I was wondering what to use as a November thumbnail - there's been a paucity of photogenic birds (and an abundance of bad light) this month. Problem was solved on 29th however, when news broke of a pomarine skua feeding on a dead sheep near Beachley, close to Chepstow. I thought the bird at Severn Beach on Wednesday gave good views, but this one was a stunner. It's a different bird - much darker (and adult-like) on the underwing, and the tail streamers are longer.
On 24th some good seabirds turned up in strong winds at Severn Beach. I therefore planned to spend lunchtime the next day there at high tide. News broke on the morning of 25th about Britain's first Fregetta petrel appearing there. I headed off after my morning lecture, but the bird had already departed. I did see some nice seabirds though, including 3 Leach's petrels and a splendid immature pale-phase pomarine skua. Grotty pics below. I missed a grey phalarope and another little auk!
Fifth time lucky - caught up with the Chew long-tailed duck at last on 22nd - it was bobbing about and diving off Sutton Wick in windy weather. Only other birds of note were a water rail, goosander and sparrowhawk at Herriot's Pool.
14th - Severn Beach in ideal conditions for windswept seabirds, about 1-2 h before high tide in strong SW winds. This week's dip was little auk, a bird I've yet to see, and that I missed today by 50 mins. I did see ca. 200 kittiwake, and a drake common scoter.
Another dip on 8th, missing the WILSON'S PHALAROPE at Slimbridge by an hour. I saw about 20 white-fronted geese and a water rail. I caught up with the phalarope on 11th, though it characteristically cleared off again just before a film crew arrived (ironically at high tide). First one I've seen this side of the Atlantic, though it was too distant to photograph. Pheasant photograph from Slimbridge.
Chew again on 7th, this time looking for a long-tailed duck that failed to appear. I did at last see my first Mediterranean gull of the year, also the red-breasted merganser, 4 Bewick's swans and a water rail.
Good birds still at Chew on 1st: today a peregrine, a male ring-necked duck (the Blagdon bird), a jack snipe, and best of all a redhead smew - the first I've seen here since, I think, January 2007.