Sunday, 29 January 2017

More reading required

I'll be kind to myself and say it's because we simply don't get enough big gulls visit us often enough, but it's as much about me not really binding all the identification features of various aged Yellow-legged Gulls, that keeps preventing me from being sure when we are presented with 'possibles'.

Today we heard a gun shot quite near to the East and this was followed by a sizable party of 93+ quickly heading into Lea Farm G.P.

No issues with LBB, or the Great Black-backed that flew over South, but it was the moulting darker backed ones and the the much bigger one that looked like the bird on this website in particular the bird half way down the page marked Yellow-legged Gull L.m.camarquensis 1CY 26092007 Westkapelle

I will stop being so lazy and get my head around these pesky gulls, so I can be much more exact about Yellow Legs that are less than 3 years old.

Over 51 Snipe today, but couldn't see a Jack with them, but bet there is one there. 2 Little Egret again.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Tough changes

It has been hard coping with having daily work again, but I guess that is the real world where we all just get weekends to enjoy our birding.

I did manage 30 minutes before dark Thursday at Lea Farm GP, 260+ Wigeon, 11+ Snipe, but not much else in the very frozen conditions. It has felt like a long week not being able to get down and it is hard for me to believe there hasn't been something exciting to see....a Pintail, a Dunlin? I guess we'll never know.

So this morning, the weather had finally broken properly, 7 degrees, but despite a thaw the ice has been so thick much of Lea Farm GP was still covered, albeit with thin ice.

Still enough open water to possibly pull something in, the same 250+ Wigeon, fewer Snipe visible at least. Over 2 hours Buzzard, Red Kite, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, then a Peregrine which gave impressive display of swooping at the Black-headed Gulls both in the air and at one on the lake itself, forcing it to dive don't see them do that everyday.

It landed in the Ashes behind the North spit, then out again quickly moving to the big Alder in the NW corner, where I got these shots, the first you can barely see it poking out above the branch.

2 Little Egret were about, about 15 big gulls landed for a while, one carried a blue darvic type ring baring the characters JEE3, at least I think the first character was 'J'. I'll be emailing the North Thames Gull ringing group if they know this ring.

Not a lot else and I was at my car when John, called us back at Teal hide, after he had left us and gone to check it, a Bittern was on show for just 1 minute.

A look for 45 minutes at 15:00 was fruitless too.

What was obvious was the state of the reeds, clearly the Bittern has been stomping about here for days and it would seem no one has been here to see and report it.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Seems a long time

A week of not getting to the patch seems like a long time, so being out this morning with a hard frost and bright blue sky was excellent.

I headed straight to WSL after John had the Bittern perched high....and it was still there and stayed there for ages, no doubt warming itself in the sunshine. It is fair to say it showed rather well.

Also on the limited unfrozen water, 3 Little Grebe, a few Gadwall, 2 Teal Wigeon and the Ferruginous Duck.

We did a circuit of BSL's South bay and West side, just 1 male Goldeneye was of any note.

Looping back via WSL the Bittern was still on show, then on to Lea Farm G.P. where a lot of wildfowl were gathered. A new record count of 327 Teal, 193+ Wigeon, 90 Tufted Duck, 3 Goldeneye (2m), a few Shoveler.

Saturday, 14 January 2017


After a frustrating time trying to add year ticks, I still hadn't added anything this morning, sure I was happy to see Peregrine twice this morning, Kestrel again, Sparrowhawk again, but nothing else.

So I decided to head back tonight, at the car park field another Meadow Pipit flew over North calling, then I headed for the sailing club, hearing Grey Wagtail, then almost immediately a Chiffchaff toward Sandford, seeing 1 for sure, maybe a second in flight.

I looped to Bittern hide, chastising 2 guys with noisy dogs in the hide, then feeling lucky I headed back to overlook the landfill once more, but choosing to look from overlooking the balancing pool and immediately saw a Little Owl in the usual Oak tree hole.

It was time to head home, but I saw Jack and Julie at the roadside near Sandford Copse and pulled up for a quick chat, amazingly while we chatted a Tawny Owl flew over parallel with the river.

I'm not sure I've ever been level with the park on my year list, if so it will be short lived.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Stuck on 80

After several, but not lots of short trips to my patch, I have failed to see Little Owl, Grey Wagtail and Chiffchaff, my good friend John getting Tawny Owl is a reminder we need to try harder to get this one on our year list early on.

I couldn't even find the Brent Goose yesterday in the Canada flock.

Today in the rain lots of Lapwing at Lea Farm G.P, just a handful of big gulls, all Herring.

But tonight it turns cold and just maybe it will bring a change, not that any of the above require cold weather to present chances of seeing them.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Slowing up

A few stomps around the East end of Lavell's, the golf course and sailing club have not rewarded me so far. And today BSL was almost totally frozen up, plenty of BH Gulls, nothing unusual I could see in a 15 minute look.

With so much ice I decided LFGP was worth a try and in a way it was, no Snipe, but a slightly elusive male Goldeneye and a big count of 215 Teal.

Not so many big gulls, little else at all really.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Much quieter

I did a circuit of the golf course and car park field late morning, added nothing new, Nuthatch, 5 Parakeet, Kestrel. I checked the field down Dunt Lane again, similar story 2-3 Mipit, 100+ Pied Wag, 1 Grey Wag, couldn't find Linnet or Mistle Thrush, but may have been around.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Joys of the East

I popped up to DP main centre and only had to wait 5 minutes before 5 House Sparrow appeared, with little of nothing appearing to be going on at DP, I decided to check out what was in the field East of the old golf course.

I go via Dunt Lane opposite the Jolly Farmer pub and park in the main gate on the left about 250-300 metres along Dunt Lane. I began scanning and quickly found many birds, a closer inspection and the rough estimates were; 2 Mistle Thrush, 5 Meadow Pipit, 9+ Linnet, 100+ Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 200 Redwing & Fieldfare, a handful of Goldfinch and various corvids.

If on DP that would be 4 year ticks, Linnet being most valuable as they are so uncommon, bordering on rare at DP now.

Dusk looking back West over the car park field last night was quite pretty

A late afternoon car park field got me 2 Mistle Thrush North West, another Kestrel, 12+ Fieldfare in groups of 4 NW, then 12-13 Golden Plover moving East below Bowsey Hill.

Monday, 2 January 2017

A good hour

Limited time today so I focused on the car park field overlooking the landfill and it paid off, a Fieldfare, a Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher fly by from the balancing pool, Pied Wagtail over, then 5 Greylag came in with the Canada's.

Later I came back for another go for Golden Plover and Little Owl, as I got out of my car I noticed 2 flocks of Lapwing overhead and saw another bird below them, it was that pale Peregrine again, another good year tick.

Marek was trying for the two target species too, he quit and went to the sailing club and got Grey Wagtail off a puddle, I went to WSL and saw one Bittern.

Now I've posted my Caspian pics I'm quite pleased considering the distance.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

A little bit gobsmacked

Out at 07:21 I lingered near Teal hide for a listen ofr Tawny, no luck so quickly trudged to just beyond Ron's hide, clocking the Shelduck close on the right. In no time a Barn Owl came down the path upstream, saw me crossed and swooped past on South, probably heading for Lavell's.

Still gloomy, the Snipe were visible, lots, around 39, at least 1 Jack with them. The first of 3 Little Egret came by, Water Rail diving for cover.

Nothing exciting happening, I headed for Sandford and Heron's Water and arriving on the East side, by a rubbish strewn bench, I checked the opposite water edge. I moved over the small rise and suddenly the Ferruginous Duck was there on my left, moving quickly right.

I checked everything at WSL, BSL and looped back to the sailing club and car park field, Ring-necked Parakeet calling, Kestrel perched, Great Black-backed Gull over, Lesser too, Siskin heard over.

Bittern hide had been smashed up pretty bad overnight, so DP staff were leaving as I arrived, not much to see as few fence panels left to hide you on approach. Cetti's heard, missed Chiffchaff.

I went home, but had to quickly return for the first Caspian Gull in 12 years, an adult found by Marek, stunning find.

I went home again, but had to come back yet again for the first Brent Goose in 30 years! There are other 'claims' of individuals during the 90's, but impossible to verify them.

It was an active little juvenile, flew around low several times, landed in the NE landfill and we took our eyes off it and it was missing. The Caspian showed up again too, followed by 5 Raven together, another great find Marek.

When I overcome my iPhone & Window's 10 USB issue I may be able to share my record shots, which would be nice, as I am not sure Brent Goose has ever been photographed at DP.

So finally I give in and head for WSL and as Marek joined me, I found 1 then the 2nd Bittern.

My day was awesome, 69 my highest ever 1st January.

The park list is 72, not including Little or Tawny Owl, but they are resident all year, so in my opinion should be counted.

As far as I am aware the species not seen by me today were Kingfisher, Chiffchaff & House Sparrow

I am certain that Pied Wagtail, Fieldfare, Coal Tit and Sparrowhawk were present, probably Mistle Thrush and Grey Wagtail too, maybe even a lone Meadow Pipit is out on the landfill.

Targets now :

Greylag - Current status unknown
Goldeneye - None today, winter so far very random Sandford most likely lake
Golden Plover - Pick a nice clear morning, or dusk and set up at the car park field looking towards Bowsey Hill
Goosander - Often fly over only, but can occur anywhere BSL, WSL, Sandford, Loddon, LFGP
Pintail - LFGP to Sandford
Smew - Most likely is Sandford, or Loddon
Red-crested Pochard - LFGP to WSL/BSL
Peregrine - 75% of records are over LFGP & Lavell's
Dunlin - Needs to be icy and can occur anywhere
Ruff - Landfill to Lavell's
Woodcock - Loddon and Teal Scrape
Med - Check all BH's
Green Sandpiper - random stops most likely LFGP
Skylark - If it is very sunny
Lesser Redpoll - Check on the golf course Silver Birch