I'm getting very fond of these chaps, having spent all winter watching them. A flash of colour in estuary. Bridgwater Bay just south of here is a major moulting ground for these so stragglers also winter here, in low hundreds. For the first time I'd noticed they are enjoying the spring and starting to pair up. Usually silent, what a load of squabbling and neck stretching seemed to going on. The attached photo is rubbish but thought I'd post it to shows the difference in size between the males and females. Shelducks also have a very odd collective noun, Dopping.
In the end I spent 4 hours at Sand Bay, walking out to the point as the tide dropped, which paid off, no major finds but good numbers of the usual, and 4 nice close Rock Pipits, and 7 male Stonechat were a good watch. The day ended with not only the female Merlin, which I watched then lost, but then whilst trying to locate her, slap my thigh with a rubber chicken, a Male Merlin on a piece of driftwood. Cracking view of this as it hunted. Those Linnet and Skylark are taking a beating. But all the while, Skylarks kept on singing while I just sat quietly watching from the rocks what was going on, before that is the lure of 6 nations Rugby forced me home to a chilled cider.
Peace and quiet except for the birds at Low tide
We get monsters on the Somerset coast !!!Sunday : Obviously drinking cider on Saturday caused me to be up at 5am Sunday, so after not being able to get back to sleep, set off at 7am to "do the Chew Valley". The route went something like this with the salient birds seen.
Puxton NR, a Grey Heron,
Sandford Sewerage Works, 2 Canada Geese;
Rickford weir, 2 Grey Wagtails,
Bladgon Lake, Scaup, Goosander, loads of smaller birds about especially Chaffinch.
At Chew Valley Lake (CVL), the largest freshwater lake in the south west, a Goldeneye on the lake (99) and then over to CVL Heron's Pool, which had been flooded but was very low, 13 Little Grebe coming into breeding plumage, 7 male Shovler with their women, and a very showy Water Rail, plus a fair number of Wigeon, Teal and Pied Wags.
Then CVL Herriots Pool, looking for a Pintail. Before I saw them, spotted wader at the edge, dark olive green back, eye ring, clean underbelly, hint of a bob, dark legs, dark bill, that rubber chicken moment hit me again, a Green Sandpiper - I was 99% sure, interesting how the rarities stick in the mind, but as I didn't have my guide book with me text'd Stephen Moss to confirm, (and it was and so became my 100th bird of the year, and second sighting ever). Followed this with 7 male Pintail (101) and a Ruddy Duck (102) and a calling Cetti's Warbler, already had this.
Finally popped over to Litton Reservoir, interesting as half is in Somerset, half on North East Somerset. Practically first bird was Chifchaff, then a Blackcap, Little Grebe making one heck of a din with their pair duet calls and 2 Kingfisher flight calling which is not something heard often, plus 2 Ravens flying over cronking nicely. All in all then a weekend when "love is in the air".
Rickford Weir - Grey Wagtail countryAnd finally, this last photo has nothing at all to do with the weekend but I took it last week when we had this fine frosty weather, and I quite like it. It's the Catholic Cathedral of Bristol, ultra modern design in the middle of Victorian Clifton. I've always liked this juxt d position in architecture of the old and the ultra modern.