Thursday, 27 March 2014
Due to being very busy lately, the old fingers have not been able to tap on the keyboard quite so much recently, so a very quick update of a mainly very quiet birding period! Finally caught up with some proper spring migrants. A visit to Bowling Green Marsh Monday lunchtime provided me with c.200 Sand Martins. Then Tuesday I managed to catch up with my second Glaucous Gull in Exmouth this year and finally set eyes on the stonking second-winter bird down on the Pierhead. I even managed to take some pics of it with my mobile phone the next day, such were the close views the bird afforded! Wednesday also provided me with my first Sandwich Terns of the year, 3 being seen distantly perched on the seaward side of a buoy (presumably trying to hide from yours truly, and not taking flight once in over the hour I had them in view!). Today was cold and windy and migrants were restricted to 3 Chiffchaffs.
Friday, 14 March 2014
It's a little while since I found some time to tap out anything here, so I thought a quick update was required! I managed to catch up with the elusive Yellow-browed Warbler at Topsham Recreation Ground on March 7th, after about 5 attempts. The female Black Redstart was also seen again, lurking in one of the gardens. March 10th saw me round at Exminster Marshes for a brief but profitable lunchtime visit. First of all a female-type Marsh Harrier put in an appearance and another long-awaited Year tick came in the shape of a vocal Cetti's Warbler. The Barnacle Goose was still present. Last Wednesday I managed to see the Siberian Chiffchaff that Matt had found at Warren View, a very distinct 'subspecies'. I failed to hear it call though. Yesterday we had to visit relatives in Tavistock and a walk along the riverside path through the park was all we needed to catch up with Dipper for the year, an individual posing well on the Tavy along the usual stretch of river. The weather there was glorious with warm spring sunshine!
Monday, 3 March 2014
Yep, we've all got 'em, mothers that is! Now my Mum is 84 and lives in wildest Wiltshire. So it was about time I paid her another visit, and early Sunday saw me and my long-suffering daughter eating up the miles, bombing up the M5 in my respectable motor. Having rounded up Bewick's Swan for the year in darkest (wettest?) Somerset we carried on as it just so happened that there was a stonking good bird available about 15 miles from Mum's home, so as I used to keep a Wiltshire list (being my home county) I simply just had to go and visit the Shire Valley. We pulled up in a muddy lane, donned wellies, coats and gloves (well, it is colder up there than in our mild storm-lashed part of the UK) and were promptly hailed by one of my old mates from a bygone era. It was some 30-odd years ago that we used to travel the length and breadth of the land for lifers with a small band of birders from Wessex and it was great to catch up with Ewan again yesterday! Shortly afterwards we were in position in the very muddy valley and after a brief wait, were getting mind-numbing views of the first-winter male Red-flanked Bluetail that has been in residence since early February! What a great bird to see. This one showed down to about 15 feet, perching on a stick and eating mealworms that some kind soul had obviously left for it, in the hope that it would have to hang around until 2018, therefore providing birders with a fantastic year tick for the forseeable future! This was my 4th Bluetail in the UK, and perhaps it's been a bit undervalued these past few years as it used to be an absolute Cosmic bird! My first on Fair Isle in 1984 was just about the best bird one could wish to encounter as it was a true rarity in those days and had most birders having orgasms when the species was mentioned! I saw another in Cornwall, the same day as a Chimney Swift! But the hardest I had to work for was the one at Berry Head in Devon, which eventually gave itself up after a 6-hour search. After the Shire Valley had thrown as much mud at us as possible, we popped up the road and added Corn Bunting to the 2014 list before going to visit my dear old Mum! Today, a lunchtime visit to Topsham Rec' provided me with my first Lesser Redpolls (3) of the year and a very obliging Common Sandpiper