January Birding

Friday 16th - Sunday 25th January 2015
Dipper, Painswick
Friday 16th I took the afternoon off work to bird, on a lovely sunny, and cold, day. I stopped first at the Horsbere Flood Storage Area just off the Barnwood by-pass/Elmbridge Court roundabout link road. This was my first visit here, which was prompted by the chance to see a Red-crested Pochard relatively close to the city. Besides the drake RCP there was a good range of other birds, including a Kingfisher, eight Wigeon and five Snipe. It's a fabulous habitat, and I shall be returning in the not too distant future. I have a fondness for Horsbere Brook, having grown up quite near it further upstream at Brockworth, and spent many hours trying to dam it!
Red-crested Pochard, Horsbere (what is that in its bill though?)
Horsbere Flood Storage Area - perhaps one day a more glamorous name: Horsbere Nature Reserve?
After Horsbere I headed for Hawling for owls. Three Short-eared Owls were showing well when I got there at 3pm, and a Barn Owl also showed before too long. Two Red Kites and the usual Kestrel added to the interest. A nice end to the day, and my toes had almost thawed out by the time I got home.
Red Kite, Hawling
One of three Short-eared Owls at Hawling
In the orange glow of the late afternoon sun
On Sunday 18th I went with Mark to the Cotswold Water Park to look for winter ducks. We also stopped at Driffield, spending too long unsuccessfully looking for Grey Partridge, but we did note 36 Golden Plover. There were no Smew on pit 44, but we did count 73 Red-crested Pochards here. Zero Smew on 65/43 too, but three Goldeneyes and 10 Goosanders present. Crossing the border, we moved on to the Wiltshire 28-30 pits, and eventually got a male Smew on 30.
Drake Smew, Cotswold Water Park (Wilts)
 An afternoon walk around Painswick with Linda and Tansy produced a Dipper along Painswick Stream - it's a good spot for them here (top photo).

I did my garden birdwatch for the RSPB on Saturday 23rd. Thirteen species in all during the hour including a male Blackcap - an almost constant presence at the moment, a male Great Spotted Woodpecker, also a frequent visitor, 12 Greenfinches and 21 Chaffinches. Later I also saw a female Blackcap and a Starling, which is not a frequent species in my garden.
Male Blackcap, Quedgeley
Great Spotted Woodpecker- this male seems to have replaced a female which was a regular going back a couple of months
Starling - mmm - peanut!
Blue Tit - they all love the peanut cake
On Sunday, 25th, it was a bit of a dull and cold morning, but I tried Sharpness anyway first thing, and eventually the male Black Redstart showed on the Ned West building roof. After about 20 seconds it dropped down out of sight on the flat roof and didn't re-appear after a further wait so I moved on.
Male Black Redstart, Sharpness Docks
The disused Ned West building, not pretty, but pretty good for Black Redstart over the years
After a bit more of a bird at SARA and the picnic site area, I headed for WWT. A Little Stint was on the Tack Piece and a Cetti's Warbler called and showed briefly by the Robbie Garnett hide. The other highlight was two Bank Voles showing well just near the tunnel entrance.
Little Stint, WWT Slimbridge
Bank Vole, WWT Slimbridge


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