Monday, April 29, 2013

RSPB Frampton Marsh

Once again I managed to secure the Trust's minibus and so for another 'away-day' I took twelve of the Brandon volunteers to RSPB Frampton Marsh, one of my favorite reserves and located on the Lincolnshire side of the Wash Estuary.

Ruff - In Almost Summer Plumage
We arrived shortly after nine o'clock to a bright but very blustery day and began our tour heading east towards the sea bank. What was immediately apparent was the huge numbers of Black-headed Gulls on site, probably well over a few thousand of these noisy characters. Several Skylarks were in song along with good numbers of Brent Geese feeding on the wet grassland.

Little-ringed Plover
Almost our first wader of the day was a reported Curlew Sandpiper and It wasn't long before a few more waders were recorded. These included Little-ringed Plover, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Ruff looking quite stunning in their almost summer plumage, a single Snipe and several Black-tailed Godwits, looking equally as stunning in summer colours. I don't think I can recall seeing as many Avocets as there were on the pools today, obviously a great success for the reserve. By the time we reached the sea bank (2) Yellow Wagtail were also listed along with Sedge Warbler and good numbers of Swifts, Swallows and House Martin.

We took a very turbulent walk along the sea-bank, sliding down the bank occasionally to escape the constant strong breeze, then hunkering down and scanning across the salt marsh. Here we had Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Little Egret, Redshank, Dunlin, Great Black-backed Gull and a single Whimbrel. Out towards the wash huge flocks of Waders, too distant for ID but likely Knot, where constantly on the move. More Yellow Wagtails, Ringed Plover, Teal and a single White Wagtail before stopping for lunch in the East Hide.
White Wagtail
East Hide for lunch was our first chance to take shelter and have a good look at the pools and almost immediately a ♂Garganey was spotted, offering some excellent views before flying off west. Quite a surprise was the amount of Wigeon still around and as you would imagine Shelduck were in good numbers. The first of only two Sand Martin for the day was also seen along with more Yellow Wagtail.

Our next stop was Reed Bed Hide and here among the many Black-backed Gulls were two very pristine looking Mediterranean Gulls. Unlike Brandon Marsh, which already has good numbers in situ, the Sand Martin structure viewed from this hide was completely barren, with not one to be found. A thirty minute stop also had ♂Pochard, Gadwall, Little Grebe and Great-crested Grebe.

From the Reed Bed Hide we tracked back and took the Reed Bed Trail, which takes you on a 1.2km walk west and back around to the Nature Centre. (2) Curlew in the adjacent fields and along the Hawthorn leading back to the centre a good selection with of note: Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow.

Finally, a visit to the 360 Hide, which as the name suggests offers some excellent views of the surrounding wetland. Here the first (3) Common Terns of the day, more Yellow Wagtail and at least (3) White Wagtail. Plus excellent views of the many Avocet, which as mentioned earlier are a real accolade for the reserve.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Brandon Surprise!

I knew that this weekends weather would slow things down a little on the migration front and so it was, with this mornings dawn chorus at Brandon Marsh a little more subdued than of late. In fact it was an hour into my visit before I even heard a Willow Warbler and no sign any of (3) Grasshopper Warblers, which have been quite vocal in various parts of the reserve recently.

Wood Warbler (A Real Surprise This Morning)

It therefore came as a real surprise as I was passing through New Hare Covert when a phone call from JR sent me jogging (well in a fashion) around to the 'Saga Sign', where steely eyed 'Bittern Man' Geoff Hood had located a Wood Warbler. A cracking find and I was really fortunate to be able to grab several decent images as the bird obligingly showed well for several minutes. As a footnote the bird had moved somewhat by the time I left a few hours later and was last seen in Horsetail Glade.

Common Sandpiper ( 1 of 3 at Brandon Today)

No sign this morning of yesterday's (2) Dunlin or drake Mandarin Duck, last seen around the Baldwin Hide area and the rest of today's visit threw up a few additions to the now established Brandon regulars and these included of note: (1) Swift,  (3) Common Sandpiper, (2) Ringed Plover (not many sightings this year thus far), (2) Yellow Wagtail, (1) White Wagtail and it appears that at least (3) Common Tern (hopefully breeding birds), have returned and have already starting forcing the now regular Lesser Blacked-backed Gulls off the rafts!

Also Worth a mention (3) late staying Lesser Redpoll, single Snipe and a Lesser Whitethroat, still very vocal and showing occasionally from the Olive Bench area.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

More Firsts!

Not the best picture of a ♀Wheatear you'l ever see (it's in there somewhere) but amazingly it's my first at Brandon Marsh this year. In fact there were three in total today with two on the Farm Field early doors and one on East Marsh Pool, first seen on top of the Sand Martin Structure.

Record Shot of a Brandon ♀Wheatear
Also on Farm Field was a wily Fox stalking along the bund and probably the same Grasshopper Warbler I'd heard on Tuesday morning reeling away at the top end. A Cuckoo was also perched for a short while calling before moving off towards the nature centre. My second Brandon 2013 first of the day were (2) Swift over East Marsh Pool and in addition to the now established selection of Waders and Warblers: (1) Common Tern, (1) White Wagtail, (2) Yellow Wagtails, which paid a brief visit to Tern Island before I headed off with the work party.

A Wily Fox On The Prowl
My third Brandon 2013 first (missed the one earlier in the month) was while starting work near the golf course area, when (2) Whimbrel were over the reserve calling. Not sure if they actually dropped in but the last time I viewed them was over the golf course. Also of interest was a day flying Noctule Bat over New Hare Covert and the golf course, possible the same one Bob Lee and I saw last week over Newlands Reedbed!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Napton's A Hit!

An hour at Napton Reservoir early doors before meeting up with a few of the guys at Draycote Water and you could have knocked me over with a feather only 20 minutes into my birding day.

Avocets - Two Over Napton Reservoir Early Morning!
At first I thought I was hearing things, then I thought I was seeing things, then I was stunned to find not one but two Avocets circling overhead! For at least two minutes the birds continued to circle, at one stage coming low to the water and I was positive they were coming in, only to have my hopes dashed by a Lesser Black-backed Gull, which sent them off in the direction of Napton Hill.

Yellow Wagtail - One of 8 Seen Today!
I was due to meet up with Derek and Trevor in the Draycote car park at 8am, no sign of the tardy Trevor at this point so Derek and I had a quick look around the immediate area. A couple of Yellow Wagtails were on the bank near the Scrape Field but the star was a nice looking Whinchat on the fence, which Trevor naturally missed!

A walk to Farborough Spit had a half dozen Pied Wagtail, a Common Sandpiper and a single Wheatear on the wall, a Lesser Whitethroat was also singing at the Sewage Works. Just prior to reaching the hide at least (6) Swift were overhead, my first for 2013. With the weather deteriorating a little we decided to walk back towards the visitor centre, meeting up with Bob Hazell on the way. A White Wagtail was on the waters edge on route back and thanks to Bob we finally put Trevor onto the Whinchat!

Wheatear - One Of Two Seen Today
After a coffee in the lower car park with Bob and Richard Mays, Derek, Trevor and I took a walk around the perimeter to the 'Inlet'. Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Goldcrest in the Hawthorn, plus a second Wheatear, (2) Raven over, Skylark and Yellowhammer near the feeder. A stunning Sparrowhawk sat perched on the wall at one stage begging to be photographed before an oblivious jogger spooked it before we had a chance.

The only other Wader of the visit was at first a mystery before a second chance to have a good look and thankfully hear the bird identified it as a Knot, which flew over the 'Inlet' area a couple of times before making off north. Other birds of note included : House Martin, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Grey Wagtail, Sedge Warbler, Shelduck and Buzzard.

A late lunch at Brandon Marsh and an hour in the hides produced (2) Ringed Plover and (2) Raven over in addition to my Tuesday report.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Another Cracker!

Jay - New Hare Covert
Another birding week and another outing in search of incoming summer visitors and you guessed it, Brandon Marsh at first light! These are the mornings any birder lives for, clear blue skies, the slightest of breezes and the anticipation of incoming spring migrants.

I watched the sun rising over Brandon top reed bed this morning with a Grasshopper Warbler reeling, Linnets singing and early rising Swallows passing overhead. The dawn chorus was just amazing with a cacophony of song: Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Wren, Dunnock, Blackcap and the remaining unpaired Chiffchaffs. Even a couple of zitting Lesser Redpolls high in the poplars got in on the act.

Linnet - Several Around The Reserve Today
Following on, now joined by Martin and Derek, a walk passed Sheepfield and on through New Hare Covert had Lesser Whitethroat, Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Coal Tit and the ever present but shy Jay, one of my favorite birds. A second Lesser Whitethroat after meeting up with Pete, Jim and Mike near the golf course and onward to Big Hide for a well earned coffee.

The Sand Martin structure looks well used and the East Marsh Wader count for the day included (5) LR Plover, (4) Redshank (4) Oystercatcher, (2) Snipe and (1) Common Sandpiper. Shoveler and Teal numbers continue to wane and also recorded on the pools worth a mention, (4) Great Crested Grebe and (3) Gadwall. Warblers for the day included the above mentioned plus Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and a third Lesser Whitethroat near the volunteers car park, which led me a merry dance trying to capture a photo! Plenty of Buzzards on the thermals with Kestrel and (2) Sparrowhawk, one of which was carrying prey. Other birds noted included: (4) Cetti's Warbler heard, (2) Cuckoo, Water Rail, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker and Treecreeper.

Butterflies were out in reasonable numbers today and these included (22) Peacock, (5) Brimstone, (2) Comma and my first Green-veined White of the year.

Arctic Tern - Napton Reservoir
From Brandon a stop off at Napton Reservoir for an hour or so amazingly produced my fourth Lesser Whitethroat of the day, yet another Yellow Wagtail, Skylark and for me the bird of the day: Arctic Tern, which was constantly fishing out towards the centre during the whole of my visit. More Butterflies with Brimstone, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and another 2013 first, ♂Orange Tip.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hit & Miss

Common Whitethroat - Another Spring Arrival
As one of the best weeks I can remember for some considerable time locally draws to a close I can reflect on a mixture of hits and misses as far as my personal sightings go. Although I'd love to you simply can't be everywhere at once, proved twice again over this weekend at Brandon Marsh, dipping on a ♀Marsh Harrier Saturday morning (wrong side of the reserve) and shortly after leaving early today to attend a christening, missing out on a Grasshopper Warbler captured by the ringing team!

Sedge Warbler - In The Morning Sun on Brandon Top Reedbed
Having said that I still managed some excellent species over the last week, which includes my first Reed Warblers of the year yesterday morning and a day flying Barn Owl over Newlands. Today my first Lesser Whitethroat and Common Tern of 2013, plus three more stunning Yellow Wagtail on East Marsh Pool just prior to leaving.

Another Yellow Wagtail - Wigram's Turn Marina

Finally, It seems that this spring Yellow Wagtails have been at every site I've visited and so to the end this brilliant week it was fitting that a brief walk around the marina grounds this evening found this guy on the top meadow!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Nice Day Out!

Yellow Wagtail - Napton Reservoir
A thoroughly enjoyable days birding with a search of the local area, an hour at Napton Reservoir and then on for an afternoon visit to Brandon Marsh.

Lots of Skylarks were singing around the marina when I left for Napton Reservoir and the day had a good feel about it. On arrival at the reservoir almost my first bird of the visit was a Yellow Wagtail, when I noticed one perched on the bank as I got out of the car. By the time my visit was through I'd recorded (4) of these stunning little birds.

A walk to the top end of the reed bed had 2♂+1♀ Bullfinch and a single Yellowhammer, looking gorgeous in the morning sun. Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler singing, plus (2) Sand Martin, Raven over, several Swallows and a Little Grebe calling from within the reeds by the time I turned back. As I approached the bridge where the two reservoirs meet (2) Common Sandpiper flew out from the waters edge.

White Wagtail - Napton Reservoir
From here I took the track towards the canal on-line moorings, where one of the moorers has had the good idea of putting up a few feeders. Here several House Sparrows, Goldfinch and Chaffinch were tucking in and as I approached Calcutt locks for a quick look around a White Wagtail took my eye as it flew across the canal. The walk from the canal back along the north side of the smaller reservoir held my first local Sedge Warbler of the year, when one was singing within the reeds. This is also where I recorded my other (3) Yellow Wagtail and possibly the same White Wagtail I'd seen earlier.

The 'Tip' area and Farm Field at Brandon Marsh, which has been the focus of some excellent sightings this week, was pretty quiet by comparison when I took a walk around this afternoon. In fact it wasn't until I reached Big Hide, where I decided to have my lunch, that things picked up. (3) Common Sandpiper, (1) Green Sandpiper, (1) Dunlin, (1) Snipe, (3) LR Plover, (4) Oystercatcher and (3) Redshank was a decent Wader count.

Common Sandpiper - Still Practicing Flight Shots!
At one stage (2) Cuckoo flew over the pool from the Newlands area, disappearing towards River Pool and a brief visit by a lone Yellow Wagtail, Sedge Warbler in the reeds and (2) Common Whitethroat were other highlights. Later in the afternoon, having been joined by Jim and Bob, (3) White Wagtail were on Willow Island. Just prior to Jim's arrival Bob and I were surprised to see a large Bat Sp. probably a Noctule Bat and disturbed from it's roost, day flying in the area of Newlands. One final record of the day is my only Butterfly of the visit, when a Comma flew across in front of Big Hide.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Migrants Galore!

♂Garganey - Sadly Never Came Too close!
With a little business to take care of I finally managed to get to Brandon Marsh Monday PM, primarily to catch up with the pair of Garganey that came in after I'd left on Sunday.

However, on arrival JR alerted me to a ♂Common Redstart on the tip area and so I decided to divert straight there. Despite a good search for it, and as it happens a Pied Flycatcher seen earlier, I sadly drew a blank on both.

Notwithstanding, after connecting with the Garganey on East Marsh Pool I returned to the 'Tip' area and after a further ninety painstaking minutes finally got my reward when I spotted a ♂Redstart opposite the transect area, nowhere near the area I'd originally been looking!

Common Whitethroat - Brandon 2012
Today I decided on an early start along the Tip area once more after yesterdays sightings and almost the first notable of the day was my first Common Whitethroat of the year in the nearby Hawthorn. After a short while I was joined by Jim, Derek and Mike and by the time we reached the Farm Field area Redwing, Fieldfare and Skylark had been recorded. The best though was a stunning ♂Stonechat perched on top of the bramble, which after a quick few record shots was off across the reedbed.

New Hare Covert produced two pair of Blackcap, Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Treecreeper and as I emerged near the golf course my second Whitethroat, when one was singing within the bramble. Shortly after my first House Martin of the year when one came over Swallow Pool. A Barnacle Goose on the golf course along with (2) Oystercatcher and the now established Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Swallow and Sand Martins before a stop at Wright Hide.

The path from Wright Hide through to the Saga sign still holds good numbers of Lesser Redpoll, with (12) feeding on the ground and high in the Alder, a single Siskin was also within the group.

Fox on Wigeon Bank
Coffee in Big Hide and a chance to see what was about on East Marsh Pool and it wasn't long before the ♂♀Garganey were noted by their absence, no sign at all today! A Wader count produced: (3) Snipe, (1) Common Sandpiper, (3) Redshank, (2) Little-ringed Plover and (3) Oystercatcher. A very brief visit from a lone Yellow Wagtail, a third Whitethroat, Water Rail, (2) more House Martin and a good looking Fox the best of the rest.

Carlton Hide and the screen area produced little but the bonus for me were the several Frogs languishing in the water in front of the hide. Also found today during my reserve tour were a couple of Toads and a small portion of Frogspawn, very encouraging indeed!

Another new arrival today was a single Sedge Warbler, which after a tip off from John Walton we found singing in the reeds just behind the tool store.

Only a few Butterflies out today in the slightly chillier wind: (2) Comma, (4) Peacock and (2) Brimstone.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

More Arrivals

Singing Blackcap in NHC!
Heavy rain yesterday afternoon, strong winds and even more rain overnight gave way to another glorious morning. The favourable conditions are certainly pushing more of our late summer migrants further north.

A check of the marina before heading off to Brandon Marsh this morning revealed of note: (7) Skylark, (2) Yellowhammer, (2) Chiffchaff, a single Willow Warbler and a noisy Raven heading towards Napton Hill.

I took my normal track around Brandon accompanied by Derek Bennett and its safe to say now that Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Sand Martin and Swallows are now well established. New Hare Covert is always worth a little further scrutiny at any time of year and here we found (2) singing♂ Goldcrest and my first (2) singing♂ Blackcaps of the year. (2) Oystercatcher were feeding on the golf course as we passed by and a small amount of Sand Martin and Swallows were feeding over Newlands Reedbed.

Singing♂ Goldcrest
There are still Lesser Redpolls ground feeding along the Wright Hide path and before we made it to Big Hide both Derek and I paused for a while to watch a pair of Treecreepers nest building, a real treat!

The usual Sunday boys were in Big Hide and it wasn't long before I was on to my first Common Sandpiper of the year, thanks to the chaps. Also of note: (1) Kingfisher, (2) Common Buzzard, (2) Water Rail, (7) Snipe, (2) Redshank, (2) Oystercatcher and (2) Little-ringed Plover.

Carlton Hide had at least (3) Chiffchaff in the surrounding Hawthorn, plus (2) Cetti's Warbler calling and a walk to the screen area had Little-ringed Plover, plus another first for the year with a Brimstone Butterfly.

Record Shot of Today's Yellow Wagtail
The rest of the visit was spent in anticipation in Big Hide but not before an elusive Green Sandpiper was finally recorded from Teal Hide, having given us the run around for a short while.

The final four notables of the day were a quartet of Wagtails: Pied Wagtail, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail (well done to the gent in the hide who plucked that one out) and Grey Wagtail, when one flew over Goose Pool on the way back to the centre.

Finally, back at the marina one of the loudest Mistle Thrushes I think I've ever heard has been singing away for most of the afternoon!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

North Meets South

Summer Arrivals - Willow Warbler Influx
Five Tufted Duck on the marina, Skylarks singing and a Chiffchaff calling were a nice start to the day and on route to Brandon Marsh, lots of Yellowhammer on the roadside too around the Stockton area.

Although it was beautifully clear at the marina when I left by the time I reached Brandon fog hindered the start of my visit, although this soon gave way to a beautiful morning. What was apparent though is that overnight there had been a major influx of Willow Warbler and by the time I reached the golf course I'd already recorded (6) singing♂. Blackbirds were also in full song  with (5) singing♂ and (3) Linnet near the Sheepfield are also worth a mention. East Marsh Pool Wader count had (3) Little-ringed Plover, (2) Redshank, (2) Oystercatcher and (3) Snipe. Sand Martins were busy checking out the nesting structure and Swallows were well into double figures.

Despite the continuing arrival of our southern summer visitors, northern winter visitors are still plentiful with good numbers of Teal and Shoveler on the pools, along with at least (6) Lesser Redpoll near the Saga sign, (2) Siskin over and a selection of Fieldfare and Redwing (30+) on the fields adjacent to the farm area.

Mid morning the conditions were perfect for soaring Raptors and at one stage from the Big Hide I managed a count of (7) Buzzard and (2) Sparrowhawk enjoying the thermals.

A little sun has started to bring on the flowers in small numbers with Daffodil, Primrose and Lesser Celandine, plus several Bumble Bees on the wing along with a single Butterfly, which from a distance was probably a Peacock.

Also recorded of note: Chiffchaff (9 singing♂), Water Rail (2), Kingfisher (1), Green Woodpecker (1), Great-spotted Woodpecker (3), Skylark (1 over), Pied Wagtail (1), Song Thrush (3), Cetti's Warbler (4 calling), Goldcrest (2 singing♂), Nuthatch (2), Treecreeper (2) and Bullfinch (2♂ 2♀).

Lesser Redpoll Still To Be Found!

Monday, April 08, 2013

Encouraging Return

Water Rail In The Channel
With recent illness and holiday today's visit to Brandon Marsh was my first this month and so with a bitter easterly wind still blowing when I arrived mid morning I wasn't expecting too much.

I'd already planned to complete a full BTO species list today and so began with my normal route past the wind pump and on towards New Hare Covert. It wasn't long before things took a real upward turn when clear as day two distinct chorus of Willow Warbler cut through the usual Lafarge works din. A quick scan of the immediate area proved fruitless but nevertheless very happy to have heard my first at Brandon this year.

Redshank On Teal Pool
The whole place is still locked down in winter mode with very little in the way of new growth and it was a topic of conversation as I met Kevin Groocock just after the Sheepfield Gate. A short while later Kevin was good enough to call regarding a single Swallow near the wind pump.

New Hare Covert held a pair of Great-spotted Woodpecker in nesting mode, (2) Nuthatch, singing Goldcrest, singing Mistle Thrush and (2) separate singing Chiffchaff. The channel that flows off near the bench close to the Bluebell patch has also attracted a pair of nesting Mute Swan, so lets hope their more successful than last year.

Snipe Feeding On Teal Pool
The Wright Hide probably provided the best cover of the day and here (2) Little-ringed Plover were on Willow Island and also on the pool of note were: (3) Shelduck, (1) Great-crested Grebe and a pair of Oystercatcher. Gulls included (5) Lesser black-Backed, (4) Common and (15) Black-headed.

Probably a third singing Chiffchaff as I passed the path down towards the memorial garden and although a brief stop at Grebe Pool for a shot at Kevin's earlier Swallow proved negative, I was rewarded with my very own as I paused at the Saga sign overlooking Goose Pool. A second Swallow over Central Marsh and when I arrived at Teal Pool Hide a Green Sandpiper, Redshank and single Snipe were feeding on the mud.

Osprey Over Brandon!
Two Sparrowhawk in display over The Covert but the best of today's visit was undoubtedly a passage Osprey which I located from the Big Hide over towards the Baldwin Hide at height. The bird seemed to drop rather rapidly before moving off west, but not before I managed a few distant record shots. Two Water Rail and a single Little Grebe were the other highlights and water fowl included all the regulars with Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall all recorded. At one stage a Mallard with 10 young appeared in front of Big Hide before marching here family up the bank and away.

A walk around the Farm Field area after lunch produced two Common Buzzard, Kestrel, (3) Fieldfare and (3) Redwing. Finally, twenty minutes sitting of the bench by the wind pump hoping for my first Sand Martin drew a blank, but did produce a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly and to end a very encouraging visit a third Swallow of the day overflew the Nature Centre as I left. Species 62

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Birthday Weekend!

One of Nine Cranes @ Slimbridge Today!
Having barely recovered from what felt like a bout of pneumonia the wife pulled off another one of her many surprises with a 3-day fun packed birthday weekend. This consisted of a superb 4* hotel, a day at RSPB Ham Wall, the Gloucester and Warwickshire Steam Railway and a visit to WWT Slimbridge on route home.

Little Egret
RSPB Ham Wall is a new reserve to me and so I was quite excited when we arrived on Friday around mid morning. The only downer despite being a reasonably sunny day was the still biting easterlies! Ham Wall is a newly-created wetland of over 200 hectares and lies in the northern part of the Somerset levels about 3 miles west of Glastonbury. As one of the largest reedbed establishment sites in the country, the reserve is now a rich patchwork of reedbeds, wet scrub and open water, with peripheral grassland and woodland.

There are no hides but several viewing areas and walks offer some great views across the reedbeds. Within minutes of our arrival it was clear to see that some spring migrants, thus far absent locally, had in fact made it this far north. Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were in good numbers, with several of the latter in good song. As we arrived at the first viewing platform a Bittern could clearly be heard booming over the constant wind and our first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly of the year was also on the wing.

Black-tailed Godwit
Good numbers of waterfowl were on offer including, Gadwall, Pochard, Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon and Tufted Duck. A distant Great White Egret dropped into the far reeds, shortly after followed by a Bittern in flight. Also seen during our walk were Little Egret, Little Grebe, ♂♀Bullfinch, several Common Buzzard, Peregrine and Sparrowhawk. Despite high hopes no Swallows or Sand Martins were to be found and typically several attempts to locate the current Pied-billed Grebe proved fruitless, with the strong bitter wind full in your face it was just impossible.

Not being everyone's cup of tea Dee and I really enjoy our visits to WWT Slimbridge and so we spent the best part of today on site.

The main treat of the day were the nine Common Crane reported, Dee and I managed six of them and had some great views from the Lathbury Hide, including the above photo. Also of note was my first Swallow of 2013 when one flew low over the water near the Zeiss Hide. A Peregrine made an attempt at a flock of Black-tailed Godwit at one stage and further of note during our visit: Mediterranean Gull, Redwing, Snipe, Bewick Swan, Little Egret, Goldcrest, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Wigeon, ♂♀Pintail, Shelduck and Cettis Warbler.