Thursday, 28 December 2017


Feeling a bit coldy today, I stayed home but with such a sunny day yearned to be out and did so around 14:30.

Around 14:45 I picked up 6 Linnet heading West over the landfill, 30 minutes later a strung out group of about 32 Golden Plover headed out East, as per recent winter sightings they were 1.5-2 miles North of us, beyond the A4, but they stayed visible and came even closer beyond the green barn at Lea Farm itself. I kept looking but no sign of the Little Owl.

2 Little Egrets went over later, a juv Great Black-backed Gull off East.

At Bittern Hide, little to speak of until near dark, at 16:39 2 Snipe left the scrape, 3+ more minutes later, then 2-3 more moments after, then at 16:47 a Woodcock went away from me SE more or less towards the sailing 137th for 2017, my =2nd highest year total, last reached in 2014.

Missing 5 species this year, poor misses of Redstart and Little Gull, notable no shows of Curlew & Ruff.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Closing out with a review of some recent trends

Yes I've gotten out of the habit of posting to my blog, time and being out of pace with it all makes a difference. I apologize to all who bother to read when I do post, I'm trying to keep things going.

To offer some thoughts on today's birds I knew it was worth mentioning that Raven and Shelduck in particular are worth mentioning.

Prior to 2008 there had been just a handful of late autumn and winter records of Shelduck;

1981 - Dec:3/15th, 2/22nd
1984 - Dec: 1/22nd
1992 - Oct: 1/18th
1998 - Oct:1/2nd & Nov:1/2nd

Since 2008;

2008 - Nov:1/23rd
2010 - Nov:1/12th LFGP, female on shingle island
2011 - Nov:1/16th LFGP @ 13:00, flushed by sheep farmer @ 15:30
2013 - Nov:1/27th LFGP, 1/28th
2015 - Dec:5/31st over landfill then Lavell's SW 09:12
2016 - Oct:1/26th LFGP, Dec:1/31st LFGP, male SW corner
2017 - Oct:1/31st Tern scrape til 06:56 only, Nov:1/13th Sandford, Dec:3/17th LFGP, 1/18th, 3/27th

It says to me that LFGP has become a very attractive site and with nest prospecting in 2016 and a little in 2017, we should do more to make this species a breeding success story.

Raven is similar in their frequency trend;

2009 - Dec:1/26th over car park calling SE at 50 ft @ 11:10
2010 - Oct:1/24th, over LFGP for 20 mins, 2 seen later, 1/25th 1 calling over Lodge Wood, East then back W 13:10, then bird further NE high and circling/tumbling.
2011 - Nov:2/14th dropping onto landfill over brow 11:47
2012 - Dec:1/10th LFGP low over landfill
2013 - Dec:1/10th over 13:24 at 150ft calling loudly SE towards Sandford/Lavell's
2014 - Oct:2/10th, singles West over Lodge Wood, Nov:1/6th LFGP, Dec:1/19th over
2015 - Oct:2/4th LFGP, Nov:2/15th low over Lavell's and Poplars NW calling quietly
2016 - Oct:2/4th in from West, dropping as they headed East,1/12th W of LFGP squabbling with Red Kite then dropping N of Woodley 12:20, 3/13th LFGP, 1 chasing 2 away very high SE, then back W, 2 returned lower WNW in front of Lodge Wood 14:30, 1/20th E beyond far landfill, Nov:1/11th over LFGP, Dec:2/2nd over LFGP SE 09:54
2017 - Nov:1/5th drifted over from landfill South 07:45, Dec:2/12th SE low over Lavell's 13:50, 1/14th, 2/17th, 2/27th 08:30 LFGP over Lodge Wood very vocal

Monday, 4 December 2017

clear out

I ended up with two copies of the same book 2 Christmases ago, embarrassing as it is, it was too late to exchange it. So anyone who wants a copy of 'Shrikes and Bush-shrikes' please let me know as I'm selling a pristine copy on ebay for £20.00

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Give me back the mornings

I miss having even 30 minutes of time before each working day to check even a couple of parts of my patch. I've been busy and am desperate to cover some ground, perhaps check for a Firecrest in a few spots, a Goosander going over, but most of all a year tick like a Woodcock in the dying light at Lavell's.

Some chances will come, but not so many I can afford to be complacent.

Today I had about 2 hours and had a look over LFGP for the first time in weeks, 72 Teal, 4 Snipe, 1 Little Egret, a handful of Wigeon and Shoveler. A Peregrine over quite low, appeared to compact to be a female.

Back on 22nd November I was escorting a Thames Water grant partner around the new diggings and looked up to see 160+ Golden Plover over pretty high up in the brisk windy conditions.

Since then it has all been about Hawfinch in the car park field, which show well each day and did so for me this morning too. I could never get bored watching this species and know this is a lifetime one off event.

Will we get one more year tick, a lot depends on the weather. Curlew have shown up in frozen conditions more than once. Firecrest may be out there already, Smew is random, but possible as are White-fronted Goose, Scaup, Merlin and a handful of other now scarce species.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

High standards

I arrived with my good friend John and June & Peter already there, John has one Hawfinch drop in but it remained out of view. Over the next 2 hours a pair flirted with us many times, always heading for the middle copse, or compound as I call it. The presence of 5+ people was obviously a distraction for them and moments to grab a good pic were but a few.

Even then the male stayed just out of shot and I was left with tantalising and oh so nearly great shots, but the light behind ruined my chances.

Ah well, it was such a privilege to have Hawfinch here.

On top of this about 1000 Redwing and 200+ Fieldfare flooded past west, pushed on by a very cold damp breeze.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Hawfinch fest

Too busy to post lately, but I know pretty much everyone I know has connected with Hawfinch in the car park field. We began with 3, but I have heard of reports of 6 to even 11 in the late afternoon, which is a one off chance to enjoy a super shy species.

Dave Rimes even inspired me to look from my garden as he had one in his and we aren't far apart.

Most of know the news about the Ferruginous Ducks and the reintroduction programme in Germany, it is not proof that our metal ringed bird was one of theirs, but we can never be sure.

So I'm hoping for photo shots of Hawfinch tomorrow morning, missed my 3 early in the week, but light was rubbish anyway. 2 Bitterns about, cold weather could bring sawbills, Woodcock, Merlin, more geese fly overs, perhaps the 4+ Swans I had distantly were Mute's this morning, but who knows?

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Duck double double

Yesterday, I had a very underwhelming start, just very cold and not much happening. 3 Meadow Pipit and a Siskin over was the best bird.

Later Rick Dawson found a male Pintail in the unusual location of BSL near to Sandford, it showed well despite being asleep most of the time.

On my way back I told Brian and Trevor I felt like counting and checking the Pochard, as they showed a significant jump in numbers to 116 and 76 Tufted Duck, I left me thinking we need to keep checking for Athya's.

Out first thing again and the Barn Owl was in residence, a little passage was on, small groups of Fieldfare, totaling 65+ in 40 minutes, 60+ Redwing, I looped the car park field, quickly checked BSL 31 Pochard and as I was at my car 2 bulky finches went over fast East....Hawfinch again and again rubbish, fleeting views.

Later and thankfully after my work appointment, Steve Day WhatsApp'd "2 Drake Ferruginous Duck Sandford". "This I got to see" I said to myself and minutes later I was there, joined by Steve, then Brian before we re-camped at the hide, where excellent views were to be had of two superb condition, but distinctly different looking drakes .

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Cooling down

A welcome WhatsApp came in from Steve with a Bittern at WSL, I wasn't surprised and shot down later to take a look. It was on show immediately just right of centre, mid phase bird. It sat quietly preening until dark.

4 Water Rail called there, 1 more at Sandford, also there 32+ Pochard and a Starling roost of some size judging by the noise.

This morning, the air was much cooler even though there was virtually no wind at dawn, which was favourable for more passage. 5-6 Meadow Pipit are still pinging about, 5 Golden Plover went East, miles North as usual, just a few Chaffinch, but then 4 Hawfinch went low SE just beyond Lea Farm, then another appeared to be about to land out of sight to the right. I headed over along the path at the West end of the old manor grounds. - For those who don't know this Lord & Lady Palmer of 'Huntley & Palmers' biscuits once lived there.

Anyway the footpath tracks the perimeter on the West side and runs up the North flank, the tallest trees in the area run along it's East edge. I could hear various pitchy notes and feel one may have been nearby, but looking East I picked up 6 Hawfinch flying at tree top height, again looking like they might land, but they kept going and must have passed SE parallel to the golf course, but as they went out of view we shall never know if they landed.

Brian joined me but nothing more happened and we went off on a recky of the golf course's East side,but found nothing.

Back at the usual landfill viewing spot Brian and I kept scanning with no joy, but a Raven came in and went on South in a very casual way, no call. A lone Linnet went North, then 8-9 finches came over SW, one called the highly familiar Brambling upward 'Shwweeep' note.

By then I was good and frozen so went home to thaw out and drink tea and coffee and do family stuff. I came back later with my boy after Steve found 2 Brambling under the feeders, no sign for us though.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Getting close

A foggy start left me feeling a little frustrated, but I took a walk across the car park field and was soon rewarded with a Brambling, it called just once as it flew West with 2 Chaffinch.

I find myself on 136 with my missing Redstart still fresh in my mind, but as I missed Woodcock and it's not over for Curlew, Firecrest, Scaup, Smew, Merlin, or a wildcard species of goose, or swan, I could still pass my best of 138.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

At last

I feel like singing Etta James 'At Last'

For I have finally seen my Hawfinch for sure. My pain began again 19th October after seeing a probable over, bins not around my neck. But the pain began in October 13th 2010, when I saw a robust and short tailed bird moving over the car park field quickly North, I panicked and tried to get my scope on it, but failed.

So after 7 years and 9 days of possibles and probables, 2 went quickly and a little excruciatingly brief silhouette views as they 'bombed' across the DAC car park at 07:56. John and I went on a recky across the golf course and whilst we had 2 Redpoll, 13+ Siskin, 200+ Redwing, 20+ Fieldfare and a few other LBJ's, no further sign.

Back to usual protocol we camped up at the bottom of the car park field and witnessed fairly big Redwing passage of around another 200-300, another 100 Fieldfare, 6-8 Meadow Pipit  lingering still, more LBJ's and then as it got close to my sessions end, I got onto a group of bulky birds, quickly focusing I couldn't believe my eyes and blurted out "it's a whole flock of Hawfinch over the big Poplar", for a second they whirled in the air as if to land, revealing their short tails and large wing bars, but kept going onward over the Loddon, allowing a pretty good count estimate of 13-15 birds.

We're back out there tomorrow on the hope another group comes over and lands for a record shot!

Monday, 23 October 2017

Lots to report

In reverse order...

Today I went to meet the contractor again for the daily update and instructions, to guide the final stages of digging.

And before I even got to him a lovely male Wheatear was jumping around the Tern Meadow piles of soil, my latest by about 2 weeks, but 3 days shy of the latest.

Still small handfuls of Meadow Pipit are pinging about, perhaps the newly arrived sheep will move them on? Redwings are here in numbers, but not big numbers. This morning there were many small groups of finches going over, mostly South, or SW, but as is often the case, so few are seen close and well enough to ID, I'm sure I heard 1 Linnet, various Chaffinch, then a distant larger thrush may have been a Fieldfare, but it didn't seem to drag it's tail enough so was probably a Mistle.

Over the last week a lot has happened, 17th I  had what was almost certainly a Woodlark over, annoyingly just too East to be totally 100% sure, but I'm sure enough to add it to the year list. Same day 4-5 Mipits, 3 Skylark, 3+ Redpoll, 14 Siskin alighted the Willows late afternoon.

Mid morning 19th I was in the car park having a meeting, when a stocky short tailed finch went over West, 99% certain this was a Hawfinch and today John McGowan had a 100% one looking West from the Loddon near the green bridge, perched for 20 seconds, so we certainly are sharing in the UK invasion this winter.

20th Geoff picked up 2 Stonechat, Trevor made that 3 by late afternoon, next day Richard had 2 Mandarin, I had 2 Redpoll, 1 Siskin and a Peregrine over East low, Richard picking up 2 Green Sandpiper later.

Later still I heard rumours of Marsh Tit on the feeders, but as it stands I have no confidence in the report as Coal Tit is being seen daily at Bittern feeders.

22nd Richard found 2 Stonechat again, it's been days since I've been near Lea Farm and I feel out of touch.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Missing out?

With my hectic schedule I could not patch on Friday, Saturday, or even Sunday mornings and with so many Hawfinch being seen in neighbouring counties I felt the chance slipping away.

Same yesterday and today, potential maybe but with small birds firing in every direction and not enough time, still nothing to be certain about.

That said this morning offered some potential, 30+ Redwing around, 2 small groups of Lesser Redpoll, 3 Skylark, then annoyingly a shorter tailed lark - probably Woodlark went over South, but too far East to get onto properly due to the light and distance. Then also annoyingly 2 hirundines most likely House Martin fired thru over the landfill, but I lost them behind the nearby big Willow.

By late afternoon 14-15 Siskin landed in the trees behind Tern Meadow.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

LBJ's continue

Time has been unsparing for me recently, the mornings offer the most sparse chance to bird before work and family obligations call, so the last 2-3 mornings I've failed.

I managed 20 minutes whilst waiting for Simon from DPCS in the car park and 150+ Redwing went thru North and NW.

Yesterday Alan called with news of a fairly brief view of a Tit that he expected to be a Coal, but turned out to be either a Marsh, or Willow.

Now, we will never know which it was for sure, but given the utter population crash of Willow, on balance it would seem logical to assume Marsh was most likely. Oddly enough there have been very few Marsh reports since 1987 that warrant serious belief of their authenticity, but perhaps that's just my opinion.

Today I managed an hour around Bittern hide and the car park field, 140+ Wigeon, Water Rail heard, 1 Chiffchaff, one moment a pipit looped in and out, but kept going. The landfill was busy, 35+ Meadow Pipit up when a Kestrel came over, a few groups of LBJ's just one proven to be 4 Linnet, plus 1 back the other way, 4-5 Skylark over and around, 4 Siskin West, Coal Tit by the footbridge and heard near the style 20 minutes later.

By now a typical year in recent times we'd be seeing a slowing of Meadow Pipit passage, so it's either carrying on, or the landfill is just holding on to more birds that bit longer. A few on the wires kept us busy checking...just to be sure.

Monday, 9 October 2017

High expectations

With LBJ's coming over most mornings, I've been feeling like something big might be about to happen. I might just be an optimist and you need to be to patch quiet old inland Berkshire, but we have to have our wits about us to not miss a tiny window of opportunity for a good bird.

I have a company meeting to attend each first Saturday which now means I leave before it is light and pre work visits are down to about 35-40 minutes, so week day chances are diminishing each day.

But take this morning.11 Redwing over West 07:13, Peregrine North 07:27, then 2+ Redwing more heard only, then 15 dropped in the car park field itself 07:29. 5 Reed Bunting over (2 + 3) South, 8 Chaffinch (3 + 5) West, 1 Lesser Redpoll South 07:32 and circa 15 Meadow Pipit over the landfill. That did not include a number of flocks of finch sp, 6-10 in each group, too far to identify.

Sunday was similar, 2 Redwing, 30+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Mistle Thrush, 10 finch sp East, 1 Siskin West - my first of the autumn. At Lavell's 121 Wigeon, then LFGP 4 Snipe, 3 Little Egret & Garganey, 28 Pochard Sandford.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

A little lunchtime peek

After taking a lie in this morning, I felt obliged to pop down to LFGP before meeting the digging contractor at 13:00.

The Garganey was totally asleep, the Wheatear was bouncing about along the East shore and over 25 Meadow Pipit pinging about over the landfill, appearing upset at the presence of low flying Red Kite.

2+ Snipe were hiding in the lovely cropped East shore, 2 Little Egret present, various Shoveler, Lapwing, Teal and Gadwall.

My site visit pushed off the Wigeon from Lavell's, but I am not upset or feel like apologizing as we are planning exciting improvements, with luck ones that will go ahead in the next 2 weeks and bring 1300 square metres more of Phragmites reed, a newly replenished scrape with green energy irrigation system and a wonderful wet grass meadow, which will no doubt appeal to Little Egret, Snipe, Water Rail, maybe the odd crake, Jack Snipe and hopefully in spring Redshank, Oystercatcher and who knows what?

Tuesday, 26 September 2017


No I'm not quoting Bowie...yesterday it was raining quite hard when I got out, trudging through big puddles and mud along the Loddon path. 3 Green Sandpiper and a lone Snipe were barely visible and it felt the weather should have produced more worthy of excitement.

Today clear but grey and an untimely and infrequent snooze put me 10+ minutes later than normal, by which time Marek had already found a Garganey, still I was only 8 minutes behind him and it was still sat in the SW corner when I got there.

3 Green Sandpiper and the same Snipe again in the SW corner.

Later in the day Richard et al had a Marsh Harrier over North, 2 days off my 24th 2005 bird. This got me checking 2005 and it blew my mind to rediscover the month total - 74! Good grief what were we playing at, look at how things have changed;

104 in 2012 & 2015
102 in 2016
99 in 2017
97 in 2010
96 in 2014
95 in 2008  & 2011
92 in 2013
90 in 2009
83 in 2007
81 in 2006
75 in 2004
74 in 2005

25 species difference for this year, 30 off for the record species count, are we covering the patch so much better now? Probably, I believe knowing what species occur focuses the mind to confirming them and a by product is more get seen. Maybe LFGP has and is continuing to add a variety of species on the whole, but this September has been bereft of waders, so perhaps that isn't totally true either.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Off patch Phalarope

Trev said the Red-necked was still at Farmoor and offered the lift, so why not I thought.

It was 40 feet away...but moving all the time so darn hard to capture in focus

More year ticks

I was busy on the morning of 19th and that's when Marek found the first Stonechat of the year, there may have been 2? I got there around 14:00 and luckily a male was still on show in the Phragmites ditch way off.

103 Shoveler were also present, so numbers are nearing the records of 130+ 22nd Jan 2005 and not far off the highest count of 146 in Dec 2016.

And despite being there each day, nothing much has happened, 24+ Mistle Thrushes still 17th was last big count, the odd Mandarin, no waders to speak of on LFGP.

Thursday 21st brought the first frost of the autumn.

Yesterday it was foggy but despite this a duck went over me quickly at Lavell's heading for Sandford, so in view for about 3-4 seconds, as it flanked I could see it had a long neck, sharp wings, pointed rear and was light brown with very pale below - a female Pintail, I never saw it again.

The views at Sandford were pleasant all the same.

Today, I checked Sandford first, 92 Shoveler, 3 Teal, 4 Gadwall, LFGP : 38 Shoveler, 27 Gadwall, 24 Teal, 2 Mandarin, 1 Green Sandpiper, Lavell's: 70 Gadwall, 5 Shoveler, 4 Teal, 35 Wigeon, 2 Water Rail heard again. Wigeon and Gadwall teasing me again for a nice shot.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Retrospective year tick

All week I've been watching Meadow Pipits go over, from every angle and their characteristics are very familiar. Meadow occur from early September and in recent years always on and over the landfill, their flitting jerky flight unmistakable.

So when the three pipits flew from the trees near the DAC last Sunday (10th), landing in the tops of trees twice and not at the top, within the top I think that was good reason to suspect something. The first autumn passage of Meadow Pipit began the day before, 7 went over that morning in the typical style, 3, 1, 1 & a 2, the odd call and never stopping.

But the 3 on the golf course did not do this and no pipit since that day has done so either. My conclusion is that they were Tree Pipits. And while some, most or even the majority may laugh, I am including them on my 2017 year list.

Since Thursday I have seen a good few more Meadow Pipit, c100 today. Hirundines have been around in numbers too 500-700 in the last 3 days, few today. Hobby has been on offer most mornings around 07:00 too.

Dawn was very pleasant today, 30-40 Mipits thru by 06:45, another 70-80 off the landfill 08:00, still 15+ Mistle Thrush, Hobby, then John found the another Spotted Flycatcher, on the big Hawthorn once again, my 7th this autumn. And where are the Redstart? It worrying me!

A notable increase in Song Thrush, 5-6 car park field alone.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Pipits spike

Nothing to get too excited about, but before it was proper light I got onto something jumping around the track beyond and left of the shingle island. After 10 minutes of gradual sunrise, it was obvious it was a Wheatear and I just love Wheatear.

I could see pockets of pipits, 14 at one time rising over the landfill, so did a quick Mandarin head count....3 then left, but not before clocking 3 small birds, 2 were mipits, 1 seemed too stubby and could have been a chat.

At BSL nothing much to say, another 9-10 Mipits over, but 700+ hirundines was quite a nice sight.

Marek and checked the behind the DAC and 1, then a 2nd Spotted Flycatcher sat in the sun for a few moments;

3 Grey Wagtail went over as we walked up the car park field, 40+ more mipits went over. I went back for 30 mins at lunchtime and another 40+ mipits went over.

DP records show Siskin could occur any day now, with NW wind cooling down perhaps it's tomorrow?

Wednesday, 13 September 2017


Richard WhatsApp'd the Spot Fly still at Sandford and an hour later I called to ask if it was still there and where to look. I was there not long after and got it in flight,but the wind had yet to die down so it wasn't easy.

Moments later he called me saying "I've got one on the big Hawthorn" I'm there I said and left, moments later we had it in my scope, but moments after that it flew over SE and kept going.

"Might as well check the landfill while we're here" I said, raising my bins at a large bird hovering over Lavell's to our left, I said "Osprey" and instantly got it in the scope. As it headed left we moved quickly to the car park field and got back on to it as it came over Bittern hide, over the nearest end of Sandford and Black Swan, where it slowed up had a good peer down and kept going.

So if Richard hadn't found the 2nd Spot Fly I wouldn't have gone there and not seen the Osprey, funny thing birding.

It's my 4th ever and I have seen 3 of them stood in the car park and now this one a mere 250 metres from it. A nice species to mark my 130th for 2017.

Winds of change

Yesterday felt like it had potential, but nothing much happened. LFGP 41 Shoveler, c20 each Gadwall & Teal, no waders again.

Straight on to BSL DAC area, 9 Meadow Pipit thru South, then as I crossed the car park toward the landfill 2 small brown birds - not pipits flitted over and were goen, I am convinced they were Spotted Flycatcher. Onto my look over the landfill 2 Raven came in from the West as often happens, but these are the first since my 4 over on 4th June, am sure they are being overlooked, or passing too far North to be noticed.

A few more Mipits over was it for me. Spotted Flycatcher was caught up with by Steve and a few others on the West side of Sandford later.

Today, I was out early in hope of a phalarope due to the Billingbear Grey yetserday, no such luck of course, so I counted the wildfowl.

Gadwall : 156 - 32 LFGP, 58 BSL, 66 Lavell's I expect there were more as I did not check the South end, or West side of BSL, WSL, Middle Marsh, WSL, West end Lavell's, or Tufties Corner.

Wigeon : 13 Lavell's

Shoveler : 60 - 47 LFGP, 13 Lavell's again probably more

Teal : 18 - more around somewhere

Mandarin : 2 LFGP

At the balancing pool a Hobby was doing a few dives, overhead 250-300 mixed hirundines.

Maybe as the winds die down, more stuff will show up today and if calmer tomorrow maybe that elusive Redstart and Stonechat might appear?

Monday, 11 September 2017

waders anyone?

It was a bit blowy with showers on arrival at Lea Farm GP at 06:20, very little happening, 18 Shoveler, 16 Gadwall, 14 Teal, no waders at all. I could see small birds on the move, 2-3 pipits, 4+ unidentified small jobs, probably finches. 2 distant Sparrowhawk were clearly together.

Quickly moving on, but Sandford was empty.

BSL, things were looking up, 400-500+ hundred mixed hirundines, but too showery to search for late Swift. Looking behind the DAC, 5 Chiffchaff, 1-2 Blackcap, just 7 Mistle Thrush.

More small jobs over and 1 was a pipit, 5+ seemed to suggest Chaffinch, then another group of 6-7, not sure I've had Chaffinch on the move this early, or in a Southerly direction at this time of year?

With some wader habitat it is a bit bizarre no waders, apart from Lapwing and the odd Green Sandpipe are showing up. It needs to settle down again for any chance of a Redstart, but I am not sure that is likely in the next 2-3 days?

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Golf course antics

With the fun of Mistle Thrush counting still in mind, I arrived late after 07:30, John & Eddie already out there. Quickly we began counting, but as always they hide in the trees above the DAC. At least 5-6 there already a large group headed that way, certainly 17 of them, then another, then 1 more, so at the minimum 25 and we couldn't be sure of the number at the DAC, 5 Meadow Pipit went over, just a couple of calls giving them away.

I have decided I have neglected the gold course due to dog walkers phobia and after yesterday's Spotted Flycatcher, another look seemed the right thing to do. Off we went, but nothing doing, then on the way back 3 slim brown birds undulated past us, then headed up along the Emm Brook treeline.

Hmmm I thought, they rather favoured the trees, not right for Dunnock, too undulating a flight, too slim, they had vanished into the tops of trees 150-200 metres South and despite an early thought of Spotted Flycatchers, they did not alight the tops and never looked right.

We picked up one again hugging the treeline, but lost it and never re-found them. With Meadow Pipit going over we discussed the likelihood of them being that, but my instinct says that with ALL the other Meadows going straight over and calling, I feel Tree Pipit was much more likely....and bloody annoying it is to not clinch them.

The Swift the chaps had remained overhead, so always nice and getting into the top 5 latest;

21st 1992 (AJ)
14th 2008
12th 2015
11th 2002
10th 2010 & 2017
8th 2002

All the others are 1st to 4th.

Nothing else really happening, lots of mostly House Martins, probably 500+

Saturday, 9 September 2017

A special morning

I had a lovely lie in til 06:25 and then hurried out as it was still and bright with some cloud cover, I decided the Mistle Thrush record count might be breakable and headed straight to BSL.

No sign on arrival, actually quiet, just barely 50 House Martin over the lake, nothing in the compound either. For some reason I thought perhaps they are further up the golf course "they flew in from that direction yesterday".

I walked about 250-300m and spotted some Mistle Thrush another 200m+ ahead around the electric wires, but barely stepped another foot when a slender brown bird flew across me 100m away and landed in the trees above the Emm Brook, thru bins I strained to see what it was half thinking "pipit?", but it sat up and the penny dropped, "Spotted Flycatcher, finally", my phone began ringing,  I knew it was John but wanted the bird in my scope, but in the scramble, the bird moved unseen and I missed his call.

I called back and he said come quick the Black-tailed Godwit left but has just come back at Tern scrape. Some moments later and I was watching it, nice too.

It was nervous about hassle from Coots and Moorhen and left towards Lea Farm, John and I headed there. Joined by Brian, we had no sign and bright sun in our eyes to the East. After nearly 30 minutes I picked up something fast in flight, "Black-tailed Godwit" as it whirled in fast. Panning around I picked up 4 small birds, 3 were the autumn's first Meadow Pipit, but one flicked it's tail and alighted a thistle, it was a Whinchat, my fifth this year, fourth of the autumn...blimey.

Jack and his dad arrived and quickly got on the birds, a Skylark flicked over the rough, a Sedge Warbler to the left, 3 Nuthatch on the feeders.

Brian suddenly said, "there's 2, no 3 Black-tailed's" sure enough now 3 in the SW corner, all as Richard and Gill walked in. Terrible shot...

I wanted more still, "car park field?" I said and John, Brian, Jack and Martin all joined us and off we went. John and I checked well, nothing on the landfill at that end, the car park field took patience and a Lesser Whitethroat, another Sedge and about 8-10 Blackcap and a few Chiffchaff were never easy to see.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Of all the months

August left and I am now worried I am running out of time to get a Spotted Flycatcher and a Redstart. Looking out of my window right now it appears sort of quieter and we need it to be more settled to get the above. It's not over yet, but let's look at last bird dates;


2016 - Sept 11th
2015 - Sept 3rd
2014 - Sept 2nd
2013 - Sept 5th to 10th
2012 - Sept 15th to 18th
2011 - Sept 14th & 27th
2010 - Sept 10th
2009 - Sept 15th, 20th to 25th

Spotted Flycatcher

2016 - Sept 16th to 18th
2015 - Sept 13th & 16th
2014 - Sept 12th & 18th
2013 - Sept 23rd
2012 - Sept 11th to 26th
2011 - Sept 11th & 27th
2010 - Sept 5th to 8th & 20th
2009 - Sept 15th, 20th to 25th
2004 - Sept 6th & 8th

Make of that what you please.

But either way, of all the months to not add a year tick, amazingly August was mine this year, which is quite unusual and I 'll need to dig beyond 2012 to find when that last happened, if ever.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Make that 3

Yesterday evening I got a call from Simon at Lodge Wood Lake, he had been checking fish stocks when in came an Osprey crashing in grabbing a fish and heading on to Lea Farm G.P.

He said he had seen people in there as he went by on the way, so it is likely someone was there, but no WhatsApp news followed. So that was year tick no. 3 I missed on the bank holiday weekend...nice.

This morning, like yesterday it was as quiet as it gets, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 18 Teal, 1 Wigeon, but 13 Mistle Thrush away from the sailing club East was nice.

It was also great to see my friend John again this morning and when I came back later for a late morning wander with my boy, I bumped into John W and Rick D as well. As I got back to my car around 13:00 a Hobby was circling overheard drifting East.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Chat passage

Out later again, 07:20 LFGP and nothing happening, so off to the car park field and a good call that was. On arrival Eddie was already scanning the landfill, in moments we picked up 1 Yellow Wagtail heard, then 4 seen heading SE. Moments after that Richard and Gill arrived as I picked up a chat like bird dropping out of view onto the same hedgerow left of the Oak.

Scanning from the balancing pool viewing spot I quickly picked not one, but 2 Whinchat together. They spent 35-45 minutes moving along the hedgerow nearer and settled on the larger of the two Hawthorn left of the pylon.

Still at quite a range they looked good thru scopes.

1 more Yellow Wagtail over heard only and it was time for me to go, Brian came and left too securing on his dip from yesterday. I passed Marek and knew Trevor was not far behind him and sure enough, within 20 minutes he was messaging saying Spotted Flycatcher in the same hedge, but no Whinchat, then moments after a Redstart in the same spot.

By the time I got there they hadn't been seen for 5-6 minutes and no further sightings over the next hour and half. What changed was 3 Wheatear were pitched up on the far landfill, 2 on the new posts and 1 on a vent.

WhatsApp seemed to let us down again by not broadcasting for over an hour after messages were sent. I'll be looking into this.But for now I am robbed of 2 year ticks that would have secured my 130th species for the 8th year straight. Maybe tomorrow eh?!

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Repeat of 1st Sept 2013

Out slightly later at 07:00, LFGP was quiet, 12 Teal, 3 Little Egret but little else. Most of the Gadwall were on Lavell's 48 in fact.

A lovely bright morning, that felt like more should have been happening, then finally as I arrived at the bottom of the car park field, I got onto what on first impression looked like a Wheatear on the wires near the green barn. It dropped like a stone below, which got me thinking "not very Wheatear like". I pushed the news out and scanned.

Finding a male Whinchat in the top of an Elder, but it flicked right out of my scope view, I updated the news and scanned again, but no sign. At that moment a call from behind me stopped me dead in my tracks ..."Tuuu, Tuuu, Tuuu". Blimey just like the call of ?? years back. It called again as I scanned more for the Whinchat, then finding it out left on the Hawthorn 100+ metres left, allowing a record shot. The call occurred just once more further away and was gone.

Male Whinchat
Later after arriving home Brian called asking me if the Whinchat was still showing, it transpires WhatsApp had not delivered the messages until 09:06.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Bated breath

I've had virtually no time, or energy to get out, but managed a walk Weds and this morning.

Out 06:30 Weds at LFGP and it was nice to see our lake edge strimming had an immediate effect, 1 Green Sandpiper and at least 2 Snipe, the latter flying about too, about 8 Teal about, little else, but the GC Grebe have 2 young.

This morning I was in the hide by 06:00 and found thick fog, which never fails to annoy me. It looked like it was clearing, but then didn't. I did pick up 14 Teal, 1 Little Egret, about 100 Lapwing in the SW corner tells us waders can now stand there again. One duck that flew off I failed to get on until the last second before the fog enveloped it, did leave me suspecting it might have been an early Pintail, 7-8 Gadwall were mobile.

At Sandford 12 Shoveler, another 2 at BSL, Grey Wagtail on the DAC building, Nuthatch calling nearby, 20 more Gadwall were in Coot bay - near to Sandford, at Lavell's 30 more Gadwall, 1 Wigeon, 1 Water Rail calling from main island.

Nothing to speak of in the car park field, a distant raptor heading North was probably Peregrine, but no Redstart, Spot Fly or chats so far.