Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone a great 2014 and may wonderful birding events unfold for all of you.

Monday, 30 December 2013

2014 Year List January numbers

Looking into my available past records data, it looks likely January will score between 83 and 86 species.

In my endless spreadsheets for DP records, I now use a template list and use 4 categories to rate the likelihood of a species in any given month:

1 = We know this species is present
E = Expected (highly probable it will be seen)
G = Good Chance (multiple past records in this month)
p = Possible - (has/does occur but very infrequent)

So my January picture breaks down as

1 = 58 (I expect these on the 1st)
E = 16 (I expect these during the month)
G = 7 ( I look for and aim to all)
p = 23 (fingers crossed for any)

If I factor in 6 of the '23 possibles', for things like Raven, Chiffchaff, Barn Owl, Jack Snipe, Dunlin, Med Gull, maybe LSW, I'd match the record, but these and numerous others are not guaranteed. We should always be on the lookout to boost the month total, with the record January was in 2008 with 88, then 87 in 2011, 86 in 2012, a poor 83 in 05, 06 and 13.... I believe we can beat the record by 2-3.

What I think are tricky species to get on the 1st are : Mistle Thrush, Grey Wagtail, Lesser Redpoll, Little Grebe, Bittern, Little Egret, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Cetti's and this year Siskin are thin on the ground, no recent sign of Skylark, Meadow Pipit last on 15th, so maybe a fly over remains possible.

The park usually hits the 100 mark around the end March, to take on a good year list you need get nearly all of them.

Lets hope it doesn't flood us out for the first week, or we're all stuffed.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

WSL Bittern

At WSL tonight around 15:45 I had 1 dark Bittern which appeared circling low over the right hand end of WSL reeds and flew to the middle, right of the pale tree trunk. Around 16:00 what I think was a 2nd bird flew from the back to the far left central section, it seemed a fair amount paler in flight.

It was too cold to wait for confirmation of 2 stood in wellies, so I'll be checking it out new years day evening.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

2013 wrap up

My time at my patch is now totally with a view to 2014, hearing of Bittern today is great news. Hearing Kingfisher is great too, as previous cold winters have made them hard to find in January. Winter thrush roost tonight....check, Bullfinch...check, Lesser Redpoll..check...

Looking at my 2013 total of 133 out of 138, I'm kind of blown away, matching my 133 out of 140 in 2011.

No doubt what helps is a very quick message passing arrangement, but either way 2013 is my fourth consecutive year in the 130's.

I'll do more on old years lists another time.

Recent flood conditions

I didn't make it out til late boxing day, just to see where the water level was really. Quiet high, but had clearly dropped a foot by then.

So I then went off for a quick walk up the old Colemansmoor Road, listening intently for crests, but getting none, I left.

Yesterday I had a further mooch around the Aviation Copse, 1 Goldcrest, Treecreeper, other tits. I went to inspect the water level from the meadow gates, a tree had fallen and was obstructing most the path.

Today Sandford Lane was totally open, but Sandford still impassable West side. Goldeneye, 25+ Pochard, a few Gadwall. Bittern hide path is still a bit deep to bother trying.

I did the car park field til around 16:00, Lesser Redpoll over, then groups of around 10 Fieldfare & Redwing began coming to roost from the East, by 16:25 100+ Redwing.

I had to leave before proper dark, I caught a brief Tawny call, but felt a Woodcock might go over any moment.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Where has the time gone?

I have been about for odd 20 minute visits, a Mistle Thrush here, a Nuthatch there, no Firecrest though, I did see 6-7 Lesser Redpoll Sunday, so the month is on 79.

With the weather being real nasty today, flood levels will probably push over Sandford Lane tomorrow onwards, but I'l be lucky to get out before Christmas day, we'll see.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Christmas work party

Whilst waiting for the start of the work party, 1 then 5 more Meadow Pipit went over East, the month is now on 77, including Tim James report of a pair of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker yesterday and someone else telling me they saw Kestrel recently.

During the work party Cetti's called nearby, 2-3 Bullfinch went over and meanwhile Bernie said he may have had Woodcock early last month, which would be a bit early, but nonetheless intriguing.

A report of Merlin yesterday at Teal Scrape, for me seems more likely to have been the small male Sparrowhawk that hangs around Lavell's, but who knows I may be wrong, it is just the description of what it did, didn't sound very Merlin like.

Having cleared another metre of reed edge on the scrape, we hope more Snipe and a Jack will be joining us any day. Whilst writing I note the male Goosander was back on Sandford this morning. I wnet back later to have a look as I always enjoy seeing Goosander on DP, especially males.

I see no reason why we cannot add the following to the month list with a bit of work over Christmas:

Med Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Redpoll

That would make 84 and be = 2nd highest month total, but if it turns cold before year end, we can hope for a Dunlin, maybe a Curlew, perhaps a good duck, like a Smew or Scaup?

Friday, 13 December 2013

Month list additions

I managed 2 short walks yesterday, 09:30 I added Coal Tit to Decembers list, along the Loddon opposite the green bridge...where 85% of records come from. 30+ Wigeon at LFGP, 2-3 Snipe and 200-300 Lapwing on the landfill, just visible in the mist.

At 16:00 I went to Bittern Hide, 9 Snipe, reasonable numbers of Teal, then on leaving the hide a Barn Owl peered out of the box, but just for a moment. Another month addition.

Today, I had a brief walk around the car park and to Bittern Hide, 40+ Redwing and 40 Fieldfare went East, a Grey Wagtail flew to the Emm Brook,  a Mistle Thrush over low East, both month additions, bringing the month total to 74, just one short of last December, but 16 short of the 2010 record.

The top Decembers are:

86 in 2010
84 in 2011
83 in 2009
81 in 2006 & 2007

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Snipe and Teal increase

A quick walk around the car park and 2 Goldcrest was all worth noting.

At Tern Scrape, 14 Snipe showed and there could be more out of view, so again I remain optimistic a Jack will show up. Still good numbers of Teal, 15 Pochard, 1 female Goldeneye, 1 male Sparrowhawk, 6-10 Fieldfare, a few Redwing, a Water Rail at the back of the scrape for few moments.

I completely forgot to say that the WSL Bittern on the 1st was too dark to be the Lavell's October bird, as for Peter's 2nd Dec bird, I still haven't seen it.

Tonight I revisited Bittern Hide and Steve and Marek had already reported near, or over 100 Teal, I think as it got dark a handful more dropped in and the count may have been near to 110.

It is only since 2009 that Teal numbers broke the 100 barrier, first in January with 112 to 130 between the 1st and 11th during a big freeze. Then in December 2009 a new record of 206/19th, also during a snowy spell. The record was broken again and stands at 263+/31st Jan 2010, with 250+/1st Feb. The 100 barrier was next broken with 150/1st Jan 2011 and 100+ still present 14th. Finally 100+/11th December 2012.

Friday, 6 December 2013

No Bittern

I checked out Teal Scrape just after 15:00, just 2 Little Grebe, 1 Water Rail calling and several Redwing, then decided Bittern Hide was where I wanted to stay til dusk. I crossed over to Sandford for a quick scan and was surprised to see the male Goosander still there.

At Bittern Hide 67 Teal were noisily pairing up, 5 Snipe, no doubt the same male Sparrowhawk shot by, then a Kingfisher did the same. 2 Little Egret over North just after 16:05, another Water Rail heard and as it got dark, the Snipe number increased to 9.

I hung on and hoped a Bittern would show, but despite calm conditions, no bird showed.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Hoping Jack sticks around

I had no time again today, but when Geoff said he had a probable Jack Snipe bobbing like mad, I took the 3 minutes I had to give it a try....no luck, just 11 Common on view. I expect he is right as he said it stayed low all the time, so very typical of Jack.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Bittern WSL again

I didn't pick up the Rick Dawson news of a male Goosander on Sandford at 12:30 until after 15:00, but on arrival in the lay-by, Brian said he couldn't find it. So I headed off to LFGP instead, only to find some muppet had left the outher gate unlocked and worse the locking gate to the hide wide open, but lock secured on the housing. What idiot would be so stupid as to do this I thought? I'll be getting our security camera out to catch these fools and are they going to get a telling off when I do.

On show, just 2 Snipe, 7 Wigeon, 3 Shoveler before I decided WSL was worth a check for Bittern, as soon as I crossed into Sandford, I could see a pale bird to the far Eastern end and could see thru bins, it was the male Goosander. I let Brian and a few others know, Water Rail called in the backwater by the old sluice and I headed off to WSL, but got a fine candidate for rubbish record shot of the month, at least it was kind of nice that it got up and flapped its wings.

At WSL, 15+ Wigeon, a few Gadwall, 10-15 Starling circling the reed bed, 2 more Water Rail calling, a Kingfisher calling nearby, then at 16:15 a Bittern climbed up just left of middle of the reeds. It looked like it could be the Lavell's bird, so perhaps it never left the area? On my walk back via Sandford Trevor was just catching the Goosander in the dying light from near the old sluice, a second Water Rail then a Cettis'called briefly.

On the Bittern front, if this was a new bird to the Lavell's October bird, this would be about my 33rd, or 34th Bittern since 2002 and not meaning to sound vague, it has been difficult to track all of the individuals with their plumage differences and variations, not forgetting their movements, disappearances and reappearances. Either way I have only missed 2-3 of them in 11 years and never tire of finding them, watching them and showing them to others.