Hudsonian Godwit at Meare Heath

Friday 1st May 2015

A couple of photos of the HUDSONIAN GODWIT at Meare Heath, Somerset - a cracking bird and a lifer for me, and many others who saw it being only the third British record.
The afternoon was complimented by a range of other good birds including Marsh Harrier, Great White Egrets, Bitterns, Hobbies, Swifts and last but not least a fine drake Garganey.


Pie-billed Grebe at Berkeley

Friday 24th April 2015
Pie-billed Grebe, Berkeley shore
I was pleased that the PIE-BILLED GREBE found at Berkeley on the Severn by Paul Taylor hung on long enough for me to get there after work, what a cracking bird. When I got there, with Andy and Mark, it was sat up half asleep on the rocks, but after a while had a bit of a swim around and dived to feed a few times.I'll excuse my rubbish shots on the poor light!
The site - south of Berkeley Power Station
First view - blending in with the rocks and seaweed
Head up
Go for a swim
Smile for the camera
Have another rest - head down
Head up again


Fritillaries, Warblers, and other Highlights

Friday 10th - Tuesday 21st April 2015
Snake's Head Fritillaries, North Meadow, Cricklade
On Saturday afternoon, 18th, me and Linda made what has become an annual pilgrimage to admire the wild Snake's Head Frtillaries of North Meadow, Cricklade. In several years of visiting, I have never seen them look as stunning, the meadow a haze of purple; indeed a purple haze - see what I did there?
The town's St Samson's Church forms the backdrop in this shot
Thousands of plants in full flower
The white form is quite common amongst the chequered 'standard' type
The fascinating pattern of the dominant purple form
The morning high tide at Hock Ditch with Andy had been rather quiet, no waders, but a fine adult summer Mediterranean Gull was a year tick, floating somewhat distantly with c150 Black-headed Gulls. Going on to WWT Slimbridge afterwards was more productive with four Little Ringed Plovers and a White Wagtail around the Holden scrape, and an Egyptian Goose on the Rushy; the Pink-footed Goose was on the Tack Piece and the escaped Red-breasted Goose  of unknown origin was distant near Spartina Island with Canada Geese. On Sunday, the goose trio were all on the Tack Piece. Also on Sunday, 12 Ringed Plover, four Dunlin and two Little Stints were on the edge of the Dumbles at high tide, with a Common Seal on the river eating a large Mullet. Five Little Ringed Plovers were on the Holden scrape. A male Ruff attaining summer plumage was on South Lake with 102 Black-tailed Godwits.
Egyptian Goose - tick
Pink-foot - already ticked
Red-breasted Goose - can't tick that one
Recently-fledged Mistle Thrush, Cricklade churchyard, one of two, I hope they learned fear before falling prey to the church cat
In the evening, I caught up with a local Grasshopper Warbler and saw my first common Whitethroat of the year. I've year-ticked Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Garden Warbler on the local patch too. And - I year ticked Willow Warbler in my garden recently, on 10th April. I was pleased at seeing one in the front garden, and then found a further four Willow Warblers in the back garden - five at once, a fantastic sight and sound. One has continued to visit the garden and was there again this morning (21st).
Willow Warbler - this was the first I heard and then spotted
One of the back garden Willow Warblers
Willow Warbler again
Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler
Chiffchaffs too have been regular garden visitors recently
My first White Wagtail of the year was one at NT Westbury Court Garden on 12th.
White Wagtail, National Trust Westbury Court Garden
Another of the White Wagtail
On the way back from a meeting in Weston-s-Mare late afternoon, I stopped off at Aust Warth, where a lovely Whinchat was present at Cake Pill with seven Wheatears.
Whinchat, Aust Warth - rather distant (full zoom/cropped), but a very smart individual
Cake Pill, Aust Warth
Back in the garden, insect visitors have included Red Mason Bees, investigating the bee hotel:


Brent Closer

Saturday 4th April 2015
The PALE-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE was at Hock Ditch over the morning high tide, allowing closer study than my view last Sunday. With a north-westerly wind there wasn't much else of note; the only waders being an Oystercatcher, a Little Egret and two Curlews. Thirty-odd Meadow Pipits appeared to be fresh migrants, as were three Swallows in the cow field behind the sewage works.

In the afternoon I visited Ashleworth Ham, hoping to connect with the recent Garganey. I circumnavigated the reserve via footpaths and roads but there was no sign of it. I did come across four Whooper Swans, a group of three adults and one immature, an there were also small numbers of wintering ducks still lingering including a Pintail.
The four Whoopers at Ashleworth Ham
Lots of Cuckoo Flowers coming into flower

Stank Lane


Pale-bellied Brent Goose at WWT

Sunday 29th March 2015
A photo I took of the Brent Goose on The Dumbles at WWT Slimbridge this morning has confirmed it as a PALE-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE, the first in the county since 2006 - pleased with that. It was only present for a few minutes so I was lucky to see it.
Cropped version
 In other news, I haven't done a lot of birding recently, having been knocked out by the lurgy-flu last weekend. It started brewing on 17th, Linda's birthday, but I was driven to go out in the evening in search of the Aurora Borealis, it being unusually active that evening,  I drove to a dark spot away from the light pollution along the country lanes and stopped at Longney. It was a clear night but with a bit of mist forming. And there it was, green and purple, amazing. The photo doesn't do it justice but shows up more purple than I could see with the eye.
Aurora Borealis, Longney

On Friday that week, another astrnomical event, this time a predicted one, the solar eclipse. Partial only in Britain it was still impressive and I captured an image projected by my scope on to card.
Partial Solar Eclipse, 9:31, 21st, Quedgeley

The strange light during the eclipse
A few more recent photos:
Wild Daffodils, Dymock Wood, Kempley
Long-tailed Tit, Oxenhall
Chiffchaff, Weir Green
Blackcap, this male is still a regular visitor, as is a female to a lesser extent


Green-wined Teal and other Stuff

Saturday 7th February - Sunday 22nd February 2015
Last Sunday I spent nearly three hours in the hide at Ashleworth, watching the GREEN-WINGED TEAL and other birds, and getting quite cold by the end of it. The Teal made a few appearances, but most of the time was out of site. During its active moments it was displaying often among the Eurasian Teal which was quite fascinating to watch.

The Green-winged Teal was always rather distant
The previous morning I carried out a survey for the Winter Random Square Survey project at Mallards Pike. It's a while since I've been to this site and getting there early I beat the crowds and spend a pleasant couple of hours counting every bird in sight, and sound. Nothing exceptional but 23 Mandarin were a year tick and I found some very unusual 'hair ice' on some decaying Beech branches.
Mandarin, Mallards Pike
Hair Ice, Mallards Pike
Mist rising off the lake at Mallards Pike
A couple of weeks back I caught up with a female Red-breasted Merganser in the Water PArk - I've seen a small number before in Glos on the Severn, but this was the first photographable one.
This female Red-breasted Merganser was at CWP pit 58 on 15th
After the Merg I also caught up with Smew for Glos this year on pit 44.
Smew at Cotswold Water Park pit 44 on 15th
Some further recent bird photos below:
Goosander, Chew Vally Lake, 7th
Goldeneye, Chew Vally Lake, 7th
Grey Heron, WWT Slimbridge, 8th
A garden Song Thrush in the bird bath, on 13th
Pied Wagtail at Bewdley, Worcs, on 14th