Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Pushing to add December species total

I did tour of the car park field, Bittern Hide, LFGP, Sandford & BSL, on arrival everything was up and scattering, including 5 Snipe, so I can only hope I didn't miss a good raptor?

Great Spotted Woodpecker has already begun drumming.

70 Pochard on Sandford, c70 Teal LFGP, plus c150 Wigeon, 5 very distant Golden Plover going away East added to December, making 80 for the month.

We are short Coal Tit, Mistle Thrush, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, along with Siskin & Lesser Redpoll, so welcome any reports, currently 6th position, 3 more to equal 3rd.

January 2015 predictions

Even though it has turned cold, I think it is going to be tricky to get the 2015 year list off to a good start, things like Siskin, Lesser Redpoll are absent at the moment, as is Barn Owl, Mistle Thrush is lurking somewhere, but Cetti's, Water Rail and Grey Wagtail are all being seen regularly. A bit of effort and Little Owl will be on, Goosander sightings, make it likely we'll get one early on.

If the water level drops enough Jack Snipe might grace us and make up for a no show in 2014.

In 2014 I reached 45 on January 1st, 54 on 2nd, 56 on 3rd, 61 on 7th, 65 on 8th, 72 on 11th, reaching 77 by 25th. I didn't add anything more until 13th Feb....Kestrel.

I expect to be out near dawn on the 1st for 2-3 hours, then 15:00 til dusk.

A nice dusk walk about

I got out around 15:00 and headed towards WSL, about 80 Pochard still on Sandford, bar a Cetti's showing quite well, it was very quiet on small birds front, at WSL I scoped down the lake and got on a pair of Goosander quite far towards the South end so headed up closer. They were quite active, not too nervous and swam on North quite quickly, without my adapter record shots were terrible, so not worth bothering.

Back at the Bittern viewing spot the Goosander were moving about, I looked up then down and they were gone. I checked for Bittern over and over with no joy. I went to check BSL, just a few Shoveler.

Again WSL, a Kingfisher perched on a reed, 3-5 Reed Bunting jumping around, then the pair of Goosander flew by left to right and off towards Sandford at 16:09. I decided to quit around 16:25 and headed for LFGP. At Heron's Water a Chiffchaff was calling on the right as you enter Sandford.

At LFGP a good smattering of wildfowl, nothing stand out and I was there for Woodcock anyway, so stood until 16:54 in the freezing cold and saw nothing, although the Lapwing flock looked in excess of 1000 birds, so worth checking on them properly.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Smew makes it a double

I got the text as I was heading out with the family, a male Smew on Sandford...aaargh!

I got there and enjoyed it for 15 mins with Trevor and Steve and dashed off again.

Here are several shots, of varying terrible quality

Bewick's Swans

To cap off an entirely amazing year for me, I found 3 Bewick's Swans at LFGP, I was in Bittern hide with Richard and kept hearing a distant honk. After a while I said I am going to have to check it out and on arrival found 2 adults, then an assumed immature bird, as it had dusky feathers around the head and neck.

I've waited all my patching life for this species to occur when I was around, life list now 197 and year list 136......awesome!

Here are some shots

Friday, 26 December 2014

Busy times

So a belated Merry Christmas everyone,

I can't believe my last post was 3rd December, but I have had to move house and just haven't had time to post anything on the few very shorts visits I have made since It doesn't amount to much. After getting Woodcock 25th November @ 16:38 (5th ever Nov record) and again 5th Dec @ 16:44, I had 3-4 Woodcock attempts without success, my best total for Snipe was 44, but I know it went above 50 and was settled around 35-39'ish, but oddly there were none today at 10:15.

2 unsuccessful attempts for Bittern at WSL, 2+ Water Rail and 2-3 more at Sandford. The odd Kestrel, no winter finches.

Today I heard Nuthatch, the first report since 12th Oct, but I doubt they are always around the East end of Lavell's. About 80-90 Pochard in the area, 1-2 male Goldeneye.

46 Herring Gull on BSL today, one on the old tern island today showed a yellow darvic with ring number 2Z8B I hope Tim Ball will be able to share it's ringing history.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014


The first Goosander since Dec 2013 graced us on Sandford today, found by Richard and I was lucky enough to grab a lift with Trevor, having just dropped my car off for an MOT.

A very nice male was happily drifting about near c80 Pochard in the Eastern corner. My good friend Richard took this nice picture.

I am now 2 past my 3rd highest year list total of 133, so 135 for the year, one more to equal my second highest total, perhaps a Jack Snipe, or Brambling might show up?

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Woodcock at last

After posting no sign on recent trips, I was standing on the tarmac path where the flood waters reached and listening to the Snipe leaving, when at 16:38 a lone Woodcock came in from near Jerry's bench, flying pretty low heading towards Tern Meadow, it was visible for about 4-5 seconds and off into the murk.

This is the first since 21st March 2013 and my 134th species for the year and now my new 3rd highest year list total!

Wet and cold again

Not much birding lately, Saturday I had Linnet over for the month, 2 Little Egret briefly at Tern Scrape and the influx of Pochard was up to 72, or nearer 100 depending on who you asked. 3 Goldeneye now in too.

Tim our ringer caught 6 Chiffchaff last Thursday, which is a record for November and unprecedented.

Otherwise a 2-3 dusk attempts to get Woodcock have failed, between 14 and 20 Snipe is quite good, still plenty of Cetti's calling and 3-4 Water Rail on Lavell's is about average numbers.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Cool quiet autumn day

A brief spell at LFGP at lunch really didn't produce much, we heard a Water Rail off to the NW corner, 1 more at Teal Scrape and I saw 4 Goldcrest at Lavell's on the walk back, that was it.

I went back to Lavell's at 16:10 and at Bittern Hide, saw 2 Water Rail, heard at least 2 more and heard at least 3 Cetti's Warbler, half a dozen Snipe were hiding, about 15 Teal there too. Small groups of Fieldfare, 40+ Redwing, 1 Bullfinch, all nearby.

Although I have made very few visits recently, I have been to several areas and it is no surprise there have been Water Rail in the usual sites, 1-2 WSL, 1 Sandford, 1 LFGP, minimum 5 Lavell's and this doesn't account for any on the main island, or any other lakes. My guestimate to include the other lakes is 1-2 Mungell's Pond, 1-2 BSL main island, 1-2 along Loddon (very conservative figure), 1-2 aviation museum marsh - totaling around 17, but more likely 20+ across DP.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Goldies yet again

And I spent months of the summer hoping I'd see a flock, but yet again I picked up another small flock of Golden Plover coming in from the East at about 400 feet. Much closer than all the others I've seen this autumn, 21 circled LFGP several times, dropping lower and lower to about 150 feet, but they then turned North and headed quickly away at 10:10.

On arrival a flock of 100+ Fieldfare went East, smaller groups were flying about later, single Meadow Pipit South, single Skylark East.

An adult Great Black-backed Gull drifted North and just prior to that quite a good candidate immature into 1st Winter Yellow-legged Gull circled LFGP several times. It was big, had a all dark secondaries, hardly any hint of pale in the inner primaries, all dark out primaries extending to the coverts, pale head with small eye smudge and heavy dark bill, the upper tail was not white, but quite pale with brown flecks and a strong black tail band. Annoying I am just not quite good enough on YLG's, really as we haven't had on this year yet, but I'd say 80-90% likely it was Yellow-legged.

Friday, 14 November 2014

A dusk late afternoon

After being out on business for 3 days I was keen to get down to the patch and arrived in the car park field around 15:00. We have had a lot of rain and Sandford Lane had water up to the middle of road near the hump back bridge, so I didn't even bother trying to go to Bittern Hide.

By now it was bright and barely a breeze, so I had high hopes of something interesting flying over, so I checked the Oak tree left of Lea Farm and straight away saw the Little Owl in the usual hole, my first since 5th April. It has probably been around all year, invisible til now, being that now the leaves were almost all gone.

Over the next hour I had 3-4 groups of Fieldfare, totaling about 90, 34 being the largest flock, a flock of 100 Redwing, c40 Greenfinch, the first 2 Lesser Redpoll of the Autumn over towards Lavell's probably to roost, 1 Buzzard settled on a distant vent, numerous Red Kites heading to an unknown roost, 1 Cetti's calling at the back of Lavell's, 1 Pheasant that walked pretty much past me, Great Spot and Green Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Bullfinch and a bunch of finch Sp flying about to the West and North.

I rarely linger at the bottom of the car park at this time, so it was quite interesting to see masses of distant gulls heading West along the Thames towards Sonning/Henley Road pits, not that it was possible to distinguish species, just that many were larger.

It also felt as if one visited til dusk frequently, there could be a reasonable chance of picking up a Peregrine, a Merlin, or passing rarer goose. I'll try to do it again soon, but also want to get back to WSL to try for Bittern, we are overdue one.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Quiet and grey

I quick stroll around the car park field at lunchtime today, a few Redwing, 2 Goldcrest, Ring-necked Parakeet heard, then on to Bittern Hide, 14 Snipe at various points along the back of the scrape, Shoveler were very close in but none of my shots came out, but 2 Lapwing shots did, but it is nearly a case of 'spot the difference' between them

Sunday, 9 November 2014

32 years apart

We had been having a fairly dull bird walk, 5 Siskin over along the Loddon, 8 Fieldfare SW, 2 Kingfisher, 2 Grey Wagtails also along the Loddon. We sat in Ron's hide scanning for whatever kept spooking the Lapwings and 1000+ Black Headed Gulls, but no luck and I had even said how little there was in the sky, when around 11:15 I got onto something large going out of view from the hide, half hanging out of the window I got onto a Short-eared Owl, shouting exactly that I then proceeded jump up, tripped over the bench, stumbled towards and then barged open the door, barely staying on my feet as the hide door clanged loudly against the outer fencing.

A moment of composure later and we were all staring up a fantastic bird as it circled over the NW corner of the lake at around 400 feet. It virtually shone in the bright sunlight as it flapped with deep elastic beats, gradually it came more or less overhead and whilst I scoped it, two of my friends snapped away with cameras.

Without trying to sound all listy about such things, it marks 133 for the year for the third time for me, last year and in 2011. It has also been 30 years since my Short-eared Owl, the last was on 26th December 1982, but this was my first self found, it was simply a great bird and know it made all present very happy.

Here are 4 of Steve's shots, thanks Steve;

There haven't been many, here is the full history

Nov 9th 2014 (Bird walk)
Nov 15th 2005 (PBT)
Nov 21st 1999 (Observer Unknown)
Dec 6th to 31st 1987 (RTT)
Feb 24th 1985 (Mrs Lawson)
Nov 17th 1984 (Bird walk & Keith Caldecot)
Jan 1st (Mr & Mrs Spurgeon), 20th (PJ & RC) & Apr 1st (PJ) 1983
Nov 20th (PJ) to Dec 1982 (Many Observers) which then visited into 1983
Dec 24th 1981 (MR, PB & AC)

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Frequent goldies

After seeing the flock on 1st, I saw what must have been the same birds on the 2nd, still miles away and then yesterday 9 flew West, then NW at about a third the distance.

Also yesterday a visit to WSL along the Loddon brought a late Chiffchaff calling frequently, I also heard a Fieldfare go over whilst I was under the trees lakeside.

On the 4th I was at looking across the landfill, when 12 Great Black backed Gulls went over high South, then yesterday another 18 more did the same, perhaps pushed along by the cold North wind?

A brief stand in the car park at 16:30 brought Redwings coming to roost and then a small raptor went over the sailing club car park, so mostly obscured by trees, I think it was too big for Merlin! It has been on my radar as I have had several at this time of year before and my 2012 bird on the 2nd at 16:25 was on my mind when this bird went by.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

The end of the endless summer

I did about an hour yesterday morning, 3 Skylark over the landfill, 4 more singles South, a lone Mistle Thrush N, but 4 others back SW not long after. It felt like quite a few small birds were on the move, but I had little time to pick anything up.

Later with the temperature hitting 22 degrees, I went to WSL, hearing Water Rail en route at Sandford, had nothing else.

Today, more Redwing were pinging about, odd Meadow Pipits and again miles to the North, another flock of around 32-35 Golden Plover. Near Bittern Hide, 2 Cetti's were contact calling and a Water Rail gave a good squeal.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Very misty start

I took a walk around to WSL this morning in the grey misty conditions, I heard Goldcrests almost every 100 or so metres, the Cetti's that has taken up residence on the West side of Sandford showed quite nicely for a change.

No sign of the Goldeneye at the North end of WSL, just 1 Pochard on BSL and very little else to mention in my half hour stroll.

A late further stroll around the car park and 2 of the Stonechats, the male and female, were on top of the reeds just left of Lea Farm at about half the distance when they have been in the NE corner, so a few more poor record shots to post

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Late migrants

After missing our latest ever Wheatear on the 25th, I was hoping I'd get lucky with something else, best I could find was a Chiffchaff on Monday morning in the scrub left of Lea Farm, Richard had 2 more on the edge of the gold course.

What was more exciting was picking up a very distant flock of around 300 Golden Plover, so after missing the March 22nd flock of c400, I was very happy. At the same time, various flocks of Wood Pigeon were coming South, 300-550 at a time, with over 2000 over in 45 minutes.

This puts me on 132 for the year, just one more to level with my equal 3rd counts of 133 for 2011 and 2013 and perhaps the likelihood of a colder winter than last, it is still highly possible we will get a Goosander, Woodcock, a passing Brambling, or Yellowhammer and if the water levels fall enough for a good low cut of Tern scrape reed edges, a Jack Snipe might grace us too.

Also on the hoped for list is Merlin, Scaup, Smew, White-fronted Goose, or rare grebe?

The month is on 89, with the first Goldeneye in, with still a good chance of Bittern, Fieldfare, Lesser Redpoll, Mediterranean Gull and Barn Owl all possible. The record set in 2010 & 2012 is 93.

Today, 1000 more Wood Pigeon went over South, but apart from hearing Water Rail at Tern scrape, nothing much else to report.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Time flies

I have been out on the patch, but not much since that fine day I last posted.

I have even written a description for the rarities committee, which is unusual in itself for me, one because I rarely find anything good enough to warrant a description, secondly that the bird often sticks around long enough for a dodgy record shot, thirdly that I have become less and less bothered who believes me.

Anyway to linger for a few moments more on that day, there have been 5 records of Alpine Swift in Berks, 2 more are pending, mine is the last one and the only ever autumn bird.

So back to reality and day to day hum drum, I was out briefly yesterday, seeing 3 Linnet over the landfill heading SW, so the October passage trend continues for this species.

Little else has happened since the Alpine Swift, other than the Stonechats have still been seen regularly, up to yesterday at least and Richard and Geoff even got a couple of shots of them next to the hide.

I have just been looking at my year lists and this is the 5th consecutive year I have gone into the 130's, which I find remarkable. Also amazing is that since 2000 I have only had 1 year (2006) when I didn't get a patch lifer and on average find a new bird for the patch every second year.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Alpine Swift

I had been around the car park, seeing 3 Chiffchaff, a few Meadow Pipit, 5-6 Swallow East, 9+ Redwing and maybe heard Blackcap, then Trevor arrived and I decided to join him for a look for the Garganey. It wasn't around and not much else to see either in flooded conditions.

Over a 100 Redwing dropped in above the Emmbrook to our right and I scanned for more birds in the sky, I think I was tracking something, when I passed what I thought would be a Swallow, but staying on it, it turned and I could see it was a Swift....in October!!!

Trevor took a moment to get on it, but we agreed it probably never got closer than 600 yards when we first got onto it. Heading SW, it moved with with very fast bursts of wing beats and then long low dives, rarely turning and never giving the 'shimmying' of Common Swift.

I couldn't bear it and tried and succeeded to get my scope on it as it passed in line with the tallest Poplar, I checked for paleness in the primaries and blunt wings...none, but on it's first turn in the scope I suddenly saw an obvious and well marked pale belly and said "******* Hell, it's got a pale belly".

It turned back towards LFGP and a group of Starling passed by behind and it looked bigger than initially thought, but without knowing how near they were, judging size was really hard.

It then went back SW over the houses immediately North of Sandford Mill, dived once more and looked to be gaining speed as we lost it behind the Poplars, heading towards Sandford Park, but not gaining height.

Awesome stuff and actually quite interesting how it never appeared that big, No. 18 on my prediction list and nice to know I am not going to end the year without a lifer on my patch, it is no doubt rarer than last Year's Yellow-Browed Warbler and 2012's Wryneck, but not Purple Heron...we saw that one too well to trump that!

I haven't totally decide the order to put them in, so for now based on Berks rarity status perhaps like this;

Purple Heron - April 5th 2000
Alpine Swift - Oct 15th 2014
Yellow-Browed Warbler - Oct 5th 2013
Great White Egret - Nov 5th 2009
Honey Buzzard - Sept 23rd 2000
Goshawk - Apr 6th 2009
Whooper Swan - Nov 10th 2013
Ferruginous Duck - Dec 2nd 2009
Wryneck - Aug 29th 2012
Avocet - March 13th 1983
Black-Throated Diver - Jan 25th 1987
Little Tern - June 18th 1983
Montague's Harrier - Aug 26th 2007

But as my good friend Andy Johnson said "just 4 off the big 200", what a thought.

Not to sound like it's unfair, but I should have 4 more on my list;

Quail - 1/20th June 2012, heard by Maidenhead birders (B Stacey & G Marsh) heard it 10:00. I didn't hear about until late afternoon and did come back for dusk, but left to see visiting family and it called once 35 minutes after I left.
Common Crane - 2/6th May 2012, flew East 3-6 miles to the ENE, could have possibly been picked up in the scopes?
Hawfinch - 1/13th Oct 2010 Heard a rasping call, looked up to see a short tailed bulky finch heading very fast NW, completely failed to get in focus in bins, or in the scope at all. But sadly saw large white upper wing marks and knew it was one.
Red-footed Falcon - 1/6th Oct 2012 A short tailed falcon went fast South over LFGP, I was looking into sunlight and could no colour, or features on the bird, but surprisingly it turned and hovered at 300ft, then circled and hovered again, then dived down like a Sparrowhawk.... Hovering is well known in Red-footed Falcon

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Keeping our eye out

Suddenly good sea birds are in the county and just outside, we need to be on the lookout for Skuas, Phalaropes, Little Gulls, obscure waders and ducks.

Meanwhile Alan re-found the Garganey back on Tern scrape, til 15:22, then went to Teal, spent 5 mins there, then went off over towards LFGP with 4 Teal, but could not be re-found again.

I went via the car park, had 3 groups of Redwing, c20, 6 & 10 and looking likely to stay local.

Here are two rubbish shots of the Garganey

At LFGP, 5 Snipe flushed off from in front of the hide, a Green Sandpiper and the male Stonechat was still around, another rubbish shot of that, annoyingly it came from left of the hide, so a better shot would have been possible had I known.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

WSL dusk visit

I have been meaning to check on WSL at dusk since the July fishermen reports on Bittern, so tonight I did and saw no Bitterns. I did hear 2 Water Rail and 1 Kingfisher, but had little else to mention.

There have been Bittern in 3 of the last 4 Octobers, so we stand a good chance of getting one!

Friday, 10 October 2014

October Garganey

I was driving home from shopping and house viewing, trying to get back in time to get the washing off the line and feed us all, when Steve called saying he was fairly sure he had a Garganey. Over an hour later I called to say I was heading down and as soon as I got there, it obviously was one.

It is only the 4th October bird, so always a bonus and great to see them so late into the autumn.

Here the best shots I could get as it never really stopped moving;

Ruff time

Yesterday I got the text 3 Ruff in SW corner, but before I could even move from my office, "sorry they got harassed by Lapwing and left SE, after only 3 mins". I was too tied up to visit, but Geoff said 2 Stonechat and a possible Whinchat, the latter was not confirmed.

And today, Geoff texted saying Ruff in front of Ron's Hide, but this time Sheep flushed it and it left high East.

I went to the car park, 2 Blackcap, 3+ Chiffchaff and opposite Ron's, 2-3 more Chiffchaff, a scattering of Meadow Pipit over, 6+ Skylark, 20+ House Martin heading South, 3 Swallow, 1 Grey Wagtail in front of the hide, 2 Kingfisher flashing about, 2 Snipe in the SW corner. 2 Raven went over low West separately, calling quietly.

On the way back numerous Goldcrest and Cetti's calling across the Loddon near the Hazel fencing.

It's funny, but with the month on 76, it is actually hard seeing how we get much in to the 80's, but probably will.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Chats still present

Brian texted earlier to tell me the Stonechats were still present, but I couldn't get out til lunchtime and despite Trevor not finding them in an hour wait, both jumped up 5 seconds after he left the hide.

He obviously came back and saw both, here is one poor record shot.

The Green Sandpiper present over the last few days came in just to the left of the hide, providing an irresistible chance to get a half decent shot.

Monday, 6 October 2014


It was raining, but not too hard when I got out at 08:45, a Kestrel and 12 Meadow Pipit from the bottom of the car park field, plus heard Chiffchaff and 1 Blackcap, over 100 Wigeon left the balancing pool I thought I should check them all properly, noting a Little Egret flying over LFGP North.

It looked like it was going to rain harder so I went on to LFGP quickly and then counted the Wigeon, 130 is still a good count, 50+ Shoveler is too. It began raining much harder and felt I should leave soon, so I quickly scanned and counted some of the other birds, 2 Little Grebe, 2 Snipe, 4 Swallow buzzing around low.

Then something small looked like it dropped on the lake edge in the far NE corner, scoping I couldn't see anything, other than the second Snipe running for cover. Then I noticed a small bird perched on the only piece of bramble there, an adult Stonechat...nice, then suddenly a second...a juvenile, extra nice.

Looking back into those archives, the first time I have found more than 1, plus there have only ever been 4 records of 2 and one of 3, back on Oct 4th & 6th 1989. With so many records of Stonechat since 2005 in October, it is the best month to look for them.

Here are the Sept to November records, earliest to latest;

Sept : 1/1st & 22nd 2014
Sept : 1/16th, 19th, 21st & 31st 1989
Oct : 3/4th & 6th 1989
Oct : 2/6th 2014
Oct : 1/9th 1998
Oct : 1/11th 2006
Oct : 2/11th 2007
Oct : 1/11th 2012
Oct : 1/14th 2009
Oct : 1/22nd 1980
Oct : 1/27th 2005
Oct : 1/27th 2010
Nov : 1/4th 2001

October species total is on 74 species, 7 more to match 2006, 13 more to match 2007, just one more than that to match 2013. Lots more to happen yet and I hope for something unexpected and exciting.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

First autumn frost

It was darn chilly when I went out around 08:45, a light frost on the car park fields shady parts. A bit of activity in the skies, a few Meadow Pipits, 2 Skylark, 7-8 Blackbird in the scrub left of Lea Farm, 2-3 Blackcap and 3+ Chiffchaff in the car park field.

I heard Green Sandpiper, a Mistle Thrush distantly over LFGP, 5+ Song Thrush flying around.

At Teal Hide a Water Rail called, a Grey Heron caught a vole.

At LFGP, 3 then 2 more Skylark, 5 House Martin, 1 Swallow over, Grey Wagtail in front of the hide, the Green Sandpiper in the NE corner. The SW corner was packed with Shoveler and Wigeon, but not much else.

A one minute look over Sandford and another Water Rail near the hide + 1 Pochard.

Friday, 3 October 2014

October Black Tern - Rarity is contextual

I was sat at Ron's Hide counting wildfowl, with an excellent count of 71 Shoveler, then watching the sky and seeing a few raptors, plenty of Red Kites, Buzzard, including another very pale one, with most of the tail completely white, a Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk and another small raptor too distant to be sure about.

Suddenly a moulting adult Black Tern flew thru my scope view, but I didn't get enough on the tail to be sure it wasn't White-winged....yes I know wishful thinking, but I called Richard and he and Steve had just seen it come by at Bittern Hide. We agreed to go to BSL and meet there.

I went saw nothing and after 10 minutes looked at my phone to see yet again I had left it on silent and missed calls and texts, saying it was on Sandford. By the time I got there it had gone and as Richard had already left, Steve and I went on to BSL, picking it up near the sailing club....showing dusky upper tail and no black underwing coverts, so Black Tern it was.

Looking back there have only been 2 previous October records;

1/1st 1982 (MR), 6/3rd (FJC & DF), 5/4th, 4/5th, 3/6th.
1/9th & 10th 1987 (RTT)

So you could say it has been a while, certainly 32 years for me and I think rarity has a context, other than just rarity of species itself, date rarity is just as much fun and interest.

Pics courtesy of Steve

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Signs of winter passage

A lunchtime visit today revealed lots of small birds going in all directions, 10+ Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail, 3 Song Thrush and odd finches which I couldn't ID and more notably 40+ Chaffinch all West, spread over an hour in groups of 6-10+, .

4 Ring-necked Parakeet were pinging about to the East and I heard a Cetti's towards Lavell's.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

3rd highest September species count

We only need one more today to reach the 2nd highest September, it stands on 96, missing Redwing and Siskin, both usually occur late Sept, but with it being so mild I am not surprised they haven't arrived yet.

Other likely birds perhaps that should have been seen were Peregrine, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Ringed Plover and Dunlin. Even if we had those, we would still be 1 short of the record of 106 set in 2012.

This morning's brief car park and BSL visit offered 10+ Meadow Pipit over SE, 1 Common Gull East, 2 Grey Wagtail at the sailing club, 1 Nuthatch heard. 3 then 2 Song Thrush over points to Redwing arriving any day.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

What will be next

There are several good candidates to hope for before winter sets in, for my 2014 year list remaining, all with a handful of Sept and October records;

Golden Plover, Jack Snipe, Merlin, Little Gull (running out of time), Yellow-legged Gull, Scaup, Black-necked Grebe, Brambling, Rock Pipit & Yellowhammer.

Then from November we can look for Goosander, Smew, Woodcock...maybe Short-eared Owl thru?

Still, but potential there

Out at 10:00, it appeared quiet, but on examination, small groups of Meadow Pipit were going SE, as were Swallow and House Martin. I also heard 2 Skylark and saw a Linnet head NW over the car park field, which doesn't sound that exciting, but what was interesting was the Jay movement, 3, then 4, then 9 more all SE along the edge of Lavell's and is the biggest count I have, other than 11 in one flock on the 24th Sept 1983....spooky how close the dates are!

Again Blackcap and Chiffchaff were the only warblers, but I had no time to really check, I heard 3+ Goldcrest and feel a goodlook thru them might yield something?

As I left it was warming up and I felt something more would happen today.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Quiet week

Work is keeping me busy, but I have been out at lunchtimes, not much to say really, just a pair of Mistle Thrushes NE of landfill, trickles of House Martin & Swallow, fairly good Meadow Pipit passage NW mostly. Just Blackcap and Chiffchaff left on the warbler front it seems.

47 Shoveler yesterday at LFGP was a nice count, but the ducks are clearly moving between there and Twyford pits, so number fluctuate a lot.

2 Hobby 24th, 1 more today over the landfill and around 15:15 a Raven was out flying a Red Kite way over the landfill at around 1500-2000 feet.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Chat or chats? Thanks for that one mum

This morning we were back to fog and almost pointless conditions, but by late morning for those able to get out, it was looking nice and I heard plenty of Meadow Pipits over.

Then I got a text saying Whinchat on edge of SE corner LFGP, plus many ducks just flew in, so I put the news out. Marek went saw the Whinchat and re-found 2 Pintail as well.

I was otherwise engaged until 13:00 when on dropping my mother off she said "why don't you take Ethan if you need to see the bird". I didn't need to as I'd had Whinchat already, but thought "why not, I like Whinchat and Pintail for that matter".

I went and passed Alan, Gray, then Richard all heading back one after the other, telling me how far away it was, but the 'super' had been well enough to be sure.

So I was not expecting to find a juvenile Stonechat where everyone had been seeing the Whinchat and duly tweeted the news, to then hear some had seen 2 birds earlier, so both chats at one time in September for the second time? I am told Alan has shots of the bird from earlier.

Here are my shots of the Stonechat and as you would expect not beautiful, but the last one clearly shows no 'super';

A Wheatear was also present not too far from the Stonechat and I glanced at one of the Pintail, before Ethan got too bored.

So here I am on 130 for 2014, picking up an amazing 11 new species recently, 6 in August, 5 so far in Sept!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Thank you Marek

I'd left my phone in my car having picked up family for Sunday afternoon roast, but suddenly realised and when got it, saw a missed call from Marek...I called and he said Garganey LFGP now!

It was 40 mins til serving up so I dashed, I saw, I year ticked and equaled my 4th highest year of 129, set in 2009, excellent. And a great striking individual it was.

Marek said this was part of a huge flock of ducks that all came in together, comprising of 123 Wigeon - the largest early autumn count, 52 Shoveler, 94 Teal - the largest early autumn count, 72 Gadwall and 2 Pintail, quite a flock.

My morning trip out had been pretty quiet, Raven heard, a few groups of Swallows, 6+ Meadow Pipit, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2-3 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap and on to Bittern with a small handful of Gadwall and Teal.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Friday and Saturday Morning

I ran out of time to report the things I had yesterday, it amounted to Nuthatch heard, 5+ Meadow Pipit over SE, a few Blackcaps and Chiffchaff, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Linnet East, but not much else, except another stab at catching Kingfisher in front of Ron's hide, this time perched on the big clump of mud.

Today I found nothing at LFGP around 08:00, so went to the car park, again very little bar a few Swallows and Meadow Pipits over.

Then as I crossed to towards the sailing club, I heard something singing in the brambles on the left, it was a sub-song and sounded more 'Acro' like than 'Syliva'. I waited and waited getting low volume, but quite long bursts of song, followed by a low toned call, repeated 5-7 times, not so dissimilar to the 'picking' call of Water Rail and I was flumoxed.

It shut up by the time Eddie walked up and I hadn't even had a branch move and apart from 1-2 Chiffchaff and 2-3 Blackcap that passed by, no others warblers were seen. The Blackcaps also did their familiar 'tak' calls, which the mystery bird did not.

After trawling Xeno-canto I am not much wiser, but believe it was either an 'Acro' giving some pretty unusual mimicry, or something much more fun to contemplate...I'd love to go for Melodious Warbler and will check the sailing club again, but seriously doubt I'll hear it again...but I'd know that 'pick' call again, if it wasn't random mimicry and a one off?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

More Spotted Flycatcher

Trevor texted to say Spotted Flycatcher in car park field, plus 2 Raven over, I came down about 12:45 and had the same with him, a juvenile Hobby , then adult later, 2 distant Sparrowhawk squabbling with the juvenile for some minutes was fun to watch.

Whilst watching the Spotted Flycatcher after it moved to mid way along the East hedgerow, we had Coal Tit, Chiffchaff, 1-2 Meadow Pipit and I got some half decent shots of the Spotted Flycatcher.