. Four Ruff were with the Lapwing flock on the road fields/South Lake. The first-summer Greater Scaup was trapped and ringed today along with 7 Shelduck, 8 Pintail, 3 Mallard and a Teal. The former was released back on to European enclosure pond where it remained. A flock of 179 Pintail were on the Rushy at 1600.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 19 March 2006

19 March 2006 I did the WeBS (Wetalnd Bird Survey) today and logged the following numbers. 4 Little Grebe, 2 GCGrebe, 14 Cormorant, 1 Little Egret, 3 Grey Heron, 195 Mute Swan, 7 Bewick's Swan, 132 Western Greylag, 37 Canada, 416 Shelduck, 790 Wigeon, 91 Gadwall, 407 Teal, 1026 Mallard, 274 Pintail, 58, Shoveler, 247 Pochard, 250 Tufted Duck, 10 Mandarin, 347 Moorhen, 189 Coot, 1 Spotted Redshank, 10 Oystercatcher, 10 Redshank, 349 Lapwing on road fields with c60 100 Acre, some on territory. Dunlin 120, 2 Little Stint, 6 Ruff, 309 Curlew. There is a good passage of Pochard and Pintail at the moment, the latter has appeared in unusual places so are migrants rather than the wintering birds. The majority of these departed last week, check your local diving duck, who knows what Americans they may have with them. Also compare todays total with last weeks count of Shoveler (some may be hiding from the wind in the reeds).

A flock of c12 Siskin were along the West finger hides, a single Redpoll and two Redwing noted. The large gull passage continued with a few hundred Black-headed Gull/Common Gull around the estuary.MJM.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Sightings 17 March 2006

17 March 2006 I did not get out today (looking after both children) but James Lees did. He reports the 7 Bewick's Swans and 100 Dunlin, 12 Siskin (8 males), 2 Lesser Redpoll at WWT Slimbridge. The finches were on the entrance pond alders and it was even quiter than yesterday. He was also at Chew Valley Lake, Somerset at dusk to view the gull roost. He located an adult Ring-billed Gull among the 10,000 plus Common Gulls which was a welcome addition to local birders year lists. Up in Scotland, Jeremy Squire was out counting Eider (450) in Angus whilst waiting out in the cold with a bag of bread for the Bonaparte's Gull.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 16 March

16 March 2006 The high tide period produced a couple of new sightings. The gull passage continued with 450 gulls heading north upriver in under an hour at 0825 to 0910. The majority were Lesser Black-backed with Herring and Black-headed. The Dunlin numbered around 120 but I heard rumours of 280 from one of the Holden Tower regulars earlier in the day. At least 1 Little Stint, 3 Grey Plover and 20 Curlew were present on the Dumbles. The highlight of the day was a Pink-footed Goose (probably immature) that flew in around midday. The bird was circling the collection as it called to the captive adults. It headed out to the reserve and dropped out of view. Nice bird to see by just stepping out of the office (thanks Leesy). The South Lake held the majority of the Lapwing with 300 present and 1 Ruff. Five Ruff joined c35 Golden Plover on the Tack Piece. A Water Rail was on the pool in front of the Martin Smith hide. Belated news of a pair of Stonechat here on 14 March. It was clear that even more wildfowl and waders had departed overnight. Seven Bewick's Swans remained which include Turmeric and Tarragon, a pair that were caught and ringed on the Russian Tundra in 2004 by Dave Paynter and turned up at WWT following winter. Six Pintail and 2 Teal were caught and ringed at the end of the day.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 15 March 2006

Image 1; One of the South Lake 'Oycs' from Hogarth Hide M.J.McGill.
15 March 2006 A misty start to the day but turned out sunny and clear. A hint of spring with migrants arriving on the reserve. 11 Oystercatcher, c30 Meadow Pipit, 2-3 Ringed Plover, a female Stonechat and hundreds of Common and Black-headed Gulls joined the large gull passage or fed on the estuary. A Little Egret fed in one of the new scrapes. All of these birds were new in. Lapwing, Oystercatcher (four pairs) Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting (5 males), Kingfisher (two on territory), Little Grebe (three) and Great Crested Grebe (two) were all singing or displaying. As for winter visitors ; 8 Ruff, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Dunlin, 2 Jack Snipe, 13 Snipe, 110 Curlew, 60 Golden Plover, 10 Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 6 Bewick's Swans, 160 Pochard, 157 Pintail, the first-summer Greater Scaup (Euro enclosure), 730 Wigeon remained on site. A male Cetti's Warbler sang in the 100 Acre and South Finger reed-bed.

Image 2; Male Eurasian Shelduck head portrait from South Lake Observatory. M.JMcGill.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

WWT Slimbridge Reserve/Anser Birding staff in Dorset

Image 1 James Lees and Bob Radford making Mute Swan nests at the Swannery. One bird moved in about ten minutes later and claimed the site. The Swannery is not far from Bridport or Weymouth and is well worth a visit. It re-opens this weekend for the summer.
13 and 14 March 2006 A visit to Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset to collect reeds for use on the WWT Slimbridge Reserve gave us the chance to do a bit of birding in this great part of England. The WWT team stayed at Portland Bird Observatory. The Obs garden held two showy Brambling and Reed Bunting. On the sea at least three Red-throated and one Black-throated Diver passed by. Two and three Common Scoter headed east with c25 on the sea, three Eider were also seen off theBill. Kittiwake, Fulmar, Gannet and Guillemot were all feeding offshore. The Obs has had further improvements and is very comfortable. It has been improving steadily for many years and a stay is very rewarding. See the Links page for PBO information including sightings.

Image 2 One of the Brambling in the Obs garden (M.J.McGill)

At Ferrybridge the usual Red-breasted Mergansers and c25 Dark-bellied Brent Geese could be seen. At Abbotsbury the herd of 600 Mute Swan were present on the Fleet with 5 Greater Scaup among the diving duck.

Image 3 Loading reeds to haul back to Gloucestershire, you should see them in use around the Duck Decoy soon. Thanks to the Abbotsbury team for having us and supplying the quality phragmites.

Most of the trip was work, we only did a little bit of birding and eating of fried breakfast and lunch and coffee/tea drinking and a few beers etc etc.

Monday, March 13, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 13 March 2006

13 March 2006 A brisk easterly reminds us that spring has not yet got a look in. 7 Bewick's Swans, 340 Golden Plover, 600 Lapwing, 9 Ruff, 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 60 Dunlin and six Redshank were on the Top New and Tack Piece. The Australian Shelduck x Eurasian Shelduck was on the Tack Piece at 0810 and the 100 Acre later. A Mallard x Gadwall was on the Top New Piece. At least 110 Shoveler, 350 Teal, 750 Wigeon, 150 Pochard, 150 Pintail remain on site. The first summer male Greater Scaup was on the European enclosure pond. A Little Grebe was on the South Lake and trilling birds noted in the 100 Acre again. MJM.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 12 March 2006

12 March 2006 A snowy start to the day. Visibility was poor but a female Merlin, 15 Sky Lark (22 later) 10 Meadow Pipit, 1 Dunlin and a Pied Wagtail were the only birds on the Dumbles. A total of c500 Golden Plover and 300 Lapwing were still around the fields The South Lake held 1 Bewick's Swan, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Ruff, 1 Dunlin and 250 Lapwing.
At least 6 Bewick's Swans were on the Top New Piece. The 100 Acre had 250 Teal, 200 Wigeon, 10 Snipe, 50 Shoveler and lesser numbers of the commoner wildfowl. At least 21 Skylark and 23 Linnet fed on the seeds put out for them. At least 225 Shelduck fed on the estuary along with the regular Eurasian Shelduck x Australian Shelduck hybrid.This bird has been seen on and off for three years. Things are certainly getting quieter by the day. MJM.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Anser Birding morning to Sharpness/Berkeley area 11 March 2006

11 March 2006 A cool wind but dry and eventually sunny conditions made for a good outing. A quick stop at Whitminster to look through the gulls but no Mediterranean. On the Frome four Little Grebe, a Green Sandpiper, ten Teal and a pair of Shoveler were all present. At Sharpness/Berkeley Shore the following birds were seen...1 Peregrine, 30 Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper (well done Bettie), 1 Snipe, Sky Lark and Meadow Pipit were singing and displaying, 3 Grey Wagtail, 2 Rock Pipit, 50 Common Gull, 35 BH Gull, a constant northerly gull passage with 2 GBB Gull, 50+ Lesser BB and 60 Herring Gull past in an hour, 30 Wigeon, 2 Oystercatcher, 4 Dunlin, 20 Lapwing, 2 GC Grebe, female Black Redstart, 100 Linnet, 10 Reed Bunting, 10 Tree Sparrow and a Mute Swan north, plenty of migration signs.
At home in Whitminster 14 Redwing and two Fieldfare flew over at dusk. MJM.
JSL was out and about birding and logged a Green Sandpiper, 10 Lesser Redpoll, 5 Siskin, 2 Nuthatch, 8 Redwing, 4 Fieldfare and Grey Wagtail at Frampton on Severn.

Friday, March 10, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 7 to 9 March 2006

9 March 2006 The now first-summer male Greater Scaup was again on the Top New Piece scrape and viewable from Zeiss, Van de Bovenkamp or Loke hides. It still shows a dark 'lip' along the bill tip as well as the defined black nail. This has been apparent on all of the Gloucestershire Greater Scaup this year.The Tack Piece is providing great birding still with lots of waders present. The Dunlin, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff flocks are all seen here daily. At least 379 Pintail still here today. Only seven Bewick's Swans remained on site, many wildfowl have cleared out.
8 March 2006 A very high count of 411 Pintail on the Tack Piece. The male Greater Scaup was on the Top New Piece scrape.

7 March 2006 At least four pairs of Oystercatcher are back on territory.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Anser Birding Gloucestershire Diary for 4 March 2006

4 March 2006 I started my day at Tidenham Chase in glorious sunshire and located 26-28 Common Crossbill. At least 20 Siskin and a single Redpoll were also present. The 'bills' were stunning in the sunshire but were very jumpy, perhaps due to the large amount of vocal cavers milling around the site. I would recommend being very careful and quiet as soon as you get out of the car to increase your chances. Some fed in larches next to the car park. I then headed off to check out Aylburton Warth to see what the breeding wader situation may be this year. Unfortunately the site is very dry despite the high tides this week. A flock of 1000 gulls consisted of 70% Black-headed to Common. About 30 Teal, 60 Dunlin, 500 Curlew, 2 Oystercatcher, 300 Lapwing and 60 Golden Plover were present as well a single Little Egret and female Stonechat.

I spent the afternoon playing football at Uley and set an unwanted first record (the oldest player in the side) , despite a defeat to the top of the table team (3-6 result) which ended a five game unbeaten run with only one goal conceded, I have just about still got it. My plans were to go to CWP (Cotswold Water Park) afterwards but was put off by feeling groggy after a forearm across the face during the game. I had a message or two concerning the Lesser Scaup. It was back on Pit 16 plus the Red-necked Grebe had come back to the county Pit 57 after a visit to Wilts. That was it, I had to go. The Lesser Scaup was distant and once again I did not get to see it flap or fly to see the wing pattern, very frustrating. I gave up and went to see the grebe where a Barn Owl was hunting the causeway at the back and about 15 Ruddy Duck slept and a pair of Goosander were hauled out. I must admit that is easier to see the greyish feathering in sunshine last Saturday and when it is closer. The Lesser Scaup was in a shadowy bay and diving a lot when I moved around to South Cerney Village and of course the bird swam back around the peninsula and out of view. Not a bad day, lovely weather and nice get around the county. MJM.