Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Last little push

Geoff called me with news of an odd bird at LFGP, the consensus is it was an aberrant Chiffchaff, adding another species to February's total, now 86.

We are still missing Ring-necked Parakeet and Bittern, which is bonkers, as both are around, but not reported by anyone. So if you are out at dusk at WSL, please do let us know if you see Bittern, one has to be there still.

The bright weather might also push thru the odd Meadow Pipit and if we can seal these 3 species, it will be a new 2nd highest. Still possible are Smew, Goosander, Woodcock, Jack Snipe, Ruff, Curlew, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Yellow Legged Gull, Blackcap, Brambling & Linnet.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Med spectacular

I was just pulling my coat on when Brian called with a Mediterranean Gull on the landfill at LFGP, so I got on with getting in the car.

The usual sludgy walk up to Lea Farm G.P. also provided Mistle Thrush en route, but I was quickly at Ron's hide, taking my first insurance look thru Brian's scope. This was the 6th Med in all February's since 2003.

It always stayed pretty far away and moved several times, but I got some fun record shots in flight until it went over the far brow.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

On track for a podium Feb

With Brian seeing 2 Coal Tit on them feeders on the other side of the Loddon today, it equals 2003's February count of 84, 4th place. It will take just 3 more to match 3rd place of 87 in 2013 and I think that is more likely than unlikely.

There is plenty of time left to secure stuff that is no doubt around, but simply hasn't been reported yet, i.e. Ring-necked Parakeet & Bittern.

As I've already said, we have a very good chance of Redshank and Meadow Pipit being seen and adding those would match 2008's 2nd place score of 88.

But always the optimist, we might also have a chance of Linnet, Brambling, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Yellow-legged & Med Gull, Jack Snipe, Woodcock, Ruff, Curlew, Green Sandpiper, Goosander, or Smew. So even the 1st place of 92 in 2012, could fall, if we had an exceptional last 12 days.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Bright sunny 30 minutes

As it was very bright and sunny, I thought there would be a good chance of Skylark being up, so headed down to the car park field.

Many Kites were up, 8+ Buzzard and while I was watching one of the latter, a Skylark fluttered thru my scope view, I did pick it up again on the deck briefly. 2 other brown jobs flew quickly SE, but I couldn't get enough on them to clinch their ID. Nuthatch called the whole time I was there, as did Great Spotted Woodpecker, so love surely is in the air for the residents.

While scanning with Trevor, I picked up a distant flock of about 60+ Golden Plover, moving back and forth to the NNW.

Skylark puts me on 87, so just 5 shy of the park's 92.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Monthly guided walk

Nothing to exciting to report today, the Pochard were back on Sandford, as were a lot of wildfowl, 96 Pochard, 346 Gadwall, c60 Tufted Duck, 40+ Wigeon, with many more Wigeon on BSL.

LFGP offered Little Egret, 2 Great Black-backed Gull, Wigeon, Teal, but little else.

Changing subject, I've been doing some of my year list comparisons since 2012, which hasn't been straight forwards as I haven't kept 'in date order' lists, so had to do that part first and I'm not finished either.

What I can say so far is 2012 is the shining year, of all years, although if we just focused on January, 2016 isn't too bad at all.

31st January's;

2012 & 2016 - 83 species
2013 - 82 species
2015 - 78 species
2014 - 77 species

28th/29th February's;

2012 - 94 species
2013 - 88 species
2016 - 86 species so far
2015 - 82 species
2014 - 80 species

Not sure what it reveals without the species data itself, so I'll try to set that out soon and try and delve back into earlier years too.

For now the species seen by 29th February in 2012 that stick out are;

Yellow-legged Gull
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Jack Snipe

All indications seem to suggest, if you can reach 100 by, or before 29th March, you are on fire!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

An early hurried stroll

I woke up around 06:00 and seeing the rain and wind, took my time with a cuppa before heading out around 07:15.

At Sandford it was evident that most of the ducks were missing, just 10 Pochard and a few Gadwall was about it, so after a quick check for Oystercatcher, I contemplated the rain and wind as heavy drops falling from the Willows above my head made me think twice about continuing.

But I went on to BSL and on the bank above Sandford could see a larger group of Pochard with my bins, I decided to move around to a nearby fishing swim and set up scope. Moving right to left I wasn't in the mood for counting Wigeon, or Gadwall, so kept panning left and picked up 1, then a 2nd Shelduck - a pair just left of the tip of the view point. They remain unusual on BSL and it was no surprise they left within 10 minutes at 07:43.

Still panning I counted 91 Pochard +/- 8 as they were diving, checking for any other unusual duck I suddenly saw the Coots on the island edge were getting some grief from an Oystercatcher, but when I moved to the viewing point near the tip of the main island, you couldn't see her, making the first choice stop to view the right choice. Scanning the Pochard flock again found the female Red Crested Pochard with them.

A male Goldeneye flew off from the sailing club end and I moved on quickly to the car park field, then overlooking the landfill I picked up the Shelduck circling 2-3 times, before I felt compelled to move on out of the wind.

A small group of 3-4 Bullfinch kept me pondering a picture opportunity, but not for long and I kept on going without heading to the hides and back to my car, all done by 08:15.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Barn Owl at last

I had some social duties to fulfill tonight, but had to bail and dropped in at Bittern hide after Marek sent a text saying Barn Owl in the box. It took a whole 4 minutes but out it came and whilst we aren't far into the year, it feels that since Marek was on his 5th,6th or 7th sighting, I was kind of overdue.

With the Oystercatcher being seen again today and yesterday, I am hopeful of pushing my year list to 86 tomorrow.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Year & Month List

February is on 78, just 7 to match last year and 2003, but 14 to match the number one slot of 92 in 2012.

Missing so far this month, but most likely around, or nearby;

Bittern, Golden Plover, Ring-necked Parakeet, Skylark, Grey Wagtail, Mistle Thrush & Coal Tit

Already said we should expect;

Shelduck, Redshank, Meadow Pipit & Woodcock.

Might be found;

Goosander, Scaup, Smew, Ruff, Curlew, Jack Snipe, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper, Med Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Brambling, Linnet and Yellowhammer.

So if it sounds like the year is slow, it is not, with 92 species seen already, stealing 3rd place of 91 off 2002, 2003, 2008 & 2013. 2 more and we match 2nd place of 2005 and 5 more to match 1st place of 97 in 2012.

Granted there aren't so many new ones we can expect, but if it gets cold as the weather is predicting later this week, we should stay extra vigilant for any of the above, plus any of the rarer species mentioned a post or two before.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Fresh air and sunshine

Having read Mike Hunt had seen a very early Oystercatcher on Sandford, I took a much needed break from home office life today, I could see the park was very flooded, so didn't even bother with the lakes and Sandford Lane was water free, I headed for the car park field.

I bumped into Linda (LGL) and then Richard who joined me for a landfill watch, mostly to wait for Little Owl to show.

Kestrel had shown from the car park, 3 Buzzard were up, a Sparrowhawk, plenty of Kites, then a Little Grebe called from the balancing pond, then just as I left Richard called me back to say the Little Owl was just visible.

I may have heard a Coal Tit call, but wasn't sure, so left it at that.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Out before the deluge

I have been tied up weekdays for 2 weeks and it is unlikely to change anytime soon, so I did get out for about an hour from 09:00, heading straight down to LFGP.

A Little Egret flew downstream after spotting me, at the outer gate I realised I couldn't remember the code. Brian sent it to me and I was soon in, watching not a lot, but a male Goldeneye went over towards DP.

I headed off back towards DP, but half way before the green bridge a pair of Mandarin flew along side me, then arched over towards the SW corner, turning back and continuing beyond LFGP.

A lone Siskin over, then on to Sandford, which was covered ducks, so a count was in order, 112 Pochard, 1 female Red-crested Pochard as usual and an impressive 346 Gadwall, probably more.

With little will to trudge thru more mud, I decided to quit there.

Looking back in the archives, I have found this Mandarin record is the first in February since a female on a flooded Tern scrape 13th 2009, with a pair 18th 2008, that flew down the Loddon. You have to go all the way back to 1991 for the next record, of 2 but no other details.

I more than suspect that Mandarin is around much more than we record it, as today's record shows they are often just in flight and can often be tricky to clinch while doing so, these two were calling too, which always helps.

So year list wise, 91 for the park is now equal third highest year list in all February's, by all I mean since around 2002, when I began meticulous recording of each species. It is equal with 2002, 2003, 2008 & 2013.

Of the few we are missing, namely Meadow Pipit, Med Gull, Blackcap, none are guaranteed, but Mipit should be considered highly likely. 4 Feb's since 2006 have had Med, 2013 & 2014 had Blackcap.

Not missing, but expected somewhat is Redshank, it has been recorded 7 February's since 2005 and it was only last year that it didn't show til March, having been seen 5 consecutive years.

So what can we at least dream about this month?

Feb 22nd 1987 - The only Red Throated Diver
Feb 11th to Mar 10th 1987 - The 2nd and last Slavonian Grebe
Feb 21st 1989 - Shag
Feb 28th to Mar 1st 1984 - The 2nd and last Pink-footed Goose
Feb 3rd 1985 - 2 White-fronted Goose over
Feb 2nd 1987 - The last day of 15 day stay for a Brent Goose
Feb 18th to Mar 11th 1988 - A female Ferruginous Duck stayed on BSL
Feb 28th 2000 - Scaup
Feb - Many Smew records
Feb 17th to Mar 3rd 1979 - Red Breasted Merganser
Feb 15th & 27th 1992 - Jack Snipe
Feb 9th to 16th 1999 - Jack Snipe - 2/13th
Feb 3rd & 5th 2008 - Jack Snipe
Feb 20th & 21st 2010 - Jack Snipe
Feb 9th 19th 2013 - Jack Snipe - 2/18th & 19th
Feb 2nd 1985 - Greenshank
Feb 5th to 22nd 1999 - Firecrest around Sandford
Jan to Apr 11th 1984 - Tree Sparrow flock feeding at DP main centre
Feb 3rd & 17th 1985 - 1 Tree Sparrow
Fe 11th 1984 - Yellowhammer

Monday, 1 February 2016

Ducks rule still

Richard sent a text saying Peregrine mid morning, 40+ Siskin later, then male Pintail later still. I couldn't go til later, but when I did, my hunch that it might be a pair was soon proven, along with the Red Crested Pochard still among the 107 Pochard.