October 2008

In February I went to see the first-winter male king eider at Appledore, and got poor, distant views of a drab bird. The bird has returned in more showy second-winter plumage, and I took some photos on 28th. It apparently left the area around 18 November. Click on the lead image for more.

king eider

At Isley Marsh, Yelland there were 4 spoonbills - 2 adults and 2 juveniles, one of which was colour ringed. The juveniles have black tips to the outer primaries, and more extensive yellow on the bill.




On 20th I gave a talk in St Andrews, and had some time on the morning of 21st to walk along the West Sands. I've not been to St Andrews for over 10 years, and it was great to birdwatch around the Eden Estuary again. Birds included 3 red-throated divers, gannets, many eiders, big skeins of pink-footed geese in the early morning, 2 sanderling, a merlin, a peregrine over the sea, and 2 snow buntings. Some snaps from the S5 below.

West sands, St Andrews

St Andrews West Sands

The eagle owl was back in its usual spot on 16th, still present on 22nd. Flew out at 17.20h on 27th, and has been calling at night. No sign of the eagle owl on 15th, though some students brought me a few pellets that contained rat remains.

I went to see the grey phalarope at Cheddar Reservoir on 11th. It was feeding and flying in the middle of the reservoir, and seems to give best views close to the yacht club either early morning or late afternoon, presumably when disturbance is lowest. At dusk my wife found two little owls along the cycle track near the fuel depot at Flax Bourton, and I cycled to see them calling and flying in the area where last winter's barn owl was present. Little owls have become difficult to find locally in recent years, and it's great to see these birds so close to home.

This eagle owl has roosted opposite my work building in Bristol apparently for at least the past three weeks. Maybe it's an escapee, or perhaps it's dispersed from one of the UK breeding sites established by birds of unknown origin. The owl does not carry jesses and does not appear to be ringed (although clear views of its legs are almost impossible to obtain). Eagle owls are being seen more regularly in European cities as their populations expand, and it's great to see this bird. One held up a football match between Finland and Belgium in Helsinki last year. The bird has been sometimes catching the local feral pigeons. Photos taken on 6th.

eagle owl

eagle owl

eagle owl

Quiet at the reservoirs on 5th - goldeneye at Barrow, 2 goldeneye, a dead redhead goosander, 2 ravens and 3 chiffchaff at Chew.

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