Saturday, 25 February 2017

Bitterns again

I forgot to mention the Oystercatchers calling towards BSL last night.

My alarm went off at 06:00 and I got up immediately full of commitment to see some good birds, I marched straight to WSL, thinking "it isn't really light enough yet", but both last night's Bitterns were on show in exactly the same respective places.

The bird in the middle was very active, in fact flying out over the lake and back to the same spot, but I lost it while looking at the right hand one.

I walked out to the West bank of BSL and found the Brent Goose in the 'usual spot' just off the island.

Retracing my steps I headed back to Sandford, then on quickly to Lea Farm G.P., passing John Mac.

At LFGP, it wasn't too exciting, but enough happened to make it feel worthwhile, 1-2 Little Egret, 1+4 Meadow Pipit SE, 1 Skylark singing over the NE landfill, then John arrived and we found the Jack Snipe again, just in time for Jules and Jack who arrived minutes later.

2 Oystercatcher flew in to the NE corner from DP, then flew to the shingle island and promptly went to sleep.

3 Wigeon wandered up in front of Ron's hide, offering a nice shot, or at least the chance of one.

Friday, 24 February 2017


After a third hand report from fishermen of Bitterns making a noise at WSL 2 nights ago, I went down tonight. Passing the Ferruginous at Heron's Water en route.

I found one Bittern immediately, pretty much in the middle, then the second middle right, neither looked alert and they never really moved. Water Rail called, but nowt else happened.

I never complain when I see one Bittern, let along two.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Dawn walk ramp up

I had intended to get out every morning this week, but late nights studying are making it too tough right now. Still I managed Tuesday 21st at 07:00 2 Kingfisher greeted me and were very vocal along the Loddon a Grey Wagtail over too.

At Lea Farm 104 Wigeon, 65 Teal, 14+ Snipe and at last the Jack Snipe again, bobbing on the edge of vegetation along the East shore behind the left hand end of the shingle island.

A Green Sandpiper seen at Tern scrape later that morning was the first for the year, putting the park on 93 for 2017, and a 3rd place, equal to 2016, just one behind 2015 and 4 off the 2012 record.

I am still on 89, but apart from Brian's Woodcock am not fretting over catching the others I'm missing.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Unprecedented luck

I was leaving for Manchester when Brian called to say a Goosander was on BSL, so diverted and stood at the sailing club for a quick scan. It had vanished and we had to leave.

Within 15 minutes they had found it again, but we were nearly at Wycombe, so not returning.

So this morning, after seeing the news it had stayed I was hopeful, but not expecting it. I found the Brent Goose on the West side of the larger of the two BSL islands - we used to call it Goat island, not surprisingly because DPCS used to graze Goats out there and this practice may come back this year,

It swam out and within moments had vanished, no doubt I missed it flying off while putting news out.

I WhatsApp'd the negative news then immediately found the female Goosander in front of me swimming into Coot Harbour - the bay nearest to Sandford hide.

Then on my walk back to the sailing club, a flock of over 20 small birds landed in the Poplar next to the fallen one and I could see with bins they weren't Goldfinch. Through the scope I could see at least 4 were Lesser Redpoll.

Not a bad recovery and 40 minute pre work visit.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

February Oystercatchers

A welcome timing of Steve's text meant I could dash to BSL immediately to grab the equal earliest date of arrival for Oystercatcher. A pair asleep on the raft where nice to see and heralds more hope of successful breeding this year.

No time for anything else on this almost bitterly cold day...perhaps I can get out tomorrow?

Monday, 6 February 2017

Not far off 2012 pace

This last week I did manage a couple of very short visits, at Teal hide all was quiet, bar a flock of Greylag going over. At Lea Farm the Wigeon flock had shrunk a little and there was no time to do dusk visits for a bash a Woodcock, but I am not sure where might be best to try...perhaps near Bittern hide like we used to.

So Friday near lunchtime, Steve was kind enough to find a female Red Crested Pochard on Sandford and within about 30 minutes I was watching it with him and Brian. I still haven't seen it awake yet.

My only available weekend day was Sunday and whilst I wasn't out early, I did a wide circuit to cover my bases. Starting at Lea Farm, it wasn't long before I caught up with Skylark, after Brian had one on Saturday. It was rising and singing over the far landfill, not that we could hear it.

The usual stops for Coal Tit were fruitless, despite quite a lot of singing from other members of the tit family. I marched on with John around Sandford, a pair of Goldeneye on show. Through to WSL, with the usual lowish numbers of Gadwall, Wigeon, CG Grebes, etc.

On to the sailing club at BSL, pockets of Pochard across the lake, but it wasn't until we reached Sandford that we re-found the Red Crested Pochard, still asleep. We met 2 Swedish birders here while visiting their favourite football teams, telling them to keep an eye out for the Ferruginous Duck, being out of time myself I quit and went home.

86 out of the park's 88 isn't bad and just one off my 2012 tally.

I keep a view of all species I've seen in date order running back to 2012 and it may offer a window of what could happen any moment! Goosander, Pintail, Oystercatcher, Yellow-legged Gull, Ruff, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Linnet, Med Gull, Mandarin and Pintail, all occurring in past February's.