Monday, February 04, 2008

1-29 February 2008

Probable female American Wigeon, 27 February 2008 MJMcGill
29 February 2008 No birding today but a number of Redwing/Fieldfare around Whitminster.

28 February 2008 Apparently 14 continental Greylags in the flock today, they were on the Top New Piece and I assume the six were still on the river. A brief view of the probable American Wigeon was had today. It is worth checking all the flocks from the hides (only c500 left) but do not forget that this is a tricky challenge and there are variable Eurasian Wigeon, good views and all features must be noted to confirm. I got JSL to video it while I waited and watched the wing flaps (5 times) and if you visit the WWT Slimbridge wildlife sightings page it shows a still of a wing flap.13 Bewick's Swans, 377 White-fronted Geese and the Tundra Bean Goose remain. I saw a small, long-winged wader in flight, heading south down the reserve which I thought to be the Temminck's Stint. A Chiffchaff was in full song near the Decoy.

27 February 2008 I spent lunchtime on the reserve where I discovered a female Wigeon showing all the characters of American Wigeon. My attention was immediately taken by this bird and intense studying showed all the features including white axillaries. I would like to get closer to it for images etc but this is not really possible due to the nervousness of the Wigeon flocks. This is a repeat of a bird of a few years ago but unsatisfactory views of the underwing were had in that case. A Small Tortoisehell was on the wing and JSL reported a Peacock.

26 February 2008 I escorted a BBC film crew to the estuary at 0900 and discovered a flock of 12 Greylag Geese (don't really know what to call them, Continental/European) feeding in rough grass in the 50 Acre. They took flight from here and dropped onto the estuary off Middle Point before I called JSL who relocated them soo after (tide had moved them) in the Tack Piece scrape where he got some images. I also noted the six that have wintered with us were still on the spartina island where they have fed since arrival. The rather wary 12 were seen flying in at dusk to the Tack Piece again. Little Stints, 408 E White-fronted Geese, 90 Bewick's Swans, Tundra Bean Goose, Spotted Redshank, 12 Redshank, 2 Little Egret, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and at least 5 Ruff remained on the WWT reserve. The Water Rail was showing at the willow plantation feeding station and I was particularly pleased to finally catch up with a female Brambling here, two have been seen in recent days.

25 February 2008 At least 340 E.White-fronted Geese, the Tundra Bean Goose, 90 Bewick's Swans, 900 Golden Plover, 1 Little Stint, 9 Ruff and Temminck's Stint still at WWT Slimbridge today. Sand Martins, House Martin Garganeys and Swallows have all been recorded in Britain this week/weekend. The Pink-footed Goose departed a week ago from WWT.

24 February 2008 Highlight of the day was a flock of 9 large, pale Greylags on the Tack Piece and 2 Little Stint on the Dumbles.

First-winter King Eider, Appledore, Devon Len Ingram

23 February 2008 A day trip to Devon and calling in at Cheddar Reservoir on the way home produced a great selection of birds. Arriving at Dawlish Warren NR and looking from the seawall the following speceis were recorded; 1;2 Common Scoter, 1 Red-throated Diver, 2 Slavonian Grebe, 1st-winter female Surf Scoter, 8 Razorbill, 10+ Gannet, 10+ Shag, Cormorants and 15+ Great Crested Grebe. A flock of 50+ Grey Plover were flying over the sea heading west, a Red-breasted Merganser flew east and a Shelduck came in off the sea. A stonechat was around the car park. Below are the images of 2 Slavonian Grebe at Dawlish Warren and King Eider at Appledore.

A short drive away and the flock of Dark-bellied Brent at Cockwood numbered 200+, Powderham Park had 8 Greenshank and 20+ Little Egret, one group of 4 had a Cattle Egret with them and gave great views. At Bowling Green Marsh RSPB and the Clyst Estuary a first-winter Long-billed Dowitcher was of note among hordes of waders that included Spotted Redshank, Redshank, Bar and Black tailed Godwits, Avocets, Knot, Grey Plover and Dunlin. On the estuary a pair of Goldeneye and 8 Red-breasted Merganser were seen. The freshwater pools and scrapes held more waders and Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal. The next stop was Appledore in N. Devon where the target was first-winter male King Eider (an English tick for me after seeing 2 in Scotland and 1 in Wales). The duck was busy munching mussles as well as preening on shingle and seen in flight as some boys landed their boat near it. Among the gulls and waders were Turnstone. Calling in at Cheddar Reservoir on the way home and a close Red-necked Grebe, 4;4 Goosander, 4 distant Scaup and adult Mediterranean Gull were added. The Great Northern Diver was present but I could not locate it as the light faded. A great day packed with quality birds!

Red-necked Grebe centre with G.C.Grebes at Cheddar Res

22 February 2008 My birding continued this afternoon with a visit to the Cotswold Water Park (Glos section). I managed to record 56+ Red-crested Pochard with 49+ on P75 at least. A few Goldeneye, 2 pairs of Goosander Pit 44/17, 8 Little Egret, plenty of sinensis Cormorant and pick of the bunch an adult winter (moulting into breeding hood) Mediterranean Gull in the gull roost. A visit to Harnill/Driffield produced Tree Sparrows, a showy Grey Partridge and 150 Golden Plover. I noted three Kestrels (two near Aston Down) one over P17.

Northern Grey Shrike near Speech House Too slow to get a decent image of Hawfinch, too busy watching it....

21 February 2008 I took a day off and spent a bit of time this afternoon birding in the Forest of Dean where highlights were 3 Bullfinch at Brierley, 8 Mandarin at Cannop Ponds, 200 Siskin, 100 Redpoll, 1 Crossbill, 14 Goosander at Woorgreens, Northern Grey Shrike at Speech House, 2 Raven, 1 showy Hawfinch, singing Crossbill, 80 Brambling, 2 Great Spotted and 1 Green Woodpecker at New Fancy View. I also had lots of Coal Tits, Siskins and Redwing alll over the forest, Boar activity in many places and Fallow Deer. Greylag and Canada Geese were on territory on a few of the ponds.

20 February 2008 A few Redpoll and Siskin were present around the WWT centre, the Water Rail continued to show on/off all day at the Willow Plantation feeding station. Two Water Vole were showing from the entrance bridge at 16.15.

19 February 2008 The Tundra Bean Goose was still present at WWT.

Siskin at WWT Slimbridge MJM

18 February 2008 A Siskin showed well around the entrance Alders, Water Rail at the F Station, my highlight was seeing Snipe flying low over my garden at dusk, a garden lifer.

17 February 2008 At WWT, the Tundra Bean Goose was still with 320+ E.White-fronted Geese, the Water Rail was at the WP feeding station, I saw one in the 100 Acre and another showed in the Decoy from the Gulf Hide. The highlight was seeing a Bittern in flight, the first since the Top New Piece bird stopped showing last year. The Pink-footed Goose was in the Rushy. A min of 10 Little Grebe are back on the reserve. 2 Spotted Redshank (adult and 1st winter) were on the Tack Piece.

16 February 2008 As Bristol Rovers made the last 8 of the FA Cup with a win against Southampton I was distracted for the afternoon. A short pre-match walk at Frampton produced a couple of sinensis Cormorant and a few other waterbirds.

15 February 2008 No birding today.

14 February 2008 A very cold day, the usual birds at WWT, a Water Rail was showing well under the new bird table at the Willow plantation feeding station. A Jackdaw showing a pale collar/neck markings and not like the typical birds that can number 1000 at WWT was at the Willow Plantation feeding station. It was interesting but not like the birds I have seen in Finland and Sweden (someringii).

13 February 2008 A foggy start to the day, we caught over 20 duck including Pintail, Gadwall, Pintail and Mallard plus 2 Woodpigeon for ringing etc. The Water Vole was showing to dozens of visitors by the entrance bridge.
12 February 2008 Not much birding today. I did see a Siskin over the centre.
11 February 2008 A morning of counting at WWT as it was the WeBS survey and an afternoon escorting Gwent WT staff around, a record count of 252 Snipe, all on show at the same time and very impressive. We actually saw over 270. The cold nights were the likely cause as they are unable to feed when it is frozen. We also noted 5 Jack Snipe, a Rock Pipit and hybrid Shelduck x Ruddy Shelduck (presumed). The leucistic Egyptian Goose, like many before it and other goose sp has taken to visiting the grounds. The Tundra Bean Goose was still with what E. Whitefronted Geese that were left on the reserve. Highlights from the count included 6 Little Egret, a high number of Shoveler, the return of up to 6 Little Grebe, 11 Oystercatcher and 2 singing Reed Bunting indicating spring and the weather. The Bewick's Swans were spectacular when they came in during the early evening, the light and landing pattern was unusual so they gave excellent views.

Parting shot? The Tundra Bean Goose among friends, see it while you can, they will leave soon.

Leucistic Egyptian Goose
Shelduck on a Severn estuary creek
Shelduck x Ruddy Shelduck ( it has been visting us for 4+ years)

Water Vole at the WWT Slimbridge entrance pond. MJM

10 Februay 2008 The Tundra Bean Goose was still with the E.White-fronts, they left the roost late today and flew out of South Lake at 0805. During the day I saw at least 1 Little Stint, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Ruff, 1 leucistic Egyptian Goose, 650 Golden Plover, 3 Cetti's Warblers and many other birds but it appears that a clear out of wintering birds is in evidence. A showy Water Vole was a nice end to the day.

8-9 February 2008 No meaningful birding possible due to refitting the bath again thanks to manufacturing fault with the old one.

7 February 2008 At WWT I was around the hides today from 1030 to 1600 and saw the Pink-footed Goose with the Greylags, the Tundra Bean Goose and 400+ European White-fronted Geese, 3 Spotted Redshank, 14 Ruff and 40+ Redshank on the Tack Piece, the Temminck's Stint was seen from Holden Tower and I saw at least 2 Little Stint as well as thousands of other wetland birds. My first Chiffchaff of the year was a calling silouhette near the Martin Smith Hide. I took great pleasure in watching and listening to the subtle displays of Pochard at the Robbie Garnett hide. The leucistic Egyptian Goose is still on the road fields, have a look at the image on the WWT website.

6 February 2008 No birding today.

5 February 2008 No catch and frustratingly abandoned for good.

Common Buzzard on the Tack Piece, WWT Slimbridge.

4 February 2008 First thing in the morning at WWT we took a catch in the swan pipe which probably numbered c100 wildfowl of nine species. As ever it was a pleasure to handle and ring Tufted Duck and Pochard, Pintail, Bewick's Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Greylag and Canada Goose were also caught. A large catch of Shelduck was taken. I also spent two hours showing 90 schoolchildren our bird counting techniques and talking about migration in the Robbie Garnett hide, the usual gathering of Spotted Redshank, Ruff, Redshank, Dunlin, Golden Plover and Lapwing were on show. The Buzzard tearing a Canada Goose apart was apparently more interesting though. After a quick post catch de-brief we then headed out onto the reserve to set a cannon net, we shall see if we catch any duck tommorow.......

3 February 2008 No real birding during the day but I was out on the reserve from 0630-0930 with a group and during the 2.00pm Decoy Demo there were two pairs of Mandarin in the Decoy. An interesting oddity was a leucistic Egyptian Goose on the roadside field. A gathering of gulls on South Lake in the afternoon included a 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull.

2 February 2008 Fitting bathroom, so nice to have a full size bath again!

1 February 2008 A bit of local birding produced a Redshank on Townfield Lake (scarce here).

A bit of late news was of Egyptian Geese that flew over the Rushy last week on the 29 January Hearn).