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.