1-31 May 2010 blog and sightings

29-31 May 2010 A quieter end to the month.

24-28 May 2010 Highlights of this period in my images…

Sanderling on the Severn, gorgeous birds and moment like these are what fire me up for birding. Still plenty more time to catch up with flocks as the first week of June is a great time to see them in such plumages.

The 25th May was memorable for Red Kites. I picked up two birds at c830 lifting from near the canal, they soared across the reserve heading SW. At 0900 another bird lifted and flew low over ahead very slowly toward Saul Warth, N and at 1215 ish JSL and I were knocking in fenceposts when 5 cruised across the reserve low heading NE. I was phoned about another Kite on 26th which was also a Red, this time it lingered over the 100 Acre and Frampton before heading low toward Whitminster. A purple patch and record breaking numbers.

This was the first Spoonbill, I found a second, this time a first summer on 25th, it still remains at WWT.

This falcon sp has been causing problems to our breeding birds all Spring, namely by eating them!

Yellow Wagtail. Absolutley delighted to see this species respond to improvements to the reserve, we have four territorial males plus I saw a singing bird at Saul Warth in the week also. The local crops, particularly Rape is holding pairs too.

I watched a Little Gull fly in from the estuary on the 24th and it has been present to 27th at least. It is usually fly catching over the reedbeds or picking shrimp on the estuary pools at low tide from Middle Point, this demonstrates how adaptable to ever changing feeding conditions and habitats the smaller gulls are, being in the right place at the right times to take energy on board.

23 May 2010 The hot weather was again a bonus, I saw my first Broad-bodied Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmer today plus 2 Four spot Chaser, 3 Hairy Dragonflies, a Common Blue Damselfly, 200 Azure Damsels, 30 Large Reds and 100 Blue tailed Damselflies. My first Painted Lady of the year, 5 Brimstone and Common Blues mating all at WWT. The estuary provided new birds with 7 Grey Plover, 8 Sanderling, 150 Ringed Plover, 100 Dunlin, a Red Knot, 1 Barwit, 7 Whimbrel and 9 Curlew.

21-22 May 2010 No birding at all but what great weather.

20 May 2010 My first Four spot Chaser in the Green Lane, 2000 Azure Damselflies noted around the 100 Acre plus 30 Large Red, 20 Blue-tailed and 2 Hairy Dragonflies also in the Green Lane. The Spoonbill flew over us whilst we enjoyed a WWT restaurant coffee at 1030, it was on the Top New Piece at 1100-1145 at least. Three Whimbrel remained off Middle Point but only 21 Ringed Plover and 30 Dunlin were left from yesterdays little fall.

19 May 2010 The Spoonbill and Little Egret gave great views as they fed in the shallows of the Tack Piece scrape today. Some new arrivals on the estuary..1 Grey Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 130 Dunlin, 65 Ringed Plover, 7 Sanderling and four Bar-tailed Godwit.

A nice Spooner…

and its fishing buddy…

18 May 2010 I led a Landrover based photo safari at work, great weather for it and a handful of migrants still around. The Brown Hares x4  performed well. A female Wheatear was still with us. A Hairy Dragonfly was in the 100 Acre. The Leeser Whitethroat at the Holden Tower was still showing very well, the showiest one I have ever seen.

Lesser throat


17 May 2010 Fairly quiet at WWT.

16 May 2010 A day off from WWT.

15 May 2010 I woke today to hear Lesser Whitetroat singing near the garden.

14 May 2010 Time for a new bird….I left home at 0500 with JSL and NRS to travel to Lincolnshire for Britain’s 7th Oriental Pratincole. We did see it hawking over fields and roosting out of the breezy wind on the islands of the marsh. The site is the RSPB’s Frampton Marsh. I went to this site about 18 years ago and saw 5 Lapland Buntings but it has changed very much for the better. Huge areas of marshes have attracted a great variety of birds. Avocets with young, Corn Buntings, Yellow Wagtails, 5 Curlew Sandpiper, Turnstone, Greenshank, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit and breeding Little ringed Plover were among the Dunlin and Ringed Plover. Two first summer Little Gulls and flocks of Dark bellied Brent Geese, perhaps 120 overall once again show that these birds stay very late into the Spring, I have seen them in East Anglia and Gloucestershire in May and June on many occasions. All these birds made for a decent birding visit. I recommend this site to anyone. We headed home and got back for a large coffee at 2.45pm.

It is there I swear, Oriental Prat…

13 May 2010 A very busy day at WWT Slimbridge, I went in very early and met up with JSL to take advantage of the calm, sunny morning and watch the Middle Point waders. As we thought they were all feeding on the mud and as the tide came in we started digiscoping them. The Curlew Sandpiper from yesterday was still present with the Dunlin and Ringed Plover flock. A Turnstone and 9 Sanderling also looked brilliant in breeding plumages.

Ringer and Temminck’s

Sanderling and Curlew Sand


A nice group of waders

Grey Plover (what a stunner) and Turnstone


More Ringed Plover…

‘Grey Plover, Grey Plover’ (so good I showed it twice)

We all spent the day looking after guests on a BBC Wildlife readers day and I was tasked with tractor safari’s to the 100 Acre reedbeds and marshes. In the morning I was working with Dominic Couzens from Birdwatching magazine and the afternoon with the One Show’s Mike Dilger. It was all good fun, both were great company and a fine day to be out looking at wildlife. A Goshawk was one of the first birds of the session! Soon after we were watching the first Red-legged Partridges of the year for the reserve, no doubt wanderers from a release pen. They were eating dandelion heads. Up to three Grass Snakes, 2 Hairy Dragonfly (first of the year), Red Eyed Damseflies (first of the year) and great all round birding topped off by Water Rail with chicks made the safaris succesfull. A late finish and I was ready for an early night…

Mike in action with a Grass Snake

12 May 2010 I had a look on the estuary this morning where a Common Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper (in breeding plumage), 8 Sanderling, 3 Turnstone, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and three Grey Plover were all on the mud off Middle Point.

11 May 2010 I was still seeing new migrants at WWT today, two Grey Plover including a stunning breeding plumaged bird off Middle Point, 1 Greenshank on the sands, 7 Sanderling, 1 Whimbrel, 80 Dunlin and 65 Ringed Plover. A female Whinchat was in the Bull Ground too. On the scrapes I noted 4 Black-tailed Godwit, Little ringed Plover and a Greenshank.

Whinchat, female 100 Acre.

10 May 2010 At WWT the Hobby was showing well over the 100 Acre no doubt eating some of the many Large Red Damselfly (c50) and Blue tailed and Common Blue Damselflies. A Common Sandpiper from the Holden Tower was of note.

First summer Mediterranean Gull, 1oo Acre platform

9 May 2010 I was in at 0430 for a cold dawn chorus at WWT, we managed to hear/see nearly all the territorial songsters but migrants were quiet. On the safaris the highlight was 5 Arctic Terns upriver in the afternoon but six Whinchat in the morning was a Spring record for me locally. Four were males and one was in absolutley stunning plumage.

8 May 2010 I woke in the Forest fo Dean having camped out with my good friends, I missed the Dawn chorus as we stayed up until 0400 and promptly fell asleep when the first Robins started!

5 May 2010 Highlight of the day was locating a female Red-breasted Merganser way out on the estuary, it was roosting on an Oxbow at low tide.

RB Merg


4th May 2010 Highlight was seeing Little Tern head upriver in the morning, it plunged dived a couple of times but carried on upriver.

2 May 2010 NRS and I had an adult Kittiwake, probably the same as yesterday went through N upriver past WWT.

1 May 2010 A 12 hour attempt to record 100 species of bird at WWT Slimbridge was a big ask but we managed 92 on the day. A good effort. Most unexpected birds were two Sandwich Terns and an adult Kittiwake. Most popular was a Cuckoo see below for a pic of the bird.

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