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.