April 2014

27th. A great day out in Dorset, where we escaped the heavy showers. First stop was Radipole Lake, where we saw a juvenile Iceland gull, several bearded reedlings, a sandwich tern and the long-staying probably escaped drake hooded merganser, which was displaying in vain.

hooded merganser

At Ferrybridge, we saw 6 ringed plover and 4 little terns. Portland Bill was quiet, with only Arctic terns, fulmar, gannet, kittiwake, 2 Manx shearwater, razorbills, guillemots and shags seen from a sea-watch. A confiding whimbrel rested on the rock face, and a very grey rock pipit with a prominent supercilium and white outer tail feathers was probably of the Scandinavian race littoralis.



Scandinavian rock pipit?

There was a greenshank at Lodmoor.

26th. Some good birds amongst the showers on Meare Heath/Ham Wall - 2 marsh harriers, hobby, bittern, great white egret, kingfisher, 5 swift, garden warblers, a calling cuckoo and a little ringed plover. I stopped off to see the glossy ibis at Weston Sewage Works on the way home.

24th. Back to some haunts of my youth. In my teens/20's I spent many happy hours wandering around Craig-y-cilau near Crickhowell, and today went back today for the first time in more than 25 years. I saw tree pipits, about 20 redstarts and heard a cuckoo. No ring ouzels at Trefil quarries though, and no grouse on the Blorenge.


23rd. Sedge warbler, wheatear, and whitethroat at Barrow Tanks. Then a great morning at Northwick Warth. I watched a flock of yellow wagtails (13) and found an additional male blue-headed individual. The blue on the head was very pale, perhaps making it a hybrid blue-headed x yellow ('Channel') wagtail. Also present were 2 lesser whitethroats, whinchat, 2 wheatears, 2 white wagtails, a drake garganey and a little ringed plover.

22nd. Two summer plumage black terns at Chew and an Egyptian goose. The green-winged orchids are in good shape on the Parklands. Photo with the iPhone.

green-winged orchid

18th. Slimbridge. It was wonderful to see the cranes from the Great Crane Project sitting on eggs at Slimbridge. There are two pairs - one on South Lake, the other outside the Martin Smith Hide. The photos below are of the latter. The sitting bird is largely hidden incubating in the Juncus bed. I waited patiently for a couple of hours and witnessed a changeover at the nest, one of the birds chasing a Canada goose, and trumpeting when another pair arrived on the Tack Piece - the intruders were chased off. If the birds are successful, they will be the first to breed in the south west of England for about 400 years. A magnificent sight. Other good birds included about a dozen avocets, peregrine, two taiga bean geese, wheatear and nesting kingfisher.

common cranecommon crane

common crane

common crane

A couple of water voles also showed nicely from the boardwalk, and at one time were confronted by a coot with chicks.

water vole

water volewater vole

A shelduck below.


2nd. First swallow and willow warbler in Flax Bourton.

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