Thursday, 31 December 2015

An inspiring last day of the year

I woke around 07:00 and lay there thinking I should get up and go out early for a change. After umming and ahhing for 15 minutes I got up and went straight out, thinking a Barn Owl might still be possible in the half light.

As it happens it wasn't, but undeterred I went into Bittern hide and scanned around, A Water Rail was scampering along the reed edge heading towards the hide, the usual number of Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe, 11 Pochard, the female Red Crested Pochard, then joined by the male no doubt flying in from Sandford - hopefully they won't disappear overnight due to new years eve fireworks.

Not much else showing I went over to check Sandford, another 7 Pochard and again a good stock of Wigeon and Gadwall, with many more Wigeon on BSL. I put in a cursory look for Goldeneye, but decided the car park field was my preferred option.

And I'm glad I did, after 10 minutes of not much more than a single Great Black-backed Gull, I picked up a distant flock off birds in my bins and needed the scope to confirm a nice flock of about 300 Golden Plover, from where I stood at recently expanded landfill viewing area at the bottom of the car park field, they were well left of the typical area I pick them up, pretty much directly behind Ron's hide, my guestimate was that they were over Thames Valley Park area and heading SW.

I sent out Tweets and WhatsApp messages and when I looked up again I could no longer pick them up. I scanned around the landfill for other species, a Mistle Thrush, a Nuthatch called near Lea Farm, but nothing else really. I scanned one more time and saw the Goldies again, but this time they were nearer and the flock had grown massively, to around a 1000+ in one spread out flock and moving back and forth, seemingly reluctant to move on. I reached for my phone to update the Tweets and WhatsApp messages, when I noticed 5 large wildfowl coming in over the landfill heading slowly SW, bins up and they were December "how weird and cool is that I said".

The Shelduck were gone quickly so I went back to the Goldies and watched them for another 10 minutes, but they never got any closer, the flock splintered a few times, but always converged again, the last time I saw them they were considerably further to the NW so somewhat beyond Play Hatch.

The Goldie flock is the biggest by three fold of any count I've had, or ever heard of around DP, the Shelducks were the first December ones since 1 on 22nd 1984, along with 3/15th & 2/22nd 1981.

There have been 3 November records in recent years, 2008, 2010 & 2011, so you could say a December record was looking likely, except that since 2012 Shelduck records have plummeted.

So I went away very happy and excited about 1st January 2016, hope I see lots of you local out there tomorrow. I am sure the Bittern is going to be a right pain to see, I can't do dusk tomorrow, but will be out Saturday and Sunday evening.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Another dusk, but a different result

After Brian texted me to report the Bittern at Teal scrape 11:20, I got there 20 minutes later and it had not showed again.

I went back at 15:30 and met Alan, a Little Egret was on the bund, 2 Cetti's called, 3, possibly 4 Water Rail too. Small groups of Redwing, the odd Reed Bunting all came in, 1-2 Fieldfare.

The egret left 16:11 and another flew over South 16:21, then as we were about to give up, out came the Bittern from the near left and flew to the back of the scrape, dropped and was gone! An amazing 6-8 second view awesome.

But I'm happy just to have seen it in December, it looked like a fairly rich rufous coloured bird, plus I've never known of a Bittern roosting other than on the main island, so it's a first for me.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Quiet afternoon

I got out for the last one and half hours of light, all around Lavell's, the highlights were 1 Fieldfare, 2 Greylag, 1 Little Egret, 1 Little Grebe and all the usual ducks and Water Rail.....and no Bittern.

The Teal were displaying well and I tried pretty much in vain to capture some video of the full display including the tail point at the end. After I posted it the quality was even worse, so maybe I'l open a youtube account and post it up there.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Preparing for 2016

I got out for about 2 hours again today, I didn't cover as much ground as I had hoped, but got side tracked into checking Wigeon on Sandford, also finding the pair of Red Crested Pochard in the process.

I didn't count any of the ducks, but there were pretty big numbers of Gadwall and Wigeon present, still a good wedge on Lavell's, but much of the surface weed having been eaten, less and less ducks are there now. Teal and Shoveler, but no Pintail visible.

At Teal scrape, lots of Water Rail activity, but no Bittern for me still.

I am not quite on a count down to 2016, especially bearing in mind a year tomorrow I found 3 Bewick's Swans on LFGP. Not that I expect any repeats, but I last minute Woodcock, or Bittern has to be possible.

I do hope all 3 of unusual duck species are on for January 1st, as no one can be convince me that the Ferruginous having a ring makes it an escape, if it is present I shall be year ticking it.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

A chance to get out

I managed a walk at last, only for two hours and didn't really cover much ground. At LFGP there was just 30 Teal and a flock of about 200 Lapwing. Whilst at Ron's I noticed someone had written on the white board 'Bittern 23rd Dec' but no name, nothing in the log itself, so nearly as useful as a chocolate tea pot. Is it too much to ask for people to write a time, their initials or name? Or heavens forbid it, actually share the news with other people? Or am I being old fashioned?

Anyway, back to today...I headed to Teal hide and sat for nearly an hour scanning over and over, but saw no Bittern, lots of trodden reeds, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall and head 2 and saw a third Water Rail. On the way out a small flock of around 12-15 Siskin landed, then headed off North. On to Sandford and a good number of duck, but nowt special, I did have a Great Black-backed Gull over, so added one for the month list.

December's tally is 79, 4 more and it equals top 3 position of 2009's 83. We are missing Kestrel, Coal Tit, Chiffchaff, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Med Gull, Woodcock, Peregrine, Barn Owl, Little Owl and despite the warm weather something could still show up over this last week of the year.

After I got home, I just read a Bittern was seen at Teal scrape, again the observer chose not to record a time, not very useful, but better than not reporting it at all.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Not a BTO Ferruginous

I contacted the BTO asking if they rang Ferruginous Ducks, they do, but only sadly only 4 ever, the last in 2004, so not our bird.

No news from the WWT so far, but let's keep our fingers crossed my email arrives in the inbox of someone who knows and cares.

No news today, but I hope to get an hour out tomorrow, at the very least to admire our new landfill viewing area. It's no great achievement, just a little more space for a few more people.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Ferruginous Photos

I went back and found the Ferruginous today, vary wary as usual, but managed these shots, not many are very good and several are not in focus, but I feel they capture various poses and features to underline the authenticity of the species.

On Sandford I found a very Scaup faced Tufted, but it wouldn't stop diving and only got one rubbish shot of it.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

December's interesting ducks

This autumn has already been rather interesting from a duck perspective, but when I arrived yesterday late afternoon it went one notch even better, with a nice female Red Crested Pochard preening in the dying light.

It's nothing to get too excited about, but with our Ferruginous Duck on it's 17th day today and the female Pintail now present for 34 days, it's kind of pleasant to have a good wedge of the County's best birds all within walking distance.

My stay yesterday was also for another attempt to find Bittern and Woodcock and Barn Owl, but I saw none of them. My second trip to WSL in a week also failed to produce Bittern there, so as much as I don't want to accept it, it could be that we just don't have a staying one so far.

WSL did provide the little Starling roost of around 700+ birds, which even on a small scale they still managed to show off some nice murmuration shapes.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Genuine Ferruginous, not quite a rant in defence of the facts

I deliberately didn't put '?' as my feelings are not in the slightest inclination to question either the authenticity of the purity of our birds genes, nor it's origins.

We can never be 100% sure, but that is more or less true of nearly all, if not all Ferruginous Ducks that occur in Berkshire, unless a colour ringed bird can be traced to it's origins.

So, and I do not mean to sound defensive, there would be no point, but why have some people in the bird news community decided to slate this bird as escaped because it has a ring?

Do they know something I don't, did they somehow see the tiny numbers and letters on it's BTO type ring? No of course they didn't, it is just easier to make negative assumptions. But why I have no idea?

I have looked at all the reasons and arguments for it to be considered a hybrid and none of them add up, it is a genuine Ferruginous, most probably an adult male just completing it's moult from eclipse.

It doesn't especially add more argument to it being wild, but there is a fair bit to read if one wants to and evidence of bonfide ringing of wild birds...of course.

And on to ringed birds, which there is little data:

The latter link reveals no birds have been recovered since 2010.

The following link is a 51 page study on the European conservation program in 2006

More data at

Birdguides historic records

If you subscribe to ResearchGate you can download another study here

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Ferruginous strikes again 6 years and 4 days after my last find

Having barely been on my patch recently, I was abundantly aware I was unlikely to find something good on my random 30 minute visits. So this afternoon, my wife said, "go on, you've been dying to get out" and despite a reluctance, I went, thinking I'll cover the 3 main lakes at the North end.

I arrived in the layby at Sandford and lifting my bins noticed a group of Pochard, thinking back to my conversation with Brian yesterday, about noticing an influx of Pochard and that led me to finding a male Ferruginous Duck in 2009.

So I raised my tripods legs, began scanning and immediately found this rather chestnut coloured duck asleep under what I refer to as the Little Egret tree.

It remained asleep, but I felt it was an obvious Ferruginous, then it did wake and pop it's head up for about 2 seconds, nice shape and bill detail.

Then as folks began to arrive it eventually woke up and began preening, revealing a BTO ring on it's left leg and some spots around the breast.

Then it jumped of the branch and swam around, Dave Rimes got some shots of it's underwing during a little flap and it seemed like we all felt it was a real and not hybrid individual.

A link here shows an identical underwing to that captured by David -

Now I've had time to update my records, I can also add that this bird was my 130th for my patch this year, so the 6th year on the trot I have reached the 130's. We now know it has vanished too, so identically to 2009, it was a one day bird..I suppose it could show up again, but doubt it will. I hope to put in some soon time to try and connect with that Firecrest and maybe find a Bittern at WSL?

Monday, 30 November 2015

85 for Nov

Steve added another one to November, Chiffchaff with the tit flock, a few days back. I did check for Little Owl twice over the weekend, but had no luck, I expect 1 or more is there.

Sunday I did a bit of a wildfowl count, Wigeon 200 BSL, 40 Sandford, 70 Lavell's, so nice to see us hit 310+ considering it is sol mild. I didn't count Gadwall, but guestimate would be 150-200. Nearly everything was on Lavell's, 60 Shoveler, 90 Teal and the female Pintail still around.

3-4 Bullfinch near John's bench were nice, 2-3 Goldcrest leave me hoping to see Fircerest still, the main islands reed bad and at Teal look rather trodden, so I do think it is likely a Bittern is around, but the weather is so windy there seems little point in looking.

Where the hell are all the Snipe, we had 20 in Sept-Oct, but just 1 or 2 about. 1-2 Siskin pinging about here and there, the odd group of Fieldfare and Redwing.

85 was what it finished on, so a new 2nd place, 5 off the 2011 high of 90.

It is an odd year, 134 so far, last year was similar until the early autumn, but then steadily added new birds for the yer, this year hasn't and leaves us currently 2 more than 2009's 132, 1 less than 2008's 135. 135 was also the total for 2004 & 2005. But since 2010, we have seen successive years of high counts, perhaps down to good coverage and Lea Farm G.P. Here are the totals;

2010 - 138, 2011 - 139, 2012 - 142 (the record), 2013 - 138, 2014 - 140.

So unless we have a remarkable December, 2015 will stand out as a 1 in 6 duff year, which seems inevitable because there has never been 5 species added to the year list in any December. 3 yes, but that was last year. If we want to be really optimistic then if got super cold and we got super lucky, then the following have occurred in December's gone by;

Black-necked Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Bewick's Swan
Pink-footed Goose
White-fronted Goose
Brent Goose
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

I guess any one of these would be nice

Thursday, 26 November 2015

November tally

I did manage another visit on Tuesday lunchtime, along the Loddon on a punt for Firecrest, no joy but I could hear plenty of Goldcrests. I had 3 Ring-necked Parakeet flying along the Eastern landfill boundary, but little else.

But we have had a few events recently. A Firecrest along the new hedge laying section, then Marek had a Crossbill over low North, the first since 2012.

Someone else also asked me if a Merlin would take prey off the LFGP feeders, as a small raptor just did that?

My response is and remains, unlikely to be Merlin as on the whole they take prey off the top of hedges, or preferably in the air from birds flushed from the ground, where they will pursue with amazing aerobatic twists and turns and further that they will almost certainly take any prey to an open location on the ground.

It might be confusing for birders less familiar with Merlin, when I state I have seen 4 between 2009 and 2012 in the air space around Lavell's/Sandford/LFGP. But it is how and where it flew, along with the appearance that counted, not that it appeared small and maybe grey.

Anyway, November is on 83, a new third highest, pipping the 82 of 2014's. Just one more for 2nd place and we are still without Goldeneye and there could easily be a Chiffchaff out there. Perhaps we have a Bittern at WSL and a Peregrine has to visit, as the only month so far this year it was not recorded was June. Golden Plover may be flying along the A4 corridor and Woodcock might put in an appearance at dusk any day too. Also Med Gull might be among the Black-headed's and Great Black-backed might be flying over nearby heading for the Sonning roost???

Post Script : Male Goldeneye found on BSL by Steve Day, puts the park on 84 = 2nd highest November with 2010 and 2013.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

At last a couple of short trips

I will be digging into Pintail records some time this weekend, to compare records of staying birds. I can see at a glance it is not always clear, as birds don't always get recorded on consecutive days.

The current Pintail is on it's 8th day, yesterday at LFGP, today back on Tern scrape. Good grief today's cold conditions were a shock to the system. Wigeon around in good numbers, maybe a further jump. 30-40 Lavell's, 20-30+ Sandford, 150-170+ BSL and by no means a comprehensive count, so could well be 250 across all the lakes. Teal 26, Shoveler 29, Gadwall uncounted.

No Snipe, this has been the case for days now, perhaps the farmer tending his sheep has messed things up, I expect he'll be removing them pretty soon...I hope.

Various flocks of Fieldfare about now, 40+ yesterday, 25 today around Lavell's.

I meant to mention my Teal on 12th Oct at Woodford Park, not DP of course, but this is the second unlikely and shy species I have seen there, having  pair of Shoveler in November 2013.

So Pintail, let me copy in the database notes for birds with multiple, consecutive, or near consecutive dates;

February:2/8th (2m) LFGP 09:15 (Nick Kightley), 3 (2m,1f) @ 13:25 (FJC et al), 2/9th pair LFGP til dusk, often hidden. 3/10th LFGP, 1/11th near green bridge (SPD), 1/12th LFGP, 2/14th LFGP flew over SW corner, dropped on Emmbrook (RNM)

Sept:2/11th, 2 f/imms Sandford for 20 seconds (TAG). 2/14th, 1 Sandford, 1 Lea Fm GP (FJC), 1/16th, imm f Lea Fm GP 18:45 (FJC & BTB & TJa). 1/17th, imm f Sandford (TAG & FJC), LFGP later

Nov:1/14th, Ad female LFGP with Mallard (FJC, ARy & TAG), 1/19th LFGP (FJC), 1/'23rd Lavell's (FJC), 1/26th Tern scrape (FJC)

Jan:1/12th, Lavell's, female by island reed bed (FJC). 1/19th, Lavell's, female on bund (ARy & MFW), 1/30th, Lavell's (PBT). Feb:2/11th Lea Farm Pit with Mallard, 1/16th LFGP (ADB), 1/28th LFGP (MFW). March: 2/6th, LFGP (MFW), 2/8th (MFW), 2/11th (T G Ball), 2/22nd (MFW), 1/31st (T G Ball). Apr:1/5th LFGP (MW), 1/6th BSL tame female with injured leg (T Keene), 1/10th, female (MFW), 1/23rd still picnic area BSL (PBT)

Sep:1/2nd, f (MFW) & 1/4th, 1/12th to 18th & 1/21st.

Jan:1/18th, male BSL, 1/24th, 2/25th, 1m +1m over, 1/29th, male, Feb:1/1st & 2nd

Jan to Mar:2, a pair (RC) Sandford/BSL? details rather vague

So I hope the above shows what I think is the issue, that Pintail are mobile and whilst many dates are spread out, it is likely individuals do linger in the general area sometimes, but not always at DP, making consecutive date records very uncommon.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Still alive, but no patch time

I am gutted to say I have had no time to do any patch work, not even 30 minutes. So whilst on the drive at home today at 15:23 I saw an impressive flock of Wood Pigeon moving over North, very quickly.

At first it was so large I had to double check what they were, it was more or less one flock which stretched out width wise to about from the precinct to beyond the Red Rose Indian, so about half a kilometer, several bands deep, the whole flock had to 3,000 to 4,000, maybe even more, my counting capabilities are not the best.

I have to say it was an impressive sight and the largest single flock I have ever seen.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The tragedy of the 1990's

I am currently doing a time consuming data input of every DP record, ever.

So far, I have done some pre DP days of 1976 thru to 1992 and it is fascinating, so many records I had forgotten about, others that have now dawned on me as interesting. So I will use that and lack of time as my excuse for not being posting lately.

In a way it's kind of ironic that having been working on 1992 it seems the interest level dies by November...which is tragic because even though passage does fall away, winter movements do not, especially if it gets cold.

Anyway, I have said more than once that from 1989 to 1998 the way in which records were kept was shockingly lacking. I don't mean anything personal, but when those in charge of publishing data chose to not record observers names, it took a gun to the head of any chance of bringing authenticity to any interesting records. No record of where, no record of sex, age, no record of anything.

So when faced with the laughable report of 4 Green Winged Teal on 4th January unknown, site unknown, (about 96% of record in that era lack such details), then we have no choice but to bin to this record without any thought whatsoever. And I have no hesitation, to bin such records, as there has never been a record of 4 Green Winged Teal together anywhere in the UK...ever.

Yes this is an exception, but why not the same rule for the 6 Jack Snipe reported 27th Feb 1992? No observer details and by amazing coincidence 6 Common Snipe were reported the day before...hmmm!?

Anyway with little to report recently, I want to go on record one more time to say anyone after my lifetime, or tenure..(whichever is first) who chooses not to record observer, site, or any useful information, should be removed from role as bird recorder, as there is no point in recording if you don't capture the facts.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Okay wildfowl counts

The rain wasn't falling hard, so I took a wander around Lavell's, Sandford and BSL North end, mostly in an effort to try and find a Goldeneye. On Lavell's there were 95+ Gadwall, 30 Wigeon, 30+ Teal, 6 Shoveler. On Sandford there were 130+ Wigeon, 40+ Gadwall, 11 Teal, 16 Shoveler. I didn't count the Tufted's as there were so few.

I didn't go to WSL, LFGP, or check Teal Hide end of Lavell's.

Later Geoff sent a text to inform me he had a juv Stonechat to the left of Ron's hide on the reeds at LFGP. Trevor said about an hour later, he couldn't find a juv, but an adult male was in the reedy ditch beyond the NE corner....bit like buses I suppose.....and an addition to October's total, now 96!

Could a Goldeneye grace us on the last day of the month? Can anyone find a Jack Snipe, or Firecrest? I'll be looking for all three tomorrow morning,

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

An October 2016 challenge

I was out for a short spell this morning and added Little Owl to the month list, bringing us to an impressive 95. For me it raises the question if 100 could be reached next year?

If you factor in various other possible additions that have occurred in other October's it seems reachable;

Black-necked Grebe - There are 6 October records, so why not

Mandarin - Totally local species, seemingly resident around the area North of Sandford Farm, so a concerted effort along the Loddon should score one

Garganey - This yearis one of those rare ones to remind us they are not quite annual, but October is a good time for rising Teal numbers and there have been 4 October records already

Red Crested Pochard - 3 October records, so possible

Scaup - I feel this one slips through more often than we see them, just 3 1980's October records, so trends may have changed?

Goldeneye - Am surprised we haven't had one already, many have turned up between 18th and 26th October

Marsh Harrier - Despite never having an October record, I feel it is highly possible, even more so with them breeding now in Oxon.

Osprey - In warm autumns, I see no reason why we could not catch one early in the month.

Merlin - 5 October records and for me the most likely month to see one, a very good candidate, maybe we'll get one tomorrow or Friday still?

Ruff - Just 2 October records, but still a high chance of another in October.

Jack Snipe - Just 4 October records, plenty more in November, but again a good chance of one dropping in early, we've had them in September so it's far from unlikely

Woodcock - Perhaps one may turn up very late into the month, the earliest have been early November.

Black-tailed Godwit - 2 October and 1 November record, so rare as they are we know it can happen and with LFGP SW corner looking so good, it will happen at some point.

Curlew - 5 October records, but they have dried up before month's end, but never say never.

Greenshank - 5 October records, tons throughout September, so very good chance of one.

Common Sandpiper - 9 October records and November ones too, random, but highly likely.

Little Gull - 1 October record, but they probably slip through too.

Yellow-legged Gull - With so few big gulls lingering, it is hard, but random luck might bring one and probably already does, if you're switched on enough to ID them in flight.

Sandwich Tern - My 4 late birds 4th 2012 is the only October record, but at least it proves they do come thru late.

Arctic Tern - 1 record

Black Tern - Most recent was 3rd 2014, just 2 other records means they are rare

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - If a bird graces our region again!

Sand Martin - Vigilance early in the month will help

Rock Pipit - Probably go over every year

Yellow Wagtail - Passage was rubbish this year, perhaps populations are crashing further, but early in the month for now is possible.

Stonechat - Am very surprised we didn't get one this year, 7 of the last 10 years has delivered.

Ring Ouzel - I look everyday and there has never been an autumn one yet

Firecrest - We all need to look more

Bearded Tit - With so much more Phragmites more birds will occur

Crossbill - Random autumn passage means we can easily get one

Yellowhammer - Not so far away from us, but becoming more and more rare as each year goes by, that said if people know the call, I am sure the odd one must still go over and October is a good month for them doing so.

So there you have it, even if you take out this year's Goosander, Dunlin and Med Gull, there is tons of stuff that can show up.

Last night I was at Bittern Hide checking Snipe (9) and Teal (40), one of the females was a bit paler and had a very pronounced loral spot, so I felt compelled to check Blue-winged Teal in the books again.....nah!...but maybe one day. It made me think of my top predictions for DP ticks;

Great Norther Diver
Green Winged Teal
American Wigeon
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup

Having caught up with both wild swans in the last 3 years, I also like to bump into  Red Breasted Merganser and Long-tailed Duck would be great too.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Work party year tick

Fourth Sunday, so I was out in the car park ready for the work party gathering, as we were chatting I heard a pipit go over, it gave a rising, raspier single note after which I saw it heading North towards the landfill.

It is always tempting with a call in your head to convince yourself you can see something different on a bird flying away from you...with bins, but when it comes to pipits that are pretty much the same size and don't call again, that temptation dies off quickly.

Was it a Rock Pipit, probably, but with no scope and one call, I had no chance to even have a stab at proving it to myself.

So off we went and I was crossing Tern Meadow at 10:06 heading for the scrape, when I noticed 3 birds coming towards me from the NE. Nothing stood out, I just lifted my bins and to my surprise 3 Goosander came into focus, they were about 500 feet up and flying steadily SE, so on their current path not likely to stay over DP airspace for more than a few more seconds. It is surprisingly tricky to sex Goosander from below without scope, but am fairly sure 1 was a male, probably 2.

This was a year tick get back from Rick's 2nd Jan birds, so I am well happy, 127 from 131 now.

Now I've checked and there has never been an October Goosander record at DP. this was the 94 October species, marking a new month high count.

Friday, 23 October 2015

A late hirundine

I only had 45 minutes prior to an onsite meeting, so watched the landfill, quite a few small jobs pinging about, those I could ID were c10 Linnet SSW, 3+ Lesser Redpoll, 1 Siskin, 1 Meadow Pipit, 7+ Skylark on the landfill, 12 Fieldfare SW, 30 Redwing SW, about 25 Chaffinch in groups of 5-8 West, then whilst scoping Skylarks, I picked up a late Swallow way off and moving SE over the far landfill, crossing out of landfill airspace North of Lea Farm itself, so I consider myself luck to have seen it at all.

I thought this is quite late, but here are all the late records:

1/5th Nov 2011  =1st latest (FJC)
3/5th Nov 2012 = 1st latest (SPD)
1/3rd Nov 1985 3rd latest (P Ball)
2/2nd Nov 2005 = 4th (PBT)
2/2nd Nov 2010 = 4th (FJC)
2/30th Oct 2013 6th latest (FJC)
1/23rd Oct 2003 =7th latest (RRe)
1/23rd Oct 2015 =7th latest (FJC)
1/20th Oct 2009 9th latest (FJC)

So didn't it take a long time for Phil Ball's 1985 record to fall to the recent years 5th Nov birds and even today's, is still a week earlier than my 2013. Searching for late hirundines is not actually a focal activity, it just so happens I am scoping anything, in hope of a Merlin, another stab at Hawfinch, or anything exciting at all in the sky.

Yesterday 33 Fieldfare SW was all worth mentioning, not that the odd Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and groups of Redwing aren't interesting.

Tim Alexander told me he ringed 35 Lesser Redpoll today, not really surprising given I am hearing them all over the place.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

More of the same

A busy weekend, meant no time to catch up on my blog and I don't have lots now either.

I was out in the car park field 18th, seeing another 150 Golden Plover moving around the A4 airspace at 09:05. about 10 Skylark on the landfill and then 2 late House Martin came thru at 09:14. So many times I am seeing small jobs pinging about, 2's and 3's, I am sure most are Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Reed Bunting, but one never knows what we are missing. Smatterings of Redwing still coming thru too, as are the odd Meadow Pipit.

A quick look at Tern scrape revealed at least 20 Snipe and a Water Rail, 2 Cetti's calling.

Today I hadn't been there long when a hot air balloon came over Lodge Wood slowly SE and it put everything within a 2 or 3 mile radius up, one benefit at least was seeing 7 Little Egret come in from the North. Hundreds of ducks were in groups from 3 to 15 spread across the sky, which was rather grey and providing poor visibility.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Winter movements gaining pace

Despite my late arrival for my landfill watch, it seems like 09:25 wasn't too bad a time to be out, for a few minutes it seemed quiet, but then flocks of Redwing came thru SW, first 44, then 80+, then another 40+, then 20+ and other small groups, plus my first 16 Fieldfare went thru SW nearer than the Redwing.

There were various small jobs flying about, mostly W, or SW, 9 Skylark over the landfill, 1's and 2's South, then I picked up 2, possibly 3 finches and just managed to pick up the white rumps of Brambling, new for October. I heard Linnet, then scanning further away picked up a large flock of 200-250 Golden Plover, moving back and forth between the A4 and Bowsey Hill, so about 4 miles away. Coincidentally like yesterday's much smaller flock, it was 09:56 again.

Richard WhatsApp'd that 19 Snipe were flushed by a Red Kite on LFGP, so their numbers are building up nicely, keep checking for Jack Snipe guys.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Thrush movements

An hour looking over the landfill from 09:15 was quite busy, 2 Lesser Redpoll perched on the wires, 1 Siskin heard over, 2 Meadow Pipit, 4 Skylark, 2 Mistle Thrush NE, 3-4 more that might even have been Fieldfare to the East.

Redwing flocks were coming thru, 75+35+40+25, all pretty much over the middle and far landfill heading SW, or West.

A few other LBJ's, then marking the 90th species for October, a very distant fast moving flock of about 33 Golden Plover headed West over the A4 area. This is 6 out of the last 7 years we have had Goldies over in October, so I suspect it may have always happened, but we didn't spend time looking from the car park to see them miles away.

A lone Chiffchaff called behind me.

Monday, 12 October 2015

I was right in my own mind

During the Sunday bird walk we lingered at Bittern hide, counting ducks, Snipe, enjoying the autumn colours, etc. I kept panning back to the middle left hand side of the main island reed bed, thinking "that clump of Phragmites looks really like it has had a Bittern stood on it". I never mentioned it, so anyone reading this will just have to believe me.

So when Tim Alexander texted to say "Bittern at Teal scrape" I was not at all surprised, I hope I get to see this bird. It was species 89 for October, matching 2014.

With Yellow-browed Warblers either side of Berkshire, will someone find one at DP very soon?

Sunday, 11 October 2015

It might appear quiet....

Well actually it is quiet, but only in the passage and rarity sense.

But on a monthly species count scale, that is a different matter. this year;

April's 106, was a new third highest, knocking 2014's 105 off No.3 position
May's 92 was equal third highest with 2007 & 2014
June's 82 was equal third highest with 2007
July's 91 was a new second highest, knocking 2014's 90 off No.2 position

And today, adding Green Sandpiper more puts us level with 2013's 88 and only 2 more to get to equal 3rd place of 90 in 2009, or 3 more for equal 2nd place 91 of 2011.

As I've already said there are a handful of potential additions to go, most likely being Fieldfare & Goldeneye, but a Stonechat is highly likely, as is Bittern.

Golden Plover, Firecrest, Rock Pipit, Yellowhammer and various waders are also possible.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Expecting more

I was out around 10:15 yesterday, but the darn fog still hadn't lifted and with only an hour and half, just 20 minutes was clear. One Water Rail calling quietly, plus 7 Snipe visible on Tern scrape, with 3 bird dropping onto LFGP shortly after. Under 10 Meadow Pipit, 1 Siskin, 1 Skylark, 1 Coal Tit heard. Several Pied Wagtail went over high, but it frustrates me we don't get more wagtails on the deck, at least inviting the idea a good one could be found.

After the fog had lifted I picked up a distant Peregrine circling beyond the landfill and I mean far beyond it.

The vocal Cetti's count is at least 3 on Lavell's.

Today at 08:00 it was almost without mist, but the cold NE breeze was not expected and as I'd chosen to go out without a jacket, was pretty much freezing after two hours.

11 Redwing went NW over the landfill, 1-2 further singles, just 1-2 Mipits, 1 probably 2 Coal Tit, 5 Blackbird carefully checked for Ring Ouzel, 1 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, quite nice was a group of 5 Lesser Redpoll in the scrub left of Lea Farm, joined by 6 more as they flew SW across the landfill, 2 Grey Wagtail also went over high.

At Bittern hide, 1 Little Grebe, I didn't count the ducks.

I was expecting more bird on the move, especially with the cold clear conditions.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Patch envy

My good friend Adam 'patches' Little Marlow GP's and generally picks up a few more gems than we do each year, it is probably mostly down to the site being right on the Thames, but also that he is a top birder. So when reported a stunning male Hen Harrier a day or so ago, I was rather envious.

Back on the patch I have been busy with work stuff, so little time, jut the odd 30 mins here and there, as it happens yesterday 8 large gulls went over SE to the South of the park and I pretty sure they were Great Black-backed. Also yesterday, Brian had a late Reed Warbler and today he had a proper late Hobby low over BSL. I'll do the late Hobby records later, or tomorrow, but it is not the latest.....if you believe the historical records, some I believe, several I don't.

Anyway 87 for October is level with 2007 and leaves us only 4 more to get to level 2011's third place of 91, making the highest of 93 not seem very far away at all.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Itching to get out

I looked out my window at 07:00 and saw a little clear sky, so headed out for a 30 minute at BSL and the car park field. I could see rain heading in and hoped for something over in the gap in the clouds.

Nothing much to report, Mistle Thrush at the DAC car park, in the car park field, 2+ Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Meadow Pipit, 2-3 groups of small jobs pinging about in the distance, then a group of about 40 House Martin drifted slowly in from the NW and on SE.

There wasn't really time for anything else, but maybe I'll get out again at lunchtime, as it feels like something could be out there. Oxon has a 2 day Spotted Redshank and Surrey had Little Gull yesterday, various Rock Pipits in a few places, so we should stay vigilant.

Monday, 5 October 2015

2 weeks of sunshine end

After 2 wonderful weeks of sunshine, it all cam to an end with drizzle and rain all day.

Marek was out as usual before work and had a Dunlin, heard only at LFGP. It is worth y of note because until 2011 we had never had an October record and now this is the 3rd in the last 4 years.

The Teal numbers according to Peter were up to 30 today, but Wigeon way down.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Foggy start

I was out by 07:45 only to find fairly thick fog, making it hard to see anything, I wandered around rather pointlessly for 45 minutes and gave up.

Back with the family later and all the fog was long gone, at Tern scrape, 18 Teal was an increase, 9 Shoveler and lots of Gadwall, then above the heads of 2 of the 3 Snipe appeared a Sedge Warbler, I think this is only my 2nd ever October one?

On the way back to the car park a Coal Tit called some way off, putting us on 82 for the month already and 1 more than 2006, begging the question what on earth were we doing in 2006 to get such a low score, when we have hit 82 in the first 4 days  this year?

This was a low month by any standards, as the chart reveals;

93 in 2010 & 12
92 in 2012
91 in 2011
90 in 2009
89 in 2014
88 in 2013
87 in 2007
82 in 2015
81 in 2006

So we should be hoping for around 89/90, unless we have a scorching month and pass 93, we shall see, but if we get Common & Green Sandpiper, a Dunlin, a late Greenshank, or Black-tailed Godwit and search the reeds thoroughly for Reed Warbler and hedgerows for late Whitethroat and maybe stumble across a Firecrest, then perhaps a Merlin and of course another Bittern, getting bankers like Fieldfare and Goldeneye would palce us in good stead.....easier said than done, but all these are highly possible and more besides.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Lesser Redpoll year tick and now 4 Pintail

Arriving around 08:15, I had 2 Redwing over West, 8 Siskin landed in the Silver Birch by the DAC, then at the car park field  a lone Lesser Redpoll over North, putting me on 127 for the year.

It always amazes us how an unusual bird turns up, or 2 in this case and then another 2 join it, it seems to happen with strange frequency, even with major UK rarities.

So there we have it we had 2, now we have 4 Pintail, all looking happy, feeding on the abundant autumn weed.

Much quieter on the small bird front today, just a few Swallow, 2-3 Meadow Pipit, 2 Blackcap, on to Bittern Hide and 3 Snipe, lots of Gadwall, a few Wigeon and Shoveler and Teal.

Looping around Sandford and back to the car park field with Brian, we picked up 2 Lesser Redpoll on the wires then low Hawthorns near Lea Farm.

Still despite what we had it was clearly quieter.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Quiet til today

Marek called me 07:30 to say 2 Pintail on Sandford in the thick mist.

I was down there by 09:00 and saw them, along with over 71 Wigeon, 20 Shoveler, 40 Gadwall.

Later getting a couple of okay pics of the Pintail, one was smaller than the other, with less distinct blue on the bill.

Doing a circuit, Mistle Thrush in sailing club car park, the car park field had into double figures of Blackcap moving thru, 3 Chiffchaff, Mipits & Skylark over, Wheatear on a near vent.

At Bittern hide, it was obvious many more ducks have come in, 50-60 Gadwall, 13 more Shoveler, 9 Teal, 2 Snipe also present.

Brian also had 2 Little Egret over Sandford, so a busy morning

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Equal 1st highest September

Marek was out for his usual early walk and had this year's first Redpoll, 2 over NE at 07:10. The park year list is now 131, so equal to the low count in 2007.

I was down in the car park field 09:30 and had 2 Coal Tit on the low Hawthorn on the landfill, just 6-7 Meadow Pipit and then a solitary Redwing going North over Lodge Wood, then East along the treeline.

These two added to September's total make it 104 for just the second time, so we have had 3 months with over 100 species, which shows the great diversity of species at the whole site, even without a good flurry of rare and uncommon species.

The spate of large flocks of Meadow Pipit looks to be over, Brian had 200+ on the 28th, but perhaps with the grass cut, the appeal of the landfill may have declined?

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Autumn movements

At 08:30 I was out watching a Nuthatch on the Silver Birch by the MAC/DAC, hearing Goldcrest, but seeing little else, I went down for a look over the landfill hearing Coal Tit on the way across he field.

On arrival at the bottom of the car park field I again picked up large numbers of Meadow Pipit, 120-150 birds mostly clustered together over the middle landfill, plus a few smaller groups. These are the largest flocks I have ever seen and indicate the landfill has a key role to play in these gatherings.

A short while after I could see larger birds also 'flicking' around and scoping them, realised they were Skylark, at least 8. This increase, or movement is slightly earlier than  recent years, as it normally happens in the first week of October.

In the scrub left of Lea Farm were 2-3 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Reed Bunting, 1 of the latter and 5-6 Meadow Pipit and another Nuthatch, chose the overhead wires to perch on for a few minutes, until a Sparrowhawk flushed them. 3 Blackbird also perched for a moment.

Then overhead came 3 House Sparrow, unusual over this end of DP. Groups of 30+ Swallow and House Martin were trickling thru.

At Bittern Hide, there were 6 Wigeon, 3 Shoveler, 3 Teal and 2 Little Grebe, which I got a few shots of and they aren't to bad at all, if I do say so.

Scanning the main island reed bed, I picked up an acro and just about got onto it before it vanished into the reeds, it was a late Sedge Warbler, the latest was 17th October 2007.

Just before I left I had a Linnet over North and forgot to mention I had one yesterday as well. I also had a Grey Wagtail over.

So with so much on the move I remain hopeful we will get a Redwing before October, if we can get one more species we match the September highest at 104.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Strong migration

When I arrived at the bottom of the car park field on Thursday, a large flock of 100+ Meadow Pipit, were moving about, but mostly staying, this is about the largest single flock I have seen anywhere on DP.

200+ mixed House Martin and Swallow were lingering to the NE of Lea Farm, few warblers in the car park field. As usual Nuthatch was present, calling nearby.

Today, passage was lighter, but I did see one of the two Wheatear on the landfill. I remained hopeful of a decent passage raptor, but no joy. Less than 20 Meadow Pipit today, but I did get Linnet over, new for September.

Also new was news from Richard of a probable Garden Warbler near Ron's hide was interesting, the Red Crested Pochard was still on Sandford per Marek this morning. Grey Wagtail dropped onto a post on the edhe of the car park as I was about to leave.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Tuesday gloomy, Wednesday Chat

I did a very quick visit to the car park field and had a large flock of House Martin over the landfill, at least 500, but with many others spread out, it was more likely 1000 birds. Just 2-3 Mistle Thrush was all else worth mentioning.

Today it was super bright blue, with a light breeze, so again the car park field was my only destination. Little happening at first, just 1-2 Blackcap calling 2 Chiffchaff, 2-3 Meadow Pipit over, then something caught my eye in the brambles below to the left of the 'big Hawthorn'.

I couldn't see what it was at first, but scoping realized it was a juvenile Stonechat, my 125th patch year tick. One more for me to match 2008, four more for 2009, then all my year lists have been 133, or more since. Last year we had one on the 22nd at LFGP NE corner.

Brian arrived and we watched it for several more minutes, but when the Stonechat flew over our heads at 10:02, we thought it had gone, only to find it on the wires briefly, but then it perched high on the top branches of the scrub in the middle compound, allowing some of my best ever Stonechat photographs...minus my iphone adapter for keeping it more still.

Finally it flew to the landfill where we watched it on the scrub left of the farm buildings then it went out of view, presumably left!?

During the next 30 or so minutes, Alan joined us and we had a Hobby, 200+ House Martin, small groups of Meadow Pipit, 2 Siskin and as I was getting back into my car got one of Brian's 2 Coal Tits he had before meeting up with me.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Beautiful morning

Arriving around 10:00 it was quickly evident that Meadow Pipits were on the move, so I quickly headed down to overlook the landfill. Richard WhatsApp'd me saying 'Coal Tit behind the MAC'

I had clocked a distant hot air balloon to the NW and had another quick look from the wire fence, then panning around passed it with bins again thought "what's that flying around it?"

Fixing my scope on it, I could see 2 pale form Buzzards just above it, then a large dark bird passed around the basket, followed by a second..."2 Raven, unbelievable" I thought.

The 2 Raven circled the basket at least 2-3 times and I thought if they are calling, it would be one excellent view to behold, as they can't have been more than 100 feet from the basket. Then they went upwards joining the Buzzard and all circled for several minutes, gaining height and starting to drift N to NE.

I was fascinated by this, wondering was it them following a thermal that the balloon was on, or perhaps more likely, was it warm air coming off the balloon that they were taking advantage of?

Amazingly, this was my 10th sighting of Raven in 2015, which feels a long way beyond my first record of 2 on 30th January 2005, although counting my records I had 22 sightings up to 2014, so it is quite an increase the patch is experiencing

During texting, Tweeting and WhatsApp'ing I lost them all, but my focus moved back to Meadow Pipit, by which time several good sized groups had gone thru South, 17, 12 and then 30+, the latter group stalling over the landfill, but there were numerous other smaller groups of 3-5 going in all directions. 4 Siskin came in from the West and went on East low, Grey Wagtail heard overhead.

Geoff also texted to say Wheatear on one of the far vents, sadly not visible from the car park boundary fence. So a quick whizz to BSL to see nothing, then pined down to LFGP. The Wheatear still on show. Then off home.

Later I went out with my son and saw the Red Crested Pochard and a grass snake swimming towards Bittern hide, my first in several years.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Light passage and light on luck

Yesterday I was out around 10:00, 5 Meadow Pipit going South straight away, then I heard something more 'rasping' and got onto a pipit going away, with a deep undulating flight, as I couldn't tell if the call came from the pipit, I can't be sure it was Tree Pipit...but it was fairly likely.

Apart from that it seemed quiet, but then got a single Yellow Wagtail over, then finding a Lesser Whitethroat beneath the big Hawthorn.

There were a lot of hirundines over the landfill, some moving South, many lingering, but a conservative estimate was around 250 each of House Martin and Swallow, plus a handful of Sand Martin too.

I went out again around 14:00 and had Coal Tit over the car park, then a Yellow Wagtail low SW over the landfill. The hirundines had mostly gone, bar a few small groups moving thru.

Today I was out around 09:30 and had Whitethroat in the hedgerow on the right as you enter the car park field, a few Blackcap, 5-7 Meadow Pipit, but little else, so headed for the BSL compound and immediately found a Lesser Whitethroat.

Being much quieter than yesterday I left around 10:30, but as soon as I got home Alan called saying a GREAT WHITE EGRET just dropped in. "Am on my way" I said, but had not even left my drive when he called back saying Lapwing had flushed it and it was heading S/SE over Lavell's/Sandford airspace. Lapwings! of all bloody things to flush our 4th GWE.

At least I've seen 2 of them, here are the dates for all of them

5th November 2009 LFGP (FJC & ARy) Landed in SE corner, but flew off North
5th September 2013 LFGP (FJC & BTB) Flew over low, nearly landed but kept going North
21st November 2013 Lavell's (GSE) A photo of a bird flying away appears to reveal it as GWE
18th September 2015 LFGP Landed briefly on East shore, but flushed off by Lapwing, heading S/SE (ARy & Bob Bennett)

So you could argue, we are surely going to have a staying bird soon.....And have we had others since 2013, since they appear to hate staying put?

Anyway, Alan got some shots they are on Berksbirds

A nice bird to hit 130 for the park with!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

No chat, but 2nd highest September

Alan texted to say there was a male Stonechat on one of the vents, but it went missing immediately, so I tried from the bottom of the car park field. No joy, but stood with Trevor and Brian, we noticed 2-3 small jobs dropping in on the landfill, then 2-3 more, which circled and gave up their identity as Meadow Pipits.

This confirms a new 2nd highest September species count of 98, but still 6 more to equal the 2012 record of 104. There are still a couple more possibles that could show up, but it is going to have to turn into a special month of migration to get anywhere near that.

Still Redwing, Garganey, Marsh Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine and Osprey could all happen, as could various waders. even the odd tern, or Linnet.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Wrong about the weather

Saturday I was only around for a couple of hours first thing and not long after arriving a Swift went over East, my 2nd latest ever at DP. A Siskin went over low East moments after, then 4 more.

At Bittern hide the Red Crested Pochard was on show still.

It was very nice weather so I couldn't grumble.

Sunday was calm and very pleasant again and I was out slightly before the bird walk, in the car park I had 4 Ring-necked Parakeet over, 3-4 Song Thrush, heard Nuthatch and a handful of Blackcap.

Shortly after a Grey Wagtail went East, plenty of the three expected hirundines went thru in groups of 20-100, obviously Sand Martin were less abundant. Then a Spotted Flycatcher looped over the field towards Lavell's.

We caught up with a tit flock and had Blackcap, Chiffchaff, 3+ Goldcrest, 2 Treecreeper, Nuthatch, one person thought the Spot Fly was in with them, but no luck for the rest of us. At Bittern there was 2 Shoveler, 1 Wigeon, 2 Teal, 39 Gadwall and a Kingfisher.

At LFGP there was 2 Snipe, more hirudines thru, 3 Mistle Thrush flew N from the big dead tree beyond the far NE landfill.

At Sandford we got there moments before the fisherman flushed everything, but got brief views of the Red Crested Pochard.

A scan of BSL pulled out a Common Sandpiper, the 96th species for September, so 3rd equal highest of all Septembers, just one more for =2nd, which won't be a problem as there are several guaranteed additions to come yet.

In the car park momnets after everyone had gone 20+ Siskin came over low East

Friday, 11 September 2015

Possibly the last bright sunny day

I got out to the car park around 10:45, hearing a Siskin on arrival, it was just a bit on the lovely side, sunny, nice breeze from the East, so I was expecting a few migrants. As I got to the bottom to overlook the landfill, I got onto a gull, large, all dark primaries, no pale on the inner secondaries, very white upper tail, strong tail looked good for Yellow-legged.

The only migrants ended up being a steady flow of mostly Swallows, no less than 250-300, but probably more than double that, as many were up very high. House and Sand Martins were among them. The juv Little Owl was in the same place as 'usual'.

5-6 Buzzard were up, plenty of Kites, a single Kestrel, a single Sparrowhawk, but deciding not much else was going over, I went around the car park field and found very little, bar 2 Nuthatch, until I cross the road to BSL, when checking for Spotted Flycatcher I heard 1 and saw a 2nd Coal Tit, quickly heading off to the East.

Nothing to say about BSL itself, then headed back to the car park, where I picked up 2 Raven high up, circa 800-1000 feet, just NW of Lodge Wood.

I have been promising myself a dusk Lavell's visit, but not managed it so far, with rain coming in tonight, I wonder if there will be a nice evening in the near future, if any left in 2015.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Red Crested Pochard on Lavell's

Richard called me to say Les has 2 Red Crested Pochard on Lavell's, "that's unusual" I said.

And it is rare for Lavell's itself, the 1st Jan 1992 BSL male was claimed to have gone to Lavell's, the unconfirmed (observer unknown - OU) report of 1/8th & 16th September 1995, is also claimed there, as is the male 31st March 1996 (OU), but that is all of them, the rest are all BSL, Lea Farm GP and Sandford, with 2 straying to WSL during their stays.

I'd first thought these birds appear to be a female and an immature of this year, but the tell tale feature of bright pink bills, gives them away as eclipse male (thank you for the correction Adam)

And just when you think it's done and dusted Trevor calls me to say "5 Pintail just swam out from behind the old tern island", annoyingly they flew off towards Sandford, but I could not relocate them. He also had a Spotted Flycatcher on the dead tree beyond the back of Tern scrape. Add the Barn Owl he also saw and we added 4 new species for September 92 now, so equal to 2013, 4 more to equal 3rd place with 2014, Pintail is new for the year and the third highest count, 8/23rd Jan 1992, 6/4th Feb 1991 being the others.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Grey start, but still lots of potential

I was out early, but couldn't motivate myself to go the Lea Farm GP, instead I went straight to BSL and had 3 Grey Wagtail, which were the first September record I am aware of. Little in the car park field, not helped by not one, but two early morning dog walkers, both of which allowed their dogs to charge noisily around the field.

At Bittern hide, 2 Wigeon were also new for September, a lone Reed Warbler in the main island reeds was all I could find.

September high counts are :

104 in 2012
97 in 2010
96 in 2014
95 in 2008 & 2011
92 in 2013
90 in 2009

We stand on 88 so far, so not too bad, but what are the next species likely to be?

Meadow Pipit : Mostly begins passage right now
Lesser Redpoll : Often seen from the end of the month
Garden Warbler : Late birds til mid month
Redwing : Often arrive late month, bit not always
Barn Owl : Hopefully around
Dunlin : Several September records, but surprisingly few
Common Sandpiper : Often around til late month
Curlew : Several records, often flying over
Bar-tailed Godwit : Early to mid month, if we get Lea Farm SW corner back
Black Tern : Can occur til late month, even October
Arctic Tern : Can occur til late month
Sandwich Tern : As infrequent as they are, occur late month, even October
Little Gull : Good chance late in the month
Snipe : Should be another any day
Peregrine : Must go over almost every day
Merlin : Several September records
Osprey : September is a good month
Marsh Harrier : September is a good month
Garganey : September is a good month
Pintail : September is a good month

7 of these would also be year ticks, most are possible and of course anything can happen, good birding folks.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Weekend contrasts

Saturday morning was cold and quite miserable, so Sunday's lovely bright start was a lovely contrast, I arrived around 07:30 and within 15 minutes heard, then saw a Yellow Wagtail heading South.

I stood in the car park for at least 45 minutes, seeing 2 Whitethroat, 10+ Blackcap, 1-2 Chiffchaff, but not much else. At BSL there was nothing, a loud Nuthatch with a tit flock was it.

Down to Bittern hide, I was determined to find some warblers and in moments saw 2 Sedge, 4-5 Reed in the main island reeds, hearing Cetti's too. Then a Water Rail called from the main island, another behind. Little Grebe fed on the edge of the mostly submerged bund, reminding me to try and get someone to help me prop open the sluice gate so the water levels starts dropping.

On my way out I saw the Cetti's and a few Swallows were now passing over.

It certainly felt like a lot more could be found and sure enough 2 Spotted Flycatcher were seen on the big Hawthorn later and with Brian getting Coal Tit later on, the month is on 86.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Glad I got up early? well not really

I was out by 06:20 and went straight to Lea Farm GP, Marek arrived 2 minutes later and found the only good bird out there, a male Mandarin, which headed to the SE corner and out of sight.

At BSL, there was nothing, well I did miss the Mistle Thrush that flew over, in the car park field there was nothing, but a scan from the bottom produced a very large flock of mostly House Martin, beyond Lodge Wood, so over Hurst Green GP, odd really, as there were no hirundines over BSL at all.

And home I went, thinking nothing more about it until Brian called saying Whinchat on the scrub in front of Lea Farm buildings, then it moved to the nearest vent and stayed there for nearly an hour. By which time PBT had a Yellow Wagtail over and Alan had 2 'chat types' on the vents...which turned out to be Wheatear.

By the time I got back down to the car park field, there was nothing to see, but as luck would have it I heard a Siskin going over East, the first this year and 128th species for the 2015 park year list, 124th for me.

Later still Trevor called saying he was at Ron's looking at 2 Wheatear and the Whinchat, albeit that they were in the far NE corner landfill, when I got there 1 Wheatear was on show, but 6 Mistle Thrush landed on the big dead tree just NE of the landfill.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Catching up

I was only out briefly on the 2nd, much cooler and was surprised to see 2 groups of Buzzard close to each other totaling 13 birds. A lone female Whitethroat and one of Brian's 2 Lesser Whitethroat was nice, plus a Willow Warbler in the scrub near Lea Farm.

When I got back for a very quick look again later a Spotted Flycatcher was showing on and off, as was the Lesser Whitethroat.

Today it was cold again and not much had been seen, but the Lesser Whitethroat was in the big Hawthorn again, I had my first Little Egret this month and steady trickle of mostly House Martins were heading South.

I got onto 2 brown jobs, which dropped onto the landfill in front of the scrub to the left of Lea Farm, they looked like pipits, but time of year would mean it could be either Tree, or Meadow, so it has to go down unconfirmed, Meadow Pipit hasn't started before the 5th in recent years, but with that cold North wind, that might not mean much.

Standing in the car park chatting to Richard and Alan, a male Redstart appeared in the usual spot, making it the 3rd male this autumn and first for September.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015


Marek had a Wheatear early this morning, on vents as usual, Brian found 2 there later, also finding 2 Spotted Flycatcher and Lesser Whitethroat in the car park field, I saw the latter a little later.

Also over, a Hobby, a Kestrel, light hirundine passage, then a Raven to the East of the middle landfill, circling quite high and doing a little bit of tumbling.

Not much else happening, but as always the first week of September has a lot of potential, Whinchat being very likely.

Monday, 31 August 2015

A wet and interesting morning

As I left the house at 06:15 it was hardly raining at all, but by the time I got to LFGP, it got heavier and heavier. I scanned and scanned for a Whinchat, but none to be found.

A Green Sandpiper fed in front of the hide, a Common Sandpiper flicked around and landed on one of the small rafts. With the SW corner islets, under water there were no waders there, well nothing there at all.

Most of the Lapwing were half hidden behind the lake edge vegetation and I didn't scan through them thoroughly, but did find 2 Wigeon on the NE corner lake edge.

A kept waiting for window in the weather, to leave and at one point it got very black and suddenly the rain stopped. I had been glancing at the feeders and had already collapsed my tripod and covered my scope, then closed the front flap. Taking one last glance at the feeders, I sensed a sudden commotion and noticed the Lapwing flock over the North spit in a state of panic, but suddenly heard a call and picked up a fast moving, smallish wader moving away very fast.

I knew I had no time to get my scope out, so stayed on had a very fast wing beats and as it turned, or more like jerked left and right I could see it had long, slender and very pointed wings, but no wing bars, no trailing legs and whilst I didn't see the bill clearly, it was fairly short, like a Golden Plover.

The call was repeated 4-5 times and even though it was going away the whole time, it was quite clear and a little like a Ringed Plover, but less pronounced.

I thought, "Good grief I should know this, especially when a wader calls". I can say it wasn't a Golden or Grey Plover and it was too big for Ringed Plover. What does that leave?....not much when you just didn't get enough on it. Something good I feel and having listened to wader calls on Xeno Canto, the nearest match was Dotterel, which would be a first for the park. But I doubt they move this early and as with other 'not quite clinched birds' "I just have to let it go".

I curse that I had shut the front lap and my scope up, barely 30 seconds before and I almost certainly would have clinched it.

I went round to BSL and heard a Redshank immediately, but never saw that. A quick circuit of the sailing club car park area and 1 Spotted Flycatcher later I headed to the car park field, but with the rain now setting in again, nothing was showing.

Geoff texted around 11:45 to say a Bittern had just flown in to the reeds to the left of Ron's Hide, a wonderful last species to add to August's total, finishing on 104....assuming no-one finds something new before dusk tonight.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

A rarely walked path...for me

I took out the family for a visit to the adventure playground and we chose the golf course as our route back.

As well as seeing good views of Hobby hunting low, I also saw a Spotted Flycatcher on the overhead wires, which must have been additional to the 2 reported by Brian in the compound.

Now that the golf course is open to anyone, I might well make a few trips out there, as it offers the best view of the sky on the whole of DP.

I'll be offering the following shots as a contribution to the 'sites of interest' pages on the new FOLL website, hopefully launching in the next 3-4 weeks.

There are plenty of places a good bird could be hiding, damp ditches might produce a Stonechat, various other open areas too for Wheatear, pipits, or if we want to get really optimistic a shrike, or a Hoopoe. If DPCS would corden off some areas so nobody could walk, it could have a really positive impact...but they won't of course.

Breaking records

Out at 08:15 I went to the car park first, with the gates locked I couldn't get proper views into the compound, so didn't find any Spotted Flycatchers. Little happening on BSL.

In the car park field, I heard Redstart, but it took 3/4's of an hour to see a male, which then showed well. Quite a few Blackcap, then a Garden Warbler, then a Whitethroat, then a Lesser Whitethroat showed in the dog rose.

Taking a look over the landfill, 2 groups of 7 & 6 Shoveler went over, another Whitethroat out on the Hawthorns. Brian texted with news of a Wheatear, but it went out of view so I stayed where I was, finding it out on a vent.

Back to view the Redstart and I couldn't help but take a few more shots, this one being the best...still not great.

Adding Wheatear and Lesser Whitethroat to the August list puts the park on 102, one day to go to find a Whinchat, keep em peeled folks.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Redstart double

I arrived in the car park field around 08:30, hearing a Redstart as soon as I got there, I quickly picked up a male and assumed it was the same bird of the last 2 days. But the calling was coming from behind me and when a bird came from that direction I got my bins on it realised it was another male Redstart.

It took another hour to see it again whilst watching the other male in view at the same time, both stonking adult males and this appears to be the first time, as we normally get more immatures/1st winters.

Brian had 2 Spotted Flycatchers in the compound, but they had vanished when I got there. We did have 2 House Sparrow in the car park field.

Overlooking the landfill, there were a few passerines moving about, at least 2 Willow Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Reed Warbler. Another Willow Warbler was seen in the car park field later, along with quite a few Blackcap.

It was ideal raptor viewing by the time I had to go! I wonder if anything went over today.

Later I was doing some gardening and about to add to my large open compost heap, when I small bird jumped up onto the Blackberry, it was a male Whitethroat a great garden tick and the second unexpected warbler this year.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Trying not to be annoyed

A very quick car park field visit before a day out with the family and I was speechless to find 2 digi scopers 40-50 feet from the fence line frequented by the Redstarts.

I am always in two minds about whether I say anything and what I might say, feeling rather grumpy I said nothing to them directly.

My sentiments are clear, if the bird remains hidden you are too darn close and therefore preventing it from feeding AND depriving other bird watchers from seeing it.

If this happens again, which is highly likely I may not be so muted and despite it being a country park and for that reason folks can argue that they can stand where they want, sure you can stand anywhere, but where are you going to stand if I chose not to share my finds.

I expect it wasn't even people who are kind enough to read my blog, but if you do and see people doing this, please find a nice way of saying "stay back and put the birds welfare first", I really don't want to lose my cool and shout at people, but if I feel I have to I will.

During my brief 35 minute visit I had 2 Kestrel, 1 Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Red Kite and Buzzard. I heard from Brian that all the Spotted Flycatchers had gone today.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Getting busy

It was after 09:00 before I got out today, I went to check on the Spotted Flycatchers and sure enough they were still there, except that now there were at least 5, another bird flitting back into the trees may have been one as well.

Over BSL were about 30 House Martin and 1 Swift, my first in ages.

Back to the car park field and I picked up plenty of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and a Garden Warbler, then 2 Redstart, one was either the same 1st winter male as Tuesday's, or a different one, the other bird was a stunning adult male. 

Steve texted to say Water Rail from Bittern hide, so we have now hit 100 species in August for the first time ever.

Then Steve and Richard appeared and stood with me in the car park, what may have been Spotted Flycatcher number 6 landed on the wires for a few moments before heading towards the sailing club compound.