Sunday, 26 February 2012


Skylarks were singing when I left the car at Langdon Cliffs this morning and down in the Hole,robin dunnock chaffinch wren and great tit were all announcing their territories long tailed and blue tits were also flitting about in the scrub which has been much "tidied up" by the NT since my last visit.
Over on the cliffs fulmars were present and thousands of gulls were resting on the rocks below,mostly herring with a few black backs,I guess the great migration back to their breeding grounds is underway.
Sitting on one of the favoured perches a peregrine falcon allowed unusually close perusal
Judging by the breast plumage I think this is a young bird and I left him still sitting pretty self assured on his rocky outcrop.
At South Foreland a raven put in an appearance and a female bullfinch was seen,more singing in the top wood including a song thrush and wren and the proof of Spring my first primroses of the year were in bloom.

and what I believe to be Winter Aconite

With the first sign of chaffinches on the move and the build up of gull numbers it won`t be long before the wheatears are here,happy days.


With being away for the best part of 5 weeks the local patch has been sorely neglected and has turned up trumps again in my absence with the Iceland Gull and Slavonian Grebe attracting nationwide attention it seems,with the Iceland Gull,of theKumlien variety  being a particularly popular target for the long lenses.
The Iceland gull breeds in Greenland and NE Canada but not Iceland evidently and the Kumlien from Canada is a vagrant to NW Europe with only 1 or 2 annually.
This week I have caught up with both birds thankfully.


The visit to the Admiralty Pier,my first for a while was a sad day,the place where I spent so many happy hours as a youngster fishing ,ship spotting,birding and yes watching the Golden Arrow leave for Victoria with all the splendid Pullman coaches is in a very poor state indeed and is in need of some serious TLC and sooner rather than later, come on DHB.
While out there a hovercraft arrived ,I think it was brand new and had COASTGUARD on the side and a French flag flying,so assume we have built something for our European neighbours?

Also on show this week was the Spirit of France P&Os new "super ferry"


Friday, 24 February 2012


Last week about 27 hardy souls went west with the Mike Briggs road show calling at Cotswold water Park,Highnham Woods ,Brecon,Giggrin Farm, TheForest of Dean,(reputedly owned by Peter of that name)the Somerset levels,Cheddar reservoir,which was full to the brim!!and Slimbridge,some went to Chew Valley instead of Slimbridge.There was still snow on the ground when we left home but luckily this had gone before we got to the M25 and the weather was kind all week if a little too overcast most of the time.
Everyone eventually met up at Cotswold water park and heading for lake29 we found red crested pochard,goosander and smew,the lake was still partially frozen and it was funny to watch the wigeon landing on the ice.Moving on to Highnam Woods an RSPB reserve where marsh tit,nuthatch and great spot were added.Two nights at a youth hostel just outside Brecon awaited as we crossed into Welsh Wales,those who had been there before were pleasantly surprised by the improvements to the showers.
After spending the morning at Llangorse Lake where goldeneye goosander and black necked grebe were the highlights it was off to Giggrin Farm for the Red Kite feeding frenzy.
As well as the 500 or so kites there were ravens and buzzards taking advantage of the free handouts.They claim that the kites only use this feeding station as a top up to their regular diet,personally I cannot believe that if they had enough to eat by natural means they would turn up every day like clockwork,we will probably never know for certain but it certainly is a spectacle not to be missed if you are ever in the area.
Next morning we left for Cheddar in Somerset and called at the Forest of Dean on route,eventually all the cars ended up in the same place,and we headed for the raptor watch point to look for Goshawk which breed here.Asuperb male crossbill sat nicely for the telescope in the top of a conifer and some brightly coloured male siskins were flitting about and in the far distance a pair of goshawks were flying above a conifer plantation,with a pair of buzzards nearby for comparison.
A nearby lake has a breeding population of mandarin ducks which provided a colourful interlude.
Our accommodation at the Arundel guest house in Cheddar was very comfortable and the dinners at the Bath Arms were first class.
A stroll around the Cheddar reservoir next morning gave us another sight of red crested pochard
We moved on to the Somerset Levels for the afternoon with the prime objective of seeing the starling roost,it was reputed to hold some 3 million birds so as dusk approached very slowly the crowds gathered and the excitement mounted as the birds came in,however Murphys law applied and the starlings went straight to bed without doing their swirling spectacular,however we did pick up hen harrier sparrowhawk glossy ibis and great egret here.
Slimbridge the WWT Reserve on the Bristol channel is a wonderful place to get close up &personal to the worlds wildfowl, Sir Peter Scott started the collection many years ago and gives a good opportunity to study the many endangered and rare ducks and geese from around the world.
As well as the foreigners there are also ducks from the UK and Europe to be seen both in the wild and in the different pools.I will deal with the exotic species later but the wild side included:-




Then the Bewicks swans took centre stage as they arrived for their supper.

This swan is one of ten fitted with a neck collar to study movement and hunting problems in northern europe.
Each swan has a unique bill pattern by which they can be identified.

It just remains for me to thank Mike for doing another trip which despite a few hiccups with sat navs etc has to go down as a great success.Cheers mate.

Sunday, 12 February 2012


Since getting home on tuesday my birding has largely consisted of gazing out of the kitchen window at the thrushes feasting on my berries and crab apples all five british birds have paid me a call this week,a flock of about 30 redwings half a dozen fieldfares ,a dozen or more blackbirds two or three song thrushes and one probably two mistle thrushes have all been seen.A pair of bullfinches a meadow pipit and a grey wagtail were among the more unusual visitors as well.





This single FIELDFARE on the back lawn was very aggressive and chased the blackbirds away if they came too close.