Thursday, 13 September 2018

Autumn Pied Fly

Against any likelihood, I was excited to hear from Brian telling me a Pied Flycatcher was seen by Andy Merrick at the North end of Mortimer's Meadow.

Many of our more recent members and users of WhatsApp might well be wondering where the hell 'Mortimer's' is. It's immediately West of the Loddon parallel with White Swan Lake and The Bader Way to the West, it was once devoid of vegetation and no doubt ancient flood meadow.

For just 2 years 1983 and 1984 it was heaven, Dinton had it ploughed and in February and early March was the time to check it, Rock Pipit, Water Pipit, Wheatear, Redshank, Little-ringed Plover & Ringed Plover. It was darn good for Whinchat in the autumn too.

Sadly WBC had it landscaped, drainage seams dug in and planted tons of trees. Then millions of dog walkers came and all in all, we gave up watching the area, my last Whinchat's there were 7th Sept 2002, Brian finding them 3 day earlier.

So back to modern times, Andy Merrick found the juvenile Pied Flycatcher at the Northern end of the meadow in a copse out in the middle and it also had a Spotted Flycatcher in there too.

It occurred to me that with cattle grazing and so much hedgerow and scrub, we should spend more time there looking for Redstart and with so much dead wood I'd bet we've already missed Wryneck in's a big area, but Andy proved if you keep checking stuff turns up.

This places me on 134, my fourth highest year total. No sign of Curlew, Redstart, Little Owl and various other bits that could show up.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Little by little

Almost by grinding it out I've arrived at 133 for 2018, equal to 2013 and 2011, but already 3 past 2015's rather sad 130. Linnet on the 30th was good in that getting one helped, but sad that they are so hard to get now. Spotted Flycatcher was good, seeing 3 even better. 2 Whinchat on 31st was very nice, rubbish not finding my own though. And then finally a Yellow Wagtail 5th Sept, another 7th.

Today a lovely little Pintail on BSL was a bit of a surprise, more so because BSL is not often the lake of choice for said species, at least not to set down.

Today's interesting sight was a Kingfisher performing unseen behaviour for me, it left it's perch and dived in the water as it flew fast over Lavell's, it emerged quickly and kept going continuing to dive and 3-4 more times as it headed off up the lake West. I've never seen this and considering I heard another calling, can only assume it was a display or courtship manoeuvre.

What is next? Well we haven't given up hope of Redstart, but it is looking like no cows grazing the car park field means no Redstart, I'll keep looking though.

Big raptors, Marsh Harrier and Osprey both possible all month, just need to be there when it happens.

Then it's wild card stuff Rock Pipit October, rare warbler?, Yellow-legged Gull, a late wader, Firecrest, White-fronted Goose, Scaup...all possible, even a Bearded Tit (I prefer this name) that stays around on weekends.

I would love to see that much overdue Great Northern Diver and Ring-necked Duck, but not necessarily the same day.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

imminent glory

This morning felt perfect, looked perfect, but did not deliver.

Sure it was cool, but so still, high clouds, sunny, perfect for Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat, Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, but it was not to be.

Okay the year's first Linnet tried to convince me it was a Whinchat and I was pleased to add it, but basically nothing was going on.

Luckily later on Steve found Spotted Flycatcher along the old faithful Western backwater of Sandford, so 2 year ticks on one seemingly quiet day was pretty okay.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

I'll try to do better

I've gotten into lazy habits from a blog perspective at least, family and work life is demanding and the latter is not often done at sociable hours.

So where do we pick up, today would be as good as any, a fine bright morning after overnight rain and boy was it cooler, 8 degrees versus the 18 of 2 days ago is quite a shock to the system.

As soon as I arrived at the car park I could tell more warblers were about and as per usual the bulk were crammed around the 'big Hawthorn'. Over the next 2 hours or so, Trevor and I proved we were looking at 4 Lesser Whitethroat, which is more than any of us have ever seen at DP ever. Brian joined us in time to see all 4.

With 'the flock' was 2 Garden, one of which was seen to display to and try to mount a female Blackcap, which was not exactly resisted and the Garden went on displaying by flickering it's wings for several more moments, the Blackcap staying close. Weird and interesting stuff.

In all about 15 Blackcap were seen, 1-2 Chiffchaff nearby but not in this flock. Over at the balancing pool, 4-5 Reed Warbler were mobile and a Willow Warbler kept company. My hopes of Whinchat, Yellow Wagtail and in fact anything on the landfill were left wanting.

A scan of BSL led only to 30-50 House Martin, with the odd Sand and Swallow.

On the 21st I had a nice afternoon visit to Sandford, resulting in 58 Gadwall, 5 Teal, 2 Shoveler, 1 Common Sandpiper and an adult Common Gull. I thought the gull was unusual, and it would have been had it not become fairly regular, but only since 2009, it looks like this;

Aug 21st 2018
Aug 8th 2015
Aug 3rd & 4th 2013
Aug 31st 2012
Aug 5th 2011
Aug 2nd 2009

We did have July birds in 2007, 2003 & 2002 and before that 1990, otherwise no reports or no-one cared either way.

Wigeon dropped in 6th August and must be staying low and drifting back and forth from Twyford pits. No Pintail so far, 1 Pochard 14th (PSc).

Snipe 16th July (D Dolan), then me 23rd, along the much exposed mud in front of Lavell's main island reed bed, then 6th on Tern scrape.

Oh did I mention that we've had the driest spell ever and water levels are lower than I've ever seen them. Everyone knows this now, but in years to come I hope this fact will be a hazy memory and benefit from pictures I'll try to post soon. Below is back in July before it got really dried out.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

July excitement

Well let's not go overboard, but it is always nice to get a year tick in every month, but actually near impossible to achieve.

But July does bring some almost predictable possibilities and I am not going to pass up on a flock of 8 Black-tailed Godwit, well not on purpose.

Said birds were not around early Saturday morning 14th, 4 Green Sandpiper, Barn Owl and Little Grebe were keeping me entertained at LFGP at 06:30 and the Kingfisher was again on it's perch.

It's worth a record shot of the LFGP and Lavell's since we've not seen the water level so low since creating these lovely shallows and refreshed habitats. I've included the fencing shot as we will have new fencing in a few weeks and it's always good to have before and after records.

My shots from that week include said the Kingfisher, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Little Egret and Green Sandpiper, a juvenile Stonechat - very uncommon July species.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Happy....I wish

So, I have to mention the sad fact that it looks to be true that 2 Common Crane flew over DP on Thursday afternoon. I am gutted for my own perspective, happy for the DP list, as they were probably tickable when 2 passed to the West 6th May 2012, but were seen above Bowsey Hill early afternoon, therefore possibly visible from the bottom of the car park field...oh well.

I hadn't reviewed May...92 species, not exactly pants, but 10 shy of the 2017 record, 4 short of 2012 & 2016, 1 short of 2011 & 2008, so fourth equal with 2007, 14, 15 & 16.

Now jump to June, 91 equal 2nd with 2016 and 1 less than last year. Okay I 'assume present' Mandarin, Kestrel, Tawny Owl, Nightingale, Mistle Thrush & Lesser Whitethroat, which are not unfair assumptions in my opinion.

The year is =2nd place for June 30th, again with 2017, 2 behind 2012, but before we've even entered July, 132 is new third place for 31st July total. If we get Black-tailed Godwit, maybe one other wader, say Wood Sandpiper, a Yellow-legged Gull, Linnet and Little Owl, that would be a new record, one past the 2012 high of 136...for end of July.

I hope my ramblings make sense to some people, it remains amazing to me that the boundaries of what is possible month to month can be surpassed.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Like buses

Back out very early today and immediately rewarded and it's often about when you're out often, you notice small changes....

Scanning Lea Farm G.P. along the North spit at 05:35 I noticed 3 small ducks, checking with bins it was easy to see they were probably Teal, but upon scoping one was an obvious female/eclipse Garganey, the first this year.

I love Garganey, here are my 250+m record shots

Also still present, 2 LRP, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Little Egret, 1 Hobby over fast, 2 Skylark on hay bales.