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 http://www.berksbirds.co.uk/show_photo.asp?photo_id=9941

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 band...it 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.