Saturday, 24 February 2018

Ross's Gull at Radipole Lake RSPB

Every birder will tell you he has a few target birds he'd really like to see and for me the Ross's Gull would be very close to the top of that list so when news came of an adult bird spending the last couple of days in Dorset I conceived the plan to get Saturday morning off work and head down the M3 hoping I could find the little Arctic visitor.

Ross's Gull at Radipole RSPB
Ross's Gull
I picked up Jim and set off just after 5am arriving at Ferrybridge on the causeway to Portland just after 8am. News came out that the bird had dropped in at Lodmoor so we turned the car around and headed there to find hardly any cars in the car park which surprised us. I climbed the bank to scan the scrape flushing a Firecrest on the way and found only Med Gull of interest on the scrape. I returned to the car which Jim had been looking after and we checked the phone only to find that the bird had taken off almost immediately so we joined the other birders back at Ferrybridge and waited for a couple of hours hoping the tiny Gull would join us.

under attack
The temperature struggled to get above freezing as we waited enjoying the many Red-breasted Mergansers, Shag, Oystercaters, Dunlin and Ringed Plovers and I picked out a single Rock Pipit to give Jim a year tick but after a couple of hours we still hadn't seen the target and the crowd had all but disappeared to various cafe's etc to warm up.

second and third winter Glaucs

We stopped off at Radipole and enjoyed a coffee whilst we scanned the gulls there  but with no sign of the bird we left for Lodmoor. We found the two reported Spoonbill and as we snapped a couple of images a message appeared saying "Ross's Gull again at Lodmoor at 11.34am" now as we were at Lodmoor the panic set in and as we rushed back round to the scrape the message changed to Radipole so it was a race to get back in the cars and the two mile drive. We pulled into the car park and found the bridge next to the visitor centre already filling with the twitch. We joined them and quickly got on the target as it roosted on a small shingle island a few yards from the bridge. It sat there for around 50 minutes giving most of the birders that had made the trip to Dorset plenty of time to connect.

Snipe.....never seen so many in a day!

When the bird flew we had a quick look for the plastic Merganser then left for a bit more Lodmoor on the way home where we found two stunning Glaucous Gulls to finish a terrific day in Dorset.

The bridge under pressure
The Ross's on the small island with the Blackheads.

Year list now 167  Life list now 393

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Spotted Sandpiper at Holme Pierrepont

Saturday saw me visiting my bro and his new arrivals. Two little smashers only 4lb odd each but both girls and mum doing well. A stop on the way home at the "pie pub" in Stapleford Abbot was followed by another stop in Theydon to bag the old fella a year tick with calling Tawny Owls.

This morning I decided to treat the old boy again with the chance of adding his first lifer of 2018 and as such we drove up north to Holme Pierrepont in Nottinghamshire after picking him up at 5.15 for a nice early start. Arriving at the venue we couldn't miss the canoe centre and driving in we quickly found the rafting area. A very short walk down the edge of the rapids to marker 750 and we're scanning for the piper. I found one but to our amazement the bird was only a Common so the old mans lifer is put on hold if only for a few minutes when Jimmy pointed out another bird and this one turned out to be the juvenile Spot Sand and it showed very well in the grey overcast conditions.

Spotted Sandpiper
Spot sand
After we'd had a little papping session we left it be and walked up the canoe section to find the wintering Long-tailed Duck. Again we quickly got on the bird and managed a few shots despite the sun struggling to break the clouds at all which made for a testing time with the camera.

Long-tailed Duck
Long Tailed Duck at Holme Pierrepont
On the way back down the road we stopped firstly at Kelham Bridge where we found three pairs of Bullfinch but failed to hear or see any Willow Tit. Last stop following a tip from some locals was a small reserve near Lea Marston where after a short walk we did manage to add Willow Tit to the year list.

Year list now 163

Monday, 12 February 2018

A few more from the weekends trip to Gloucestershire

Wild Boars in the Forest of Dean
Not easy getting any shutter speed in the gloom of the canopy
Where does the plant end and the bird start...great camo!
Penduline Tit
Penduline Tit at Longford

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Penduline Tit wintering at Longford in Gloucestershire

An early start as is the norm in these limited daylight days saw us arriving in Longford just after first light this morning. Parking in the small car park at Plock Court we could see three birders had arrived even earlier than us and it appeared they had the bird in site so we approached with care and from behind the others managed good views of the little cracker. With time the bird came to feed on the mace heads around the small pool and gave us great opportunity to grab some images.

Penduline Tit
Penduline Tit
A little star
A Stonechat also sat on the reeds as if to say don't forget me guys so I grabbed a couple of quick shots of it too.

We then drove the eighteen miles to the Forest of Dean and having told the Jims to keep an eye open for wild pig I was shocked to actually find four feeding by the road as we drove by. I pulled over and we managed some images to record our first encounter with Wild Boars in the forest despite several visits. The Boars paid little interest in us or passing dog walkers save one small charge that had us running for cover. We later found another two as we drove away from Parkend where we'd seen three Hawfinch but with the best pitches taken up by committed photographers we moved on to let them grab the shots they wanted.

Wild Boar
Wild Boar in the Forest of Dean

Our next stop was the New Fancy watchpoint and we managed some really nice scope views of no fewer than five Goshawk with a couple displaying really well for us. Ravens came and went and Buzzards soared overhead. We tried for the Great Grey Shrike at Crabtree but dipped on the location taking the wrong path or atleast we think we took the wrong path. I did manage a year tick on the walk though with several Siskin feeding in the Alders along the footpath.

A fab day in Gloucestershire giving four year ticks and a memorable encounter with the pigs of the forest.

Year list now 159

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Eldernell for Short-eared Owls

With Shorties being thin on the ground this year and none showing at our usual hits including Capel Fleet, Wallasea, Two Tree Island, Rainham and even Burwell drying up we headed a little further north to Eldernell in Cambridgeshire. Driving down Eldernell Road we arrived at the small car park overlooking the Nene Washes and quickly found at least nine Common Crane feeding in the fields.
Common Buzzard and Marsh Harriers hunted and massive flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover flew around the flooded areas but the Owls were playing hard to get until Jimmy picked a distant bird out in the scope to give us a year tick. After a short rain shower another Owl came out and sat on the path briefly before returning to the cover of grass and out of the biting wind.

We left and headed back down the A1 stopping at RSPB Sandy were we enjoyed good views of twenty plus Brambling feeding around the car park to give me another tick on the year list which now sits at 155.

Male Brambling
Great Spot
Great Spotted Woodpecker

Saturday, 3 February 2018

A closer look at the Horned Lark on Staines Reservoir

Having seen the Staines Lark before Christmas at some distance through a scope I thought today could be the day I get to see it a little better so headed round the orbital car park arriving at the reservoir around 9am. The weather was pretty grim with grey skies, light rain and a biting cold wind but the bird showed well and I managed a few images.

American horned Lark
Little cracker
Horned Lark

On the way home I stopped to watch the Redwings feeding on the green at Theydon Bois.

Redwing at Theydon
Must also add that the local Wagtail roost seems to be growing with what looks like getting on for a hundred birds now finding the tree to their liking. The tree has a street like almost in the branches which I guess gives them some comfort and heat.

Wagtail Roost