Saturday, 30 July 2016

Charmouth - Sat 30th Jul

I flushed 3 Common Sandpiper on the river this morning. One returned briefly to the far bank. It was pretty well camouflaged amongst the rocks and stones - It's not a great pic I know, but can you spot the Sandpiper:


Here's a slightly better shot although the light was so poor that the photo's a bit grainy:




For the last few days, shoals of whitebait have been coming very close to the beach and I've seen them jumping out of the water to try to escape fish predators. I saw 10 juvenile Black-headed Gulls dip-diving into to catch the whitebait. Seeing all this disturbance, the mainly Herring Gulls join in to the same area and are feeding on the whitebait and occasionally a gull is lucky to catch a mackerel just under the surface. Unless it can swallow it immediately others join in and it becomes a tug-of-war battle. Last night, a Great Black Backed Gull arrived and moved in on the fight.  There was only going to be one winner! The whole area becomes a noisy feeding frenzy. Meanwhile, along the quieter West Beach a Grey Heron tries a different approach. Rooted at the water's edge it waits patiently, judging the moment to make its lightning quick ambush.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Charmouth - Fri 29th Jul

A Redshank this morning was new in. It was a welcome find in a generally poor month here for waders. Present on the beach at low water, it spent an hour looking for food amongst the exposed rocks and weed where the river flows out over the beach, before calling a few times and departing high westwards. Surprisingly, it's a #Patchyeartick being the first I've seen this year on the Charmouth patch.





 Also on the beach were plenty of Black-headed Gull with steadily increasing numbers of juveniles and 1 Mediterranean Gull:


 A party of Raven were seen again scavenging for scraps around the car park:



This evening, my first juvenile Mediterranean Gull of the year was showing on the beach.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Charmouth - Sun 24th Jul

The water level has been very high on the river for a couple of weeks now which means there's little mud and space for returning waders. We're also approaching peak holiday season here so Charmouth is getting very busy with holidaymakers and evening sightings have been very few and far between - the last wader seen was on 7th July when 2 Common Sandpiper were present. A walk along the river early evening drew another blank but there were a few gulls on the beach at low tide; the best being 3 beautifully marked juvenile Black Headed Gulls, 56 BHG adults, 1 LBBG, 1 GBBG and a distant Curlew flying west beyond the yellow marker. There were also the usual few Gannet offshore too, milling about, but mainly heading west.

P.S And just heard that 3 BHG fledged at Abbotsbury Swannery this year for the first time - Thanks @SwannerySteve for the news.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Charmouth - Tues 12th Jul

3 Sand Martin, 100+ House Martin, 10 Swallow feeding over the river and surrounding fields this evening. And a Kestrel hunting over the East Cliff. No sign today of yesterday's Canada Goose.

Charmouth - Mon 11th Jul

A Canada Goose was a new arrival today.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Charmouth - Fri 8 Jul

No count attempted but many, many juvenile Pied Wagtail on the beach, fields and car park this evening with some adults including this one:


Charmouth - Thurs 7 Jul

A few bits and pieces about today with waders beginning to return. 2 Common Sandpiper on the river, 1 feeding, 1 roosting:





... and 2 stunning Mediterranean Gull still in their summer plumage with striking black hoods and white eyelids. Seen here on the beach next to and making a nice comparison with the Black-headed Gull.

This is how I described the photo to a non-birder friend who is wanting to know more, but was struggling with IDing the birds in this photo. "Ignore the bird at the back and the single bird to the right. In the centre of the photo their are 3 birds. 2 with darker (black) heads, 1 looking over its shoulder left, and 1 looking right. These are the Med Gulls. They have uniform grey backs with no black feathers in the wing. The Black-headed Gull is the 3rd bird in the centre and slightly to the left of these guys and has a chocolate brown head, showing some black feathers in its wing. That is the Black-headed Gull although you can see it has a lighter head colour than the 2 gorgeous Med Gulls. So the Black-headed Gull is actually the brown headed gull and the Med Gull is the black headed gull - confusing or what!". Not quite sure how helpful she found my description!!  And it was a lesson to me that it's not easy for someone who is just starting out, is keen to learn, but has spent little time, so far, getting to know even the more common birds. 

And here are 2 more Med Gulls in full summer plumage which I saw earlier in the day at Ferrybridge, Portland: