Monday 30 January
Off from home just after 8 to drive westwards to Weston Super Mare in Somerset for four nights. In theory it is to attend a dance theme stay at Pontins but at the silly price of £75 for four nights full board why waste the opportunity to try and discover some Somerset birding sites; both for this week and possible future visits. Again, why take the motorway when good sites to visit on the way and birds to find before the end of the month.
First stop Fishlake Meadows for a quick walk through the site, approximately three kms. One species needed to male it a century for the month so the real possibilities would be Cetti's Warbler, Fieldfare, Pheasant and Red Kite. However, no luck at the first stop albeit a lovely Buzzard and no less than three Wrens along with both Greylag and Canada Geese, Mute Swan, Pochard and Teal.
|Buzzard Buteo buteo
One hour's driving by another to take me to Langford Nature Reserve west of Salisbury on the A36. Most surprised to see the amount of flooding still in evidence, not just the meadows but many minor roads through beautiful old fashion villages. A number of birders present but limited birds apart from the scores of Canada Geese. A couple of Chaffinches then the usual Blue and Great Tits, Robin and Wren before finding both Tufted Duck and Gadwall.
|Female Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
Sitting in the hide and looking at the resting Cormorants in the tops of the trees on the opposite bank I was delighted to see a Red Kite drift over the hill behind the birds. Most of the corvids recorded here including Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook and Carrion Crow and then, as I made my way back to the car, not just the calling but the very brief sighting of a single Cetti's Warbler. So, two of the potential target birds seen and things were to get even better five minutes after leaving the site. No sooner back on the A36 and driving westwards when, not a Pheasant but a lone Grey Partridge, pit in an appearance on the left as it casually strolled along the verge. Now that was most unexpected.
Another hour's driving brought me to Chew Valley and its very large lake. The first stop at Herring Bridge bought numerous Mute Swans and Mallards along with Black-headed Gulls and a Moorhen. No shortage of Tufted Ducks and on the far side of the water I was in time to see the (true) pair of Goosander swim in front of the reed bed before disappearing out of sight.
|Distant record shot of Goosander pair Mergus merganser
Moving round in a clockwise direction I next stopped at the bottom of Stratford Lane and the small spinney here produced both Blue and Great Tit along with a Tree-creeper. But even more impressive were the two Cetti's Warblers going about their business and quite undeterred by my presence. Continuing on to the causeway over the water at Herons Green Bay I stopped to find even more Mute Swans and Mallards resting below me. Out on the water more Tufted Duck along with Pochard and a few Pintails. Also present a couple of pairs of Great Crested Grebes.
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Pintail, Pochard, Goosander, Grey Partridge, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Red Kite, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Tree-creeper, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch.