Wednesday, 29 January 2014


I wasn't out yesterday, nor am I expecting to get out today, but what was probably 2 different LSW's were seen yesterday, 1 near the anglers car park by Peter Scudamore, 1 about 2 hours later near Sandford Mill by Paul Foulds, so we should be excited at the prospect of 2 in the wider area.

Richard also found the male Pintail back on Sandford, so again nice to know that it is still in the area.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Good duck

After missing a Coal Tit by 5 minutes this late bright morning, I had a brief look for the Chiffchaff without success, but did see 3 Sparrowhawk, a male displaying to a female and an immature male in the trees below, probably watching 'how it's done' and then I went home again, only to get a call from Marek just after lunch, with a male Pintail on Sandford. And off I dashed. Also present were a very good count of 210+ Gadwall and 42+ Pochard.

I like it when my predictions become reality, this is the first January Pintail since the 14th 2008, although 2007 and 2006 also mid month birds. February, March and October are probably the most frequent months to get them.

They are such fine ducks and always worth going to see on the patch!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Another little walk, another year tick

Early afternoon I went down the Loddon and saw 2 Lesser Redpoll opposite side of river, so another year tick, 2 in one day, almost on a roll! Well it was nice to get this scarce winter species this year at last. Even fed long enough for one record shot. 76 out of 78!

1 Little Grebe on LFGP, 1 male Goldeneye, 127+ Gadwall on Sandford, Mistle Thrush called near the Redpoll area but never saw it.

A short visit

A very quick walk around the car park field and view over the landfill brought the first Skylark fluttering over the far cell, Bullfinch in the field itself. The path to Bittern Hide was just too deep for walking boots so off to the other end for a 5 minute listen for Coal Tit, or Redpoll, but no joy.

More rain today and even more on the way

I haven't turned into a weather man, just to say it remains hard to get out when it is barely passable.

Friday is looking like a washout and Sunday not much better, which could reduce what we can achieve on the coming work party.

I still need Lesser Redpoll, Grey Wagtail and Coal Tit and nobody has seen a Kestrel, Woodcock or Tawny Owl yet and various other frequent January birds are missing too, so this month is very low compared to all recent years.

Looking at the Otmoor webs count on the 21st we should be hoping for a Pintail, they had 293!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

As expected Sandford Lane impassable again

Good grief, I 've never known a January like it, so much flooding for so long, ridiculous.

So back to aviation museum area, 2 Siskin over, 1 Nuthatch giving a very interesting call, a Xeno Canto search reveals it is a female song!?

Outside the aviation museum itself 2 Bullfinch and after I left Marek said Coal Tit passed by, which I was kind of expecting, but more hoping I'd see, or hear. Marek also had 2 Nuthatch.

Anyway that is the 77th species for the month, 4 short of the 2004 rather low count of 81 and 11 off the high of 2008.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Sandford Lane open for a few days

Yesterday I did 45 mins around the car park and BSL, another Mistle Thrush, Green Woodpecker heard, 22 Pochard on BSL, 18+ Great Crested Grebe, but not a lot more to say.

Today to my surprise Sandford Lane was still passable, but with the Loddon about to burst it's banks again, I doubt it will be open by tonight, or tomorrow latest.

Again short on time, I pottered around near the Mill and as luck would have it an adult Little Egret flew in and landed on the smaller Weeping Willow, stayed several minutes, but saw myself and Alan and off back North. Being new for the year this makes it 76 for the park, 74 for me.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Dusk visit

A trudge along the muddy tarmac path and still half wellie deep water to Bittern Hide, scored me overdue Shoveler and at 17:00 Barn Owl peering from the box, but it I was too cold to stand for long and waited by the gate into the meadow for a chance Woodcock...without success.

It is fair to say Redwing are very noisy at roost and don't like being disturbed, many ducks around Lavell's tonight, more Mallard than normal too.

Just 3 more to catch up with the year list, but at least 4 more 'Expecteds' to add yet too.

Kittiwake was real...but dies

Brain called me to say he had a Kittiwake on BSL, but it looked very unwell, I couldn't go straight away, but got there after about 15 minutes. Brian was still there and said it had just rolled over and died 2-3 minutes before. I am now inclined to year tick this based on the evidence.

Apart from an 'observer unknown' report 2nd April 1999, the last confirmed was 5th July 1990, which was also an adult and also died.

I went off to LFGP to check out a grebe, which was Little and also adding 4 Meadow Pipit, headed back to recover the corpse. I heard Green Woodpecker in the car park too.

There is something very sad about photographing dead birds, not because of year ticking them, I just don't like seeing them dead.

Now, let's bring up the subject of was it the bird I saw on the 7th? And why nobody else saw it? I guess we can put it down to flooding and few people managing to get around the park at all.

Assuming it was the same bird, this would constitute the longest staying individual ever, for DP at least. This is only the 7th DP record, the previous confirmed records are:

April 7th 1984, 2 Adults over 10:00 (bird walk)
May 30th 1984, caught but died 31st  (Paul Andrew)
April 28th 1985, oiled Adult, 05:18 to 06:45 only (FJC)
January 3rd 1986, Adult died (Alan McAll)
April 13th 1986, 07:30 for 10 mins (FJC)
July 5th 1990, Adult died (BTB)

Forgot to add 3 Ring-necked Parakeet flew to willows above the wooden footbridge, then flew back 10 minutes later. A friend also told me LSW was seen behind the aviation museum again around 14:00.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Kittiwake reported in Theale....was I right after all?

So after doubting myself, with the news of an adult at Theale today, more or less confirms that I did have one yesterday. Whilst I forgot to mention that it was an adult, what caught my eye at the time was the lack of white in the wing tips and the reason why I went for my scope.....having broken my own rule of never going into the field without a scope.

Anyway, I can't be absolutely 100%, but I am fairly sure it was one and I was being dismissive at the time.

Also off patch was reports of Crane in Theale which might show up? And a Two-barred Crossbill....heard only, but ID'd on call! Well Mr Gent, with Berksbirds no longer allowing searches of individuals past reports, you are either a top birder, or deluded, let's wait and see which it is.

5 more

A clear morning for a change, off to DP centre, with 1 brief House Sparrow, down to fishermans car park, a Mistle Thrush over South bay BSL, then off to sailing club. Same flock of winter thrushes on golf course, 3+ Goldeneye on BSL, then in Lavell's car park 2 Pied Wagtail and best of all a 1st Winter Great Black-backed Gull. 66 from 74, I'm still missing Little Grebe, Shoveler, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Meadow Pipit, Green Woodpecker and Barn Owl, park got Grey Wagtail just now, but is missing Kestrel, Tawny Owl and we hope for Coal Tit, Chiffchaff, Woodcock, maybe Golden Plover, Goosander, Pintail....?

Before departing a Nuthatch perched calling briefly.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

5 more

I forgot to add Collared Dove from the 3rd South of Rewood Lake so updated that today.

Around 09:30 I went to the main centre and still no sign of House Sparrow, not surprisingly with it chucking it down and howling wind. Many thrushes still on golf course, c150-200 Fieldfare.

At the MAC/DAC/sailing club, or whichever name you prefer, I may have heard Pied Wagtail and may have glimpsed Mistle Thrush, but added neither to my year list. As I waited taking cover from the rain in the Segway charging bay, I thought I had a Kittiwake, went to get my scope, but on return it had disappeared and must have just been a Common Gull!?

A walk up the sodden car park field, yielded returns with an immediate Peregrine circling over low East, looked large so was probably a female, then 2 Stock Dove over, a Buzzard landed at the back of Lavell's and I could see Wigeon in the distant flooded SE corner of LFGP. On the way back up the field a pair of Sparrowhawk glided over me together rather low towards Lavell's.

So am on a slightly more respectable 61, with both the very tricky species so far recorded this year - Lesser Spotted Woodpecker & Peregrine under the belt....nice.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Absent and hoping to get back on the patch

With so much flooding, my enthusiasm for wading around in wellies has kept me away, so instead I have looked at other features on blogger, to find to my amazement I have had over 21,000 views of my blog since it started. Crikey, it must be counting my log in's, I checked and it is with those filtered out, still amazed!

So thank you folks for your views, I feel all special and glowing inside.

Have a better week ahead.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Very high flood levels

As we reach near to the previous high waters of winter 2000, some of us plod on, BTB in particular updating me on yesterdays additions, Shoveler, Buzzard, Pied Wagtail, Green Woodpecker, another Sparrowhawk, brought us to 66.

South of Redwood Lake 3-4 Collared Dove  were on show, 2 groups of 5+ Chaffinch feeding around, 2 Bullfinch, Redwing, Reed Bunting and various tits. No go at the bottom meeting the Loddon, totally flooded and fast rising water.

Back to aviation museum, Lesser Spotted again at the bottom of Colemansmoor near to the mill, flushed it on to trees opposite then it looped towards Sandford, water very high.

Brian called later to say he had Bittern at WSL, a dark bird, 68th species for the park in 2014.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A better morning and evening for some

Despite the flooding, I ventured through and spent 45 minutes walking up around the mill and old Colemansmoor Road and around the aviation museum copse. En-route I saw Kingfisher, heard Bullfinch, Treecreeper, and I found a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in the tops of willows half way down the back garden of of the last house, closest to the red tailed aircraft. Perhaps looking like a worn male, as it showed no red cap, just dirty buff colour, sadly it dropped out of sight before I could grab a poor record shot.

On the walk back down a Nuthatch sang in Sandford Copse, I got into may car and drove to middle lay-by, and waded up Sandford Lane to the car park field. Another Nuthatch was singing at the bottom, a Feral Pigeon over distantly, no other raptors, but a brief Ring-necked Parakeet call made it worth it.

No wagtails here, nor at the sailing club, Common Gull of course, so I have crept up to 54 of 58, missing Siskin, Little Grebe, Mistle Thrush* and assume Wigeon is at LFGP, seen by someone by now.

No sightings so far of Pied or Grey Wagtail, Shoveler, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Little Egret, Bittern, Kestrel, Tawny Owl, Coal Tit, or Green Woodpecker??

*Brian caught up with Mistle Thrush on the golf course and like me, also had Nuthatch East of car park field.

It was great to see the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker today an awesome find and bonus for January, Trevor and one other chap also managed to see it later behind the aviation museum.

Additional news of Lesser Redpoll and Barn Owl, plus I'd missed mean the January count is now 61.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Very wet start holds numbers down

A rather poor 43 for my hour or so around car park, Lavell's and BSL sailing club.

A later walk proved as expected, that the rain was not going to stop today, a Water Rail calling briefly on the Sandford backwaters on the West side, was the only addition to make my 44th species today.

The park is on 52,  without Little Egret, Bittern and most of the other scarce birds I mentioned before, but with Treecreeper, Snipe Cetti's and Siskin, otherwise a very wet, low start to the year and flood levels rising again right now, will make it hard to make the next 3-4+ days count.