A few hours walking around Torquay for a cream tea and to enjoy the sun also saw a Peregrine fly over Tor Bay. After reading of some migrants at Sharkham Point near Brixham the previous evening I was quite hopeful of seeing something good. Unfortunately the highlight was a Hummingbird Hawkmoth very briefly on some buddlea. Just 5 Chiffchaffs and a couple of Gannets offshore were noteworthy! On the way back to the b&b near Buckfastleigh I had a quick look on the river Dart for Dippers but just 5 Grey Wagtails were seen on the adjacent sewage works.
The male Cirl Bunting, adult and juv White Wagtail and a strange fly? Answers on a postcard!!
As it's my birthday today and the fact that a potential 1st for Britain was only just down the road the decision was made to try and see it. Finally after driving for what seemed forever through the tiny country lanes we made it to the lovely village of East Prawle. After asking one of the locals where the Old Cider House was I made my way down and waited by the gate for 20 minutes or so and then from above my head a bird flew out of one bush and into an Elderberry. There sat on top was the red male HOUSE FINCH. A potential first for Britain but some say that it's not normally known for long distance migration and it probably got a lift across the Atlantic on a boat and therefore can't be counted. It was a nice looking bird and is now an insurance tick and in the future hopefully an armchair tick!! There was also plenty of Swallows and HouseMartins flying around. Next stop was about a miles walk though with all the hills it felt longer. Prawle Point is owned by the National Trust and is home to the lovely looking Cirl Buntings. The field next to the small car park had around a dozen White Wagtails and 2 Yellow Wagtails in it. A walk east along the coast path saw nothing more than a Buzzard and a Kestrel but on the way back suddenly there was a male Cirl Bunting sat on some bracken. This was followed by a female and 3 juveniles. (photos to come). On the way back a pair of Stonechats were feeding a juv and my second Clouded Yellow butterfly in two days flew past. A quick loo stop in Kingsbridge produced a Little Egret on the estuary.
As yesterday was spent travelling down to Devon and then getting some sleep, today was spent in Dawlish. A half hour boat ride just offshore saw a lot of Shags with some Cormorants, a couple of Fulmars but a Peregrine on the cliff face was the highlight. Later a wander round Dawlish Warren produced 2 year ticks in the shape of a Greenshank and a few Bar-Tailed Godwits. A single Knot was seen with a few Sanderling and 22 Little Egrets were scattered over the estuary. A Clouded Yellow butterfly was seen on the walk back to the car park and was my first of the year.
Visiting a few sites around Watford today saw the following. A female Grey Wagtail was in the council depot at Wiggenhall Road. A juv Woodpigeon was seen at Paddock Road allotments along with 5 Ring-Necked Parakeets.
Just after i'd finished cutting the bowling green at Callowland Rec I looked up to the skies to see what sort of helicopter (i'm not a saddo plane spotter you know!!) was flying over when my eyes diverted to a Swift that was flying SW. Not my latest in Herts but nearly up there. Later a juv Woodpigeon was seen in vicarage road cemetary.
The Parakeet and the awful Buzzard photo (but as my boy was proud to find it i've included it for him!)
After deciding not to go to the bird fair as I knew i'd spend money I don't have myself and my son and mum had a couple of hours over my old local patch hoping to repeat last years Redstart find. Unfortunately the visit didn't produce anything quite so good and I didn't even find the best bird of the day as while trying to photograph the Ring-Necked Parakeet (see above) my 7 year old son Tom said "theres a big black bird up there" and into view loomed a Common Buzzard which is also photographed but is probably the worst picture you could ever see!! Other birds of note were a Great-Black Backed Gull, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, a dozen Swallows, Sparrowhawk which put up at leaset 300 Woodpigeons and on the Otterspool were 2 Gadwall, 9 Teal and 2 Tufted Ducks which were the 11th and 12th record for the site.
Spent the entire day at the far East end (top) of the park weeding and dead heading the flower beds. Birds seen/heard during the time up there were a flyover Grey Wagtail, a Sparrowhawk that got all the other birds upset and a Goldcrest.
5 year ticks were up for grabs but unfortunately only 1 of them was seen! 6 Garganey were seen from the viewing ramp ( the most i've seen at once) but there was at least another 7 that were hding in amongst the other all brown ducks and were most likely asleep! There was also a few Ruff, around 7 Green Sandpipers and a Little Egret. But like waiting for buses after yesterdays 2 Turtle Doves another 1 flew over while walking back to the car!
2 photos of 1 of the Whimbrel and a rushed record shot of the Riverside CP Turtle Dove.
As we were kid free for the weekend and the future mother-in-law was away me and the other half went and stayed in Kent. A quick scan of Otterham Quay saw around 100 Black-TailedGodwits and a fly over Turtle Dove which was a nice surprise. A couple of hours was then spent at nearby Riverside CP. After waiting for 20 minutes for it to stop raining we ventured out and some of the first birds I found were 7 Black Terns just offshore. These were closely followed by a juvenile Marsh Harrier that flew East. Also present were 4+ Whimbrel, 12 Little Egrets, 40+ Common Terns that flew South, Reed Warbler, Hobby and a Sparrowhawk that was annoying 50+ Swallows over the car park but another Turtle Dove that sat in view for 20-30 seconds was the highlight.
A few House Martins were over the river and a Chiffchaff was heard calling again. A Sparrowhawk was chased through the park by a Carrion Crow but yesterdays Common Gull was seen only briefly after lunch in with 49 Black-Headed Gulls and 1 LBB Gull.
5 Ring-Necked Parakeets were flying around the park and at least 3 Chiffchaffs were calling again aswell as 2+ Bullfinches in the meadow but the best bird of the day was the adult Common Gull that spent the morning feeding on left over food between the car park and paddling pools. It's the first returning bird of the autumn.
Only 4 Ring-Necked Parakeets were seen today this time over the meadow. At least 4 Bullfinches were calling in the same place and a brief bit of Blackcap song was heard. 4 calling Chiffchaffs were heard and 3 Treecreepers all on 1 Silver Birch near the paddling pools/picnic tables at 8am was a nice sight.
The council yard was the place to be first thing with 3 noisy Jays flying through followed 10 minutes later by 10 Ring-Necked Parakeets that landed briefly in the top of a conifer tree before 9 were flushed by 1 of the Jays. In the park 2 Little Owls started calling to each other and a Cormorant flew over. The best bird was a female Sparrowhawk that flew in and landed 15feet above my head looked at me for a few seconds then flew off!
Went back down to Hants to change a coat that was damaged (only 1 shop in the UK!!). Afterwards had a quick walk along the sea wall opposite Titchfield Haven (as there was nothing of note to see on the reserve) and the best I could find was a flock of 12 Common Scoter flying up the Solent. Next stop was Lee-on-the-Solent where 3 Mediterranean Gulls were the highlight.
Born and bred in Watford,Herts, I started birding when I was just 8 years old because the old next door neighbours garden was very overgrown and attracted birds to his and our gardens! I first went to the Watford RSPB group at 15 and then I joined the Herts Bird Club in the same year. I was on the Herts Bird Club committee for 3 years. I started twitching in September 2001 after i'd bought my RBA pager and within a week of owning it i'd added Red-Necked Stint and American Green Heron! I keep 2 main lists which can be seen above.