1-31 October 2010 blog and sightings

31 October 2010 A dreary start to the day turned into a pleasant autumn afternoon but I enjoyed a rest and the trees rather than birding, after all we still have November.

30 October 2010 We had a look around Loch Leven which had thousands of birds on offer, the Pinkfeet and Goosander in the sun were very nice, JJS saw a Snow Bunting in flight near Kirkgate cemetry. We packed up and headed for the Slamannan area an quickly located about 80 of the 227 strong flock of Taiga Bean Geese. These long-necked and rather lumbering birds can be very elusive and most of the this flock appeared to be over a rise out of view. Their long necks and bills, many with extensive orange/yellow were obvious and plenty had white feathering where the bill meets the head. It would seem that they are holding on in this area and it was a pleasure to see a flock like this. The Yare valley birds in Norfolk have been declining and are down to tens so this is the best that Britain has to offer. We also gained a brief view, before they sat down of what looked like 2 Tundra Bean Geese which made for a good comparison, great birding.

Taiga Bean Geese

29 October 2010 After the dissapointment of coming second in the local pub quiz the night before I was delighted to see about 50 Waxwing on the wayto Jers house it was also nice to see Pink-footed Geese flying around and landing next to the Travelodge where we were staying. We headed to Edinburgh for the day exploring the city including the Scottish National Gallery. Jeremy showed us all the best sites in the interesting city including one of his favourites.

28 October 2010 A showery start to the morning did not put off the flock of 160 Waxwing from stripping berries in the sun. JJS and I enjoyed on these birds a Kinross housing estate about half a mile from where he lives.

Waxwings in Kinross…

We also visited Tentsmuir forest and point. The forest meets a dune system and the sea which offers a shallow sandy beach ideal for the many loafing Seals. A Long-tailed Duck flew in to a pool nearby and groups of Red-breasted Mergansers, 3000-5000 Eider plus more were all present. We also heard a Lapland Bunting. The forest used to hold Capercaillie and still has Red Squirrel. Jeremy had work to get back to so we expored St Andrew’s. I spent a bit of time scoping the sea and had great views of 4 Long-tailed Duck, 20+ Velvet Scoter including a close imm/fem, 100 Common Scoter, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 200 Eider, a Razorbill and an Arctic Skua chased Kittiwakes offshore.

Long-tailed Ducks

Velvet Scoter (left with a male Common Scoter)

26-27 October 2010 The weather improves today after a dark and overcast day yesterday. The country is being invaded by Waxwings, thousands have reached Scotland and have got as far South as Kent along the East coast. We may see them locally again this winter. I headed up to Scotland for a few days to visit Jeremy and explore some new sites for Anser trips and have a break with the family.

25 October 2010 A still, sunny and calm day, I spent the morning working on the feeding station where Bullfinch and 2 Redpoll were coming to the food and Coal Tit, Chiffchaff and a few Siskin were all present in the trees nearby. Some improvements to bird tables especially to try to attract large numbers of finches both at the willow plantation and Holden Tower should pull in Brambling among the Chaffinch but Greenfinch are also notable these days. The disease that has hit them hard has reduced the population. A good feeding station has always the chance of attracting something rare as well as supporting local and passage birds and I am always in hope of a scarce bunting or American Sparrow coming in to have a feed. Two new Bewick’s Swans arrived and we still held 17 E White-fronted Geese which favour the South Finger area. The Whooper Swan spent all day on the Rushy.

Bewick’s Swan on the Tack Piece

24 October 2010 A decent set of waders were about the Top New Piece at WWT including 6 Little Stint.

22 October 2010 The Am Wigeon was still present but since this date the Wigeon flock have been on the estuary during the day, this is due to in my opinion, the full moon and the fact they have fed all night and it is safer roosting out there in the day. It prevents the Peregrine from getting used to a routine and it acting as a turkey shoot.

21 October 2010 A quick check around the hides at WWT Slimbridge produced a female American Wigeon from the Zeiss Hide, I did not have the time to hang about and wait for it to flap. JSL is still on crutches and light duties so he staked the bird out and found on checking his HD video in the evening that he got the bird with a raised wing. This excellent footage and the stills clearly shows white axillaries (‘arm’pit or wing pit feathers).

  • It also shows a very grey head (with isolated dark mask around and behind eye),
  • greyish ‘shawl’ on the mantle and upper tail coverts and
  • a brighter isolated orange panel on the flanks.
  • I think the bill is brighter blue but this may be an illusion.

The bird drifted into the reedmace and out of view for me so this is the only image I can offer.

20 October 2010 A Tree Sparrow from the Holden Tower at WWT took me back to the days when we had up to 60 wintering here. It was so nice to hear it calling in the scrub and for it to show itself, fingers crossed that it may find the feeding station. Probably last seen here in the early nineties.

Tree Spug

19 October 2010 A Whooper Swan was with the three Bewick’s in the Rushy this morning but flew out toward the river. It was ringed at Welney in 2007. Also of note was a first winter Curlew Sandpiper on the Top New Piece. 

Whoop

18 October 2010 Our first Bewick’s Swans of the ‘winter’ arrived this morning. As I got out of the car a party of six dropped in to the Rushy but remained mobile, at least 8 were noted.

17 October 2010 My first Rock Pipit of the autumn for WWT today was notable.

15 October 2010 A Coal Tit in the garden was the first of the year for me.

14 October 2010 A day back in the tractor mowing at WWT, possibly two Whooper Swans called in today one ringed. I noted a pair of Stonechat, a Water or Rock Pipit, c20 Reed Bunting and flocks of Linnets, Chaffinch and Brambling and Redwing heading N along with 4 Swallows during the day.

8-13 October 2010 I was Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly with an Anser group, it was a great trip for birds and a full trip report is coming soon. 

Greenshank, juvenile at Lower Moors, St Mary’s

4-12 October 2010 The Marsh Harrier and Pectoral Sandpiper were the best birds around WWT from the tractor but large numbers of Ruff  21 and Grey Plover 50 were of note too.

Ruff, juvenile

Marsh Harrier, juvenile

3 October 2010 At WWT Slimbridge I spent most of the day tractor mowing the Dumbles. A quick hide round with MLK saw us noting plenty of duck, certainly an increase from last week. From the tractor today I saw a juvenile Marsh Harrier around Middle Point at 1325 when it drifted N toward Frampton, I saw it again at 1526 heading S along the Dumbles and again after 1600 on the ground feeding on carrion for at least half an hour. It drifted off toward Frampton again. I stopped a couple of times to scan waders on the estuary and 28 Grey Plover, 32 Ringed Plover, 1 Sanderling, 5 Curlew Sandpiper, 10+ Little Stint, 4 Knot, 8 Ruff with a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper (saltmarsh) for ten minutes and 16+ Bar-tailed Godwit. Most of the waders were near the hide at Middle Point using the mud shelf.  A party of 20 Golden Plover were among the Lapwing for a while and 700 Wigeon plus the 2 White-fronted Geese were on the areas I have cut already and grazing happily. I flushed c20 Snipe with 19 flying over the Zeiss Hide in the morning and a single Jack Snipe flew a short distance back into cover. A Wheatear was also present and c15 Swallows. I also saw c25 Swallows in the village on the way home.

2 October 2010 DBP reports a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at WWT Slimbridge this morning. Viewable from the Holden Tower. I briefly saw the two Black Terns that Nick Goatman had found earlier today at Frampton Townfield Lake at dusk. c20 House Martin were still buzzing around home.

1 October 2010 No birding at all today.

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