Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Water levels high

A late afternoon visit to LFGP and the much risen rivers have pushed the lake levels above the shingle island again, there were no birding highlights but the number of Black Headed Gulls coming over East to West heading for Sonning no doubt, was impressive, a very rough estimate has to be over 10,000. I scoped the steady stream hoping for lucky view of a Med, but no joy.
There were a lot fewer of everything, just 110+ Wigeon, c40 Teal, a handful of Lapwing, but not much else.
On the walk back I waited to view crests, but only saw Goldcrest, Fieldfare were still out in numbers, 80+ to the NE, then about the same number over Sandford West.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Big thaw, exodus of waders and wild goose chase

One person claimed a single Ruff this morning, but no sign by early afternoon, same for Golden Plover and I found no Snipe in a brief look on this lovely bright day.
At the end of a short work party a report of possible Pink footed Goose with Canadas on the landfill, kept us busy, but nothing was found, perhaps the small Greylag had someone going, we'll see over the coming day or so. During the search, two of us saw the year's first Great Black Backed Gull and another skylark heard going over.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

The sun at last

A lovely clear morning and at least 1 Ruff was on show at LFGP, plus 2 Golden Plover. Coal Tit and Nuthatch were available along the Loddon too and a nice male Lesser Redpoll showed well enough for a couple of shots for me.

Later both Ruff showed up and 5 Golden Plover were seen, a later walk at WSL produced no Bittern.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Doubley Ruff

A brief visit this morning but I failed to find the Ruff again, I did see 1 Dunlin again on the far landfill cell and good numbers of Fieldfare to the far right. Another report of LSW made me feel like I have to connect soon.
Later Brian texted to say he'd finally connected with 2 Golden Plover at LFGP, so I fancied another 'bird day' for my January tally and headed on down.
We passed each other half way and I hurried on, hoping for a closer picture opportunity, instead the first bird I scoped was the Ruff, so I clicked away. Then began panning left, only to see a Ruff flying in from the right and thinking I might have lost it for a moment, I watched it land and went back the spot where I'd seen it first and quickly realised it was a second, which had more white around the face...excellent, 2 Ruff is a fantastic winter record.
I then looked for the 2 Golden Plover, which were miles away in the far right of the far landfill cell.
Ian arrived and year ticked the Ruff, but Marek arrived just a few minutes too late for us to re-find them in the quickening gloom.
Ruff 2

Ruff 1

Both Ruff either side of Lapwing

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Very Ruff

Brian called me whilst I was at my mothers with my son around 15:40 and said he had a Ruff at Lea Farm, distantly on the far landfill. So I dashed home, dropped shopping and Ethan with Emi and shot down. Trev had got there just ahead of me, both were watching the bird from Ron's hide on my arrival.
I faffed about for a moment not getting the right vent, etc, then got onto the splendid distant little wader, which was a brilliant find by Brian.
After a failed search to find Brian Golden Plover, we watched the Ruff with newly arrived Pete, until it was just about too dark to see it and all trudged back along the path. Ian arrived as we stood in the layby and told him he would be very lucky to pick it up now....he headed off anyway.
This was only the second ever January Ruff, Brian Uttley reporting one 14th Jan 1997, last years February 2nd bird was the second ever February record, the first reported 19th 1990 initials (LB), if we knew who that was, we could validate it. Anyway, a great year tick 81 for me now and about my worst photo ever.

 It's the blob left of centre.

This puts the park on 82, one better than 2004, one more to be level with 2005 & 2006. This is without Great Black Backed, Yellow Legged and Mediterranean Gulls, Peregrine, Woodcock, Shelduck, Curlew, Raven, or Blackcap. With Pintail and Red Breasted Merganser at Sonning, both of these could drop in!?

General walk about

I brought quality mixed seed and went upstream along the Loddon, opposite Sandford Copse to WSL, throwing handfuls in thick undergrowth and ivy clumps at eye height, I guess I am hoping Wrens, Dunnocks and maybe even the odd Goldcrest will get a much needed snack and help them along until it warms up Fri/Sat, as forecast.
I went on to BSL counting 16 Goldeneye, 7 males, so quite a good count, a couple of Bullfinch went over, 2 Treecreeper near to Sandford hide, then scanning gulls, I got onto a an adult and a 1st winter that looked quite good for Yellow Legged, but miles away at the South end, so off I marched to check them out, but they both turned out to be Herrings.....better safe than sorry.
I looped back via the West side of Sandford, 2-3 Goldcrest, a mixed flock of tits, 1's and 2's of Redwing and Fieldfare over, but nothing on the lake as it was still totoally frozen.
Contemplating a very quick run up to LFGP, I had a Great Spotted Woodpecker, double checking for Lesser, but no luck. A few Goldfinch, Chaffinch and more tits were all near the Mill and I decided to head home for a late breakfast without going to LFGP, hoping nothing was there.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Coal Tit then 2 Dunlin again

Just as I passed alongside Teal Hide I heard a Coal Tit, which kindly showed in the Blackthorn above my head immediately, then flew across the Loddon to the Christmas trees and away, so well chuffed to get to 80 for the year so soon and being on par with the park felt great too. But then Richard runied it by telling me he'd had Lesser Spotted Woodpecker near Sandford Mill!
Now, I know I'm repeating myself, but normally Dunlin don't stick around and yet this morning we found 2, 1 on the lake edge, the other up on the near landfill's snow covered summit, both in company with Snipe. notable that the lake edge bird is very buff, but the further bird is white and grey kind of captured in my hillarious pictures;

Buffy Dunlin

Further away Dunlin

Still 30-40 Snipe present and one distant Golden Plover, probably the same one I photo'd before with a huge super, but way too distant to see anything on it

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Is my Golden Plover picture a rarity?

Adam texted me yesterday to say my Golden Plover blogged recently had a large super' and dark cap, so was I sure I hadn't got something? To be honest I just don't know, but statistics would say probably not....hope so, as I don't believe in retrospective ticking from photos.

Dunlin staying at LFGP

For the first time ever in January, a Dunlin has stayed in the area, despite now freezing temperatures a bird, possibly 2 has frequented the snow covered grass of the landfill. And today someone reported Golden Plover for the sixth consecutive day, but I saw neither today.
What I did see was our latest Bittern at Lavell's, a nice rich rufus coloured bird sitting high in the main island reeds, despite the whole lake being frozen.
26 Snipe were visible at LFGP this dusk, with over 30-40+ spread out over the landfill.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Late Sunday visit

Tied up all day, I was glad to get out for a quick walk, taking a scenic shot of the sun through snowy clouds at Sandford, quickly viewing BSL and then doubling back to LFGP, catching 30+ Fieldfare that settled on an Ash at Sandford briefly.

At LFGP, it was evident that Snipe were still present in numbers and two checks gave a new winter high count of 41, 39 of which were in the snow covered grassy slopes facing the lake, so fairly easy to count. As I was counting I picked up a Dunlin amongst the Lapwing, which was pretty tricky to see as it too was walking in the deep snow. Suddenly everything flushed but I never saw what caused it, just that the Dunlin left West calling frequently. I final count and I picked up a lone Golden Plover, but 2 more flew over West before it was time to leave.

Lone Golden Plover hiding amongst the Lapwing

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Luck with WSL Goosander

Having left for lunch with family, when Steve texted about the WSL male Goosander, I was frustrated. The family soon heard my feelings and told me to dash off between main and dessert and when I did only to find the fisherman's car park gate locked added annoyance and extra time.
I parked at main car park and ran/fast walked to WSL, South end, but no sign, I continued up the inside edge, viewing at the bend, still no sign. I walked to a fishing swim where I could view the whole North section, but no sign.
I called Trev to see if he was on site, he wasn't and couldn't get there and as I was saying I only had another 90 seconds then had to leave, when the male Goosander flew left to right about 1 foot above the water, then gaining height at the far end and then up and away, losing it behind trees it is possible it could have gone to BSL, but I had no time to check and left right then at 14:24, feeling very lucky indeed.

Am grateful to Steve Day for allowing me to use his picture, how fine are male Goosander?!

Not as cold as expected

Mid morning quick visit to LFGP the paths had thawed slightly, proving the temperature did rise slightly since last night, the visit produced 1 Golden Plover amongst the 360+ Lapwing, 2 Meadow Pipit briefly at the lake edge, 100+ Teal, 150+ Wigeon, 1 m Goldeneye, then as myself and Alan went to leave 2 Skylark over West, prompting Alan to say he had heard 2 before today, either way the park now on 79, me 78.

Friday, 18 January 2013

More waders

No new species, but my dusk visit tonight confirmed my expectations that Snipe gather on LFGP the same day snow falls, with no fewer than 34 spread along the Eastern lake edge and I expect more were hidden. I couldn't see any Golden Plover, but with 250+ Lapwing present in the snow, it is highly possible they were there.
Lapwing, Snipe, Teal & Wigeon LFGP 18th Jan 2013

Waders at LFGP

I visited LFGP last night and could barely see a flock of about 40 Golden Plover, so I ran in this morning as the snow was starting, to see the flock circling low and dropping out of sight into the longer grass of the nearby landfill cell. Despite scoping for several minutes, I could not see them.
I quickly scanned the lake edge and could just make out 2 Dunlin in with the Lapwing, but suddenly they all flew to the South, then circled back a few moments later, by which time it was snowing so hard, I couldn't really see much, but the Dunlin could still bewith them?

LFGP 18th Jan As snow was setting in
2 wader year ticks at LFGP this week should encourage any patcher to check their wetland sites out and I remain optimistic we will get a Curlew, or maybe a Ruff like Eton had this week and intend to keep my dusk visits going to try and connect with Woodcock.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Siberian Chiffchaff no show

My friend Ian came to see our 'showy' Sibe and sadly we, nor anyone else visiting today could find it.
Lets hope it is still around and shows up again soon.
Steve just told me he saw a pale Chiffchaff under the A329 motorway bridge heading in the direction of the George pub, so perhaps I'll have time to check that out later or tomorrow.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Bittern didn't let us down

I arrived at WSL for Bittern catch up and met Richard P and Steve already there, also present were 3 young ladies from Reading Uni eager to see our Bittern. Richard and Steve left early so the pressure was on me to find our bird. A kingfisher had just shown for the 4 of us,  then 6-7 more co-student ladies arrived and we got a reasonable view of a Water Rail as it flew quite close past us.
One of the girls spotted some movement and I quickly got the scope onto our Bittern, providing okay views until dark, when all the ladies left very happy.

Siberian Chiffchaff

I had intended to go to LFGP to check of Golden Plovers had lingered from yesterday, but I forgot my wellies and decided to look for the Siberian Chiffchaff again. It was on show almost immediately and despite the struggle I even got a shot, needing a tiny adjustent of contrast. As before nearby were the Common Chiffchaff, 4-5 Goldcret and 2 Wren.

Siberian Chiffchaff - Sandford Lake 15th Jan
Steve walked along just as Adam texted to say he'd just driven by Sainsburys in Winnersh and there were at least 13 birds present, so off we went and found 15 in the Alder above the exit on King Street Lane, feeding on the rose hips.

11 of 15 Waxwing

Monday, 14 January 2013

Smew or Curlew any day now

Based on historic records, we should be looking out for Smew and Curlew for the next 3 weeks.

Golden Plover at LFGP

It is almost a predictable occurance that in early January, if it snows then Golden Plover show up on the landfill. Today being no exception, Richard texted to say 30 were there 10:20.
Trev and I joined him there to admire and double check the total and I took this lovely record shot, before we headed off to dip the Black Throated Diver at QMR.

At least we saw the Long-tailed Duck, 4 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and an adult Mediterranean Gull.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Pallas's shows immediately

What a beauty, it showed around 08:25 and immediately entered Berks, above our heads and then showed for very well for 2 minutes at the base of some willows, showing clearly it is a Pallas's and not a Yellow Browed.
The Barn Owls were showing pretty well 10 mins before that and a nice male Goosander flew over Trev and I as we walked back to our cars.
Feeling lucky we went back to DP to see the Siberian Chiffchaff and found it in 5 minutes, mostly frequenting the fallen Oak in the old Emm Brook backwater, showing brilliantly and keeping next to the waters edge nearly all the time.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Pallas's Warbler offsite

The great thing about a blog is you can say what you like....So I will.
I can't wait til tomorrow to hopefully see the Pallas's Warbler photographed at Moor Green today, will there be a Yellow Browed too, or are we all less talented than we want to believe?
We shall see, but either way, my feelings are that those people who chose today to publish photos of it taken nearly a week ago, but only now proclaim it's real identity, are ......untrustable and likely to be the types inclined to hoax and make up stories.
If we all see it tomorrow, I guess few if any will care either way.

Offsite again

With so many good birds off park in Berks, I decided I should try and see some of them at QMR. On arrival the outlook didn't look so great, just 1 observer out of over 200 claiming the Buff Bellied Pipits, but I went on anyway and en route a report came in that both were in view on the SW side.
But in a few moments it became evident that they were mobile and now had left again, but like many others I lingered and after 30 mins, someone got 2 brown dots in the scope, running around the puddles of rough ground about 1km to the SE.
To be frank it was laughable, that 90-100 birders spread out and discussed the distant birds as Buff Bellied Pipits, at that range they could have been any pipit and no-one would have been any the wiser.
I thought this is dumb and knew that Welley Road ran past the rough ground everyone was scoping, so left, drove there, stopped in the driveway before the lights, just as a van pulled up outside the gates, so asked the driver if it was okay to stop there, he said "no problem, come in if you like".
So I did and in moments so did 10+ other birders who followed and we all had brilliant views of both birds.
Moral of the story, don't be dumb and try and tick birds from a kilometre away, when you can see them from 90 yards!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Siberian Chiffchaff?

After seeing posts from PBT asking the question if LGL's photo of the Sandford Chiffchaff was Siberian, I went to have a look late morning and found the candidate immediately. It was obviously dull grey olive above, very pale below, quite bright olive along the flight feathers and tail, black legs, short bill, fairly marked supercillium, but no brown hues to ear coverts. All in all, to my inexperienced eyes, a pretty probable Siberian.
This became even more likely when the after said bird flew off towards Lavell's, a normal Chiffchaff appeared in the same spot.
The Portuguese chap 'Lewis' took several shot of both and I am eagerly awaiting his photos, so I can share them to whomever takes an interest.
I stood chatting to AJ in the layby and a Grey Wagtail went over, so also added a year tick in the process, so that was nice.
Later a dusk visit to Lavell's produced no birds of note and again I left before the Barn Owl jumped out of the box, as mentioned by Jake Bishop on BB tonight.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

A rare view of Cetti's Warbler

Whilst waiting for Bittern at WSL tonight, I heard the contact call of Cetti's to our right and saw movement at the base of the second nearest Ash, I pointed it out to Steve and Bob and suddenly up it jumped in full view on to a low branch, then even more obviously onto bramble, before diving down. Probably the best view in a couple of years, maybe more. In contrast, the Bittern  barely showed at all.
At the car park field, a handful of Redwing flew by, I heard a very brief call of what was possibly Mistle Thrush before deciding it was too cold to stay longer without a wool hat, so maybe tomorrow I'll stick around.

Life list predictions

I have updated my top 5 life list predictions and have gone very high tech for this, using a slide rule, scrutinised solar and lunar charts, read horoscopes, done tarot cards, meditated, consulted a medium and used numerology to factor in all variables I can think short I have made a complete guess!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

No need to panic yet

Other than a failed attempt for dusk at LFGP for Woodcock along the path, I haven't been around. Today Steve found a second Chiffchaff at Sandford and Grey Wagtail at the Bader Way bridge, so at least the DP list went up on today to 76.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

1 to go to be level

My visit under the Bader Way bridge was of course successful for year ticking Feral Pigeon, so I went on up the West side alongside The Moors, seeing Bullfinch and then a Chiffchaff, a browner individual than the Sandford bird, but sadly just for a few seconds and despite working the area for a good hour, did not see it again.

Pre walk, walk

Before walking my mums dog, I decided I'd dash into Bittern Hide and see if the Lesser Redpolls were around and 3 were feeding on the Nyger feeders and 4 Pheasant underneath. So 2 easy year ticks in 1 minute. Now for a walk down the bottom of Bader Way where numerous Feral Pigeon hang out under the bridge.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Late afternoon additions

I got to Sandford around 15:30 thinking I would be too late for the Chiffchaff reported there for the last 2 days, but it was there chasing insects, like 2 Goldcrest nearby. I heard Treecreeper for the year too.
Onward to WSL for Bittern again, also Cetti's called there, then a count of Goldeneye on BSL, 3 (1m) and a second count at Sandford increased from 30 mins before to 17 (6m), so 20 in total was the highest count in early Jan since 2007. There were also 13 Great Crested Grebe visible on BSL.
Interesting report from Marek of roosting Little Egret on BSL smaller island, also reporting 2 at LFGP.
I went on to Lavell's for a glimpse of Barn Owl and it was a very brief glimpse, plus a brief call from Tawny Owl, puts me on a quite healthy 71 of 75.
I want to clean up tomorrow and get Feral Pigeon, Pheasant, Lesser Redpoll, if possible connecting with Coal Tit and perhaps adding Grey Wagtail.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Patch prediction competition

Whilst trawling a few Twitter pages I came across on old birding acquaintance's page and was amused by his competition and prize.
Am thinking we patchers of DP need to do the same, Buttons are great

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Dusk impatience

I said goodbye to Trevor saying "I'll try another night" and 8 seconds later he shouted it is leaving the box, but before I could return in time, the Barn Owl was gone. Another night it will be. Meantime Roger and Steve both saw Chiffchaff along Sandford's back water, hopefully that will be there tomorrow.

Mistle Thrush etc

I went looking for Coal Tit along the old Colemansmoor Road section from the aviation museum to Sandford Mill, but could not hear any. Instead I had c10 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Goldcrest, Nuthatch and a few other tits.
On to MAC where I heard a Pied Wagtail, with sailing on, all the ducks were absent and I went on to DP Centre for another go at House Sparrow, but they eluded me for a while, instead I found a Mistle Thrush on the golf course, plus c20 Fieldfare, 2-3 Redwing and 2 Green Woodpecker. The House Sparrow called as I drove along Davis Street, at the temporary lights. Now on 67 from the 73 known to have been recorded, but not including Grey Wagtail, Tawny Owl, Skylark, or Great Black-backed Gull.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Bittern reliable as ever

We have had annual wintering Bittern without fail since 27th Jan 2002 and this has involved over 33 birds, of which I have seen at least 31 of. So today's bird was kind of expected, guaranteed, so to speak and as the two other good friends of mine said "how come nobody else is here?" my only answer is "I guess it's too easy to get Bittern at DP now, so people leave it until the weekends?". Who knows.
This Bittern is a contrast of much extensive dark centres to feathers of body plumage, but paler brown overall, no rufus tones and may even be a returning bird?
I joined Brian for a Barn Owl wait, but got bored just after the Snipe called as it departed Tern scrape Brian scored about 20 minutes after I left.
My main off site news was at 17:10 as I got out of my car after pulling in my drive, I heard a large flock of geese passing over, even seeing 100+ silhouetted birds moving SW/SSW at no more than 250/300 feet, by the noises they were making, I would say they were Pink-footed Geese, probably 200+, which if proven right with any flock turning up anywhere between here and Hampshire, will be amazing.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

2013 start

Managed to get out by 08:20 and get Nuthatch calling in the MAC car park within moments, Greylag called over BSL, 4 Ring Necked Parakeet over, a Reed Bunting, Little Grebe from Bittern Hide, 3 later LFGP and 1 WSL, meant good numbers for time of year. Then Cetti's called way back on main island. Moving onto LFGP 4-5 Meadow Pipit was nice, then Little Egret over Lavell's towards LFGP concluded a quite good 2.5 hours. Later I picked up Fieldfare on golf course and Kingfisher WSL, but left before Bittern showed.