Red-backed Shrike at Blakehill Farm

Friday 16th June 2017
With news on a Friday afternoon of a species I've never managed to see, I had to head off straight from getting home from work. Just 43 minutes later, within 30 seconds of leaving the car I was looking at a cracking male Red-backed Shrike at the wonderful Blakehill Farm Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reserve.This former military airfield is being turned back into wildlife-rich hay meadow and pasture and is always a rewarding site to visit, but especially when there is a Red-backed Shrike. The Shrike was feeding and singing occasionally, not worried by cars or other passers-by using the farm track behind its chosen brambly hedge.

Cambridgeshire Visit and Local Sightings

Sunday 30th April - Sunday 14th May 2017
On 30th April I went with the West Midlands Bird Club to Cambridgeshire. The first stop was at RSPB Fowlmere where it was great to see and hear two Turtle Doves. By the time we arrived at the second stop, Paxton Pits, it was apparent that there had been an influx of Black Terns in the country, and one was reported at Paxton. There was unfortunately no sign of it, although the sight of up to 30 Common Terns was nice to see. I also dipped on Nightingale here but the numbers of warblers, especially the large number of Garden Warblers maintained interest. I eventually caught up with Black Term at WWT on 6th May.
A visit to Edge Common on 7th May produced three Duke of Burgundy butterflies and a few Dingy Skippers plus some Common Twayblade coming in to flower.
I had a mainly botanical afternoon at Siccaridge Wood on 12th May with the highlight being Lily of the Valley. I also noted lots of Sanicle and Wild Garlic plus a solitary Early Purple Orchid

Stilts, Ouzels and a Firecrest

Saturday 1st - Saturday 29th April 2017
Three BLACK-WINGED STILTS showed extremely well from Robbie Garnett hide at WWT on 23rd. They turned up during the week and I was glad they had the manners to stay until the weekend. A Little Gull on the Rushy and a Grasshopper Warbler at Middle Point completed a good morning.

Forward to today, Saturday - a redhead Smew remains on the Rushy, and was giving good views. The best birds at Middle Point at high tide was a Whinchat, three Wheatears, two Grasshopper Warblers, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Common Sandpiper and a flyover Yellow Wagtail. It was quiet at Saul Warth earlier before the tide, the highlights being six Whimbrels and three Wheatears including a Greenland type.
Yesterday after work I spent nearly two hours on Cleeve Common before finally tracking down Ring Ouzels - eight of them, including five spanking males.
During my search I came across a lovely patch of Early Purple Orchids which maintained morale,
I first saw the WWT Smew earlier …

Signs of Spring

Sunday 12th - Monday 12th March 2017
At least three Garaganey turned up in the county last week, and after dipping at WWT Slimbridge in the morning, I stopped off at Ashleworth Ham on the way back from Kempley to check out this fine drake above. My first Sand Martins of the year, c80, were at Frampton Court Lake earlier. I had been to Kempley in the afternoon with Linda for our annual fix of Wild Daffodils around Kempley. I don't think I have ever seen them looking as good.
Along the canal locally, Sweet Violets have been coming into flower. The white form predominates here over the 'standard' purple form.
On 12th March, a second summer Mediterranean Gull was on South Lake, at WWT, acquiring its black summer hood.
A Black Swan was also at WWT on 12th March, near the centre, and I have seen presumably the same bird twice sine at Frampton and locally on the canal at Hardwicke. I wonder where it has originated from!