Chittening Warth

My second visit to this coastal outpost of Avonmouth and getting parked was even worse. Double yellows everywhere that wasn’t downright private. I did find a spot just by Hallen Marsh Junction and endured a bit of main road before entering scrub, which was dripping with whitethroats.

The southern extremity of this patch was even better with a calling Cetti’s warbler – an anticipated new species for Bristol. I also caught a glimpse of one of the singing reed warblers and two great black-backed gulls loped by. Linnets added to the scene and argued the case for industry: where humans ain’t, wildlife flourishes.

Next was farther north but still in Bristol, at Stup Pill. Parking was just off the road on a bend, so not ideal. Soon out of the car, a lesser whitethroat sang and eventually showed. Then the second of my expected species made it on to the Bristol list, again heard only. One skylark carolled over Seabank Power Station but proved elusive visually.

That was the plan for the day, so I turned around at the entrance to the power station and discovered the perfect lay-by for the area – ho-hum. Even so it was a productive couple of hours.

I’m now looking forward to a productive three weeks in October. After all my speculation about the next foreign trip – would it be Turkey? would it be Tanzania? – out of the blue has come Peru (that rhymes!) It’s a no-brainer really with an enormous bird list, few of which I’ve seen. I’ve booked the flights and will doubtless bore you with more planning in the interim.

Manú Biosphere Reserve is an essential and will probably require an organised tour from Cuzco; otherwise, getting down there alone will be tricky. Tours are not my definition of relaxed birding but needs must. The premier outfit is clearly Manu Expeditions and it has premier prices – way over a thousand quid just for four nights. So I’ve picked Pantiacolla off the Andean Travel Web to see what they can quote me; I’m not expecting anything under £100 a night.

Oh well, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime…

Merlin, Bristol

It’s happened again, for the third time actually since I didn’t report on the second at Bedminster station. On Friday morning I swished back my Southville curtains and checked out the usual herring gulls nesting on the roof opposite.

They were fine as a medium-size dark bird flew towards me. The standard for this description in Bristol is one morph of feral pigeon. I’m used to dismissing them and am not in the habit of thinking Continue reading

The Unplanned Hudsonian Godwit

This bird isn’t even on my 415-strong USA list. Sibley suggests a rather spotty autumn occurrence on the eastern seaboard, so my brief year in Connecticut wasn’t sufficient to touch base with it. Of course the species is a mega over here with only three previous records, the last in 1988, and even my non-twitching friends have mentioned it.

First showing at Meare Heath, part of Shapwick Heath NNR, two weekends ago, the bird had disappeared overnight. My plan that day had included Continue reading

Yellow Wagtail, Langford Lakes

This Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reserve is slowly coming into its own. For a start it’s a convenient hour or so out of Bristol on my regular way east. This makes it a perfect post-coffee stop from Frome or Warminster. In the reverse direction a while back it was also well placed for a little evening birding without great expectations.

Swallows, house martins and sand martins soon dispelled any boredom, as did calling Cetti’s warblers. But it was the scrapes at the far end of the site that I was aiming for and Continue reading