30th. Slimbridge. Thousands of birds on the Tack Piece and the Dumbles - a fantastic sight. I saw a little stint. Photos of lapwing and golden plover, shelduck, Bewick's swans and displaying pintail.
28th. Brixham Harbour to see the white-billed diver. First a great northern diver for comparison, above 3 of the white-billed. A very confiding bird, but the light wasn't as great as for the 2007 Hayle Estuary individual. I also saw at least 5 black-throated divers, a red-throated diver and a red-necked grebe. First time I've seen 4 diver species in a day.
More photos - a turnstone (they scrounge fish and chips - great!) and a grey seal - love the reflection.
The shags were approachable, as the photo of one next to my daughter Ramona shows. I especially like the image of one diving. Top 2 photos taken on the iPhone.
27th. An amazing afternoon at Portland Harbour. I saw 2 black-throated divers, a great northern diver, an eider, a black guillemot, and this stunning BRUNNICH'S GUILLEMOT.
24th. Greylake- 2 marsh harriers and a peregrine were the best birds. I photographed a male teal and a female shoveler in the winter sunshine.
21st. At least 4 purple sandpipers roosting during high tide at Battery Point, Portishead. They were roosting east of the lighthouse and not where I was used to seeing them - it was my fifth attempt to see them this year (including a bird at Slimbridge that hid behind an island while I was there!) Dipper at Cheddar on the stream south of The Bays. Masses of birds at Catcott Lows but 2 marsh harriers and 2 buzzards were the only raptors I saw.
18th. Black-throated diver and 2 pink-footed geese close to Woodford Lodge, Chew. Black-necked grebe, drake red-crested pochard and redshank Blagdon Lake.
15th. In the wind and rain at Marshfield. When I wasn't extracting a sheep's head from a fence that it got stuck in I managed to see a corn bunting, 35 yellowhammers, a raven and about 5 red-legged partridges. Big flocks of corvids were about - some with several hundred birds in, including large numbers of carrion crows.
12th. Two new birds for me in two days! The first-winter male DESERT WHEATEAR at Severn Beach was amazing. For the first time in ages (April?) I took my 500mm lens out, and photographed the bird at ISO 800 with a 2x extender. Photographers were getting a lot of flack on Twitter for flushing the bird (maybe that was the case early on), but I saw no irresponsible behaviour while I was there. My closest views were when the bird approached me, and when I spotted it unexpectedly on a perch just over the sea wall after everyone was walking the other way.
11th. Third time lucky with the TWO-BARRED CROSSBILLS. Serridge Ridge near Brierley was alive with crossbills - at least 40 common and at least one party of 17 two-barreds. The birds showed well but the light was hazy and strongest behind the birds, making photos with my limited camera gear difficult. It was great to see such a large party, and to hear the trumpeting calls. A brambling was amongst the chaffinch flock. Another flock of about 10 brambling was present in a clearing near the bottom of the tarred road back towards the parking area.
I then stopped at Parkend Church, and saw 17 hawfinches gathered in the tops of the trees near the 'Parkend beech'. As I watched these, a flock of 15 more flew over, making 32 birds at least in the area, the most I've seen. I lost phone signal in the forest, and couldn't check the bird news. If I could have, I may have visited the desert wheatear at Severn Beach on my way home. Let's see what tomorrow brings.
8th. Another trip to the Forest of Dean to look for the elusive two-barred crossbills. They seemed settled in a larch plantation near Brierley until yesterday, but they weren't there today. There was a large roving tit flock in the area and I heard a willow tit calling. The only crossbills I saw were 4 common crossbills. What's more I dipped on the Portishead purple sandpipers (4th time this year!) and didn't see any short-eared owls at Aust on the way back (I left 2 minutes before one appeared at 16.36h!)
7th. We escaped the Bristol drizzle to spend a great day in sunshine. Tony Robinson, David Trump, Adrian Woodhall and I had a day in Devon, and we bumped into Ivan Lakin who helped find some good birds at Dawlish Warren. Birds along the seafront included 9 red-throated divers, ca. 140 common scoter, 2 velvet scoter, the returning adult Bonaparte's gull, an adult Mediterranean gull and a male cirl bunting sang along the main footpath through the reserve. A pod of 7 bottlenose dolphins was offshore. Pictures of the Bonaparte's gull below taken with a 400mm lens and a 1.5x extender.
After our traditional lunch at the Anchor Inn, Cockwood, we went to Labrador Bay and saw another 5 cirl buntings. A photo of some flying linnets below.