25-31st. A trip to Toronto meant that I missed the pied wheatear at Oldbury-on-Severn. Pictures from Toronto can be seen by clicking on the American tree sparrow below.
22nd - Blagdon Lake to see the first-winter long-tailed duck in Long Bay. Also a kingfisher clubbing a fish at Heron's green Pool, Chew.
16th - a sunny late afternoon on Black Down again - apparently the pallid harrier is still there. Lots of passerine activity, with 50+ skylark, 20+ crossbill, ca. 10 lesser redpoll, 5 reed bunting and at least 6 stonechats. About 30 fieldfare flew south. I was trying to get a better view of a redpoll sat in a bush about 2m abovewhere Anna was sitting when a male hen harrier flew past - if I was in my original position I would have got some great shots. A few seconds later a second male flew past! . Didn't see the pallid harrier though. Five swallows flew east, the first I'd seen for a while. Photos of hen harrier, first-winter female reed bunting and female/first winter lesser redpoll below. It's interesting in the harrier photo to see how the primaries are spread only on the right wing, presumably to control manoeuvrability
15th - some great birds at the local reservoirs this afternoon. From Stratford Hide at Chew I saw the drake ferruginous duck, the drake ring-necked duck, a pair of red-crested pochards, a red-breasted merganser , a goldeneye, a pectoral sandpiper, a green sandpiper, a ruff and a curlew. There was a water rail at Herriot's Bridge. The 2 juvenile long-billed dowitchers were at Bell's Bush, Blagdon Lake, together with a ruff, black-tailed godwit, 3 dunlin and 30+ golden plover. A very distant record shot of one of the dowitchers below.
2nd - amazing to spend one of the hottest days of the year at Ringstead Bay in Dorset. Lots of red admirals feeding on the ivy flowers. A couple of photos with the smartphone below.
1st -what a way to start the month. But am I witnessing climate change and its manifestations somewhere in the middle of East and West from a Bristol perspective? It's a small world via the internet - on Wednesday evening I was in a hotel in Shanghai in a trashed country looking at GPS tracks of a fruit bat in Madagascar (a trashed country) that one of my students has tagged - the displays in Google Earth even show some of the trees it has been visiting! One can only be optimistic and think China will improve its conservation stance now its economy is strong (and hopefully I will get scientists interested in conservation there), and I hope the info we get on the fruit bats will improve the prospects for the conservation of forest fragments in Madagascar. I also read on the internet about two good birds locally - the adult spotted sandpiper at Chew Valley Lake and the pallid harrier on Black Down in the Mendips. So I used the nice east-west jet lag to get up early for the sandpiper, and went to photograph the harrier with Anna in the evening on the hottest October day on record. I was treated to excellent views of both birds. From the iris colour the harrier is a male according to Dick Forsman's book. The bird doesn't look in great condition to me, with a prominent keel. I hope it eats some pipits.