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