Monday, 28 January 2013

Brief Update from the Weekend

Saturday I was back ringing at The Mumbles, and most of the morning consisted of having my rather cold hands nibbled by Blue Tits which were about in large numbers. There were also plenty of Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Reed Buntings around as well, but the highlight for me was my first Water Rail in the hand, this splendid female. Generally easier to see in winter due to the influx from the continent, these birds are still secretive and tough to spot, so to get one in the hand was lovely.

Water Rail, Rallus aquaticus

Then, on Sunday, a quick afternoon outing proved successful when we were afforded good views of the regular Bewick's Swans at Burpham and great views of three of the Bearded Tits that have been wintering by the Long Pool at Pagham Harbour.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Yearly Pilgrimage!

So, the yearly trip East to Dungeness was undertaken on Friday, with great success and no disruption from bad weather! Starting off on the beach by the fishing boats, there were c10 of both Gannet and Kittiwake feeding close in-shore, giving fantastic views. They were also in the company of 100+ auks, split evenly between Razorbill and Guillemot, with equal number passing by in the 10 minutes we spent watching. There was also a passage of around 40 Red-Throated Divers, and the Glaucous Gull was present as usual.

 Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus with Herrings, Larus argentatus and a single Great Black-backed Gull, Larus marinus

Northern Gannet, Morus bassanus

Then onto the ARC pit, where the water level was very high, much like the rest of the reserve. On the walk down the Tree Sparrows could be heard from across the road and a few Fieldfare and Redwing were present, as was a singing Cetti's warbler in the reedbed. From the hide, we were afforded great views of a male and female Goldeneye, and a Kingfisher put in a flyby.

Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula

Onto the main reserve, and there were hundreds of Fieldfare with Redwing and Song Thrush mixed in. On the drive down, a Peregrine was plucking a Wigeon while being hassled by two Marsh Harriers and some Crows and 8 Barnacle Geese were grazing in a field. From the Dennis hide, the first of 3 Great Egrets of the day flew past, and a stunning Male Smew landed in front of us with a female and spent a few minutes swimming around before flying off again. On New Diggings, another Marsh Harrier spent a good 5 minutes attempting to catch itself a Coot, and nearly succeeded before eventually giving up. Around the rest of the reserve, there were Lapwing, Teal, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Gadwall and Shoveler in good numbers. There were also singles of Grey Plover, Chiffchaff, Skylark, Little Grebe and Woodcock and two more Great Egret.

Great Egret, Ardea alba

Chiffchaff, Phylloscopus collybita

After half an hour warming up in the car/eating lunch we moved onto Rye Harbour where a chilly walk produced lots of Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Teal and Sanderling, a single Black-tailed Godwit and an Avocet that was feeding on the wader pool.

Avocet, Recurvirostra avosetta and Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

 On Flat Beach there was a lovely Spotted Redshank which gave close views while feeding around some sleeping Snipe. There was also a surprise sighting on the beach in the form of a lone Grey Seal which seemed very happy resting amongst some gulls. On the return walk around 70 Curlew flew over and landed in the marshy area of the reserve.

Spotted Redshank, Tringa erythropus

Grey Seal, Halichoerus grypus
On the way back and in seriously fading light, we stopped at Pett Levels briefly where a large flock of Canada Geese had been joined but roughly 15 White-fronted Geese and a single Bar-headed Goose, taking the species total for the day to a relatively impressive 73!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Birding in the Snow!

So, after the roads had been cleared of snow after Fridays "blizzards??" it seemed only sensible to get out and do some birding in the snow, and make the most of the countryside looking truly magical. First stop was Warnham LNR where the feeders didn't let us down. Great numbers of Siskin and Redpoll were present, joined by numerous Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Long-tailed Tit, and the other usual suspects. Around the rest of the reserve it was pretty quiet; a few Pochard out on the almost entirely frozen lake and the usual gull flock, with all 5 common species present.

Siskin, Carduelis spinus

Lesser Redpoll, Carduelis cabaret

Lesser Redpoll, Carduelis cabaret

Then it was on to Pulborough, where it was rather quiet as the brooks were almost entirely frozen. There were a lovely flock of Goldcrests pinging about in the trees at Fattengates, accompanied by at least 1 Firecrest! There were also plenty of Song Thrush on show, plenty of Lapwing around and out on the brooks there were a few Teal, Shelduck and Widgeon. The highlight for me was the 34 Snipe counted from West Mead Hide, pottering around in the snow, almost like they were still totally camouflaged. Back at the visitor centre, there were numerous Coal Tit on the feeders, and a single Marsh Tit.

Common Snipe in the snow,  Gallinago gallinago

A chilly looking Lapwing, Vanellus vanellus