Birds and Bees

To Sunday 20th April
Reeling Grasshopper Warbler, CWP
A few musings since my last update. In the Cotswold Water Park, the scrubby area to the north of  pits 43/65 was teeming with birds yesterday morning, including a Cuckoo, a Grasshopper Warbler (above), and several Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers, all ticks for the year. I returned in a similar direction in the afternoon with the family to visit North Meadow, Cricklade, for the annual show of Snake's Head Ftilliaries. These were giving a good show, certainly better than last year when the cold spring had affected their growth.
Snake's Head Fritillaries, North Meadow, Cricklade
Even though the bird is an escape, I had to go to Coombe Hill Meadows on 11th to see the exotic African Spoonbill. I wonder where it's come from? I also year-ticked a fine male Redstart and two Little Ringed Plovers here, and at least five Pike were in the canal.
African Spoonbill, Coombe Hill Meadows; next to dancing Greylag
Pike, Coombe Hill Canal
On 12th, the tide at Saul Warth yielded little, but a male Wheatear was north of the sluice; its extensive buff underside suggesting Leucorhoa Greenland type.
Wheatear, Saul Warth
Leucorhoa? - it was ringed later I learned, but metrics were inconclusive
Late on the 12th at Upton upon Severn, a pair of Redshanks were at Upper Ham, Upton upon Severn, and showing well at the side of the riverside footpath.
Redshank, Upton upon Severn
On 13th these two Brown Hares were in the old orchard opposite Haywicks Farm, Hardwicke:
Brown Hares, Hardwicke
On 13th at Snowshill Manor, I spotted some interesting King Alfred’s Cakes fungus, Daldinia concentric, between the car park and the manor; very distinctive and strange-looking.
King Alfred’s cakes, Daldinia concentric, Snowshill Manor
And finally, some photos from Good Friday, 18th, taken at the National Trust's Brockhampton Estate in Hereforshire, of Orange-tip, and Hairy-footed Flower Bee and Common Carder Bee. As I was trying to photograph the bees, next to the front door of the house, a very helpful guide, looking at me pointing the camera amongst the shrubs, asked me "is the the flowers or the  bees?". "the bees" I said. She said "see that tree", pointing behind me, "it's a Tamarisk; the tenant bought it from Woolworth's in 1956; it cost 6 pence", "Well I never, I've got one in my front garden. It doesn't look that old." I said. As I continued photographing the bees I thought - perhaps I should have sounded more impressed? Sorry.
Orange-tip on Cuckoo Flower
Female Hairy-footed Flower Bee, Brockhampton
Common Carder Bee, Brockhampton


Hoodie and Taigas - another look

Saturday 5th April 2014
This uncharacteristically obliging Cetti's Warbler was at South Finger


Hoodie and Taigas at WWT

Saturday 29th to Monday 31st March 2014
Taiga Bean Geese on The Dumbles
Size comparable to the Greylags they were keeping company with
Larger-billed than Tundra
This bird has a typical Taiga bill pattern, also with some white on the forehead; the bill colour is not as vibrant in colour as the orange-pink of the Greylag in the foreground
The other has a Tundra-like bill pattern, but note the more 'conical' shape
Having missed it on Sunday, I was glad the HOODED CROW was still at WWT on Monday allowing me to catch up with it - a nice addition to my county list; as were the two TAIGA BEAN GEESE which were feeding and dozing in the evening sunshine with Greylags on The Dumbles. Well done to John Budd and Roberta Goodall for finding the Hoodie, and to Colin Butters on the Taigas.
Hooded Crow, 800m distant from Holden Tower

I had great views of singing Willow Tits at Woorgreens on Saturday with Andy, and the GREAT GREY SHRIKE too. One or two Goshawks were distant to the east of Crabtree Hill and a Peregrine flew straight through headed north.
Willow Tit, Woogreens FOD
Great Grey Shrike, Crabtree Hill FOD


Red-flanked Bluetail - Again

Sunday 9th March 2014

I spent this morning back at Shire Valley near Marshfield to see the wintering RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL again; it was most pleasant to spend more time with this bird in the lovely warm sunshine. A 'few' more photos below:
This Red-tailed Bumblebee was also at Shire Valley:
Also nice to see lots of Brimstone and a few Peacock butterflies, and several Buff-tailed Bumblebees around Shire Valley; and a few Brimstones in the garden back at home.

Yesterday I managed to catch up with the Spoonbill at WWT, and a very smart adult Mediterranean Gull was on South Lake also two sinensis types among the Cormorants; a male Kingfisher at South Finger was a county year tick, as was a singing Chiffchaff near Martin Smith hide.
Adult Mediterranean Gull, WWT South Lake
Male Kingfisher, WWT South Finger
Sinensis Cormorant, WWT South Lake
Last Saturday (1st) I saw four Smew at pit 43/65 in the Cotswold Water Park, also three Goldeneyes and two Goosanders.
Male Smew, Cotswold Water Park
Two Smew
Female Reed Bunting, Shorncote, Cotswold Water Park
My best bird of late though has to be a GREAT WHITE EGRET near home, a patch Mega, in the early morning of 25th February. A moment of magic, as it flew over the road with three Grey Herons just past The Pilot as I was on my morning jog.


Scaup and Goose and Things

Sunday 23rd February 2014
Scaup, Walmore Common, 23rd February
I've caught up with a few county birds recently, including the fem/1st-winter Scaup at Walmore Common today, and Hen Harrier at Great Barrington. I couldn't locate the Chrcham Whooper Swans late afternoon, maybe they had returned to roost at Walmore Common. The ringtail Hen Harrier I saw briefly yesterday was east of Great Barrington village, just inside the county boundary - presumably the same as the bird seen near the Rissington trig; three Red Kites and a Buzzard were also here. A trip round the local lanes Friday evening produced a Tawny Owl at Longney at Hillfield Farm at dusk. The highlight of a local Winter Thrush survey this morning was 115 Redwings and two Fieldfares feeding on a field next to Haywicks Farm.
Jackdaw at WWT, 22nd February
I've seen the Tundra Bean Goose at WWT Slimbridge a couple of times now:
Tundra Bean Goose, WWT Tack Piece, with Russian White-fronts, 15th February
High tides and winds on 15th at Sharpness promised much, but I had to make do with eight Kittiwakes.With the mild winter continuing I've noticed some early signs of Spring in the last week; a Spotted Wolf Spider was at Colesbourne Park last Sunday, where Honey Bees were nectaring on the Snowdrops, and Blackthorn is starting to flower locally and also Hawthorn coming into leaf.
Spotted Wolf Spider, Colesbourne Park, 16th February


Red-flanked Bluetail

Saturday 8th - Sunday 9th February 2014
The cracking Red-flanked Blutail - does what it says on the tin
I went for the RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL near Marshfield on Saturday with Andy and Mark , after several days of hoping it would stay for the weekend; oh, and thanks to Mike for motivating me in light of a poor weather forecast. In the event, conditions were very pleasant in the valley by the stream, and we got on the bird straight away. It gave good views, even though spending most of the time in the trees, only occasionally flitting down to the ground.
It's a long way out - Glaucous Gull
This morning I made a quick trip to WWT Slimbridge to get the immature Glaucous Gull which was sat out on the river. I also pick up two Kittiwakes going upriver, and the two Little Stints were showing well around the Holden pool. A male Sparrowhawk had caught a hapless Dunlin, with which it landed for a while before carrying it off.


High Tide

Saturday 1st - Sunday 2nd February 2014
The Dumbles at High Tide, Saturday
The high tides this weekend produced some impressive scenes. At WWT Slimbridge on Saturday morning's tide, the Dumbles was completely covered, with the water rising to just a few feet below the sea wall. Two Roe Deer were swimming in the river and another ran in front of the Holden Tower and later back again, with a dog (what's wrong with some people!) in pursuit. The Tack Piece hosted thousands of birds, the highlights being a Greenland White-fronted Goose with c180 Russian White-fronts (later joined by c80 more), three large pale Greylags which looked like migrant birds, five Ruff and three GCP Cranes. The Brent Goose was on the river with the Canadas at high tide; the best birds were two Little Stints which showed well after the tide had dropped on the near edge of the Holden scrape. I also enjoyed watching several Bank Voles scurrying about from Willow Hide.
Looking straight out from Holden Tower at high tide
Another view, this one shortly after high tide, looking north
Greenland White-fronted Goose, Tack Piece
Roe Deer in the river
Little Stint just over the sea wall
Birds start coming in to feed on the freshly exposed Dumbles on the receding tide
The edge of the river eventually became visible as the tide fell
Bank Vole
Great Crane Project Crane from Martin Smith hide
Roe Deer running along the sea wall in front of Holden Tower, after swimming across the Knott Pool

Sunday's tide following the bore flooded the road at Stonebench, and the water crossed the road from the fields in several other places. The tide backed up Dimore Brook too, over-topping its banks alongside the playing field.
The river running down the lane, a hasty retreat was required
Dimore Brook late morning