Sunday, 31 August 2014

Them one day birds

Yesterday's Redstart was not seen today, which is almost a surprise, even with clear skies such as last night, they often stick around. Another Redstart was reported yesterday too, an adult was apparently seen a few hundred yards off DP, way down the footpath beyond the balancing pool.

I went to DP main centre and heard Coal Tit in 'High Chimneys' garden again.

What I saw in my brief car park visit was a Swift and an adult female Peregrine which cam in from the East, over towards BSL and back round across Lavell's and LFGP, off NW, or West 08:51.

The August month total is 98, just 1 off equaling the record. Shame we couldn't have had a Whinchat like so many other Berks sites today and for the last 3-4 days.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Hirundines a plenty

I hope to get out again later, but my wife's driving lesson was at 08:00 so I had to be back before that, so with just 20 mins free I checked the car park field and am beginning to think we are not going to get a Redstart.

Over the sailing club was 1 Swift and over BSL and DP in general was possibly near 1000 House Martin & Swallow. 1 then a 2 Grey Wagtail were on the beach.

And the update from 10:01 is that an immature Redstart was found in the central enclosure of the car park field by Brian, Trevor & Geoff. Not so many good shots so far, but here is what I have;

Then Geoff collapsed and we needed to call an ambulance, just before it arrived at 10:20 I was standing roadside when 6 Yellow Wagtail went over SE at about 150 feet. We think Geoff is okay and wish him the best.

I have calculated there are at least 7 more species that we have a fair to good chance of getting in 2014.

Friday, 29 August 2014

A little quiet

I had just 20 mins in the car park around 09:15, seeing 2 Swifts.

Just now I had 45 mins in the car park and had a Hobby SE at 14:17, then a Peregrine West at 14:43-44, this might be the only report this month. I heard Ring-necked Parakeet.

I always check on the Oxford bird blog and they have been getting nice waders, including 2 Curlew Sandpiper yesterday and today, which we would be rather overjoyed to see, so say the least.

My good friend Adam saw a Honey Buzzard over Little Marlow around 09:00 today, heading over Winter Hill into Berkshire. I'm just a little jealous and hope that it appears in the Berks report in a few years time, it certainly deserves to be included.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Wet start

That was the only start I got this morning and my expectations were fairly high for something good going thru and at LFGP, all I had was 3 Common and 3 Green Sandpiper, which isn't a bad count this late into August, but over recent years we have often had Common pass thru , or linger until October, or even November. Apart from Lapwing, no other waders seen.

80 Gadwall shows another big increase, still 11 Shoveler, 11 Teal, 4 Wigeon and 2 Little Grebe. The 2 Common Tern chicks can fly now, so will be leaving any day soon, maybe they'll stick around for a week or so, to get theirs wings strong and ready for migration

Heavy passage of hirundines and a Nuthatch near Teal hide was it.

With the weather breaking shortly before 09:00 I decided I'd give it 30 mins in the car park, hoping for the usual, what I did get was 2 Swift heading SE over the landfill, so getting late'ish for them. There are at least 9 September records for Swift, the latest being 21st unknown.

I have seen 6 September Swifts, my latest being the 14th, but we have had none since my last on the 10th in 2010.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Exciting morning

Marek was out early and no doubt glad he was, getting a female, or immature Marsh Harrier over LFGP 06:53, he also added Pochard for the month.

By the time I got out at 10:00 I was just hoping for anything, lots of House Martin and Swallow over the landfill, but no chats, Wheatears, or wagtails. Then I heard a Curlew call once, as I was standing at the back of the ditch I had to quickly jump forward and look left, where the call had come from.

I got my bins on a large bird moving away and had to re-position my scope very quickly to get onto the bird now flying away West, for a moment it looked like it might head towards LFGP, but it went behind an Oak and I never saw it again.

I was told a Water Rail was seen under the feeders this morning, so August is now on 95, just 4 short of the month record total. With Yellow Wagtail, Redstart, Whinchat, Whimbrel, Greenshank and Coal Tit all likely, we could still smash the record by 2, or more if a few more waders come thru.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Ducks on the increase

Just before I met up with Simon from DP, I went to Ron's hide to check up, 65 Gadwall was a good count, 12 Shoveler, 11 Teal and 3 Wigeon, was not a bad wildfowl count for August. 2 Green Sandpiper fed in the SW corner. No sign of any Wheatear, or Whinchat though.

We are preparing for excavation work in the SW corner, so over the coming weekend expect the vegetation to be flailed so that marker posts can be seen by the digger man. The result should be that 60-70% more of the SW corner bay should be shallow enough for waders, dabbling ducks, egrets, etc to be able to feed, with low muddy islets visible in the driest of summers, at a time when Little-ringed Plover, Common & Green Sandpiper passage will be at it's peak. Not forgetting other waders Redshank, Greenshank, Godwits and hopefully a Spotted Crake in the coming years.

A deep ditch arcing around the back edge of the bay will become full of Phragmites and FOLL intend to make seasonal cuts to encourage Snipe, Water Rail, Little Egret, Teal and even Bittern to feed in these areas.

Spot that

I was out after work and nursery drop off around 09:25, 2 Buzzard low, 5 Ring-necked Parakeet around, 1-2 Whitethroat still around, plenty of Swallows, House and even a good handful of Sand Martin. On over to BSL as the rain came in again, at least 4 Swift still present over the picnic area.

Around 10:12 a very distinctive call rang out across the lake, a "chewit" sound, pretty loud and clear and I scanned frantically to get onto it, knowing it was a wader.

It called 6-7 times over the next 40-60 seconds, each time further away, but I never got a glimpse and knew I had heard it, but not recently and began to fear something good had flown over that I would not clinch.

Fortunately I heard it so well, Xeno-canto was able to immediately confirm it was a Spotted Redshank, only my third ever, with only 10 confirmed records ever. This places me 122, a surprising 8th highest year list, with one to go to equal 2006 and with Yellow Wagtail still more or less guaranteed, I know I'll get to 123 at the very least.

As always here are all the records, italics for 'Observer Unknown'

Sept 3rd 1981 : Flew over (TAG)
Aug 20th 1984 : Mungell's (AJ, PB & TB)
Sept 9th 1985 : Flew over (AJ)
Sept 11th 1989 : Sandford (DF et al)
Aug 16th to 20th 1990 : Lavell's (BTB et al), the Twyford bird visited numerous times and 2 were claimed on the 20th (VSB)
May 26th 1994 : Lavell's (OU)
Aug 26th 1994 : 2 Lavell's (OU)
Aug 18th & 19th 1995 : Lavell's (TAG et al)
Apr 28th 1996 : Lavell's (OU)
Sept 14th to Oct 2nd 1998 : Lavell's (BTB et al), the Twyford bird visited numerous times
Mar 15th 2003 : Lavell's (BTB et al)
Aug 30th 2008 : Lavell's (ARy et al)
Aug 26th 2014 : BSL over (FJC)

So I think it's fair to say date wise, it fits in very well with past patterns, if anyone can add any extra details for the staying birds, perhaps even the 2 in 1990, or confirm the other records, let me know.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Very wet

My 07:30 visit was not as wet as later, but featured very little, c100 Swallow over the landfill, 1 Little Egret and 3 Teal on Tern scrape.

Late afternoon the rain was rather steady so I lingered around the sailing club car park, eventually finding a Spotted Flycatcher with a small group of tits and warblers in the garden parallel to the car park, nearest to the golf course. An adult Hobby went over NE and a lone Swift was over BSL with 150-200+ Swallow, House Martin and a few Sand Martin.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Year List predictions

I found I had not even put Spotted Flycatcher on the list, so I didn't need to remove it, which is a bit slack actually, as it has been seen 5 consecutive years and at least 8 other years in late August since records began. They bred on DP until 1982.

I also feel it was overlooked in numerous years from the late eighties and to be frank, the Loddon and most of the rest of the park is not covered well enough to establish if more come thru ....and they probably do despite the terrible decline nationwide.

So we are about out of time for Wood Warbler and probably Ringed Plover too, but this coming week is Whinchat, Redstart and Whimbrel week, so good coverage is essential.

Not bad for a work party

I was at DP main centre and seeing another late Swift, plus about 100 House Martin, then a Mistle Thrush was in a big willow of the High Chimney's garden.

Meanwhile 3 Spotted Flycatcher were along the back hedgerow of the car park field, of which I saw one when meeting the other volunteers, a Grey Wagtail also went over.

At LFGP 2 of 3 Wheatear were on show, later a Little Egret was on the shingle island.

All in all not bad considering I wasn't birding.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Spotted Flycatcher

Yesterday I missed the Spotted Flycatcher, having to settle for 2 Swift instead, today I was out at 07:15 and hoping for Yellow Wagtail, with no joy.

I had 3 Whitethroat, 5 Swift, 1 Grey Wagtail and after some time and a second loop of the car park field, I found my own Spotted Flycatcher, on the big Hawthorn. But after a few minutes a dog walker walked between me and the bird and it flushed away to the Poplars and could not be relocated.

I waited around for Brian to return, but no sign still and then a Hobby went over NE, just my 7th this year.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Waiting for it to start

I keep saying passage will get going proper any day, but no Yellow Wagtails yet still, an adult Hobby went over the car park low NW at 10:43 and a couple of Whitethroat were on the Hawthorn on the edge of the landfill, but little else worth mentioning.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Unprecedented Mistle Thrush count

I was not around today, but Brian sent a text saying he had 18 Mistle Thrush on the landfill, a record by a country mile. The only other big count was of 13 on 1997, with most high counts not exceeding 3 in any years, although 6 on 29th 2011, was also notable.

I am compiling a list of escapees, just for fun really, after my good friend AJ told me yesterday that he too had a Ringed Teal in 1984, this time a male 9th & 10th Oct.

The Dunlin remains on LFGP and another Wheatear on the landfill.

My early evening update is that a juvenile Wheatear, was on the vents visible from the bottom of the car park field, but from right of where we normally view from. Also looking over towards the far landfill, left of the farm itself, at least 4 of the Mistle Thrush were visible, suggesting the whole flock was still present.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014


Shame to have to highlight such a species, but due to its scarcity, a single Linnet went over myself and Brian in the car park SE 10:30, the first record since May, plenty of House Martins overhead. I wasn't out for a walk so that was it.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Late house keeping and updates

Marek reminded me I hadn't removed Garganey from my year list, so now I've done it, I stand on 120, not 121 for 2014.

Late news for Saturday was someone wrote Black-tailed Godwit on the board, but not on the log, so we don't know who it was.

Yesterday 2 Green Sandpiper at LFGP, plus the Dunlin, the latter still present and today according to Marek, or 2nd longest staying bird, with a spring bird from May 5th to 14th remaining 10 days, but at 7 days is our longest autumn individual. A very quick look at the car park field at 07:15 only showed that a good number of warblers have linked up with the tit flock, but I had no time to go thru them.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Wheatear's etc

I was checking the car park field by 07:45, but no sign of any Redstarts, but that isn't unusual as they only start coming thru around 28th and into mid Sept. I was hoping for a Yellow Wagtail as it started without any breeze, again no joy.

On to Bittern Hide and a small tit flock was bubbling with activity, several Willow Warbler and posing Long-tailed Tits.

A Nuthatch called towards Bittern Hide, where many Reed Warblers continue to hang out, but nothing to speak of on the scrape.

At LFGP no real change, just 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin, then I found 2 Wheatear on the vents almost out of view, but they moved to the far landfill cell and hung around vent no's 38 to 42. It is worth a giggle sharing the only shot I got.

After I left Geoff said 3 more Green Sandpiper flew in with a Common Sandpiper.

Off patch yesterday, I was helping my sister settle in at her new house on the NW side of Twyford, which lies very close the Henley train line, about half a mile NE of the BBOWT pit and a Raven went over very low and noisily, so they are still very close by to DP.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Early Whinchat?

Geoff texted saying he was fairly sure he had a Whinchat on the landfill, so despite having family plans, we re-jigged timings and I went back down, having been down for a dawn visit this morning. 30 Gadwall, 6 Shoveler, 7 Teal, 2 Wigeon, the summer plumage Dunlin still present too.

On arrival at LFGP it had gone out of view and was not relocated, Geoff showed me 2-3 pixelated shots and it did look more Whinchat than Wheatear, but not seeing the bird I felt it was inconclusive. What went against it was it was that it was highly mobile and as he put it, went from vent to vent, sounding much more like Wheatear behaviour.

I had my doubts based on date too, but now I have looked it isn't out of the question, here is the early August record history, there are just 3 and none in recent years.

Aug 10th (AJ & TB) & 14th 1984 (PB)
Aug 2nd 1986 (FJC)

Here are all the other autumn records, updated thanks to Adam Bassett

16th Sept 1979
27th Aug 1980
30th Aug 1981
23rd Aug 1982
28th to 31st Aug, then 9th, 11th & 20th Sept 1983
7th, 9th & 24th Sept 1984
2nd & 20th Sept 1985
1st, 3rd, 6th & 2/17th & 2/20th Sept 1986
2/1st, 2/3rd Sept, 1/4th & 1/5th 1987
1st Oct 1988
16th & 21st Sept 1989
1/12th 1990
10th, 16th & 22nd Sept 1992
31st Aug 1993
8th Sept 1996
27th Aug 1997
26th Aug 2000
4th & 7th Sept 2002
31st Aug 2003
27th & 28th Aug, then Sept 19th, then 9th Oct 2011

So it is fair to say 26th Aug to 9th Sept is the best window, good chances between 16th & 22nd Sept too.

While I was not seeing the possible Whinchat from the bottom of the car park field, I did have my first Silver-washed Fritillary in the car park field

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Weekend special...for some

I was out Saturday checking the car park field, nowt, then on my way to Bittern hide I saw a bright warbler with a short looking tail, flying into the trees on the left of the tarmac path not far past the foot bridge from the car park. I couldn't pick anything up so crossed over to Sandford and did the loop back to BSL sailing club.

No sign, but 8-10 Swift were over the lake.

So back around to Bittern and the same bolshy Little Egret was on show close by, plus a few Lapwing.

Back at the car park, about to leave and an adult Hobby came over from the NW and on SE, so few around this year and everyone is saying the same, so I do wonder what has happened to them this year?

Much later around 19:30, I got a text from Brian asking if I knew about the 21 Black-tailed Godwits reported at 16:30, "No" I said, he was on his way. I was not dressed and decided to wait on Brian's news, bad mistake, as they were there, but not by the time I got there, missing them by 60 seconds.

I am not going to bleat on and on, but put simply rare bird news is a two way street, not one!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Waiting on the weather

I had a very quick car park visit around 09:30, a Mistle Thrush over SE was worthy of note, more common than Grey Wagtail this year, even though Marek had one this morning.

A trickle of House Martin going SE and 2-3 Bullfinch about.

Now we wait for the rain to push in and to see if the remnants of hurricane Bertha brings us anything on Sunday.

Thursday, 7 August 2014


It's happened before, I get ready to leave and suddenly a good bird flies over, this time at about 14:55 an adult Osprey flew in from the South at around 200 feet, began circling over the landfill and then steadily rose to about 1500 feet over the next 7-8 minutes, finally spreading it's wings and heading off North.

I even got some audaciously cheeky, but of course poor digi-scoping iphone shots.... poor indeed, but I challenge anyone to try taking a digi shot of a circling raptor at 800-1000 feet.

Of somewhat less exciting news, it was stil nice to see 4 Common Sandpiper and 3 Green Sandpiper on Lavell's today. Richard had 5 Common on Sandford later which is kind of no surprise, when the 4 flew off around 10:00.

3 Swift also passed just East of car park field during my one hour sky watch.

Monday, 4 August 2014

July finish

A last minute Coal Tit 27th, a Dunlin on the 28th at LFGP (BTB), then Mandarin 29th and 30th, took the total to 89, making it the =2nd highest July.

The month did not include Barn or Little Owl, Grey Wagtail, Lesser Whitethroat, or Nuthatch. Certainly the last 2 must be around, Grey Wagtail probably shows up in odd places, but we appear to have lost them at BSL sailing club beach, which is both odd and a shame.

I await a Ringed Plover mid month with a bit of luck and will be keeping my eyes peeled for Whimbrel, Curlew, or maybe an even more exciting wader, not forgetting Yellow Wagtail and Spotted Flycatcher later this month.

I was out pretty early today, 3 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common, 1 LRP, 4 Swift, 2 Kingfisher was about it.

Brian told me that he had Nuthatch in July, so we hit 90 the new 2nd highest July.