Monday, July 31, 2006

Sanderling on river edge near to Middle Point WWT Slimbridge 31 July 2006

Sanderling at WWT Slimbridge 31 July 2006 M.J.McGill.

Another return passage wader back on site.

WWT Slimbridge sightings 31 July 2006

Juvenile Avocet on the river edge at Middle Point 31 July 2006 M.J.McGill

The Green Sandpiper total reached 30 again with the Top New Piece holding 13. At least 40 Sand Martin were hawking over the reserve. The Top New Piece had 6 Dunlin, 5 juvenile Little-ringed Plover, 7 Snipe, 3 Shoveler, a juv Little Grebe and a juv Redshank.

South Lake had 152 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Sandpiper, 4 Green Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Ruff, 45 Redshank and 4 Common Tern. The Tack Piece had a Common Sandpiper and 3 Green Sandpiper. The river had an Avocet, 1 Sanderling, a few Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, 5 Little Egret, Yellow-legged Gull and 5 Ringed Plover.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 28 to 30 July 2006

Adult winter Spotted Redshank on South Lake 30 July 2006 M.J.McGill
One has been present for a number of weeks with the Redshank flock and is likely to be the regular wintering bird.

30 July 2006 A 2006 record count of 30 Green Sandpiper today.
The estuary was quiet with a number of Yellow-legged Gulls, 6 Ringed Plover, 10 Dunlin, 350 Curlew and 8 Oystercatcher.
South Lake gave excellent views of the wader flock although this was due to a water problem. A flock of 152 Black-tailed Godwit were present along with 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin, 1 Spotted Redshank, 40 Redshank, 100 Lapwing, 2 Green Sanpiper and a pair of Ruff. The godwits were counted morning and afternoon by two different birders, thanks guys. The Tack Piece held 2 Little-ringed Plover, 1 Common Sandpiper, 10 Green Sandpiper and 10 Teal. The back pond of the Rushy had 5 Green Sandpiper. The Top New Piece had 11 Green Sandpiper, up to 3 Little-ringed Plover (two from the Tack Piece at times) and 8 Snipe. A further two Green Sandpiper were in the 50 Acre. An adult Peregrine was hunting the Dumbles in the morning. 23 Barnacle and 114 Canada Geese were on site.
29 July 2006 A party of 12 Snipe were in the Top New Piece with 3 Little-ringed Plover. 5 Ringed Plover were on the river. 2 Common Sandpiper on the Tack Piece. A Dunlin was on the South Lake with the other waders.
I had 2 Migrant Hawkers around my garden in Whitminster today.
28 July 2006 The highlight was a flock of 11 Whimbrel with the Curlew flock and 2 Little-ringed Plover on the Tack Piece. 2 Willow Warbler were at the Holden Tower. A flock of 149 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Spotted Redshank, 4 Dunlin, 49 Redshank and 2 Ruff on South Lake.

Friday, July 28, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 27 July 2006

Male Ruff on the Tack Piece scrape 27 July 2006 M.J.McGill.
27 July 2006 The migration engine is running, new species are arriving locally with a increase in warblers in the hedges, few more waders and and more duck appearing. At 0745 to 0805 an adult Osprey was cruising the estuary and attempting to fish the tidal creeks off Middle Point. It made many attempts and was harrased by a variety of gulls, Raven and Shelduck. See the inset image below.
The adult male Ruff was showing very well on the Tack Piece scrape where it was joined by up to 8 Green Sandpiper. The back pool of the Rushy held 10 of these medium sized waders. On the Dumbles a party of 5 Raven were among the other corvids. On the estuary c25 Dunlin and 10+ Yellow-legged Gull were noted. The Top New Piece was disturbed by us as we control vegetation (cutting juncus Hard Rush and pulling willows and spreading hay). The levels are being dropped as we have the Environment Agency coming in to build some islands here. Despite this 1 Dunlin, 3 Green Sandpiper, 1 Snipe, 2 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank and a few Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank were seen here.

The South Lake is the most productive site with 130 Black-tailed Godwit, 40+ Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 5 Dunlin, 100 Lapwing, the Greater Scaup and increasing numbers of wildfowl. Around the hedges an increase in numbers of warblers included sightings of 2-3 Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat.

Osprey over Middle Point 27 July 2006 M.J.McGill

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 24 to 26 July 2006

26 July 2006 The Top New Piece will have some disturbance this week for essential management work. Despite this 7 Dunlin, 5 Little Egrets, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Redshank, 70 Lapwing, 3 Green Sandpiper and 5 Snipe were all seen on and off today.

The South Lake had two fledged Common Terns, 2 Greenshank, an adult male and female Ruff, 1 Common Sandpiper, 4 Dunlin, 132 Black-tailed Godwit (two colour ringed), 40 Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 90 Lapwing and Greater Scaup. The Tack Piece scrape had a Dunlin and 7 Green Sandpiper. A Willow Warbler (the first return passage bird) was in sub-song this morning near the Robbie Garnett hide. A juvenile Whitethroat was seen at the South Finger.

No staff have seen the stint or harrier today or had any reports.

25 July 2006 A juvenile Marsh Harrier was found quartering the Bull Ground and 100 Acre areas this afternoon (Dave Paynter). This is best viewed from the WWT platform in Green Lane. This can be accessed from the Gloucester to Sharpness canal towpath from Slimbridge, Cambridge Arms or Splatt Bridge.

A breeding plumaged Little Stint was flying around on the river and settled on the Tack Piece scrape this evening. On the river 20+ Yellow -legged Gull and an adult and second summer Mediterranean Gull were in the roost. A Pochard, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper, 60 Black-tailed Godwit, 40 Redshank and Ruff were all on South Lake. The Greater Scaup was also seen with at least one Common Tern juvenile flying around.

Five Snipe, 2 Green Sandpiper, c 20 Dunlin and c30 Black-tailed Godwit joined the Lapwing on the Top New Piece. 8 Green Sandpiper were on the Tack Piece, four were in the Rushy. Two Greenshank were roosting over high tide.

A few migrant warblers are appearing with Lesser Whitetroat seen today.

24 July 2006 The South Lake and Top New Piece held most of the waders with the Tack Piece scrape coming into form also. 134 Black-tailed Godwit, 51 Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 adult female Ruff, 1 Common Sandpiper 1 Green Sandpiper and the male Greater Scaup were all on the South Lake. A Whimbrel was with the Curlew flock along with Yellow-legged Gull over high tide.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

WWT and local sightings 21 to 23 July 2006

23 June 2006 At WWT a darker start to the day turned into low cloud and drizzle. This brought in some new birds and was a refreshing break from the heat. A total of 14 species of wader were on site.

The small Martin Smith hide pool had 15 Little Egret at 0710, 2 Grey Heron and the Water Rail family today.

The Top New Piece had a female Ruff, 1 Snipe, 24 Dunlin, 6 Little-ringed Plover, 3 Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Sandpiper, 4 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 70 Lapwing, 1 Little Egret and 10 Teal.

The River produced 1 Whimbrel, 4 Little Egret, 100 Curlew, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 65 Dunlin and 4 Yellow-legged Gulls.

South Lake was busy with 84 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Sandpiper, 27 Redshank, Common Terns with two fledged chicks, male Greater Scaup and many wildfowl and gulls.

The 100 Acre had a possible 5th pair of Common Terns on a nesting raft. A Clouded Yellow was around Tommy's Loopway/Tin Shed area.

Neil returned to the Cotswold Water Park this afternoon and saw the Lesser Emperor at Swillbrook Lakes getting better views than I had yesterday.

22 July 2006 WWT A flock of 120 Black-tailed Godwits were on South Lake.

I visited the Cotswold Water Park with Neil and saw the male Lesser Emperor dragonfly at Swillbrook Lakes (Pit 46/48) in Gloucestershire. It was a single flypast and the ensuing torrential rain ended any further sightings for the day. 16 Common Terns were over Pit 57 and 10 over Pit 16.

21 July 2006 An hour or two of 'dragging' (dragonfly finding) was productive today. I visited Frampton Court Lake, Stroudwater Canal at Whitminster and Gardener's pool at Saul. Emperor, Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad-bodied Chaser, Ruddy and Common Darter, Brown and Southern Hawker and probable Migrant Hawker were all seen well. 100,s of Beautiful Demoiselle are present along the Stoudwater Canal with a single seen flying along School road Whitminster also.
Five species of Damselfly were also seen including Red-eyed.

A flyabout Yellow Wagtail, 50 Mute Swan, 5 Grey Heron and 6 Great Crested Grebe were seen at Frampton Court Lake.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 19 and 20 July 2006

20 July 2006 A hot and humid day, a reserve record 16 Little-ringed Plover were present with 2 on the Tack Piece and 14 on the Top New Piece. A minimum of 23 Green Sandpiper were counted with the peak site being the Tack Piece with 11. At least two Dunlin were seen on the river. A couple of juvenile Little Egrets were seen around with adults. The South Lake had 76 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Redshank and 50 Lapwing. The Top New Piece had a pair of adult Ruff, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and the assorted wildfowl and gulls.

The 100 Acre birds were busy in breeding mode, the four pairs of Common Terns are all still incubating. Three Pochard were present, two pairs of Great Crested Grebe had young. On the river a flock of 120 Shelduck feeding on a decent patch of mud had 44 adults only, the rest were ducklings of various ages.

19 July 2006 The Top New Piece held 7 Little-ringed Plover (two adults, five juvenile), a pair of adult Ruff in breeding plumage, 4 Snipe, 2 Spotted Redshank. A flock of 21 Dunlin were on the river. A total of 9 Green Sandpiper were counted.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 18 July 2006

18 July 2006 A scorching hot day with heat haze inspired little birding. The Top New Piece had juvenile Garganey, 1 Spotted Redshank, 20 Redshank, an adult male Ruff in breeding plumage was new in, 45 Teal, the Fox was back, 60 Lapwing, 5 Green Sandpiper and 3 Snipe along with many other commoner birds.

South Lake provided the refuge for 66+ Black-tailed Godwit, 30 Redshank, an adult summer Mediterranean Gull (different to Sundays bird, so the third in three days) and a general increase in loafing gulls. Two Knot in breeding plumage were seen on the river.Two Green Sandpiper were on the Tack Piece scrape.

Monday, July 17, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 17 July 2006

Juvenile Mediterranean Gull on the Top New Piece 17 July 2006

17 July 2006 The Top New Piece held 4 Greenshank (over high tide), 54 Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Snipe, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 juvenile Garganey, 5 Shoveler, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, the first juvenile Mediterranean Gull of the year, 106 Lapwing, 4 Dunlin (high tide), 67 Coot, 12 Tufted Duck, 30 Shelduck, a pair of Great Crested Grebe with two chicks, 7 Gadwall, 37 Teal, 2 Grey Heron and 1 Little Egret.

South Lake had 8 Redshank, 43 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Sandpiper, male Greater Scaup, pair of Common Terns (two chicks), 121 Lapwing, 1 Grey Heron.

The river around high tide had 3 Yellow-legged Gull, 1, 3 and 2 Dunlin, the breeding plumaged Knot, 300+ Curlew, 10 Little Egret, 14 Oystercatcher, 94 Lapwing, 7 Grey Heron and 62 Shelduck. Three Common Sandpiper roosted north of Middle Point over high tide.

A Greenshank and four Green Sandpiper were on the Tack Piece.

Images of Fox predation and reaction from the birds present 17 July 2006

This sequence of images show a Fox that arrived on the Top New Piece marsh at 0945 this morning. It was initially mobbed by Lapwing and Redshank. Many of the waders involved in this behaviour did not have young showing how co-operative they are when a predator is around. The Fox dissapeared into the rushes and emerged five minutes later with a young Shelduck. It padded it's way into the shallows before swimming the deep ditch and departing. The last image shows the natural reaction of the ducks and Moorhen present as they collectively mob the animal. The whole episode was a fascinating insight into the behaviour of the Fox, I would never have guessed they would carry prey across deep water so readily.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 15 and 16 July 2006

16 July 2006 A good day with plenty of new birds in. The Top New Piece held 2 juvenile Garganey, 35 Teal, a breeding plumaged Knot, 20 Redshank, 60 Lapwing, 2 Greenshank, 2 Snipe and 3 Green Sandpiper.

South Lake had a male Greater Scaup with the Tufted Ducks, 30 Black-tailed Godwit, 30 Redshank, a Spotted Redshank and a Common Sandpiper. The Common Terns still have two rapidly growing chicks.

On the edge of the Dumbles and the saltmarsh over the high tide period 5 Common Sandpiper, 3 Whimbrel, 347 Curlew, 10 Oystercatcher, 7 Yellow-legged Gull, 20 Dunlin, a juvenile Little-ringed Plover (1st of the autumn), 50 Shelduck and 80 Lapwing.

The 100 Acre had a Hobby hunting the numerous dragonflies that included Emperor, Black-taield Skimmer, Ruddy and Common Darter and the first Brown Hawker. An adult summer Mediterranean Gull with a white darvic was on the river.

Around the Tack Piece/Holden Tower four Green Sandpiper and a Greenshank were feeding in the scrapes. Four Black-tailed Godwit were in the Rushy.

A juvenile Cuckoo was in front of the Zeiss Hide.

15 July 2006 A Snipe, Greenshank and 2 Dunlin joined the waders on the Top New Piece.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Anser Birding trip to Pembrokeshire and Skomer Island 26 to 28 June 2006

Anser Birding Trip Report

Pembrokeshire June 26 to 28 2006

Leader Phil Shepherd

Guests Bettie, Alan, Jan, Helen, Keith, Kath.

Day 1 Monday 26 June

WWT Slimbridge to WWT Llanelli
The group assembled bright and early at WWT Slimbridge, boarded the mini-bus (a 15-seater with plenty of space) and got away promptly at 7am. We arrived at our first stop - WWT’s National Centre Wales, on the Loughour Estuary near Llanelli, shortly before opening time. The Centre Manager came to meet us and let us in to the site and within five minutes we were at the excellent British Steel Hide watching our first birds. This is a quiet time of year in Britain’s estuaries, but we quickly logged 2 second summer Mediterranean Gulls (amongst the Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed), 18 Little Egret, 6 (non-breeding) Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Plover, 22 Gadwall, Pochard, Lapwing, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Great Crested Grebe, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and a Kingfisher both perched and in flight.

Phil was keen to press on to his beloved Pembrokeshire, so after a quick coffee whilst watching a Jay taking peanuts at the Centre’s feeding station, we were again heading west.

After driving through rain and drizzle the group was very relieved to see dry and calm conditions on arrival at the fascinating old village of Porthgain on the rugged north Pembs coastline. Phil, of course knew this would be the case! This is a wonderful spot with a long history of quarrying industry, and hard drinking at the 400 year old Sloop Inn.

The locally-caught crab was available at The Shed café, so we stocked up on freshly made sandwiches and headed out on to the Coastal Path. This stretch, half way between Fishguard and St. David’s, is one of the most scenic of the entire 180mile length of this superb National Park. We walked as far as Traeth Llyfyn, one of Pembrokeshire’s best beaches and best-kept secrets, seeing Raven, Chough (including an adult feeding a begging pink-legged youngster), Meadow and Rock Pipit, Skylark, Wheatear, Linnets and Stonechats, with a small flock of Common Scoter and fishing Gannets and porpoises offshore.

Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw and Magpie were all also seen during the day, giving us the complete list of UK corvid species in the space of around 4 hours.

Dowrog Common
After a tea and coffee stop back at The Shed, we continued on to Dowrog Common near St. David’s. This is an area of lowland heath – a rare habitat in Wales - forming part of a network of sites with nearby Tretio Common and Waun Fawr, traditionally managed by grazing with ponies. Dowrog is the best part and is a Marsh Fritillary site, but these didn’t show during our visit.

We hoped to find Grasshopper Warbler here, but there was no sign or sound of this elusive creature – yet. Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat were common, giving us great views and a good opportunity to study their songs and calls. Stonechat, Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Kestrel and Buzzard were present and Phil saw a Whinchat just as we were leaving the site – a good reason to return at a later date.

St. David’s
We checked in to the Grove Hotel, a beautiful stone-built house on the edge of town, at tea-time to discover that it was Fish Week in Pembrokeshire – a celebration of fish, fishing and sea-food around the county. Needless to say the evening meal at the hotel was largely fish-based; and excellent.

Phil offered an evening trip to nearby Whitesands Bay, where a very pleasant hour was spent sitting on a promontory called the Ram’s Nose watching thousands of distant Manx Shearwaters streaming south past St. David’s Head on their way back to Skomer and Skokholm for the night.

Day 2 Tuesday 27 June

Skomer Island
The Grove’s excellent breakfast set us up in fine form for the big day on Skomer. We bought lunch supplies from the only supermarket in St. David’s and took the windy scenic coastal road down to Martin’s Haven opposite the island. Phil’s spatial awareness was put to the test taking the bus around the sharp bends in Little Haven on the way. A vehicle one inch longer wouldn’t have made it!

Skomer’s popularity is growing, so extra crossings by the Dale Princess are laid on during busy periods. We made the 10.30am boat and by 11am we were stood on one of the most important seabird colonies in the world. 250,000 Manx Shearwaters breed here – over half of the global population. Enough said. Thousands of Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Gulls, Fulmars and Kittiwakes breed on the cliff faces and Chough, Peregrine, Curlew, Oystercatcher and Short-eared Owl all add to the spectacle. This is a sacred, magical place – the first few minutes can be overwhelming, seeing these fantastic birds all around you.

The Assistant Warden met our wave of visitors at North Haven, where the boat lands, and gave us an introductory talk. Very obvious at this point was the amount of building work being undertaken on the island. The Warden’s House is being re-built, with further accommodation for assistants, and the old farmhouse in the middle of the island is being renovated to provide some accommodation for overnight visitors.

We decided to walk anti-clockwise around the island (most folk go clockwise) and were soon into Short-eared Owl habitat. Views of this species are far from guaranteed so we were thrilled to pick up a fairly distant bird hunting over the bracken heath. We spent the next 20 minutes watching this bird put on a spectacular show for us – it flew within 50 yards a few times, caught a Skomer Vole (I’m ticking it – I saw it wriggle) and then went through the ritual of confusing the watching gulls by landing in several different locations, with its prey, before finally disappearing into the bracken. Or maybe it was just lost?

We carried on up to the Garland Stone at the northern tip of the island for some sea-watching. A dozen grey seals, of a variety of ages, were hauled out around the rocks, porpoises and Gannets were fishing, auks were everywhere and Chough were feeding on the slope below us. Grassholm (the third biggest Gannet colony in the world) was visible to the west and Skokholm to the south. This is Pembrokeshire at its very best.
We enjoyed our picnic lunch further around the island at Skomer Head. Baby Guillemots were visible on the ledges, Manx Shearwaters were cruising distantly offshore and more porpoises were obvious in the very calm sea.

The busiest seabird colony on Skomer is at The Wick, a deeply indented bay with high cliffs. Auks and kittiwakes were here in good numbers, plus fulmars and Chough, but the real highlight was the puffins. This is the best accessible part of the island for close up views of these wonderful birds carrying sandeels back to the chicks in their burrows. This is also the best location to closely observe their behavioural displays of ‘billing’ and giving flowers!

We got back to North Haven around 4pm and picked out an individual of the bridled form of Guillemot whilst waiting for the return boat at 4.30pm. Razorbills at this spot were almost within arm’s reach, giving us stunning close-up views – including down into their yellow gape.

Leaving this wildlife paradise behind is always an unsettling experience. The desire to stay for ever is powerful and the thought of motorways, traffic and our version of civilisation fills me with trepidation. Still, that’s easy to say on a sunny summer’s day!

Marloes Mere
We called in at Marloes Mere on the return trip to St. David’s, a small freshwater wetland near the village of Marloes. This area is part of Trehill Farm, managed sensitively under stewardship agreement, restoring the former wildlife value of the area. This was a very peaceful spot and a good place to wind down after the sensory onslaught of Skomer. We added Little Grebe to the trip list and saw a newt (smooth or palmate) standing guard outside the YHA toilet block!

An early night was had by all, after an exhilarating day and before an early start…

Day 3 Wednesday 28 June

St. Justinian’s
Phil offered a pre-breakfast trip to the cliffs at St. Justinian’s, directly opposite Ramsey Island and where the local lifeboat is stationed. We took a quick Little Brown Job test, with the group correctly identifying Linnet, Whitethroat, Chaffinch and juvenile Robin before we got to the cliffs. Ramsey Sound was unusually calm, rendering the porpoises easy to spot, and making the white water around the ‘Bitches of Ramsey’ clearly visible. We had hoped to see Dolphin here, but had no luck this time. Peregrine had been notable by its absence thus far on the trip, but compensation came in the form of a male and female together in hot pursuit of a tail-less pigeon they’d forced into the sea and were trying to reclaim. Peregrines and water don’t mix, so the hapless pigeon soon fell foul of some Great Black-backed Gulls who made short work of it whilst we and the peregrines looked on.

Back to Dowrog and Strumble Head
We raided the delicatessen back in St. David’s, after breakfast, of most of its local produce before heading out to the remote and lonely Strumble Head near Fishguard. We called back in at Dowrog Common en route and could immediately hear a Grasshopper Warbler ‘reeling’. We bundled out of the minibus, following the general direction of its song and soon had great views of the bird in the ‘scope in full sunshine, perched on a long grass stem reeling its head off - wonderful. A distant bird perched in a willow turned out to be a female cuckoo (a much talked about species on this trip!) being mobbed by Reed Buntings.

We pressed on through the lanes towards Strumble and had the completely unexpected pleasure of seeing Gryff Rhys Jones (a great advocate of Welsh and English heritage) with a film crew in the roadside car park near Garn Fawr!

Strumble Head is Wales’ premier sea-watching site, with a long list of mouth watering species to its name. The vast majority of these, however, are logged during autumn passage – late June in calm conditions is a relatively quiet time. Nevertheless, we enjoyed views of porpoises, a seal, gannets, kittiwakes, auks and distant shearwaters during our final hour by the sea. Two of the group (including Phil) went back to the minibus for a few minutes to pick up cameras which, of course, is when what sounds very much like a Great Skua flew past chasing gannets. A typical birding moment!

We squeezed in a quick dash up Garn Fawr (a small hill near Strumble) for one last (and possibly the best) jaw-dropping view of the Pembrokeshire coastline before heading back to WWT Slimbridge by around 4pm.

My thanks to the Group for an extremely enjoyable few days in one of my favourite parts of the world.

Phil Shepherd
July 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 9 to 12 July 2006

13 July 2006 A hot day with a breeze. Very little birding has been possible this week as we have all been busy or not on site. The male Greater Scaup has been on the South Lake all week. At the 100 Acre a Greenshank, two alarm calling Redshank, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and Hobby were seen. Around the scrapes 50 Redshank, 4 Green Sandpiper, a Greenshank and 26 Black-tailed Godwit were present. The South Lake and especially the Top New Piece were the best places for birding. The Water Rail pair at the Martin Smith hide have two small chicks giving the rare opportunity to see them. This species breeds but normally it is impossible to see the young, patience should reward you with a view of these rather unique chicks.

12 July 2006 A Whimbrel was in the 100 Acre. A breeding plumaged Spotted Redshank was reported on the Top New Piece. Three Common Sandpiper were at Middle Point.

11 July 2006 A Whimbrel was heard in the 100 Acre, a few pairs of Little Grebe are hatching young and the Great Crested Grebes have young. A Hobby fed over the pools. Two Greenshank were on the South Lake.

10 July 2006 MJM did a Gulls with McGill event in the evening and saw two adult summer and a second summer Mediterranean Gull and 8+ Yellow-legged Gulls. A group of 15 Dunlin, 50+ Black-tailed Godwit, three Little Egret and 150 Curlew were also seen.

9 July 2006 Four pairs of Common Tern are nesting in the 100 Acre with a pair with chicks on South Lake. Seven pairs of Black-headed Gull have bred but a further three pairs are maikng a new or second brood attempt. I think a dozen chicks have fledged. A flock of 25 Dunlin were seen on the river. A total of 11 Greenshank were present with nine on the Top New Piece. Hobby was seen over the 100 Acre pools.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Western Andalucia and the Algarve Bird Report 28 June to 7 July 2006.

Trip report for 28 June to 7 July 2006 to Western Andalucia, Coto Donana, Huelva Province and The central Algarve, Portugal.

Eurasian Spoonbill at La Rocina, Coto Donana 30 June 2006 M.J.McGill. Hundreds if not thousands can be found around the El Rocio area when the marshes hold water.

Female Kentish Plover at Salgado Lagoon, Armacao de Pera, Algarve M.J.McGill. Many species were bleached and worn at this time of year. Dozens of these busy little waders were feeding and breeding around this excellent site. Some were fully fledged and others mere fluffy 'day olds'.

Greater Flamingos at Las Madres de las Marismas (The Mother of the Marshes). Hundreds of flamingo fed near the promenade and about this vast open marsh. It is a great place to sit and watch the much varied ornithological activity. M.J.McGill.

After flying with ryanair from Liverpool John Lennon Airport to Seville we collected our hire car and headed for the Old Quarter of Seville. This was a family holiday with no hardcore birding intended but allowing some relaxed birding and visit a few new sites to add to my Iberian knowledge. My third visit to Seville was for with the unanimous intention of waking up next to the cathedral, to wander around at leisure and taste more delectable tapas, I managed all three!

In the park opposite where we stayed I heard overflying parakeets which I thought were Monk Parakeets. House Sparrows were pleasingly common. From the streets around the famous cathedral I noted the Lesser Kestrels busy feeding young, they were highly vocal above our favourite Deli/Cafe and were swooping over tourists who did not even look up. Inside the cathedral I saw a Swift happily flying around, this is the second time I have seen them on the interior, I hope they get out now and again!

From the Giralda Tower you are offered stupendous views over the city, Guadalquivir River and beyond. Also from here you can look down onto the large Lesser Kestrel colony that has probably nested here since it was completed in 1506. A White Stork also landed on one of the elaborately carved masonry towers.

Back on the road and into Donana National and Natural Park to stay at El Rocio for my fifth visit. Black Kites and White Storks were common with the latter nesting on pylons everwhere. Bee Eaters are seen in numbers everwhere, Woodchat Shrikes very common (most had fledged young) and Azure Winged Magpies flew across the road every few minutes. The El Madre Lagoon opposite the town held 10+ Black Kite, 3 Marsh Harrier, 300+ Avocet, 700+ Black-tailed Godwit, 200+ Spoonbill, 400+ Greater Flamingo, 8+ Purple Heron, 4+ Grey Heron, lots of Mallard and Pochard broods, 30+ Black-winged Stilt, Reed Warbler, 10+ White Stork and Hobby over. Not bad for 20 minutes.

El Madre Lagoon 30 June 2006 A morning visit to add a few more birds included 20+ Collared Pratincole, 4 Gull- Billed Tern, a female Little Bittern, 1 Squacco Heron, 1 Night Heron, juvenile Black Tern, Cattle Egrets, Booted Eagle, Redshank, Lapwing and more of the common Mediterranean passerines.

A visit to the beach was refreshing and I did watch at close range two Red-rumped Swallows feeding around the car park at Torre de la Higuera. This species is seen regularly along the highways near bridges and culverts. A quick visit to El Acebuche to check out some details saw the regular crowd of 40+ Azure-winged Magpie hanging around the picnic area. On the way 'home' we saw Southern Grey Shrike and 30+ Bee Eater. Back at El Rocio in the evening 300+ Spoonbill and 9 Purple Heron were counted along with the usual throng of waterbirds.

La Rocina 2000-2100. Looking from the cool hides in the late evening a selection of Black-winged Stilts, Little- ringed Plover, Woodchat Shrike, White Stork and Spoonbills all had young. They were joined by 10 Green Sandpiper, 2 Savi's Warbler, 1 Olivaceous Warbler and a Purple Swamp Hen.

1 July 2006 An earlier but not that early start for me, heading out into the northern marismas and eventually to the CV Jose Antonio Valverde Centre and Lucio del Lobo. On the way I saw a Stone Curlew and on arrival a single Great White Egret, Great Reed Warblers, BW Stilts and Little and Cattle Egrets. At the centre it was drier than my last visit two years ago so not quite as good. Around 40,000 waterbirds were present last time. A male Pin-tailed Sandgrouse flew over. The heronry was still as busy with fledged young everwhere. The smell and sound of hundreds of Glossy Ibis, Cattle and Little Egrets, Squacco, Night and Purple Herons was as ever amazing.

A different route back without hanging about added 15 Night Heron, 100,s Calandra and Short-toed Larks and Southern Grey Shrike from the car.

Dehesa de la Abajo This was a new site for me and proved impressive due to the drier conditions around the park. An estimate of 2000 Black-winged Stilt, 100,s-1000 Whiskered Tern, 500 Avocet, 40 Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, 50 Black-necked Grebe, 3000 Coot, a pair of Ruff, 2000 Black-tailed Godwit, 100,s White Stork (breeding), 100 Bee Eater, 400 Spoonbill and many wildfowl. More time was needed to search through them all, what a site. I was only out for three hours and it was a pity to leave. Most of my birding was from the car hence not getting better views and hearing more species. I did have poors views of Spectacled Warbler and would have seen many other birds if I had time to search. I have seen them before and will see them again.

From the 1-7 July we stayed near Armacao de Pera on the Algarve, Portugal.

Some notable sightings while out and about included 6+ Alpine Swift racing around the seafront at Albufeira, Short-toed Eagle on the way to Monchique and looking down on Pallid Swifts at Ponta da Piedade. Yellow legged Gulls were numerous all along the coast.

I did visit the wetland site at Vilamoura briefly to have a look at any new developments. Much of it was closed off to cars now, I suppose local revheads have spoiled it for all. Purple Heron were still numerous and the reservoir lagoons held numerous Pochard, Mallard, Gadwall, Black-necked Grebe, Yellow -legged Gull and Black-winged Stilts. Cattle Egrets were also seen with White Storks, Waxbills, Marsh Harrier, Hoopoe, Turtle Dove, Azure- winged Magpies and Woodchat Shrikes around the scrub and reedbeds. As I was there at the middle of the day no Purple Swamp Hen were seen and this was a good site for Red-necked Nightjar five years ago.

From our rural apartment I was fortunate enough to have breeding Bee Eaters, Woodchat Shrike, Hoopoe, Sardinian Warbler, Red-rumped Swallow and also noted an Alpine Swift and Booted Eagle, most were seen from the breakfast table.

My local patch was the Salgado lagoon which I birded five times totalling about 5 hours. This impressive site held various numbers of birds but peaks of 217 Greater Flamingo, 9 Spoonbill, 150-200 Avocet, 100 pairs Black-winged Stilt, 30 Little Grebe, Moorhen, 400 Coot, 100 Kentish Plover, up to 25 Dunlin, 1 Curlew Sandpiper (6th), up to 4 Common Sandpiper, Pallid and Common Swift, 30 Little Egret, 8 Grey Heron, 30 Cattle Egret, 250-380 Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, 50 Little Tern, 4 Gull-billed Tern, 10 Sandwich Tern, 150 Mallard, breeding Gadwall, 5 Purple Swamp Hen, 2 short staying Slender-billed Gull (adults on 6th), a roosting adult Audouin's Gull (6th), a Great Black-backed Gull (6th), 2 Purple Heron (7th), 2 Zitting Cisticola, 15 Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, 2 Little Owl, 1 Hoopoe, 10 Woodchat Shrike and 10 Pochard.

On the return to Seville I wanted to check another new Spanish site for me, El Portil Lagoon near Punta Umbria. It was a sunken lagoon within a dune system but adjacent to the town of El Portil. Many birds were present 1000 Coot, 6 Spoonbill, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, Great Crested and Little Grebes, 20 Pochard, 2 Red-crested Pochard, 20+ Little-ringed Plover, 30+ Black-winged Stilt, Sardinian Warbler, Sand Martin and Common Sandpiper but no target species of Chamaeleon.