Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Hopes for last 4 months of the year

Still in delighted shock of yesterday's Nightjar, such events tend to lift the spirits that anything is possible, so for fun I feel some of my thoughts on what could happen.

134 for the year at this point is very good and recent autumns have been very fruitful enough for us to be motivated to find some of the following

Black-necked Grebe - 3rd Sept 2012, at least two more going back to 1997
Great White Egret - 5th Sept 2013 and 18th Sept 2015
Garganey - Five Septembers out of the last 12, plus a November
Osprey - Two Septembers in 14 years proves they still come thru later
Marsh Harrier - Five Septembers since 2005
Little Stint - Two September records, sadly neither authenticated, but probably were genuine
Curlew Sandpiper - Only one October record, but we have the habitat
Bar-tailed Godwit - Just two September records, but the SW corner looks great so you never know
Jack Snipe - September to November they can show up on Tern scrape
Wood Sandpiper - One confirmed record late September
Turnstone - One record 11th to 13th September 2012
Short-eared Owl - Three November records since 1999
Rock Pipit - Several fly overs in October and November
Yellowhammer - None since 2013, but October and November best months

We could say we are overdue a few park ticks

Great Northern Diver
Green-winged Teal
American Wigeon
Ring-necked Duck
Pectoral Sandpiper
Dartford Warbler
Snow Bunting

Let's remain hopeful and optimistic, good birding folks

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Speechless amazement

A quite morning featured just 2 Grey Wagtail, 3 Little Egret over BSL South, a lone Whitethroat, so I was not expecting what would happen in the afternoon, no one was.

Alan called me around 15:10 asking me how I felt about seeing a Nightjar along the Loddon, "what are you serious? now?" utterly blown away I quickly convinced Ethan I would reward him for coming out immediately.

Soon enough we were there watching it thru our scopes, the first Nightjar since Mike Russell reported 2 on the late evening of 11th August 1984. The only other record was one heard 3rd August 1981 (Dr Don Broome) very nearby tonight's bird.

I am very grateful to Roger Stansfield who shared some footage taken earlier in the afternoon showing it doing some brilliant 'shuffling' and wing stretches, I hope it comes out okay here.

The month equals 2013's 2nd place and takes a new 2nd place for the time of year on 134.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Back from laptop crash

3 days ago I spilled a drink into my laptop keyboard, resulting in an instant failure. Luckily the hard disk was saved, but nothing else and today I picked up a refurbished replacement, so it is the first time since Friday that I am able to blog.

A Whitethroat in Elder behind Lavell's, 100+ House Martin rose above Lea Farm GP and off South, a family of 4 Grey Wagtail at BSL was no doubt those seen by Marek the day before. At Lea Farm itself 5-6 Common Sandpiper, 2-3 Green + a Snipe flying over the landfill, were all the waders.

A lone Hobby and 10+ Ring-necked Parakeet was the biggest number I've seen in a long time.

A Whitethroat behind Lavell's in Elder again, 4 Grey Wagtail again and 18 Shoveler rising off BSL was nice.

An early start at Lea Farm GP, but a few minutes after John had seen 2 Hobby, I picked up 1 twice and then we began the wader count, 5 Green and 5 Common, the Green's as usual left in various directions. One Common landed on the the right hand 'T' Bar and provided a good photo opportunity, followed by the Kingfisher. The latter was kind enough to regurgitate something and pose in a half silhouette style before departing.

It felt quiet so I told John it was time to try for the the car park field and at first it seemed quiet there too, but then I got onto 3, then 4 Wheatear, 3 of which were just visible in the shot below, far left vent, front right vent and top back vent.

And just when you think it's all over, I was walking back to the car reminiscing about Wryneck when I noticed a small bird on the wires ahead, thinking it would be a Spotted Flycatcher I got the scope up only to find a pipit, facing away, but clearly pumping it's tail, good sign of Tree Pipit I said to myself.

With battery dying fast I managed 5 shots, 3 were okay enough but am annoyed it didn't last 4 more shots when the bird moved to the fence under bushes to my left as Brian arrived, these views confirmed it as Tree Pipit, it then flew to the Hawthorn on the back edge of the middle compound, then moved to under the trees to the East side of the field, where we lost it.

I'll publish the Tree Pipit data soon, but there aren't many and recent birds have all been brief fly overs, so this is a real rarity.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Chats etc

I was out a little later than usual and as previously stated it is that time to keep checking the car park field again and again.

Nothing to report there, but scanning at the bottom of the field I immediately saw a Wheatear landing on a vent behind the scrub left of the Lea Farm green barn. Then a smaller bird fluttered onto the thistle next to it...a male Whinchat, but it dropped right out of view, then returned and perched for a couple of minutes, but was ousted by a Wheatear.

I scanned around and picked up a second Wheatear and which then joined the other on the same vent just behind left of the Oak and then both went left, I saw the Whinchat one more time and was scoping it when it flicked away without my seeing which direction.

Lots of warbler activity at the back of Lavell's in the Elder bushes, 15+ Blackcap, 3+ Chiffchaff, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Willow Warbler and I expect there awas many more birds had a kept looking, but I was more interested in re-finding the landfill birds. but nothing else really happened after that and scanning with Brian produced nothing, Alan reported 3 Wheatear from Ron's around 09:30, but distant, so maybe all the birds are still out there?

So on to a review of Spotted Redshank records;

3rd September 1981 - Flying over Sandford (TAG)
20th August 1984 - Mungell's Pond (AJ, TB & PB)
9th September 1985 - Flew over (AJ)
11th September 1989 - On Sandford Lake (DF)
16th to 20th August 1990 - Visiting Lavell's from Twyford Pits (BTB et al) There was a report that 2 were seen on the 20th (VSB), but I am not sure of the authenticity of the claim
26th May 1994 - No details, or observer, so this record cannot be verified
26th August 1994 - 2 claimed, but again no details at all and whilst the date is good, it cannot be verified
18th & 19th August 1995 - Sandford (TAG et al)
28th April 1996 - Yet again no details at all and cannot be verified
14th September to 2nd October 1998 - Visiting Lavell's from Twyford Pits (BTB et al)
15th March 2003 - Adult winter on Tern scrape (A Rymer et al)
30th August 2008 - Juvenile on Tern scrape (A Rymer et al)
26th August 2014 - Heard calling over BSL South (FJC)
22nd August 2016 - Lea Farm GP (GSE et al)

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Nice theory

The clouds loomed dark and it began to rain as I brought my wife home, I felt the conditions were perfect for a tern, or a nice wader.

BSL was dead, but the rain and clouds still promised potential, I hedged my bets on Lea Farm and headed there. Nothing on first impressions, but after some searching the Common Sandpipers appeared, 5 in all, so the same as the last few days. 1 then a second Green Sandpiper appeared, the same 2 juv LRP's still present too.

A lone Little Egret, 10+ Teal, 2 Shoveler, was it really and despite several quick scans for a Swift I found none.

With the forecast weather of showers, thunder storms all coming from the South it is still likely we'll get something interesting, if nothing else the car park field should yield results any day now.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Blissful sunrise

After saying farewell and seeing one our aunts in a taxi at 04:30, I couldn't sleep so headed down to Lea Farm early, catching a fairly nice sunrise.

No rarities, but still good numbers of waders, 7 Green Sandpiper, all but 3 departed South before 06:30, 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 LRP and 1 Ringed Plover.

With the farmer cutting the rough grass we now have a much reduced chance of more Whinchat, but you never know.

No sign of anything of interest in the car park field today.

Reviewing the month so far, we are on 95 without Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher (Richard's was off park), Yellow Wagtail, Mistle Thrush, Water Rail, or any exciting raptors like Marsh Harrier, or Osprey and there are plenty of other waders like Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit and Dunlin, that could occur in this last week.

The record for August was set last year at 103, then 99 in 2013 and 97 in 2014.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Moving on

With the Spotted Redshank as expected now gone, there were no Greenshank either and it even took some time to find the Ringed Plover on the East shore, mostly due to the sunlight spangling into our faces. 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Green came in after 7 from Lavell's, the 2 LRP's still about.

I checked and re-checked the vents, but no joy, then I noticed a small bird on the little mound just beyond the last metal post in the NE corner, scoping and it's movement confirmed my first Wheatear this year and pleasant get back from the spring, it was a little too distant for a shot but here is my finest ;0)

The Nuthatch on the feeders seemed a better shot so I took these two

It is now time to check for Redstart, so off I went and despite it only being a very quick one, I did find a Lesser Whitethroat in the big Hawthorn.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Loving the waders part 2

I knew things were hotting up even further when Richard sent a WhatsApp message saying "4 Ringed Plover". But I wasn't expecting Geoff to follow it around 12:00 with a Redshank and then at 12:14 said "I think it's a Spotted Redshank". I was out with family and thought I'd be an hour, I said, but as it happens the family suggested we came home instead, so was at Lea Farm by 12:56 I was watching the bird, which we think it is a juvenile, but it kept itself to the far side of the bay

With 4 Ringed Plover there was the odd chance to get a better picture

Loving the waders

Back at 06:25 and the Ringed Plover still present, but no nearer to a good shot, the 2 LRP's still present too, 2 Green, 4 Common Sandpipers, but no sign of the Greenshank.

At 07:15 2 Greenshank dropped in, bathed, preened and drank for 5 minutes then departed East, so I am assuming new birds going thru. 1 more Green Sandpiper and upping the count of Common Sandpiper to 5, plus 15 Teal and 5 Shoveler, plus the Mandarin.

A Kingfisher perched several times around the hide allowing a nice photo opportunity

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Afternoon delight

I had finished my work party duties and was on my way to pick up family from Heathrow, when Brian called saying "2 Ringed Plover SW corner".....I passed my message to my wife that "I hope they stay".

Some 2 hours later and I got to Lea Farm around 17:00, both adult Ringed Plover still looking very happy on the middle spit of the SW corner and we can call it a proper waderfest by our standards, with 4 Green Sandpiper, 6 Common Sandpiper, 2 juv Little Ringed Plover and 2 Greenshank, all showing very well, not forgetting the c100 Lapwing. Any 6 wader species day is a great one at DP.

Shame I didn't bring my iPhone adapter to get sharper shots when the Greenshank were just to the near right of Ron's hide

Saturday, 20 August 2016


Another late outing for me, checking BSL and found nothing, then on to LFGP where 1 of the 2 Greenshank seen this morning, was still present. So were 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green, 1 juv LRP, 19 Teal and 3 Shoveler.

I took one shot of the Greenshank, it was at the far end of the SW corner, so not a great shot.

John McGowan and another John had Raven, Peregrine and Linnet earlier too, bringing the month list to 88, 15 off the 2015 record, so the next 10 days needs to bring a lot more in to get anywhere near that.

Friday, 19 August 2016

A little excitement

I stayed up too late watching Olympics again and failed to get out early, so when I did wake to the news of 2+3 Greenshanks, I had to get down.

I wasn't there until 09:48 and luckily 2 remained in the SW corner, but barely 10 minutes passed before the went off North.

After looking over and over again, we upped the count of Common Sandpiper to 4, then the 2 Greenshank returned 10:37, moments prior to that Steve pinged us saying 1 Greenshank at Tern scrape. None close enough for a half decent shot, but at least one Common was again.

10 minutes later a flock of 'Sterna' Terns swooped in from the left, circled low to land in the SW corner and then repeated this 2-3 more times, allowing a good estimate of around 42 Common, but one much paler bird stood out and after 2-3 twists of the group, I concluded this was a 1st Winter Arctic. I am not aware of any single autumn flock movement like this at DP before, large counts appear to have all been of fledged young. This flock appeared to be nearly all adults.

A quick history of Greenshank records where 3 or more occurred;


4/10th May 1996 - Tern scrape
9/4th to 6th May 2000 - Lea Farm Flash (pre dates the gravel pit being dug)


5/13th August 1984 - Over
5/17th to 27th August 2000 - Lea Farm Flash
3/11th July 2004 - Over
5/17th August 2012 - LFGP
4/26th August 2013 - Over my house near DP, so assume they came from there
4/24th August 2015 - Over
5/19th August 2016 - LFGP

Draw your own conclusions as you wish, but mine are that Lea Farm is the main reason we get bigger numbers, but that this species is highly mobile and we probably miss many individuals, or even groups because of this.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Waiting on the weather change

Back out again this morning, but none of the excitement of yesterday, still 3 Green and 2 Common Sandpiper, a Snipe at the back of the SW corner was a new bird for me this autumn, the LRP again flew around 07:03.

15 Teal shows a near daily increase, but everything got spooked by an unseen force although most of the birds returned quite quickly.

A Common Sandpiper got close enough for a shot, I am getting a little more fussy about the quality of shots I post of daily regulars as times goes by, one off's like the poor quality Whinchat shots are of course record shots and nothing more.

As I look out the window (16:50) the skies look great for a Greenshank, or a Black Tern, but sadly I'm bust tonight, so hope for the forecast rain to bring in something interesting....a Little Stint is high on my wish list.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Early start

I woke up 04:00 and couldn't sleep so after catching up on GB's Olympics medals, I headed down to Lea Farm G.P. for 05:15.

It was yesterday's birds at Moor Green and Little Marlow that had me optimistic and after just a couple of minutes I got onto a small bird in the half light perched on a thistle, it moved once, then didn't move again, but thinking it looked like a chat, I kept an eye on it for the next 1 hour 45 minutes.

As it got light and despite it not moving, I could just tell it was a Whinchat, but when an LRP distracted me as it flew into the SW corner, I took my scope off it and annoyingly when Marek arrived just 5 minutes later, it was gone.

This was the earliest Whinchat since 1984, when we had 1 on the 10th and 12th, with an even earlier one 9th July 1983.

The LRP kept it's distance, the 2 Common Sandpipers were mobile, but the 1 of the 3 Green Sandpipers came close today.

Now 9 Teal present and again a female Mandarin at the back of the SW corner, 2 Little Egret again, a possible 3rd went thru earlier.

Whinchat marks my 122nd species for 2016, level with 2002, 4 short of 2003 and 2008, so hopefully we/I can secure Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Wheatear and at least 1-3 more waders before the end of August, not forgetting I still need Tawny Owl.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Lea Farm looking perfect

I got down around 06:30 this morning, bright sunshine lighting up the SW corner beautifully, 2 Little Egrets, up to 4 Green Sandpiper and 2 Common, my first Mandarin for several months also in there and all bar the Commons offering some iphone digi shot opportunities.

Mandarin are not that common in August, roughly a record ever 2-3 years and nearly always the 2nd to third week of the month.