1 February to 31 March 2011 blog and sightings

Steller’s and King Eiders MJM

30 March 2011 Not many new arrivals on show around the New Grounds/WWT today, I did see and hear my first 4 Swallows of the year, plus 30 Sand Martins, a Golden Plover in the 100 Acre and 15 Ringed Plover and 2 Grey Plover on the estuary.

Steller’s Eider, Vardo, Norway MJMcGill
What a bird……

29 March 2011 A few Swallows seen heading through WWT Slimbridge today, I noted c40 Sand Martin, a pair of Little-ringed Plover on the 100 Acre central flood, 144 Black-tailed Godwits with 120 of them on the South Lake, a Spotted Redshank (1st of year), 2 Knot (1st of year) with 4 Grey Plover and 5 Oystercatcher on the estuary as well as a GC Grebe. The Lesser Scaup was on the Rushy again. I saw a male Orange Tip Butterfly in the 50 Acre this afternoon, 1st of the year and possibly my earliest ever?.

28 March 2011 At least 9 Willow Warbler were singing, 27 Chiffchaff and two Blackcap, one of the Chiffs had a very interesting song which I recorded and will investigate. A male Red-breasted Merganser was seen on the estuary at 1600, late news of a pair for last Thursday too.

22-23 March 2011 A visit to Arctic Norway and Finland with friends, it has to be said that left Gloucestershire rather underwatched for the week. Was no coincedence that no Ring Ouzels have been seen when many of  the most active NCOS (North Cotswolds Ornithological Society) members were with me. One in particular beat me to one of my usual Spring finds, a Bourton on the Water Sedge Warbler fell to Duncan Dine’s binoculars before a WWT record. I blame my tired, snowblinded eyes!!!!!

A full trip report will follow soon. We spent our time around the Varangerfjord with a night spent in the Taiga zone for forest birds and a night ‘in transit’ near Oslo. Although not offering a large list of birds it rewarded us with quality with Steller’s and King Eiders, Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Pine Grosbeak, Siberian Tit, Siberian Jay, Arctic Redpoll, Gyrfalcon and Brunnich’s Guillemot to name a few. Great trip, fine company and testing conditions.

More Steller’s Eiders M.J.McGill

Peregrine Falcon from the Zeiss Hide, 17 March 2011, WWT Slimbridge MJM

21 March 2011 A few migrants from yesterday, the Little-ringed Plover was on the island that was ‘developed’ to entice them to breed on the Rushy. One Avocet remained on the TNP, the Cattle Egret was seen again and a Great White Egret hung about before hopping N up the reserve and heading on, I caught a sight of it before it left. A male Wheatear, some migrant Meadow Pipits and more Shoveler were around.

20 March 2011 Back to work at WWT Slimbridge with a pleasant bang…the 2 male Greater Scaup looking better every week, a prediction of Avocets as I entered the Holden Tower with NRS, three Brent Geese were moved off the water by the tide and flew around the estuary, a last close fly by revealed two rare Light-bellied and a Dark-bellied Brent. The former having only 6-7 previous records with only one other of two as the rest were singles. JK picked up two Avocets in flight, there eventually turned out to be three and they spent the whole day on the Top New Piece, the pair becoming agressive by the end of the day. The Cattle Egret was on the Top New Piece and then moved to the South Lake, the Pink-footed Goose was on the South Lake too, the day ended with the female Lesser Scaup on the Rushy. Lots of nice birds on my WWT travels.

18-19 March 2011 A weekend off but no birding!

17 March 2011 My first Wheatear of the year, a male was at WWT. Best of all was the outrageously close views of an immature Peregrine at the Zeiss Hide, I did take many pics and hope to share them soon.

15 March 2011 Most notable birds for me today were three Siskins on the bird table at home and at WWT the nine grounded migrant Pied Wagtails and parties of 8 and 6 Sand Martins through N. My first of the year.

14 March 2011 At WWT Slimbridge at least 5 Brimstone and a Small Tortoishell were on the wing in the glorious sunshine.  A Coal Tit was a notable passage migrant as well.

13 April 2011 A rainy start to the day cleared to a sunny and warm afternoon. I saw my first local Stonechat of the year, a male on the 100 Acre fences. Also whilst driving the tractor N up the reserve I had a lovely male White Wagtail (first of the year, although I had three alba/yarrellii flyover last week which I though were White)running along the track flycatching. Only one White-fronted Goose remained, the Pink-footed Goose still, a female Smew on the Top New Piece, an intermedius Lesser Black back and adult breeding plumaged Mediterranean Gull on the estuary. A party of five Bewick’s joined the last three. The female Lesser Scaup and three Greater Scaups cheered me up as they always do. NRS and NPG both scored with Sand Martins at Frampton.

12 March 2011 A BRIMSTONE butterfly flew through the garden, first of the year for me. Also 2 Siskins came to my feeders another first as they usually are flyovers.

1-11 March 2011 A period dominated by departures of wildfowl and waders locally, I have noted some Spring migrants such as Shoveler, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Grey and Ringed Plover at work, WWT Slimbridge. Raptors have been in evidence with the Marsh Harrier still showing daily and a first experience of seeing this and Red Kite together on my birthday on the 8th. A Jack Snipe on the 9th was of note and I am looking forward to seeing new birds arriving daily from now.

19-27 February 2011 Images to come

18 February 2011 A ‘raid’ on Chipping Norton for the Oriental Turtle Dove, just three hours spare today but it was enough to see this Far Eastern visitor. Only just over the border in Oxon, an hour from home and it was showing on arrival. I chatted with a few birders at the site as well as some of the residents, a nice atmosphere. One chap let me view it through his scope and couldn’t be more helpful, a bit of fun with local residents perhaps bewildered by the attention but interested nontheless. They are opening up the gardens today but will be closed Sunday.

10-17 February 2011 Generally wildfowl numbers have been dropping in line with the usual exodus of early Spring. Bramblings, Reed Buntings and singing territorial birds have been keeping things going. Shelduck are now using the hide and barn roofs to engage in displays.

9 February 2011 I completed my last square for the BTO atlas this morning, it takes in part of the reserve at WWT and I ‘scored’ with some great birds. First of all a flock of 18 Dark-bellied Brent were present on the estuary, I watched the E. White-fronted Goose flock head out to grit and picked them up on the main channel, they were distant but one had brighter flanks, was big with a good throat slash,  they took flight a few times as the bore came in and settled a bit closer but it was murky and they were not close so it could have been a gander in top nick. Next top bird was a Marsh Harrier, the immature female was hunting and resting on the ground in the 100 Acre, next a Water Pipit perched for a few seconds before dropping out of view, a Redshank alarmed and ahead of me a Short-eared Owl was being mobbed over the estuary. I continued counting and was finally rewarded by a Bittern flying over the reeds near to the platform. It dropped in somewhere around that area. A good set of birds in 2.5 hours and a fair walk.

8 February 2011 A Little Owl sunning itself was notable along the canal at Frampton on Severn.

1-7 February 2011 Will add images asap for this period.

The 18 Dark-bellied Brent Geese on 9 February MJM


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