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Wildlife in and around the city of Bristol

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Bristol and Avon Bird

Sightings

Dumfries & Galloway Week
7th - 11th November 2016

Monday 07/11/16

We went to Dumfries and Galloway for a week's holiday with the Bristol Ornithological Club. Our first day of the holiday was a visit to the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust's Reserve at Martin Mere in Lancashire. Martin Mere in Winter is a good time to see lots of Whooper Swans that come here from Iceland. However we didn't arrive until about 1 o’clock in the afternoon, due to an incident on the M6 and time was short. We explored the south & east part of the reserve, starting at the Raines Observatory. Apart from the Whooper Swans, there were Pheasants, Teal, Gadwall, Snipe, Ruff & Greylag Geese feeding on the Sugar Beet. The Tree Sparrows were very elusive and kept flitting around in the hedgerows. We were given a tip-off that the Kingfisher was showing in front of the Ron Barker Hide, so we went to see if it was still about. There were 2 Marsh Harriers flying round and a Female flew past right in front of the hide. There were loads of Teal resting on the bank. Whooper Swans were flying to & fro. After a couple of minutes waiting in the hide, the Female Kingfisher appeared on a small branch close to the hide. As quickly as it came, it was gone again within seconds. Our last sighting of the day before continuing to our hotel in Dumfries, was a massive flock of Pink-footed Geese flying in from the fields to roost on the Mere. What a fanastic start to the week!

Whooper Swan [Pair]

Whooper  Swan [Juvenile]

Whooper Swan [Pair]

Ruff [[pair]

Pink-footed Geese

Kingfisher [Female]

November 2016

Tuesday 08/11/16

Our second day started at Castle Loch in Lochmaben. The birds of note were Goldeneye, Tufted Ducks, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Pink-footed Geese & Goosander. Afterwards, another new place we explored was Eskrigg Nature Reserve near Lockerbie, which is a good place to see Red Squirrels. The Squirrels were very, very active & didn't stay out in the open for long. On the feeders were Coal Tit, Great Tit, Marsh Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Blackbird & Nuthatch. We finished the day at Caerlaverock WWT. We started at the Folly Pond Hide to look for an American duck. The Male Green-winged Teal is very similar to our Common Teal, but it has a vertical white stripe down it's chest. On Common Teal, the white stripe is along the back. This is only regular wintering site for this American species, eslewhere it can turn up almost anywhere. I last saw a Male Green-winged Teal at Slimbridge in June 2013, but distant & I didn't manage to photograph it. We went to Avenue Tower to see if there were any Barnacle Geese present in good numbers. The Barnacles were all further down in the Low Middle Field. There was a possible Blue Morph Snow Goose in with the flock, that was first thought to be a hybrid Barnacle. We went to the Peter Scott Observatory where we saw Wigeon, Mallard, Tufted Ducks, Mute & Whooper Swans. There was a Juvenile Scaup present during our visit, but we didn't see it. However we did catch up with Scaups later on in the week. We saw another flock of Barnacle Geese in the Corner Field opposite the Silver & Gold Hide. The light was fading fast, so we had quick look around the Peter Scott trail and to the Back Pond Hide, where there were some more Whooper Swans. As the evening started to close in, I wasn't surprised that there wasn't any birds on the feeders. We climbed up the stairs up to the Farmhouse Tower to have a last look at the Green-winged Teal.


Green-winged Teal [Male]

Red Squirrel

Nuthatch

Coal Tit

Barnacle Geese

Barnacle Geese

Whooper Swan [Adult]

Whooper Swan [Adult]

Common & Green-winged Teal [Males]

Wednesday 09/11/16

Our third day began in the town of Dumfries on the edge of the River Nith. No Waxwings were reported that morning, so we weren't going to waste time looking for them. We did see 3 Goosanders flying up the river & 2 Grey Wagtails. We decided to leave Loch Ryan & West Freugh for Thursday, as it was hopefully going to be better weather. Instead we went along the banks of Loch Ken to RSPB Ken-Dee Marshes. Upon our arrival we saw a couple of Red Kites soar overhead. There was also some late Fly Agaric by the path. At the Goose viewpoint, we saw another Red Kite, Buzzard and 2 Ravens. There was a sad sight of a sheep on it's back, alive, but it couldn’t get up. Fortunately, the girls from the BOC went down to rescue it & help it back on it's feet. There was yet another sheep rescue, this one was stuck in some brambles and had to be cut free. Eventually both sheep made a speedy recovery from their ordeals. Alls well that ends well! We did also see some Greenland White-fronted Geese as well. Our next port of call was Mersehead RSPB. On the feeders were Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Greenfinch, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit & Coal Tit. Sadly, no Tree Sparrows this time. The Barnacle Geese were there in exceptionally good numbers feeding in the field close to the rerserve path. A few Yellowhammers were present in the hedgerow along the path, with a Female Reed Bunting. Also 2 Roe Deer Does in the opposite field. Back at the Visitor Centre there were still all the other usual garden birds feeding on and around the feeders. We ended the day at Carsethorn on the edge of the Solway, watching Waders & a Grey Seal eating a huge fish.

Red Kite

Grey Wagtail

Fly Agaric

Pied Wagtail [Male]

Goldfinch [Adult]

Goldfinch [Adult]

Yellowhammer [Female]

Coal Tit

Blue Tit

Roe Deer [Female]

Barnacle Geese

Thursday 10/11/16

Our fourth day was a very long day, travelling from Dumfries to Stranraer. We started on the eastern shore, & the first birds were three Male Scaup. Further out were Red-breasted Mergansers and Common Eider. There were loads of Pale-bellied Geese. They also winter around the coast of Northumberland & in Ireland. Like the Dark-bellied Brent Geese, they also breed in the high arctic. There was also some Wigeon, Dunlin & Oystercatcher. One of the Brent Geese was ringed S2WR. This had been ringed at Strangford Lough in NI. In the afternoon we went to Wig Bay. We saw Common Gulls, Snipe, Bar-tailed Godwits, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Wigeon & Redshank. Some other members saw a Red-throated Diver though their telescopes. In the early evening we travelled back via West Freugh. We saw a flock of Pink-footed Geese in the roadside field. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a Male Hen Harrier flew past and then disappeared. It was later seen perched on a gorse bush, as another Male flew by. It was then followed by an appearance of a Ringtail. Then some Greenland White-fronted Geese arrived and landed in the field. They come from Greenland, to winter in Islay, the Solway & Ireland. They used to winter in small number on the Dyfi in West Wales, but are now are in a steep decline. Unlike European White-fronted Geese, they have an orange bill & legs. They also have additional black belly barring. Some BOC members saw Merlin fly past but much too quick for me to see. The final bird of the day was a Female Marsh Harrier hunting. It had started to rain, so we made our way back to the hotel.

Greater Scaup [Male]

Pale-bellied Brent Goose [Adult]

Pale-bellied Brent Goose [Adult & Juvenile]

Eurasian Wigeon [Flock]

Curlew

Bar-tailed Godwit [Winter]

Greenland White-fronted Goose [Juvenile]

Greenland White-fronted Geese

Friday 11/11/16

Our last day of our BOC holiday and we headed back south from Dumfries. We made a visit to Leighton Moss RSPB where we were hoping to catch up with Bearded Tits. Having been giving a tip off that they were showing, we headed straight on down there. The Bearded Tits were feeding on grit, that had been put on the trays by the wardens. This only happens during Autumn between September-November. Early morning is the best time to see them feed on the grit trays before they fly off somewhere else to feed on seedheads. We were also giving the tip off that the American Wigeon which had been present for 3 weeks was showing. We headed to Lower Hide, while on the way we saw an obliging Female Common Pheasant, presumably the same individual that we saw back in May. When we got to the Lower Hide, the American Wigeon was present with Pintail, Wigeon & Mallard. The Male has a golden crown stripe on the head, and green eye stripe. They are regular vagrants to Britain like the Green-winged Teal, but it's only the Males that have been recorded, Females of both species are very similar to our Teal & Wigeon. There was also a Great White Egret wading nearby and a Grey Heron. Back along the causeway a Marsh Tit was feeding on some seed. We popped into Lillian's Hide and quite a few Common Snipe showed well close to the hide & one fanned it's tail to show the rusty barred tail feathers. A quick look from the Sky Tower and we saw a female Goleneye and a Water Rail made a quick dash into the reeds. Back on the feeders were Chaffinches, Marsh Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit & Coal Tit. Once again no Bullfinch this time. A Brown Rat was foraging underneath the feeders as well as a few Common Pheasants. It had been a fantastic week! Shame we didn't see many Tree Sparrows. Still, you win some & you lose some, that's the way birdwatching works.

Bearded Tits

Bearded Tit [Pair]

Bearded Tit [Female]

Great White Egret

American Wigeon [Male]

Grey Heron [Adult]

Marsh Tit

Water Rail

Brown Rat

Common Snipe