Saturday, 9 June 2018

June flat line or fab time?

Here we are in the heart of the breeding season and I still visit Lea Farm most mornings around 06:30, the highlights are not what many might consider exciting, 2 LRP's, 5 Lapwing, Gadwall, 2 Little Egret.....Cuckoo still, which I guess is getting late for an adult.

So is it actually worth getting out of bed, unless you're doing a breeding bird survey, possibly not. But as I am sure I've said before June can throw out the odd very pleasant surprise.

1981 : 13th Black Tern
1983 : 18th was my first big surprise and it was a whopper, 9 Little Terns over WSL, then Sandford mobbed by Common Tern and away East at 07:00. Same day Garganey was seen on Sandford.
1984 : 6th a Curlew, 7th a Garganey, 13th a very late Wheatear, 21st a late Grasshopper Warbler, 26th Ringed Plover
1985 : 8th a Dunlin
1986 : A Tree Pipit over (dubious in my opinion)
1987 : 6th Red-legged Partridge, 23rd Tree Sparrow
1988 : 11th, 27th & 28th Black Tern
1989 : 11th Marsh Warbler, 13th Grasshopper Warbler, 19th Ringed Plover, 21st/22nd Ruff (the infamous and unknown LB), 22nd Snipe, 29th Greenshank
1990 : 14th Wood Sandpiper, 16th Black Tern,
1991 : 4th to 7th Common Scoter
1992 : 3rd Red-footed Falcon, 3rd Garganey, 7th Green Sandpiper,
1993 : 24th 3 Ringed Plover, 8th Green Sandpiper, 30th Yellow Wagtail
1994 : 12th Common Sandpiper, 14th Green Sandpiper,
1995 : 18th Ringed Plover, Teal 22nd & 24th, 13th Common Sandpiper,26th Green Sandpiper
1996 : 7th Willow Tit (Observer Unknown and therefore unconfirmed)
1997 : 15th Cuckoo, 16th Greenshank, 25th Green Sandpiper
1998 : 2nd Corn Bunting (Observer Unknown and therefore unconfirmed)
1999 : Various oddities, breeding Teal and Water Rail claimed, 26th Snipe & Green Sandpiper
2000 : 18th Green Sandpiper, 25th Dunlin,
2001 : 19th Teal
2002 : 6th Teal, 23rd Green Sandpiper, 30th Little Egret (1st June record)
2003 : 1st > Peregrine (1st summer records began) 6th Stonechat, 7th Bittern, 8th Pochard, 10th/12th Shelduck, 17th > Teal, 23rd Barn Owl began breeding
2004 : 11th/13th Ringed Plover, 12th > Green Sandpiper, 17th> Common Sandpiper
2005 : 1st Little Egret, 12th Black Tern, 19th> Green Sandpiper
2006 : 20th/21st Pochard, 29th Garganey
2007 : 3rd Teal, 3rd Honey Buzzard North over BSL (FJC - Record not submitted to BBRC), 4th last ever Spotted Flycatcher record in June, 6th > Common Gull, 26th Peregrine
2008 : 27th Teal,
2009 : 3rd Shoveler, 10th & 25th Little Egret, 11th Green Sandpiper
2010 : 7th Ring-necked Parakeet (began breeding locally), 11th/22nd/29th Little Egret, 14th Teal, 25th Wigeon, 30th Ringed Plover, 27th Green Sandpiper
2011 : 12th Shoveler, 28th Black-tailed Godwit,
2012 : 1st Dunlin, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (last ever breeding), 4th Yellow-legged Gull, 7th & 21st Common Gull, 18th Green Sandpiper, 23rd Common Sandpiper, 20th Quail
2013 : 23rd Common Sandpiper
2014 : 5th Red Crested Pochard, 22nd Pochard
2015 : 4th Water Rail, 4th Ringed Plover
2016 : 11th Green Sandpiper, 17th Common Sandpiper, 21st Water Rail, 23rd Raven,
2017 : 4th Raven, 17th Mediterranean Gull, 23rd Green Sandpiper, 24th Common Sandpiper

Over the last 5-7 years the frequency of Teal, Shoveler, Pochard, Little Egret and Parakeets has gone up to the point where it is less common we don't get the odd bird.

Happy birding

Monday, 28 May 2018

Does a good start mean anything?

Since my last post and I can only apologize for the infrequency of my posts these days, some more additions have popped up.

Little-ringed Plover went on to set up home here, not breeding so far, but we (FOLL) have made a good start on allowing that to happen next year by putting shingle across the island in front of the hide.

Little else of note occurred, warblers like Sedge, Whitethroat & Lesser Whitethroat in short supply for most of the time, Whitethroat now looking better in the last week.

Cuckoo still calling as of yesterday (27th), but it was a late Ringed Plover found by Marek & Brian that had me dashing back, post my usual early morning routine on the 21st.

Then all quiet again until Geoff texted to say 'Black Tern LFGP' yesterday, again post my early morning visit. Upon arrival one bird was patrolling up and down surface feeding, but decided to land on bouy near to the recently launched raft and it was at that point, we realised there were two. These were joined by a third after I left.

Today there was thick fog after a very stormy night for the second night in a row, luckily the rain missed us and went well East over Bucks. Only one day 2 days ago have I seen more than 15 Swift, with 80-100 over BSL early morning.

So I am on 126 for 2018, faced with the usual suspects to get and in some kind of date order hope, or expectancy they look like this:

Black-tailed Godwit
Little Owl
Yellow-legged Gull
Yellow Wagtail
Marsh Harrier
Spotted Flycatcher

To go past my all time year lists would require all these and more, but a few good possibles might yet be in the mix;

Sandwich Tern
Rock Pipit
Red-crested Pochard
Wood Sandpiper
Spotted Redshank
Bar-tailed Godwit
Common Scoter

And if we look over just the last 6 years, we have had mega's in 5 out of 6 years, so I am up for a stunning bonus like a Spoonbill, Great Northern Diver, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, White-fronted Goose, or even....before all that a Red-footed Falcon, or Marsh Warbler and why not strong Easterlies for days and days...good luck folks.

My title to this post is there because this year is a high hitting start and on par with 2017 and whilst 2017 was excellent - 137 and equal 2nd place with 2014, fell 1 short of the 138 record in 2012. In 2012 I didn't get Green Sandpiper until 5th August, but as we say in bird racing, they are all only worth 1 at the end of the day....enjoy your birding.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Are we done

A few more additions, a Hobby distantly over the far end of BSL, then overhead at the DAC on my birthday (1st.

Then Brian was out before me on the 5th to hear the Greenshank coming in from the North, I was near Teal hide when I looked at my phone to find his missed call at 06:08 due to my not taking it off silent from overnight.

By 06:18 I was looking at it, then so was Jack 5 minutes after that at, then it got harassed by a Black-headed Gull and was away towards Lavell's, staying for about an hour and half according to our Jenny.

And finally, after much avoidance tactics on their behalf a pair of Little-ringed Plover were at Tern scrape bund looking all loved up.

The Whitethroat population has not got above 3-4 still, Willow Warblers have gone thru with no records on DP in May so far. The Oystercatcher is sitting in a wisely high location at Sandford, but not that high given the flood potential. The Mandarin are resident on BSl, but not nesting as things stand.

The sunrises at Lea Farm are pretty nice, especially if you like thick mist and dew covered cobwebs.

Monday, 30 April 2018

In answer to my last question...

Yes, it can get even better.

Much has happened since 9th April, a slow trickle of migrants, all arriving later than the norm for the last 10+ years, kept me waiting for something good on one of my early morning pre work visits.

Then the 28th...the dawn chorus and we were already back into very cold and wet start, sure 3+2 Common Sandpiper was nice, but little else happened to brighten my day.

Luckily new local birder Jo Taylor was vigilant and heard a song he was not expecting over West of Sandford, on further investigation at the weir by Heron's Water, he confirmed the first Wood Warbler since 1992. Just 6 of us in total got to see it before it flew over the river and was never seen again.

Let me reveal the confusing story of Wood Warbler records;

1982 : Aug:1/1st, reported via ROC newsletter (OU)
1983 : Aug:1/12th North Sandford near Loddon for 3 mins 7.20am (FJC & DF), seen again 13th (Mike Collins & Kevin Templeman)
1984 : May:1/17th singing (RC), July:1/13th (MC & KT)
1992 : Apr:1/21st singing just off park (PA et al), then another 23rd (MJ Hallam), May:1/3rd Sandford (Patrick Crowley)
1998: Apr:1/22nd Middle Marsh (Patrick Crowley)

2003 : April:1/25th Lavell's (K Creed), Aug:1/9th (John Tilbrook)

As I often say this is my blog, so I can air my opinions, which are the following;

1982 : Fine
1983 : Fine
1984 : Unsure, but probably fine for both records
1992 : April 21st certainly fine, 23rd fine, no idea about the May bird
1998 : No idea
2003 : April, good date but dubious. August, no idea, supposedly okay.

This morning, I found not 1 but 2 Whimbrel on the East shore of LFGP and unusually they stuck around, rather liking the long grass to feed and hide, even returning after a flush or two from crows.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Can it get any better

I was doing family stuff yesterday afternoon when Brian called in with 2 Little Gulls at BSL, but it didn't take me long to get there and enjoy the little beauties flying up and down the East side.

I even managed a class pic of one of them....

But today at 06:51 Marek had just joined me at the sailing club for the first time in about 6 months before work and I looked up and said "is that Egret as big as it looks"? Sure enough it was a Great White Egret, my 5th, Marek's 1st.

I think Marek's shot is better

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Lots to catch up with

Not that it has been non stop or anything, but the Wheatear was nice and getting Sand Martin same day was also good.

A day pause on the 1st April with nothing new, then Tim James got a lovely early Common Tern on BSL, which I also made it to see. My earliest by a mile.

The next day (3rd)  I got in a quick car park field recky and got another Wheatear very distantly on the landfill. I also heard a Hawfinch go over. I was ill with tonsilitis and what with the flooding making things near impossible anyway I gave up, but toward the end of the day I gave the car park field another quick look around in the rare sunshine.

Almost immediately I was rewarded with my first 2 Swallow, looping over the bottom end of the car park field towards Lavell's. I was looking at my phone and when I looked up saw 4 long necked ducks coming in fast from the North over Lavell's. They were up high enough to stay on and it was easy to see they were 4 Pintail, getting the scope on the them it became obvious it was 2 pairs.

The 4th I slept in and stayed home to try and rest and get better, late morning Geoff texted saying a Tern went by LFGP toward DP and looked a bit Arctic like.

I was at the door and the breezy but showery weather might help my health, so headed out. I found the bird immediately with Alan and we watched it sat for 10 minutes, after which it flew about and returned 2-3 times over the next hour. The weather was pretty rubbish really so light pretty poor.

The Tern had a dainty jizz, light and bouyant flight, snatched food from the surface like a marsh tern.

Plumage : Long'ish but not extensively long tail streamers, not long bodied. Wings had typical dark edge on under side for Arctic, but the upper wing was a bit more confusing with 4-5 primaries having small smudgey grey marks running up the shafts, not a long way and subtle, but easily visible.

When perched it's bill was black from tip to about half way then graduated into very dark red, but not especially short. Legs, probably short. The head had the 'cappy' look about rather than the 'napey' look of Common.

Here are my best shots from the 300m range.

After conversations, re-reading etc, I believe this was more likely Arctic than Common.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Heady heights

Despite the totally silly amount of water falling from the sky yesterday, the afternoon unfolded pretty well and since I was at my son's 6th birthday party when it all happened, I was blissfully unaware until nearly 14:00.

So after the Willow Warbler excitement, rain first thing left me unenthusiastic so I left so I had good time to get ready. Then Wheatear was found on the East shore, then Sand Martins went thru and it didn't seem likely I would even get down the Loddon footpath due to flooding, but of course I tried and succeeded.

The male Wheatear was still around the South end of the East shore along with a Green Sandpiper further right.

Then Ann WhatsApp'd the Red-legged Partridge again and I felt compelled to head that way, I'm glad I did but despite my inability to find it, I did pick up 7+ Sand Martin over Lodge Wood heading toward DP.

March was a pretty good month, it thrashed 2016 by 4, making a new 1st place high count of 100 species and whilst doing that it beat the running year totals of 2016 and 2017 by 2, hitting the heady heights of 106.

It will all even out as all the usual migrants arrive, but it's those little bonuses that make all the difference at year end, Tim's Little Gulls may be matched in mid to late April, we can only hope. This next 2 weeks are a key window for Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Ring Ouzel, as are even a mythical species like Water Pipit, Tree Pipit and Black Redstart, but all could drop in.

Okay I have to mention it, it's the 18th year anniversary of my Purple Heron on the 5th & 6th!

We have 3 credible April records of Goshawk, 6th & 15th 2009, immature female seen by me, then Trev. Prior to that 23rd 2002, again Trev and again a female. With big raptors coming thru each April, I'd say April is the month to get lucky.