Friday, 27 February 2015

Low species month total

I have no actual reports of Bittern for February, but would assume one has been at WSL, the same may well apply for Woodcock around Lavell's or along the Loddon parallel to LFGP.

No reports of Chiffchaff, or Meadow Pipit and no sign of any Shelduck, or Redshank so far and of course we are absent of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll, so if that stays the same, then we only hit 79, 1 less than last year, which is pretty low.

I have been around a lot less so my attempts for Med Gull have been limited.

Not as bad as 2006 & 2007 on 78, 2005 was 74, but I am not sure 2005 was as full a picture as we try to get these days.

With spring migration in mind, it is hard to believe that out earliest Rock Pipit(s) were 2nd March 1983 & 1992, Little-ringed Plover was 6th March 1989, Sand Martin 3rd 1997, House Martin 10th 2013, Wheatear 13th 1983....wouldn't it be nice if we had some early migrants next week.

Oh yes and don't forget March is about the best month for Avocet, our first was 13th 1984.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Lame excuse

I arrived at the layby around 13:15, went to my boot to find I had left my boots at home, so going on to look at BSL, I saw an Oystercatcher on the main island, a pair of Goldeneye, a few Pochard and little else.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Ravens again

A rather brief visit to the car park field, was rewarded immediately on arrival with a pair of Raven flying low over Lea Farm, heading SE, rising to do a bit of tumbling too. This fairs well as we didn't have any Jan & Feb records last, year, but scored in all months thereafter.

Red Kite were up in force, scoping over Sandford development to beyond Twyford, I counted a minimum of 46 birds, but expect I missed a fair few more and didn't cross the road to look South or over South Woodley, it would suggest we have at least 60+ birds in a 3 mile!

Being so bright today, a fair amount of singing was heard by resident species, all very nice.

I should say, yesterday I had 2 gulls other than Black Headed, 1 was Herring, I suspect the other was a Yellow-legged moulting it's inner primaries, making it impossible to see the extent of pale in that area. Otherwise it  looked structurally right on the head, pale overall, smudge around the eye, somewhat Med like, as they say. The bill wasn't huge, but still large and all black, a hint of pale at the tip. Legs were pretty pale, almost straw coloured, tow toned scaps and all dark tertials, but it was only there for a long and before I could gets some shots.

I have been reading for the hundredth time and checking out many YLG pics, I can't be a 100%, but this was my best candidate so far this year.

Got my Oyc

Lunchtime yesterday, I went to Sandford and found 1 Oystercatcher asleep on the island nearest to the hide, marking my 82nd species for 2015, just 3 behind the park.

Not been out yet, but again enjoying Brambling in my garden, 3 different males and a female, she was much more elusive and I couldn't get a pic. I did catch shots of 2 of the males and one of the 2 Blackcap enjoying the apples I stab onto branches, also catching him about to oust the Brambling on the second from last shots.

The quality isn't good, due to the dirtiness of my windows!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Not getting out

Work has prevented me from doing any birding, except my garden where the regular Blackcap holds off other species from using one of the feeders a lot of the time.

More or less daily I also have a male Brambling, there has been two, but only one for the last 4-5 days. This shot was taken on 15th through our rather dirty kitchen window. It is back again today at 09:17.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Q is for quiet

Yesterday I trotted down to LFGP, hoping for one or two large gulls to inspect and that's what I got, 2 Herring, still loads of BH's and my scan was a bit quick. Over 180 Wigeon, 5-6 Snipe, 1000+ Lapwing, but little else.

On the walk back I could see a Little Egret on Teal scrape bund, another was in the reeds near Sandford Hide and a third on Tern Scrape.

Good grief, it's quiet, I'm about ready for a Shelduck and Redshank any day now and it would be nice to catch up with Grey Wagtail.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Busy times

A busy week last week, kept me away from my patch and I was always wondering what I was missing.

I know I did make it down  a few times for brief spells, most notably the 7th when I got up extra early and headed down the Loddon path in search of Tawny and Barn Owls.

It was clear I'd missed the window for Tawny already at 06:40, but hearing Snipe flying about gave me some hope for Barn. Sure enough barely beyond the river junction and I picked one up quartering the rough grassland between the river courses and 2 minutes later realised it had company, 2 Barn Owls, very nice, both drifted off silently towards the North end out of sight, then one re-appeared above the footpath and quickly away North, no further sign by 07:05.

I then went into Ron's hide and set about checking all the big gulls, not that there were so many. I am doing this because 1st winter Yellow-legged annoys me, because I find them hard work.

Now I have said more than once that if you are trying too hard to convince yourself of the i.d. of a species, it generally isn't one. But without making exceptions, I think it is well within the bounds of reasonable doubt that Yellow-legged, like most bigger gulls, is pretty variable and can be overlooked.

So apart from one, maybe two 1st winter gulls, nothing had me thinking I've definitely got a YLG. Then yesterday there were quite a few more immatures about and possibly the best one was with a Lesser Black-backed, too far up the landfill to even begin to make a positive I.D. But it could have been one.

Here is Marek's shot taken during the work party and I've had nothing that looks like this individual.

It is pretty much a trademark YLG

I'll keep checking all spring and keep my fingers crossed a nice easy one like this shows up.

Yesterday the bird walk was almost without anything interesting, but the first Skylark rising over the far landfill put me on 81 for the year. Renton's count of c130 Pochard on BSL was interesting, c160 Wigeon on LFGP was less so.

In fairness I had my best birds of the day before I left home, 7 Brambling dropped into my neighbours trees around 08:30, but as I was a little distracted, never saw them drop, or leave. Either way it is the first time I have seen Brambling in any of the Woodley gardens I have had since moving here in 2004.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Jan totals

January finished on 84, fourth highest species count and without Siskin and Lesser Redpoll, which was very unusual, unheard of in fact.

February usually brings Shelduck, Redshank and Mediterranean Gull, with some chance of Pintail, Mandarin, Red-Crested Pochard, Scaup and Jack Snipe.

But special attention should be given to geese and swans, as both Bewick's and Whooper Swans, Pink-footed, White-fronted and Brent Geese have all occurred in February and perhaps we are long overdue our first ever Great Northern Diver, both other diver species have only occurred once, Black-Throated 25th Jan 1987 and Red Throated 22nd Feb also 1987.