Terns and Things

Friday 12th - Tuesday 23rd April 2013
Arctic Tern, Epney
Spring has arrived at last and everything seems to be happening at once. Yesterday (22nd) I made it in time to Witcombe Reservoir to see the cracking adult WHISKERED TERN, resplendent in breeding plumage, found by Duncan Dine. I'm glad I made the effort  although the light was fading fast by the time I got there, hence the rather grainy photos! The Tern eventually settled on a buoy, where I left it at dusk. It departed early this morning.
Whiskered Tern, Witcombe Reservoir
Another shot of the Whiskered Tern
Going back to Friday 12th, a welcome day off work found me at Fretherne/Saul Warth for the tide. A Sanderling was the highlight, but news of Velvet Scoters at Chew Valley Lake still, from the previous day, had me heading there for the afternoon. The four Velvet Scoters were always rather distant, and gave me a bit of a runaround, but views of them on the water and in flight were a treat, being a lifer for me. A first-winter Little Gull and two drake Scaup were the other highlights here.

Back at Fretherne /Saul Warth the following morning, and highlights were a Yellow Wagtail, and a few hirundines; not much else.

Monday 15th, and James had found two adult summer Little Gulls on Frampton Townfield Lake, which I had to go for after work. And lovely birds they were too, one especially with a rosy blush underneath/. Also here, a Common Sandpiper and a White Wagtail.
Adult summer Little Gull, Townfield Lake, Frampton-on-Severn
White Wagtail, Townfield Lake, Frampton-on-Severn
The next evening I found a local Nightingale singing at Ash Bed, Hardwicke. I am pleased this species has returned to this site, quite close to home. Also a close encounter with a Brown Hare which approached me to within feet before cottoning on to me presence and dashing off. I also found a Common Sandpiper along the canal south of Sellars Bridge (The Pilot) and a Kingfisher.

Friday 19th, a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling from bramble scrub near the Dimore Brook sluice early morning, next to the canal. I returned a bit later to record it reeling for extended passages. South of Sellars Bridge I also noted three Sedge Warblers, a Reed Warbler, a Whitethroat, a Common Sandpiper, and two Mandarins; a total of six Willow Warblers, four Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap were around the patch. Up to four and latterly two, Hawfinches were still present at Dimore playing field, but not seen since 19th. A recording of the Grasshopper Warbler below:
 

A quick visit to Frampton lunchtime where two Arctic Terns and a Reed Warbler were highlights; then Coombe Hill Meadows in the evening to try and find a Savi's Warbler found earlier by Andy Jayne. Sadly no further sign of that, and also sad to see the state of the boardwalk and hide wrecked by winter floods. On the plus side, a good range of birds included two Arctic Terns, three Yellow Wagtails, a Greenshank, three Redshanks, a Ringed Plover, a Little Ringed Plover, two Oystercatchers, two Sedge Warblers, a Reed Warbler, and two Reed Buntings.
Arctic Tern, Townfield Lake, Frampton-on-Severn
Arctic Tern, Coombe Hill Meadows
The tangled remains of the boardwalk at Coombe Hill Meadows
Saturday 20th, and although the garden visitors have drastically reduced, up to three Bullfinches are daily visitors and I also had two Siskins and two Lesser Redpolls on the feeders. At Fretherne with Andy, off Hock Ditch, c60 Arctic Terns were an amazing sight, and they were joined by a first-winter Little Gull. A Lesser Whitethroat was heard, but not seen, singing from the hedgerow near the sluice.
First-winter Little Gull, off Hock Ditch, Fretherne
Jeremy reported more Arctic Terns at Epney, so we stopped off on the way back to watch nine here feeding on the river, and looking fantastic in the sun.
Arctic Tern, Epney
Arctic Tern, dive mode
Lesser Redpolls continue to visit the garden regularly, with five arguing over the nyger feeder this morning. To bring me right up to date, I had a Barn Owl and a Lesser Whitethroat along the canal north of Sellars Bridge this evening. The Barn Owl flew across the canal from the Quedgeley estate side, a local patch first for me.

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