Birdwatching at Oldbury Power Station

26/6/17 – A nice walk round the site with Magnox staff today. (Thanks !) The broods of 10 & 8 Tufted Duck ducklings still on the lake, and 2 new Moorhen chicks. Also 2 juvenile Green Woodpecker together on Lagoon 1.

      Emperor dragonfly.

 

25/6/17 – AM reported broods of 10 & 8 Tufted Duck ducklings now on the lake. And a Weasel on Lagoon 3.

 

21/6/17 – Despite what the EA said below, their contractors strimmed from Lagoon 2 to Shepperdine today, including 2+ Bee Orchid and lots of Pyramidal Orchid which were along the shore by Lagoon 1.

There were 3 broods of Moorhen today: 3 & 2 on the lake and a single on the small pond by Lagoon 2.

 

20/6/17 – I got a reply from the EA, to my email about the Orchids being strimmed along the shore by Lagoon 2 . . . "The Environment Agency maintains sections of the Severn Estuary Flood Defence Scheme. Our field teams were performing routine grass cutting maintenance last week, which includes flailing (machine cutting) and strimming (hand cutting) the grass from Aust to just south of Oldbury Power Station. The Environment Agency field teams also flail and hand cut grass sections to the north of Oldbury Power Station towards Severnhouse Farm. However, the sections directly in front of the power station are maintained by the Power Station. Regarding your question over the legality of the maintenance, the Environment Agency field teams work on the Severn Estuary with assent of Natural England under Section 28H of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (As Amended) to undertake Flood Defence maintenance work on the Severn Estuary SSSI from the beginning of May to the end of October 2017. We are currently piloting a scheme at Chestle Pill on the Severn Estuary, where we will only with cut the grass once a year, in September and, depending on the outcome of this pilot study, we may or may not extend the practice to further areas of the Severn Estuary."

If someone from the Power Station wants to contact me, that would be good. (phazelwood@blueyonder.co.uk). But basically, I would advise to use the advice from Plantlife ("... from mid-July until the end of September when cutting helps to maximise species diversity." but "Even worse is no cutting at all". No cut = no orchids.) You also need to read up on the timing of cutting hedges. ("We recommend that cutting hedges and trees is avoided between March and August as this is the main breeding season for nesting birds.")

(And my thanks to @lisegirl1 on Twitter for her help, and for saving the flowers at New Passage - the pilot scheme mentioned.)

19/6/17 – At Shepperdine up to HT: 9 Knot (flew off high N), 1 Black-tailed Godwit (in s.p.), 2 Ringed Plover and the 21 Shelduck ducklings. Also recently fledged Coal Tit and Reed Bunting. The first Marbled White butterfly in the meadow by the car park (yesterday and today), and a few Small Skippers around.

 

18/6/17 – AM reported, this morning: the Cuckoo still calling on Lagoon 2, 31 Shelduck (inc. 21 ducklings), 2 Peregrine, 19 Tufted Duck (inc. 10 juvs), 2 Little Egret, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Stock Dove, 1 Grey Wagtail, 16+ Reed Warbler (on lagoon 3) and 6+ Whitethroat.

 

17/6/17 – The male Cuckoo calling around Lagoon 2 again. A Red Kite flew low across the estuary at 12.20pm. And good news - the 21 Shelduck ducklings were at Shepperdine again, having gone AWOL since 27th May - probably drifted upriver.

      Shelduck ducklings and lovely patch of Yellow Loosestrife.

       

16/6/17 – A male Cuckoo calling around Lagoon 2 and another seen with it (presumaby a female - think I heard 'bubbling' call), this evening. And the 10 Tufted Duck ducklings still on the lake.

      Male Cuckoo calling.

 

15/6/17 – The first brood of Tufted Duck fledged this morning on the lake - 10 ducklings. And the Carp are spawning there.

 

14/6/17 – I'm emailing The Environment Agency who I think are responsible, but is there no law against this . . . ?

      Strimmed Bee Orchid, Pyramidal Orchid and Slow Worm.

       

     

 

4/6/17 – The only birds to report are 5 (4 + 1) juv. Moorhen on the lake. But here's a lesson in purple orchids (from someone very unable to give the lesson !) . . . There is a path across the middle of Lagoon 2; from the small pond at the end of the tarmac'd lane from the car park, there is a small reedbed on Lagoon 2 - just to the left (North) of it is a path. There is an amazing display of purple orchids along this path. From what I can make out from an excellent online guide, there are two distinct species and a lot of hybrids.

      A classic Southern Marsh with rounded side lobes and a small toothlike central lobe; marked with darker dots and dashes. (Leaves - not shown - usually unspotted.)

 

      A Common Spotted with the lip divided into three equal lobes and marked with dark pink dashes and broken lines. (Leaves - not shown - spotted.)

 

      An Early Marsh x Southern Marsh (?) with the side sepals held vertically, the un-lobed lip patterned with dots and lines (but NOT enclosed within a U-shape as in classic Early). The sides of the lip fold downwards creating a central ridge.

 

      A Southern Marsh x Common with lobe shape from Southern, but dashes/broken lines and spotted leaves from Common.

       

      And here's a really nice flowering grass - False Fox Sedge ?

 

CL reported a Cuckoo and the Peregrine pair yesterday. And some nice photos . . .(Thanks!)

      Bee, Pyramidal and Southern Marsh Orchids. (Photos by CL)

             

3/6/17 – 3 newly fledged Coal Tit with an adult were a surprise, as they are the 130th species I have had at OPS this year (134 for all-comers). You never know what a scan of the estuary will produce; today it was two mud-larks out on a sandbank in the very middle of the estuary! I'm going to call them intrepid (rather than more obvious terms). The sandbank where they are standing will be underwater in 3 hours, and the water will be 9 metres deep in just 5 hours time. It took them over an hour to walk out across the half-mile of mud, before reaching the c250 yards of deep water in front of them. It then took them an hour of wading repeatedly about 10 yards in, before finally deciding to head back. Another hour and they would not make it back without swimming. (I was on the verge of calling 999.)

 

2/6/17 – No birds to report, but plenty of interesting flowers. The Pyramidal Orchids are just coming into flower, there are 50+ spikes of Bee Orchid and my favourite is the subtle Grass Vetchling (photo).

 

1/6/17 – A juvenile Ringed Plover with an adult on the shore of the Tidal Reservoir this morning.

 

30/5/17 – At last, something flew upriver on an incoming tide ! At 9.35am a Skua species, almost certainly Arctic Skua from structure (but only seen from rear quarter view) went upriver in showers. Then at 10.30am an adult Little Tern was in Shepperdine bay, and for 20+ minutes it patrolled slowly along the tideline before flying upriver and repeating. Its erratic flight is shown in this short video clip. It disappeared when a shower hit, but at 11.20am it was out in the middle of the river slowly heading downriver. The only wader was a single Ringed Plover (and no juv. Shelducks). Early morning, the Peregrines put on a dramatic display; 2 adult females were in a vicious battle over the estuary, 3 times they coupled claws and spiraled down to the river, releasing at the very last moment. Incredible sight ! 10 minutes after they disappeared, another adult (male I think) was on the top of the towers calling, and then stooped right past me at a couple of Collared Dove flying upriver along the shore.

      A couple of video-grabs of the Little Tern.

       

27/5/17 – A cracking Water Pipit in full summer plumage on the seawall by the waterworks for 20 minutes, before flying further upriver. Shepperdine, HT: 8 Sanderling, 2 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, and the creche of 21 Shelduck ducklings still. And a Collared Dove was moving/migrating downriver. Plus, 2 Painted Lady butterflies.

       

      The female Peregrine was perched low on a building, and looking a bit damp after the overnight storms.

 

23/5/17 – A Spoonbill flew downriver at 6:20am, just after High Tide, this morning. It flew low past Lagoon 3, then looked like it would fly inland at yacht club, before returning to the estuary and landing on saltmarsh between Littleton and yacht club. (Which was a bit annoying, as I had just been there 30 mins. earlier !) I walked back round there, but it was gone by the time I arrived. Usual duff quality, shaky video (taken at about 1 mile distance) Here. (Landed at Pilning Wetland soon after.) Also a Common Sandpiper at the yacht club. (That is 130 species for all-comers at OPS in 2017.)

      Distant Spoonbill (taken from shaky video) and a silvery coloured female Mallard present for a few weeks.

       

18/5/17 – The contrast between today and yesterday ! Nice sunny morning at OPS. 9+ Lesser Whitethroat (including 2 pairs chasing each other around some scrub) and 5 Sedge Warbler around the site. A few migrants: 1 Grey Wagtail over, 1 female Wheatear (Shepperdine) and a Siskin over to NE. Over the High Tide at Shepperdine: 2 Whimbrel and 4 Little Egret but ZERO small waders (summer lull starting early !). Two broods of Moorhen chicks: 2 on lake and 1+ on small pond by Lagoon 2. And the Pied Wagtails have 2 young at the Waterworks. A Cuckoo started calling at 10am.

      Sedge Warbler singing and this tree has grown up through the fence, growing round it.

       

11/5/17 – Early morning, a Spotted Flycatcher was at the top of trees at south end of Lagoon 2. And at 7.30am a sub-adult Red Kite was sat on the saltmarsh at the yacht club, then after 20 minutes it flew across the estuary to the far side. Also at yacht club: 1 Yellow Wagtail over, 1 Wheatear, and a female House Sparrow. A possible juvenile Kestrel was sat on the Peregrine nesting ledge, and 7 Tufted Duck back on the lake. (Earlier this week a tiny Moorhen chick was on the lake.)

      Spotted Flycatcher and Red Kite.

       

10/5/17 – Mrs T reported: 37 Shelduck, 1 Little Egret, 2 Kestrel, 2 Cuckoo, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 Wheatear.

 

6/5/17 – Amazingly, another Wood Warbler singing (and seen well) in the small wood with a path through it, by the meadow (on far side of meadow to carpark). There was a continuous movement of Hirundine-types into NE wind, late afternoon: 500+ Swallow per hour, c100 House Martin per hour, c30 Sand Martin and 3 Swift. Over the High Tide at Shepperdine (inc. MP's reports) were: 9 Whimbrel, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Knot, c35 Dunlin, 5+ Ringed Plover, 4 Turnstone and 7 Black-headed Gull. The Cuckoo was calling from Jobsgreen Farm.

      Whimbrel and Southern Marsh-orchid.

       

      The pond by Lagoon 2 is crammed full of tadpoles.

 

4/5/17 – A flock of 12 Greenshank was at Shepperdine at HT. (Not quite highest count - 13 in 1994.) Overcast sky and brisk NE wind forced Hirundine-types down low, and passing through into wind all day: 43 Swift, c60 Swallow, 4 House Martin and also 2 Yellow Wagtail and a pair of Siskin. Early morning, 2 Wood Warbler singing at South end of Lagoon 2, about 50 yards apart (first multiple record for OPS). Also, it looks like there is a Raven chick in a nest nearby to OPS.

      The Greenshank flock (minus one that got away !).

 

      Here's another, wide-shot, from my Swedish friend showing c10,000 Cranes at Lake Hornborga. (Slimbridge in 50 years time ?!)

 

3/5/17 – Pretty similar again over the High Tide at Shepperdine: 6 Whimbrel, 5 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, c30 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover, 1 House Martin, 3 Yellow Wagtail and (unusually) a pair of Gadwall flew upriver.

 

2/5/17 – The only exciting thing to come up the estuary on the High Tide was The Balmoral ! Shepperdine: 3 Whimbrel, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Dunlin, 1 Little Egret, 10 Black-headed Gull, 3 Common Gull (1st-winters) and 1 Yellow Wagtail.

 

1/5/17 – At Shepperdine, over the high tide: a Cuckoo calling (also reported by RL in woods next to Lagoon 2 this morning, and by 'DiC & dogs' by Jobsgreen Farm - thanks), 8 Grey Plover (5 in smart summer plumage), 2 Knot (1 in s.p.), 2 Turnstone, c50 Dunlin, 3 Little Egret, 5 Whimbrel, 1+ Curlew, and over to NE: 2 Yellow Wagtail, 7 Sand Martin and 40+ Swallow. Plus a Common Sandpiper on the jetty.

 

29/4/17 – Mrs T reported a fly-by Cuckoo. A high Spring Tide at the yacht club, produced: a surprise 1st-winter Mediterranean Gull (only small gull on whole estuary), 14 Whimbrel, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit in summer plumage, c20 Dunlin, 3 Curlew and 5 Oystercatcher. Also, a Wheatear and a Yellow Wagtail over. On the Lagoons, apart from lots of warblers singing, the only thing of interest was a Tree Pipit which circled high over Lagoon 3, calling and looking lost. That is 120 species at OPS for me in 2017 and 125 for all-comers.

      1st-winter Med Gull.

 

27/4/17 – Not a promising start at -2 deg C and widespread ground frost. But things perked up. A female Redstart on fence posts from the green gate (main rhine). 3 adult Mute Swan flew over to NE. On a very high HT at the yacht club: a Common Sandpiper, 4+ Whimbrel, 1 Redshank and a Wheatear. No goslings on the lake, just 2 adult Canada Goose. But a female Mallard was brooding ducklings on the old goose nest. Clever!

      Redstart and Common Sandpiper.

       

      Mute Swans over and a Roe Deer posing next to Fil the Flamingo (arrowed).

       

25/4/17 – A cold start (0 deg C). Lots of warblers singing: 2 Grasshopper Warbler (Lagoon 3), 14 Whitethroat, 6 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Sedge Warbler. Also, 3 Whimbrel at Shepperdine and a Tree Pipit high over to NE.

 

24/4/17 – 2 Mistle Thrush by Jobsgreen Farm.

 

23/4/17 – MP reported 6 Lesser Whitethroat. (And a Red Kite over Thornbury at 12.20.)

 

22/4/17 – To complete an excellent day, a flock of 18 Arctic Tern fed-up on the Tidal Reservoir for 10 minutes, before all settling on the water (!), and then going upriver just after 3pm. Here is a video of them feeding. A Tawny Owl being loudly scolded by lots of small birds (including a Cetti's Warbler which just sang loudly at it !) in a hedge by Lagoon 3 early morning. It then flew into trees. (First record since early November.) Lagoon 3 had: 2 Grasshopper Warbler and 2 Sedge Warbler (finally!) singing. (Still had more Groppers than Sedge though this year.) A Garden Warbler sang from bushes by the main reedbed on Lagoon 2 - listened to it for half hour, without seeing it at all. (2 Robins, a Dunnock and a Reed Bunting all emerged from the bush it sang in !) Here is a video of the song - A Blackcap joins it after 30 seconds, then both sing at each other until 1min 20, when Garden Warbler alone again. (Rather quiet, so need to turn sound up.) The 4th year-tick of the morning was a Common Sandpiper by the waterworks outfall. Also, c10 Whitethroat (inc. MB reports) and 4 Lesser Whitethroat. Plus, a juvenile Robin seen with parents.

      Arctic Terns - stills taken from video.

       

     

 

21/4/17 – A Short-eared Owl hunting along the shore at Shepperdine early afternoon. On rising tide: 8 Whimbrel, 11 Dunlin and 3 Little Egret. I'm a grand-parent again ! The Canada Goose pair have 6 goslings ! And there are now 6 Mallard ducklings left. 3 of the 8 Tufted Duck had an excursion to the estuary. AM reported: A Hobby downriver (earliest record, beating 22/4/2006) and a brief Sedge Warbler on Lagoon 3. (Too brief for me to catch it - still haven't had one this year !)

 

20/4/17 – On rising tide, Shepperdine: 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Whimbrel and a Tree Pipit over to NE, calling. Early morning, a Grasshopper Warbler reeling from the SW corner of Lagoon 2, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 12 Reed Warbler singing. (I still have not had a Sedge Warbler !). (And I forgot to mention last weekend, there were 10 Mallard ducklings on the pond.)

 

19/4/17 – An Osprey flew over Lagoon 3 and out over the estuary, then headed upriver over the Tidal Lagoon at 10.50am. (Thanks to the GBB Gulls for alerting me, with a raucous 'scramble' !) Some birds landed overnight: 16 Reed Warbler (10 x Lagoon 3, 5 x Lagoon 2, 1 x shore), 4 Whitethroat (3 x Lagoon 3, 1 x yacht club) and 4 Wheatear at yacht club. Also, 3 Whimbrel.

      Whitethroat.

 

      And a Swedish friend went to see the 19,000 Cranes gathering at Lake Hornborga !

       

18/4/17 – This morning, the first Lesser Whitethroat singing and House Martin. Also heading NE into wind: 2 Siskin, 26 Sand Martin 20 Swallow, 30+ each of Goldfinch, Linnet and Meadow Pipit. The only birds upriver approaching HT were 15 Black-headed Gull. And a high count of 11 Willow Warbler singing. 60 species today.

 

16/4/17 – HT at the yacht club: 1 Greenshank, 8 Whimbrel, 20+ Dunlin and 2 Wheatear. Also: 13 Swallow over, 7 Reed Warbler (5 x Lagoon 2, 2 x Lagoon 3) and a Whitethroat (on Lagoon 3 today).

      The Greenshank and one of the Whimbrel (with Redshank).

       

15/4/17 – MT reported a flyby Avocet. A Whitethroat singing on Lagoon 2. And 4 Reed Warbler there, plus 1 on Lagoon 3. Also 2 Wheatear at the yacht club, and another 12 Swallow through and 4 Sand Martin. Not sure what to make of this, with the Peregrines; Female stood on top of a vent pipe on the Power Station roof, calling continuously. A male circling above, then flew down and attempted to land on the female it looked like (attempted mating I presume). Then a second male came in and pursued the first male - at this point I realised the first male was a juvenile (brown uppers) ! The resident adult male stooped at the other, but (really surprisingly) did not carry on with the attack. At this point the female (still calling) flew down onto the nesting ledge, and the adult male joined her. (Couldn't see what happened, but presume they mated.) The juvenile circled over the top of the towers for a while, with the adult male now sat on the tower roof watching it (and female still on ledge). The juvenile headed off across the estuary and out of sight. Really weird !

      Cormorant roosting on ship navigation equipment (with tall-ship behind).

 

14/4/17 – AM reported: 1 Whimbrel, 1 Sedge Warbler, 21 Chiffchaff, 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker (one still hammering away at streetlight, 2 others trying to compete - not very successfully), and 2 Wigeon. MB reported 2 Reed Warbler on Lagoon 2, and another on Lagoon 3 this afternoon. And 12+ Swallow.

      Why didn't I think of this sign for Lagoon 1 ? Brilliant !!

 

13/4/17 – Pretty quiet migration-wise, but a Tree Pipit briefly on Lagoon 2 then high to South (!). 7 Willow Warbler and 2 Reed Warbler singing. A Redpoll and 3 Swallow over. And what seems to be an aberrant Herring Gull ( Glaucous x Herring Gull ?) - very light (almost white) but (unfortunately) with brownish primaries. Videos of it sat on water and in flight.

     

 

11/4/17 – DW reported a Red Kite at 14.35 (from inland and then heading NE) and the Peregrine pair displaying. Mrs T reported: 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Siskin at the small pond (Lagoon 2) and 8 Tufted Duck. A Great White Egret flew just inland of Shepperdine/Lagoon 2 heading SW, following 2 Grey Heron at 7.30am. Shortly after, 5 Knot flew upriver, gained height and headed North. Also: 2 male Wheatear in field by copse on way to yacht club, 2 Ringed Plover (yacht club) and 2 Swallow to NE. MP reported 2+ Reed Warbler singing on Lagoon 2.

      Female Peregrine (this one has darker barring on chest than the male) and Red Kite (photos thanks to Dan (@twit1144)).

       

10/4/17 – 2 Reed Warbler singing this morning (1 x Lagoon 2, 1 x Lagoon 3 - equal earliest with 2011), 12 Sand Martin and 3 Swallow heading NE.

      The Peregrine pair were sat on the Nesting Ledge for 10 minutes, then the female left (she is stood on edge in photo), and the male stayed for another 25+ minutes (his head is just visible).

 

9/4/17 – The first Hawthorn flowers were open today. AM reported, this morning: 1 Sedge Warbler (Lagoon 2 - earliest ever at OPS, beating 10/4/2016), 1 House Sparrow, 3 Wigeon, 10 Teal, 32 Mallard, 196 Curlew, 15 Redshank, 25 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Little Egret, 7 Tufted Duck, 2 Peregrine, 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker (one still hammering away on metal light pole) and 2 Lapwing.

 

7/4/17 – A female Teal with a light green nasal saddle, possibly 'L?' at Shepperdine. (Spent an hour trying to read it.) Walking back from Shepperdine towards Lagoon 1, among the Blackcap and Chiffchaff song from the hedge on NE side of Lagoon 1, was an odd 'dink' call that I did not recognise. I scanned the hedge and went to investigate, and after a few minutes searching saw a dark red male Crossbill perched at the top of a pine tree making the calls ! I was only 30 yards from it and it increased the calls, 'dink, dink-dink' and unfortunately flew, and 3 green females joined it. They flew NE along the sea-wall, still calling. First time they have been seen on the deck at OPS. AM counted 58 Shelduck. BL reported a Red Kite at Oldbury-on-Severn at 2.15pm.

      The female Teal with nasal saddle.

 

6/4/17 – A female Black Redstart around a white building that has had the roof removed in the waterworks and a Swallow heading north out over the estuary. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming repeatedly for an hour on the metal cover of the floodlight by the entrance !

      The Black Redstart and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

       

5/4/17 – Mrs T reported a Bar-tailed Godwit upriver in afternoon. A Grey Plover still at Shepperdine and 4 Speckled Wood butterflies today.

 

4/4/17 – Failed to find any new migrants this morning, except may be an increase in Blackcap to 10. Now 7 Tufted Duck on the lake (4 fem.), 5 Willow Warbler still. And a fantastic sighting of 2 Roe Deer, which were along the shore (!) by Lagoon 1 and wandered towards me until just 50 yards away. When they saw me one of them walked down onto the mud of the shore before returning, and then they spooked and easily jumped the 3 ft fence into Lagoon 1.

      Roe Deer on the shore.

       

 

       

2/4/17 – 3 pairs of Tufted Duck on the lake and an Orange-tip butterfly.

 

1/4/17 – A Sandwich Tern went downriver at 9.30am (short video here), a Wheatear at the yacht club and 5 Willow Warbler singing. Also, a Grey Plover on the shore by the jetty (unusually), a Mistle Thrush in the orchard and 4 Jay flew over Lagoon 2. The Peregrine pair were displaying over the towers, with the male diving at the female and causing her to flip over and show talons.

      Grey Plover on shore and the Sandwich Tern downriver.

       

31/3/17 – A Greylag on the shore at Shepperdine this afternoon and a Water Rail seen on Lagoon 3. The female Peregrine was stood on the edge of the nest-ledge, with male nearby - if they were nesting, she would be sat on eggs by now. AM reported: a nice male Redstart in the Orchard (earliest OPS record by one day), 5 Blackcap, 27 Chiffchaff, 1 Cetti's Warbler (singing by lake), c50 Turnstone, 2 Wigeon and 5 Tufted Duck (3 male). That is 105 species at OPS for all-comers - a record for the end of March !

      Greylag at Shepperdine and Wood Anemones.

       

30/3/17 – A loose flock of 6 languid Sandwich Tern went downriver into wind (2 days later than one doing same last year), and a faster flock of 7 Common Tern in a line did the same, all at about 7.55am. Also: 2 Willow Warbler singing (Lagoon 2 and track to Lagoon 3), a Swallow and 3 Blackcap. The Mute Swan pair are back on the lake. The Canada Goose is sitting tight (and will do for a month), but the Raven and Carrion Crow both seem to have abandoned. JS reported c90 Redshank and 1 Dunlin at Pillhead Gout. That is 100 species at OPS this year for me, and 104 for all-comers.

 

28/3/17 – AM reported, after fog cleared: c45 Sand Martin, 5 Blackcap, 39 Chiffchaff, 1 Cetti's Warbler and 1 Water Rail. Also, Mrs T reported 2 Mute Swan and 12 Swallow.

 

27/3/17 – 100 Sand Martin E/NE into wind in an hour this afternoon. And a Blackcap singing by the entrance.

      Blackthorn in full flower.

 

26/3/17 – MP reported a Blackcap singing and the Peregrine pair displaying.

 

25/3/17 – A glorious sunrise this morning, but 0 deg C. Continuous movement of Meadow Pipit into NE wind. Also 80 Black-headed Gull in 3 flocks and 20 Snipe on Lagoon 3. In a timed hour migration watch 8-9am (by which time the earlier movement had slowed considerably), to NE: 63 Meadow Pipit, 14 Linnet, 14 Woodpigeon, 5 Goldfinch, 2 Greenfinch, 1 Siskin, 1 Chaffinch and a female House Sparrow (!) which came down in a hedge. AM reported a Coal Tit and Brimstone butterfly.

 

24/3/17 – A Grey Plover still at yacht club, 16 Oystercatcher, 2 Comma and 2 Tortoiseshell butterflies.

 

23/3/17 – ML/CL reported the first Blackcap of the year, singing. The Canada Goose pair have built a nest in the last 2 days, with the female sitting now. And 2 Lapwing in the flooded field to SW of Lagoon 3, and 11 Chiffchaff around.

      A few Cowslips out this week.

 

18/3/17 – Avonbirds reported: 35 Wigeon, 9 Teal, 9 Oystercatcher and 55 Turnstone at Shepperdine.

 

17/3/17 – AM reported: 3 Peregrine - male displaying to female on nest shelf, when another female came in to look and male didn't know which one to display to ! Female on shelf ignored her and second female disappeared. Male continued to display. A couple of hours later a female spent sometime drinking and bathing in pools in fields SW of Lagoon 3. Also 43 occupied Rook nests in small copse just before entrance to OPS.

 

16/3/17 – A Carrion Crow on a nest this morning, and yesterday, a Lesser Redpoll singing its buzzing song from the top of a Pussy Willow by the lake. Also yesterday, 2 Tortoiseshell and 1 Comma butterfly.

 

15/3/17 – PK reported: 6+ Chiffchaff singing, c90 Meadow Pipit (40 x lagoon 1), Peregrine pair showing very well around towers and brief 'symbolic food-pass' display ! Very few waders - 43 Curlew and 8 Oystercatcher.

 

13/3/17 – AM reported: 2 Great Crested Grebe floating upriver on incoming tide (the first since 2014, and before that 2008), 1 Wheatear, 4 Chiffchaff, 109 Wigeon, 28 Teal, 165 Curlew, 55 Turnstone, 14 Shelduck, 54 Redshank, 5 Tufted Duck, 2 Water Rail, 79 Snipe and a Jack Snipe. Also a Bank Vole almost ran between feet and a Peacock butterfly.

 

11/3/17 – 7+ Chiffchaff landed around the site overnight. 2 Greylag Goose flew downriver at HT and a Jack Snipe flushed from saltmarsh. MB reported a Sand Martin over Lagoon 3 (earliest ever at OPS, beating 15/3/2008), and 4 Water Rail (3 showing well and keeping 'Fil' company and 1 heard on Lagoon 2). And another probable Sand Martin seen distantly by AI over Lagoon 2.

 

10/3/17 – A Water Rail has been showing well all week on the flooded Lagoon 3.

 

9/3/17 – A Little Grebe coming into breeding plumage on the lake. Not many over-wintering waders left at yacht club at HT: c100 Curlew, 11 Dunlin, 2 Redshank and 1 Grey Plover.

 

8/3/17 – A male Wheatear at the yacht club is the earliest ever at OPS (beating 9th March 1997), and c300 Pied Wagtail still in the roost on buildings by the jetty.

      Wheatear at yacht club.

 

7/3/17 – A Water Rail showed well on the flooded part of Lagoon 3 (by 'Fil' the plastic flamingo). And a female House Sparrow at the yacht club. AM counted 14 Stonechat this morning ! (6 x lagoon 1, 1 x lagoon 2, 4 x Yacht Club and 3 on shore towards yacht club.) The site record has increased over the years, as the lagoons have matured. Up to 2004 the historical record was only 5, then 7 in 2005, 8 in 2007 (and also 8 in 2008). Then the numbers reduced for the next 5 years with only 1 or 2 in 2010-2012 (may be as Lagoon 2 over-matured, but Lagoon 3 was still unvegitated.) 8 was hit again in 2014, then 9 in 2016.

 

      5/3/17 - Rainbow over the Shepperdine bay.

 

4/3/17 – A male Yellowhammer was on the hedge along the road to the yacht club, then flew to farms inland. And 10 Stonechat around the site (site record ! 2 pairs x Lag 3, 1f x jetty, 1m x waterworks/Lag 2, pair x Shepperdine, pair at yacht club). A sunny Spring-like morning, but I couldn't find any summer migrants !

 

2/3/17 – A nice 1st-winter Kittiwake slowly moving downriver off Shepperdine at 8am in high (& cold!) W wind.

 

1/3/17 – 8 Stonechat today (4 x Lagoon 1, 4 by jetty) and yesterday, a singing Cetti's Warbler on Lagoon 3.

 

25/2/17 – I was hoping the male Hen Harrier had roosted, and spent the night deciding the most likely place - saltmarsh/Lagoon 2/Lagoon 3. From where it was last seen, I guessed Lagoon 2. So I was there before sunrise and then looked at Shepperdine. Nothing - Damn! Walking along the shore to Lagoon 3, by the Waterworks, the bird circled up highish beyond the jetty and started flying along the shore towards me at pace (in a brisk SW wind). I reached for the camera, but too slow, and it flew virtually over my head at 100m height. Then across Lagoon 2 and out of sight. I went to Shepperdine as fast as I could and it was quartering the saltmarsh at the far end of the bay (where I got a brief 'scope view). Then went upriver. I walked up past the Windbound (now just a parking lot !) as far as the boat radar station, but no sign. This is the 7th record of Hen Harrier for OPS, the last was in Apr 2012. It is the 3rd male (last Mar 2012). (Last time I saw a male was on Outer Hebrides, when one chased a SE Owl for food - photos here.)

 

24/2/17 – A Raven sat on a nest near OPS - nest first spotted in first week of February. The adult male Black Redstart was on the roof of the SW side of the towers, briefly. And 7 Stonechat on Lagoon 1 ! But PK had the best spot by far - a male Hen Harrier at about 4.30pm - "I was standing on the flood bank at the NE corner of lagoon 1 when it took off from the grass by the small patch of reeds (at the far end of the bay at Shepperdine). It came all the way along the river side of the flood bank to within about 50 yards of me before flicking over the bank and disappearing round the back of lagoon 1 - absolutely stunning and completely unmistakable!!" Also a Gadwall on the Tidal Res. and 2 Jack Snipe at Shepperdine.

      And a touch of Spring, with this Blackthorn blossom.

       

23/2/17 – No sea-birds blown up the estuary by storm Doris in 2 hours this afternoon.

 

18/2/17 – A drake Gadwall on the Tidal Res., and a Lesser Redpoll over, calling. (60 species this morning which is equal best so far this year, with two other dates on same number.) MP/AM reported 2 Grey Wagtail at the yacht club. (And the Dunlin 'M1X', JS confirmed, was from the Vistula Delta, north Poland - same as '1YE' I had in September 2016.)

 

17/2/17 – The adult male Black Redstart still on top of the SW side of towers and 300+ Pied Wagtail gathering on roofs to roost. Only one Mute Swan on the lake calling for other (not as quiet as name suggests). PK reported: 2600 Dunlin (50@Shepperdine, 850 on way to yacht club, 1000 SW of yacht club and c700 on mudbanks.), 330 Lapwing, 150 Curlew, 27 Turnstone (Shepperdine), 20 Snipe, 3 Ringed Plover, 20 Shelduck, 450 Wigeon, 120 Teal, 300 Redwing, a Cetti's Warbler and 6 Stonechat (2m & 1f Shepperdine and same by jetty). SE/MH reported 2 Peregrine flying across from far side of river and one landing on the towers. JS reported 2 Grey Plover and a Polish ringed Dunlin ('M1X'). (Wow ! Unprecedented numbers of birders visiting !)

 

16/2/17 – A Ruff flying around with the Lapwing flock at the yacht club, and then towards Littleton. The Mute Swan pair are back on the lake, and 5 Stonechat still (2xLagoon1, 1xLagoon2, 2xYacht club).

 

14/2/17 – 2 Golden Plover with c300 Lapwing at yacht club at HT, then flew upriver. And a Mistle Thrush in the newly cut hedge there.

      The Golden Plover above the Lapwing flock.

 

13/2/17 – MP, PD and 29 Thornbury U3A birders reported a Red Kite moving upriver at 10.40am. 35 species seen. MP reported the male Black Redstart still, by the waterworks. At lunchtime, Lagoon 1 had a pair of Stonechat and 20+ Meadow Pipit.

 

12/2/17 – AM reported: 254 Curlew, 745 Lapwing, 2000 Dunlin, 47 Redshank, 16 Oystercatcher, 31 Turnstone, 53 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe, 166 Wigeon, 87 Teal, 24 Mallard.

 

11/2/17 – Out walking before dawn this morning, in the snow/sleet - didn't help me find much though ! A Golden Plover was heard (only) over the yacht club, and 350-400 Lapwing there. And a male Stonechat on the shore by Lagoon 3. But the best find was the remains of an Otter meal by the lake, i.e. a load of fish scales, with a fresh, sweet smelling, spraint !

 

10/2/17 – 4 Tufted Duck (3 male) on the lake now.

 

9/2/17 – A Mediterranean Gull was in the evening roost on the Tidal Res., and 3 Gadwall (2m+1f) on the lake.

      Med Gull with quite an advanced black hood.

 

8/2/17 – 2 Coot back on the lake with the 3 Tufted Duck.

 

7/2/17 – An adult male Black Redstart was still on top of the towers, fly-catching at south end in glorious morning sun. (It may have been here since 20th Nov 2016.) And 6 Pintail at Shepperdine (4m+2f). AM also reported: 2600 Dunlin, 495 Lapwing, 58 Snipe (inc. 27 at Shepperdine), 12 Oystercatcher, 295 Wigeon and 46 Teal. Plus, a Peacock butterfly - newly hatched and flying on Lagoon 3 !

      Some of the male Pintails at Shepperdine.

 

6/2/17 – 3 Tufted Duck (2m+1f) back on the lake.

 

4/2/17 – A nice crisp (-1 deg C) and sunny morning. In the run-up to High Tide, a Golden Plover was with the Lapwing flock on the shore off Lagoon 3, before flying off downriver. At the yacht club: 4 Shoveler (3 male), 6 Pintail (3m,3f) and an adult winter Little Gull drifted upriver with a flock of c30 Black-headed Gull. Also, 8 Snipe, 3 Ringed Plover and 3 Water Rail heard on Lagoon 3 (where there is some standing water). AM reported from Shepperdine: 235 Wigeon, 170 Teal, 180 Lapwing, 46 Turnstone and 9 Oystercatcher.

      This Little Gull was asleep as it drifted upriver past the yacht club and all the way to the Tidal Res..

       

      The Golden Plover with Lapwing.

 

2/2/17 – A Short-eared Owl was at the saltmarsh by the yacht club this morning, and went to roost nearby. Also 2 Grey Plover and c2,500 Dunlin at HT. (Highest count at OPS is 2,700, in 2001.)

      . . . it was raining, ok !

 

1/2/17 – 29 Skylark in a field to SW of Lagoon 3 this evening and 2 Little Egret at yacht club. JS reported good numbers of waders at HT from Pillhead gout (& Littleton Wharth): 1,500 Lapwing, 2,000 Dunlin, 20 Redshank, 15 Knot, 9 Turnstone, 6 Snipe, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Grey Plover, a Black-tailed Godwit, a male Ruff and about 100 Curlew (and another 100 in fields between the yacht club and lagoon 3).

 

31/1/17 – A Black-tailed Godwit in the HT roost at the yacht club this morning. Also 4 Stonechat and 2 Rock Pipit there.

      The Snowdrops are out - only 2 months of winter left !

 

30/1/17 – c150 Redwing in the paddock to south of Lagoon 2 this afternoon. AM reported: 145 Teal, 20 Wigeon, 80 Lapwing, 58 Curlew, 5 Redshank and 9 Bullfinch.

 

28/1/17 – Dan@twit1144 reported the Peregrine pair.

 

27/1/17 – An excellent hour for birds of prey this afternoon, in still air and overcast skies. A Red Kite was inland of Lagoon 2, slowly heading low SW at 2.35pm and then at 3.30pm a female Marsh Harrier headed upriver along the shore, and quartered Lagoon 2, before seeming to go down in the reedbed at 3.40pm.

 

25/1/17 – The 2 adult male Black Redstart were along the shore by the waterworks this afternoon, with a pair of Stonechat.

 

21/1/17 – DP reported the Peregrine pair on the towers at midday. Driving through frozen fog at dawn, the signs were not good, but amazingly it was completely clear at OPS. (-4 degrees C though.) And there were some interesting birds about: the adult male Black Redstart was back on the towers, having been invisible since 2nd Jan.. The orchard is now home to c250 noisy Fieldfare eating apples. There were 2 Grey Wagtail on the sea-wall, and 4 Stonechat about. Also a Grey Plover on the shore (and a probable adult Yellow-legged Gull briefly). Lastly, an impressive c40 Reed Bunting were on Lagoon 3, eating seeds from the top of reed stems, including c20 together.

 

17/1/17 – A very grey morning, but a pair of Stonechat at the yacht club.

      Male Stonechat and Robin.

       

14/1/17 – The HT roost at the yacht club was pretty much the same as all winter: 1 Grey Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, 15 Oystercatcher, c20 Redshank, c200 Curlew, c1000 Dunlin, 300+ Lapwing, 7 Snipe and 2 Rock Pipit.

      There are 100+ Fieldfare eating the scrumpy apples in the Orchard and c150 Redwing in the fields.

       

      CL found this Fox in the Orchard.

 

13/1/17 – Lagoon 3: 1 Jack Snipe, 35 Snipe and 6 Skylark.

 

10/1/17 – AM's Low Tide Count: 120 Curlew, 800 Dunlin, 330 Lapwing, 14 Snipe, 54 Teal, 113 Wigeon, 110 Fieldfare.

 

8/1/17 – AM reported: 1 Jack Snipe, 15 Snipe, 1 Tufted Duck (drake back on lake), pair of Mute Swan, 63 Blackbird, 65 Fieldfare (in orchard) and a Stonechat.

 

7/1/17 – In the fog this morning, a Grey Plover called from the Tidal Res. shore. And 2 Mute Swan reported by a dog-walker yesterday, checking out the lake briefly.

      6 Fallow Deer seen in a field inland of OPS.

       

6/1/17 – 3 Water Rail seen this morning: 1 on ice at edge of reeds on lake and 2 ran across the path around Lagoon 2. (Also 3 flushed by a dog from Lagoon 2 reeds 'a couple of days ago'.).

 

5/1/17 – c100 Fieldfare late afternoon (inc. c75 in orchard). Also the first Cetti's Warbler of the year heard on Lagoon 3 and a Little Egret along the main rhine. And a Treecreeper seen on 3rd with tit flock.

 

4/1/17 – Mrs T reported: 6 Stonechat and c800 Dunlin.

 

3/1/17 – No American Wigeon at the OPS end of Littleton Wharth this morning, but a Grey Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, c350 Lapwing and 500+ Dunlin at Pillhead Gout.

 

2/1/17 – Ben Ofield found this American Wigeon at Littleton Wharth this morning, flying up and down the estuary.(Photo by Ben - Thanks !) (And apparently it did fly into OPS patch air-space, i.e. viewable from yacht club.)

 

The adult male Black Redstart is still following the sun around the towers. And 4 Stonechat still. A Water Rail was flushed from Lagoon 3.

      Black Redstart fly-catching. And yachts at start of race off salt-marsh at yacht club.

       

1/1/17 – A juvenile Marsh Harrier quartered the reedbed on Lagoon 2 a couple of times before disappearing. (Moulting wing feathers, so rather tatty looking.)

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