Thursday, 30 March 2017

BB Rarity Status

I am told Ferruginous Duck is to re-join the ranks of British Rarity Status, so how this affect the DP records?

I did a search of Berksbirds on February and last dates in the database and found the results rather interesting;

26th 2001 - Theale male
22nd 2002 - Burghfield GP's male
24th 2008 - Dorney Wetlands male
15th 2009 - Dorney Wetlands male
26th 2011 - Dorney Wetlands male
22nd 2012 - Bray male
12th 2012 - Rowneys/Woolhampton male
25th 2016 - Dinton Pastures male
26th 2017 - Dinton Pastures male

My point here is this, what is it about the DP bird that makes this more escapee? It leaves the same time as more or less all other males and arrived in 2016 at the same time as a female at Theale.

I trust the rarities committees will be looking at all the evidence when the sum up their conclusions about DP Ferruginous Ducks. Assumptions about having a ring on it's leg alone will not cut it as the only deciding factor, as far as I am concerned.

Warming up nicely

Monday I was out in a later dawn, a lone female Shelduck in the SW corner of LFGP, was all there, at Lavell's the Garganey was still present and happy. Trev reckons it's a first year bird based on BWP, so I'll run with that.

Wednesday morning, nowt at LFGP, the Shoveler are holding steady in the high 50's, just 8-9 Teal left and Garganey still happy.

Today, after a lie in, I felt compelled to go to the car park field at 11:20. Very good conditions for hirundines and raptors...I had both. 4 Sand Martins over LFGP weren't the half of it.

Countless Red Kite, 12+ Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, then luckily I got onto another raptor going away from me about 400+ feet over Lodge Wood, very elastic deep wing beats and a square tail...yep my first Marsh Harrier in 3 years.

It kept going then Lodge Wood blocked seeing it, then it appeared again right of and circling in much smaller circles than Red Kite do. As it turned I saw the golden forehead, broad primaries and straight tail. It stayed over the Twyford pits area for 5-7 minutes, gaining height and then drifted out of sight.

I got one shot out of 7 that showed what it was, but it was so far away the picture makes it look more like a male, but I could swear it was a female.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Which one to choose

A clear cold start for John and I at 05:45, the 3 Goldeneye were back in the NW corner of LFGP, Green Sandpiper along the East shore, a few Snipe, 1 Little Egret c30 Wigeon, a few small jobs over.

On to Lavell's and our lady Garganey showed very well, the question was which shot to post, so I'm going with lots;

Some nice shots of Shoveler are coming later.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Something's gonna happen

I was out early again this morning, after missing yesterday. Grey Wagtail calling near the Mill.

At Lea Farm and to my surprise 3 Goldeneye (1m,2f) were in the NW corner, a Little Grebe in NW corner, Redshank on East shore. No sign of the Med.

Two days ago I witnessed the Teal mating again, it would be amazing if they bred!

Lavell's, a lot less Shoveler than Wednesday's 58. 3-4 Blackcap singing despite the cold breeze.

I feel like something quite good is going to show up, might only be a Common Scoter, but can't stop myself thinking it's so long overdue we had a good pipit, Water has to be possible and if it happens it's likely it will only be early morning, so if it's tomorrow it will just be John and I.

7 days left to find the first Brambling, LRP, Ringed Plover, Wheatear, Willow Warbler and Swallow,

Post Script: Isn't she a beauty, female Garganey found by Steve Day, just after 13:00

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

back and closing in

Sunday I was out again, 4 Sand Martin, a distant Ring-necked Parakeet, the Jack Snipe were about all the highlights on a seemingly much quieter day. A handful of Redwing off West was it.

Today I was back from a trip North and it was pretty cold again, with colder and windier weather still to come over the next day or so.

2 Little Egret at LFGP, then flew toward DP, a Green Sandpiper in the mouth of the SE bay, diminishing numbers of Teal and Wigeon. The sun was already up despite my arrival at the hide at 06:20, so seeing anything in the NE corner was hard.

I walked fast up to Bittern hide, counting 52 Shoveler, nothing on or over the landfill. BSL nothing much either 2 Pied Wagtail would have pleased John.

On my last 100+ metres to the car, I could hear a Blackcap singing near the yellow gate in to Lavell's, so am now 2 off 100.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

100 beckons

Out as usual 06:20, John was in Ron's hide when I arrived, but not much was happening although again John found the Jack Snipe, in the usual area.

If like many you're wondering when it might leave, here is the March and onward records;

1/23rd March 2016, 1/5th May
1/13th March & 1/22nd 2012
1/22nd to 25th & 30th March 2006
1/10th to 16th March 2005
1/11th April 2004
1/6th to 9th April 1996
1/25th March 1992
1/4th & 5th March 1990
1/13th & 21st March 1989 (unconfirmed)
3/11th March 1983
1/8th March 1981

Make of that what you will.

The largest group of Sand Martin I've ever seen at this point in March, came in from the left and it was quickly apparent it was quite a few, circa 50 gathered over the SW corner, we just caught sight of a Mandarin flying North too and a single Little Egret went over toward Lavell's.

10+ Redwing went South, 1 Skylark up above, a few Chiffchaff singing, but the cold breeze wasn't helping. At Lavell's 16+ Snipe, Water Rail in view at the back of Tern scrape.

Nothing doing over the landfill from the car park field, but on BSL a pair of Grey Wagtail and yet again the Brent Goose was on show, but this time on the East side and allowing much better views, despite the flat grey light. It''s white neck collar now showing quite well.

On Sandford 7 Pochard was notable for us in mid March.

So I'm on 97 and always hopeful of a Wheatear, LRP and Blackcap pretty much certain, so it will be bonus waders and early migrants that will get me to and over the 100 mark.

Friday, 17 March 2017


Yesterday I was out early and am finding it easier each day I rise at 06:00, at LFGP an Oystercatcher bearing ring number FH3730 was in front of the hide, I'm hoping that is enough to find out where it originated, despite that 1-2 more characters may have been there?

2 Grey Wagtail dropped on the sailing club beach a Little Egret went over, then a Meadow Pipit.

Today a Redshank was frequenting the same spot Geoff thought he'd had a Ruff, my sentiments are it was more likely this Redshank, but we'll never know for sure.

At BSL I was very surprised to find a male Garganey with the Tufted Ducks just off the sailing club, I'm sure it didn't like my scoping it and it flew almost immediately off over the gold course and out of view, where on earth was it going? It has to be the same male from the 11th, hiding somewhere...there all sorts of puddles and pools out the East of DP.

I checked over the landfill, a Skylark, a Meadow Pipit over, the odd finch sp and as I was walking back I heard then saw a pair of Mandarin heading over the hedgerow towards Lavell's.

As I write, Bob has reported our first 5 Sand Martin over LFGP, placing the year list on 100.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Sunday onwards

Sunday was bird walk and as nobody showed for it, I opted to count for the WEBs and have a general look about. The best birds I saw were a pair of Shelduck at LFGP, but missed the Jack Snipe and Brent Goose.

My wildfowl counts were 64 Teal, 14 Gadwall, 34 Shoveler, 2 Pochard, 31 Snipe at Tern scrape, 20 more LFGP.

Tuesday I was out early the Jack Snipe showing for me this time.

This morning I was out by 06:20 and in moments had caught up with a male Mandarin, which flew upstream and was gone. There really was nothing more to say at that time, but Bob Bennett kicked things off again with a Green Sandpiper in front of Ron's hide 09:18, which moved to Tern scrape by 10:50.

I joined the group around 11:40 and duly added a sleepy Green Sandpiper and a record shot, it was so lovely and bright I was feeling lucky so headed to BSL for a scan for Sand Martins, no joy but on return to the car park picked up a pair of Linnet in flight SE 12:02.

Barely moments later I picked up a large gull with an all white upper tail and no white inner wing markings, I watched it well for 30 seconds plus getting good enough views to dismiss LBB and Herring, quickly concluding it was a 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull, which continued drifting off ESE. I did check the fields East of Lavell's but could not find it.

A run of four in one morning brings me to within one of the fabled start of 2012, it only needs a Brambling, Pintail, Ruff and a Med Gull and I am flying high.

As I said to John today, we can expect an imminent Sand Martin, Redshank and Blackcap, but a March Wheatear and LRP are far from out of the question. 101 on 31st March 2012 is my best ever year list at the end of the first quarter. Last year I was only 1 behind that.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Now that's what I'm talking about

John pulled up moments after me and we set off for WSL for another chance a Bittern, but it didn't take us too long to conclude there were none to see. We did hear Water Rail and Cetti's though.

I heard then saw a spring migrant Chiffchaff singing in the Blackthorn behind us, nothing on BSL.

Checking Sandford more on the way back, just Pochard remain.

At Lavell's, John went to check Teal hide, I walked on slowly hearing another Chiffchaff behind Teal scrape, then saw another just after the green bridge.

By the time I had unlocked the hide, John was back with me and we began scanning, Teal dotted all along the East shore, Wigeon spread out, but over 100 on the landfill.

I began scoping for Snipe in hope of finding a Jack, just 3 Common, but I kept scanning hoping for an LRP, or a pipit, then as I passed a male Mallard in the far NE corner, I noticed something paler behind it, then suddenly a white crescent became visible and I called out "John we've hit jackpot, I've got a male Garganey, probably the earliest arrival ever".

So excuse the pictures, but it was 350+ metres away and rather dull light

It was the earliest by 9 days, Richard's pair the early birds on 20th 2012.

The March history goes like this;

11th March 2017 : Male LFGP (FJC, J McG et al)
29th March 2013 : Male LFGP (MFW, GSE et al)
20th March 2012 : Pair Redwood Lake (RNM, et al) staying til at least 5th April
21st March 2007 : Male Lavell's Tern scrape (R Dawson et al)
27th March 1997 : Male Lavell's Tern scrape (TAG)
19th March 1989 : 2 Male, 3 females, but no location or observer details so cannot be verified and did not appear in the County report

Also present today was the Brent Goose on the far landfill, Steve Day found a pair of Mandarin on Heron's Water, which then turned up at LFGP later (TAG).

This puts the park on 96, 103 being the third place in 2011, there is plenty of scope to reach that since we have none of this month's expected migrants in yet.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Off patch

06:40 and I was at Bittern hide counting 57 Snipe, just a few Teal left. 23 finch sp went over WNW, but as before not enough on them to clinch ID.

I went over to Dunt Lane today, around lunchtime scanning the field East of the old golf course, I was surprised how little activity there was. A few Pied Wagtails was about it, one candidate White though.

On the flooded areas of the fields to the North, were plenty of Greylag's and Egyptian Geese and it looks fab for Water Pipit, but nothing doing.

At the Lavell's car park field, overlooking the landfill lots of larger raptor activity, I got onto a Kestrel up high. A Peacock Butterfly was my first this year and a Brimstone near my local GP was sign that the sweltering 18 degrees was good for all manner of insects today.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Awaiting arrivals

A walk up to Lea Farm G.P. this morning, brought Grey Wagtails singing near the Mill, Nuthatch calling opposite Ron's hide, 2 Oystercatcher on the lake itself.

That said Wigeon and Teal in front of the hide kept my attention for iphone shots.

Not much else to report, but I expect we'll have a Redshank and a Mandarin any day now and I'll keep an eye out for Brambling. With Wheatear at QMR yesterday and Sand Martins in Oxon the day before, they are also possible.

I remain hopeful of a good pipit!

Monday, 6 March 2017

At last a year tick

Sunday I managed to get out around 08:00 despite the rain, I did at least dodge the heavy stuff 30-45 minutes before.

Very little happening at LFGP, so as things brightened up John and I headed back along the Loddon and after a moment heard the distinct call of Coal Tit

Time pressures meant nothing else really happened.

This morning I managed an 06:15 start, which I began at BSL sailing club and 19 Pochard and an Oystercatcher was about it, so headed for views over the West side, but failing to see the Brent Goose, I marched on to Heron's Water and am fairly sure the Ferruginous has left, as this is the third absence of the bird in recent days.

John saw 2 Bittern on Sunday morning, I saw none.

Completing a loop back at the car park field and a 5 minute look over the landfill, I added nothing.

If anyone wants to inform me they have had Mistle Thrush, Grey Wagtail, Jaack Snipe or Goldeneye in March, do let me know for the month list.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Long stayers

I managed an early start today and starting at Lea Farm G.P. there wasn't much to write about, Wigeon and Teal numbers are now falling, no visible waders apart from the odd Snipe and a pair of Oystercatcher.

I got onto a flock of about 40 finches flying West over Lavell's, too big for Goldies, but too far away to ID. As I crossed the green bridge about 15 came overhead, but in the windy conditions they went over so quick I couldn't get anything on them. It's a good time of year for Brambling to go thru!

A few Pochard and Tufted's on Sandford, I couldn't see the Ferruginous on the way past and too windy and probably too late to see Bittern at WSL.

To my surprise the Brent Goose was still on Goat island on BSL, it's 61st day here.