CWP, Frampton, Sharpness & WWT

Saturday 23rd - Sunday 24th January 2015
Siberian Chiffchaff, Shorncote, CWP
Saturday morning I visited the Cotswold Water Park but confined my time to Shorncote, one of the last few parts of CWP I still enjoy visiting. Not one but two SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS were present along the stream, along with up to a dozen common Chiffchaffs. Also seen, a Water Rail (others heard), two Cetti's Warblers (another heard), a Grey Wagtail and a Stonechat.
Siberian Chiffchaff - the same bird as the top photo - I didn't get a good shot of the other one
Male Black Redstart, Sharpness
Female Scaups from Robbie Garnnett hide, WWT
On Sunday I spent the morning with Andy and Mark, starting at Frampton. A Tawny Owl  was the highlight. At Sharpness a male Redstart was showing well. At WWT the highlights were two female Scaup on the Tack Piece, where I also counted c120 Black-tailed Godwits and the White-fronted Goose flock were present along with the five Greenland White-fronts. Two Avocets, 179 Black-tailed Godwits and 13 Redshanks were noted on South Lake. I spotted this Jelly Ear Fungus along the Holden walkway.
Jelly Ear Fungus, WWT
On Sunday afternoon I finally year-ticked Kestrel at Thrupp, after already ticking Merlin on 2nd. In the garden I saw a female Blackcap, the first of the winter, one of 15 species that visited the garden on Saturday.
Female Blackcap, garden


Penduline Tits at Horsbere Brook

Friday 15th January 2016
Penduline Tit, Horsbere Brook FSA, Gloucester
I spent Friday afternoon watching two male PENDULINE TITS at the Horsbere Brook Flood Storage Area in Gloucester. Penduline Tit is not only a county tick but also a lifer, one that has eluded me on more than one occasion previously. Also here were two Stonechats, a Chiffchaff, a Reed Bunting and 30 Snipe.
On a very cold weekend I also saw a Great Grey Shrike at Horse Lawn in the Forest on Saturday, but very little about in the forest finch-wise. I did year-tick Marsh Tit, Mandarin and Little Grebe at Cannop Ponds.


New Year Crackers

Saturday 2nd January 2016
Grey Phalarope - almost a record shot!
Happy New Year everyone!
My New Year's birding got off to an excellent start on Saturday morning with a visit to WWT Slimbrdge. Two SCAUPS and two Egyptian Geese on the Rushy, and GREENLAND WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, LITTLE STINT, Ruffs and Peregrine on the Tack Piece were just the appetizer. Mike phoned just as I got to the Holden Tower at 9.35am to say James had found a GREY PHALAROPE on the Top New Piece, so it was straight to Zeiss Hide. By the time I made it round, the Phal had gone into hiding right underneath a tree in which a MERLIN was sat. The Merlin eventually flew off, but the Phal apparently stayed in hiding. Eventually it re-appeared but somehow it had sneaked to the other side of the scrape. I watched it for a while as it emerged into view several times and made the occasional flight. After dipping three previously in Glos, Grey Phalarope is a long-awaited addition to my county list. I finished off the morning with an un-ringed, fully-winged Ruddy Shelduck on South Lake.


GNDs at Farmoor

Saturday 12th December 2015
Great Northern Diver, Farmoor Reservoir
I was hoping to get nice views of two Grey Phalaropes that had been present for several days, but unfortunately they had departed Farmoor Reservoir. Watching two juvenile Great Northern Divers fishing provided some consolation.


Scaup and Stuff

Friday 28th - Saturday 29th November 2015
Greater Scaup, WWT Slimbrige
I have caught up with the five Greenland White-fronted Geese at WWT Slimbridge, and the obliging female Greater Scaup, the latter providing some nice photo opportunities.

Today I carried out a Winter Random Square Survey which just happened to be the square encompassing Coombe Hill Meadows. Aided by Andy and Mark, we totalled 43 species including:

Cetti's Warbler 1
Stonechat 2 (pair)
Shoveler 7
Shelduck 2
Teal 23
Wigeon 122
Mallard 26
Canada Goose 18
Water Rail 1

Hashtag Science!


Red Squirrels and a Shag

Thursday 12th - Sunday 22nd November 2015
Shag, Sharpness
Saturday felt very cold in the biting wind as I carried out a Winter Random Square Survey at Brand Green, near Upleadon. Only 25 species in two hours, mainly counting Wood Pigeons and Carrion Crows, but there was a nice flock of 50 Linnets in a stubble field. The square included part of the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust's Collin Park Wood nature reserve, which I've never been to before. This a beautiful wood, with Small-leaved Lime, Sessile Oak and Wild Service Tree, although not many birds on my visit, I must go back in the spring.
Shag, Sharpness
In the afternoon, news of a Shag at Sharpness found by Andy Jordan provided motivation to venture back out into the cold. I've seen a few Shags in the county, but they are always nice to see. It was still present on Sunday when I went back with Andy and Mark, where other highlights included a Rock Pipit, a Kingfisher, a pair of Stonechats, and at the NedWest building the first-winter Black Redstart provided further entertainment; also a Grey Wagtail and a Chiffchaff here.
Black Redstart, Sharpness
I recently spent several days based in Basel, Switzerland, with excursions to Colmar in Alsace, France, and to Freiburg in Germany. It was a fantastic break, visiting my eldest daughter who is living there for a few months. I wasn't birding (as such!), just enjoying the sights in these beautiful cities, plus a trip into the Jura Mountains at Reigoldswil. I saw several Red Squirrels around Basel, in the Botanical Gardens and the Zoo grounds. I saw my first ever Red Squirrels in Switzerland in the 1980's near Zermatt, and I can't get enough of them - much cuter than Greys:
Red Squirrel, Botanical Gardens, Basel
The Botanical Gardens were a couple of minutes from our hotel. Attached to the university they are free to visit, including the tropical glasshouses, and really interesting. The visit to Freiburg produced a lifer in the shape of a Middle Spotted Woodpecker at Schlossberg, a wooded hill on the edge of the Black Forest overlooking the city.
View from Schlossberg over the city of Freiburg, Germany
The views from Passwang in the Jura Mountains was fantastic, with the Bernese Alps visible some 55 miles to the south:
Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau
View from Passwang, Switzerland


Richard's Pipit at Selsley Common

Sunday 1st November 2015
Richard's Pipit, Selsley Common
After getting the county tick in the bag in a quick visit on Saturday with Mark, we returned for a longer look at the RICHARD'S PIPIT on Sunday. It took longer to locate on the return visit, but we had good views on and off as it foraged in the long grass, before being flushed by walkers and perching briefly in a tree.
Dix Pips typically prefer feeding in long grass
The long hind-claws can be made out in this shot
This Skylark was less shy
The north end of the common where the Dix Pipit was feeding
Fog cloaked the vale all day
On 17th October I went south of the border with Mark to see the Red-necked Grebes at Waterhay in Wiltshire, and got some good views.