February 2013

27th. I spotted a little owl calling at the Long Ashton end of Ashton Court as I cycled home at dusk.

26th. A female blackcap in the garden - first I've seen this year.

23rd. A day out on the Exe Estuary in Devon. I didn't take much in the way of camera gear, and the light was poor, so it was a day for birding rather than photography. First we had decent views of the drake American wigeon at Dart Farm lake, feeding among Eurasian wigeon and dark-bellied brent geese. Reed buntings gave good views on the bird table here.

American wigeon

reed bunting

A long-tailed duck was in the channel off Topsham at low tide, and a couple of avocets here too. We then called in on the rose-coloured startling at Exminster, which is now moulting into adult plumage.

rose-coloured starling

The long-staying Slavonian grebe and a greenshank were at Cockwood. We were at the hide at Dawlish Warren for high tide, and saw sanderling, knot, bar-tailed godwits, and turnstones.

22nd. Nine red kites from the M4 on the journey to and from Stevenage today.

17th. Today the weather was great and I thought I'd try and find the purple sandpipers at Battery Point, some marsh tits while walking the dog in Bourton Combe, and some short-eared owls to end the day at Aust Wharf. I failed on all counts! I did hear a flyover siskin in the combe, and had some compensation when a woodcock flew over the road near Severn Beach on my way home.

16th. First new bird for the UK for me in 2013 - a PIED-BILLED GREBE in breeding plumage at Ham Wall. The bird was rather distant and the light poor - a couple of record shots below. It called occasionally, and on one occasion caught a large rudd that it gave up trying to swallow. Two marsh harriers were also present.

pied-billed grebe

pied-billed grebe

9th. A barn owl hunting in the afternoon at Heron's Green alongside 2 roe deer, and a female greater scaup from Stratford Hide, Chew Valley Lake.

roe deer and barn owl

2nd. Missed out on the purple sandpipers and black redstart at Portishead this morning.

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