Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Wader passage going strong

Arrived at LFGP 08:30 to find another Icelandica Black-tailed Godwit in the NE corner, allowing distant record shots, appeared to be a dark bird. Just 1 LRP, 2 Little Egret and then 4 Oystercatcher flew in from Lavell's direction.

Just before Geoff arrived I thought I heard Ringed Plover and then at 09:02 we heard then got onto one in flight over the NE bay, which circled twice, then off ESE, but returned circled again and off SE, then South, lost behind trees at 09:09. This is 127th species for the year, my 123rd.

As I type Geoff informs me another Dunlin has just joined the Godwit.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

July Snipe

Geoff called me around 09:15 saying he had 2 Snipe right in front of Ron's hide, but I was tied up and didn't get there until around 15:00, but as luck would have it 1 was still on show, albeit on the East first July record. The previous July records are;

31st 1981
21st 1989
17th 1994
22nd 2005

It would seem most are passing through, but as it is a secretive species, the evidence is rather anecdotal, but either way, it is rare in July and marks the 92nd species for this month.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

91 for the month

Richard emailed me to say a Common Gull was seen on LFGP yesterday, making it 91 for July. They are not common in July at all, 1 in July 2007, sorry no date for this one, 1/9th & 23rd 2003 Lavell's Tern Island and 1/26th 2002, are all the official records I have, but I expect it is overlooked, or unreported.

This morning 3 Teal and a Mandarin graced the SW corner for about 10 minutes, but all left North, 5 minutes apart.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

First Green Sandpiper of the autumn

My son provided the early morning wake up, so decided to dash down to LFGP and after 20 minutes at 06:47 I heard a Green Sandpiper, which came into view from the North and landed just to the left of the hide, but spooked immediately and flew ESE then veered South somewhere over the golf course and lost it around 06:51.

In the NE corner was an LRP and a Common Sandpiper, the Great Crested Grebes were finally off their nest, but no sign of any chicks.

Later I learnt that 3 Linnet were drinking on the waters edge of the East bank, but chased off by LRP's, this and the Green Sandpiper were also new for July.

I also saw Willow Warbler near the yellow gate on Lavell's, meaning we jumped to a new July high count of 90, still missing Nightingale and Ring-necked Parakeet.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Expecting waders and terns

A quick 09:15 trip to LFGP produced 3 Little-ringed Plover, a pair and another adult, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Oystercatcher, less than 20 Lapwing, 3 Little Egret and the usual Common Terns and BH Gulls.

With thunder rumbling to the SE as I type, I remain hopeful of other waders such as Wood and Green Sandpiper and maybe a Black Tern dropping in at BSL, where I did a 2 minute stop before coming home. As I got out of the car I could hear 2, probably 3 Nuthatch calling in the Willows near the humpback bridge and am confident this was a family of at least 3.

2 evenings ago, I visited LFGP and saw nothing new, but took an arty shot of the spangled sunlight through the trees opposite the recently trashed garden.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

All July records

I decided to spend an hour looking over all July records and compiled a list of all the species seen and in 10 year periods 1980 - 1989, 1990-1999 and 2000 - 2013.

I'll posting a printed version in Ron's Hide, but it is quite interesting, in that it is the 80's that has the highest total at 112, 90's lowest at 94 and 00's at 109, the latter including 2010 to now.

The grand total for all July's 1980 to 2013 is 135 and does not include possibles, but does include Goshawk (my record) and the unverified Water Rail breeding record in 1996.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

July Wheatear?

After we left the Dunlin yesterday, Geoff saw a small passerine land on the lake edge, got one record shot, then called those who had just left the hide back, only for it to fly and be lost immediately, before anyone could get onto it.

On seeing the photo today, it did look like a Wheatear in stance, but was just too far away to be 100% sure. There are just 2 July records 29th 1988 and 16th 1989, so this would have been a good one to secure.

Today, 2 LRP's LFGP, an Oystercatcher snuck in without us seeing it arrive, a lone Wigeon, which I had seen flying in from the South over BSL, also turned up at LFGP. 1 Little Egret on the mouth of the SE corner, another on Sandford, c10 House Martin and a few Swifts went over.

Friday, 19 July 2013

July Dunlin

I had only been in Ron's Hide for about 5 minutes when Brian called 'wader on the shingle island' quickly and easily identifiable as a nice summer plumage bird, keeping company with an LRP. 2 More LRP were on the East bank and the Dunlin and his/her friend kept bombing back and forth around the lake, allowing just a couple of record shot opportunities;

There have been 6 other July Dunlin, three of these in the last 10 years, 24th 2012, 6th 2010, 26th & 27th 2004, then all the way back to 20th 1989, 31st 1988, 15th 1983 & 21st 1981.

This was 87th species for July. Nightingale, Willow Warbler and Ring-necked Parakeet are no doubt present but unreported so far, plus we should very much expect a Green Sandpiper any day too, hopefully putting us on a new July highest count of at least 91, but also hoping for more waders, an early Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail, or Black Tern.

Also present at LFGP today was 1 Teal, 1 Shoveler, lots of Herring and LBB Gulls, many BH Gull and Common Tern chicks.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Third highest July month total

Even though the only unusual species have been Wigeon and Black-tailed Godwit, the park has hit 3rd = highest month total of 86. I'll update again tomorrow, but 2 other recent years scored the same, 89 being the highest ever.
And that is without Grey Wagtail, Green Sandpiper, Ring-necked Parakeet, Linnet, Cetti's Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, or Willow Warbler, so I find it bizarre the highest month total is so low.
I hope to do a few more earlier visits over the remainder of the month, so hope we can push thru to get into the 90's and maybe pick up something unexpected.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Islandica Black-tailed Godwit

Brian called to say, get here soon, the Black-tailed Godwit is in the SW corner, so I did and it was a very fine Islandica specimen;

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Very hot and not a lot

I did make it down for 20 minutes yesterday in an 'always going to fail' hope to see a harrier sp flying around LFGP, after Richard saw one with white rump, fly over Sandford and chased off North by Black-headed Gulls.

A visit to LFGP today, brought 1 Redshank, usual Lapwings, no sign of Common Sandpiper reported at 08:30, 1 Little Egret, 6-10 House Martin, Great Crested Grebe still with 4 eggs, lots of LBB and H Gulls and blue ringed Black-headed Gull, which was just too far to be 100% sure on the numbers, but we think XYAY, we are pretty sure X is right and A is right, but the 'Y's could be 9's?

Sadly we have another neighbour who in my opinion must go down as nature hater of the week, on arrival about 70 yards beyond the green bridge, the last garden had an excavator finishing off a total devastation of the river bank and all the Northern edge of their land and area that was very wild prior to today.

As if in defiance the lady of the house sat near the river, looking stuck up, what an incredible world we live in now, everywhere we look now so many people are too ignorant to give a damned thing about wildlife habitats! I guess we should think it lucky they did it now and not in April, May or June like the other idiots 2-3 doors downstream.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Teal review

Am on a roll and have spent 10 minutes looking back, it appears the first time we ever had over 100 birds was in the big freeze from late December 2008, all local birds were pushed in by icebound lakes on all but LFGP, part of BSL & WSL. This pushed the highest count to 112 on 1st Jan 2009 LFGP, this rose further to 130+/11th.

Then another big freeze in December 2009, pushed the highest count to 206/19th, this continued into Jan 2010, when numbers bounced around 150 to 200, but it wasn't until after some thawing that yet another new high count of 263/31st Jan 2010 with all the birds only on Lavell's & LFGP.

My conclusion is that it looks like LFGP is underpinning an average peak of about 100 birds Jan to Dec since 2009, so the future looks good as a winter species.

On another note in the 1999 bird report, there are sketchy details of Teal breeding on Lavell's, pair + 1 duckling 28th June. Anyone who knows anyone who was birding here then, please share any information you have because we have next to nothing, no initials, no pictures, no record in the Berkshire Bird Report.

Overall I feel Teal are on the up and almost a 'recorded in every month' species, albeit on one day in May and June, I expect returners by July nowadays and trust our development of the shallows at LFGP will only bring more and facilitate a smashing of the 300 barrier.

The end of the seaside sound around Woodley

I stopped briefly and took shots of the old Linpac site being demolished.

I am not convinced they waited until all the Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull chicks had fledged, so you can see them hanging out all around the work in progress.

Last night near to dusk I watched them circling the gardens surrounding mine and they were obviously catching insects, something I've not seen in larger gulls before. So if you want to see it, I reckon you have fews days left to do so and won't get a chance to see it again around Woodley, which is kind of a shame on one hand, but better for surrounding wildlife, like the Coot chicks I watched being eaten whole by a lone Herring Gull

Soon a new development of probably houses and lots of apartments will replace that derelict old pile of metal.........which was quite good for birds, such as Little Owl, Grey Wagtail and had Lesser Whitethroat one year.

Ducks beginning to appear

Brian had a Greenshank 08:20 but it had left before he entered the hide at LFGP, later around 10:00 we arrived and saw at least 8 eclipse plumage Wigeon loafing on the North spit, a Teal to their left, Shoveler and Gadwall in front.

No waders other than Lapwing, numerous larger gulls loafing on the shingle island, Kingfisher called and was seen briefly along the Loddon, no sign of any Oystercatcher chicks on Sandford.

Checking on previous Julys, Wigeon is quite rare with just 3 previous records, todays little flock being the largest first return group so far, no records for this month before 2002, so we are witnessing a fairly new trend:

1/6th July onwards 2002
2/15th July onwards 2005
6/14th July 2008

LFGP now holds the bulk of the wintering population of Wigeon and we get late stayers into May, but it is still Sandford that often acts as the 'Arivals' lounge for many of our early returning and passing ducks, when sailing is on, all the ducks mingle in together and make it hard to check them, plus they go into Eclipse.

As autumn gets under way and the now larger flocks of the Wigeon and Gadwall disperse to WSL, LFGP and BSL. At LFGP Wigeon have now become accustomed to it being safe to graze the landfill area, so numbers there have gone up from an average of 200, to about 350-400, but in December 2010, a large flock began gathering due to the total freeze up of all the other local lakes, pushing all the Wigeon to LFGP, 250/6th, then 375/9th, then a massive jump to 800/21st, peaking with 950-1000/28th, 850-900/30th.

In 2002 a flock of 71 Wigeon arrived on 18th September, in 2009 a flock of 83 arrived 15th September, both very high counts for the time of year. I'll go into recent Teal numbers another day!

Sandford has pulled Garganey again and again, they love the place in August, plus there are two long staying October and one even later November record, so just keep a keen eye on there all through to the winter!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Buzzing with feeding activity

An 08:00 visit to LFGP scored me Coal Tit heard half way to the green bridge, then at the hide of course met with bright sunlight directly into your face and still low enough to create much spangling of the water and cause havoc with attempts to carefully scan the whole East and North East lakes edges for waders.

4 eclipse Shoveler off the North spit and a lone LRP was all I could find, other than the usual Lapwing scattered all around the lake, with the SW corner water receding quite quickly, we may see the whole shelf without any water again, first time since July 2011. If it stays that way, we might still be commissioning Steve Thompson to profile the shelf into islets and gullies, providing much more ideal depths of water for more waders, herons, egrets and dabbling ducks.

I am keeping my eyes fixed on the NE and SW corners for a good wader and would love to finally see a Little Stint, there are only three reports;

8th July 1983 (Andrew Carmichael)
22nd Sept 1993 (Brian Uttley)
10th to 12th Sept 1995 (OU)

We have no initials, so it goes down 'Observer Unknown' (OU) for the claimed 1995 bird, no regulars recall any mention of it at the time, nor is there any mention in the Berkshire Bird Report, so this report has to remain unconfirmed.

That said we are well overdue our first Pectoral Sandpiper and I think LFGP's shallow edges will appeal to any such passing species, I hope for many types.

A walk on to the bailey bridge and lots of Whitethroat feeding young, on the return journey a Cuckoo called and I am not sure I've heard one this late before?

At Sandford a pair of adult Nuthatches were frantically gathering food for some minutes, before flying off towards Sandford Copse.

A lone Oystercatcher appears to have stopped looking for its young, very sad.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Tern ringing etc

Met up with Tim and Cath as planned, we got the boat out sharpish and they were soon on the right had raft,  3 Little Egret flew off towards Lavell's. Tim later posted that a total of 22 chicks were ringed, 15 chicks were on right, 7 more on the left hand raft, along with 30 Black Headed Gulls. Estimates for Common Tern chicks on other lakes are 3 Lavell's, 5-10 Sandford.

I had a quick scan and found another Little-ringed Plover was hanging out near the family of 4, there are 4 in the shot below;

At Lavell's Tern Scrape there were 2 adult Oystercatcher, the 3 Little Egret were preening, with the two juveniles having a squabble.

At Sandford one of the Oystercatcher flew in and stood on the big island calling loudly for a while, appearing to be looking for it's young, but it did not appear to go to a chick and flew off towards Lavell's again, so I fear they have lost both?

A female Tufted Duck appeared with 9 new young ducklings.

Migration under way

At LFGP yesterday mid morning, a family of 4 Little-ringed Plover were on the NE corner, the 2 juveniles were fully grown, so not from here unless they were somewhere around Lodge Wood Lake all this time?

A Common Sandpiper on the North spit and in the distance the first Teal of the autumn/summer.
The Tern chicks are quite big and will be ringed on Saturday morning, along with any catchable Black-headed gull chicks.

On Sandford one Oystercatcher chick remains and the mystery of how they moved island and why? The why might be a Mink, or some other danger, but how a fluffy chick made the 60 yards of water swimming, is a new one for me to ponder?

We should see a Green Sandpiper any day now, but I always remain hopeful a Little Stint will show up and allow all of us to get a very old long awaited lifer for DP.

The hot afternoon was spent at home in the garden, nothing exciting to report, but the Swifts were having fun and I did see one large Sparrowhawk in semi display just to the North.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Oystercatcher success

After the pair deserted, or were lost on Sandford, we had been seeing mobbing behaviour since and finally after failed attempts on my part, Marek confirmed a pair with 2 chicks on the largest and most recently cleared island.

I took these shots on the 1st July, having got late news about 7 Black-tailed Godwit at LFGP,  by the time I pulled up in the layby the godwits were long gone, so to cheer myself up, took my son looking for the Oystercatchers.