Monday, 29 April 2013

Cuckoo at last

My son was awake very early today and at 04:45 I decided it was pointless trying to nod off again, so had a cuppa and went out just after 5 and sure enough on arrival could hear Cuckoo from the layby.
The breeze was cold as I marched down to LFGP and on arrival at the gate realised it was too dark for me to see without my reading glasses to unlock the padlocks, I took pictures with my iphone on flash and zoomed in to figure out which barrel needed rotating and despite it taking 2-3 attempts was soon unlocked and in the hide.
A lone Common Sandpiper, 2 Common Tern seemed to be it, until a male Mandarin went over calling low North. Reed Warbler never stopped calling and neither did the Cuckoo, but it wasn't until I got back to my car before I saw it.
In Lavell's car park a female Mandarin circled over calling heading low East, then towards the balancing pool, but then round towards Lavell's, convincing me I should check Tern scrape....I needn't have bothered, there was nothing to see. Sandford had the pair of Oystercatcher and same pair of Shoveler.
I did a comparison of my list by 30th April 2012 and was on 122, so even though the year is going really well, I am 5 behind! Okay, add Lesser Whitethroat and Little-ringed Plover sooner or later, but I need some waders and a passage raptor soon to catch up, not forgetting LSW!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

April highs

With todays work party taking priority I wasn't out to see the 3 Cuckoo Trev saw at 07:30 over LFGP, a Teal was still present when we arrived to clear the SW corner weeds and willow, plus give the shingle island a rake up, with an attempt to make a few nesting spots an inch or 3 higher by pushing shingle into mini piles.....hard bloomin work, but nowhere near as hard trying to row back against the breeze, I'm told it's all technique.
Anyway, Saturday all I had just an hour and had a second summer Great Black-backed Gull over NW, 2 Common Sandpiper and 1 Teal on LFGP, heard a couple of Reed and Garden Warbler around Lavell's, 1 Linnet over calling, then 30-40 Swallow, House & Sand Martin over BSL.
What I missed was a Raven, Mandarin along the Loddon and allegedly Ring-necked Parakeet somewhere, all in all, if we take all these as genuine sightings, which is fair, then the new April highest ever species count is 112, with 3 days left, we might even add another wader species yet.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Offsite county tick

No question was I going for the Bonapart's Gull on Hosehill, here are a few shots;


An earlier start today, out at LFGP by 07:30, not much to speak of though, 1 female Teal, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Common Sandpiper. So off to Sandford, usual pair of Oystercatcher, 4 Shoveler, a pair looking like they were prospecting the area, 2 males following them bobbing their heads. 5 Common Tern, 1 Gadwall.
On past Middle Marsh to BSL where 3 Nightingales sang, as did plenty of Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler and Cetti's showed briefly, another calling nearby, several Sedge Warbler, another Reed Warbler on the West bank point and a few short calls of a certain other species.
A look across the lake and at last a handful of hirundines, 10+ Swallow, 2 Sand Martin, 2 House Martin, 2 Swift. Cuckoo is proving elusive for me at the moment, as is LRP and Lesser Whitethroat, so I remain 5 behind the park.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

I can't believe I did it

Okay time to fess up, I went on Radio Berks and when Anne Diamond asked me to imitate a bird song, I went for it and gave a bad Nightingale and an even worse can listen to the horror from roughly 2:39 minuites in on this link until 30th April
I have nothing more to say

Record shot of the month

I nearly forgot to post the Wheatear shot I took at LFGP about a week ago, its priceless, but in my opinion still obviously a Wheatear.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Two more

I missed the Cuckoo again, but we saw 2 Swift drifting North East of Lavell's and the landfill, then at Teal Hide we could hear Reed Warbler.
My predictions based on previous years suggest I should get a minimum of 8 more birds, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Little-ringed Plover, Cuckoo, Lesser Whitethroat, Yellow Wagtail and Spotted Flycatcher, all going well, a few more waders, terns and passerines may grace our patch.
The year list is now 120 for the park, 116 for me, a total so far of 107 for the month, 2nd highest ever and with 6 days left, we might beat the 109 record, by adding Ring-necked Parakeet, Garganey, other Terns, Whinchat, one of the above mentioned waders, or Whimbrel, Curlew, Dunlin....fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Post Script

I just read our ringers Monday dawn ringing report and found out Cuckoo arrived then, not today.
Tonight Reed Warbler was calling softly at the West end of the WSL reeds (Marek), but not for us, instead we had 1 Hobby, 3 Nightingale, 1 Common Sandpiper and lots of bats.

New year ticks

A walk today, well more of dog poo bag clearance on my part all the way from Sandford to the fisherman's car park was rather pleasant on the birds front. Nightingales in full song, showing fairly well, all manners of warblers in full song, but no sign of Lesser Whitethroat, or Reed Warbler, the latter reported 2 days ago at WSL, was the report genuine? I don't know.
On the return walk 2-3 Hobby were over the viewpoint, Steve reporting 4 a little later.
I left feeling very good about myself for clearing up, I felt I had done my bit to discourage others repeating the behaviour...we'll see.
Steve had Cuckoo at Sandford so I should have felt gripped off, but didn't due to a find which may be revealed in due course, depending on if it stays, circumstances and if people behave when news does go out.
So the park is 119 for the year (= 4th highest with 2006) the month is 105 second highest ever (109 in 2003). Good stuff with Lesser Whitethroat and Swift both guaranteed. I'm on 114, which is allegedly 1 more than the total species count for all of 2001, but I doubt that can be right!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Miss two, tick one

The first Little-ringed Plover showed for a while at Tern scrape before I got there, but no sign at LFGP, 2 Wheatear did show rather briefly on distant vents. Garden Warblers a plenty in song and showy at various locations on Lavell's. Now I read Reed Warbler was at WSL, but I didn't have time to go there today.
Later Hobby re-appeared and I saw 2 over Sandford and either the same 2 over Lavell's car park, or could have been another 2? Masses of Buzzard and Kites up today too.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Lets 'Start' again

After missing 2 species this morning, the third I could not, so dashed back to see Paul's male Redstart in the usual car park field haunt, showing well when we kept our distance. A Nuthatch sang to the East. On to Lavell's where a Garden Warbler sang continually just before John's bench. No sign of the Hobby for now.

My Redstart shots are okay!

Missing today's arrivals but happy watching Nightingale

I was out 06:45 checking Lavell's car park, MAC where a Linnet went over North, checking the golf course, then off to Sandford and BSL looking for Lesser Whitethroat, without success, but one was found later beyond the bailey bridge, with someone also finding Garden Warbler near John's bench.

I took some minutes to photo and enjoy Nightingale, taking plenty of shots of this showy bird;

Friday, 19 April 2013

Worth running for

I completed a fast sweep of the car park field and BSL sailing club with 10 Willow Warbler being the only notable thing, on to LFGP where even less with 2 Wigeon, 1 Teal, 1 Lapwing and 2 Common Sandpiper.

As I left the hide Brian called me with excitement in his voice, "I've got a female Pied Flycatcher at the picnic area" he said, "on my way, ETA 10 minutes" I said.

I ran up the gold course strip from the MAC and after a minutes wait, she appeared, looking beautiful, only the third we'd seen and the first female. There have been other reports 4-5 others reported, but I am still trying to investigate the authenticity of 1, or 2 of these claims.

Happily this female perched long enough to allow a couple of record shots;

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Hail and rain brings jewels

Yesterday I got up at 06:30 and saw a Common Sandpiper at BSL, 2 were reported at LFGP later, 1 of which I saw very late afternoon. This marked 107 for my year list.

Today Geoff's text saying he had Arctic Tern at Henley Road GP, was all I needed to get me out in a hurry, arriving at BSL 13:45, it began chucking it down with rain, blowing a howling gale, turning quickly to hail and thunder, but undeterred I used the Segway charging point as my protection and peered out, immediatley finding a 1st winter Little Gull on the East side and shortly after 2 Arctic Tern cruising the West side, but were barely visible in the conditions.

After 30-40 mins the rain passed and the Little Gull came to the East side and allowed a few photos, as did 2 White Wagtail, which landed briefly on the pontoon.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Buckling under pressure

I cracked when Richard texted to say Nightingale and Whitethroat were both in, I cycled down and got great views of 1 of 2 Nightingales, then found the first Sedge Warbler and got poor views of the Whitethroat, but 3 year ticks in 20 minutes can't be bad. Lots more potential out there today, Lesser Whitethroat and Swift might show up later? Richard also told me a lady walking her dog heard the Nightingale last night, which is fair enough.
Untold Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow Warbler out there today!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Possibles and probables

At least one person shares my view that the small, dark billed tern, is still a Common. Same person shared the small percentage doubt that my probable Mealy, might be just a Lesser, all stuff like not fully white greater covert wing bar and not all white background to back, etc, but certainly a hard bird to call.
When is a possible a probable and vice versa?
A possible for me is a poor view of something and is barely worth mentioning, unless it is really rare and might still be present. A probable is either a contentious bird, or views that pointed 90-99% likelihood, but just a small doubt, because for example it moved too quick to get everything on it (like my Hawfinch 13th Oct 2010)
So a possible harrier sp today, stays a 'possible', because for one in this instance 'sp' translated to no features at all were seen, or decribed so far.
Yesterday a Hobby was seen over LFGP, an early bird for sure, but we know the observer so it is a sound record. Park is now on 107, 4 ahead of me again!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Lovely morning, but nothing new seen by me!

The monthly walk at DP was nice, lots of Blackcap and Chiffchaff, 5+ Willow Warbler, 10-15 Swallow, c10 Sand Martin, 1 possible House Martin, Bullfinch, 2+ Common Tern, Shoveler, 4 Goldeneye still, 3 Oystercatcher, 3+ Skylark LFGP, but one bird that escaped us was Geoff's Red-Legged Partridge seen in front of Teal Hide, a rare visitor, no longer annual.
On my nyjer feeder at home again today was a good candidate female Mealy, here are the best 4 photos I could get in the 2 minutes she was present.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Willow Warblers galore

From the moment I arrived at the car park Willow Warbler was singing, another at the bottom of the car park field, 2 possibly 3 more along the Loddon. Martin counted 5 around BSL, so probably into double figures across the whole park, from none yesterday. Richard had seen Coal Tit a few minutes before I got there and I picked it up with other tits moving along the East hedgerow of the car park field, Blackcap was singing in several places too.

I thought I'd pop in my Common Tern pic from yesterday;

At LFGP a few Swallow and Sand Martin were trickling thru, several heading South, then Richard picked up a male Wheatear on the far landfill which moved slowly towards the back ridge as we left, a brilliant bad record shot opportunity if ever there was;

Paul mentioned he had a Whitethroat up by the bailey bridge, just off park boundaries, but noteworthy.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Early Common Terns

I eventually got out at 13:00, a quick look at Sandford, the pair of Oystercatcher still prospecting for a nest site, heading straight on to LFGP, just 14 Wigeon, but interestingly another pair of Oystercatcher, which mated shortly after I arrived.
Shortly after I picked up at least 5 displaying Buzzard high up, no waders at all, a good scan of the landfill, but no Wheatear, pipits, or wagtails.
A moulting Common Tern arrived and landed in front of the hide and with heavy rain looming I headed off, but left my phone behind, just as well as I didn't leave soon enough and ran back to the hide in heavy rain.
By then 2 Common Tern were now resting on the shingle island, 4 Swallow followed the rain, but best of all 2 Linnet went over low towards Sandford Farm, only the second record this year.
Looking back at previous records, the Common Terns this year are the fourth earliest ever arrivals and given the cold weather and wind direction we've been having for the past few weeks, I find that remarkable.

100 for the year

Thursday morning I enjoyed Redwing singing, 5+ Chiffchaff, still 30 Wigeon LFGP, 20 Teal, but the gull I photo'd the other day showed again and revealed inner primaries that made it a Herring. On the walk back past the Mill a Nuthatch sang briefly and headed off into the copse.

Later on Steve called to say a chap he'd passed said there was an Arctic Tern on BSL, I was tied up but expressed my doubts of it being Arctic for the time of year. Somewhat later I got brief views of the Common Tern on Sandford but it was very mobile, but nonetheless was my 100th species for 2013 here. I also admired the Oystercatchers prospecting the islands, despite the water rising again undermining nesting potential, one hopes the chose the newly exposed higher island.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Migration underway

A quick walk this morning, soon stretched to longer than intended, 2 Sand Martin, 1 Swallow BSL, 10+ Redwing, 1 Fieldfare Lavell's, I was feeling all rlaxed and took a picture of a ringed Reed Bunting.

Then I decided I should look at the feeders and the female Brambling I missed showed up near the back allowing me a couple of shots.

On the walk down to LFGP, 2 more Sand Martin and a Swallow went NNW, another Swallow when I arrived, nothing to speak of at LFGP, other than the obvious lack of Wigeon.

My friend called me after at home saying he'd had views of a wader going North, but not got enough on it to id it, am hoping he can get to LFGP and check if it dropped in there?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Those gulls again

Those who have followed for a while know I am not that great on gulls, okay, but not great and as for finding a Yellow-legged Gull, it has been pitiful. And perhaps it remains that way, but today I found a gull that took my attention and got records shots that appear to match a 1st summer bird on the web.
My shots;

It looks very like the bird on this link;
So for the moment it is looking quite good for Yellow-Legged Gull to finally be added to the year list....we'll see. Other than that it was amazingly quiet, just 7 Wigeon, 10+ Teal, 2 Little Egret, Oystercatcher heard, a brief song from Skylark and nowt else, but Siskin and Redwing on the walk back