Thursday, 31 October 2013

88 for the month

Today it was quiet, bar a Mistle Thrush, 2 Fieldfare, 10+ Chaffinch, 2 Siskin, 30-40 Redwing and unless anything happens later today, my adding Lesser Redpoll over the car park field this morning, brings the month total to 88. Not too bad a score, but with a number of 'no shows', it could have been better, most obviously Hobby, Yellow Wagtail, Stonechat, Sand Martin, but raptors like Marsh Harrier, Osprey and Merlin could all have gone thru unseen.

Not that October was a bad month, the first Yellow-browed Warbler, maybe even two different birds, a Rock Pipit, possibly 1-2 more, Wheatear and a very out of season Redshank all worth connecting with and not forgetting our 13th consecutive winter of Bittern visiting.

November may hold new treats, most reent years varying between 78 and 84, the record set in 2011, was 90 species.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Bittern at last

Over a week since it arrived I finally got good views of our Bittern at Tern Scrape.

I had completed my car park field visit, picking up 2 late Swallows going South over the landfill, a Mistle Thrush, 13+ Skylarks going South, 2+7+3+2 and 1-2 more heards.

Off to Bittern Hide, meeting Richard, when he said movement near the reed pile and out popped our Bittern, good timing for me I said, both of us snapping away before it flew to the main island and landed out of view.

Here is my best shot, plus the nearby Snipe

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

High water

Recent rains have left the water level rather high, the bund is fully under and reed beds in deep water, so Bittern finding will be even more difficult for now.

I heard a Chiffchaff on arrival at the layby, Grey Wagtail over Teal scrape, then a Nuthatch to the West, at the car park another Nuthatch, 1 Siskin over. At Bittern Hide, 1 Little Grebe, 2 Snipe on floating vegetation, 3 Teal to the back left.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Work party Sunday

No birding today, just strimming the reeds near to Bittern Hide, allowing better viewing for Water Rail, Snipe and maybe a Jack Snipe soon. The team did willow removal all around the scrape, we then did some strimming in front of and along the bund for better viewing of the scrape at Teal Scrape. I got 3 wasp stings for my trouble and am currently in pain.

Sue said she may have heard Raven go over before 11:00.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

October Goldeneye

Steve texted with the first Goldeneye of the autumn on LFGP, just the 8th record for October return birds, but the fourth since 2007. By the time I got there it had gone, but we re-found it at expected.
It is an adult male just completing it's moult. Also present were 3 Pochard, most of the Teal were on Teal Scrape, with Water Rail 'picking' and showing again briefly.

Month list is 87, equalling 2007, but 3 to go to match 90/2009, 4 to reach 91/2011, 6 for 93/2010 & 2012.

At Bittern Hide, I got onto Peregrine over the landfill again, this time circling and diving for 5 minutes and by it's compact look, must be the same male I saw recently. Correcting my earlier claim, this was my 6th for 2013, 4th this month.

With a big storm hitting overnight Sunday, I hope something really good shows up!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Rare October Redshank

When Geoff texted saying Redshank LFGP, I knew it was rare in this month, but when I looked it up, there has only been one other record, this was a staying bird in 1983, joined by another 21st, but no reports after.

So even if I didn't get time to look for Bittern, it was splendid to see Redshank in October and better when it flew to the SW corner and had a bath.

Also present were 2 Meadow Pipit on the shingle island, 3 Snipe, 43 Teal, with 2 flocks of 10+ Chaffinch over West.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Bittern still tricky

The car park field was fairly quiet bar 1-2 Skylark, 3-4 Redwing, 10+ Chaffinch over, 10+ probable Fieldfare West, but then I got onto a Peregrine, my third time this month, a compact, so probable male was swooping low and fast North over the landfill, no doubt scoping for a weakness in some poor victim, but it powered on North, then turned West after Lodge Wood, out of sight.

On to Bittern Hide, nice and calm and sunny, but no sign of any Bittern.

Later a text from Geoff, the Bittern was seen in flight landing at the far end of the island reeds, I was down in 10 minutes, but it had vanished into the reeds. Whilst there 2 Water Rail called, 1 was seen briefly.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Tricky Bittern

A 20 minute dusk visit was all I had time for last night, but it was rather windy, so turned a blank.

A 45 minute late morning look faired no better, again in windy conditions, present were 8 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 3 Pied Wagtail and 2 Snipe hiding well, but little else.

Hopefully the wind will die down soon, allowing a successful look for our Bittern, just the fifth to arrive in October.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Windy n wet

My usual car park 30-40 mins was not full of excitement, but there was more Chaffinch passage, 4-5 groups of 8-15 birds, so around 60 SW. A small flock of 9 Linnet seemed to land out of view near LFGP out of view from my car park field position. 2 Meadow Pipit, 1 Siskin heard, 3 Redwing, 1 Mistle Thrush East and in the car park field, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Nuthatch with tit flock.

A text arrived a short while ago from Steve saying someone had reported Bittern from Bittern Hide around 11:00, so if I don't get there shortly, I'll try later...if possible.

Monday, 21 October 2013

YBW pic

Here is the shot Geoff took, so well done for getting a shot at all and thanks to him for allowing me to publish it.

Wish I'd been able to capture a shot when it was at the top of the bare Alder, just after I found it, or perhaps been there when Trevor said it was in view for 20 seconds!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

For my U.S. and wider audience

I am flattered to find I have people in other parts of the world checking out my blog, so I wanted to tell all of you that I will be starting a bird tour guide company shortly.

With Berkshire 5 minutes from Heathrow, I know I can offer extensive expertise of the birds and sites of Berkshire to anyone from outside the UK, so if you are planning a trip here, staying for just short while on business, just passing through, or even stuck here due to cancellation issues, I know I can give you quality time in the field and get you back to the airport with minimum effort and hassle.

I'll post a link as soon as I have built the site.


Saturday & Sunday catch up

Another quite busy weekend, but managed to get in an hour very late morning Saturday, just car park field again, but added Mistle Thrush for the month, off North, then Coal Tit with the tit flock, plus a smattering of Chaffinch going WSW.

Today, I did an hour from 09:00 and could immediately see a good deal moving thru, c200 Redwing West, 11 Fieldfare SW over the landfill...the first here of the Autumn, 6+ Skylark on far landfill, 1-2 Meadow Pipit, small flocks of Chaffinch totalling around 60+ West, 30+ finch sp, very probably Linnet South, 7 more 20 minutes later. Starlings kept on heading SW and I wasn't even counting at first, but think easily 1000.

I accompanied Geoff to LFGP, about 25 Teal, 2 Pied Wagtail, 3 Red Kite, 2 Buzzard and a pipit somewhere to the SE called on two occasions, that had me thinking possible Rock, but despite several scans, could not find it....And no sign of Stonechat so far either.

Geoff gave me copies of his YBW picture, so I'll be scanning and uploading that tomorrow.

I think Dave Rimes took a couple of nice shots, posted on his blog (on the link below), the only comment I have is that with such a gap of 12 days, we cannot rule out this bird being a totally different individual.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Memory lane after a twitch for an off patch mega

My good friend AJ on Hayling told me yesterday, he was pretty sure he had photo'd Britain's fifth ever Semi-palmated Plover whilst I was watching the Yellow-browed Warbler and having missed the Dawlish bird in 1998, something said I should try for this.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that nowdays I do not generally twitch outside Berks any more, I used to do it quite a bit and enjoyed all of my last notable twitches;
  • Sandhill Crane 3rd Oct 2011
  • Marmora's Warbler 4th June 2010
  • Eastern Crowned Warbler 23rd Oct 2009
  • American Black Tern 31st Aug 2009
  • Collared Flycatcher 2nd May 2009
  • Crested Lark 3rd May 2009
  • White-throated Sparrow 13th April 2009
  • Brown Shrike 12th Oct 2008
  • White-crowned Sparrow 12th Jan 2008
  • American Buff Bellied Pipit 9th Oct 2007
  • White-tailed Plover 7th June 2007
  • White-billed Diver 3rd Mar 2007
  • Pacific Diver 3rd Jan 2007
  • Long-billed Murrelet 11th Nov 2006
  • Killdeer 8th April 2006
  • Grey-cheeked Thrush 20th Nov 2005
  • Red Flanked Bluetail 19th Oct 2005
  • Little Crake 17th Sept 2005
  • Collared Pratincole 4th June 2005
  • Trumpeter Finch 21st May 2005
  • Masked Shrike 31st Oct 2004
  • Western Sandpiper 9th Oct 2004
  • Cream Coloured Courser 2nd Oct 2004
  • Black Stork 21st Aug 2004
  • American Robin 20th Dec 2003
  • Lesser Sandplover 24th July 2003
  • Black Lark 3rd June 2003
  • Audouin's Gull 5th May 2003
  • Lesser Kestrel 18th May 2002
  • Little Bittern 27th Mar 2002
  • Ross's Gull 8th Feb 2002
  • Redhead 9th Dec 2001
  • Snowy Egret 10th Nov 2001
  • Green Heron 26th Sept 2001
  • Rufous-necked Stint 22nd Sept 2001
And I did quite a lot in the late eighties so have some crippling birds ;
  •  Bridled Tern 4th July 1988
  • Ancient Murrelet 17th June 1990
  • Blue-cheeked Bee-eater 9th July 1989
  • Roller 3rd June 1989
  • Tree Swallow 9th June 1990
  • Nauman's Thrush 8th Feb 1990
  • Golden-winged Warbler 12th Feb 1989
  • Lark Sparrow 16th May 1991
So I am sure any of you who became twitchers after 1991 will find some of them painful to contemplate, but we had dips too by the way, bringing me back to the bird in question Semi-Palmated Plover.

I brought the family and knowing high tide wasn't until 10:00 we planned to arrive near then, but didn't leave until 09:45 in the end. As it happened it didn't show and the awaiting crowd dispersed, but when we finally arrived at AJ's house at 11:30, he was on site still and said over the phone "someone has claimed it, but even though I doubt it's an authentic claim, everyone is coming back"

On arrival we quickly established it was genuine and enjoyed an hour of watching it at about 150 feet range, before my son got fed up of palying in the nice soft sand and we all got hungry. There were of course the usual few who decided they must get closer than everyone else, but I won't talk about the stupid people here are my best iphone shots

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Yellow-browed Warbler at last

I continued my search for YBW at 09:30 entering DP at Colemansmoor Road over the most Southerly wooden bridge near the park and ride, then walking slowly along parallel with the A329(M) to Tufties Corner and up to the fishermans car park, then back along the South edge of WSL.

The one tit flock I did find had a lone Chiffchaff and as time was pushing on, I marched up the the other large wooden bridge where it crosses to Mortimer's Meadow and before I fully crossed the familiar call of Yellow-browed Warbler hit my ears, coming from the Alder right by the bridge, but hidden in Ivy.

For a second I wondered if someone was playing a tape as it was really loud, I called Trevor, who was readying for his trip to Norfolk, then Richard, but no reply. So decided seeing the bird might be a good idea before I called anyone else.

It began calling again, then Richard appeared from Mortimer's direction and at the moment it left the Alder and flew high up into a bare Alder where Richard and I had a pretty good view of it, it's supercillium, wing bars and pale underparts all nicely visible. Then it moved back one tree flitted a bit, then back to the Ivy covered Alder and that it where it stayed until I left at 11:49.

I heard it moved to nearby Willows 12:05, so others got some views too.

All I can say is "194 for my park list, 131 for the year, excellent!"

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

still in search of YBW

With just 45 minutes available, I tried the Western fringes of DP today for YBW, around West of Bader Way and along the hedgerow of that side of Mortimer's Meadow....not much to say, just a Chiffchaff, but finding Sycamore trees on DP isn't easy either.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Still no Stonechat

With murky conditions, I thought it might be worth a try, so made a quick visit to LFGP to check for Stonechat, but I was not rewarded with one. I did hear Coal Tit nearby the green bridge, new for October, plus 1 Chiffchaff in the tit flock. Over the landfill, just a few Skylark, Redwing, 1-2 Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtails, plus a couple of handfuls of Teal and 1 Wigeon over, was about it.

10 minutes in the car park field was even more quiet, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Chiffchaff, plus one finch flock sp going South.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Time to invest in a really good camera?

A half hour visit to Bittern Hide while it tipped it down was rewarded with stunning views of a pair of Kingfisher, they sat for 7 minutes mirroring each others movements until the Moorhen pushed them off, sadly nearly all my iphone shots were blurred and this is the best I got

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Pintail before rain

With heavy rain forecast, I knew this months bird walk might not be well attended, so those who chose not to come missed the birds of the day right at the start, when 4 Pintail (3m,1f) came in from the East.

The 4 birds followed the Emmbrook and look like they might drop onto LFGP, but they just kept on going North and out of sight. Only the second record this year and only the 7th October record ever, although 4 of those records have been since 2004. A count of 4 is the first time for a count above 3 in October!

A handful of Gadwall, 1 Wigeon on BSL, 1 Kingfisher, then a few Teal and 2 sightings of Kingfisher on Sandford. At LFGP more Teal, 1 Shoveler, 3 Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, another Kingfisher, then 5 late Swallows in the NW corner briefly, before heading West.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Milestone reached on my year list

I couldn't get out this morning until after 11:20, but when I did I spent an hour only in the car park field, so wasn't expecting too much to happen.

Ring-necked Parakeets were calling as usual, 2 or more Chiffchaff, 1-2 Meadow Pipit, 1-2 Skylark, a flock of around 25 Redwing going East.

As approached the stile, I could hear a Water Rail at the balancing pool, but didn't get onto it before it stopped 'picking'. As it was bright I headed to the usual landfill watch point as I could see Buzzard and Kite up.

4 different Buzzard including another quite pale bird were visible, then I got onto a Peregrine over Lea Farm itself and as it was circling slowly and consistently I made an attempt to catch a photo on my iphone, heavily cropped of course, the first is complete rubbish, but the second actually looks like a Peregrine.

Raptor presence soon died off, so I retreated back to my car and sat leaning in my boot as I often do to stop my back aching. I could see small groups of 4-8 Chaffinch heading WNW and about 25 in 15 minutes, then a flock of 'finch sp' South, could have been Linnet, but I didn't get enough on them. "5 more minutes" I said 3 times picking up 1-2 more distant Buzzard, then suddenly right overhead a Rock Pipit call and I looked up to see it flying SE, as it called again it, fluttered and then continued on SE....."glad I stayed another 5 mins" I said to myself.

This marks 130 on my year list, knocking my 129 in 2009 off my 4th highest total. And it was my first Rock Pipit since seeing and hearing 2 over off the tip 16th 2002, although I did have a probable over 15th 2010.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Bitter cold North wind brings winter thrushes

Car park field as usual and several flocks of Redwing passing over West, 3 flocks of 15-20, plus a few smaller groups meant about 70-80 birds over in 45 minutes.

1-2 Meadow Pipits, 1-2 Chiffchaff, 4-5 Song Thrush in the car park field together, 4 Teal , 4 Gadwall on Lavell's.

For fun I have added my latest hoped for additions on my prediction list.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Late Wheatear

Stuck on the phone late morning Steve texted saying Wheatear LFGP, finally I got out for a 10 minute look before the nursery run, Wheatear still showing to right of shingle island as described by Steve, but I soon lost it behind foliage. This was my latest by 5 days, the latest birds being 15th 1982 (OU - Observer Unknown) and 12th 2011 (RNM). From my perspective if we don't know who the observer is, it cannot be verified. There is another 18th 2011, but I don't believe that either and as it's my blog I can say what I like!

Scanning I picked up 8 Meadow Pipit, several more 'small bird sp' flying South, then a tight flock of about 17 Redwing heading SW.

Then I picked up a Peregrine circling at 250-300ft, just East of the landfill, I watched it for my last 3 minutes to check it wasn't my latest Hobby. Though just my fourth this year.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Last day of warm weather?

I took a stroll around the car park field 09:45 in the warm sunshine, probably the last warm day this year? A Skylark went South, the first Autumn Siskin East as soon as I arrived. Another Skylark went NW 30 mins later, 7 Meadow Pipit + 2+3 more South, 8 Linnet South, several Goldfinch, 2-3 Song Thrush, 2-3 Chiffchaff and probable Blackcap called briefly.

I scanned BSL very briefly, picking up 7 Swallow moving SE, staying low in the increasing breeze, back at my car I scanned one last time, picking up Buzzard going in various directions, but then an almost totally white bird underneath, with white upper tail coverts, totally grey head and upper wing coverts, scoping it, it was clear it was just a Buzzard, but it got me going for a few seconds.

76 species for the month so far.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Yellow-browed Warbler

I have said it for the last 3-4 days and for Dave Rimes the park's first Yellow-browed Warbler showed for just a few seconds, very well, so sadly I wasn't the one to find it and didn't relocate it in my 4 and half hour search. Notably the tit flocks went missing after 13:00, making it hard to know where to look.

Meanwhile Meadow Pipit passage was considerable by our standards today, when I arrived after 11:00 groups of 16 and 11 and numerous groups of 4-8 went over, South and later SW, making an estimated count of 80+, which given no-one was counting earlier, could have been just the tip of the iceberg. 7 Swallow went thru on arrival.

On my search for the YBW I found at least 7 Chiffchaff mostly with the tits prior to 13:00, 1 or 2 as I walked around Lavell's, Sandford and along the Loddon to LFGP.

At LFGP 15:00 3 Meadow Pipit lingered in the SW corner, 30+ Teal there too. A Hobby was also reported.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Goldies again

Within 1 day of last years flock of c15 on 3rd October, a larger flock of around 56 Golden Plover were flying East, then back West 2 miles or more beyond the landfill, so about the Borough Marsh vicinity at 09:30. 2+2 more Meadow Pipit over the landfill, 4+4 House Martin thru ESE, followed by 7 Swallow, whilst a lone Skylark fluttered over the landfill, then 2 Bullfinch flew rather high East.

In the car park field, 3 Chiffchaff called, a Nuthatch nearby, but nothing else.

On Sandford 2 Little Grebe and a very quiet sub song Blackcap, well at least I hope it was only a Blackcap, as it didn't show and was rather brief.

The month is on 71, 81 in 2006 is the lowest in recent years, 93 the highest in 2010 and 2012.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Diverted off patch

I was heading down for my 30 minutes in the car park, when Richard called saying Geoff had a Spoonbill at Henley Road G.P.'s. So I went there instead, sadly it flew off, or out of sight and that was all I had time for.

Oxon is getting very good birds right now, Great White Egret, Yellow-browed Warbler and 4 Great Skua together last night at Farmoor.

Marek found the first autumn Pochard for DP this morning, so we are in a different league to Oxon!

October can be very good though and we are long overdue our first Yellow-browed Warbler and should that Spoonbill drop in, I'd be very happy after missing the May 14th 2007 birds.

We will hopefully see our annual Stonechat around the 11th to 14th and whilst it hasn't happened more than once winter thrush passage can also be accompanied by Hawfinch, but we should check for Ring Ouzel too.

With more time I'll compile a past October rarity list, one unrepeated species is Curlew Sandpiper 2nd Oct 1988, but we'll probably have to wait for that another year, so for now observations are that it is not a bad month for a passing Merlin in recent years.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Mild weather

In the nice mild but hazy morning, an hour in the car park field started well with 7 Ring-necked Parakeet to the East, 1 Nuthatch, 3+ Chiffchaff, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Blackcap, 20+, then 30+ House Martin and a few Swallow thru SE, but was quiet there after, until 2 Snipe flushed off LFGP just before I left.