Portland was the destination for a most unexpected bird. Simon West and I arrived just after 9am to see a massive crowd on the Quayside. We bumped into many friends along the way to see the Brunnichs Guillemot which was showing very well. We had great views for about an hour or so before checking out the black guillemot and great northern diver. We made it back to the car just before the heavens opened and waited for the shower to stop on Chesil beach. Here we searched for the red necked grebe a possible was very distant but all the other grebes were present in the bay. On to Radipole where the hooded merganser was still present and a couple of med gulls were sitting in the car park. After some ice cream we headed down the road to see the Glossy ibis which showed well. Heavy rain convinced us to call it a day and we headed for home.
Two yellow necked mice occupied my longworths set in my garage were the only Christmas wildlife of note.
Being car less for a while has hampered any wildlife watching but with a courtesy car I visited some possible bat roosts and in one did locate a few common pipistrelles. A couple of hares and a hedgehog feeding in the garden.
With two cats suspeciously round a sideboard in my hallway I investigated and one of them had brought in a harvest mouse which was rescued.
After a "cultural weekend" in Germany last weekend (only a red squirrel of note), I was eager for wildlife and the baikal teal tempted me north. I arrived about 8.30 and had an hours wait until it was located but a great white egret was a bonus. It showed quite well but a little distant although it did come a little closer at times. I spent the next few hours at Marshside RSPB but there was little about so I headed to Formby dunes. Here I found a couple of skittish red squirrels before heading for home.
I always enjoy a visit to Donna Nook and today was no exception, it was a bitterly cold early morning but with plenty of grey seal pups present I soon ignored the conditions. I had a great morning watching suckling pups, bulls fighting and some mating. Next stop was Saltfleetby where the beach was holding some twite and snow buntings but no sign of any shore lark. My last stop was Frampton Marsh but not much was about and no sign of the white rumped sandpiper, a showy snipe of note.
Overnight to Pembrokeshire with Simon West in search of the Western Orphean warbler, it had just gone missing as we arrived but an hour or so later it was showing in the small apple trees. It showed well off and on for a while before we headed off to the Forest of Dean. The two barred crossbills proved to be elusive, but the great grey shrike did show itself and a wild boar was disturbed during our search for it. With no further sign of the crossbills to dusk we headed for home.
An early start with Holt as my destination, where after a little while a parrot crossbill was located with a few common crossbills in what was a dank and miserable misty day. I popped to Cley where the Black brant was easily located, but none at Wells. I headed to Lyndford to finish off the crossbill set, and after a little wait the two barred crossbill put in an appearance, a few hawfinch also present. I missed the cranes at Guyhrin so headed to the Ouse Washes where the water level had rised considerably since my last visit. A kingfisher the best I could muster.
I could not resist a a return visit to Sea Palling to see the humpback whale so crewed up with Simon West, Phil Rhodes and a couple ofn his friends. It was bitterly cold from the northerly wind and the sea state was very poor and we saw little. A heavy shower saw us getting tea in the cafe but on our return with a much calmer sea Simon spotted a blow and then we were all quickly on it. Within minutes 35 people or so were there some managed to see the distant blow and sometimes part of the whale. A flyby merlin, velvet scoter and a few skuas the pick of the birds.
Some small mammal trapping locally had house, wood and yellow necked mice and a single field vole and added to the yellow necked mouse in my garage was quite a productive morning.
A quick visit to the Ouse Washes to see the Northern Harrier which did show nicely, as did several marsh harriers and a peregrine. I stopped in at Ely to see the muscovy ducks on the way home.
With news of a humpback whale in Norfolk, I was tempted away from work. I managed to leave work late morning and got to Sea Palling early afternoon, but had just missed the whale, I searched for a couple of hours before joining another watcher in the dunes and we had a couple of brief views but fairly distant at the north end of the rocks. I quickly drove to North Gap and managed to get a couple of better views before the light failed. A little gull and some fieldfares arriving in off the sea were also of note.
I popped to Fowlmere first thing, I had the reserve to myself and found a few muntjac and the partial leucstic water rail, the best sighting was a brief otter on the mere along with a kingfisher. After some discussions about wallabies recently I headed to Dunstable in search of some. I spent a few hours looking round some areas with recent sightings but had nothing bar a few fallow deer. I changed location and headed for some woodland near Woburn again with recent sightings. I had plenty of fallow deer scattered about but all very skittish maybe the rut or the building storm was unerving them and this made photography was very difficult in the ever increasing blustery wind. It was still a lovely afternoon despite the wind and late afternoon I located what I was after a red necked wallaby which looked at me for a few seconds before bounding off. I made it back to the car just before the rain arrived which was welcome after yesterday.
Back to Fowlmere for the small mammal survey and to pack up, multiples of common shrew, water shrew, wood mouse, bank vole and field vole were recorded in the rather mixed weather. Some rutting fallow deer also of note. I was heading to Hayling island for high tide but that was late afternooon so I stopped at Letchworth so search for the black squirrels and they were helpfully active and I headed south. I battled with the M25 which was chaotic and slow but made it to Hayling island in rather poor weather, I broke tradition and had chips before the twitch, I arrived on site 200 or so birders present but no sign. The weather was shocking heavy rain showers and strong blustery wind and no sign of the target, but waders were arriving all the time as the tide rose, a few birders left but eventually after an hour in the rain the semi palmated plover was picked up and showed quite well despite the conditions
A sucessfull small trapping survey at Fowlmere with common shrew, water shrew, wood mouse, bank vole and field vole but the star was a pygmy shrew confirming their presence at the reserve.
A stoat on the way home was a pleasing sight.
Heading home we stopped in at Annersley to see the Hoopoe, but as we arrived we met a birder in the car park berating photographers for getting to close and flushing it, and indeed there was no further sign, three black necked grebes were worth a quick look before heading home.
A tough day at Chew Reservoir in search of mountain hares but this proved difficult in thick mist and terrible conditions underfoot. Eventually the mist cleared at the most inappropriate moment and the only hare of the visit was flushed. Plenty of red grouse as I wandered back was scant reward for my visit.
While the star bird was on Hayling Island we were in the north for a weekend away with friends, but we did manage a couple of nice birds, the Daurian shrike at Flamborough was a little elusive but eventually gave itself up. And we just got the siberian stonechat at Scalby just before it started to rain.
A rather nice hare on the outskirts of the village this evening.
A brief visit to Fowlmere this morning produced a lone muntjac and 22 fallow deer.
A look for the fawn yawn in Morrisons carpark in Marazion was unsucessfull so we headed to Porthleven where we located osme unarmed stick insects. The Helston boating lake was quiet apart from a cormorant eating a massive perch. A return to Marazion saw us locate the rose coloured starling on a lamp post before we headed to Hayle for a pasty and to check the estuary but it held little of note. We headed for home via dartmoor to see a few ponies.
A wood mouse again the only capture in the traps and still no sign of the grey cheeked thrush so we wandered to the Garrison but a blackcap was the best we could drum up, although some feeding common dolphins off Penninis head were a bonus. We headed on to Carreg Du where we had a brief firecrest and on the walk to Lower Moors we found a couple of prickly stick insects. In Lower Moors itself we located a brown rat and had some good views of the jack snipe before some lunch in Old town. Nothing else of note during the afternoon and we took the Scillonian back to the mainland the journey was very calm perfect for cetacean spotting. And indeed we encountered a couple of large groups of common dolphins and in the last one a minke whale put in an appearance. We finished the evning in the chipshop.
A wood mouse the only capture in the traps and no sign of the grey cheeked thrush so we took the boat to Tresco and hooked up with the sora and a yellow browed warbler in a goldcrest / tit flock. A couple of scilly shrews one dead and one alive in Old Grimsby
We drove overnight to catch the Scillonian at 9.15, it was quite rough and the only sightings of note were a couple of harbour porpoises and a balaeric shearwater. Conditions on Scilly were much better and we wandered round Lower Moors, Old Town and Penninis head picking up the jack snipe a couple of lapland buntings and a very confiding snow bunting. I took a couple of longworth traps and set those while searching for the grey cheeked thrush without any luck.
Caught a yellow necked mouse in my garage, relocated to the fields behind my house.
A very early start for a few touristy things befor ending up at Mike Richardsons water vole site, no voles during ny visit but a water shrew put in a couple of appearances. But my visit was for bat box checks at Tophill Low. Not as many bats as last year but still handfulls of soprano, common and nathusius pipistrelles and a lone noctule was well worth the effort.
I joined the Wilts bat group again for a night of trapping. It was not very busy but a staedy trickle of bats all evening with similar numbers of the following species greater, lesser horseshoe, daubenton's, natterer's, brown long eared, bechsteins. We finished and I headed for home via Wendover woods, where the trees were alive with edible dormice but a brief visit was not long enough for any photos.
A trip to London for work yielded a house mouse on the underground at Liverpool st.