Wednesday, 31 October 2012


Walking over the footbridge back to the car park I looked up and saw a Kestrel, binning it anyway I immediately saw another raptor some way above it at about 300-400 feet, moving fast South. It was more slender and rakish, had more pointed wings, fast wing beats and shorter narrow tail, but the hedgerow on our right blocked our view straight away.

I ran to the car park and put up my scope hoping to get back onto it. Scanning with bins, I picked it up over the golf course, it was fluttering its wings, then went into a fast dive, out of view, but then up and down again twice, two attempts to get the scope onto it then showed a compact bird, but no chance of colour against the morning sun. It can only have been a Merlin was my conclusion.

This was the 93rd species for the month and equalled the 2010 record, which may or may not be a record, because back in the 80's and 90's, not every species seen was made a note of, at least for the more common species and late/early migrants

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Late Blackcap, or new arrival?

I dropped in to the car park and Bittern hide briefly this morning, 10 then 5 more Fieldfare went over low West, 2-3 Siskin over, 2 Meadow Pipit North, c10 Redwing, 1-2 Bullfinch, generally less finch movement obvious, but I wasn't out until 09:00, so may have missed early stuff? The walk down to Bittern hide produced a late male Blackcap, or was it a winter arrival since it was in sub song?

Monday, 29 October 2012


I guess about the last thing I expected to add to my year list was a DP lifer, but there it was DP's first ever real Woodlark 08:48 over West, sadly without calling, but the tell tell short squarish tail and short undulating flight said it all. 137 fo me, 142 for DP year list, 193 life for me, 215 for DP.

I say 'real' because I was there on 17th April 1982 when Alan Robiette told the bird walk group that the singing lark over the golf course was a Woodlark, "because they circle as they rise which Sklark never do".....complete twoddle it was a Skylark and I wonder to this day if he knows what one looks, or sounds like.

Further movement of c60 Chaffinch in 3 groups of 20+ headed West. 3-4 Lesser Redpoll evaded attack from a male Sparrowhawk, just a few Redwing, Siskin and 2 Meadow Pipit over North.

Saturday, 27 October 2012


As forecast, it was/is darn cold today, a few flocks of Redwing over, a few small flocks of 6-20 Fieldfare too, a Lesser Redpoll perched on an Alder briefly, a few Siskin, 1-2 Meadow Pipit and an obvious movement of Wood Pigeon heading W/WSW in flocks of 30-100. On the Lavell's 6 Pochard, c30 Tufted Duck, on Sandford 17 Pochard, c100 Tufted Duck, 10 Shoveler, 12 Gadwall and 1 first winter male Goldeneye, making up for missing the pair Thursday. A couple of Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff called near Sandford hide.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Nothing much happening

Over last few days I have just done a few visits, yesterday flocks of 100+ Fieldfare over BSL NW, then 20+ LFGP NW later, 10 Greylag in and out over DP North, probably Borough Marsh birds. More Redwing, Goldfinch, Siskin and other finch flocks over Lavell's later. Another adult winter Yellow Legged Gull on LFGP.

I nearly got excited when an unusual Athya was with the Pochard on Sandford, but despite a nice contrast between mantle and flanks, the head shape and colour tone was all wrong for a major UK rarity. Instead we speculate it was half Pochard, half either Tufted, or Ferruginous...nice looking all the same. Thanks to Steve Day for photo's mine were too grainy after cropping to be much use.

Today I went looking for it again, but no joy on a grey, drizzly morning, so looked thru a tit flock or two, 2-3 Goldcrest in each flock, but nothing else.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Grey and quiet

No sign of any migrant warblers on my walk this morning, but I heard my first Cetti's since March, a long burst of alarm call to the front right of Bittern Hide, whilst 2 Water Rail gave 'picking' calls, 1 near, 1 beyond the scrape. Apart from 2 Meadow Pipit over, 3-4 Goldcrest and 6-7 Redwing, very little else to note. Visibility was totally rubbish, but not cold yet.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Late Swallows

I let tiredeness get the better of me and only got out for about an hour at 09:30, feeling like I missed something on arrival. Alan arrived a minute after I did and we picked up 2 late Swallow heading SE, the odd 1 or 2 Skylarks were still going over, same for Meadow Pipit, 4-5 Redwing, a Mistle Thrush ESE, 2 Kestrel, a few Chaffinch, seemingly more Goldfinch, a few Siskin, still 1 Chiffchaff in the car park field and a couple of Blackbird and Song Thrush. Someone had written Blue-winged Teal in the log at Bittern, which was duly slagged off and ignored as a report.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Foggy start

Having arranged for the FOLL bird food to be delivered at DP ctr, I was waiting in the main car park when I a Mistle Thrush flew around and landedin the trees next to the car park. Then I heard Coal Tit in High Chimneys gardens, perhaps I should go there more often, having also had my largest flock of Yellow Wagtails over here back in September?
Later after the fog cleared I did the car park field and soon picked up Skylarks coming over West every 10 minutes or so, 12 seen in 30-45 mins and hearing 3-4 more. A few pipits were going over in singles and 1, or 2 looked a bit bulkier than Meadow, but no definitive calls were given. A brief look over the landfill, 2 Redwing, a few Chaffinch, Siskin, 1 Lesser Redpoll and then a Chiffchaff called behind me, showing briefly.
On to LFGP, somewhat flooded of course, usual wildfowl many hidden in vegetation, 2 Snipe circled and dropped in, more Skylark, 1-2 more pipits and it suddenly occured to me I had been watching a good number of Starling flocks of 30-70 birds going West, an estimated 400, but could have been double that as I had been concentrating on checking for thrushes instead. Quite a few BH Gulls warranted a quick check before departing. I said to Alan I am sure we are missing Rock Pipits going over....who knows really!

Friday, 19 October 2012


My morning circuit was rewarded quickly with a lone Brambling over the sailing club low East calling and may have even dropped into gardens nearby. It was quite misty so I stayed in the car park, hoping for a Yellowhammer, but just had Grey Wagtail, 4 Pied, 5 Redwing, 3 Meadow Pipit, a lone male Blackcap and several Goldcrest.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Morning of maybe's

Usual sailing club start and 2 Grey Wagtail next to the sluice, 15 Pochard on BSL, then I heard a short call and looked up to see 2 larks high up, switching quickly to scope I barely got onto them as they went W/WNW, but could not rule out Woodlark...which would have been a first for the park.
In the car park field, a Chiffchaff called, then a Blackcap in subsong, 3-4 Reed Bunting were flying around Lea Farm buildings, then I heard a call behind me, which I thought was Yellowhammer and got onto a distant bunting moving quickly East, but couldn't see enough on it before it disappeared behind trees...another missed potential year tick.
Another Blackcap called, 1 Ring-necked Parakeet off over the landfill, 5-6 Meadow Pipit over the landfill, 2 Goldcrest, 6 Redwing and 2 Song Thrush.
Finding the Sandford path flooded I returned to the car park and went around BSL and wondered back on forth near Sandford hide for an hour, seeing 2 Goldcrest, a Treecreeper, a few tits, Siskin, Redwing and no calls like yesterdays persistent, thin high call. Perhaps it was just an odd Goldcrest call? I still think it was a Firecrest, but wellies will be required for another attempts for the next few days.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Around 16:30 I was walking towards Sandford hide having just upped the morning count of Pochard by one to 18. Just where the path splits right to Heron's Water I heard a tit flock ahead, not a large flock, but I could hear 3 or more obvious Goldcrest calls, then a thinner note caught my ear, but try as I did I, they stayed in cover and could not get my bins on anything and the flock moved away quickly and just a Chiffchaff called to my left, low in the lake side willow.
I stood straining to hear which direction the crests went, but right then the skies opened up and then my wife called for a rescue lift with my son, so had to leave.
I will check it out again tomorrow and fingers crossed I am right and we have a Firecrest.

Hopes of 1987 storm repeat

Well they just aren't going to happen are they!
I don't wish to keep bringing up the hurts of days gone by, but we have never had another Sabine's Gull or Grey Phalarope since the day after the big storm. But I remain hopeful as ever one of the two species might show up again one day. It wouldn't be right to complain after such an amazing year anyway.
Today just a brief visit to the sailing club and car park field, BSL had 17 Pochard so nearly double recent numbers, in car park field just 1 Blackcap called, 4 Skylark over and 3 Swallow SE, 6 Redwing, 1-2 Siskin, 4-5 Chaffinch and 1 Chiffchaff.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A few bits n pieces

BSL sailing club 07:50 1 Grey Wagtail, car park field 08:00 1 Lesser Redpoll over low, 1 Swallow distantly over Lodge Wood, 5 Redwing NW, 2 goups of 3 Chaffinch W. At LFGP 3 more Swallow SE, 25 Shoveler, 42 Wigeon, 20 Teal, 9 Gadwall, 2 Skylark on landfill, another Lesser Redpoll, then c50 Golden Plover way East of landfill heading South likely to be the heading to fields near Jcn 10 M4, then 7 Fieldfare just East, my first this autumn.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Catch up

Saturday I had 3 each of Swallow & House Martin over BSL, 2 Blackcap with the tit flock on Lavell's main island, 87 Tufted Duck on Sandford, 7 Pochard there too. The LSW roosted as usual around 17:30. Sunday bird walk produced 2 Chiffchaff, 4-5 Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, 2-3 Common Gull and an adult Yellow Legged Gull on LFGP, the 87th species for the month. Someone I know said they may have heard a Raven over the landfill mid monring.
This morning I had a flock of 31 Chaffinch East to West beyond Lodge Wood, 5 Ring-necked Parakeet came over the landfill towards Lea Farm well picked up by Paul. A few Redwing and Song Thrush went over and we did check several of the Blackbirds hoping for Ring luck. A lone Blackcap called briefly.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Blue sky evening

I can see me spending quite a few evenings around Sandford with our Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, tonight the wind dropped and the clouds left, leaving another great chance to enjoy a peaceful few moments with this enigmatic and rare a nearby Goldfinch also looking good.

Golden Plover

I did most of the main spots this morning, at BSL 9 Pochard and 20-30 Redwing over, at Bittern Hide 4 Little Grebe and scoping the main island a tit flock had 2-3 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff and at least 1 Goldcrest. Richard joined me and we saw something medium size and pale move very briefly in the edge of reeds, but never saw it again and have no idea what it was...never will know now.
At LFGP we watched a trickle of Swallow and House Martin go SE, 4-5 Skylark on the landfill, a few more Meadow Pipit, a few more Redwing, some nearby Buzzards and when trying to scope hirundines, I picked up 2 distant Golden Plover way East of DP, moving South. A 1st Winter and Adult Winter Common Gull came in from the NE. On leaving Ron's hide, 2 more Chiffchaff were along the Loddon and a Redpoll went over calling South, but looked like it would be staying local.

Thursday, 11 October 2012


I was counting the wildfowl, 34+ Wigeon, 29+ Teal, 27 Shoveler, 9 Swallow over East, but had not forgotten we have had Stonechat recorded on the 11th October 2006 & 2007.

I checked all the vents, Phragmites ditch and was doing a final sweep of the lake edge vegetation when there he was, a male behind the SE corner of LFGP sat motionless on larger dock-leaf. This marks my 136th species for the year, my equal highest total ever, so one is pretty chuffed.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

I just have to say I have never known an absolute guaranteed Lesser Spotted Woodpecker prior to this year, so to have a winter roost site too, is something very special. I hope everyone enjoys our bird as much as possible, while it lasts and behaves only in a way that fully endorses putting the welfare of the bird first.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Rainy Monday, better Tuesday

Yesterday I braved the rain in hope of another new year list addition, but just got wet.
Later I went to Bittern hide and just short of the hide 3 Lesser Redpoll flew up, but remained in the area despite there being no feeders with food for them. About 15 Swallows and House Martin were overhead and I fantasized about Red Rumped Swallow. A lone Mistle Thrush flew West.
Tuesday at 08:15 was very active, a Chiffchaff on arrival and over car park field I had numerous Siskin, 30 Redwing, 7 Linnet, the best count all year, 5 then another 4 Skylark SE, a handful of Meadow Pipit SE, Swallows trickling by. Off the balancing pool came 27 Wigeon which headed to LFGP.
At LFGP a Lesser Redpoll over, Swallow volume increased to the order of about 100-150 in 30 mins, no doubt encourgaed by a break  in the cloud for 20 minutes, about 30 House Martins in company with them. 5 of More Skylark were displaying and chasing each other on the landfill. A lot of other finches were going over in the distance, too far to i.d. but no doubt some were Chaffinch and Siskin. Along the Loddon I heard 2 more Chiffchaff.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Little Owl

On an attempt to see if a Bittern was gracing Lavell's reed beds tonight, I had just heard a Water Rail squeeling at 18:45 in the flooded scrape and decided that would do. As I walked to the end of the screening I suddenly heard the familiar Little Owl call and it wasn't far away, somewhere beyond the Emm Brook probably not as far as Lea Farm, but in that direction. I thought I'd have to make a special effort and trapse the gold course in pitch black one night soon, so am over the moon to secure my 135th species for the year, 1 to go to equal my all time list of 136 set in 2010. So many things to hope for before we leave for a months holiday in November and when we get back I'll only have 3 weeks of the year left to add another.

Winter thrushes and finches in and over

Despite my later arrival around 10:00 allowing the fog to clear a little, it was quickly evident Redwings were here and moving thru in quite good numbers. First 40+ West, then 35+ at the bottom right of the car park field, around 10 or more Blackbird in their company. Then 25-30 from the left hand car park bushes, then 40 or so more West, plus a 10+ flying about. On top of this 2 flocks of around 20 Meadow Pipit, 3 flocks of around 15 to 20 Chaffinch flew NW. 2-3 Blackcap in the car park field, 1 Chiffchaff and with the fog hanging in the air, just 3-4 Swallows were visible, but heard only a few Pied Wagtails, Nuthatch and Treecreeper.

Odd falcon

I had been watching many Red Kites, Buzzards and a few Sparrohawk over the landfill from Ron's hide for over an hour yesterday afternoon, when I got onto a smallish raptor which was moving South at about 450-600 feet. It has already passed to my right so the light was pretty poor, but first impressions was a Hobby, due to it having sharp swept back wings and shortish narrow tail.
It wasn't too far away, approximately 250 yards, so was struggling to get it in my scope due it's height, meaning a steep angle and had to quickly lower my tripod legs to get on to it.
As I did get it in the scope, to my surprise it turned and hovered breifly, it looped flapped on further South, now over Lavell's and hovered again. This really perplexed me as it did not have a long tail and I have never seen a Kestrel hover at 500-600 feet, all I could make out in the light conditions, we a rich, or rufous brown, but too high up to pick up any detail.
It turned and continued South and must have been about over the Lavell's Island when it hovered one more time before suddenly folding up like a Sparrowhawk and went into a near vertical dive out of sight somewhere at the West end of Lavell's, or more probably Sandford.
I remain perplexed, but have read Red Footed Falcon does hover............I'll never know....unless we find one in the next day or so.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Very quick visit

A 30 min walk just at the sailing club and Lavell's car park was okay, new for the month was a Mistle Thrush flew in from the West over BSL towards DP centre, 40-50 House Martin and Swallow over the lake was indicative that passage for them is coming to an end, as was just 7 Meadow Pipit. Still 3 male and 2 female Blackcap in the car park field, a singing Chiffchaff, 5 Song Thrush, 1 Ring Necked Parakeet fighting with Jackdaw and a Coal Tit on the vegatation left of Lea Farm itself, which then flew towards Lodge Wood.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

I forgot

When Trevor joined me to see the Common Sandpiper, we heard a Water Rail giving 'picking' calls, the first this Autumn, but based on the past records, it is likely to have been present a week, or two.
Additionally, I have re-read up on Sandwich Terns and of course adults in winter plumage have white foreheads. I can't say I saw dark feathers on the tails due to range, but I don't really care either.
Further post event note from yesterday, when 2 Coal Tits passed by in a small tit flock whilst we waited for the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker to come to roost.  On that note I wish to urge all that come to see the Lesser Spotted, use common sense and DO NOT PUBLISH THE LOCATION, OR EGG COLLECTORS WILL COME NEXT YEAR and I would hate to have to resort to threatening those that would harm our birds.

Sarnies for breakfast

The morning started well with c200 House Martin avoiding a Sparrowhawk over BSL 08:00, 1 bird sitting on the wires watching it all whilst warming in the sun. 30-40 Meadow Pipit went thru South in groups of 3-4, then the Swallows started coming thru, 5-10 every 3-5 minutes. Coal Tit flew over calling as I walked down the car park field.
As I scanned the sky and landfill at 08:40 I picked up 4 terns moving quickly South above the Loddon, switching to scope I could see large black bills and white forecrowns and confirmed they were my first Sandwich Terns since 1992. I stayed on them as far as I could see, they didn't stop at DP, they just kept going at least til they went out of view roughly in line with WSL.
Very happy I debated whether to quit for breakfast of go to Bittern Hide, I chose the latter and immediately picked up a Common Sandpiper and had to check it wasn't a Spotted as there have only been 5 other October records of Common.
A scan of the main island reeds revealed the first ever October Reed Warbler....all in all not bad morning!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Few visits, but catch up today

Visits have been few, short and sweet since 29th Sept. I managed 20 mins at Bittern hide 1st Oct around 17:45 and saw 4 Pochard, 6 Meadow Pipit over, 15 Pied Wagtail heading South to an early roost? Based on previous years at least 1 Water Rail is highly likely to be in, but requires a dusk visit. The month ended on 103 species.
This morning I was back out for 07:30 and the sky was fairly packed with Swallows and House Martins, probably in excess of 300 and a Coal Tit called nearby. The car park field didn't look too promising, but on closer inspection there were 3-4 Song Thrush, 5 male and 1 female Blackcap and lone Chiffchaff, 5 Meadow Pipit and Nuthatch calling. Nothing really to speak of at Bittern Hide, except 1 Wigeon and another Coal Tit called nearby.
At LFGP the sun was suitably low to make matters difficult, a Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal, 45+ Lapwing, a few Tufted Duck, 150 hirundines, Meadow Pipit and Skylark was about it, until I noticed a small group of about 15 medium sized, sharp winged birds some way East of the landfill, moving fast North, but I couldn't get enough on them to be sure they were Golden Plover. Along the Loddon 2-3 Siskin and 3 Chiffchaff were feeding avidlyin the Willows opposite the gate into Ron's hide. At Sandford the 4 Pochard were asleep on the oldest tern island.