Showing posts from December, 2009

Otters and Birds at Chew

Thursday 30th December 2009

I spent the day at Chew Valley Lake in Somerset, with Mark, and despite the very gloomy and damp conditions, had an excellent time. The highlight was seeing Otters, a first for both of us (photos above an below). This was at Stratford Hide where we watched them give a full performance from 13:50 to 14:30, including, eating a fish, trying to eat a paper bag, synchronised swimming, synchronised leaping out of the water (Dolphin-like) and - fighting. First we saw two, then as they swam from the left-hand side of the hide to in front of us we could see there were three: an adult and two pups; they continued round to the right-hand side of the hide and eventually up on to the bank.

The pups were having quite a squabble which they continued for some time:

A fourth Otter, was then seen to emerge from the same place on the left-hand side of the hide and swam round to where the rest had gone up into the bank:

Other highlights were:
Main Dam
A drake Red-breasted Merganser …

Garden Birds

Monday 28th - Tuesday 29th December 2009

After a single on Sunday, a total of three Lesser Redpolls were at the garden feeders yesterday (above) competing with the Goldfinches(below) for Nyger seed.

Today a female Blackcap added to the variety (below), feeding on fat-balls.

Purple Sandpipers at Portishead

Saturday 19th December 2009

I took a trip to Portishead with Mark this morning, specifically to look for a particular wader which frequents the coast here in winter. We found four of them, Purple Sandpipers, on Battery Rocks over the high tide (photos above and below). It was nice to get such good views of these attractive birds. Other birds noted were nine Shelducks, three Redshanks, four Curlew, a Rock Pipit, a Meadow Pipit and c10 Knot.

Later we tried Dudbridge, Stroud, for Ring-necked Parakeets and despite hearing some calls could not locate the birds. Bonus bird of the day though was a female/immature Merlin which flew low over the M5 at junction 13 towards the A38, a welcome county year tick.

Great Northern Divers at Fairford

Saturday 12th December 2009

The two first-winter Great Northern Divers (photos above and below) reported yesterday were still showing well on pit 125 this morning, and feeding actively on crayfish. Other sightings at this pit, in the eastern section of the Cotswold Water Park near Fairford included nine Great Crested Grebes, 95 Coot, a Cormorant, two Little Grebes and a Grey Wagtail. At pit 114 (Dudgrove) at least one Tawny Owl was calling at 10:35am and other highlights here were nine Goldeneyes, a Red-crested Pochard, 51 Shoveler, five Teal, 130 Wigeon, 39 Pochard, nine Gadwall, 45 Tufted Ducks, 35 Mallard, 88 Coot, a Water Rail and a Buzzard; on pit 111 (Whelford Pools) 22 Teal, 22 Coot, nine Gadwall and two Pochard were seen.

Weekend Sightings

Saturday 5th - Sunday 6th December 2009

Yesterday I spent most of my birding time BTO Atlas tetradding at Redbrook in the Forest of Dean. Most of the square, SO51F, is in Monmouthshire and bisected by the River Wye; only 21 species were recorded, plus five Fallow Deer, but it should be an interesting area in spring. A drake Goosander was on the Wye at Lower Redbrook in the next tetrad south. I took in another look at the Pomarine Skua at Beachley on the way back (above), though it had started raining by then and the bird was loafing on a rock, no doubt digesting rotting sheep!
Today, the drake Green-winged Teal on the Tack Piece at WWT Slimbridge (above) was the highlight among a huge number of waterfowl and waders there at the moment, plus 1000's of Starlings producing an impressive display at dusk (below).

I also managed to see the first-winter Shag on the Frampton sailing lake (Townfield Lake) on the way, where it was present until 3:00pm at least, resting on the observation raf…