Monday, 29 December 2008

End of year birding day.

I had a great days birding today to try and drag my year list up to a semi reasonable level. I was out and meeting two birding friends just as it was turning light (around 8am). Our first stop was Carymoor reserve, an area that has been improved for environmental education from a landfill site near the town of Bruton in Somerset. The area has some wetland lakes with reeds and some marshy areas. We saw Mallard and Teal on the unfrozen areas of the wetland as well as Moorhens and a Water Rail. A lone Bearded Tit was calling in the reeds but was impossible to find due to the windy conditions. Up on the marshy area we managed to see several Common Snipe and a Jack Snipe which is much less common.
My friends live in Bruton and so our next stop was in the town of Bruton where up to five Hawfinches are spending the winter. These normally shy and elusive birds eventually gave some reasonable sightings, the one photographed here below feeding on seeds on a garage roof.
After a much needed coffee (it was a freezing easterly wind out there today), I left my friends and made my way home via Stourhead lakes (where I recently did a BTO bird survey). A Lesser Scaup has been reported from the main lake recently so I dropped in there to check it out. I eventually found it hanging out with the Tufted Ducks. My next stop was home for a much needed spot of lunch, as I was looking out the window I noticed this male Blackcap in our Strawberry Tree. We've had both male and female Blackcaps in our garden this winter. It's only in more recent years that this warbler species has decided to overwinter in numbers in the UK. In Spring they have the most melodic song. My last stop of the day was down on the Somerset Levels at the National Nature Reserve of Westhay. I had promised an old work friend of mine and her Mum that we would go one day this winter to see the Starling roost. They roost here on the Levels in spectacular numbers although finding the right place to watch them can be tricky. The display given by the Starlings today (see photos below) is not the most amazing I've seen, but it was pretty good which made a lovely end to the day.


Shellmo said...

Wow - the formations of those starlings were beautiful to see!

Eve said...

This is great Jenny...although the Hawfinch isn't in my British Birds book!!! The starling shots are perfect!! I also read (in my British Birds book!!!) that the Bearded Tit is NO tit at all!!! Now I will have to go find a place to hear this sweet bird's song!
Thanks Jenny Wren!

Mary said...

Wow...the starlings look pretty amazing to me! What great numbers! Lovely shots of them. That Blackcap looks interesting. I guess I'll have to buy a British birding book to ever learn these.

Quiet Paths said...

My friend Deb over at Cloud Messenger posted a video awhile back of these same starlings. I am amazed at your photos; they really show the numbers! Love that black cap. It reminds me of our black capped chickadees. You got in some good birding this year! Looking forward to more from 2009. Happy new year, Jen.

Jenny said...

Hi Shelley
Yes, I love Starlings in the winter time when they congregate at these large roosts, I also love their tuneless witterings that they do sometimes. (-:

Hi Evie. I can't believe that Hawfinch isn't in there! That's really REALLY bad. I will have to look into getting you a different and better book sometime. I choose that one cos it didn't include Europe which would have just been confusing. Bearded Tit is a member of the Babbler family. Try the RSPB website for bird songs.

Hi Mary. Yes, they were amazing and the noise they make particularly when they do that swishing around is amazing. It's like hearing the waves at the seaside. Fabulous. See my note to Evie about British Bird books, I'll have to find one that is better than the one I sent her!

Hi Christine, it would have been great to have a video of the Starlings, specially to capture the noise too, but I guess I would need a video camera first! (-:
Happy New Year to you too and to everyone else as well....... (-:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jen,

The Hawfinch is a good one for a tick in the book. Not seen any Blackcaps up here now its too cold for them. I noticed on the Portland site that they had seen some the other day. Its good that they are still around down your end. Did you do your Bill Oddie impersonation conducting the starlings?

Jenny said...

Hi Roy
I guess the SW is milder so more Blackcaps are likely. We have a wintering Dartford Warbler at my local reserve right now which is the second only sighting for East Somerset., I don't think the Starlings would like my conducting skills. The Hawfinches are a great find for this area. Much overlooked due to their shy nature I expect.

Adrian said...

Hey Wren

Excellent shots of the starlings - what a wonderful thing to witness. Are we likely to see Black Caps here or will they all be Marsh Tits?

See you soon, when you arefeeling better. Adgi

Mary said...

Hope you feel better soon...miss your posts :-)