Friday, May 02, 2008

1-31 May Birding/wildlife sightings

Black-naped Oriole? at Whelford
Gloster Birders seeing the funny side of a 0430 start but what a glorious morning!

31 May 2008 Out at 0430 with Neil Smart, Mike King and Rich Baatsen to try to locate a reported Golden Oriole near Fairford. It did not take much effort I spotted it from the car and it turned out to be a Black-naped Oriole (unless we have overlooked another type), stunning, lovely song, very much like GO but not a vagrant, a cage jumper. Thanks tothe finder as she did very well to get the news out and share the sighting. We used the rest of the morning wisely seeing Barn Owl and best of all Grey Partridge plus many other Cotswold birds. A list of the birds are on the Gloster Birder website. It was worth going to see the look on Mikes face when he noticed the extra black markings. We also investigated a report of Purple Heron but did not relocate it, an English Longhorn Bull was a bonus. In the afternoon I headed to the FoD to try to stake out some warblers for the forthcoming id day next Saturday, highlights included a Crossbill, Garden Warbler, two very grey breeding Willow Warblers and while trying to locate a teneral dragonfly (black/yellow) along a Woorgreens forest ride at magnificent Goshawk only 20 ft away on a Woodpigeon kill, to see it twisting thtough the larches was a treat but I was more dissapointed about not being able to find the dragonfly!

30 May 2008 Absolutely no birding today as it was a family day out, I did however did manage to see/hear in waht was collectively 20 minutes a Quail and Corn Bunting near Hawling, a pair of Grey Wagtail collecting food Bourton O T Water, Red Kite soaring over Bibury, Hobby at Sherborne Water Meadows and Downy Emerald at Whelford Pools. Very nice to be in the Cotswolds and the R. Windrush is stunning. When I got home I was called about a huge flock of Sanderling (211) off Middle Point WWT and a Spoonbill was seen on the Dumbles pool. Whilst looking from the N end of the reserve and chatting to Lawrence Skipp I picked it up flying in from the S over the 100 Acre and past us to Saul Warth.

29 May 2008 Much of the same at WWT, see the website for details.

Above and below, Second-summer Ring-billed Gull WWT Slimbridge MJM

Ruddy Turnstone (one was in full breeding with a white head but this will do)

28 May 2008 A day of heavy rain which is causing havoc among our breeding waders, nests are being flooded out and it is a very sad situation to see. I did not do any birding during the morning but bumped into LPA (Pete Alder) who had had a good morning with 19 Black Tern, 3 Arctic Tern and 20 and 4 Common Tern. Later in the day I investigated a couple of gulls, one of which looked interesting, it turned out to be a second-summer Ring-billed Gull. There are still a lot of waders in the estuary, 280 Ringed Plover, 200 Dunlin, 90 Sanderling, 4 Turnstone, 9 Grey Plover, 13 Curlew and I also saw a Black Tern plus 20 Common Tern and a possible Arctic, I called in at Townfield Lake to check for Black Terns but only 1 Common and 1 Sand Martin among 250 Swift and 350 House Martin. I then checked on the breeding waders at Splatt and found one of the Lapwing sitting in water, the levels are still rising but this bird was determined not to abandon so I moved the nest, built up the ground and replaced it. They had retuned t the new site ten minutes later, I hope the eggs were not chilled through being immersed. Nearby on the estuary I saw 1 Black Tern, 26 Common Tern and 1 Arctic Tern. I almost forgot the Short-eared Owl hunting Middle Point at lunchtime!

27 May 2008 I was still seeing a lot of small waders in the estuary, 210 Ringed Plover, 45 Sanderling, 120 Dunlin, 2 Turnstone, 5 Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Grey Plover. I saw a Black Tern on the estuary and relocated it later on Townfield Lake.

Bar-tailed Godwit, R. Severn 26 May 2008 MJM

26 May 2008 More waders on the estuary for me today, 5 Grey Plover, 5 Red Knot, 40 Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, 100 Ringed Plover, 9 Curlew, 70 Dunlin. The Long-eared Owl was re-discovered along the summer walkway and roosted all day atop a fencepost trying to shelter from the atrocious weather. I did see at least one Cattle Egret on the 50 Acre/Bull Ground hedge.

25 May 2008 I saw a selection of waders on the estuary today, 8 Turnstone, 126 Ringed Plover, 76 Dunlin, 30 Sanderling, 1 Greenshank, 5 Red Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Short-eared Owl along the foreshore.

24 May 2008 As I was with Mike King this morning the hour or so spent on the estuary is better summed up on the Gloster Birder. Late afternooon was spent wandering around Woorgreens, Forest of Dean where I saw 5 Crossbill, 1 Siskin, 1 singing Wood Warbler, 1 singing Redstart and a few Willow Warblers, the windy conditions were very difficult for singing birds and for seeing them. In sheltered areas I saw a male Broad-bodied Chaser and 14 newly emerged individuals around the rides/tracks S of the pool. At least 20 Four-spot Chaser were also on the wing here with more reported N of the pool. I also noted c10 Large Red and a few Azure Damselflies.

Broad-bodied Chaser, Woorgreens, Forest of Dean 24 May 2008 MJM

Sanderling on the Severn 23 May 2008 MJM

Scarce Chaser, River Severn near Tewkesbury MJM 23 May 2008
Club-tailed Dragonfly same site/date as above MJM

23 May 2008 I went out to the Severn for a early morning walk, an intermediate phase Arctic Skua flew in at 0715, attempted to settle but the gulls drove it off, it headed NE into the misty gloom. A flock of 67 small waders held mostly Ringed Plover, later over high tide I noted 15 Sanderling 28 Ringed Plover and 6 Dunlin. 2 Red Knot were flying around. At Saul Warth a Four-spot Chaser and Blue-tailed Damselflies were on the wing by 1000 am, this made me head to North Gloucestershire on the R.Severn where thanks to Ingrid and Colin TwisselI I located my first 3 Club-tailed Dragonfly and 8 Scarce Chaser. 100,s of Blue tailed and Azure Damselfies were joined by 30 Large Red Damselfies, 30 Large Red, Common Blues and tens of Banded and Beautiful Demoiselles'. A quick afternoon search on local ponds and I saw my 6th Kingfisher of the day. I have found a new nest site locally and they are feeding young. I clocked one flying alongside my car this am and it was averaging 33mph.

22 May 2008 A good WWT 100 Acre lunchhour dragonfly search resulted in my first Large Red Eyed Damselflies of the year, c20 from viewing area plus c300 Azure, c100 Large Red, 300 Blue-tailed and c20 Common Blue Damselflies. A female Hairy Dragonfly was laying eggs but best of all was the first Scarce Chaser for the reserve near the 5 bar gate (viewing area). 2 Hobbies and 6 Common Tern were also present. The morning round fell to me and a Greenshank and single Black-tailed Godwit were seen, full list on the WWT website.

Whinchat WWT 100 Acre 19 May 2008 MJM

Dunlin, WWT Holden Tower/Dumbles Pool 20 May 2008 MJM
Wood Sandpiper, Saul Warth 21 May 2008 MJM

21 May 2008 A breeding wader survey of Saul Warth and the rest of the day looking after my chicken pox suffering daughter. A Wood Sandpiper was nice, 3 Dunlin and 12 Ringed Plover were on the estuary but the breeding wader situation is looking poor, only 4 pairs of incubating Lapwing and no territorial Redshank.

20 May 2008 Hardly any birding before, after or during work, best was a Greenshank, 2 Dunlin and the Dark-bellied Brent on the Holden Tower pool.

19 May 2008 A long list of today's birds on the WWT website, my personal highlight was seeing my first Whinchat (a female) of the year on a 100 Acre fence.

18 May 2008 Another look at the Severn's waders this morning, a few have departed but many were still present. 2 Knot, 70 Sanderling, 1 Greenshank, 2 Little Stint were among the Dunlin/Ringed Plover. I had a flock of 44 Sanderling whilst on the safari, other species noted around WWT/Severn estuary included 4 Greenshank, 2 Grey Plover, 2 more Knot and a Bar-tailed Godwit. A drake Garganey was on the Top New piece and a pair were present on the N part of the reserve. Lapwing have hatched chicks here also and Shelduck has 8 ducklings in the Decoy. At least 3 Hobby fed over the 100 Acre and c10 Four-spotted Chaser dragonflies were on the wing with four damselfly species. Yellow Wagtail are still on territory.

Red Knot on the Severn MJM

Tawny Owlet WWT Slimbridge Decoy (last week) MJM
Ringed Plover and Dunlin, R Severn MJM
Dunlin, River Severn MJM
Little Stint, R. Severn MJM

17 May 2008 I spent the period over high tide at Fretherne to hopefully sift through the large flocks of waders present yesterday, it was a good move. 170 Ringed Plover, 90 Sanderling, 2 Little Stint, 130 Dunlin, 5 Knot (two red), 2 Whimbrel, 1 Curlew, 6 Grey Plover and 4 Greenshank on the marsh were a joy to watch. On top of this lot a Sandwich Tern, 11 Arctic Tern N and c9 feeding/ranging local Common Terns made it even more enjoyable, a Great Crested Grebe was also floating out on the tide and Yellow Wagtail over/in the vicinity. In the evening 1 Common Sandpiper, 5 Greenshank, 1 Turnstone and 6 Knot were present as well as the same gang of waders.

16 May 2008 A half hour along the canal mid-morning and I spotted a Wood Sandpiper and Greenshank among the local breeding waders N of Splatt Bridge. Townfield Lake had huge numbers of House Martin and Swallow with c200 Swift and a few Sand Martin. A late afternoon/evening session at WWT and I headed to the estuary, large flocks of small waders contained many Sanderling, otherwise I did see 4 Turnstone, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Whimbrel N, 15 Curlew and a Grey Plover. On the Top New Piece a Greenshank and Common Sandpiper were present as well as male Garganey.

15 May 2008 An early start and a few more migrant s around, 1 Garganey male, a Common Sandpiper, 1 Sanderling and Little Stint early but later two flocks of c80 Waders had c15 Sanderling, the stint, a Knot, and 25 Ringed Plover, most were Dunlin. The 4 Black-tailed Godwit were on South Lake.

14 May 2008 At WWT, Tawny Owls and young were the highlight.

13 May 2008 At WWT migration has relented a little with it being much quieter now than last week. I only saw one Dunlin and 1 Greenshank to represent the migrants this morning, however the Whiskered Tern was joined by two Black Tern and this trio were just fantastic to watch on the afternoon safari, otherwise leftover pairs or possibly breeding Teal pair, Wigeon pair, 12 Shoveler (2 females), the DB Brent and 2 Cattle Egrets were the most notable birds. My first 8 Four-spotted Chaser of the year had emerged and lots more damselflies are emerging and breeding. 15-20 Hairy Dragonfly are on the wing, best viewed from the 100 Acre platform or over the stile to the new viewing area (roped off).

Garganey, South Lake, WWT Slimbridge MJM

Goldfinch MJM

12 May 2008 The Whiskered Tern was still gracing the 100 Acre. I did an afternoon Landrover safari with a good selection of birds including a Cuckoo showing well. A few Hobbies were over the 100 Acre also. Two Black-tailed Godwits were on South Lake. A pair of Yellow Wagtail are on territory also. At least six male and a female Hairy Dragonfly were on the wing between the 100 Acre viewing platform and the first pool to the N. Again large emergences of damselflies have occurred, at least 4 Azure Damselfly noted at the South Finger reedbed/extension area plus 50+ Blue-tailed and Commons, 20 Large Red, many mating laying eggs. At the 100 Acre egg laying Large Reds and mating Common Blues plus 100's of Blue-tailed.

11 May 2008 Back at WWT Slimbridge and to work.. highlights were the Whiskered Tern again and 2+ Hobbies, a Little ringed Plover also on the 100 Acre, a single Black-tailed Godwit and three male Garganey at the 100 Acre, South Lake and Top New Piece. At least three male Hairy Dragonfly were on the wing 100's of Blue tailed, dozens of Large Reds and a few Common Blues including mating pairs.

10 May 2008 I stayed overnight in the Forest of Dean with my son and we had a walk around the Nagshead RSPB reserve this morning as well as a few other sites. All the usual species were present but the Wood Warblers were great as well as at least 6 Pied Flycatcher. A Cuckoo was calling at Viney Hill and we had a pair of Tawny Owl and Ravens also. On returning home I was called by Dave Paynter to say he had a Whiskered Tern in the 100 Acre. This is a bird species I have always wanted to see here ever since we/WWT created the habitat over 17 years ago and seeing as I was on Lundy for the last one in Gloucestershire it made it all the more special. Dave is making a habit of finding May rares on Saturdays and was accompanied by Graham Maples for the find, we were looking all week for this species as there has been so many in our region this spring, a great find. A first-summer Little Gull as also present and Hobby and a few Hairy Dragonflies. Late afternoon I took my son to the Frampton Sailing Club event where he skillfully skippered a sailing boat while I got amazing views of 13 Common Tern (assumed as not all studied) and we heard Cuckoo.

Whiskered Tern at WWT Slimbridge 100 Acre, 10 May 2008 MJM

9 May 2008 An early morning walk produced nothing more notable than a Yellow Wagtail at the 100 Acre and 4 Black Tern at Townfield Lake. A high tide visit to Middle Point and a few waders were on show which included 3+ Sanderling, 30 Dunlin, 6 Grey Plover and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit.

8 May 2008 I high tide tea-break session at Middle Point and I logged a dark-phase Arctic Skua N at c1006, a Red Kite N at c1026 and a fine selection of waders. A Temminck's Stint, 2 Little Stint, 1 Turnstone with 2 N, 4 Sanderling, a party of Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwits and Dunlin and Ringed Plover In the 100 Acre I saw the 2 Cattle Egret, 2 Black Terns and 6 Black-tailed Godwit.

Large Red Damselfly WWT 100 Acre, 7 May 2008 MJM

Black Tern WWT 100 Acre MJM

7 May 2008 I spent most of the day repairing refloating tern rafts and constructing gull platforms in the 100 Acre for the second day. I did see two Greenshank and 2 Black-tailed Godwit on the BNP but best of all was three Lapwing chicks being brooded on South Lake. On returning back to the centre along the seawall a 10 minute watch produced 1 Whimbrel, 4 Sanderling, 4 Arctic Tern and 12 Black Tern N. Going back to the 100 Acre I watched a Hobby try to take the first Hairy Dragonfly of the year c10 feet from me. I saw three Hairy Dragonfly flying strongly along the ditches, the platform was the best place to see them. Also 4 boxing Brown Hare were c20 feet from the platform. A Common Blue, Blue-tailed and ovipositing Large Red Damselflies were on the wing. After adding Cattle Egret, Hobby and Hen Harrier to the 'seen from the boat' list, I added a Black Tern that dropped in and fed, often a few feet from us. It was picking off food that we were stirring up. At Saul Warth after work a pair of Wigeon, a Greenshank and Little ringed Plover were present with 2 Common Tern over. I saw two Black-tailed Godwit in the 100 Acre which were of the nominate race limosa, not islandica, they were probably the same birds that were on the BNP earlier.

6 May 2008 The tide at WWT produced many of the same birds as the last few days. 8 Grey Plover, 6 Barwit, 2 Knot, 35 Dunlin plus 10 at the N end, 4 Sanderling, 1 Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plover and 8 Curlew, a Whimbrel was over the foreshore and two over the 100 Acre E. The Short-eared Owl was hunting the foreshore too. This afternoon 4 Buzzards went over N and a Hobby was hunting the 100 Acre, best of all was a female Hen Harrier through low N and then circled Frampton/Saul before heading off high to Whitminster at 1425-1436. A Whimbrel was cruising the A38 at Claypits...late news I saw c50 Whimbrel yesterday at the same site.

Short-eared Owl WWT Slimbridge, Middle Point MJM

5 May 2008 Another productive spell over the high tide at WWT, the Harbour Porpoise being the best thing we saw, at 0748 I picked up two dark phase Arctic Skua moving upstream low over the water, a third dropped in an joined them and they proceded N together. A Common Tern was around the breakwater and 2 Commic Tern went up but while we were watching the cetacean so we ignored them.The waders were good with Bar-tailed Godwit 6 N and 7 on saltmarsh with 2 Red Knot, 10 Grey Plover, 10 Curlew, 1 Little Stint, 30 Dunlin, 1 Whimbrel, 3 Ringed Plover N and 2 on the saltmarsh briefly and 2 Sanderling, 4 headed N earlier. I also picked a first-summer Mediterannean Gull moving N, c25 Black-headed Gull in two flocks went N, Swallows were migrating N as were c100 Herring Gull. The Short-eared Owl was also at Middle Point putting on a good show. On the Bottom New Piece a Little ringed Plover and two Greenshank fed, we had another Greenshank in the Bull Ground/50 Acre and Hobby over the 100 Acre. On safari we had a couple of Large Red Damselfly and a Blue-tailed Damselfly.

Two of the six Black Terns that fed over the WWT 100 Acre 4 May 2008 MJM
4 May 2008 What a day at WWT!...I went in early and kicked off with a 4 Common Tern, a Common Sandpiper and two Black-tailed Godwits on South Lake, a Greenshank on the Tack Piece, three Common and a Little Tern through past Middle Point at 0621 reaching Hock Ditch at 0631 where joined by a fourth Commic Tern. The waders were looking good and after a search I headed back in to collect my Birdwatch Morning group of 20. During the tide I saw breeding plumaged Curlew Sandpiper (I saw 2 take off earlier but four were present), 1 Knot, 9 Sanderling, 7 Grey Plover, 6 Turnstone, 6 Curlew, 50 Dunlin, 15 Ringed Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Whimbrel on the Dumbles but 40-50 still commuting between the reserve and inland fields all day ( a flock of 18 dropped into the Top New Piece per J Budd), but best of all was a breeding plumaged Little and Temminck's Stint among them. 3 Little Egrets, flocks of Arctic Terns 16, 4, 10 and 11 through N but I thought some Commons to also be amongst them. Transferring to the 100 Acre with the group I saw Short-eared Owl hunting/being mobbed as a drake Garganey flew past and a Black Tern also at the same time, up to six were present by midday. The Buff-breasted Sandpiper showed briefly.

Between dropping off the group/breakfast and the first landrover safari of the day I managed to see the Harbour Porpoise off the Breakwater. This was a magnificent sight as it is is my first Gloucestershire cetacean.

On returning to the 100 Acre with a safari group we eventually got some views of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper with 2 Ruff.

Other species of note during the day. 4 Sand Martin N, 20 Swift N and 100 hanging around all day, 6 Yellow Wagtail N during the day. At least 6 singing Lesser Whitethroat. Two Cuckoo (at S Finger and 100 Acre).

The Dark-bellied Brent was in the Tack Piece. In the afternoon I saw a Marsh Harrier (a lot of pale markings and extensive shoulder patches onthis bird) heading S past the Holden Tower at 1450, it dropped into the Bottom New Piece reedbed for a while and then rose up and headed toward Purton. I had to cancel the pm safari due to the now soaked fields and after a session in the hides to make sure folk were getting onto birds I headed back to the 100 Acre to see if I could relocate the Buff-breasted Sandpiper but was unsucessful. I did have a Wood Sandpiper come out of the 100 Acre calling and fly off to Saul Warth being the 21st species of wader for the reserve today. The 2 Cattle Egret were also present among the cattle and two Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Common Sandpiper and c20 Whimbrel were also on view.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper (left) with Ruff, WWT Slimbridge 100 Acre 3 May 2008 MJM
Two more images of the bird follow.

3 May 2008 Back to form... three magnificent Black Terns on Townfield Lake were eclisped by a breeding plumage Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the WWT 100 Acre. It is in the company of 2 Ruff and can be seen from the platform/gateway. This bird was a great find for my boss Dave Paynter, all the constant effort I put in and Dave, once again breezes in a turns up a good bird. He was on a Landrover safari when he initially saw it. I also saw four Yellow Wagtail near Splatt Bridge and a number of Whimbrel commuting between the estuary and inland.

Whimbrel off the WWT Slimbridge 100 Acre MJM

Guillemot (if you use your imagination) from the WWT reserve.

2 May 2008 An afternoon/early evening spell fo birding ended up being very good, 6 Dunlin on the estuary along with 7 Whimbrel that went inland and a flock of c8 along the foreshore. A Cuckoo was singing along the towpath. A breeding plumaged Guillemot was found by Jake King over the tide and was only the second I have seen in Glos. A county lifer for many it has been very popular but does not appear to be well. I saw it from the WWT reserve and got the rather poor shot of it, it hauled out but got flushed back into the water by a Brown Hare. I also saw a Common Sandpiper and an Arctic Tern was with the Common Terns at Townfield Lake.

1 May 2008 A very quiet start to May, no exciting scarce birds to report but highlights after a breeding wader survey of Saul Warth were four male and a female Garganey and at least seven singing Whitethroat. A flock of 42 Whimbrel arrived from their inland feeding foray E of the canal and rested at the mouth of Frampton Pill before heading back back inland again. These birds are going as far as Claypits and S of here along the A38. 28 singing Sedge and 34 Reed Warbler were drowning out everything else in the 100 Acre reedbed. An Arctic and 5 Common Tern were also of note at Townfield Lake at 0700.