Tuesday, November 28, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 28 November 2006

28 November 2006 The tristis type Siberian Chiffchaff was at the Barclay's Hide today. At least 8 Chiffs were in the area with 2-3 more on site in other locations. Two new birds were seen at this hotspot today. One was keeping company with the tristis and was pale with wamer upper flank patches and a warmer edge to the breast. They were being aggresive towards each other at times. It appeared larger. The waders were much the same (10 Ruff seen) with additional sightings/arrivals including a swanfall, 50 Bewick's Swans on site today, a flock of c30 flying about together. A female Stonechat was on the reed island by the Zeiss Hide, a male Blackcap was in the car park. The 2 continental Greylags are still in the Bottom New Piece daily and the Tundra Bean now has 77 E. White-fronted Geese for company. At least 9 Mandarin were noted today.

Monday, November 27, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 27 November 2006

27 November 2006 A female Merlin was on a kill on the Dumbles with the pair of Peregrine also feasting on a sand bar in the estuary. Two Grey Plover were viewable from the Holden Tower. On the Tack Piece/Dumbles 2 Little Stint, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Ruff, 16 Redshank, 1 Tundra Bean Goose and 71 E. White-fronted Geese were seen between 0900-1000. A Chiffchaff was in the bushes here with further Chiffs at the Decoy, Barclay's Hide and South Finger. The tristis type bird was also still present. The Spotted Redshank was also seen on the reserve.

The WWT Slimbridge (Siberian tristis type) Chiffchaff and further comparison images

On 15 November I discovered a greyish Chiffchaff at the Barclay's Hide near WWT Slimbridge in the company of six other Chiffchaff four of which were the standard and much familiar collybita type. The bird did show very well and could be directly compared to the accompanying birds. The long supercilium that extends beyond the eye was very obvious, the bill, legs and eye all contrast with the rest of the plumage due to the paleness of the bird. I would also say that the legs are in fact blacker also.The underparts were very pale and gave a silky look reminiscent of Dusky Warbler. I also saw a very feint bar in the wing. I saw it again on 23 November in the same place and in the afternoon of the same day saw it in sunshine with James Lees. In overcast conditions the bird was very obvious but even in the sunshine it could be easily picked out. On 25 November James managed to get some more shots of the bird which are featured below as well as images of a bird trapped by James/Martin Cade at the Portland Bird Obs in 2003. The brightness settings have not been used to alter the images. Although I still have not heard it call a number of friends have and all describe the same thing and very different to the familiar Common Chiffchaff notes. I am not going to attempt to describe it here but it is the same type of call as heard when watching other Siberian Chiffchaffs in past years. I have added this posting as a guide to help people to locate the bird in the field, we are happy with our own conclusions and leave you to make your own. Keep on enjoying birds.


Common Chiffchaff (above) and tristis type Siberian Chiffchaff at Portland Bird Obs image by J. S.Lees.

The WWT Slimbridge bird on 25 November 2006 J.S.Lees

The WWT Slimbridge bird on 25 November 2006 J.S.Lees

And finally another comparison shot of the Portland duo J.S.Lees. This bird arrived on 13 October, the same day (in the space of 2hrs) as a Yellow-browed and Radde's Warbler and Common Rosefinch.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 25 and 26 November 2006

Above and below; the first-winter male Green-winged Teal on the Top New Piece marsh images by M.J.McGill

Male Kingfisher on the pool east of the Van de Bovenkamp Hide, WWT Slimbridge. This bird fishes here regularly. M.J.McGill

26 November 2006 A few new birds on site today. Wader and duck numbers are increasing further, the flooded fields still pulling in a great bird spectacle. An adult Dark-bellied Brent was with the Barnacle Geese on the Tack Piece where Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Dunlin, Golden Plover and Lapwing were also roosting.

The tristis Siberian type Chiffchaff was still showing very well with a bit of patience at the Barclay's Hide. At least four collybita Chiffchaff were also here along with a Cetti's Warbler. The 'Siberian' was heard calling by a number of different people today and was interpreted by all as distinctly different to Common Chiffchaff and as heard before when presented with tristis type birds. I will post some images taken by JSL yesterday with a few other comparison shots on tommorows diary entry.

After apparently no records in 2005 and 2006 a male Green-winged Teal was seen at the South Finger initially and then distantly on the Top New Piece to early afternoon at least. This species is normally annual at WWT Slimbridge. This individual does show a rather salmon-pink/buff vertical stripe. The Tundra Bean Goose was with 70 E. White-fronted Geese on the Dumbles today. At least three Common Darter were at the South Finger with one near the Barclay's hide. A pair were in tandem and ovipositing at the former site! At least three Red Admiral were also on the wing.

25 November 2006 The tristis type Chiffchaff (Siberian Chiffchaff) was at the Barclay's Hide with five Common Chiffchaff.

Friday, November 24, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 20 to 23 November 2006

23 November 2006 The week has been fairly stable, numbers of wildfowl and waders have been consistent and no new birds appear to have arrived. Today there were at least 8 Chiffchaff on site, I saw the grey, pale bird showing features of Siberian at 0830 near the Barclay's Hide. It was in the company of at least five other Chiffchaff with the difference being very obvious when alongside. It's companions were calling regularly but once again it did not call. Later in the afternoon we saw it again, this time with JSL but it was elusive and silent.

A flock of 6 Grey Plover were around over the tide as was a late Ringed Plover. The latest record of Common Darter was noted today at the Barclay's Hide.The birding has been very good with high tides over the mid-morning period and plenty of rain to top up the fields. Daily sightings include 18 Bewick's Swans, 1 Tundra Bean Goose, 2 Peregrine, 3 Buzzard, 1 Little Stint, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ruff, 8 Redshank, 1300 Dunlin, 1400 Golden Plover, 2000 Lapwing and up to 127 Great Black-backed Gulls. A Yellow-legged Gull has also been seen most days. Gales are forecast over the weekend, any seabird sighting reports would be welcome as this group of birds are often difficult to catch up with in the county.

22 November 2006 The most notable record was an Oystercatcher over the tide.

21 November 2006 The European White-fronted Geese numbered 74.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 19 November 2006

19 November 2006 The Tack Piece has finally flooded and is attracting wildfowl and waders. At least four Ruff, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 252 Curlew, 200 Lapwing and 2 Redshank have joined the Wigeon and Teal. Three collybitta Chiffchaff were noted on site today with a Cetti's Warbler showing from the Death Hide along with a Green Woodpecker. The 2 continental Greylag were on the Bottom New Piece and the Tundra Bean and 62 European White-fronted Geese were on the Warth/Dumbles. A Little Stint was seen on the Dumbles with 1500 Dunlin and 1600 Golden Plover in flight only. Perhaps the surprise of the day was a Migrant Hawker on the wing at the Martin Smith Hide pool combined with an unseasonal Pipistrelle Bat in the Holden Tower.
The Top New Piece is also providing a great attraction to the Wigeon flock in particular. The South Lake had 4 Black-tailed Godwit but was disturbed by the collapsing Sand Martin bank. The Rushy had 159 Pintail, the Ferruginous x Pochard, 280 Pochard and 12 Bewick's Swans as it's highlights.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 17 and 18 November 2006

Tundra Bean Goose with juvenile European White-fronted Goose (note lack of belly bars) WWT Slimbridge J.S.Lees.

18 November 2006
The Tundra Bean Goose is still present with the European White-fronted Geese.

17 November 2006 The Garganey was again reported from the Top New Piece and the Tundra Bean Goose remained with 60 European White-fronted Geese.

Ferruginous x Pochard hybrid WWT Slimbridge 16 November 2006

16 November 2006 No birding today as we were very busy ringing hundreds of ducks between 0730-1200. As I entered the swan pipe trap, the first bird I saw was the Fudgie hybrid and the first bird I netted on the drive was, of course the same bird. This bird is spending it's 2nd (corrected) winter with us and arrived with the first large scale arrival of Pochard. It would be great to know what country this liason occured in.We have a great number of Pochard recoveries from Asia and Eastern Europe where they can interbreed. The other regular wintering bird is expected soon.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 14 and 15 November 2006

15 November 2006 Pick of the day was at least six Chiffchaff, three at the Holden Tower and three at the Barclay's Hide, there may have been more around the trust. One of the Barclay's Hide birds showed the features of Siberian Chiffchaff. It was in the company of a collybitta and a browner bird and was distinctly different. The greyer head, nape and mantle contrasted with the wings and gave it a beady-eyed look reminiscent of Bonelli's Warbler. The supercilium was pale and more prominent than accompanying birds. The legs also stood out as being darker due to the pale underparts again showing great contrast. It also sported a feint wing bar. It was in the trees, bushes and reeds near the hide. Unfortunately it did not call although the others were vocal. The Tundra Bean Goose was on the Bottom New Piece. 6+ Ruff were on the Dumbles, 2 Black-tailed Godwit on South Lake and a Spotted Redshank on the Long Ground Pool.

14 November 2006 2 Chiffchaff were at the Holden Tower with 1 at the South Finger, the 2 continental Greylags were at the South Finger and 62 European White-fronted Geese had the Tundra Bean Goose for company.

Monday, November 13, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 13 November 2006

European White-fronted Goose from the Holden Tower J.S.Lees.

13 November 2006 Dave Paynter and I counted the whole reserve today for the WEBS (Wetland Bird Survey), we have over 11,000 waders, duck, geese and swans on site, the results follow....

An escapes/released non-WWT female Chiloe Wigeon was on the Top New Piece. 59 European White-fronted Geese, 1 Tundra Bean Goose, 104 Barnacle, 321 Canada, 400 Greylag (the 2 heavier and paler with pink/orange bills were on the Bottom New Piece and Tack Piece today) 3 Little Grebe, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 18 Cormorant, 293 Mute Swan, 27 Bewick's Swan, 410 Shelduck, 857 Wigeon, 82 Gadwall, 1986 Teal, 1275 Mallard, 111 Pintail, 124 Shoveler, 431 Tufted Duck, 1 Scaup, 307 Moorhen, 303 Coot, 1410 Golden Plover, 1290 Lapwing, 1310 Dunlin, 1 Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Ruff and 77 Curlew. Two Chiffchaff were along the path to the Holden Tower and 2 Stonechat were in the 100 Acre. A flock of 30+ Fieldfare were also around the northern fields. A Brown Hare was on the Dumbles and Red Admiral around the centre.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 12 November 2006

Greater Scaup on South Lake 12 November 2006 M.J.McGill

12 November 2006 A search of the Top New Piece produced 300 Teal, 650 Wigeon, 2 Spotted Redshank, Cetti's Warbler and a late Garganey as well as 2 Bewick's Swans (Turmeric and Tarragon). The group of 11 Bewick's Swans on the Rushy were joined by 15 of the Walmore Common birds at 1645. 230 Pochard and the Ferruginous hybrid were also present. South Lake was good today with the Greater Scaup, 120 Tufted Duck and visiting Spotted Redshank, Ruff and 5 Black-tailed Godwits. At the South Finger around 20 Redwing were skulking in the bushes with 30 Fieldfare in the vicinity. The Tundra Bean Goose remained with the European White-fronted Geese on the Dumbles with Peregrine Falcon also in the usual places.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Long-billed Murrelet off Dawlish, Devon 11 November 2006

It is amazing what can turn up when you go for a cream tea in Devon!

11 November 2006 An early afternoon decision to enjoy a Devon cream tea on the seafront at Dawlish was rewarded by not only a fine scone, jam and lashings of clotted cream but the first Long-billed Murrelet for the UK. It was lovley to bump into so many good friends at this seaside town who, unusually had a similar idea.

Long-billed Murrelet at Dawlish, Devon 11 November 2006 M.J.McGill. A flock of c50 Dark-bellied Brent were on the golf course at Starcross and we noted a Red Admiral at Junction 13 M5 as we set off.

WWT Slimbridge sightings 8 and 9 November 2006

9 November 2006 A warm sunny day with at least four Common Darter and a Migrant Hawker still on the wing, a few Red Admiral also noted today. Chiffchaff, Cetti's Warbler and Water Rail were all vocal in the South Finger Reedbed. The Tundra Bean Goose showed well on the Tack Piece a couple of times today along with the European White-fronted Geese. The highlight of the day was speaking to and seeing one of the world's best bird artists, Lars Jonsson at work in WWT hides. He is here to support the trust in it's 60th year celebrations. Happy 60th birthday to WWT.

8 November 2006 A single Chiffchaff was around the centre reedbed. The group of 11 Bewick's Swans remained faithful to the Rushy with 5 more overflying. A flock of 182 male and 35 female Pochard have built up on the Rushy with the Ferruginous x Pochard hybrid also still seen daily. The Spotted Redshank was on the Long Ground Pool.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 6 and 7 November 2006

The Light-bellied Brent on the Dumbles 4 November 2006 J.S.Lees

7 October 2006 The fog had cleared a bit today but was still hampering viewing. There was a good selection of waders around the reserve due to the high tides. On the Dumbles adult Yellow-legged Gull, 131 GBBGull, 2 Peregrine, 7 Redshank, 7 Grey Plover, 1 Ringed Plover, 600 Dunlin, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 98 Curlew, c40 European White-fronted Geese, 1 Tundra Bean Goose, 120 Barnacle Geese and a few Redwing in the bushes.

The South Lake had the Greater Scaup, 2 Ruff, 16 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Spotted Redshank (also seen in the Long Ground Pool), The Top New Piece has 650 Wigeon, 3 Little Stint, 3 Ruff and Cetti's Warbler and Water Rail. The South Finger feeding station had calling Cetti's and a Water Rail. A Siskin was heard over the South Lake. A single, rather brown Chiffchaff was around the Barclay's hide.

6 November 2006 The fog had hardly cleared until late afternoon when 3 Little Egret, 55 European White-fronted Geese, 1 Tundra Bean Goose and a calling Chiffchaff were seen at the Holden Tower. The Brambling was again seen at the South Finger feeding station.

Please see the news section if you are interested in the latest day trip offering.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 2 to 5 November 2006

I was away in Lancashire for a few days so was unable to update, a trip report will follow.

5 November 2006 The Tundra Bean Goose was still on the Dumbles along with the European White-fronted Geese. The Barnacle Goose flock still numbers over 120 with the 9 often seperate birds again doing their own thing again. A flock of c40 Fieldfare were feeding in the Tack Piece but the star bird was the Nuthatch at the Holden Tower with 2 Treecreeper. A Spotted Redshank was on the Long Ground Pool.

Also seen on the reserve included a Jack Snipe, 5 Stonechat at the north end and Water Rail at the Martin Smith hide. At least 12 Bewick's Swans were on site.

4 November 2006 A Light-bellied Brent was the highlight today, this is still a rare goose in Gloucestershire. It was seen on the Dumbles with the other goose species which included the Tundra Bean and 54 European White-fronted Geese. I have heard that 29 Bewick's Swans were recorded today.

3 November 2006 A Brambling was seen at the South Finger feeding station.

2 November 2006 A Tundra Bean Goose was present among the other grey geese today.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

WWT Slimbridge sightings 1 November 2006

Late dragonflies!
Common Darter at the Centre Reed-bed at WWT Slimbridge 1 November 2006. A male and female were present here today with a Migrant Hawker. You can see them from the viewpoint opposite the grass carpark (cross the zebra crossing). Another Migrant Hawker was at the South Finger reed-bed.

The four Greenland White-fronted Geese were with over 30 European White-fronts from the Holden Tower. 2 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest and 3 Stonechat were also on show. There were further Chiffchaff and Goldcrests around the grounds. The Barnacle Goose flock numbered c124 again with 9 birds being seperate from the rest of the flock and in the company of Whitefronts and 6 at the South Finger with Canada first thing this morning. A party of 6 Redpoll were around the centre. A Cetti's Warbler was in the vegetation in front of the Martin Smith Hide. A Fieldfare was on overhead wires at the Patch. The 2 large , pale Greylag were in fields east of South Lake.

WWT Slimbridge sightings 31 October 2006

31 October 2006 The goose flocks provided the most interest today with an increase in European White-fronted Geese taking the tally to 39. Among this group I was delighted to pick out two Greenland White-fronted Geese, we have not had any records for a few years so they are most welcome. The Barnacle Goose flock has been fairly stable at 114 recently but in line with the Greenland Whitefront arrival a further ten have joined the flock taking it to 124. Historically Barnacle Geese have been annual at Slimbridge but this is hard to judge with the naturalized birds wintering here these days. It is possbile that the extra birds are genuine migrants. Other birds apart from the large numbers of wildfowl included 300 Golden Plover, 177 Dunlin, 1 Greater Scaup, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Little Stint, 1 Chiffchaff and 2 Redpoll.