September 2008

A trip around the local ponds on the afternoon of 27th. First stop was Heron's Green Lake, Chew, where I saw a little egret, water rail and 6 wigeon. Then I thought I would visit Blagdon, because I've not heard of many sightings there recently. At the Top End Hide I saw lots of bulrushes, which completely obscured the view. Then it was Stratford Hide at Chew where I saw lots of reeds. Barrow Tanks saved the day - some good birds there at present perhaps because it's the only place where people can see them at present. I saw a wheatear, a little egret, 2 wigeon, the drake ferruginous duck, and the juvenile pectoral sandpiper. I got covered in algae and foul-smelling mud photographing the sandpiper, but you can see the results by clicking on the lead image below.

ferruginous duck

pectoral sandpiper

Lunar underwing in the moth trap on 23rd.

A juvenile pectoral sandpiper took about 1.5 hours to find at Northwick Wharf on 22nd, but was worth it (maybe - it did involve smashing my tripod leg in a gate and getting stuck in 2h of traffic jams). The bird fed along pools on the raised grassy area and sometimes crept along a creek on the upper salt marsh. It flew a couple of times uttering a rattling trill. More photos by clicking on the close-up below. My bogey bird of the year has been peregrine. The jinx was broken when one flew over the Portway that afternoon.

pectoral sandpiper

Superb weather on 21st called me to the Mendips, and in the afternoon I walked from King's Wood, along Cross Plain, and then along the south west flanks of Wavering Down before returning via the trig point. There were 4 wheatears on the tops, about 10 meadow pipits, 10 stonechat and a redstart on the flank. I saw two Dartford warblers also. Highlight was a wryneck on the SW slope of Wavering Down , around ST 403558. I saw the bird both on my outward and return legs, but it was elusive and often skulked in bushes. It frequented the area of gorse above the main footpath around the SW flank of the Down, especially in relatively clear areas with anthills. Several green woodpeckers were also feeding on ants, and the feather remains on one bird were seen at the base of a gorse bush where I managed some decent views of the wryneck.

A juvenile pectoral sandpiper at Barrow Tank no. 2 was nice to see, five minutes from home, on the morning of 20th. A hobby flew through also, and a raven croaked overhead. I went back late afternoon to see if the bird could then be photographed without risking disturbance, but it was nowhere to be seen. A green sandpiper, common sandpiper and goldeneye were present however, and I got great views of a kingfisher. The drake ring-necked duck is usually present in moult around now, but has not been seen since February so is maybe no longer with us.

A garden tick today as a nuthatch flew though and started calling from next door's weeping willow. There's now a flock of about 8 yellowhammers along the Flax Bourton cycle track. A group of 6 raptors moving through the valley during the dog walk were mainly buzzards, but one wasn't. As my wife pointed out without prompting, it had a much longer neck. If only I'd had the binocs!


I was away at a conference on the weekend of 13-14th, while 2 wrynecks showed and appeared in the open at close range near Channel View Farm, Kingston Seymour. I went to find them on 15th, and saw one. Although it apparently didn't show as well as on the weekend, the views were still breathtaking at times. A hobby also passed through. See more by clicking on the the wryneck below.


While waiting for the wryneck I photographed this goldfinch feeding on backlit teasels.


The first stonechat of the autumn back at Flax Bourton on 10th.

4 Arctic terns, a goldeneye, a yellow-legged gull and 16 common scoter (14 males) at Chew on 7th.

Moths trapped on 4th included copper underwing, silver-Y, setaceous hebrew character.

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