Thursday 17 March 2016

March trip to Cotswold Water Park

Luckily we booked great weather for this trip! We did a circular walk at the Western end of the Cotswold Water Park and we soon picked up some movement on the first lake which turned out to be a couple of cormorant busily diving.

We headed towards the main road, which is flanked by mature hedgerows, we were lucky enough to pick up a pair of bullfinch picking at the bursting buds, always a pleasure to see! We also managed brief views of goldcrest, song thrush and redwing in these well managed hedgerows. Shortly afterwards we managed much better views of the two thrushes as they foraged on the ground looking for worms.

We soon arrived at the next lakes where we saw about 40 red-crested pochard feeding and displaying. They are mostly paired up now, with the males busily diving and bringing weed to the females to eat. 

Male red crested pochard
We were also managed to see tufted duck, coot and mute swan here.

As we wandered on along the river Thames we saw a few more bullfinch, as well as goldfinch, chaffinch and  long-tailed tit busily feeding in and on the hedgerow bushes. Despite my best efforts we only heard the cetti’s warbler in the river-side vegetation!

On the next lake we saw little grebe, mallard, lesser black-backed gull and black-headed gull to add to our growing list.

Further along the river Thames on our left, we picked up another goldcrest feeding in ivy and a male great spotted woodpecker showing very well at the top of a tree. Through the trees we could see a pair of goldeneye, a pair of great crested grebe and several wigeon.

After a brief view of a stock dove and very briefly hearing a singing marsh tit, we crossed the Thames again and checked out a lake on our left where we were treated to the display of a pair of great crested grebe – fantastic!

On to another lake, this time we saw  a number of pochard, as well as cormorant and grey heron, precariously balancing in the trees. We continued to see more of the previously mentioned duck species, giving us opportunities to compare them to each other.

We were next distracted by a lovely treecreeper working its way up trees, then flying to the base of the next one.

As we worked our way back towards the car park we saw more redwing feeding, the next sighting was of bits of a signal crayfish left on the bank by a mammal, most likely an otter.

The last duck for our listen was a pair of gadwall.

A very enjoyable trip!

Please keep an eye out for brambling, lesser redpoll and siskin in and under your garden bird feeders!

Male brambling


Saturday 5 March 2016

Pagham Harbour Tour

A full day tour at Pagham Harbour.

A very cold and windy day greeted us at the car park today but the day produced some fantastic sights.

First stop the small ferry pool which is a very easy place to view. From the well placed hide two avocet were seen at close range, also a green sandpiper, shoveler and teal with a large group of brent geese out in the field.

Moving on to explore the marsh path down to the estuary hide we soon found a kingfisher given a brief but close view as it sat on the mud bank just in front of us also in the fields were woodpigeons and a few stock doves.

As we rounded a bend we could see two roe deer which gave very close views as they walk across the field.

Moving on towards the hide which overlooks the vast expanse of mud at low tide we could see several large flocks of waders wheeling about in the air obviously disturbed by something!

From the hide you have a wonderful view over the whole estuary and we soon found the culprits for all the disturbance the two local peregrine falcons were seen sat on one of the islands out in the middle, on closer inspection you could see that they had just made a kill and the larger bird the female was eating its prey. With the two birds sat so close together you could see the obvious size difference with the male bird being almost half the size of the larger female. We watched the falcons for the next couple of hours as they flew around a bit often as a result of a couple of crows trying to get at their food.

By now the tide was coming in over the mud pushing the waders closer to us so a scan through produced several species knot, dunlin, turnstone, grey plover, golden plover, ringed plover, curlew, oystercatcher, snipe, little egret, redshank, lapwing, black-tailed godwit and around 50 avocet along with pintail, shelduck, great crested grebe, and a red breasted merganser.

A wonderful few hours watching the movement of the birds but we were now starting to get a bit cold so we decided to head back to the centre for a warm drink.

On the route back we found a few tufted duck along with two little grebes in one of the smaller pools and out on the marsh a large flock of wigeon could be seen with a couple of grey herons and three snipe flying around.

On one of the grassy areas a green woodpecker was feeding.

After lunch we walked along the opposite bank which has a few more trees and hedges and soon found greenfich, goldfinch, chaffinch, robin and a wren.

There were a lot less birds at this end so with time running out we heading back towards the car park, stopping at the bend we noticed a mixed group of gulls feeding on the tiny flies on the waters surfaces these included black headed gulls, common gulls, lesser black backed gulls and a couple of Mediterranean gulls, with herring and great black backed gulls seen earlier in the day a total of six gull species seen.

The last bird of the day turned out to be one of the peregrine falcon flying straight towards us, as it banked above our heads you could see that it was looking at getting some speed up to launch an attack and as we watched it fly back out over the estuary it stooped down at great speed and sent all the birds up into the air it was then lost from view, maybe it had made another kill?

A very cold and windy day but some great views of some of the wonderful sights the estuary has to offer.

Total species seen 60. DT

Thursday 3 March 2016

Poole Harbour

Last week we thought we would have a look around Poole Harbour to see if it might be a suitable site for a day trip, or even a second half of a day trip with Durlston Head.

We started at the RSPB's reserve at Arne. As soon as you get out of the car you are met by flocks of finches and tits all busily feeding on the many bird feeders. We counted at least 20 siskin here, and at a very short range - great stuff!

We headed off towards Shipstal Point where you can see roosting/feeding waders depending on the state of the tide and a variety of duck and other birds. We soon picked up a few red-breasted merganser and goldeneye, as well as roosting oystercatcher and turnstone.

Male red-breasted merganser
We then headed over to the two-storey hide which has views over another roosting area. As we arrived we spotted a number of very white blobs, a passing marsh harrier woke them up to reveal a flock of 20 spoonbill.

20 spoonbill - managed to fit them all in!

The marsh harrier made another couple of passes, putting everything into the air. flocks of curlew, wigeon, oystercatcher, teal, redshank and brent geese were in the air swirling around - quite a sight! We were lucky to find the brent geese landed right in front of the hide giving us great views of them!

Brent geese
We continued back to the car park picking up Dartford warbler, avocet and crossbill amongst a variety of commoner species on the way. The main mammal to be seen on site is the Sika Deer, we saw around a hundred while walking around, including a very confiding group of bucks.

Well, relatively confiding anyway...
The next destination was the southern edge of the harbour along the Studland Peninsula. Here we soon found black-necked grebe and great northern diver mixed in with the great crested grebe.

There were about 35 sanderling along the beach and a lot of Mediteranean gulls, infact over 100 dotted along the shoreline. They are getting their black hoods now and together with their white wing tips there are very dapper gull.

Med gull (left) and black-headed gull (right)

Adult Med gull showing off its white eyelids and red eye.
 All in all a great trip and an area that will be added to our website next year we think! (NA)