Thursday 29 August 2019

So many birds!

Bit overdue as it has been a busy few days; I've managed to squeeze in a fair bit of birding & photography recently. The juvenile Osprey has continued to show well, as has at least 1 Marsh Harrier and a Wood Sandpiper. I spotted a very distant egret sp. flying in high from the north on Tuesday (27th) morning and I thought it was probably a Great (White). Fortunately it did the decent thing and landed on the estuary where it afforded good views for over an hour, a relatively long time for a Great Egret here. This is likely the same bird that was seen at Chard Reservoir earlier that morning. Also on the 27th there was what was almost certainly a 2nd Osprey. There was a huge flush from BHM and the estuary at around 1pm and Sue & I figured an Osprey or something else large must have gone overhead without any of us seeing it from inside the hide. Moments later Steve Waite tweeted that he had an Osprey fly in from west so this mostly fits the bill, but as Steve later said, that was a long way away from the birds which flushed! Maybe they were just on high alert? A few others in the hide said it must have been a false alarm as we didn't see anything but a massive flush like that is certainly not a false alarm! We just couldn't see what caused it.

Onto today and I was up early in the hope of seeing the Osprey before having a general look around. It eventually showed, but a fair bit later than normal, and then proceeded to fly high out to sea and then west towards Beer Head so I figured it may be leaving us in favour of somewhere else along the coast. It returned in the afternoon and caught 2 fish, however.

A later visit to BHM yielded a few new birds. Dad and I were scanning the marsh from The Lookout and I spotted 3 Ruff and a Curlew Sandpiper, our first of the autumn of both species as far as I'm aware. We then went to Island Hide where another couple of people were also looking at them and we soon saw that there were in fact 3 Curlew Sands, including a colourful adult. Shortly after this I spotted a Knot, so a very good evening indeed.

I'll save it for another post but we also have some Long-tailed Blue butterflies near the mouth of the Rive Axe. I've only seen one of them so far so must pay them another visit.

There are a few pics to post when I have time to look at them, but here's a taster. A silly/tight crop of the Osprey when it flew by quite close and in nice light:

Monday 19 August 2019

Osprey, Kite & Harriers

A good day for raptors on patch! We still have 2 Marsh Harriers here and I finally saw them flying together. One perched in front of the hide at Colyford Common with an item of prey but I was watching from the other side of the river and without camera (how most of my birding has been done lately). Not sure if anybody was in the hide but the views would have been pretty impressive from there. A later look at Colyford Common yielded nothing different with 10 Ringed Plovers and 3 Green Sands being the best of it.

On my way home I noticed a raptor drifting north-west over Colyton. I initially thought it had the jizz/giss of a Red Kite and fortunately it was moving slowly enough for me to park up and get bins on it. Not a bird that's particularly 'on my radar' this time of year. It continued to drift north-west at fairly low altitude. The few gulls that went up soon settled, only for them to make a bigger commotion a little later. I figured it'd be the Kite coming back but it wasn't. It took a great deal of scanning to find the culprit - an Osprey! It was to the east of Chantry Bridge and drifting south; I'm surprised I managed to pick it out at all to be honest, it was still an unidentifiable speck through binoculars (8x). Good to know that my eyes are still okay even though a lot of the rest of me is broken... It was also another one of those occasions where the camera was essential as the bins simply didn't cut it, so it was a good job I brought the camera out this time. Not that the pic is up to much...

To give you an idea how far off it was, this was taken at the equivalent of 1260mm and cropped! Although I've seen lots of them over the Axe estuary, I think this is only my 2nd Osprey over Colyton so it was certainly good to see. It has been a good year for me with raptors over Colyton. A few Red Kites, a few Hobbies, this Osprey and of course a Hen Harrier (also very distant, see here). 

Old news now but on the 10th I had the following from Tower Hide:
2 Turnstone (one or more has been seen almost every day since)
2 Greenshank
44 Dunlin
5 Ringed Plover
1 Wigeon

On the 11th many of the waders were favouring the scrapes at Colyford Common for feeding, the most interesting of which being:
1 Turnstone
11 Ringed Plover (inc. 3 juvs)
1 Whimbrel
6 Green Sandpiper
1+ Wood Sandpiper (most likely 2 based on calls)

Pretty similar on 12th but with better combined wader totals from BHM & Colyford Common:
1 Turnstone
2 Greenshank
12 Ringed Plover
58 Dunlin
2 Marsh Harriers (the lingering birds, seen by visitors rather than me on this day)

Aside from visits around the Axe, a couple of quiet trips up at Beer Head were concluded with pizza...

Friday 9 August 2019

Marsh Harrier & brief update

Sorry for the lack of wildlife pics, I haven't had a camera with me for much of my birding lately! I've done parts of Beer Head a couple of times recently and checked BHM and the estuary most days but the most interesting bird I've seen has been a Marsh Harrier which I picked up at distance from Tower Hide on the 7th. The best I could see in the heavy rain on the evening of the 8th were 3 Greenshanks and a Greylag. Dad and I didn't see a single other person there; most presumably had the more comfortable plan of staying somewhere dry!

Over recent weeks we've had a few of the usual/expected waders for this time of year with Wood, Common and Green Sands, as well as LRPs & Greenshanks etc. I'm hopeful that we'll get something more interesting soon.

The weather for Friday and Saturday certainly looks like it's going to be dramatic...

Talking of dramatic, here's a pic from the electrical storm we had here a couple of weeks back. It was a very impressive few hours with thousands and thousands of strikes!