Wednesday, 29 July 2015

July Sanderling!

I was about to restart my pc when I noticed an email had come in from Andy Burns that he thought he had a Sanderling in front of Ron's hide. I called him and based on a brief description, I left home.

About 10 minutes later we were looking at a moulting adult, feeding very close by. A Lapwing took exception to it's presence several times and it then went to the shingle island. Various local patchers arrived and saw it before we realised it was missing around 12:35.

It couldn't be found before Marek had to leave, only for it to re-appear 20 minutes after that, I was told it went to sleep, so fingers crossed it will reamin for Marek to get a rare DP lifer.

So the past records look like this, ones on italics are unconfirmed;

May 2nd 1983 - Sandford (FJC)
April 18th 1987 - BSL sailing club beach (RJC et al)
May 14th & 15th 1988 - Lavell's Tern scrape (ADB et al)
May 8th 1993 - Sandford (Observer Unknown)
Oct 20th 1995 - Lavell's (Observer Unknown)
May 30th 1999 - BSL sailing club beach (BTB)
Feb 1st 2012 - Lavell's (RNM & Les Seward) Not wholly confirmed
July 29th 2015 - LFGP (Andy Burns et al)

Having a July Sanderling is unprecedented and the best bird this year.

As always, if anyone knows more about the records (OU), then do let me know, because it is a very rare visitor to DP and it would be great to confirm more of the 8 reported records. There might be other records to come out of the woodwork in 1998, or 2000.

Here are my record shots, sadly it flew to the island before I could shots, Andy will be sending me some great ones, I'll share these on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Hirundine passage

I was out Monday morning around 06:30, small groups of Sand Martin were going over low South, a group of around 10 Swift went over the landfill, another 20 went over Sandford as I was about to leave.

Wader wise, 2 Green, 2 Common Sandpiper and 2 LRP were out on the SW corner, which has 3-4 inches more water on it..still looking good.

Today I didn't make it out, Marek had the first Teal of he autumn and 3 Green Sandpiper, Richard texted later to say 3 Linnet on LFGP, bringing the month list to 89, the equal 3rd highest July. This is the fourth month in a row, the park has hit equal third position, so all in all a healthy variety of species.

I hope to get out later and look for a Willow Warbler, if anyone has heard of seen a Mistle Thrush, or Lesser Whitethroat, let me know.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Heavy rain passed for now

After yesterday's heavy rain, the scrapes and SW corner of LFGP had 1-2 inches more of water and one might hope for a bit of wader passage, but none was obvious on this morning's visit. Just 2 Green Sandpiper at LFGP and a lone LRP, there were also 2 Little Egret, plus 1 more at Lavell's.

There was however, a good hirundine presence, especially at BSL, with over 200 Swift and 150 House & Sand Martin, plus a few Swallows. A few more at LFGP too.

A family of Sedge Warbler next to Ron's hide was some evidence of breeding, not sure if they bred on the park?

Friday, 24 July 2015

Where's our Marsh Harrier?

Reading the Oxon bird blog today, it amazes me to see they have 4 Marsh Harrier at Otmoor, yes of course it's a huge site, big reed beds, etc, so did they breed there this year, I don't know yet, but with just one July record of this species over LFGP 27th 2012 (09:00) and then next earliest is 4th August 2007 (11:20), we should be keeping looking up from now on.

Since they do travel in rain too, we shouldn't be put off by weather like we are having's Easterly winds, so in principle stuff could be out there now, shame I have to go shopping.

I'm not saying give up looking for waders and terns and I will be putting time in to look thru the tit flocks as I said before.

Very quiet again

Today I was out at 06:15 and saw next to nothing, no passage waders at all, even at Teal Scrape, or LFGP. I heard an odd warbler call next to Teal hide, but it just called 2-3 times and moved on very quickly, a bit like Chiffchaff and maybe that, but a more singular with many of these things, I'll never know.

At LFGP a group of around 20 Sand Martin shot thru South, about 40+ House Martin overhead are probably all local breeders, just 2 Swift in the area now over the landfill. 2-3 distant small jobs pinging about the landfill were not Skylark, being too small, most likely Goldfinch.

I heard Grey Wagtail and saw a brief glimpse of Kingfisher dashing along the Loddon.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

All eyes on Sandford

I had a lie in and when Marek called, I said "Greenshank?", "no" he said, juvenile Med Gull on the old tern island at Sandford. I went as I was, joggies and all and was there is 5 minutes, passing Marek walking to his car, he said it was walking left.

I couldn't see it so re-positioned my self to look to the Canadas and BH gulls sat in the shallows off the North reed bed, immediately finding 3 Black-tailed Godwit asleep with them. I called Marek and confirmed he missed the spring birds, so he turned back from his office bound journey.

Marek relocated the Mediterranean Gull for me, my first juvenile and our first July record, then we continued watching the Godwits until Brian arrived.

Sandford is always good in the early autumn, attracting Wigeon, Shoveler and Garganey, as well as various small Black-tailed Godwit flocks in 2006, 2011 & 2013.

For me the Godwits fit the pattern of records as described a few days ago, bang on time!

I went back again to try and get a pic of the Med and got the following

The Godwits woke up and were flushed by large gulls swooping in at 10:45, they returned after 1 minute and I added one more record shot, of what appears to be Islandica race birds

On the subject of large gulls, at least one of them was a dark juvenile, with a white upper tail and little pale in the inner primaries, suggesting Yellow-legged Gull. I may go out again later in pursuit of this or other YLG's.

So I did go back and saw juvenile Lesser Black Backed Gull and believe the bird I saw in flight earlier was the same individual. The Med was still around at 14;45 having barely moved. I also saw 1 Little-ringed Plover there and another on LFGP.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Teal scrape busy

Despite my lack of posts, I have been about on the odd occasion, just not had time to post anything.

Not that there has been much to mention, 7 Little Egret yesterday, 6 of them on Teal scrape and regular Green and Common Sandpiper there, shows that when water levels get low, this scrape comes into it's own.

Sightings of Sedge Warbler and Nightingale have brought the month up to 86, just 3 off the 3rd place for all July's.

Yes to show, are Teal, Mandarin, Mistle Thrush, Dunlin, Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and also possible are Wigeon, Ruff and even Wood Sandpiper if we are really lucky.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Wader passage hotting up

I slept in this morning again, Marek was out early seeing 2 Green Sandpiper, by lunchtime, 2 Common Sandpiper had joined them, by late lunchtime, 6 Little ringed Plover (1 juv) were there.

This LRP count is the second highest return passage number, 11 being recorded one day later on July 16th 1983, comprising 4 adults, 4 locally bred juvs and 3 more passage juvs just off the park...if we can justify counting them too?

Anyway, clearly waders are on the move, making it worth 2-3 visits a day at different times of day, I might even be getting out for the odd dusk session, hoping for more Black-tailed Godwits, or better still a Greenshank.

As I was about to leave a Raven was circling over the landfill and headed off SE before diving down East of Lea Farm itself, the first report since 6th April.

5 year species totals breakdown

I decided to do some analysis of all the species that have occurred in 5 year blocks and whilst I can't show the excel file that reveals the specifics, the numbers are as follows;

1980 - 1984 : 166 Species
1985 - 1989 : 170 Species
1990 - 1994 : 154 Species
1995 - 1999 : 147 Species
2000 - 2004 : 159 Species
2005 - 2009 : 155 Species
2010 - 2014 : 169 Species

With the new website coming very soon now, I'll try and find a away of showing the species involved, but it is fair to say from 1995 to 1999, it was either a drought, or the site wasn't comprehensively watched...I think it was the latter.

A few things stands out -

There are no passage raptors prior to 2000 (other than Osprey)

There are no records of :

Any divers since 1987
Red-necked Grebe since 1999
Shag since 1994
Whiter-fronted Goose since 2002
Brent Goose since 1993
Red Breasted Merganser since 1990
Sanderling since 1998
Little Stint since 1993
Temminck's Stint since 1993
Turtle Dove since 2002 (possibles reported heard only 2004 & 2009)
Water Pipit since 1987
Tree Pipit since 1989 (except for 2011 & 2014 autumn records)
Ring Ouzel since 1988
Marsh Tit since 1990 (I doubt the 1998 & 1992 records as both are in May)
Willow Tit since 1990 (I doubt the 1995 & 1995 records in June & July)
Tree Sparrow since 1988
Corn Bunting since 2003 (dubious records claimed April 1999 & June 1998, genuine records 1985 & 1983)

Of sad note there are only 3 records of Yellowhammer since 2005.

The modern species additional species -

Bittern (regularly from 1995, then every year since 2002)
Little Egret records began 2000 (1st record 1996)
Red Kite records began 2001
Marsh Harrier began 2000
Peregrine began 1998 (annual since 2003)
Barn Owl records began 2001 (1st & 2nd records 1981 & 1990)
Ring-necked Parakeet records began 2002
Cetti's Warbler annual from 2003 (1st & 2nd records 1984 & 1992)
Raven annual from 2005

There are a few more things to talk about another time

July Black-tailed Godwit

After getting Geoff's yesterday call about 2 Black-tailed Godwit flying over LFGP yesterday, I looked at recent records and feel the following is of interest.

There are now 3 July 14th Black-tailed Godwit records;

1/2006 on Sandford
1/2013 on LFGP
2/2015 over LFGP

If you then show the other July records;

1/7th & 8th 2008 - Tern scrape
2/17th 2010 - LFGP
1/13th & 1/15th 2011 - Sandford & LFGP respectively
7/1st & 3/25th 2013 - LFGP
1/2nd & 1/23rd 2014 - Tern scrape & LFGP respectively

As there are no July records prior to 2006, it appears highly likely that LFGP attracts them in, but I would also suggest there are waves/date windows they are occurring around, with not a great deal of date ranges between.

1st wave around the 1st/2nd July (+ 1/28th June 2011 & 2008 records)
2nd wave around 13th to 17th (+ up to a week later, perhaps constituting a 3rd wave around 23rd to 25th?)

August brings further waves 10th to 14th, then 23rd onward into September.

Now for us who do the odd early morning, it is fair to say that does not guarantee you will see, them as a several records are mid afternoon, or early evening.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Being ready

Arriving at LFGP at 06:50, as I opened the flap a large gull was circling the SW corner and immediately I lifted my bins I could see a darker grey mantle and brown upper wings, all dark primaries, coverts and no pale inner secondary area, as brief as it was, I knew it was a 2nd summer Yellow-legged Gull, my first this year and first since 2013.

I was still scanning with bins and seeing no waders other than Lapwing, when I followed a strung out group of Crows moving left to right, but picked up 5 birds beyond them going the same way and doubling back, the words "big waders" came out of my mouth...."might be Blackwits", but seeing no wing bars, "might be Whimbrel...surely not Barwits, it's too early".

As one does in a short space of milliseconds, I looked down at my scope and thought "*!*?*! hell, I'm not ready, my scope isn't even in position to get an immediate quick closer  view".

I have done this before, a moment of panic as you glance back thru bins, knowing they are too far away to get views that will clinch the I.D. but rather than stay on them with bins and get valuable jizz details, I chose to fumble frantically with the tripod legs to get the scope into position....and after an annoying amount of additional seconds, then scan wildly with bins to try and pick up the birds again to then change to scope to clinch it.

They were now too far away to be 100%, but it was a toss up between Whimbrel and Curlew, their wing beats were not fast, like I have seen Whimbrel showing on previous occasions. I couldn't see any bills as they were now heading away into the misty SE light, but strong white 'V's' on their rumps and not looking particularly large again suggested Whimbrel to me....I might be wrong!?

The lesson here is be ready, have the scope in position and open from the second you open the flap, so you get onto anything immediately.

For what it's worth July records for both are as follows;


3 1982 (no date given)
4/18th 1983
1/20th 2006 heard from my bedroom at Shacketon Way 01:26


1/1st 1984
1/20th 1985
1/7th 1986
1/6th 2010 heard only

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Early Saturday, lazy Sunday

I couldn't sleep beyond 03:45 Saturday morning, so got up and was out by 04:20, checking out Lavell's first. No sign of the Barn Owl, or anything of interest, so quickly went on to LFGP.

Waders....1 Green, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 LRP, 1 Oystercatcher, 30+ Lapwing. 1 Skylark, 8 Ring-necked Parakeet flying along the landfill boundary South, new for July.

Walking back Nuthatch calling, various Warbler, but I haven't seen Sedge since May,

The annoying news that came in early evening was 2 Greenshank had been seen and photographed on Sandford mid afternoon. The first park year tick since Ringed Plover on 18th May.

Today was bird walk and a quieter feel overall, Grey Wagtail at the sailing club, an eclipse Shoveler new for July on Sandford. 2 LRP there too, At LFGP, very quiet, just Common Terns and BH Gulls making lots of noise, but then 2 Sand Martin went over, also new for July.

At Lavell's the juv Cuckoo was still showing, a Little Egret flushed off towards Sandford and a Green Sandpiper was feeding on the muddy margin in front of the reeds to the far left, as it has done a lot recently.

July is on 80 species, which might sound a lot, but isn't. the 2002 low count of 78 being poor, an average year produces 83 to 86, 94 in 2013 being the highest. But we are early in the month and various things will still show up. Hobby has been seen twice in the last 2-3 days after no reports in June.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

A quiet morning

Out at 06:30 I heard an LRP going over South, but I went straight to LFGP in hope of a Greenshank and Blackwit, but none to be found, a lone Common Sandpiper was in our very muddy SW corner, as were a good few Lapwing and juv BH Gulls.

2-3, pairs of Common Tern do appear to be settling into nesting on the shingle island, but as always I worry with the near silence on Sandford, there is a Mink lurking and likely to attack any day.

A lone small job was perched on the bushed of the reedy ditch on the landfill, I think it was just a Reed Bunting as it dropped inside the bush.

No sign of any Teal, Shoveler, or other waders.

At BSL, 40+ Swift overhead, at Lavell's no sign of the juv Cuckoo, a pair of Oystercatcher quietly sat near the bund. Reed Warblers everywhere.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Oystercatchers young predated again?

I was pretty busy over the weekend, but did drop in for a brief visit and today I checked Sandford one more time to confirm to myself that the Oystercatchers have been predated again.

It was very quiet on Sandford this morning, suggesting that a Mink attack may have occurred again, very few BH Gulls too.

At LFGP, it was also quiet, but no obvious signs of trouble here, the terns seemed okay on the raft and the new nesters on the shingle island. 3 Oystercatcher flew over towards DP, one turning back and landing on the shingle island, which then gave frequent mournful calls, again suggesting a sad end to the fourth year in a row of failed breeding.

Passage wise, little to be said so far, but we stand a pretty good chance of Black-tailed Godwit and Greenshank any day and have had both this early in July before.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

July ducks - I'm not falling for that again

I woke at 05:50 and it was murky and grey.

At BSL at 06:30 and a female and Juv Grey Wagtail means they bred nearby, on to LFGP and one Green Sandpiper, 1 LRP, 2 Skylark, then I noticed a small group of Mallard, but one caught my eye, showing facial features a little like a Garganey...but wasn't one.

I took some shots to reveal the similarity, but plumage overall was not right, flanks, tail and it wasn't small enough, the structure and bill shape was wrong.

A Little Egret went off East and that was about it, just as the clouds went NE and the sun came out.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Beach benefits

Having done my morning visit to the patch, I took the family to West Wittering for an afternoon of fun on the fine sandy beach and despite not doing any birding, there were some nice things to see.

Mediterranean Gulls were everywhere and not shy about coming to scavenge scraps from anyone, so it was fun just trying to catch a shot of them as they floated nearby.

For an inland birder, it was also interesting getting a jizz impression of them in flight, which I felt was more buoyant, obviously the call was prominent, as well as enjoying noting the different ages, juvenile to adult, there had to have been a minimum of 10 and probably quite a few more.

Also present were Little and Sandwich Tern, Oystercatcher over towards the lagoons and no doubt a good look would have yielded all sorts more.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

July wader passage

I was out at 06:30, nothing on BSL, on the way down the Loddon path a Nuthatch and Coal Tit called, at LFGP the first autumn Common Sandpiper was in front of the hide, but went off to the left.

An additional 16+ Common Tern were setting up a colony on the shingle island, 18 Lapwing, mostly in the SW corner, where the water was at it's lowest since the digging.

A male Kingfisher sat in front of the hide for a few minutes.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

June total and July hopes

June ended on 82, but could, or even should have been 83, possibly 85/86.

No reported sightings of Ring-necked Parakeet, Peregrine, Mistle Thrush, Nightingale, Lesser Whitethroat, or Little Owl, all of which are most likely present or, visit on the odd day, plus surprising absence of Sand Martin & Willow Warbler.

There were no real surprises, Barn Owl late on might now breed, which would be great.

July can be quite interesting and with very warm weather, a few nice possibilities could occur, more Common and Green Sandpiper as usual, but also might include Greenshank, Garganey, Black Tern, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint, Yellow-legged Gull and we should turn our attentions to the tit flocks for a Wood Warbler.