Friday, 29 November 2013

Another one gets away

I was hanging around Teal Hide, 2 Little Grebe there and a tit flock came by with 3 or more crests and then took a walk to the river.

At around 14:45/15:00, I was slow to lift my bins to a bird flying towards myself and Richard Price, it was moving fast in an upstream direction along the Loddon, we were by the ditch. I didn't even clock it was a falcon until the last second, when it became apparent it was chasing a small bird, probably a Siskin, or something, it suddenly turned, revealing sharp wings took it's prey in a single 'cork screw' type turn and slightly fanned it's tail as it made a wide arc, mostly obscured behind the Poplars and I just couldn't quite see the length of it's tail, but it seemed to short for Kestrel, but perhaps too long for Merlin, but my hunch it was the latter.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

No Firecrest so far

A brief look yesterday and today brought no Firecrest, the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was seen 2 days running Tuesday and Weds near the ditch at Teal Hide, opposite side of Loddon though (not by me).

3 Goldcrest by Sandford kissing gate, 7 Shoveler, 1 Little Egret LFGP, 3 reported earlier, 2 Snipe, yesterday's Shelduck still present too, on the walk back 3 Lesser Redpoll landed briefly, this is perhaps part of the flock of about a dozen Richard had seen, North along the Loddon, the day after Geoff had the Great White Egret.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Check those crests

Martin told me on my brief walk this morning he had LSW along Loddon opposite the ditch out of Lavell's by Teal Hide and perhaps even better, the 138th speices for the year, a Firecrest briefly with Long-tailed Tits at the same spot.

The Firecrest last was Feb 26th 2011 and an elusive little thing, but it gives us all something to check carefully for amongst the tit flocks.

The year list is still ticking along, 138 is the fourth highest ever and still time to add several more species, not that my predictions page offers much date likelihood, all could still occur.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Just a bit on the quiet side

I did get a couple of walks in recently, Friday to Bittern Hide, where 70 Teal was the highest count I've seen this autumn, just 1 Snipe visible. Saturday morning I did a circuit from Lavell's car park, sailing club, Sandford Hide, back round to Lavell's. Very little indeed, 2 Treecreeper with Long-tailed Tits, 2 Siskin over, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Little Grebe still at Teal end.

With not much happening, I thought I'd look at my garden list for this year and it isn't bad at all, 64 compared to 62 last year, 51 the year before, but as we didn't move in until August 2011, also not too bad, with the total since 2011 being 72.

The slight annoyance is what is missing for 2013, Skylark, Kestrel, Lapwing, the latter has yet to fly over at all, which is hard to believe, as is Mute Swan, or Tufted Duck, but to me even Wigeon and Greylag should be achievable. Of course I'm not grumbling, 64 in, over, or heard in anyone's inland garden has to be good, but I did get 71 whilst at Dunbar Drive and 76 at Shackleton Way, both totals were over 2 years though.

Thursday, 21 November 2013


Few visits this week, today's was short due to it being darn cold, NNE wind making it horrible. Birds were few, Little Grebe near Teal Scrape, Water Rail heard briefly, a few flocks of Redwing over, tit flocks keeping low, couldn't get the enthusiasm to go to BSL for the pair of Goldeneye.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Weekend mini visits

Yesterday and today I was hardly around, the best I got yesterday was 36 Fieldfare SW ovr BSL, 2 Nuthatch just to the East of the car park field, 2 Cetti's calling near Bittern Hide, on Lavell's the Pochard count has reached 16 and 12 Snipe were reported, of which I saw 6. I may have seen a Great Black-backed Gull drifting over North too. I did check Sandford for Athyas but no Goldeneye were present.

I also saw a flock of 10+ Siskin near the wooden bridge into Lavell's, my largest flock this autumn.

Today my visit was even more brief, with 10 Fieldfare going East being the highligh.

Friday, 15 November 2013

LSW roost ruined for second year running

It was amazing we saw the return of a male to the same trees as last year, especially after the tree of choice was blown down, but sadly a bloody Great Spotted has destroyed it's roost this year. If I had been there like Geoff when it was happening, I'd have thrown stones at the dam thing.

But there we have it, our lovely little male Lesser Spotted came in the evening of the 13th, took a good look, pecked around a bit, tried it and decided this is ruined and off it went somewhere South.


It did not return last night

Today a short circle of the car park field, just 2 Meadow Pipit, 2 Siskin, Lavell's : 6 Snipe, Sandford : Nothing to mention, BSL : 2000+ BH Gulls, needing to be checked for Med.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Calm and clear

Very little over today, just 2 Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipit, 7-8 Snipe in the usual far corner of Tern Scrape.

Walking my mums dog later at Sandford Park, 39 Fieldfare over West.

Frustrating news of a Great Spotted Woodpecker pecking out the Lesser Spotted's roost hole and chasing off the male, may have ruined all further chances of our roost site remaining occupied each evening, I'll try to get there this evening for an update, but it doesn't look good.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Back to normal

Todays 1.5 hours was more typical, although Fieldfare were going thru, 12, then 16, then 150+ West/South West. Other than that, 3 Meadow Pipit, 1 Skylark and 1-2 Siskin was about it.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Patchwork update

My good friend AJ suggested I updated my patchwork list, so reluctantly I did. I say reluctantly as last years record breaking score makes my 'comparative year list' unbeatable, so I cannot reach 100% let alone pass it and knock Marek and Adam's London Minileagues scores of 103 & 104% out of the park.

Despite this adding Yellow-browed Warbler and Whooper Swan at 3 points each is some compensation, perhaps they deserve to be 5 points each for finding them myself?!

I think I'll be lucky to add anything new for the year now, but I hope I'm wrong and we have the best late autumn and winter ever, bringing Hen Harrier, Hawfinch, Merlin, Red-necked and Black-necked Grebes, Scaup, White-fronted and Brent Geese, Red Crested Pochard, Great Northern Diver, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Ring-necked and Ferruginous Ducks and Yellowhammer!

It's okay to dream!

Oh yes, the 1996 record of 4 Whooper Swan flying over was 31st December (AJ)

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Myth turns to reality

After a late start and me catching up with the group, we were all having a quiet bird walk, then we left Lea Farm G.P. and we were heading up the tarmac path to Bittern Hide, when we noticed a group of 7 large swans, they had already passed over and we could only see them from underneath, but something about them made me dash to where we view the Barn Owl from to get another look.

Tony was still on them as I picked them up in the scope over the East side of landfill, still going North, luckily almost as I said "if only they'd turn", they did turn left and I could see yellow bills..."They are Whoopers" I shouted, then they turned back the East and headed away out of view, looking like they wanted to set down somewhere. I texted my two friends based in the East and one called me to say he had just got home, but he might pop out to Remenham later.

There are just 2 other records 20th March 1982 and I am getting details of the other record in the nineties.

Tony has a record shot, which he has posted on Berksbirds :

I am thrilled to get a 'Mythical species' onto my patch list, my 195th and 133rd for the year....awesome!

Marek texted later to say Birdguides reported 7 Whooper on Staines Reservoir somewhat later, staying until dusk, so even though I only had a less than 1% doubt about disimissing Bewick's, it was nice to have the species confirmed elsewhere.

Still smiling now ;0)

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Cold, wet and getting colder

Thursday I did spend an hour in the car park field as usual and had feelings of great potential, not that it lived up to it, but I left feeling something would happen. Richard said he and Les saw a possible Marsh Harrier around 11:15, but lost it as they tried to stay on it from Bittern Hide.

My car was in for a service Friday, so walking back via Woodford Park with my son, I was frustrated to see a Yellowhammer over low calling, heading SE, so maybe towards D.P.

Today I got out after it began raining, it was much cooler at around 6-7 degrees and saw just 1 Meadow Pipit and a few Redwing, then later a Mistle Thrush, but I never left the car park, so couldn't have expected much else.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Weds update

After I posted, Geoff texted with Mandarin and Goosander just flown in at LFGP, sadly I saw neither, despite the Goosander swimming into the SE corner, they never re-appeared. I did see Grey Wagtail on the walk back. Steve told me he thinks he had Little Egret this month.

This morning with it being so still, the air somehow felt very good, 2 Lesser Redpoll over, 4 Ring-necked Parakeet again, 1 Mistle Thrush, a couple of small flocks of Redwing, 2-3 groups of <10 Chaffinch, 3 flocks of around 100+ Wood Pigeon SW and again a distant tight flock of what were probably Golden Plover, but just too far to be 100% sure.

At my car I hung on hoping for a Yellowhammer and got onto a bulky bunting sized bird heading SE, with fluttering wings and an undulating flight, it may well have been Corn Bunting, but having packed my scope into the boot, I couldn't get enough on it.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Much quieter, but always

Passage seems to have tailed off, with hardly any birds over my car park field hour, I did see 4 Ring-necked Parakeet, 1 Mistle Thrush, 3-4 Lesser Redpoll with as many Goldfinch, that landed on the Hawthorns left of Lea Farm.

Geoff had a Barn Owl in the box yesterday, bringing the month total to 74 so far, 7 to go to match 2012, which is do-able assuming the following all show up : Peregrine, Little Egret, Bittern, Chiffchaff, Goldeneye, Grey Wagtail and Coal Tit.

Most likely possibles for November are : Jack Snipe, Woodcock, Golden Plover, Blackcap, Linnet, Raven, Pintail, but I still hope for Stonechat, Merlin, Firecrest, or a good Grebe and with 2 Shag at QMR, we should be checking all the Cormorants.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Cetti's increase

I have been colating mine and others reports and with 3 Cetti's at Bittern Hide end a couple of days ago and 1 at LFGP, 1 WSL and 1 Sandford, it is possible, if not likely we have 5, even 6 birds in the general area, so encourage everyone to report their reports to me to get as good an idea as possible on the total DP population. I suspect there are more than 1 at WSL, so a thorough check of all lakes might reveal 7, or more, suggesting a good breeding year.

Meanwhile the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker began excavating a new hole yesterday, implying I was right about it's contentment with the first roost site.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

A totally rewarding late afternoon visit to last years roost site, when the male arrived at 15:58, in the top of the tree to the left first, then for 15+ minutes at the roost hole. I am fairly sure it has further excavation to complete as it seemed almost impatient for folks to walk on by, even leaving the hole 2 more times before I left at 16:17.

Despite the average to poor quality of my shots, it remains a quality bird, which I hope and trust others will respect and ensure it is not unduly disturbed.

Sunday morning blues

I was out around 9:00, straight to Bittern Hide, just 1 Cetti's calling, 2 Snipe visible, 1 Water Rail heard, 5 Fieldfare over SSE, but not much else in the bright blue sky, but the wind was cold. No Bittern since Weds!

Marek arrived and we chatted about his Scillies trip and good timing to get the Hermit Thrush in Cornwall same day he came off. Not long after I left he had the first Yellowhammer since 2009, a DP lifer for him and 136th for the park year so happy for him.

We also chatted about the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker he saw and photo'd on the same Alders as last years roost site, so am hopeful of a visit either tonight, or soon as the weather and my son allows, fingers crossed the hole it was inspecting turns into a roost site.

Friday I did make it to WSL, but no Bittern showed, although the reed looks trodden in places, the best I got was Cetti's calling and 2 Kingfisher between WSL and Sandford. Yesterday Lavell's had 3 Snipe, 2 Sparrowhawk and was overall quiet.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Nice before rain

09:00 car park field and 1 Mistle Thrush immediately, then Great Black-backed Gull flying over slowly North, amazingly only the 6th bird this year, but quite early for D.P. Several small flocks of Redwing East, totalling around 40, all East, 5 Siskin SE, 1 Meadow Pipit and 1 Skylark on the tip, as I arrived back my car 29 Fieldfare flew East.

By now the lake water levels should be dropping, so we might hope to see more of the Bittern, I'll be out later and shall probably check out Lavell's, then WSL to see if we have a second bird and to see if a Goldeneye is here and what Athyas are about.