Saturday, 30 March 2013

Best birds & other March top scores

Today it was obvious how high the water had been this month, an distinct 'tideline' showing on the main island reed bed.

I will look back at March 2013 as the month of one day ducks, fly over Goosander 10th, male Pintail 11th, female Smew 14th, but at least the pair of Mandarin stayed a few days.

The month species total is on 92 and 100 for the year, both 3rd highest scores, the rankings are;

Year List by 31st March
106 in 2012
102 in 2011
100 in 2013
99 in 2003
98 in 2002 & 2008
97 in 2004 & 2010

Month of March top five totals
95 in 2011
93 in 2006 & 2012
92 in 2010 & 2013
87 in 2004
86 in 2005

Today it was of course freezing again, 2 Little Egrets on Tern scrape were nice, one in splendid full summer frills, with a fair few Red Kites and Buzzard up displaying.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Another Pheasant in garden

Yesterday I was pretty busy with my family, but it was a good morning....the usual male Blackcap was around from 07:30, plus all the other regular Goldfinch, Greenfinch, 5-6 Chaffinch, etc, etc.

After dropping my son to nursery and wife to shops I dashed home to change for a walk to LFGP, but on arrival found a male Pheasant on the side wall, which soon moved to the roof of the shed.

3 Pheasants in 2 years

I had a coffee admiring the Pheasant and looked over to the feeders, as I have posted before, we have had regular Lesser Redpolls, but this time a pale bird sat on the sunflower hearts, on inspection it was an obvious Mealy, either female or 1st winter male. I had my scope but tripod in the car, so tried to position 2 kitchen chairs to balance the scope, but too late as the bird had vanished.

Slow to update things

I have lapsed a bit on updates, but shall use the excuse of the issues I am having with updating my year list and viewing photos on blogs. Before about a week ago when I clicked on photos it would bring up a row of thumbnails, but now it just zooms in and no thumbnails are shown, plus you have to hit the back button to get out the photo section. I have no idea whether this is Firefox, or Blogger?
Anyway, I have been out, at dusk on the 27th with no sign of Bitterns at WSL, still 9 Goldeneye (6 male) on BSL, another on Sandford.
A very quick walk down to outside Ron's hide, provided a brief but good view of Woodcock, quickly moving left to right at 18:55, at about half tree height, probably looping over towards Lodge Wood. This is so late and must be due to the cold weather.
Yesterday I visited LFGP mid am, but counting the 9 Goldeneye on Sandford (5 male), found 7 more on LFGP (4 male), 16 is a very good count for late March!
Finally today, Marek called me to say a male Garganey was asleep on the North spit of LFGP, fantastic news I said and despite a short wait while we juggled family things, it was still asleep for my short trip to year tick it, putting me nicely on 98 out of 100.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


A very quick BSL sailing club scan revealed a few Pochard, at least 22 pairs of Goldeneye and 300-400 BH Gulls. As usual a dog walker was using the beach to throw a ball for her spaniel and after a few glares on my part I decided to quit and go to a quieter spot.Parking by the Lavell's yellow gate, I took a few arty shots of the iceicles produced by cars splashing throught the freezing flood waters.

The Loddon has dropped quicker than I expected and on my walk down this morning around 09:00 the pair of Mandarin flew off over Lavell's just before the green bridge. A few Redwing just beyond it, around the feeders, Reed Bunting and all the usual tits.

At LFGP the water was still very high, with Wigeon distributed all over the lake, a handful of Teal, 200, or so Black Headed Gull, 3 imm Herring, 2 LBB's, 1 Common, 4 Lapwing, then a pair of Redshank came in from the North and moved noisily around the NE corner. A lone Sand Martiin shot up the SE corner.

About to leave I did a last pan around and saw a bird beyond Lodge Wood, but it was heading West so lost it immediately, I waited for it to emerge on the other side, but a crow appeared, then the bird, as suspected it was a Peregrine and was now heading SW over Lodge Wood, getting closer. It kept going and went SW, left of the hide, about 150 yards North, by size appearance I would say a female.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Re post - Migrants still arriving despite blizzard conditions

I have been experiencing a few photo problems, where the series doesn't load, so am attempting a re-post.

Saturday, I joined some others at LFGP hoping to see a suspect gull, but instead saw our first Swallow flying around in the awful snowy grey conditions. In some ways it seemed tragic to see the first one for the year circling the lake picking who knows what off the surface in pelting snow, but I guess they are much hardier than we know, we can only hope so.

23rd March heavy snow LFGP

First Swallow 23rd March 2013 LFGP

Shortly after, a pair of Mandarin which had been seen along the Loddon earlier, then flew over South calling, making it 2 year ticks in about an hour.....lucky me!

Later outside my house our second Pheasant in 2 years was somehow discreetly wandering around the neighbours driveway in front.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Park still adding new duck year ticks in March

Brian yet again texted to say he had a male Mandarin fly over Sandford calling, heading North, but could not relocate it. This is generally the case, they often keep going or disappear into ditches, or hidden pools. Anyway, for now I slip 1 further behind, but await a Blackcap, Wheatear, Swallow, but lets face it, with Saturday mornings weather and the continuing cold, it will most likely by April before that happens now, so I'll look for Brambling and more ducks in the meantime.
My garden 23rd March

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Dusk visit profitable for two of us

Brian called me to say he had just flushed a Bittern at WSL, so quite a nice late one, plus 3 if not 4 Water Rail calling there. I was headed the other way to LFGP, marching down the squelchy path, I arrived at 18:48 and in 1 minute a Woodcock shot past downstream like it was shot out of a canon. I believe this to be the latest winter record.
However, there is a dubious mid April record of one seen and it calling in 1989, but as with many nineties records, no initials are given and to be frank I have to ask why would a Woodcock be present let alone calling outside breeding habitat?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Migrants 'flood' in

Ah, spring is here....yeah right, more like get ready for even more serious flooding as we brace ourselves for even more rain and another work party flooded off.
Despite all this on a very grey cold Wednesday, Gray called me whilst I was shopping to say 5-6 Sand Martin were at LFGP, the first for the year, so as soon as I could I shot down and around 17:00 I was watching at least 5 moving around the lake, keeping low no doubt trying to find insects to survive. As I scanned I found a Redshank asleep on the East bank only visible as a Redshank when a Lapwing made it move for a moment.
For fun I grabbed a shot of this and for even more fun, tried to get a pic of a passing Sand Martin, here are my results;

I was only one day out on my Sand Martin prediction date, but 5 out on Redshank. But a new March high count of 97 with various other species to expect, means lots of fun to come.

Also tonight 20 Pied Wagtail on the East lake edge, Little Grebe nearby, keeping an eye out for other pipits.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

So much flooding

Good grief, I managed to get down to LFGP the water at the top of my wellies, a pair of Grey Wagtails was about the only thing of note, but great to know they are paired up.
I took record shots of the water levels, it has been much higher before, but perhaps not so regularly.

We are on 95 species for the for the month, equal to the record as far as I know, but should expect Sand Martin, Redshank, Blackcap, maybe Swallow, Little-ringed Plover, Willow Warbler, possibly a passing Brambling still

Saturday, 16 March 2013

American Wigeon Hybrid after all

After the light got better this morning, it dawned on me that our bird was not pure, it's head lacked the grey and green tones, forehead probably a little too creamy and flanks diffused with grey at the back.
A nice bird and a learning exercie all in one, hopefully my pictures show;

Friday, 15 March 2013

What did I say earlier about it being quiet?

I will stand by my observation that the Wigeon count was down, not that I counted, it just looked like quite a few less than the circa 175 we have had for some time.
But then my lovely friend Marek calls me around 17:45 to say "I have a male American Wigeon, but the light is terrible". I said "I'm on my way".
And so it was..... both terrible light and a male American Wigeon, captured in all its glory below. First for the park...of course. Shame I moved it to 9th on my life list predictions page ;0)

Warmer but quiet

Today the wind was more or less due West, so warmer at 8.5 degrees, it was not the early morning start I had planned, but either way, no further sign of the Smew on Sandford, Lavell's or LFGP today. At LFGP the Wigeon numbers were down, less than 150 BH Gulls, 4 Goldeneye flew in from DP, a pipit, probably Meadow flew over the landfill, c50 Fieldfare far side too, 2 Redwing in the hedgerow, Goldcrest too, a singing Siskin outside the hide. Other than 2 Lapwing no other waders.

At Lavell's a singing Lesser Redpoll above the feeders, 2 visible Snipe, 18 Teal asleep, but lovely, as I left a Little Egret was feeding in the Emm Brook.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Smew makes a late appearance

Despite my earlier walk and finding nothing, Geoff texted to say "Smew redhead LFGP", only problem I was pushing Ethan on the swings. About 20 minutes later I was watching this fantastic little sawbill, moving around the NW corner of the lake with Teal, then on its own behind the shingle island, but never coming too near the hide. We left it around 12:10 still happily preening and swimming back to the NW corner.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Off park again yesterday, back today

Yesterday shortly before 10am, Geoff called me from Henley Road GP's saying he was pretty sure he had a Great White Egret, I got ready and was there in about 15-20 mins, soon enjoying a brilliant full summer bird, plumes, green loral area, pink and grey legs and bill, not that my pic does it justice.

It sat sunning itself as I called Ian Lewington to confirm it for the Oxford boys, then Hugh but as we spoke it flew up over the heronry, circled twice then slowly into the NNE wind away to the right, up the lake it went, only gaining height slightly to go over the pylons, but lost behind the row of Oaks.

Sadly we could not relocate it at any of the Sonning Pits, but I guess it could still be around?

This was the 6th for Oxon.

I returned to DP today for 08:00 an as I got out the car could hear Coal Tit, I walked into Lavell's and heard 2 calling as I looked toward Sandford Mill. 2 Chased each other, a 3rd then 4th followed them, making this the hightest ever Coal Tit count at DP. All moved along the Sandford Lane hedgerow slowly but noisily.

At LFGP the sun was in my eyes, so I only stopped long enough to recount the Wigeon, 175+ still, 1 Shelduck, 15-20 Teal, 1 Common Gull, 1 Snipe. On to Bittern Hide, 4 more Snipe and 73 Pochard, topping up the feeders I left Richard and Tony to it.

Monday, 11 March 2013

More gull fun

My good friend Adam informs me there was nothing unusual in my gull photos today, but it was fun trying to capture worthy shots. Amazing how leg colour changes in certain light conditions.

Pintail worth the bitter weather

Geoff texted to say a male Pintail had just dropped in at LFGP, I was still heading back with the family from Surrey after picking up an ebay purchase. Within 20 minutes I was there admiring this less than annual visitor, in all his splendour, what a fine duck they are, perhaps I went a bit overboard with the record shots.....but I am not sure I've seen one here out of the water.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Cold, cold North wind

Despite the biting cold North wind I joined the monthly guided walk for an hour, having a baby son with chicken pox and being Mothers Day, didn't seem right to be out much longer.

For starters a lone pipit, presumably Meadow went over the car park, on BSL 3 male & 3 female Goldeneye, some Pochard and Tufted Duck, 1 Oystercatcher on the South end of the main island, 1-2 Common Gull, 2-3 Herring, but few Black-Headed.

In the bushes Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrest, a possible Blackcap, but too brief for one observer to be sure, a Little Egret with Grey Heron on Sandford, Treecreeper calling along the backwater.

At LFGP, all the usual, 3 more pipit sp over NW, but then a real surprise, especially on this bitter cold morning, an amazingly early lone House Martin, flying back and forth from the NE corner to midway along the East bank, no doubt frantically trying to find food. This is the earliest ever arrival by 12 days, the previous record set 22nd March 1992.

I marched quickly back via Bittern hide, nothing much to speak of.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Saturday catch up

Am sure I did get out since my last post, but nothing exciting must have happened, or I'd have mentioned it. So late afternoon today, I walked around the whole North end, Sandford, Heron's Water, WSL, BSL, car park field, Lavell's and LFGP. The full on rain yesterday pushed water levels up over 12" and the paths are very slippery and boggy yet again.
The highlights were, 4m+4f Goldeneye on Sandford, an Oystercatcher, 2 more flying off BSL, quite a few Fieldfare on the golf course, c150 Fieldfare over the landfill, 1 Mistle Thrush in car park field and again, or another on Lavell's, Nuthatch calling East of car park field and Adult Little Grebe + 2 Snipe Lavell's. In the log 5 Oystercatcher were seen today.
2 possible Great Black-backed Gulls North, 3 Goldeneye LFGP, c175+ Wigeon.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Redpoll in my garden was Lesser

And there's a surprise, but it returned and showed it's back, although the tertials do look rather white fringed, ah well let someone else tell me I'm wrong and I get a nice garden tick.

An early start

I was awake by 06:30 and thought I'd get out for an early walk, at Lavell's it was pretty quiet bar the Teal feeding avidly in the scrape. No sign of any Barn Owl though.
Onwards a loop round Sandford, Treecreeper singing nicely, then I inspected the good work by DP blocking off all access for people and dogs, to the old path on Sandford running parallel with BSL near the sailing club, just after I passed the MAC a Grey Wagtail went over heading that way and was only my second this year, showing how tricky this species is early in the year.
On my walk to LFGP a further 3 Treecreeper singing, so great to know they are doing well here, I then paused at the gate scanning downstream, only to get a brief glimpse of a Barn Owl quartering the meadow in between the Loddon river courses.
I scanned the LFGP lake edges for pipits in hope of Rock, but no joy and same story for an early LRP.... the earliest arrival ever was on this day in 1989!
Back at home a superbly bright Lesser Redpoll on my Nyger had me thinking could this be Mealy, am still not sure, it never showed it's back to help matters.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Warmest day so far in 2013

Such a beautiful morning, all the Pochard and Tufted Ducks looking so fine on Lavell's I snapped away trying to capture an essence of spring, the Lapwing were stunning, the Shoveler too, the Teal noisy, then all the ducks on LFGP came over and suddenly an Oystercatcher dropped in, then a second joined it.

Lots of raptors up today in the 15-16 degree sweltering heat, 5+ Buzzard, 10+ Red Kite, 1 Sparrowhawk, who knows what else passed over?
Later a short walk at the picnic area provided Mistle Thrush very near to the first bridge across the Emm Brook