Sunday, 30 April 2017

Friday to Sunday

Friday started 05:54 with 8 Common Tern over Sandford, at LFGP I found 4 then a 5th LRP so quite nice seeing such numbers. A Snipe flew past low left, a Common Sandpiper, 8 Teal, a Shelduck, 2 Gadwall and the daily Grey Wagtail collecting food.

At BSL c100 mixed hirundines plus 1 then 3 Swift.

Back out at LFGP and it felt more quiet, but 4 Garden Warbler by the benches and the usual Lesser Whitethroat in the car park field was nice enough. 4 Swift over BSL today and a march up to the BSL/WSL hedgerow got us nice views of Nightingale thanks to John McGowan's keen scoping.

Today I was filled with high hopes and little time, so arrived even earlier. My hopes were somewhat fulfilled with 2 Ringed Plover and 3 LRP on the East shore. A second scan revealed the male Garganey yet again in the NE corner!

Nothing except a pair of Mistle Thrushes over BSL, but at the car park field a Yellow Wagtail called once as it headed over NNE.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Waiting for it to get warmer

Cold bright mornings are lovely, but they don't do much for migration, at least around our way.

The Sand Martins appear to have survived so far, 2 LRP's looking interested still, a Shelduck, 4 Teal left, a Little Egret over, a Grey Wagtail gathering food, Kingfisher over, 4 Common Tern over, but very little else.

At least the Lapwing gave me something to try and get shots of

I saw 2 dead Shrew on the paths today, if that is what they are, what the hell is that about, territorial disputes?

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

2 cold mornings

Good grief it's cold for late April. Yesterday I was out at Ron's hide by 06:15 and the cold made my fingers tingle. 5 Common Tern overhead, a pair of LRP's were looking even more keen and clearly prospecting the SW corner islets, the Lapwing looks as keen as ever, the Oystercatchers too. Later Geoff said 2 Redshank was also looking keen.

I can't even remember a time when we had 4 wader species thinking about breeding, I don't think it's happened before.

Now thinking, prospecting and actually breeding successfully are very different things, with constantly patrolling Jackdaw and Carrion Crow, it is no easy thing settling down. If I have it my way we shall lose a few of each in an attempt to give the waders a fighting chance.

Now add to that a male Shelduck which is also chasing any bird with white on it away, where is the female? Perhaps she's already on eggs on top of the Sand Martin wall?

A male Shoveler is looking fresh and I'm wondering where his lady is too? It's all too much to hope that all of the above and even a pair of Teal might be thinking this place is destined to hear the patter of tiny webbed feet. I'd be excited to have any of them give it a proper try.

Also at LFGP a Common Sandpiper, 10+ Sand Martin in the wall....awesome. At BSL a male Mandarin,

Today I was earlier, there by 06:05, carbon copy of the birds, but even colder. The Redshanks flew in 06:25. And on BSL 21 very cold looking Swallow perched on the wires, the Lesser Whitethroat calling all the time at the bottom of the car park. More and more Reed and Sedge Warblers around Bittern hide.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Dawn chorus snippets

Dawn chorus on Saturday morning was perfect conditions, still bright, but not too cool like so many recent mornings. My commitments meant I could only do the first hour and a quarter. The Nightingale sang well, albeit from the island, many other warblers too, but that was all I had time for.

Sunday was work party and happily I did catch a few blasts of Lesser Whitethroat in the car park field at the start, then a short burst of Garden Warbler too.

At Lea Farm, a pair of LRP were sounding interested in the SW corner.

The same applied this morning, with the LRP's making indentations in one of the SW corner islets...not a safe place to nest. A Shelduck, a male Shoveler, a pair of Gadwall, but too misty to see how many Teal are left, 1 Common Sandpiper flicked across to the South spit.

At BSL, 2 more Common Sandpiper together was nice, 2 Common Tern, 1 male Mandarin and the 2 Little Egret perched high in one of the tall Ash trees begged the question if we'll ever seem them breeding at DP? The Lesser Whitethroat was noisy in the car park field, but mobile enough to be seen.

Later today Geoff said a pair of Redshank were displaying, imagine that Lapwing, LRP, Redshank and Oystercatcher all breeding, it would be amazing.

Mid afternoon at home and as I was on the phone I binned a Hobby buzzing a Red Kite...nice!

Friday, 21 April 2017

April Partridges go further afield

 After my walk this morning, I was getting ready to take my son to school, peering out of my kitchen window I could see a Pigeon and something else under the feeders, but as it was facing away I couldn't quite make it out. As soon as it turned it was obvious I had a Red-legged Partridge.

It remains in my garden now, pecking at weeds and moss on my path and looks fab wondering around between the footballs, cones, goal post and trampoline.

First few minutes

Finally it was 45 feet from the house walking between the various toys and balls

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Garganey again

Tuesday morning Marek and I were looking across BSL from Sandford side and picked up the male Garganey yet again, in flight then on the water near the North end of the big (Goat) island.

I did a loop anti-clockwise of BSL and heard the Nightingale, then had the pair of Mandarin sat on the timbers of a fishing swim along the old golf course strip, around 60 Sand Martin were feeding low over the lake too. The Garganey was sat peacefully in the bay opposite the sailing club by now.

Later Roger found it on Sandford and later still Alan saw a female in the SW corner of LFGP.

Yesterday I was away. today it was fairly quiet, 3 Common Tern BSL, but still 17 Teal at LFGP, 10+ Sand Martin around, a pair of Lapwing still defending the islet in front of Ron's hide, making depressions etc and chasing off a pair of Grey Wagtail whom were collecting nest material themselves.

Later in the afternoon I got the text and call a Wheatear had been found in the car park field, in the front bit near the car park....and there it was.

Prior to getting the Wheatear there was a small matter of seeing the 2 spectacular Black-winged Stilt at Little Marlow

Monday, 17 April 2017

Feels right for passage

Sunday was okay really, I began at LFGP looking for Little-Ringed Plover, reported by our friend from Devon shortly before. I found 1, then 2, then 3, finally 4 on the East shore, plus a Common Sandpiper. John went and found 5 later!

Brian and I found 7+ House Martin moving around beyond Lavell's/Sandford Farm and Geoff told me later that Sand Martins were checking out the wall at LFGP.

Today, I was back out 06:30 and still 23 Teal at LFGP, 4 more at Tern scrape, 2 pairs Gadwall, 6 males. But no Shoveler, their departure was quite sudden. An LRP flew off at 06:53, a Common Sandpiper in the NE corner was barely visible.

At BSL a Common Tern was on the yellow buoy, but then mobile another Common Sandpiper had colour rings so I have made inquiries on it's origins. 100+ hirundines of mostly House Martins was a nice sight at last.

Later I was heading to the BSL viewpoint and bumped into Martin Mitchell, who told me he had just seen a Red-legged Partridge over near the WSL reed bed on the path and it had walked toward the copse near the Loddon. I bombed over there and had it in flight heading right, I quickly trudged down the TDFC path and flushed it on the left right on top of the weir, it went around me and into the Alder next to Heron's Water where I lost sight of it.

April is a good month for this species;

April 17th 2017
April 14th 2012 - near Teal Hide (GSE)
April 10th 2010 - flew over the Loddon barn at DP main centre (FJC)
April 9th 2002 - A poorly looking bird next to the path to Bittern hide (EN & FJC)
April 16th 1988 - On back fields behind Lavell's

The last thing to mention is a strange call along the Sandford backwater, a little like the pre-amble of Whitethroat, but perhaps a tone not unlike Lesser. It never showed and left me baffled.

Saturday, 15 April 2017


Out later for a change, I caught up with others for a walk around to BSL, it was notable the number of Willow Warblers, well into double figures, but little else.

At the picnic area the Nightingale sang in bursts and being that it was on the island, we never stood a chance of seeing it.

5-6 Swallow and a pair of Oystercatcher over the lake, but despite a lot of looking only 1 Snipe, 2 Shelduck and 3 Skylark were noted.

That said a Green Woodpecker feeding near Ron's hide got me trying to capture a nice shot with my bridge camera.

Friday, 14 April 2017

The year so far

My constant analysis of the year and all the records in the archives, brings me to various observations at different times. This year it has been quite surprising how each month has finished in a 'podium sense'. There are two types of podium, the month and the running total/year to date;

January - 86 =3rd place on all January's, equal with 2012 and 2016
February - 87 - 4th place and 1 short of third place from 2008, but somehow we added 7 more species on the running total and finished on =3rd place with 2016, one short of 2005.
March - 92 = 4th place with 2010 & 2013, but adding 11 species we hit 104 for the year to date and took new 2nd place, stealing it from 2011.

In my spreadsheet it looks easier to read than as I have typed it out, but looking at April we are way off on all counts. Currently we are on 87 for the month, pitiful even in respect of 10th place 101 in 2007, but dreadful against 114 in 2013.

With so many winter species leaving early we cannot expect to get far into the 100's if we even reach the 100's, as there is only Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Hobby and Little-ringed Plover we can say for certain will occur by May.

At least from a running total view we are ahead of 110 in 2005 and 112 of 2007 & 2009.

Recent years has proven it's not time to panic, 2016 and 2014 respectively produced double figure additions on the running total from August, both finishing on 140 = 3rd highest year lists.

I'll be out for my Nightingale tomorrow and keeping fingers crossed a shower or two will bring a sprinkle of visible passage to the mix.

Constant cold mornings

One shouldn't grumble when all you get is cold bright blue mornings, but now it's Friday I'm just a bit bored of cold weather, it makes less sing and leads to little visible passage. Wednesday 5 Little Egret went over LFGP toward DP at 06:22, 1 Common and 1 Green Sandpiper still, 1 Snipe, then we left and went to Lavell's where I caught up with a male Whitethroat at Tern Meadow 07:05.

John and I were still contemplating the world at BSL and watching 10+ Swallow in company with 2 House Martin, when Marek WhatsApp'd to say 'male Garganey at Sandford'. Amazing, if they are all different birds, that's 4 in one spring!

Thursday I thought I'd try BSL first and got nothing, apart from a male Mandarin and a Mistle Thrush in the compound at the DAC.

Today it was more quiet, 12 Teal at LFGP, 2 Snipe, 4 Sand Martin and 2 Swallow, with 2 Sedge Warbler heard from Bittern hide. Brian had the first Nightingale later on the island near the picnic area.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

a busier morning

John was already at Ron's when I got there 06:25, but the year's first Common Sandpiper showed up in the NE corner before the sunlight obscured it. A Redshank in front of the hide kept on calling.

The air was clear and not a sign of the fog of recent days.

What a difference from the other day's exercise in taking shots of the sun thru fog.

Intent on catching up with Whitethroat, we headed off to Lavell's and the car park field, hearing Willow Warblers in various spots on the way.

No Whitethroat called probably due to the cold breeze, a couple of Sand Martin were over LFGP by now and a Skylark rose over the near landfill. A male Mandarin came in from the right and over Lavell's. While we were near Bittern hide I thought a Blackbird in flight looked a but too pale in the wing, but dismissed it as it was heading too fast West to stay on.

On to BSL a Swallow, then another, displaying Sparrowhawk pair, then a displaying Redshank, a late Great Black-backed Gull over low North was nice, the Mandarin heading North again, a pair of Grey Wagtail over.

With Brian getting Sedge at LFGP after we left and Whitethroat out not calling earlier, it seems both are reluctant to sing per 08:30 after my morning efforts have ended, maybe I'll stay longer tomorrow and get myself back to just 3 behind the park's year list so far? Nightingale any day now too.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Not so hot

A contrast today after yesterday's sweltering 24 degrees, barely 15 today and at 06:00 much cooler when John and I arrived at Lea Farm hide. Not much to speak of, but 2 Kingfisher in front was nice, just 8-10 Teal left, 2 Oystercatcher over.

I felt lucky so we set off for a look for Nightingale, but no sign yet. Willow Warblers and Cetti's obliged in more than one place and even the pair of Mandarin were slow to leave the view point, no doubt still checking out various nest sites in the vicinity.

Time was up for me and no additions today. Scanning Berksbirds this evening I see Bert saw House Martin at Whistley collecting mud, how can it be that nobody has seen this species at DP if they are collecting nest material nearby?

I'll be back out tomorrow and hope I can get back across to Lavell's to add Whitethroat to my year list and maybe Sedge Warbler too. A Not to sound ungrateful for the recent Dunlin, but with Blackwit and Common Sandpiper at local pits today, I also fancy some waders......please.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Early arrivals

The high pressure all week and the wind turning from North to South appears to have brought some early arrivals in.

The Sedge on the 4th was early, the Reed Warbler 7th was very early and then yesterday a Dunlin in front of Ron's hide wasn't so much early, but a welcome year tick for more than one of us.

And today was kind of cool, Alan IM'd news of a Whitethroat, then a Cuckoo, while the bird walk was seeing a Common Tern thru at BSL. We (the bird walk) caught up with the Cuckoo at Lea Farm G.P. where it showed well for a few moments on the big Alder on the NW corner.

Today's Cuckoo was the equal earliest ever, assuming the 1992 claim wasn't complete garbage! Then the Reed Warbler was also earliest ever, only by one day, but that is 3 years on the trot now that Reed Warbler has turned up earlier....I got mine from the Loddon path on the way back, heard only.

That's 3 year ticks today for me, one yesterday, so 105 from 110.

Overall the year is okay, we need some more passage bonus birds to stay close to recent years tracking. A Redstart, Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear and Black-tailed Godwit would all be nice.

Today's walk in the sun was very nice, very nearby and loud Cetti's at WSL, tons of Chiffchaff, Blackcap, a handful of Willow Warbler, a female Bullfinch showed well, a Little Owl back in the usual Oak tree and much later a pipit, which was most probably just a Meadow going over the landfill.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Mixed week

I've been out a few times this last week, Willow Warblers being seen by others from Friday, I caught up with mine on Saturday near the old Oak close to Teal hide. 6 Snipe still on LFGP that morning.

I was tied up and didn't get out again until Tuesday 4th April, picking up my first Swallow coming in over the gold course while chatting to Eddie. PBT had a Sedge call from the compound, which an early one by our sign since. I did get back later in the afternoon, but saw just 3 Swallow.

So that brings me to today, arriving just as the rising sun was hiding in a low cloud bank, then a Swallow over the landfill, 2 Willow Warbler on Sandford, Grey Wagtail heard nearby, 2 more Willow Warbler at BSl around the view point, tons of Blackcap and Chiffchaff everywhere, then a Mistle Thrush heading over low West, the first record in April I'm aware of.

 At the car park field landfill viewing spot, a Green Woodpecker offered a semi distant photo chance and 2 Oystercatcher were feeding happily nearby to the gap.

The wind has been a rather cool Northerly, but it is swinging around to the South any moment now, so I'm hoping for a big influx of migrants and passage bits n pieces.