Weirwood & Bough Beech Reservoirs ...28th January 2010

Standing by the hide at Weirwood Reservoir, we managed to see our target bird for the day - Marsh Tit. Just one put in appearance at the feeders, though. Other birds at the feeders included a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Nuthatch, a Coal Tit and a Treecreeper was on trees nearby. On the reservoir, 83 Pochard were present.


At Bough Beech Reservoir, good numbers of Pochard were present with a few Gadwall and Teal, but the best were 3 female Smew on the North Lake.

Female SMEW (Paul)

Isle of Sheppey .... 25th January 2010

We arrived at Shellness just after first light and were soon watching several hundred Brent Geese over the sea and on the fields. The shoreline held the usual wader species with around 300 Oystercatchers, around 50 Sanderling, about 100 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plovers, 2 Grey Plovers and overhead flew about 50 Curlews. At least 100 Shelducks and several large flocks of Wigeon were on or over the Swale. On our way back to the car we noted a Little Egret on the saltmarsh and at least 200 White-fronted Geese had joined the throng of Brent Geese on the fields. Four Marsh Harriers were over the Swale NNR.





On to Capel Fleet where a lone Bewick's Swan was in the distance on the fields, 2 Corn Buntings were on the telegraph wires and another 4 Marsh Harriers were noted. We then headed to Harty Ferry Inn, where another Little Egret and a male Marsh Harrier were at the saltmarsh and, along the road back to Capel Fleet, at least 4 Red-legged Partridges and 6 Fieldfares were present.


We decided to finish our trip with a visit to Elmley, where we made our way to the Wellmarsh Hide. On show were 5 Common Snipe, 4 Pintail, 4 Shoveler and a few Teal. On the way back to the car park we noted a Peregrine hunting, a Rook and at dusk we enjoyed the sight of 2 Barn Owls hunting.


Distant BARN OWL (Graham)

A very cold and dreary day, brightened up by plenty of decent birds.

Bird slaughter in Malta....

Please, if you get time, follow this link and sign the petition to stop the slaughter!!!

(My thanks to Dodge for providing this link.)

West Sussex .......... 3rd January 2010

Steve Gale (of North Downs and beyond fame) took me off for a day's birding in West Sussex. The first port of call was Church Norton and we were soon watching an immature Spoonbill and a Little Egret in Pagham Harbour. Four Whooper Swans were seen flying off in the distance and there were plenty of Grey Plovers, Oystercatchers, Redshanks, Dunlin, Brent Geese and Shelducks present.

SPOONBILL immature (Graham)

Deciding that it would be better to return towards high tide, we walked to Selsey Bill. On the way we picked out 5 Mediterranean Gulls and at the Bill we noted a Red-throated Diver, a few Common Scoters and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, but not much else was passing over the sea.

We then headed back towards Pagham Harbour. There were large numbers of Turnstones along the beach on the way back.
Taking the footpath through the farmland we noted 2 Common Buzzards and heard a Water Rail squealing from a ditch and back at the harbour the Spoonbill and Little Egret were still present and, as the tide was now pretty high, we set off along the spit to the harbour mouth. Small flocks of Grey Plovers settled near the mouth and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers flew close by heading towards the sea where another small raft of Common Scoters were bobbing about.
The number of wildfowl in the harbour was impressive with many hundreds of Wigeon, Teal, Shelduck and Pintail present.
The tide was now very high so we made the decision to head for the visitors centre and watch from that end of the harbour. This is when things started to go downhill a bit.
The tide was now so high that the water had covered virtually all of the footpath back to the car park. There was nothing for it but to wade through.
Steve emerged relatively unscathed, but my boots decided to fill with water! Not as waterproof as they should be and the water was pretty cold.
Back at the car park at Church Norton, it was a matter of ringing out my socks and donning my shoes for the rest of the day. A Common Buzzard flew low overhead just as it was time for a coffee and a bite to eat before driving back to the visitors centre.
The Ferry Pool was frozen over and there was just a few Shelducks and Shovelers and a lone Common Snipe present.
At that end of the harbour we noted a few Black-tailed Godwits and 14 Avocets and yet more huge numbers of wildfowl.

As the sun was getting low, we headed off for the picturesque village of Bosham, a place I hadn't visited before. Lots of Mute Swans, Redshanks and Grey Plovers present, but not much else but it is a stunning location. We stayed until sunset before heading off home.




A very enjoyable day's birding, despite the wet socks.


Holmethorpe Sand Pits, Surrey ... 1st January 2010

A visit to my local patch to start the year list off paid dividends when fellow local birder Gordon found a sub-adult Shag amongst the Cormorants. There was also a redhead Smew on the lake which had been present for a few days, so we're off to a good start.


sub-adult SHAG (Graham)

Female SMEW (photo taken on 28th December 2009) (Graham)