Showing posts from March, 2009

Little Ringed Plovers on Local Patch

Monday 30th March 2009
Two Little Ringed Plovers were found by Andy and Mhairi this evening on part of the new development site near the new houses on the Kingsway Estate; I got there soon after Andy called me at 7:15pm and watched the birds until dusk. A nice record for Quedgeley.

I found this Bee-fly Bombylius majorwas in my kitchen yesterday; it appeared demised, but perked up after being placed in the sun and eventually flew off:

Shapwick Heath & Ham Wall RSPB, Somerset

Saturday 28th March 2009

A superb morning with Andy and Mark was spent on the Somerset Levels (photo above of Shapwick Heath). The showers coming in on the brisk westerly wind mostly missed us, and the sun shone for just about the whole time, although that wind kept the temperatures chilly. We managed to note 61 species between us, the highlights being:

Shapwick Heath

Photo above from Noah Hide, Shapwick Heath

Marsh Harriers - three in the air at the same time (poor record shot below!)
Sand Martins - c30
Swallow - two, my first of the year

Meare Heath

Photo above of Little Egrets at Meare Heath
Garganey - a lovely drake
Little Egrets - 12

Ham Wall RSPB
Bittern - this was the star bird, Mark caught a snatch of booming at midday, though distant, and after a little wait I had a glimpse of the bird moving a short distance in the reed-bed. We walked round to get closer, and soon the bird performed by giving several bursts of its booming call, each several minutes apart. This is the first time hearing…

Hawfinches still on Local Patch

Saturday 21st March 2009

As the sunny, settled weather continues, at least three Hawfinches were still present today around the Dimore Playing field at the rear of my garden in Quedgeley (photos above and below). Two singing Chiffchaffs and a singing Blackcap have also been present in the vicinity since Tuesday as have a pair of Bulfinches. A Brimstone butterfly made an appearance in the garden this afternoon, the second this week, the first being on Tuesday.

At Netheridge, two Little Egrets continue to use the pool near the Hempsted bypass, both being seen at 9:00am.

Weekend Sightings

Saturday 14th March - Sunday 15th March 2009
A weekend of increasingly pleasant weather is now giving a real Spring-like feel to things, as did the 10+ Sand Martins at Fretherne on Saturday morning, as they flew overhead. I had called in there with Mark on the way back from Slimbridge to get a better view of the 61 Dark-belliedBrent GeeseMikehad found on the river, having had a distant view from the Holden Tower. The flock had come up on the high tide, and appeared to contain at least one Pale-bellied.

The local Hawfinches continued to provide good entertainment over the weekend, with a maximum of six seen early on Saturday morning by Mark and myself around Dimore playing field. Other birds noted here included six Redwings, a Mistle Thrush, a Song Thrush, two Ravens over and a Sparrowhawk.

On Sunday, family commitments took me to Reading for my daughter to attend a seminar, so Linda and myself went on to Windsor to spend the afternoon. The resident Ring-necked Parakeets(above) in Windsor…

Mediterranean Gull

Friday 13th March 2009
At Priding this evening, a partially hooded adult Mediterranean Gull (green ring on left leg) was present amongst the gathering of gulls, from 5:30-5:50pm; thanks to John Overfield for spotting that.

In Quedgeley, the Hawfinches have continued to be present all week, and a walk around the perimeter of Dimore playing field on Wednesday morning indicated there could be up to four birds present, feeding under the Wild Cherry trees on the stones, or occasionally, up in the branches on buds.

A couple of recent photos below:


Monday 9th March 2009
At least two Hawfinches were present again today, with calls heard at 8:00am and the birds seen at 1:00pm around the Cherry trees, beyond the back of my garden, which border Dimore playing field, Quedgeley. I recently had a look around the bottom of the trees and found a lot of Cherry stones, many of which had been cracked open, almost certainly by the Hawfinches. The photo below shows whole and split stones.

These trees are the native Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) also known by other names such as Gean. As you can see, the stones are approximately 7mm x 8mm. They are very tough and it takes the massive bill of the Hawfinch to crack them open. Other birds, such as Starlings, eat the fruit from late Summer, but discard the stones (often dropping them on to my conservatory roof as they spit out the stones whilst perched on the house roof).

Other birds in the garden today included a male Blackcap on the Mahonia bush, a pair of Blue Tits still active at the nest-box, and …

Hawfinches Again

Sunday 8th March 2009

After a bit of an absence, two Hawfinches were back again at the rear of my garden, dropping down below the Cherry trees there (photos above and below). I saw them a couple of times between 7:50am and 8:40am, and then at 1:00pm I went out into the garden and could hear a male Hawfinch singing and the other bird calling nearby. The male then flew towards where I could hear the female. The birds were still around at 2:30pm when I had to go out, and Mark saw two a bit later from the Dimore playing field. In between I had been out to the forest with Andy and Mhairi where we came across a stunning male Hawfinch at the CSMA Whitemead Forest Park at Parkend. These were the best ever views I have had of Hawfinch, and although the camera was safely in the boot of the car, I didn't mind. The bird then flew into a conifer and proceeded to sing, while a second bird, presumably a female, could be heard calling. Yet another Hawfinch was heard at Parkend Church, but we had g…

Here and There

Friday 6th March 2009

A day off work to spend the day birding started at Slimbridge WWT at 8:15am. Highlights here included a first-winter Glaucous Gull on the estuary at 9:00am seen distantly from the Holden Tower, two wild Greylag Geese, a Brent Goose and a Peregrine were on the edge of the Dumbles while two Oystercatchers were near the tower; the first-winter male American Wigeon was showing from Lathbury Hide and male and female Kingfishers were active around the nest hole at South Finger (above) where a Cetti's Warbler was also heard; two Oystercatchers were copulating at South Lake, where the Egyptian Goose was dozing on the shingle causeway; 323 White-fronted Geese came on to the Tack Piece early afternoon to drink and rest (below); just eight Bewick's Swans were in the Rushy Pen.

I then headed to Cirencester to see the Great Grey Shrike again, and this time got much better views (below).
On to Driffield, and after a failed attempt earlier in the year I managed to locate …

Weekend update

Saturday 28th February - Monday 2nd March 2009
Saturday's birding was a quick trip to Slimbridge WWT in the morning to see the American Wigeon again, this time from the Zeiss Hide where it ws performing well, alongside many of its European counterparts, and three Spotted Redshanks were on South Lake. A late afternoon visit to Frampton to see a flock of Waxwings was unsuccessful, but I did return on Sunday morning to see the 22 birds feeding on Mistletoe atop the trees along the Perry Way. I also had another peek at the Long-eared Owl at the reed-bed south of Splatt Bridge, and a visit to Green Lane produced a Little Stint on the 100-acre. Today, two Little Egrets were present on the pool alongside the ring-road at Hempsted both this morning on the way in to work, and again this evening on the way home.