Monday, October 29, 2007

Birding Diary update 23 to 29 October 2007

Male Eurasian Teal close up image by M.J.McGill
European White-fronted Goose, Tack Piece, WWT Slimbridge image by M.J McGill

Highlights in what has been a busy period at work since returning from Scilly are as follows..
29 October 2007 At WWT, 25 Bewick's Swan, 45+ E.White-fronted Geese, Water Rail, 2 Redpoll, 2 Rock Pipit, 2 Jack Snipe, 3 Ruff and a Little Stint were the pick of my personal sightings. A few Common Darters were still in tandem and egg laying.
28 October 2007 Migrant Hawker on the wing and an immature female Goshawk were the highlights, 2 Redpoll, lots of Redwing/Fieldfare, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Grey Plover, 350 Golden Plover, 300 Dunlin and 2 Ruff were also noted.
26 and 27 October 2007 No birding.
25 October 2007 A Rock Pipit, 13 Siskin, 150 Fieldfare, Brambling in the Decoy and Redpoll over south.
23 and 24 October 2007 No or very little birding.
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly trip report 16-22 October 2007 on the trip report section also the Finland Anser trip in June 2007 now live...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Apparent Wilson's Snipe, Lower Moors, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly 21 October 2007

Apparent Wilson's Snipe at Lower Moors, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly.
All images taken on 21st October 2007 by Martin J McGill.
With hand held Nikon Coolpix 995, Swarovski HD 65 with 30x WA.

Whilst guiding on a Birding holiday to the Isles of Scilly, my group and I were fortunate enough to gain great views of this bird and got some images to help with i.d on return home. I got back late on the 22nd and did not sit down to look at them until this evening (23rd). I had intially avoided Lowers Moors as the sightings of the probable Wilson's Snipe was intermittent and I had heard that it had not been seen for a couple of days to 20th at least. As there is little space in the hides I thought I would wait until the island was quieter (many birders had left for home), there were other avian distractions and that we had cleaned up for want of a better term on the birds that were available before trying for this bird and Jack Snipe. I had heard that it was seen again on 21st so decided to give it a go after Pallas's Warbler at Porthellick, a walk around the coast and a stop for coffee at Tolman Cafe.
On entering the ISBG hide we were very lucky to have seats although Len and I had to kneel at one end of the hide. A couple of birders were quite animated as they had seen a very interesting Snipe and got a couple of shots before it dissapeared. Shortly after Len and I located a Snipe that immediately looked interesting but was face on with it's bill tucked into its back. It jumped out as being different instantly, like the bird I saw in 1998?, along with 100's of other birders, at the same location. Not sure who id'd that one but they were sharp to pick up on it and certainly got everyone else thinking about these birds. I watched it for 10-15 minutes before it woke up, stretched it's wings briefly showing a fully barred underwing and began to feed in the open before dissapearing again. It showed many of the right features for Wilson's. It came out with a Common Snipe and the contrast between the two was very obvious. From what I could gather the other two birders in the hide had seen other features and had images and were discussing it. A few other birders joined us including Ash Fisher who put us onto the original Wilson's Snipe, which initially was not showing well, the bird we had been watching was even more contrasting than this one. Whilst everyone was studying this bird I picked up the second bird again alongside a Common Snipe. It fed in the open and I drew the attention of the other birders in the hide to the bird where the two guys said it was the one they had been watching earlier. I gave up my seat to allow Ash to video it and left soon after to study the original Wilson's from the screen and to stand up straight again!

It kind of reminded me of a Stilt Sandpiper (except for it being a Snipe!) not least due to the chestnut patch behind the eye, just a thought as well as other features; less of a bulbous facial appearance and open faced, cold tones having whitish rather than buff tones, the darker parts were blacker, heavily barred flanks with white base colour not buff, the tertial barring was narrow and faded (ghosting toward base) and narrow loral stripe which was even in width. I did not see it fan it's tail. A selection of images follow below.

To Bettie, Len, Chris and Eve, glad you enjoyed the Snipe on offer from this hide, lovely to see you enjoying all of them, I hope these images highlight what we were talking about.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sightings and diary for 9 to 14 October 2007

14 October 2007 At WWT Slimbridge a quiet day with the E White-fronted Geese showing themselves better on the Dumbles (4 adults and 2 juvenile). A few waders were seen on the estuary but the scrapes are much quieter for this group of birds at present. Wildfowl continue to increase and moult into better plumage. A female Goldeneye was a good find for a regular Sunday birder and I don't think I have seen one at this site before, a good bird for the reserve as we only see a few each year. Siskin and Redpoll were in evidence flying over, Redwing also with some Fieldfare. A Reed Bunting was in full song as the South Finger Reedbed which was unusual, c10 Goldcrest, 7 Cetti's Warbler and lots of Robin and Wren were noted today. A male Stonechat was on the Top New Piece. I also saw five Water Rail around the reserve, 1 in the Decoy, 2 in front of Zeiss Hide and 2 at the Knott Hide in the crake rides.

9-13 October 2007 Little or no birding.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

4 to 8 October 2007 Local sightings and diary update.

Dark bellied Brent Goose at WWT Slimbridge 7 October 2007
8 October 2007 Regular WWT visitors had another good day with the discovery of 9 (eight more) Dark-bellied Brent late morning. I did see the six European White-fronted Geese at 0750 but they were elusive for most of the day. Passage was much in evidence with 22, 3, 1 and Redwing, 3 and 1 Redpoll, 3, 1 and 2 Siskin over, 4 Goldcrest, 8 Chiffchaff and a male Blackcap in the Decoy but no sign or sound of the Firecrest. At least 5 Spotted Redshank were around the reserve. Migrant Hawkers are still on the wing with 8+ seen today.

7 October 2007 Despite what folk think I actually missed out on the bird of the day which would have been a reserve tick for me, a Firecrest was seen around the Holden Tower late morning. The Dark-bellied Brent was still on the Dumbles and six European White-fronted Geese arrived late morning. I did pick up 7 Common Scoter through the murk on the estuary which looked to have 5 males and 2 females on the morning tide. A flock of 11 Siskin were in the alders along the Holden pathway.

6 October 2007 A Dark-bellied Brent was among the Barnacle Geese. On the estuary 11 Little Egret, 4 Ringed Plover, 2 Little Stint, 68 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, 4 Golden Plover and 2 Wheatear , 13 Siskin and 12 Stonechat were the passerine highlights.

5 October 2007 No birding or news.

4 October 2007 A Painted Lady was a garden tick for me.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sightings and diary from 21 September to 3 October 2007

Meadow Pipit at WWT Slimbridge image by M.J.McGill

21-26 September 2007 The highlights during this period for me was seeing a juvenile Marsh Harrier on the Tack Piece on 23rd (so many sightings this autumn) and a female Hen Harrier over the Tack Piece (initially found by Phil Shepherd) on 26th.

26-30 September 2007 A busy period with an Anser/English Holiday Cruises four night break which was based in Gloucestershire for a change. This trip also involved WWT Slimbridge.

27 September 2007 A visit to the Forest of Dean for the morning and early afternoon was followed by a visit to GWT Coombe Hill Canal and meadows. Despite the cold Northerly wind we still managed some highlights in the Forest, quite a few Siskin were around, a single Lesser Redpoll, juvenile Dipper, 6 Redwing, displaying Mandarins and a fly past Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at New Fancy View. At Coombe Hill a late Common Sandpiper and single Snipe were notable birds but the low flying helicopter that circled the site did not help matters.

28 September 2007 A relaxed cruise from Gloucester to the Patch at Slimbridge where we moored up for the night. During our cruise we noted a number of commoner birds but also Peregrine, 4 Green Sandpiper, a couple of Kingfishers, a very close male Kestrel and juvenile Grey Heron, 1 Teal and flocks of 40, 3 and 2 Redwing. The stretch from Frampton on Severn to WWT produced views from the deck of first-winter Arctic Tern, 5 Little Egret, lots of Swallows and House Martins, Curlews and a calling Cetti's Warbler.

A quick pre-lunch session at WWT was productive for most of the duck species, Little and Great Crested Grebe and 6 Spotted and 5 Common Redshank. The afternoon was spent on safari at WWT with Dave Paynter where a variety of wildlife was seen.

29 September 2007 Another morning visit to WWT to see what was a probable White-rumped Sandpiper was succesful but the bird turned out to be a Temminck's Stint. Also on the floooded Dumbles were 2 Little Stint, 80 Dunlin, two 1st winter Arctic Terns, 1 Ringed Plover, 100+ Wigeon, 100+ Shelduck, 2 Peregrine and 7 Little Egrets. The scrapes held 1 Knot, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwing, 10 Dunlin and Spotted and Common Redshanks. Back onboard to cruise to Sharpness and back up to Frampton where a very confiding Kingfisher sat for us on a barge tiller as we cruised past. A Southern and Brown Hawker were on the wing at Sharpness Marina, these are late records. Three Redwing flew over and we noted 14 Redshank and 35 Wigeon at Sharpness and Cetti's Warbler at Splatt Bridge.

30 September 2007 Neil Smart escorted the group to Cleeve Hill where the highlight for them was a Woodlark.
I was back at WWT Slimbridge where the waders were similar in number but no sign of any of the scarcer ones. The morning rounds and afternoon safari were great with Yellow Wagtail and 2 Siskin over, 1st winter Mediterranean Gull, Garganey, 1180 Teal, Hobby, 1st-winter Arctic Tern, 1 Knot, 3 Little Stint, 1 Grey Plover, 3 adult Yellow-legged Gulls, pair of Stonechat, 2 Wheatear and 30+ Migrant Hawker in the 100 Acre. A Pink-footed Goose was with the Greylag flock.

1 October 2007 A wet, grey day but I still saw a Southern Hawker! at WWT.

2 October 2007 A Wheatear was at Middle Point, 28 Grey Plover, 2 Golden Plover, 1 Sanderling, 140 Dunlin, 5 Ringed Plover, 1 Ruff, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Little Stint, 1 Spotted Redshank and Arctic Tern were all on the river at 1630. A flock of 5 Common Scoter were seen over the tide.

3 October 2007 At WWT Slimbridge a misty, grey and foggy morning turned into a warm sunny afternoon. The Greylag flock which numbered 344 had a Pink-footed Goose with them on the Dumbles. On the estuary over high tide a Phalarope which was likely to be Grey (the observers think it was this species), whilst unsucessfully looking for this (but grateful for the tip off) I enjoyed a Brent Goose which headed downriver, 2 ,1st-winter Arctic Terns and 2 male Common Scoter. Only 5-8 Dunlin and a Ruff were present but 40 Golden Plover were also seen. Two Whinchat were seen at Middle Point. Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters were mating and on the wing at Middle Point and the Rushy. At least 5 Ruff and 3 Spotted Redshank were on the scrapes.