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, a few Yellowhammer, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Meadow PipitBullfinch, Dunnock, Blackbird and Robin. Thanks again to James M for doing the legwork and turning up this rare - hat's off to him for having the patience and persistence to find this wonderful winter visitor and to get the news out. Another good side effect 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.

So after that excitement 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.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Charmouth - Wed 30th Nov

Charmouth River 13:30 - 15:00. Really pleased to get a patch YearTick today. Although they've been around in the local area for a couple of months now, it's shocking really, but this Teal is the first I've seen on patch. They just don't seem to like the river maybe because its just not quiet enough. It was sitting at the edge of the reedbed about 30 meters north of the footpath bridge.

Male Teal

 It was quite wild and very nervous and did not stay long. I was pleased to fluke this flight shot of the Teal, showing a striking white wingbar as it did a circuit of the river before departing eastwards along the beach.
Teal - In flight
 A little further up the river an area of soft mud has appeared after the recent deluge when the river was in spate. I flushed a Common Snipe which took off and headed north and away from the village. The first Snipe I have seen here this year.

Down on the beach, quite a lot of seaweed has accumulated beneath the Heritage Centre carpark. Pied Wagtail and this male Stonechat were taking advantage of the insects and invertebrates living in and around this seaweed. Although resident on the cliffs I don't often see Stonechat on this part of our busy beach.

Male Stonechat on the strandline

Stonechat on the strandline
 I quite like this pic of one of the local Rock Pipit - feeding on the strandline near the Stonechat.
Rock Pipit
Late post: I saw a Goosander feeding between Lyme Regis and Charmouth on the 16th November.

Lower Bruckland Ponds and Seaton - Tues 29 Nov

I decided to follow up on reports that the (or another) Yellow Browed Warbler was still present at Lower Bruckland Ponds.

There'd a been a decent frost overnight and a keen wind was blowing from the North and East. I arrived in bright sunshine under a sparkling blue early winter sky, hopped over the style onto the public footpath and immediately picked up 2 Goldcrest feeding in some tall willow trees.

There was also a small mixed flock of Long Tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit and 2 more Goldcrest. A promising start! Frosty in the shadows, the sun had some warmth to it and the willow were brightly illuminated. A Tree Creeper started calling in a nearby Oak tree and then a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew through. But where was the YBW? I didn't have long to wait. Suddenly and joining the first 2 Goldcrest I latched onto a 3rd bird. I've seen so many wonderful photos of this little sprite on twitter this autumn but it was brilliant to finally get my first clear view of a Yellow Browed Warbler. I followed its progress through the trees for a minute or so and then just as suddenly as it had appeared it was gone. I spent another hour or so trying to refind it but only saw the bird once more for a few seconds, in the same tree as the first sighting. Didn't manage any photos but a really great few moments with this lovely visitor.

Also present at the ponds was this femail Tufted Duck together with friends:

I got a text from Steve W saying that there was a super male Black Redstart along the seafront at Seaton. I'd been lucky enough to see the gorgeous male last winter at Seaton bowling green and also a nice male at Seaton Hole. Don't know why but I do love Black Redstarts. Anyway I had a good look along the seafront but couldn't find the bird so I decided to take a quick look around the Yachtclub on my way home. I jumped into the car drove 200yds and slammed on the brakes (checking my mirror first obvs). In the front garden of some houses and feeding with a couple of Pied Wagtail was a different Black Redstart. Here's a few pics, which is clearly not the same bird as Steve's. Always nice to see.

Black Redstart

On the estuary it was nice to see a flock of  32 Dunlin.  All in all, a lovely early winter birding jaunt off patch.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Charmouth - Mon 10th Oct

The numbers of House Martin have gradually built up this week. Reluctant to finally leave across the Channel and with plenty of food available on the wing, 00's are still hawking for insects above the undercliff on Stonebarrow Hill.

It was a bright and sunny day with a a northerly breeze, so the sandy face of the Hill was sheltered and warm. Here's a short video, shot through the heat haze, of one of the flocks as they rested just below the summit before finally continuing their southward migration.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Charmouth - Mon 19th Sep

I made 2 visits to the Dell today in dead calm conditions but didn't have time to visit the Beach , River Meadow or Cowfields. The sea was mirror flat for most of the day.

Visit 1 at 10.00 - 11.00: No rarities and no sign of yesterday's Wheatear this morning. Regulars included 3 or 4 Stonechat, 1 Kestrel, 2 Robin, 2 Willow Warbler and Green Woodpecker the latter anting on the ground. 2 male Blackcap and a Chaffinch arrived just before a shower of rain at 11am. These are the first I've seen at this spot for a while so are likely to be a indication of birds moving through the area.

Visit 2 at 16.30 - 17.30: 3 Willow Warbler feeding together this afternoon - difficult to say whether these are migrants or stayers as I see and hear this species regularly in the Dell. 1 Raven flyover and still plenty of Hirundines hawking along the cliffs but no visible movement of Swallow and House Martin today