Thursday, 28 April 2016

Cold continues

Yet another frosty start, with frozen rain hard to scrape off the car today.

Lavell's was quiet, but the light was gorgeous. I arrived just after sunrise and took shots of a very cold looking Swallow on the wires, trying to get as much heat from the sun as quickly as possible. The lovely little thing became my photo focus this morning

I moved into the field and got back on views and felt sure he/she was watching me too.

2 Reed Warbler, plus Sedge, Garden, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat in the car park field, the latter being very vocal and a little showy moving up and down the left hand bottom hedgerow, allowing one shot.

The landfill offered no more than 4 distant Common Tern coming in from the North

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A lie in

I've been promising myself a lie in and based on the continued cold conditions, took one today, not that it helped much I woke before 6 anyway, but I kept my head down.

So around 11:45 I thought I'd have a stab a Swift, since they aren't out early and sure enough my first 2 Swift for this year were firing all over the sailing club airspace.

The sleet was still falling in short bursts, but lots of raptors were still up, I missed the Hobby Brian had over the green bridge, but am not sure how as I was overlooking the landfill.

With 3 days of April left and no waders coming thru it is going to be hard to match 2012's 128 for the year, even though we are on a healthy 125. That is 2 more than 2013, 1 more than 2003.

April itself is on 107, 1 more than 2015, still 4 short of 2003 and 7 short of 2013.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Even more quiet

It's getting a little boring now, posting more or less nothing. Lovely sunny, blue and crisp, if you like scraping ice off your car on 26th April.

So, LFGP a Snipe, an Oystercatcher, 1 Shoveler, 1 Reed Warbler.

Car park field, 2 Green Woodpecker and 1 Mandarin over low East.

BSL, nothing.

The Green Woodpeckers were pleasant and light refracting through the trees and Blackthorn, also lovely.

Monday, 25 April 2016

false rumours

I have been told recently that some people had this crazy notion that I was withdrawing my Alpine Swift record of 15th October 2014.

So let me state for the record that there is no chance of that happening, because 'The' and 'My' DP lists and the truthful facts are all that matters to me.

In general I don't even write descriptions, but once in a while I will, call it an effort to be polite and when the odd description get omitted, it's because I have a life outside birding and frankly it is the job of a rarities committee to show some manners and politely ask for one, not simply state the lame excuse of 'no description received'.

As the finder of 183 of the 197 species I have seen at DP, plus a couple of hundred in the Philippines, I know how to ID a fair few species and will not accept bullshit sweeping dismissive junk statements to tar my reputation, or credibility. Like many, I couldn't give two shits about what anyone believes I saw, whether they're on a rarities committee, or a mission from god.

Good birding folks

Repeat, repeat

With the weather locked into a pattern of cold, I did just manage to get out, but had no enthusiasm for getting to Lea Farm. Instead I did the sailing club, where 3 Common Sandpiper fed, but nothing else.

I checked the car park field and landfill, Mistle Thrush of course, then Bittern hide, 1 Shoveler, 1 Cetti's, 2 Reed & 1 Sedge Warbler. For some reason it is a funny sight watching Kestrel and Jackdaw squabble on every changeover of sitting duties.

I've been grumbling about wader passage, in particular Whimbrel, but as it happens there are a good number of late April to mid May records, so plenty of time, at least for those in the UK after 6th!

Still a few small jobs flying about, 3 today were likely finches, but it was all too brief to be sure.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Arctic Tern 5 years on the trot

Another early morning at Lea Farm GP and another quiet hour or so, 2 male Shoveler, the pair of Teal, 2 different Little Egret over, 9 male Gadwall and 1 Common Sand.

More hirundines coming thru, 30+ House Martin, then 30 more, followed by another 60.

I moved to BSL and on arrival picked up a tern coming in from the SW, it had a buoyant flight and when it appeared from behind the main island and was visible side on, it's long streamers confirmed my thoughts, adult Arctic Tern, it stayed for 18 minutes before heading off East and despite the range, I managed a poor record shot.

This is the 5th year on the trot I've been in the right place at the right time, dates ranging from 11th to 28th.

2 Common Sands were on the beach, with a sprinkle of all three hirundines over the lake

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Winter wildfowl breeding potential

For many years I have watched the last Teal, Shoveler and even Wigeon linger and wonder if any of them could ever breed.

Wigeon I feel would never even contemplate it, but Teal and Shoveler, why not? I have never seen it happen, despite Teal being claimed as breeding in 1999, there was no mention in the county report, let alone photographic proof and rather telling, 2 long time local birders at the time knew nothing of it when I found the reports in the archives.

I am sure I've mentioned it before, but it is tragic that a really important breeding record like Teal cannot even be recorded properly and the same applies to Water Rail the same year. We can only speculate why that might be and even if they both did breed, nobody took the time to notify anyone to verify it and have it recorded in black and white for all time.

So, with 5 Shoveler flying about (3m, 2f) at LFGP today and the last pair of Teal, looking sort of quiet and happy, I remain hopeful that one day, one of these lovely ducks will breed and successfully fledge young.

This morning there was a very cold North wind and it was bitter, but at least a Cuckoo wasn't put off and a Lesser Whitethroat was calling at the bottom of the car park field.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Where are the waders

I have been kind of expecting a wader or two this week, not counting Lapwing and 3 Snipe yesterday, there has been nothing. A Whitethroat was calling at each end of LFGP.

4 Common Tern went thru this morning, then a trickle of hirundines including one flock of c30 Sand Martin, then 5 House Martin later.

A call then another confirmed 2 Linnet over the hide at LFGP North, finally a confirmed record, 124th species for 2016 and 106th for April.

2 Common Tern landed on the raft for a short while, the last 2 Teal sat in front of the hide for a few moments,

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

One by one

Another cold, clear and quiet morning, a lone Shoveler over LFGP North, but looked to be dropping onto Lodge Wood Lake. The last pair of Teal, no wader, but 'the' Lapwing.

Nothing on BSL, nothing in the car park field, then a year tick, a Garden Warbler giving bursts of song just on the right at the left bend in the tarmac path. I was asked which tarmac path and I still don't understand the question, we only have one tarmac path that runs from the car park to Bittern hide and 40 yards after John's bench, it kicks hard left. I guess if you wanted to be funny, you could say there are 2 if you state that the section before the footbridge makes it two?!

Anyway nothing else to report, I went back at lunchtime after getting 2 Linnet over my garden, but apart from lots of Buzzard and Kite and then 2 House Martin to the West of LFGP, nothing was happening.

It's not doom and gloom by the way, 123 species is the 3rd highest year total by end April and equal with 2013, one more and it is = 2nd place with 2003. It will take a good wader passage, plus a few more bonus birds to reach or pass 2012's 128.

That one more will certainly happen in the form of Hobby, beyond that we need a weather change to bring some waders in.

As for the month we need one more to match 3rd highest March of 106 of 2015, 6 more to match 111 in 2003.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Take a walk on the quiet side

Out at 06:00, I tried for the Hoopoe at Woodford Park, if it was ever there? It wasn't for me at least and I headed off to BSL, finding 1 Common Sandpiper.

On to LFGP and another 2 Common Sandpiper, 4 Teal, 1 Lapwing, but little else.

On the way back I heard Reed Warbler on the left of the outlet ditch into Lavell's from the Loddon.

Lunchtime today, lots of raptors, but nothing good.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Dawn chorus chill

I arrived at 04:35 after scraping the ice off my car, I could hear Cetti's calling and a few distant Song Thrush, but when asked what I was promising, I said nothing given how cold it was, knowing Nightingales don't like it cold.

The Barn Owl didn't show, the Cuckoo didn't either (as usual) and no waders were on LFGP, AND no the Nightingales didn't sing.

At least the Whitethroat was showy and it was very sunny and at the end, when I did a car park field circuit with Bob, we had the usual Mistle Thrush, plus 2 more on the landfill, then finally a Cuckoo called, getting my 112th species for the year.

Blimey, the park year list is 10 more than me, at 122 as of today, Brian getting Swift over the landfill mid morning. I am not sure I've been that far off for many years. Granted Reed Warbler, Swift, LRP, Tawny Owl and even Redstart should be added, but it feels unnerving to be so far behind.

The tricky ones are Goosander, Jack Snipe, Curlew, Arctic Tern & Wheatear, the latter being the easiest to hope for, in autumn in particular.

Surely a Linnet has flown over by now!?

Saturday, 16 April 2016

April expectations

Yesterday, I was out with Marek at the bottom of the car park field as a Lesser Redpoll flew over South. We frequently get April birds and even the odd early May individual.

A Common Sandpiper at the sailing club and another at LFGP were nice.

Later in the day I was excited to hear that the female Shelduck was inspecting the new nest box on the Sand Martin wall and even a pair of Sand Martin were checking out the wall itself.

Today, after all the rain, the rivers were well up so I stuck to the West side of DP, opting for the golf course first, in hope of a chance Pied Flycatcher in the Oaks. No joy, but a singing Nuthatch and my first sighting in 2016 of Coal Tit this year moving along the tops, was good to see at last.

Walking on to the car park field, nothing too exciting, but viewing the landfill I could suddenly hear a Lesser Whitethroat near Lea Farm. Next it was behind me, with another calling from the middle compound.

As I crossed to check them out, 2 finches went over my head with white rumps, neither were Bullfinch, followed by 2 more, I didn't get much on them, but they they weren't Goldfinch either, so concluded they were Brambling.

I did a loop back around to the sailing club beach, by then 12+ Swallow, 2 House Martin and 1 Sand Martin were feeding over the lake, about time we had some birds feeding it felt.

En route I had a stab at photographing Song Thrush after failing to catch Lesser Whitethroat.

The year list is 120, not bad when you look at the podium, 3rd Place = 2013 - 123, 2nd Place = 2003 - 124, 1st Place = 2012 - 128.

In April we are guaranteed to see Hobby, Swift and Garden Warbler, with various other passage species we get most years, so if we get our fair share then this April could at least steal 2nd place, if we have a bumper next 2 weeks, then who knows?

The month is on 102, just 4 off of third place, the podium for the month looks like this, 3rd place = 106 in 2015, 2nd place = 111 in 2003, 1st place = 114 in 2013, so again lots of possibilities.

Post Script Final : Trev had called my phone 16:30 which somehow had been switched to silent, to say he was watching an Arctic Tern at WSL and amazingly a winter Little Gull had flown thru his field of vision while watching it. No twitch on for me and neither were seen again.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

110 marks something

I was out early and decided to forgo LFGP completely in favour of finding Lesser Whitethroat and Reed Warbler. So I went straight for the car park field and heard one calling immediately in the central compound, before it headed to the Blackthorn near the footbridge into Lavell's.

Lesser Whitethroat marks 110 for my 2016 year list and whilst it sin't anything special, it beats 2012 by 2 days and that is something because 2012 was a mind blowing year.

Later I convinced my son to come out for a walk in search of the Redstart seen this morning, but no luck. The park is on 119.

My year could of course all fall apart from here and a major rarity occur while I'm away in May, I can only hope that I don't miss a mega.

Recorded already for me to still get are Reed Warbler, Cuckoo & LRP, with Swift, Garden Warbler, Hobby and hopefully Wheatear to follow any day now. These are the 'bankers' plus Tawny Owl, but we can expect quite a few more over the next 20 days I am in the UK.

Good chances exist for late passing Brambling, Garganey, Arctic and Black Tern, Greenshank, Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Grey Plover, Curlew and Whimbrel, plus Spotted Flycatcher, maybe even Pied and I never dismiss another Wood Warbler showing up.

My heart is set on a mega like a Red-rumped Swallow, or Red-footed Falcon, like I say, I pray I'm here for it, if it happens.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Wow, today definitely qualifies as a good arrival and passage day

Taking a slight detour to the Hoopoe site and of course not seeing it, I arrived later and decided to head for the Nightingale area, passing 3 Willow Warbler en route. At the base of the BSL view point, I waited for a few moments before one Nightingale gave a few bursts of song.

Moments later Marek was sending WhatsApp meesages, "Lesser Whitethroat in the car park field & Common Sandpiper at the sailing club". I headed back quickly, moved my car, noting Marek's was now next to mine before I left.

I had barely crossed the road when Marek called saying "Adult Little Gull in front of Ron's hide", so ran back to my car and headed off there even more quickly.

It had moved to the landfill by the time I got there, but there it was a near adult Little Gull, then it flew to the shingle island, then off to the South, then East and lost, only to return 10 minutes later and landed right in front of the hide again, what a star.

The mist began to clear and whilst panning around before the Little Gull returned I picked up a Common Sandpiper in the NE corner. A Common Tern also went over.

So I left missing the Lesser Whitethroat and no sign of the Cuckoo.

I hadn't been home long, when the phone rang, it was Brian and I though "when it's not an IM, or text it had to be good". He said "I have a Ring Ouzel in the car park field".

I was there in 4 minutes and it only took another 10 before it showed a 1st Winter Ring Ouzel, the first since 15th April 1988. Very nice and despite not bringing my iPhone digi sleeve, I managed a few okay shots, highly cropped of course.

A 4 year tick morning and did I care about missing 2 others? No of course not, it leaves me 3 on site to get, in the form of the laziest Cuckoo in the county and a Lesser Whitethroat that just chose not to call when I was in the car park field, not forgetting Reed Warbler, which I presume is about somewhere.

My year list is tracking well against 2012, if I can get the other 3 before the 20th, I am ahead for now.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

And waiting

I was fully expecting Cuckoo to be calling when I got out of my car, but no sign.

On the way to LFGP, a pair of Mandarin flew by me North along the Loddon, so it was nice to know they were still about. I arrived about 06:30 and as with yesterday it looked very quiet, but then a lone Common Tern joined the noise of the Black-headed Gulls.

This first for the year fits the new pattern of early arrival dates for this species, for many years it was typically 19th to 21st as can be seen in the 'arrivals' spreadsheet on the FOLL website members page. 

There have always been odd years with very early birds, such as April 10th 1985, then 3rd 1988, then in 1994 a super early passage bird on the 27th March. The next early arrival was an 11th April 1999, was then followed by another exceptionally early bird 26th March in 2003 and then 10th April 2004.

Taking a 10 year snapshot, there are 3 years that are later, but the continuing trend is an earlier arrival of no later than the 12th instead of the end of the 2nd and into the 3rd week April as before;

2006 12th April
2007 15th April
2008 18th April
2009 11th April
2010 22nd April
2011 10th April
2012 10th April
2013 11th April
2014 8th April
2015 12th April
2016 12th April

10 Teal now, 6 Shoveler over North, and the Shelduck were still present first thing and a nest box will be delivered later this morning, so I am super hopeful they take a look and like what they see. As I left Ron's hide a Nuthatch was singing across the river.

1-2 Willow Warbler still about, the Oycs were on Sandford, 2 Siskin went over SE,

So my post script, which still doesn't quite qualify as the 'tadah' moment, Alan heard Cuckoo around 10:00, Sedge Warbler at Tern scrape too, Reed Warbler was reported from WSL, so I thought I'd better get out to check what was coming thru.

25-30 Swallows over the landfill North, 3-4 Willow Warbler in the car park field, the Little Owl in the Oak, 2-3 small flocks of finch sp, 10+ Buzzard up, 2 Kestrel. When I finally walked round to BSL I came across and elderly couple looking at a pair of rather confiding Mandarin which swam past the jetty, sat on the beach for a few moments, then off into the edge of the lake beyond the beach. By their confiding behaviour alone I can say this is not the Loddon pair

I was about to leave, when Bob called me back and told me he'd had the Common Tern and here it was on the yellow buoy.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Still waiting on a bumper spring influx

The bird walk yesterday was very quiet, sure we saw the Whitethroat, but overall fewer Blackcap, Chiffchaff's and Willow Warblers were to be found.

We had a single Swallow and Sand Martin over East together, 2 Teal, 1 Snipe and the only excitement was when I picked up a flock of 30-40 waders high up over LFGP, about a 1000 feet up in 'V' formation, heading South, but then veering West. I called them as Golden Plover, but that was an assumption and when trying to get the other on to them, took my bins off them and lost them, refound them and lost them again when I dashed out of the hide to try and get them as they went overhead. It was the moment before that, that I felt they might be larger, even Godwit size, but now I'll never know.

Today I was out at 06:00 and again very little was happening, the pair of Shelduck were present at LFGP and keen to see if they could get on the tern raft, 1 Lapwing, 4 Teal, 2 Little Egret over South.

At least the sunrise was nice

Saturday, 9 April 2016

High hopes

I managed to get out not long after 07:00 and went straight to Sandford to check for LRP, but no luck, so doubled back towards LFGP, hearing my first Willow Warbler of the day towards Sandford Mill, the count on Lavell's and to Ron's hide was 6 in the end.

Many Blackcap and Chiffchaff were in song, Lea Farm G.P. was a disappointment though, 1 Snipe, 6 Teal, 2 Oycs flew in, 1 Swallow South, 1 Skylark, really was about it.

So onwards to Lavell's, but I skipped Bittern after someone said nothing was happening, perhaps I should have gone, after later hearing a Reed Warbler was heard there yesterday.

At the car park field and overlooking the landfill, I saw nothing, but may have missed a Wheatear, as I panned with my scope across the vents, I saw something perched, but as I was panning a little to fast, had to pan back and whatever it was, was now gone. Shortly after 3-4 Swallow went thru and then I looped back to BSL and saw nothing there either and then completed the loop back to Lavell's, also seeing nothing.

I was getting bored and was in two minds about quitting, but felt a Nightingale might be waiting for me at the usual spot, so despite my foot aching quite a lot, I went on to check there. No Nightingale, but the Whitethroat was still there, lots more Chiffchaff and another Willow Warbler and looping back via WSL reeds, I checked for Reed and Sedge there, but nothing doing.

On my final walk back at Sandford, I heard the familiar rattling notes of Sedge Warbler, for all of 10 seconds and put that news out and headed back to my car.

The Sedge wasn't an early arrival, but yesterday's Reed was 2 days earlier than ever recorded, so well early. In a way I am surprised more didn't turn up today.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Migrants sneaking in

Wednesday's early morning has been followed by nothing on my part, late nights have left me too tired to venture out, but I'm not convinced stuff isn't going thru. Outside the patch Ring Ouzel's and Kittiwake's and grebes have been seen in various places.

So it was no surprise when my friend Rik saw a very early Whitethroat today, luckily I had a chance to go and chase it and sure enough a female was jumping around the Ash trees behind the Blackthorn on the right as you approach the Nightingale BSL/WSL hedgerow, coming from Middle Marsh end.

I'm sure it is the earliest I have ever seen at DP, only the 7th of 1991 beats it.

I did check Sandford both outbound and back, learning afterwards Linda had seen LRP there earlier, it was comforting to see the pair Oystercatcher on the biggest island, as were the Mute Swans.

I shall be out early'ish tomorrow in search of Sedge, or Reed Warbler, Cuckoo, LRP and anything else that might fly over.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Early start and always a sucker for a nice sunrise

It would be great to have a double meaning in my title, but due to declining weather, I had no time to look for any 'Starts'.

But I was out rather early, enough to see a Barn Owl perched on the Alder in between the river junction, before it went off over the long grass on what will become Sandford Farm Country park.

It was barely light enough to see out across the landfill, but a pair of Shelduck had clearly roosted on the small raft in front of Ron's hide.

The clouds were gathering quickly. but the sky was obviously clear far to the East, as the sunrise was a bit nice over London and it changed from light pinkish to vivid purple and molten lava and gold.

Turning my attention to the birds, the Shelduck got off the raft and shortly after 4 Little Egret flew in, resting only for a few moments before heading toward DP.

Marek arrived and it was time for me to go, just catching a glimpse of 1 Sand Martin gunning it over North.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Bright again

A 45 minute look from the bottom of the car park field was bright and pleasant ahead of the predicted cooling down tomorrow onwards.

That said, little was actually happening, no hirundines, just 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Blackcap, several Chiffchaff, tons of Kite and Buzzard, both Kestrels, 2 Sparrowhawk, then a Yellow Wagtail, which was nearly impossible to get on to, but luckily called a lot as it went over North.

Just before I left, I panned my scope onto 3 large raptors, high up and some way beyond Lavell's, 2 Buzzard and a BOP sp, which was as large as the Buzzards. All were circling, Buzzard with wings up, the other without, on one turn it looked a little long'ish tailed, but I couldn't get anything on the underside as distance was too great, it kept circling and moving West, so always going away.

I kept thinking as I watched "it's going to do a Buzzard dive any moment and give itself away, but it kept circling, with wings flat, preventing me from getting anything on it's underside. It may have just been a Buzzard, but I had a creeping suspicion it was a Goshawk, but the views were way too far.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Add one, miss one

Friday I was out near lunchtime, and seeing next to nothing, 3 Oystercatcher coming from Sandford was nice, but rather surprising to see them heading off way South, I think I had 1 Sand Martin that day.

Saturday was my son's Birthday and with a party too, no way I could justify being out, luckily no lifer, or rare year tick arrived.

Sunday I was going to be out earlier, but found myself much more wasted than imagined and only managed 07:00. With rain just finishing passing thru, was hopeful of excitement, no such luck, it was boarderline pitiful in fact, with just 2 Blackcap along the Loddon before the green bridge. 2 Shelduck over LFGP, and 1 Green Sandpiper, but as all of these were seen before I entered the hide, I kept thinking Wheatear, LRP, Yellow Wag, hirundines....nothing, just 1 Snipe, 1 Sand Martin and even the Oystercatcher landed in front of the hide after I left.

At the car park field, 2-3 more Blackcap, the walk to Bittern hide, 2-3 Willow Warbler.

But of course as the sun dried things out and it warmed up the inevitable happened, Marek found teh Wheatear I couldn't earlier and I was stuck away til late afternoon. I did return but it had long gone, my compensation was the first House Martin and a late Great Black-backed Gull East over the landfill, plus 4 Swallow.