Monday, 31 December 2012

Farewell 2012

An awesome year, so many great birds, 2 firsts for the park, 3 DP lifers, including finding my own Wryneck but missed hearing the Quail call once. And nobody saw the Common Crane flying West to East along the A4 6th May. Ah well Otmoor pulls them about annually now, so we'll get another chance....I hope.
I also hoped in vain for Smew, but found none on my Sandford, BSL, WSL loop, just 80+ Pochard, 40+ Tufted Duck 40+, 2 Goldeneye. The Grey Heron hunched and faced into the blustery wind and looked...cold.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Flooded but passable

Simon called to say he wasn't sure the grebe he was looking at was a Little, so I went and had a look saw an Adult winter Little Grebe and nice to know we have an easy one for the 1st, also checking in at Bittern Hide, now passable, no grebes there, but a Greylag was worth noting for Tuesday.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Stormy weather stops play

A lunchtime dash around the car park, was met with strong winds and gusts, raining and getter heavier. Flood levels dropped to allow passing in wellies. 300+ Lapwing on and over the landfill, 500+ BH Gulls, 300+ Starlings, a few Herring and then a lone Great Black-backed Gull over.
Still handfulls of Redwing in the car park field Blackthorns, not much to hear above the noise of the wind in the trees. Probably 70-80+ Pochard on Sandford, but left as weather got worse.
The trip to the car park at dusk was pretty grey and rainy, a few Redwing were heading into Lavell's, probably no more than 30. Interesting sharp thrush notes in roost pressumably the Redwing.
2 Goldcrest went by, but nothing more. A tiny break in the cloud made my pic look much brighter than it really was.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Nice flooded fields wrong time of day

A short walk past Redwood Lake then a quick circle of a fairly flooded Mortimer's Meadow produced nothing but 4 Pied Wagtail on the pool edges. The boggyness of it all made me wonder if Snipe come in to feed after dark. I'll see if I can make time to find out before it dries up over the next week.
Pools like this could pull a Water Pipit and Jack Snipe nearby...............more likely if I managed the area as a private nature reserve. Oh well not for now then.

 I drove down to Sandford to see if it is passable yet, probably tomorrow I reckon.

Looking ahead into 2013

Whilst I have the luxury of seeing all previous annual records, I can reveal that since 1995 there have been 11 years when Smew was recorded in January. It's worth knowing stuff like this if you wish to adopt a so called strategy for building a good patch list, I try hard to do this. And I am willing to share as much as I can find time to help others until I do eventually publish all the data since 1976....anyone know how to get reams of free text data in the comments boxes in Excel into a searchable database?

Smew are rare at DP and mostly shy too, meaning they can drop in but often only stop along the river Loddon...... Or they can just sit out on the ice in full view on Sandford like on 28th Nov 2010, the last record.

Dec is 2nd place with 8 since 1995 and 5 were mid to late December so we could still get on in 2012. So time to hedge the stats and get looking for one more elusive year tick, one of us might find DP's first ever Green-winged Teal, or Ring-necked Duck? We are overdue as I see it.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Birding Year 2013 to everyone from all my family

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Patchwork challenge

Not expecting to have half the time I had to patch in 2012, am still hoping to get a good 2013 DP year list, but either way I am registered for the patchwork challenge
I know Marek is doing it at DP this year, so am looking forward to his keen eyes finding a goodie at some point. You go for it Marek, I'd like a Red Breasted Merganser, or Bewick's Swan in March and a Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper in May.
I stick to the belief that Great Northern Diver is the most common Berks winter and passage visitor not seen at DP yet, so it has to be on one early morning soon.
Obviously one prefers to find your own stuff, nothing beats finding a patch tick and for me Wryneck this year was a triple wow as I missed both the previous birds in 1986 and 1997, so a further 15 years of pain were all washed away in a momentous wave as my eyes got my brain to realise I was looking at a Wryneck through my scope.....still smiling now.
Look forward to sharing the patchwork challenge with any of you who bother.

More staying Goosander from 17th

I had believed, but not checked that the 17th's 2 Redhead Goosander on BSL had gone, as reports of 2 elsewhere and seeing 1 in flight going South along the Loddon from my car, was likely to be one of them departing. Seeing one from my car wasa cheeky sighting if I do say so myself.
So Richard and I are doing our loop and are at the BSL view point opposite the sailing club looking right up to South bay counting Goldeneye. Richard was pointing out Shoveler and scoping them picked up a redhead Goosander moving right to left behind, this bird had a pale chin. Moments later I found one to the right and we both felt it was too quick for the bird to be the same....but we couldn't see two. Steve saw both later and the next day and I am not sure they have left, but perhaps did due to all the flooding.
Need to go out and check flooded Mortimer's and elsewhere to check we don't have Pintail about, a Bittern at WSL that Steve found 24th is available since he saw it again today.

The 13th : Off park County 1st

A long break in entries due to being busy with preparations for Christmas, plus a bit of work. So the 13th I arrived and was half way through my Sandford, BSL loop, possibly taking Lavell's car park in. Trevor called asking if I knew about the Buff Bellied Pipit at QMR, "No" I said. Being mine and mine and my wife's 4th anniversary I didn't really want to ask, but called and she told me to go and see it. So we went, met others but it was over an hour since last sighting. We stayed for 2 hours and wanted to get back, only to have the news it was refound around 13:00 and showing down to 30 feet.
I returned on my own and met all the usual faces and many more, all smiling. No fret at all, there it was and an active, but showy little thing. Severe limitations appear in using iphones for photos as I took over 100 and this is all I could get, the fact it rarely stopped moving I think could potentially be overcome with the ;fast camera application I Nick in the Philippines showed me.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Just darn cold and foggy

I was out way before the fog cleared and saw little, 60+ Teal moved off the Loddon to LFGP on my arrival, but the fog was too thick to count any wildfowl. Instead I photographed frosty plants and spiders webs, not sure if it counts as art, but seemed fun at the time


Monday, 10 December 2012

Feeling lucky

A mid morning walk and I could find no trace of yesterdays Ruddy Duck, so I feel so very lucky to have seen this now rare duck this year. I have no intention of keeping sightings if they help DEFRA in their pointless and wrong cull of this brilliant little duck. Perhaps if DEFRA put a price on Mink I might give them some credit, but this and the currently postponed Badger cull, spells out to me that they are muppets, who could help farmers by funding cattle inoculation instead.

The Goldeneye count was at least 8 and may well have been 10+, 3 males, but with the females were spread all over BSL, it was too hard to count them accurately. All the other ducks were in low numbers, perhaps with the exception of Pochard, 40+ on Sandford and another circa 20 on BSL.

A good number of dead Alders have fallen in the recent bad weather along with our Lesser Spotted Woodpecker tree, so that is a big shame.

A year tick on the first visit back

Adjusting to temperature difference remains tough going, 33 degrees to 5-7 is horrible, but I was very keen to get back out to my patch, but knowing the Ruddy Ducks from 2 weeks before were long gone.

I came along for the bird walk and we did the usual BSL route up to the bay nearest to Sandford, counting Goldeneye, at the least 3 males and 4+ females, I wanted to get a better view in between the islands and so we moved to the bank where the path drops down towards Sandford hide and as I began my count again, Richard suddenly said "isn't this a Ruddy nearest to us?" And yes it was, an immature male, swimming and diving, then quickly further away. So needless to say I was very happy, to have not missed a single species in my month away.

There was nothing else really to get excited about, good views of Treecreeper, a nice little flock of 40+ Siskins and 5+ Lesser Redpoll along the Loddon, a Kingfisher, low numbers of Teal, Wigeon, all the ducks in fact, probably 50+ Pochard on Sandford, but think the 5 Goldeneye there were all from BSL.