Friday, 24 March 2017

Garganey, West Bexington, Dorset - 24 Mar 17

I popped over to West Bexington late morning following the report from Mike M. @Bexbirder that a drake Garganey had been seen on the Mere. After 5 minutes walking westwards from the car park I had a decent view of the mere and quickly found the bird on the north shore. Always distant, I managed a few record shots of this beautiful spring migrant drake Garganey. About the size of a Teal, Garganey are relatively small ducks which appear in small numbers regularly at this time of the year. I didn't manage to get a shot of the bird with Teal but the first photo shows its comparative size with the much larger Shoveler in the foreground:

Garganey: a very handsome scarce spring migrant ... 

 ... showing unmistakable crescent above each eye and drooped back feathers.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Charmouth - Fri 10th March - Dunlin, an early site record

A winter plumage Dunlin which paid a visit to a fog-bound Charmouth river this morning:

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This record is a very early date for the site and is the first Dunlin I've seen on the river. They are by no means common here. My previous sightings have been small flocks at the low-water mark on the beach and much later in the year (May).

It was quite content feeding in the soft mud at the waters edge, 20 metres upstream from the footbridge quite unconcerned by passing walkers, even spending some time preening and roosting.

This individual has a long bill tapering to a downcurved tip and dark legs, white beneath and in the overcast/foggy conditions appeared grey brown but with small areas of browner tones visible around the crown and neck. The bird was not heard to call and I didn't see it arrive or depart so did not see it in flight. I believe alpina race birds have the longer bill length but there is much overlap. Amazing to think that in a few weeks this bird could have travelled NW up along the shorelines of Scandinavia, Northern Europe or even as far as Siberia.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Iceland Gull - Abbotsbury Swannery - Tues 21 Feb 17

Here's a video of the 1st winter Iceland Gull I found at 4pm today before it flew off to the seaward side.
Thanks to @SwannerySteve and Alan Barrett for help with ID and ageing.

And a still.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Charmouth - Buzzard eating worms - Mon 20th Feb 2017

Seadown Caravan Park located just inland from the beach and alongside the River Char is closed for the winter break. The grassy area alongside the reed bed is very quiet and undisturbed during the winter. At 07:45 this morning I was amazed to see this Buzzard strutting around feeding on the ground about 100 metres from a busy footpath. I assume it was eating invertebrates, maybe worms. It was successful but at distance I could not see the food items. I watched it for 5 or 6 minutes before it flew off. Here's a shaky video which is not great quality I know but I think merits posting because of the interesting behaviour.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Trinity Hill - Little Bunting - Sun 19th Feb 2017

It's taken about 3 weeks, visiting the Reed Bunting roost, most days, on Trinity Hill, but today I finally got my reward with cracking views of the Little Bunting. When I say finally, I've managed to get glimpses and heard it call on a couple of my previous visits. But never good views. And what a stunning bird it is too, so different from the female Reeds which I've been grilling intently - A little corker! I really was beginning to think it would never show for me, although of course several birders have had good views, but it really is the luck of the draw. A difficult bird. I haven't added up the number of hours I must have spent. Last Saturday alone, I spent 6 hours patiently checking the flock as it moved back and forth, with icy snow flakes drifting down for most of the grey day. Absolutely freezing. But a very beautiful location and not without occasional rewards - Max 13 Snipe (today) but 9 and 4 on different dates, Buzzard, a few Yellowhammer, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Meadow PipitBullfinch, Dunnock, Mistle and Song Thrush, Blackbird and Robin.
Thanks again particularly to James M @tentims for doing the legwork and turning up this Rare - hat's off to him (and Steve W @axebirder) for having the patience and persistence to find this wonderful winter visitor and to get the news out. Another good outcome for me is that because I've visited so regularly I've met some really nice new fellow Birders and finally got to meet for the first time some more of my longstanding Followers from the Twitterverse.

Fieldcraft: What did surprise me though was one particular Birder (out of 8 quietly watching at the time), who decided to push past the small crowd and stomp back to the car park along the middle track and through the bushes where the flock had been perching moments before, and where it had afforded good views the previous day. Apalling fieldcraft, causing disturbance to the birds and extremely discourteous to the other observers, some of whom had travelled a considerable distance and had yet to see the Little Bunting. An isolated incident though and personally I've found most of the Birders to be very patient and quiet, respecting the Reed Bunting flock and the other Birders, preferring to maintain a quiet vigil, waiting and checking the comings and goings of this loose flock.

So after the excitement of seeing the Little Bunting and to celebrate, I popped down to the Axe this afternoon to look at gulls - and was delighted to pick out a nice Mediterranean Gull in the roost with mainly Black Headed Gull near the tram sheds at Axmouth.

...and zoomed in, showing it is starting to get its summer plumage.

It was nice to see the Black Tailed Godwit beginning to get tones of their brick-red summer plumage too.

A really successful day and have to say quite a relief in the end to finally get such good views of the Little Bunting - a Lifer for me and so much better that it is only 4 miles from home.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Lyme Regis - Fri 3rd Feb 2017

1st Winter Little Gull - Monmouth Beach, Lyme Regis.
James M @tentims found 2 Little Gull on Monmouth Beach this afternoon, an adult and a juvenile.
Within the hour I was down on the beach. The adult Little Gull had moved on but there was a lovely 1st Winter Little Gull feeding in a large group of Black Headed Gull and Mediterranean Gull (including at least 1 stunning full summer plumage individual).
The weather was poor with strong southerly near gale-force winds and rain associated with Storm Doris and the sea was rough. The Little Gull was feeding close into the beach at times amongst the large breaking waves. Flight was light, buoyant frequently dipping to take food items from the surface of the water.

Size smaller than associated BHGs

Dipping flight to pick food items from surface

Prominant W on wings - agile, buoyant flight

And here's a bit of (1/2 speed) video shot in poor light in near gale-force wind and rain so sorry about the quality.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Charmouth - Wed 1st Feb 2017

The grassy area between the car park and Seadown Caravan Park is partly flooded at the moment. And the park is closed for the winter season and is quiet. For the last few days gulls have taken to roosting and bathing in the large puddles and today 2 superb Mediterranean Gull were present with the usual Black-headed Gull.

2 Mediterranean Gull

And here's a short video of one of Med Gulls bathing:

Up to 7 Moorhen have been feeding away from the river reed bed on the short grass in the caravan park ...


... and if it's quiet a usually secretive Water Rail has been showing well ..
Water Rail

.... sticking close enough to the reed bed to be able to scuttle back at pace if disturbed. Notice how thin it is if seen "head-on" - thin enough to squeeze between reed stems. Here's a videoclip of the Water Rail taken in poor light under a heavy downpour.