Blog Category | UK Birding

Slimbridge WWT 2018

Despite the inclement weather, there was a sizeable turnout for this year’s final meet at the WWT's Slimbridge Wetland Centre.

At least 41 species were seen, the highlights of which were:

  • The overwintering Bewick’s Swans (naturally).
  • A hunting Peregrine Falcon.
  • Two Water Rails in the open and almost within touching distance!

No one was caught trying to sneak off to see Santa, even though that would have meant shelter from the wind-driven rain, but it did mean that café business was booming throughout the day!

Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas.

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SPTA West

Last Saturday there were 90 Golden Plover that flew over me as I waited to start a walk around Ladywell.  As we walked near the north end of the area, a ring tail Hen Harrier was flying slowly down the valley.  The group all had good views of the bird.  There were plenty of Roe Deer about and the odd raptor such as Sparrowhawk.  There were quite a few corvids but as it was a windy day there was not much in flight.  Also the shooters were in the same area allegedly shooting Pheasant but also any game bird including Woodcock!  At the end over 100 Fieldfares flew over and Starlings were with the cows in the nest grid square.  On Sunday I carried out my BTO WeBs at the local pond.  I was surprised to find 8 Teal on the pond.  The normal birds sang/called from the trees around the pond and in the conservation area.  Today I carried out another one of my winter surveys doing a grid square that is mainly grassland.  There were Skylarks and Meadow Pipits plus a flock of 100 Fieldfare flew over the area.  There are still lots of berries on the Hawthorn so maybe they will stay a bit longer? 

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SPTA West

I have started my winter surveys when the weather has been kind. Today I did another grid square and the explosives from the shells landing several kilometeres away resounded across the training area.  All I saw was a truck as I carried out my survey so no robotic vehicles to be seen despite all the trials going on.  I also led a walk across the area two Saturdays ago when it rained and became heavier so we stopped the walk and headed back to the cars. The rain became heavier as the morning progressed and though we stuck mainly to the woods there were no birds about.  Today there was lots of Hairy Rocket (Erucastrum gallicum) on the tracks of south facing woodland.  The past few days there has been birds from Raven to Goldcrest.  There have been corvids as well as Blue and Great Tits.  Near Vedette 3 there is a large flock of Fieldfares as well as a handful of Redwing, Chaffirch, Goldfinch, Corn Butning and Yellowhammer.  There are plenty of small flocks of Starling about that roost in the centre of the impact area at Chirton Gorse which is accesible when the flags are not flying. All the nest boxes in areas I have checked are missing lids especially where soliers have been sheltering.  I even went to Langford Lakes twitching and there were some colleagues there but no Caspian Gull.  There were quite a few Yellow-leg Gulls with the Lesser Black Backs so it was not a completely wasted short journey.  So far I have seen 46 species since my last missive and I am 203 species of bird for the year in UK (326 different birds in Europe).

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Barnes WWT 2018

A small but select group made it for this year’s annual visit to the London Wetland Centre (aka Barnes WWT) on 27 Oct.

A total of 42 species were seen of which the highlights were undoubtedly:

• A pair of Peregrine Falcons perched on Charing Cross Hospital.

• Two Cetti’s Warblers singing in the open adjacent to the Water’s Edge Café!

• A Short-eared Owl resting in the Grazing Marsh and, as you would expect, pretty well hidden!

None of the attendees had any camera kit so a picture of the LEGO Short-eared Owl will have to suffice!  Should you have young family members and are within striking distance of Barnes the Giant LEGO Brick Animal Trail is still present but the last day is scheduled for 18 Nov.   You never know but, as we did, you may get to see the real thing!

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SPTA West

Time has flown past and I held my final AGM as Chairman of the Imber Conservation Group (ICG).  Next year the 3 groups will amalgamate.  The only difference will affect the hierarchy and the members will still continue to do their thing.  This year I have seen 65 species on the Plain though this list is not the total number of species for the ICG.  The latest involvement has been the Hen Harier survey.  Whereas my location has a Kestrel, Wren and plenty of corvids passing by the other 2 locations have recorded Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl, Merlin, Golden Plover to name a few.  We have just recorded a Wheatear on the Plain and the Starling murmuration is starting to form up.  Last month I conducted one of my monthly Nature Walks and near Brounkers Well there were plenty of Yellowhammer, Blackcap, Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit.  There were still plenty of Skylark on the old Stone Curlew plot where chicks were raised.  During the hot summer there was hardly a bird but it did not strike until the big ponds had delivered their toads!  We will also conduct a winter survey so hopefully I will have something to write about besides my travels across Europe (326 including firsts of Gyr Falcon and Little Bittern).

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