19 January 2010


I was sat on a park bench this lunchtime, casually wondering how I'd not yet seen a Coal Tit this year, when a Coal Tit landed on a branch less than three feet away from me.

18 January 2010

Can't find the Smew.

Went to see the Ruddy Duck and Redhead Smew at court lake on Sunday. Found the Ruddy Duck with no problems, but the Smew was nowhere to be seen! Spent ages scanning for it, too. Then I read that others saw it that day, and indeed today. Grrr....

Year list now upto 72 with the addition of Whooper Swan and Sparrowhawk at Coombe Hill and the aforementioned Ruddy Duck.

What splendid birds Red-crested Pochards are. Seen them a few times this year but never a really close look. I was afforded such a privilege at Court Lake on Sunday and could only marvel. Wish they stayed all year round!

Need to go off to the forest soon to chalk off all the tits and finches, etc... I'm still missing. A Redpoll would be a first for me, as would Hawfinch.

Also, I wonder if the Black Redstart will still be at Sharpness on Saturday?

I am thinking of taking a trip upto Scotland in the Spring to see the White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle and Osprey. I wonder if it can be done in a long weekend (Friday to Monday). The Sea Eagle should be straightforward enough - as should Osprey - but where to go with a good chance of seeing a Golden Eagle I dunno.

Finally, although I need a new tripod, and a new stay-on case for my Swaro... I'm beginning to think the next birding purchase should be something like Cley Spy's Mulepack. Carting the tripod about is rewarding when you get great views of a bird, but a pain in the ass when you can't spring to your bins at a milliseconds notice.

16 January 2010


Renovated the feeder area this morning. Cleaned everything, rearranged for (I think) the birds and views from the conservatory, filled with some new food and was rewared with a splendid female Blackcap feeding on an apple pinned to the fence. Took the opportunity to have a close look through my scope at the bird (first for a Blackcap). Lovely.

10 January 2010

Garden disappointment.

The garden bird situation is lamentable, however. Despite the snowy conditions, and truckloads of food (seed, nuts and niger in feeders, fruit and cake and seed on the ground), we have the grand total of one female Blackbird, one Dunnock and two House Sparrows taking advantage. :-(

I often see finches flyover, and the Woodpigeons and one semi-regular Mistle Thursh sit in trees in other gardens completely ignoring our offerings.

Don't get it.

It's too hard.

To walk, that is. Snow saps the energy. Layers and layers of winter-wear, however, keeps one warm.

This was mostly a weekend of chalking off more easy birds - like Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Gull, Raven, Little Grebe and Greenfinch. Also a Snipe (*on* the road down to Slimbridge - approaching the bridge!). Had to swerve to avoid it! To be honest it looked rather lost and bewildered before it flew off back towards the reserve. That is, if a Snipe can ever look bewildered!

Nevertheless, visits to Frampton (from the 100 Acre platform, at least 100 Curlew feeding and occasionally wheeling around in flight - noisy devils!), Slimbridge and Witcombe were pleasant. Witcombe particularly lovely when carpeted in snow.

Three male Bullfinches in the snow at Witcombe today were the highlight - picture perfect as they foraged for food. I think they're brilliant birds, and always get excited when I see them. Made me wish I had digiscoping equipment though... but as it stood I was only able to shove my Canon Ixus 990IS upto the eyepiece. Sometimes I can get them sharp when using this unhelpful setup, but today I had no real success. Plus it was cold, and I didn't want to leave my hands unprotected for too long! Once I've got a tripod I like, I'll have to look into getting digiscoping equipment.

The other really nice view was the Great Spotted Woodpecker at the very top of a bare tree nearby to Court Lake at Frampton. I caught it in sunshine as it hammered away at a some sort of cone - prising it apart with great precision. All alone on the branch. Great stuff. Meanwhile a Robin took umbridge at my presence and proceeded to launch itself at me from a nearby hedgerow. Brave little thing. At one point I know it was standing on my shoulder as I observed the Woodpecker.

Oh and the Dumbles at Slimbridge yesterday put me in mind of the Arctic rather than Gloucestershire! On the plus side, I've never had the Holden Tower all to myself midway through a Saturday before!

Year total now 68. Keeping my list here.

04 January 2010

No Goldcrest today.


03 January 2010

Last day before normality returns.

Tomorrow I return to work after a fortnight off for Christmas. That's gonna suck.

Anyhew, tried to make the most of the glorious winter sunshine on offer. Spent too long at Cotswold Water Park East, Pit 114, looking for the Bittern this morning. Very cold toes despite umpteen socks. The report that the bird was showing at 9.12am today provided welcome encouragement.

Alas, the bird failed to show to any great degree. Saw it in flight twice between reedbeds - good views both - but it landed in the reeds on each occasion and so I didn't see it walking about. We had the 500mm lens (w/1.4 extender) with us too - but no cigar.

Mindful that the light was failing rapidly, we gave up the Bittern as a bad job and dashed off to Pit 125 to chalk off the Great Northern Divers for 2010. Then onto Pit 17 (to which access was surprisingly difficult to find) in the western section of Cotswold Water Park. No Smew that I could see, but good views of Goldeneye, Red-crested Pochard and Goosander - the first two being lifers for me. Yeah I know, Goldeneye ain't devilishly hard to see... but you have to see them for the first time somehwere!

Some Great Crested Grebe and Gadwall - coupled with a nice garden Mistle Thrush this morning - brings the years total up to 59. I'm quite pleased with this in three days, and will look forward to adding to it sooner rather than later.

Monday beckons...

(we get Goldcrest regularly in the bushes around my office, so maybe I can tick them off before Friday)

02 January 2010


The year has started well! Saw the Bittern at Slimbridge today; lovely views as it skulked along the edge of the reeds from the South Finger hides. Good to get that on the list early.

EDIT: Up to 52 species for the year. Starts to get harder now... :-p

01 January 2010

Gorgeous morning / early afternoon.

Frampton, 100 Acre and Saul Warth. Chalked 35 species off the year list today. Could've been more couldn't stay for as long as I would've liked. Nevertheless, a job well done in the cold sunshine. Highlight was a good long look at a Water Rail; my first.