28 December 2013 Mistle Thrush singing it’s heart out on this fine day. Went for a morning stroll on an E Dorset heath in the sunshine. The southerly facing slope had seen the sun for a couple of hours and I had great views of a Dartford Warbler that stalked me whilst calling. It soon headed off after sussing me out but perched atop the gorse a number of times. Came back home via Salisbury and Bath, the rivers and streams were in full flood and had spilled onto the flood meadows, extensive flooding everywhere.
A short afternoon walk at home produced four Yellowhammer, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Buzzard and a female Kestel with a mouse meal.
27 December 2013 A late start due to partying, extreme storm and the dog keeping me up the night before at my Sister in laws house in Dorset. A late morning decision was made to go to Portland Harbour for the Brunnich’s Guillemot and to see what the stormy wave action was like in Chesil Cove. The harbour and Fleet was very busy with thousands of birds, many seeking shelter out of the wind others feeding on what the waves were stirring up. Soon after arrival we were watching the Brunnich’s Guillemot alongside a Common Guillemot for comparison. Having seen the former species in it’s more homely Arctic waters in Iceland, Norway and Russia it was an irrestible to ignore this one so far south. A few Shag were feeding in the same area. Looking out from another sheltered spot a Razorbill, a non-breeding plumaged Black Guillemot, Slavonian Grebe, 2 Black-throated Diver, 40 Red-breasted Merganser and Little Grebe were all on view.
We went for a walk along Chesil Beach and earned a meal and pint in the Cove Inn, the waves were just brilliant to watch from the seawall, shingle ridge or indoors in the pub next to the fire. On the way home we stopped for a walk on a heath and saw male and female Hen Harrier, a Merlin, 30 Linnet going to roost and a close Woodcock, a great end to the day.
Common (left) and Brunnich’s Guillemot
Chesil Beach taking a battering
Thousands of gulls were gathered.
25 December 2013 A rapid walk out to the Severn at Hock Ditch helping to feed the sheep along the way was really an excuse for exrecise and sun worship. I did log 21 Little Egret in the fields at Fretherne and a Siskin.
24 December 2013 Headed to Frampton Townfield Lake and along the canal from Splatt to Fretherne bridge to look for divers, best was adult Kittiwake upriver toward Hock at 1107, Peregrine, 13 Shelduck and a Buzzard low over the waves. Seven swans (one cygnet and certainly not a-swimming) rose up from the far side of the estuary and dropped again, probably Bewick’s Swan. I heard later that a diver sp flew up five minutes before I got there! A long walk from Saul bridge to Castle bridge only gave me Yellowhammer and Kingfisher of note.
14 December 2013 A half day out to Forest of Dean, see trip reports.
12 December 2013 Another visit to the Forest of Dean via Walmore Common. The three Whooper Swans (pair with cygnet) were grazing adjacent to the flood along with a pair of Mute Swans with cygnet. I took my bike and cycled the tracks around Serridge Ridge but did not connect with any Crossbill flocks, plenty of Brambling. My plan was to drop in to my parents in Bristol to deliver a birthday card so I visited the Desert Wheatear at Severn Beach on the way.
Desert Wheatear, male on the seawall at Severn Beach.
11 December 2013 My original plan of heading for the Forest of Dean changed when I opted to join Rich Baatesen for a trip to Northamptonshire to see a Hume’s Leaf Warbler. I had seen and heard them before but not for a while so was keen to re-familiarise myself with the species. We had plenty of great views and this little bird was in a good voice. We also saw a Marsh Tit among the commoner birds.
Hume’s Leaf Warbler
7 December 2013 A day in the Forest of Dean with an Anser group, see trip reports.
4 December 2013 I headed out for the Forest of Dean for the day but spoke to Graham Clarkson on the way. The result was to cave in and continue North to have a look at the Baikal Teal, spend the afternoon birding and stay over for a sociable night out. All very much went to plan. I arrived and was soon getting great views of the teal among Eurasian Teal and Wigeon. I enjoyed other birds around the marshes which included waders, Pink-footed Geese flocks, a Ross’s Goose, 2 Great White Egrets, Marsh Harrier and a Long-tailed Duck. I enjoyed catching up with Gra and his family too.
Long-tailed Duck, Junction Pool, Marshide RSPB
Baikal Teal, Crossen’s Outer Marsh, Lancashire