Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Hobbies, every man needs one....


With reports of Hobby’s now hoovering up the local insect populous on the Somerset Levels, I headed off there on Saturday for what became a whole day birding, rather then the brief visit planned. Good job I’d had a Full English in Sainsbury’s at 7.30 on the way down (saves washing up, and cooking), as didn’t get home until 5.30.

Via a brief stop at Catcott Bridge, which lifted up 29 Whimbrel from the banks, plus a Little Egret. I was at Catcott Heath by 8.30am. Walking the track to the hide, 3 Little Egret, 33 Mute Swan, and a Lapwing hassling a Buzzard were a highlight. From the hide, notable birds were small numbers of calling Reed (133), Sedge and Willow Warblers, plus all too briefly a Grasshopper Warbler (134) providing it’s weird metallic call. A Common Sandpiper by the main drain was a good find. Walking back down the track and into the Heath, first Cuckoo (135) of the year, 4-5 Cetti’s warblers singing close by including one in full view which was nice, plus female Sparrowhawk overhead, single Goldfinch, 20+ Swift (136), numerous Swallow, 3 Whitethroat, 3-4 Skylark singing their hearts out, a single Jay and a Roe Deer. A good number of Orange-Tip butterflies as well.

Then headed to Shapwick, via a quick stop at Birtle Long Pools. Buzzard being hassled by Carrion Crow, 2 Kestrel, more Cetti’s and 2 more Cuckoos. Strangely though no Hirundines, which was the reason I stopped there.

Prize winning photo of a Hobby !!

At Shapwick, I spied 2 Buzzards being set upon by about 50 Corvids in the field. A cracking bit of behaviour which left the Buzzard looking a little rattled and fleeing the mob. At the car park though a sign proclaimed “Hobby Watch”, run by Natural England, place was packed, so headed off in the opposite direction to Ham Wall, the RSPB part of the reserve. And glad I did, a Lesser Whitethroat (137) was a very welcome addition to the year list, and more Whitethroat and Cetti’s.

Another prize winning photo...Whitethroat!!

Sensing the crowds were beginning to lessen by early afternoon, ventured into the Heath itself. At Meare scrape, a very colourful Black Tailed Godwit (138) in its summer finery shone out like a beacon. Also in the scrape, 3 Greenshank (139), summer plumage Dunlin, 2 Redshank, about 50+ Swift overhead, a Pair of Shovler and Teal and then a threesome of Gargany (140).

No Hobby’s though, until I looked the other way where 6 were in view. In total I guess I saw a dozen Hobby’s (141), which later I read were mainly second year birds. Tried to take a photograph, which was pointless. As a guy said I met, if you get a photo of a Hobby, it’s probably a Kestrel…. Good advice that.

Other highlights were a Treecreeper, male Bullfinch. On the insect front hundreds of damselflies, a Green Veined White butterfly, Brimstone and Peacock.


Not planning any more birding this weekend, saw me at 6am down at Sand Bay. The weather was overcast but not a breath of wind, lovely. Walking along the beach just the usual suspects were seen, before I noticed 12 Dunlin in summer plumage (below). While watching these, a Ring Plover caught my eye in the stones. Scanning back and forward revealed another 8 and in the middle what I initially thought was a 1st year Dunlin in non breeding plumage, but wasn’t. But I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but though I had inkling. Anyway took some notes and rang top birder mate who confirmed (without seeing it obviously) as an almost probable Curlew Sandpiper (142), which is a first for me.

Went back in the evening to see if it was still there but as Sand Bay was host to “bikers” or more correctly The Bridgwater Chapter, Cider Rally, it was a bit busy down there. So as no sign of it went back on Monday morning briefly, still no sign, but a White Wagtail (143) was almost overlooked. Plus, good numbers of Swallows migrating in off the sea and 9 Whimbrel and a single Curlew.

Also clocked 5 Wheatears, one of which may have been a Greenland version but not entirely convinced. Plenty of Skylark singing, plus a very showy Reed Bunting and a couple of Whitethroats were the highlights, oh and a pair of Canada Geese flew over.

Away from birds, the hedgehog is now a regular visitor to his feed, no new photo’s as I’m trying not to disturb it too much and get the dish nearer the house. Management took this photo of a slow worm as it worked its way up the garden path after a rain storm. Where it was heading is anyone’s guess. And finally a single Holly Blue butterfly flitting around the garden was a pleasant splash of colour.

All in all a very relaxing weekend which had the added advantage of increasing my year count to 143. This is the first year I’ve ever kept decent records, mainly as this Blog forces me to be organised, so not bad seeing as I haven’t got any seabirds yet. Methinks a trip to Skomer soon is needed for a Gannet, Puffin Razorbill or two, but before that down in Devon tomorrow.

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