Barn Swallow, New Cut

Not exactly the Bristol mega I’d previously posted but yesterday afternoon’s bird became my 50th species for the patch. It’s hard to imagine where swallows might be breeding around here and, given their propensity for two or three broods, they’re not likely to be migrating back yet: even the swifts are still present. Flying over the western end of the New Cut put this bird close to Ashton Court which I suppose may be the right habitat for bringing up youngsters.

Another highlight was an uncommon great black-backed gull struggling with an eel. Or was it a grass snake? It was too muddy to tell. Juvenile lesser black-backed gulls were in hopeful attendance. Yes, I can just about separate them from herring gulls. In fact, is it my imagination or do the lessers fledge earlier than the herring gulls?

What else has been happening locally over the last few weeks? Not a lot. Farther afield, a business trip to Milton Keynes (don’t laugh) passed seven red kites. I had a brain fart round the M4/M5 interchange and found myself still heading north, so I adapted and cut across on the A40 – just as good a route as it happens.

Even farther, planning the Peru trip has immersed me in pages and pages of tyrant flycatchers and antbirds. Does this suggest the Amazon is full of ants and flies? Anyway I’ll end up with a list of some 200 birds that are largely easy, if I can identify them, but with some difficult ones that represent entire new orders or new passerine families for me. That’ll be a good platform for beating my March 2009 record of 257 species, especially as I’ll have a day or so’s birding in Madrid on the way out. Watch this space…

Normandy Marsh, Lymington

If coming in by train, don’t bother travelling on to the end of the line at Lymington Quay. Stop at the Town station and try to hug the left bank of the river, heading south. A detour into the High Street will be worthwhile to pick up water and other comestibles; otherwise you’re at the mercy of the mercenaries that follow.

You’ll then pass acres of marina, which have gobbled up the original habitat in the pursuit of Continue reading

Radipole Lake, Weymouth

This is a short five-minute walk from the station. Just hang a right, skirt round Halfords and B&Q, and head across a car park to the thatched RSPB hut. From here must be the easiest way to put Mediterranean gull on anyone’s car-free list. Mind you, the time of year may be important because previous visits have never yielded it. It wasn’t even on my Dorset list.

In the reed beds that stretch north of the car park, other good summer birds are Continue reading

New Cut, Bristol

I’ve been plying this artificial branch of the River Avon for a year and a half, so it’s interesting to see what’s been ever present. No surprises for herring and lesser black-backed gulls, mallard, feral pigeon, wood pigeon, magpie, crow and wren. With one absence come collared dove (October), blackbird (August), goldfinch (September) and house sparrow. Other mainly common species comprise starling, robin, jackdaw, cormorant and dunnock.

Rarities, at one record apiece, are Continue reading