Monday, 31 October 2016

Clearing mist

A car park visit today was timed to see what was happening as the mist cleared, I did get my first Jay shots ever.

As the mist did clear it wasn't special, but at least I re-found the, or a Pintail on tern scrape.

I left the last shot it as I am not sure I've caught Teal with wings open before, a Little Egret showed well and I got the Snipe count to 32, but probably more hiding.

There was one flock of 15+ Fieldfare over, a few Redwing in the car park field, a Chiffchaff, Mistle Thrush, 5+ Skylark and a few LBJ's over, most likely finches of some sort.

Checking the reed bed I feel it is looking quite trodden so will not be surprised if someone turns up a Bittern any day now.

2 Jack's

At the car park field in the fog a lone finch went away from me calling, it was somewhat brief, but may have been a Brambling, moments later a flock of Starling went over with a laboured flight and gave me the impression of Waxwing, but I knew I was just wishing.

I had to meet Simon from DP for a chat about a grant application and walking behind the scrape a Chiffchaff called, 12+ Snipe were hiding on Tern scrape.

I headed off to LFGP and after a short time, picked up 1 then the 2nd Jack Snipe, one was much brighter. This sort of continues a recent years run of 2 birds;

2/17th to 19th February 2013
2/3rd & 28th January 2012
2/6th to 9th December 2011

Before that;

2/13th February 1999
2/11th October 1997
2/4th January 1992 - I disregard the claim of 6/27th February
2/28th January 1989
2/10th January 1987
3/11th March 1983

Also on LFGP, the Shelduck, 12+ Snipe, 2 Common Gull, but not much else.

I went down to WSL a little late last night to check for Bittern, there was barely 8 minutes of light left and saw nothing, but heard Starlings in the reed bed, so perhaps that might be some kind of indicator of the presence of a Bittern, or perhaps the absence of one?!

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Another fine wader

Out well before light today I felt full of optimism, the Shelduck still present and even awake, the Jack Snipe showing well in the usual area, 8 Fieldfare over, then checking a couple of fly over Wigeon, I picked up a Curlew heading over North, circling once it kept going.

Less than 10 minutes later and it circled again, then again and finally came down into the NE corner, waited 10 minutes and went to the lake edge for a drink and light feed.

A great get back after missing the March 11th bird, 135 for the year now places me one off equal 3rd best ever year total!

The shots are pretty terrible

Just reviewing the autumn additions, it amazes me to find I have added 14 species, 6 in August, 5 in September and now 3 in October

Friday, 28 October 2016

Bright start

An hour'ish at LFGP from sun up was kind of nice, a clear start for the first time in a while.

John found the Jack Snipe much further to the right, the Shelduck was again asleep on the shingle island. An obvious movement of Wood Pigeon in groups of 50-100, led to a count of no less than 800, but more likely 1000 passing S to SE.

Still small groups of 3-5 Meadow Pipit lingering, more groups of finch sp, moving West.

A distant group of about 20-30 Golden Plover about a mile East of the landfill went North, mostly out of sight behind the tops of the trees.

I keep checking the gulls for a Med, but none yet, I never have enough time to check all the crests and despite mine and John's efforts we still haven't had a Rock Pipit. There is still time for all these things, plus a Bittern at WSL, a Goldeneye on BSL, or a late Common Sandpiper at LFGP....I'm determined to get the park to 100 in October for the first time ever, despite it seeming unlikely. I wish I'd looked harder for Reed & Sedge Warbler at the start of the month now.

Keep checking for Bearded Tit folks!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

October Shelduck

Yesterday John and Richard found a Shelduck at LFGP and this is a very unusual month to get them.

Just 1/2nd Oct 1998 and 1/18th 1992.


1/2nd 1998
1/23rd 2008
1/12th 2010


3/15th & 2/22nd 1981
1/22nd 1984
5/31st 2015

Today it was still present, as was the Jack Snipe.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Short on time

A short spell looking across the landfill, was hampered by a misty sky, a few Chaffinches and Meadow Pipit were still pinging about.

At Bittern hide 10+ Snipe, with 5 at the near bund edge, plus at least 2 Water Rail were giving good views too. A Cetti's teased me as I left, but despite an okay view thru bins, a picture was not possible.

Friday, 21 October 2016

A little colder

A one hour watch over the landfill, was similar to yesterday, 100+ Fieldfare, 100+ Redwing, 4+ Skylark, 4-5 Meadow Pipit, 60-80 Chaffinch, 30+ unidentified finches, 2 Kestrel, but not much else, although walking back across the car park field 50+ Pigeon were the first passage of this autumn.

4 Little Egret were seen at Lea Farm G.P. as was the Jack Snipe, by others. Tim Alexander ringed 4 Lesser Redpoll, bringing the month to equal first place at 96, so plenty of time for the other species I mentioned before.

I really want to take a good walk about the whole North end of DP to see if we have any signs of other 'stuff' hiding in the tit flocks.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Cold Northerly brings thrushes galore

On arrival in the car park 70 Fieldfare went over WSW, over the next hour more groups of 50-100 went over, bringing a minimum of 300+ in an hour. On top of this we had 6 Snipe, 50+ Redwing, 3+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Skylark, 1 Raven well beyond the landfill East, then 10+, followed by 120+ Golden Plover circling over the hills on the far horizon, dropping on to the Borough Marsh area.

The wind got up and had quite a bite to it, so that was it for the day for me.

It is nice to once again prove that Golden Plover can be easily picked up using the A4 valley as their regular haunt or passage route.

The month is on 95, one more to go to equal the October record and we still have time time to find Mediterranean Gull, Lesser Redpoll and Bittern, plus who knows what else might show up, if we knuckle down and get lucky with a Firecrest, a Ruff, maybe a Merlin, or a rare warbler we stand a chance of hitting 100 for the first time in October.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

No repeat

A brief look and listen at Lavell's resulted in nowt, so Derek and I went on to Lea Farm where a female Stonechat showed very close to the hide in the Phragmites to the left, perhaps too many shots, but we don't get them so close very often, so why not!

The Pintail still with us in the SW corner, the water is up and inch or two, so few Snipe today.

Monday, 17 October 2016

The mystery deepens

Adam called me today from Lavell's, he'd seen my blog and was nearby so had been wandering along the area of yesterday's Marsh Tit claim.

Nothing happening, but on the return loop quite near to the double pylon, he heard a quite loud nassal call, unlike any he'd heard before. After 4 calls he 'pished it' and got an immediate alarm call in response, it moved but all he ever saw was moving foliage.

It never called again and with my car out of action I buckled and biked it down....nothing.

Adam described the call to me as best he could, but all the guessing amounts to nothing and unless someone comes up with some eyes on this bird, or records it, we will never know and given the rarities in the country from the East, we should pay serious attention and try to clinch it.

Marsh Tit

With a report coming in yesterday of Marsh Tit, I thought I'd share the entire database of records

October 16th 2016 - Lavell's (Renton Righelato) heard only, so even as he puts it rarity of the species leaves this record not 100% confirmed.
April 26th 2006 - Aviation museum area (GG), no other details and the observer was not known to the local group
May 16th 1998 - Lavell's (OU)
May 6th 1992 - Lavell's (OU)
March 5th 1990 - (OU), May 12th 1990 - Lavell's (Bird Race Team)
October 2nd 1988 - (OU)
October 5th 1985 - (Alan McCall)
Jan to April records 1984 - per Berkshire Bird Report, one specific record April 13th Middle Marsh (D Finnie)
July 6th 1983 - (Phil Ball), 25th (OU), Aug 2nd (AJ & TB), 2/9th (D Finnie), Nov 26th (D Finnie & EE Green)
Sept 28th 1982 - (M Russell)

The 1984 records were clustered around Middle Marsh, but I only saw Willow Tit on the 12th at that location.

The 1998 to 1988 records cannot be verified due to no observer details and there have been a few others since 1998 that were all second hand reports, so observer names and therefore authenticity of the records could be confirmed.

Marsh Tit has disappeared from East Berkshire, there may be the odd spot that gets them occasionally, but I am highly doubtful of all of the records after 1984, including the 12th May 1990 claim by the winning bird race team of that day, which despite the highly qualified team, Marsh Tit was never recorded in May before then and never even heard by locals before.

It all sounds very scathing I know, but with so the species being mobile, often silent and mistakable with Coal Tit, I feel much consideration should be given to this now lost gem.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Rainy start

John was already in Ron's hide when I arrived around 07:40 and for the first time a while it was raining quite heavily.

I had been asked to do WEBS counts and share the numbers here

39 Wigeon, 1 Pintail, 29 Teal, 48 Shoveler, 7 Mute Swan, 80 Coot, 2 Moorhen, 88 Greylag, 142 Canada Geese, 1 Pochard (over), 32 Gadwall, 13 Cormorant, 1 Grey Wagtail, 13 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe, 5 Mallard, 131 Lapwing, 35 Black-headed Gull, 1 Herring, 2 Grey Heron, 1 Little Egret, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Green Sandpiper that only dropped in during the heaviest rain and left as it subsided.

We watched the Jack Snipe 'bob' before it vanished into the weeds and would guess it has been around since Jim Reid found it on the 6th.

As forecast, the rain quickly moved thru and then various handfuls of Fieldfare and Redwing began pinging all over the place.

Later today I got a message from Renton saying he heard a Marsh Tit between the hides at Lavell's and my reaction was "aaaaaaaaaaarrrrgh!" I need it and have questioned every record since 1983, because they are all either 'OU - observer unknown' or in my opinion, or 'OC - observer clueless'.

Anyway I can't believe Renton would get it wrong, he knows how rare Marsh Tit is this side of Berks, but it makes me want to add this pretty much extinct species, to my patch list....I doubt we'll ever hear one again ever.

Saturday, 15 October 2016


Out rather early this morning, I heard the Little Owl calling around 06:30, 2 Water Rail as I walked by Lavell's.

At Lea Farm GP it was a little misty to start, 96 Greylag left, 100+ Lapwing were noisy, nothing much happening, then John arrived and we found 1 Stonechat. 2, then 3 Little Egret chased each other about, the Kingfisher came and went several times, a few Redwing and smaller jobs over.

The sun peeked thru the clouds and mist but it wasn't anything special

A Snipe in front of us gave excellent views and another chance to get a good picture, mine aren't bad

One phyllosc showed it's belly but no more and as it was a bit pale, I spent several minutes without success trying to find it again. The mist cleared enough to find the Pintail, now around for a week.

A walk back to the car and into the car park field, several Redwing, Song Thrush and Blackbird kept us looking for other species, but something small and a bit chat like on the big Hawthorn vanished before we got proper views and even a Chiffchaff proved difficult to see.

Over the landfill all we could find was 2 Stonechat, on the weeds around the vents behind the methane burner

Friday, 14 October 2016

Get in

After a fairly quiet car park field/landfill watch of just 2 Swallow, 5 Meadow Pipit, 8+ Skylark, 5 Redwing, 2-3 Reed Bunting, it was time to go and my car troubles meant Alan needed to help me jump start it again.

We stood while it ran for a minute and I binned a Red Kite going right, then another raptor over Sandford Lane, now hovering. It looked a bit large so pulled out my scope from the boot again, quickly squatting down to see through it without legs extended and as soon as I focused shouted "it's an Osprey". Alan reeled off some photos, but I couldn't get my iPhone onto it before it went right behind those pesky Poplars at this end and it never reappeared.

Only my third ever Osprey, this is the latest and I have seen all three from the car park!

Alan's shots, which I've cropped

I had only been saying to John 15-20 minutes before I didn't want anymore raptors I couldn't identify with certainty. Sadly John left barely a minute before, sorry John.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Little change

I was busy today, but managed 45 minutes early afternoon and again saw the Stonechat and the Pintail, which offered some slightly better light than previously, so I got these shots, none are anything special

I just missed another group of Fieldfare vanishing behind Lodge Wood, but then focused on this interesting Teal, which some could mistake for a Garganey

I'd like to get better views and shots of this bird.

Around 14:30 I just happened to scan higher up and picked up 2, then a third Raven heading fast SE, 1 turned back and it looked like that it had been chasing the 2 away. Shortly after 2 birds came past left in front of Lodge Wood calling loudly.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Cooler and cooler

Another misty start at LFGP, the Pintail was still present, but the light was rubbish and the record shot even more so

123 Greylag there may be a new record.

Later on the cold Easterly wind was up, but I found a distant Raven squabbling with a Red Kite some way West of LFGP, a few Chaffinch were going over in 3-5's, with 30+ went thru NW over and hour, a flock of 50+ Fieldfare also headed SW over the landfill just East of the car park, but dropped before crossing Lavell's

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Cold start

Out around 06:40, it was frosty and a bit foggy over the lakes, so I ditched LFGP for the car park field, but little going on, so I just captured the moment looking left and right over the landfill and some frost in the car park field...just for fun.

Later at LFGP the Pintail was still present, as was the Stonechat, the latter being chased off by a Jackdaw to the Phragmites ditch. A few Meadow Pipit were going over and I then counted a high number of 104 Shoveler, only the second time we have broken the 100 barrier ever.

Scanning around I picked up 13 Fieldfare coming SW over the landfill, which I think is my earliest date.Several Snipe were hiding in the vegetation on the East shore.

At the car park, looking over the landfill again, 50+ Redwing SW, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, a couple of flocks of small finches, 4 Skylark and a Water Rail calling from the balancing pond.