Friday, April 18, 2008

Diary/Sightings 14-30 April 2008

Short-eared Owl WWT Slimbridge, Black Rock Breakwater 29 April 2009 MJMcGill
Eurasian Shelduck and Eurasian Shelduck x shelduck sp MJMcGill
This bird has been visiting WWT for 4 years

30 April 2008 A rather quiet end to the month, 2 Yellow Wagtail, the Ruff, a Common Sandpiper and 6 singing Lesser Whitethroats were the highlight at WWT. I had four Common Terns and a Hobby at Townfield Lake, Frampton on Severn at 1650.

29 April 2008 Apart from the Shelduck hybrid above, notable birds today included the Short-eared Owl that flew in at c0825 from the N being mobbed by gulls and landed near me, it eventually flew further S to rest in the grass at Middle Point. Two of our staff conducting an amphibian trapping and virus testing session saw it head back N mid-morning. I did hear a single Willow Warbler today and 5 Lesser Whitethroats and 5 Common Whitethroats. Even more Reed and Sedge Warbler are on site with 60+ of the former seen/heard. Two Common Sandpiper and the small female (complete with pectoral band and green legs) Ruff on South Lake. I also saw the first summer Mediterranean Gull here today. A flock of 13+ Black-tailed Godwit were also here. No waders seen on the estuary today by me, a few Curlew in flight to the N only.

28 April 2008 Most of what I saw today is on the WWT website but 6 Commic Terns N upriver at 1620 and the non-existence of Willow Warbler and less than 10 Sand Martin were notable as they have both been in very good numbers lately. At least 50 Swift were over the 100 Acre/Frampton area with LPA seeing 40 heading over the Tack Piece. The two Common Terns were still on the estuary but very few waders noted, 2 Sanderling, 3 Ringed Plover and a Grey Plover! On the wat to work a flock of c30 Whimbrel were low over fields just S of Hilltop Garage A38 at Claypits, this flock was also seen yesterday.

Dark-bellied Brent Goose and Avocet from the WWT Slimbridge Holden Tower and a Cattle Egret was in the Bull Ground 27 April 2008 MJM

27 April 2008 I had more migrants this time back at work at WWT Slimbridge, I met up with Neil Smart early and covered the rounds, it was soon apparent that a fall of acrocephalus warbler had occured. We did not cover the whole reserve but 40 singing Reed and 45 singing Sedge Warbler were logged. At least two Lesser Whitethroat were heard today. Not a single Willow Warbler was seen or heard, they as usual appeared to have moved through the reserve. Things got going when after mentioning to Neil that we really should have Avocet today he announced that there is one on the pool in front of the Holden Tower. It was with the DB Brent and also toured the 100 Acre and South Lake today and was seen at the latter site am and pm. We saw male Garganey on the Top New Piece and 100 Acre today. A single Yellow Wagtail went over N and a single Whimbrel was seen with two this afternoon. A flock of 380 Dunlin were on the estuary with a Little Stint, 10 Sanderling 4 Grey Plover and 16 Ringed Plover. News of a male Montagu's Harrier filtered through and while heading to the seawall we saw a female Goshawk fly out of the hedge and head N near Middle Point and saw the Long-eared Owl again. I set up a viewing area and the Owl showed well all day and was not disturbed at all. The harrier was found by Richard Baatsen and we all want to know why he was not at his desk doing County Recorder work and out birding on his day off! We also had three Wheatear with another seen on the Dumbles. Late in the morning we saw a normal Egyptian Goose was on the road fields. A flock of 7 Grey Heron and 2 Cattle Egret were also seen.

Nick Goatman beat me to the first Large Red Damselfly of the year in Green Lane.

26 April 2008 Another very productive morning birding session locally with 2 Tree Sparrow N, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Greenshank, 2 Wheatear, 2 Cattle Egret, 2 Cetti's Warblers (very Noah's Ark esque), 1 Common Tern, 4 Ringed Plover, 19 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover and 8 Swift, a siging Cuckoo was also heard. The sparrows were good but the 2 first-summer Little Gulls that flew in from the S and fed before heading off N again were probably the highlight. The day was spent on the roof and down the chimney with the result being a lined chimney and operational woodburner. An evening walk with the family and Neil Smart was also excellent, we logged a flock of 66 Whimbrel, 8 Black-tailed Godwit (the brightest islandica I have seen this year), a Barn Owl and singing Lesser Whitethroat and the 2 Cattle Egrets again. I also saw 20 Swift over Townfield Lake, Frampton on Severn.

25 April 2008 An hour out birding and a few birds to report. I wandered about on the canal at Frampton on Severn this morning and saw my first Swift of the year, a singing Lesser Whitethroat and breeding plumaged Spotted Redshank with spectacles (it still retains pale rings around the eyes). Even more Reed and Sedge Warbler were singing from various places not heard from so far. One of the local Common Terns was fishing over the estuary.

First summer male Pied Flycatcher WWT Slimbridge 23 April 08 MJM

Long-eared Owl WWT Slimbridge 23 April 2008 MJM

24 April 2008 More spring migrants at WWT were around but a spell in the Holden Tower was my most productive part of the day. A Whimbrel was present with a newly arrived and non-breeding plumage Bar-tailed Godwit and four Curlew, 3 Arctic Terns flew N upriver (JSL had a Sandwich Tern off Middle Point). I went out over lunch and logged 2 and 9 Whimbrel, 4 Wheatear which included 3 (2:1) Greenland types and a pair of Common Tern in the 100 Acre pools. A few Ringed Plover and Dunlin were on the Dumbles edge.

23 April 2008 Yet another good day, the weather and birds were very uplifting. I went in to work early and had at least three singing Lesser Whitethroat and two male Wheatear, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Yellow Wagtail, a Siskin, some Goldfinch, 20 Linnet and a Grey Wagtail all heading N and rather pleasingly my target bird, a male Pied Flycatcher. It was a reserve first for me and remains a scarce bird here, they are seen from time to time but we generally do not hear about them until a day or two later. It was in full song and calling and was great to watch. I was on hide round duty although due to a corporate group arriving and making preparations I only got to spend 10 minutes in the Holden Tower, it was a good ten minutes though. Two Sandwich Tern flew downriver, an Arctic Tern flew up but was joined by the Sandwich Terns again. A Great Crested Grebe was also present but Terry Grant had three, the tern trio again and the 2 Little Gulls that were at Frampton yesterday. Thanks to Terry for tipping me off as to the male Redstart along the summer walkway, Steve Owen saw it here yesterday but this and the PiedFly made WWT Slimbridge feel more like Nagshead RSPB. A Sanderling was with the Ringed Plover and Dunlin flock, the DBBrent and 3 White Wagtail joined a Common Sandpiper on the pool.The day was also memorable due to discovering that the log in the hedge that I saw out the corner of my eye turned out to be a roosting Long-eared Owl,we were going to arrange viewing for the next day but it was not present.

22 April 2008 Another productive day, before work, during lunch and after work I logged a decent list of birds, I did not get onto either the 3 Common Crane that Nick lucky Goatman had fly over his workplace at Eastington (heading S) but I did see the last one he had over a number of years back. Also Colin Butters left a note on my desk saying that he had a circling Spoonbill over the WWT car park at 1515. At WWT I saw 4:1 Pintail plus a female , 5 Whimbrel, 3 Spotted Redshank, 2 Cattle Egret, 5 Yellow Wagtail N, 13 White Wagtail on the Dumbles, male Wheatear, 2 Tree Pipit, 1 Sanderling, 50 Ringed Plover, 90 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, singing Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, 30 Willow Warbler and a male Redstart was seen but not by me. A light passage of Linnet and Goldfinch was in evidence but Bob Radford reports 100's passing Berkeley.

Around Frampton on Severn I saw 2 Little Gull and a male Ruddy Duck on Townfield Lake, Greenshank, 2 male and a female Garganey and 2 Cetti's Warbler and singing Whitethroat amongst many other birds but the highlight was seeing a flock of Curlew that have built up during the day to c67 making pre-migration fly arounds and being very vocal. I have seen this at this time of year for many years now and usually hear them flying over my house in the evening. At least 4 Whimbrel were also present.

21 April 2008 A little bit of visible migration but nothing like yesterday's mammoth bird haul. At WWT I noted at least four Yellow Wagtail over N and one on the ground, 3 White Wagtail and 2 Common Sandpiper. Two breeding plumaged Spotted Redshank were in the WWT 100 Acre and 3 Whimbrel were in the field adjacent to the canal which has South Splatt reedbed within it.
20 April 2008 Apart from 14 Sedge Warbler and 10 Reed Warbler at WWT nearly everything I saw today at work is on the WWT website, highlights being male Yellowhammer and Red Kite low over N at Midday. Click on the link for todays sightings. The Pallas's Warbler was still present today.

19 April 2008 Just a little bit of birding at Townfield Lake, Frampton on Severn where Gloucestershire's first Pallas's Warbler sang and showed well to a grateful crowd. Well done to Nick Goatman on this great find and a bit of icing on the cake for him as he does put in a lot of effort locally. A couple of Nightingale were also singing and showing with plenty of Blackcap and Willow Warbler as well.

Singing Pallas's Warbler, Frampton on Severn MJM

Blackbird singing on a cold spring morning MJM

One of nine Yellow Wagtails from Splatt Bridge gate 17 April 08 MJM
Multiple occurence of Cattle Egret, Frampton on Severn MJM

18 April 2008 I had a moring stroll locally along the canal, heading North up the estuary were 5,1,1 Swallow, 6 Ringed Plover, a few large gulls but otherwise quiet. Sedge and Reed Warbler could be heard from the Green Lane in the WWT 100 Acre but this area was also quiet, highlights being lots of Sand Martin, 5 Goldfinch N 6 Willow Warbler and a Yellow Wagtail. The two Cattle Egret that were reported in the WWT diary on Tuesday and by Bruce and Jean Pendlebury on Wed 16 April were still in the field near the telephone box at Frampton on Severn.

17 April 2008 A few extra birds struggling into the wind, I had a Little Tern N @0722-0725, c100 Black-headed Gulls N, Yellow Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 55 Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plover, Whimbrel 1 over Decoy to South Lake and 3 N at Saul Warth in the evening. 2 Cattle Egrets flew from the WWT 100 Acre past Splatt Bridge and to the field adjacent to the canal (East) among the black/white cattle. A party of nine Yellow Wagtail dropped in for a few minutes at Splatt but headed North again. Nick Goatman rapidly departed my company when his mum rang with news of Pied Flycatcher in their Slimbridge garden. Cetti's Warbler and Little Grebe were on the Saul Warth marshes. At least 700 Sand Martin were around WWT/Frampton today and a passage of Goldfinch and Linnet was also in evidence, this was also witnessed by Paul Taylor/Bob Radford at Berkeley.

14-16 April 2008 All bird information of note is on the WWT website.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Birding diary/sightings 1-13 April 2008

13 April 2008 Back at WWT and a few migrants were around, I had my first two Reed Warbler of the year and nine Golden Plover some in full breeding plumage was of note as were single Ringed Plover and good numbers of commoner warblers.

Griffon Vultures, Monfrague National Park, Extremedura MJM

8-12 April 2008 A trip to Extremedura was productive despite the cold, wet weather and strong winds. A Light-bellied Brent Goose was a good find and in keeping with the conditions. Seeing it alongside Collared Pratincole and being continually flushed by Black Kite was less typical and the record must be highly notable as this is a landlocked province. Images are now on the trip report section but I will add report later.

Light-bellied Brent Goose, Embalse de Guadiloba, Caceres, Extremedura MJM.

latest news (less than 24 hrs after I e-mailed) from SEO Caceres Grupo Local.....

Hi Martin,

Is a very very interesting observation. The next day, 11th April, a local birder has seen a Branta bernicla in Casatejada (NE Caceres), probably the same bird. It was his first time with this species and he doesn't know something about subspecies. Please send to me photos, they send to him to confirm whether it was the same individual.

Light Bellied Brent is rarity in Spain. In 1984-2003, had only 10 records, all on the coast. This is the first observation in Extremadura and also the first in the interior of Spain. In Portugal coast there is another record.

If possible, it would be important to send a description and photos to Spanish committee of rarities. I attach a form to fill. Please send it to A greetings and congratulations on the observation


What a good find for the group!

Brown Hare WWT Slimbridge

7 April 2008 At WWT we did a landrover safari 0800-1030 with the target being close views of Brown Hare, this was very succesful and four animals showed very well. Also noted were the two Wheatear and in the 100 Acre, 5 Little Stint, the Temminck's Stint, 3 Spotted Redshank, a Ruff etc. Perhaps 200 Sand Martin were around today with 25 Swallow. I did see the Cattle Egret also which was chased by gulls and ended up ina tree at the South Splatt reedbed. The highlight was seeing and hearing the first brood of Coot of the year near the viewing platform.

Cattle Egret in the WWT 100 Acre marshes, 6 April 2008 MJM
and on 3rd April 2008, a habit of standing on posts...
The brightest male Northern Wheatear on the reserve yet MJM

6 April 2008 A very cold wind and a flurry of snow and migrants made for an unusual spring day. Two male Wheatear, c 20 Swallow, a House Martin, c110 Sand Martin, plenty of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff were all showing around the WWT reserve today. See the WWT website for full details. Other highlights for me were a couple of Ruff and single Black-tailed Godwit in the 100 Acre and the Cattle Egret of course.

5 April 2008 DIY but a Green Woodpecker and Grey Heron at home was OK.

4 April 2008 I was out at 0530-0730 on the estuary and Frampton Townfield Lake but the thick mist provented any watching so I listened. Highlight c30 calling Toads in the WWT 100 Acre. After some work on the house I went up onto Cleeve Hill for the afternoon with Bob Radford and bumped into Dave Pearce. We managed to locate two male and a female Ring Ouzel and three Wheatear as well as many other species typically found in this habitat. It was nice to chat to Dave about Ouzels and birding Cleeve as he is one of the Cotswolds most active and productive birders and inspired us to hang on a little longer for our reward.

3 April 2008 A stunning day, the warmest so far this year. I spent the day building a new bridge in the Canoe safari trail and was entertained by 3 Willow Warbler, singing Blackcap and 4 Chiffchaff. On the morning rounds I did not see much in the way of new birds, the 2 Spotted Redshank are turning black (JSL had a Common Tern upriver) but a flock of 27 mostly breeding plumaged Golden Plover and single Black-tailed Godwit showed that it was still happening. A flock of 22 of the latter were on South Lake and I noted 20 at Saul Warth along with my first belated Garganey of the year (2 males, 1 female) at dusk. I did see the Cattle Egret again but it was not present at lunchtime 1300-1400. The Green-winged Teal was reported again. A flock of 6 Buzzard were thermalling over the estuary with four more around the reserve. A Ruff remains on the 100 Acre and six Little Egret were present here with one at the Bottom New Piece.

2 April 2008 The Green-winged Teal and Cattle Egret were on show at the WWT 100 Acre but the pick of the day would have been the Sandwich Tern that was about the estuary early morning.

Green-winged Teal and Eurasian Teal WWT 100 Acre marsh MJM

1 April 2008 My first Swallows of the year (one in the 100 Acre and another on territory around the Top Hut at WWT) and migrant Blackcaps (two males in full song at the South Finger). At least 20 singing Chiffchaff were on site also. On my rounds 0800-1020 the Cattle Egret, 4 Little Egrets and Green Winged Teal were both in the WWT 100 Acre marsh as was a Ruff. An adult and immature Peregrine were on the sands. The egrets were busy eating toads!

Cattle Egret WWT 100 Acre marsh 31 March 2008 MJM