Weds 1 January 2003
Chew Valley lake: feral red-breasted goose, 2 Canada x snow goose hybrids, 14 barnacle geese at parklands. One adult Mediterranean gull in Villice bay. Also ca 20 goldeneye, 2 redhead goosander, pochard x tufted hybrid that looks like a lesser scaup, redhead smew.
Thurs 2 January 2003
Slimbridge: male green-winged teal (second ever) – excellent views from halfway hide. Also flocks of black-tailed godwits, golden plover, 2 little stints, 4+ raven, excellent views of 2 water rail, great spotted woodpecker, ruff, peregrine, a few distant white-fronted geese, many Bewick’s swans. Male blackcap in garden in morning.
Fri 3 January 2003
Flock of ca. 100 siskins in alders around brook, farmland in Flax Bourton.
Sat 4 January 2003
Battery point, Portishead – rock pipit, green woodpecker. Gordano hide – 2 brown hares, pair of stonechat, meadow pipit, buzzard.
Sun 5 January 2003
Barrow tanks:22 Great crested grebes, 5 Little grebes, 11 Cormorants, 1 Mute swan, 43 Mallard, 60 Teal. 53 Tufted duck. 44 Pochard, 5 Goldeneye (one ad male), 1 Goosander redhead, 1 Red-breasted merganser (ad male), 21 Ruddy duck, 69 Coots, 9 Herring gulls, 28 lesser black-backed gulls (1 dark backed), 17 Common gulls, 64 Black headed gulls - one dusky-fronted individual, 1+ Kestrel, 1 Buzzard, 1 Grey wagtail, 3 Pied Wagtails, c5 Long-tailed tits.
Sat 11 January 2003
Digiscoped birds in morning from lounge – example of greenfinch below. Also fieldfare in garden– first of year and aggressive male blackcap.
Sun 12 January 2003
Chew by 09.15h. 1 redhead goosander, 9 smew (2 ad male) – digiscope shot below, 2 water pipits at Moreton, and a splendid juvenile marsh harrier through, viewed w of Herriot’s pool at 12.15.
Then on to Cheddar reservoir - one black-necked grebe, one red-necked grebe (below) and a female scaup.
Saturday 18 January 200
Avonmouth square pond in afternoon – shoveler, gadwall, tufted duck, 1 little grebe, chiffchaff calling.
Sunday 19 January 2003
Stopped at Heron’s Green pool. Chew on way to North Wootton – 2 roe deer. Then went to Ham Wall on Somerset Levels with Ian.2 little egrets (below), reed buntings. Little at Ashcott. Digiscoped full moon in evening.
Saturday 25 January 2003
Exe estuary with Euphrasian Natural History Society – started at Dawlish Warren for high tide – 2 slavonian grebes, brent geese, common scoter, oystercatcher, ringed plover, grey plover, knot, sanderling, skylark, eider, guillemot/razorbill, stonechat. Waders at high tide below.
Stopped for lunch at ‘The Ship’, then on to Powderham – 1 greenshank, and 4 spoonbill. Finally, visited Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham, to look for glossy ibis. Saw 4 Avocet (one tame – below), feral greylag geese, 1 ruddy duck, 1 peregrine, 4 ruff, c30 black-tailed godwit, and finally, just at dusk, my first ever GLOSSY IBIS flew in to roost at 17.00h. An excellent end to a super day (Kurt, Dave T, Dave C, Tony & Adrian below).
Sun 26 January 2003
RSPB garden birdwatch – highlights were female bullfinch and c5 long-tailed tits. In afternoon walked in Bourton Combe – many goldcrests, 2 tawny owls calling.
Saturday 1 February 2003Barrow tanks: 13 Great crested grebes, 5 Little grebes, 1 Cormorant, 3 Mute swan, 32 Mallard, 11 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 42 Teal, 41 Tufted duck, 27 Pochard, 9 Goldeneye, 3 Goosander redheads, 1 Red-breasted merganser (ad male), c24 Ruddy duck, 51 Coots, 6 Lapwing, many Herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls, 1+ Common gull, 100’s Black headed gulls, 1 Buzzard, 1 Grey wagtail, 1 Siskin, 1 female Goldcrest.
In afternoon drove to CEGB pond in Wharf lane, Portbury. Linnets, 3 stonechats, reed buntings around saltmarsh there, and male ring-necked duck digiscoped on pond.
Sunday 2 February 2003
Chew Valley lake: 1 adult Mediterranean gull in roost off Woodford Lodge.
Tues 4 February 2003
What looked like a dead barn owl on Long Ashton bypass.
Weds 5 February 2003
Chew Valley Lake, late afternoon. Boat fishing resumed. 1 redhead smew, c5 pintail, 1 tufted x pochard hybrid (male lesser scaup type), tree creeper, great-spotted woodpecker.
Saturday 8 February 2003
Villice and Stratford, Chew Valley Lake. 3 smew (1 ad male), 1 tufted x pochard hybrid (male lesser scaup type), 60-70 goldeneye, feral red-breasted goose, 2 Canada x snow goose hybrids, 12 barnacle geese.
Sunday 9 February 2003
Barrow tanks: 10-11.00h. 12 Great crested grebes, 3 Little grebes, 6 Cormorant- at least 4 white-headed, 1 Heron, 21 Mallard, 20 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 5 Wigeon, 36 Teal, 60 Tufted duck, 39 Pochard, 14 Goldeneye, 5 Goosander (2 ad males), 34 Ruddy duck, 56 Coots, 1 Herring gull, 6 Lesser black-backed gulls, c320 Common gull, 30 Black headed gulls, 2 Great black backed gulls, 2 Grey wagtails.
Battery Point, Portishead – no purple sandpipers seen. In eve Herriot’s Pool gull roost – 1 adult Mediterranean gull, 1 seemingly hybrid lesser black-back x herring gull (smaller than herring gull, pink legs, darker back than herring, not as dark as LBb, yellow eye with black iris).
Little owl on telegraph in Barrow Gurney on return.
Saturday 15 February 2003
Chew valley lake: Bittern trail – c30 goldeneye, 1 redhead smew. Herriot’s pool area – 3 redhead smew, digiscoped common gulls, black-headed gulls and tufted ducks (below). 2 water pipits, Moreton and male stonechat there. Female sparrowhawk Heron’s Green.
Sat 22 February 2003
Slimbridge – went to see LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE (first ever) that has been present since last Sunday. First year bird, quite distant views, but digiscope pictures show eye ring, long wing projection (beyond tail) and faster feeding action also apparent.
Sun 23 February 2003
Chew Valley Lake – 1 goosander, 13 snipe, peregrine on pylon beyond Herriot’s pool.
Thursday 27 February – Monday 3 March: Zurich, Switzerland, visiting Claire and family.
Friday 28 February 2003
Lake Zurich, Stäfa. Male Goosander, red-necked grebe, great crested grebes and red crested pochards (below). Raven overhead.
Sat 1 March 2003
Red kite over Claire’s house. In afternoon walked in woods above Stäfa. Goldcrest, coal tit, nuthatches and buzzards.
Sat March 8 2003
Chew Valley Lake – 1 redhead smew.
Sun 9 March 2003
Herriot’s Pool gull roost – 1 leucistic black-headed gull. Had black eye, pale orange bill and feet. Otherwise almost pure white.
Sat 15 March 2003
Forest of Dean, with Dave Clarke, Marc & Victoria Holderied. Sunny day.
New Fancy – an excellent raptor viewpoint (below), apparently the best place in the UK to see goshawks. Eventually we saw a distant one perched in a tree (my second ever). Also crossbills, ravens, siskins, buzzards and kestrels here.
Brierley, opposite Esso garage. In a hornbeam plantation we had 3 views of hawfinches (second ever), including one very close perched in the top of a tree (c15m away). Crossbill overhead, siskins in area.
Cannop Pond – Mandarins.
Nagshead RSPB reserve – goldcrest, tree creeper, jay, buzzard.
Parkend church. Heard nuthatch. A flock of finches flew over the road near the turn off, and someone reported 35 hawfinches in the area on the web. Could that have been them?
Sunday 16 March 2003
Quick trip to Chew Valley Lake and Barrow tanks. Nothing at CVL, male common scoter at Barrow.
Monday 17 March 2003
Evening – visited Chew Valley Lake. Feral red-necked goose and Canada x snow goose, adult Mediterranean gull in Woodford gull roost. 2 Green sandpipers at Herriot’s pool and singing chiffchaff there also.
Wednesday 19 March 2003
Chew in evening with Marc. 3 possible white wagtails, but later I’m not convinced they weren’t female pieds. 2 snow x Canada geese hybrids, adult winter little gull. No Kumelin’s gull present 2 nights this week (the ones I wasn’t there). It’s now at Cotswold Water Park, as picked up on another birder’s pager!
Saturday 22 March 2003Barrow tanks: 14 Great crested grebes, 1 Little grebe, 1 Cormorant, 5 Mute Swans, 26 Mallard, 37 Shoveler, 9 Teal, 44 Tufted duck, 3 Pochard, 8 Goldeneye 1 Common scoter male, 11 Ruddy duck, 28 Coots, 5 Herring gull, 8 Lesser black-backed gulls, 11 Black headed gulls, 2 Grey wagtails, 9-11 Pied wagtails, including 2 possible whites (more likely female pieds), 3 Meadow pipits, 1 chiffchaff heard.
then Chew Valley Lake: 2 great black-backed gulls mating, 1 ad little gull, ruff, green sandpiper (last 2 at Herriot’s). Also strange Aythya hybrid (below - photo from April). Locals reckon it’s a pochard x tufted, but bill looks like a ring-necked. Also has orange growths under head, resembling a damaged tongue.
Friday 28 March 2003
Catcott Lows on Somerset Levels. Saw first ever WHITE STORK for me in UK, also a great grey shrike (second ever for me) present. Both birds distant, and gave poor views, but what a couple of ace birds! Stork hid in reeds, shrike made forays from a distant tree. Stopped at Chew Valley Lake on return. 6 Goosander, 2 Pintail. The stork left the next day, later seen over Dorchester. The shrike stayed around a little longer.
Saturday 5 April 2003Barrow tanks: 17 Great crested grebes, 3 Cormorants, 6 Mute Swans, 24 Mallard, 9 Shoveler, 10 Teal, 15 Tufted duck, 3 Goldeneye, 6 Ruddy duck, 37 Coots, 21 Herring gull, 32 Lesser black-backed gulls, 2 Greater black-backed gulls, 1 Grey wagtail, 5-7 Pied wagtails, including 2 possible whites (more likely female pieds).
Little at Chew Valley Lake later.
Sunday 6 April 2003
Chew valley lake – 1 Green sandpiper, Aythya hybrid (see 22/3) photographed. Photographed false oxlips (primrose x cowslip hybrid) (below)).
Thursday 10 April 2003
First swallow of year at Cambridge Batch.
Friday 11 April 2003
Took long lunch break and drove with Marc to Chew Valley Lake as ferruginous duck female reported yesterday. Didn’t see it, but a few swallows present, Aythya hybrid photographed (see above) and 2 little ringed plovers (first for many years) at dam.
Saturday 12 April 2003Barrow tanks: 16 Great crested grebes, 3 Mute Swans, 30 Mallard, 16 Shoveler, 14 Teal, 26 Tufted duck, 7 Goldeneye, 3 Ruddy duck, 50 Coots, 19 Herring gull, 26 Lesser black-backed gulls, 1 Black-headed gull, 2 Grey wagtail (pair), c10 Pied wagtails, 1+ Linnet, 2 Roe deer over A38.
Sunday 13 April 2003
Chew valley Lake in afternoon. Lots of hirundines – mainly swallows and sand martins, but also 2+ house martins. Also heard first willow warbler of year, and saw a distant curlew/whimbrel. Probably heard reed warblers also.
Monday 14 April 2003
Took day off (half term) and took girls to Slimbridge. Singing willow warbler and blackcap, swallows and sand martins, otherwise quiet. Several black-tailed godwits present.
Friday 18 April 2003
Herriot’s Pool, Chew in early evening. First-year Mediterranean gull, and amazingly a pair of FERRUGINOUS DUCKS, my first ever. Got some digiscope pictures (below). Also a very dark backed lesser black-backed gull, either subspecies fuscus or intermedius.
Saturday 19 April 2003
Chew again – weather changed to cold and windy. Little about. Blue tits seem to be nesting in nestbox in cherry tree. Chew also quiet during drive past on 20th.
Monday 21 April 2003
Up quite early, and went to Chew Valley Lake. Lots of birders hoping to see a blue-headed wagtail reported yesterday. Not there, but a nice slavonian grebe moulting into summer plumage (below). Also 2 first summer little gulls, 2 black terns. In afternoon decided to go camping at Lyme Regis. 4 purple sandpipers on cobb.
Tues 22 April 2003
Lyme bay – 2 sandwich terns, female red-breasted merganser, guillemot near water outflow.
Saturday 26 April 2003
Chew valley Lake. Hobby, many swifts, lots of reed warblers singing, heard common sandpiper, saw summer plumage Dunlin first-summer Mediterranean gull and digiscoped it at Heron’s Green in pouring rain (below).
Sunday 27 April 2003
Singing male sedge warbler in hedgerow at Heron’s Green , Chew Valley Lake. Somerset Levels – Ham Wall – 1 Spoonbill (distant), 2 cuckoos, lots of whitethroats. Ashcott (Shapwick Heath) – ringed plover, 2+ redshank, 9 black-tailed godwits, c10 little egrets (below), 3 dunlin overhead, 8 hobby in air together among many swifts. Pair of garganey on flooded pool. At Catcott lows 2 hobby and a female teal with a strange head pattern (below).
Sun 4 May 2003
We stopped at Chew Valley Lake. A birder said there was a ring-necked duck about, but I only saw a first-summer Mediterranean gull, and some birders pointed out a black tern to me.
During the late afternoon I went to Ham Wall on the Somerset Levels, and saw a superb second-summer male marsh harrier. Also lots of singing male blackcaps and whitethroats.
At Ashcott and photographed a heron.
Also present were 3 little ringed plovers, 2 ringed plovers, a black-tailed godwit, 2 redshank, and a very tame first-summer little gull, which at first flew over the flooded lagoon, then landed on the drained one.
Monday 5 May 2003
Chew valley lake – Raven overhead, hobby flying through influx of swifts.
Saturday 10 May 2003
Quantocks with the Euphrasian Natural History Society. Cold wind and showery for most of day. Triscombe – 2 ravens, pair of stonechats, buzzards, singing male yellowhammer, and several singing tree pipits. Singing male redstart heard, but not seen. Dead Woman’s Ditch heathland after lunch (below) – stonechat and linnets. Photographed male Typhaeus typhoeus dor beetle (below).
The to woodland on hill below, to hear wood warbler and pied flycatcher without seeing them. Finally to Kilve beach, where rock pipits, shelduck and oystercatcher. Found dead female green woodpecker on road near Burtle on return. Stopped briefly at Ashcott and saw 2 garganey (at least one male) at Ham Wall.
Sunday 11 May 2003
Chew Valley lake, late afternoon. Lots of swifts and house martins. Drake ring-necked duck (below) flew into Stratford Bay at about 16.00h. Stayed for about 30 mins then left with 2 pochard. Drake garganey at Herriot’s Pool.
Thursday 15 May
Blue tits seem to be feeding chicks in nest box in cherry tree, great tits going into box in robinia tree. Collared doves seem to have nest in conifer tree near gate. Also saw a hobby fly over A370 near bus stop, and either another or a kestrel over our house.
Sunday 18 May 2003
Chew Valley Lake – morning. Others had seen Slavonian grebe and 2 drake ring-necked ducks. Lots of swifts low over water in windy, showery conditions. I saw 2 common terns, one adult kittiwake (flew in high, then over Herriot’s Pool, mid morning), and escaped Egyptian goose and female mandarin at the picnic area.
Friday 23 May 2003
Walked around field W of Flax Bourton. Male yellowhammer, 2 stock doves, heron, buzzard, mallard ducklings, whitethroat carrying food, c3 skylarks, great spotted woodpecker male.
Saturday 24 May 2003
Clevedon, evening. Walked W towards Woodspring Bay. 4 wheatears, shelduck.
Sunday 25 May 2003
Shapwick heath in evening. Female red-crested pochard flew out of reeds, Meare heath hide, later seen on flooded square pond where photographed (below). Also kingfisher, great spotted woodpecker.
Monday 26 May 2003
Walked around field W of Flax Bourton. Male yellowhammer, buzzard, whitethroat, 2 skylarks, great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker.
Wednesday 28 May 2003
Great spotted woodpecker at next door’s bird feeder.
Thursday 29 May 2003
Bittern trail, Chew Valley Lake, with Anna. Reed warbler, tree creeper, great spotted woodpecker. Otherwise quiet. Great spotted and green woodpeckers in garden.
Saturday 31 May 2003
In morning walked up Wavering Down (Mendips) from Compton Bishop. Amazingly hot and sunny day. Found cockchafer under greater horseshoe bat feeding perch. Found a tent of larvae made by a tussock moths (brown tails - below?).
On the walk saw buzzards, chiffchaff, heard at least 5 willow warblers (more numerous at higher altitudes than chiffchaff?), meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, 8 stonechats, and excellent views of 5 Dartford warblers. These included at least 2 singing males. Also blue butterflies and a tiger beetle. In the afternoon I was dropped at Herriot’s Pool, Chew – photographed male ring3-necked duck (below), and saw shelduck with 8 chicks and tufted duck female with large white blaze (below).
Friday 6 June 2003
In evening went to Inglestone common with Marc and Victoria. We hoped to find nightingales, but found no evidence in over 2 h of listening. Saw 2 tawny owls, lots of bats and a greater butterfly orchid. Yesterday I emptied our nestboxes. The one in the cherry tree had 6 dead blue tit chicks and an unhatched egg in it. Apparently it had been a disastrous spring for blue tits. The box in the robinia tree had a great tits’ nest and it seems that all chicks fledged.
Saturday 7 June 2003
Berrow, with children and Claire’s family. Walked around marshy area – saw sedge warblers, reed warbler, heard Cetti’s warbler, reed bunting, a bald dunnock, linnets, and shelduck and one whimbrel on the beach. Southern? marsh orchids photographed.
Sunday 9 June 2003
An amazing afternoon at Ham Wall/Walton Heath, on Somerset Levels. Arrived in pouring rain while Anna took kids and cousins swimming. Got soaked to the skin. To the north of the viewing platform a GREAT WHITE EGRET flew up from a reedy area from time to time. Several Little egrets here also, but the great white was as large as a heron. To the south, in Walton Heath, an adult PURPLE HERON flew up on occasion, giving about 4 excellent views in flight. Yellow legs and bill, stunning purple tinges, and streaked head apparent (head seen in reeds on one occasion). Other birds in the area – hobby, marsh harrier, common tern, great spotted woodpecker. On Shapwick Heath saw many hobbies, including 4 in the air together from Meare hide. Also cuckoo (and a couple still singing), and buzzards.
Tuesday 10 June 2003
Heard a ring-necked parakeet in Englefield Green, Surrey, while external examiner at Royal Holloway University of London.
Wednesday 11-Wednesday 18 June 2003
Field course at Orielton. Highlights were trip to Stack Rocks on 13th – fulmar, razorbills, kittiwakes, guillemots, 2 puffin, manx shearwaters, gannet and a family of 5 choughs. Southern marsh orchids here also. On 14th saw choughs again and 2 ravens here. Most unusual bird was a first summer long-tailed duck on the mill pond at Pembroke (16th June)! Also a hummingbird hawkmoth at Orielton.
Sunday 22 June 2003
Stopped at Herriot’s Pool, Chew Valley Lake briefly (ca. 16.00h). Male ferruginous duck present (Paz saw a pair on Friday). Also ca. 375 Canada geese. Used Eagle-eye optic zoom for first time, taking photos below.