Sunday, 21 May 2017


This weekend I walked up to enjoy the Nightingales at BSL twice and did so very much, today it showed pretty well and I got these shots

Whilst it didn't directly effect my walk, what got my back up was the incompetence of Dinton Pastures Countryside Service (DPCS).

Take a look at this shot, everything left of the path used to be 1 metre high grass, nettles and other weeds. But oh no, DPCS ground staff who are obviously clueless to their obligations to the countryside...odd because the clue is in their name, decided I need to mow everything here because otherwise the dogs won't have enough space to sh1t and pi55, or run about. F*ck the ground nesting birds like Whitethroat, or Chiffchaff and even more damaging the very important Nightingales nesting just yards away.

Can you tell I'm mad about this?

Oh and if that wasn't bad enough they repeated their rampage around BSL's edges adjacent to Middle Marsh and entrance to Sandford.

For those too stupid to grasp the difference between where cutting the grass and vegetation should and shouldn't be done here it is for you;

Below is a yes, you can cut here, it's given away by the presence of a bench...

And here is stuff that butterflies and birds like and you shouldn't cut, can you tell the difference?

So here is a quiz for anyone thinking of doing the same nearby to the DAC there is this stretch of uncut vegetation shown below

This has breeding Whitethroat in it and if you cut it I will personally see to it that you are sued under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. Like you should need me to tell you about it, but clearly someone in charge of ground works needs a reminder.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Where does the time go

Nearly a week has passed and I can't think of anything that has happened worthy of mention, although another Ringed Plover was nice on the 16th.

Then the heavy rain on Wednesday brought a quick and significant rise of the water levels, here is the SW corner at the start of the rain

A Lapwing same morning

An immature Herring Gull making a Coot very nervous

Yesterday a pair of Linnet suddenly flew up from in front of the hide, hadn't seen or heard them before that moment. These marked the 96th species for May = 1st with 2012 and 2016, without Kestrel, Coal Tit, Willow Warbler (less likely), Dunlin and we've got ages to find something more yet.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

It's happening all over again

After yesterday's much quieter start and my last sighting of a 12 day stay of Greenshank, today felt even more quiet...initially.

Then a Hobby swept past at 07:00 and still talking about that I picked up an egret half way across the landfill, so some 450m+ out, heading North. It was too far to really say much about it thru bins, but it had already gone past, so I was scrambling to get it in the scope.

I failed to get onto to it to see the bill, but the size and it's jizz was all to big for Little and even though the mind tends to fizz in a panic, I saw no suggestion on pale feet and the legs seemed a little too long.

I have learned to trust my instinct having watched the same piece of sky for so long and I know my subconscious was telling me 'this is a big bird' and I am 99% happy this was yet another Great White Egret

It never fails to annoy me when you know something, but cannot say with 100% certainty about a birds ID.

So off John and I went in search of this bird, again off down the river, just like my first and second on November 5th 2009 and 5th September 2013 respectively.

We were met by a Barn Owl coming the other way by the bailey bridge, which is always nice. Marching on I showed Hurst Green Pit and the old Whistley pit area, such fond memories of the area in the early 1980's, but even as recent as 2003 when Turtle Dove still purred around that area. Who else remembers the significant numbers of Smew that gathered there before the delightful fishing club got their grubby claws on Hurst Green Pit and trashed in no time at all.

Anyway we saw nothing, but had a nice walk and a chat. Even the Lesser Whitethroat appears to have deserted the car park field.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

A pretty good year so far

April was okay, but nothing to write home about, considering March had us on No2 slot for year to date, April didn't add much beyond the expected.

May which as we know isn't even half way, has blown the doors off. 132 for year to date equals the heady heights of 2012, but we've still got 20 days left and interesting weather heading our way right now.

If we didn't add another species until August we would still have podium positions;

134 in 2012
131 in 2003
129 in 2016

136 in 2012
133 in 2003
129 in 2016

138 in 2012
134 in 2016
133 in 2003

Even an August podium is guaranteed, as we usually see Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, frequently get Pintail and high chance of other waders too, not forgetting an Osprey if everyone keeps looking up.

September should bring Stonechat and maybe a Curlew later in the month, a Ruff would be nice and later still a Brambling?

Frankly if ever the year list total could be smashed we've never been set up better than this, the best years are;

142 - 2012
141 - 1983
140 - 2014 & 2016
139 - 1984
138 - 2010 & 2013

Whilst it has no bearing on the future I've pulled out the numbers of species added from June to Dec from 2008 to 2016

2016 - 11
2015 - 15
2014 - 19
2013 - 13
2012 - 12
2011 - 17
2010 - 19
2009 - 16
2008 - 9

One needs a view of the species seen to get a better picture and I haven't got time to do that, but safe to say it's been a pretty comprehensive first 4 months and 11 days, so there are few gaps, but knowing we haven't had Black-tailed Godwit, Pintail, Stonechat, Curlew, Brambling, Osprey, Spot Fly, to name just a few of the more or less annuals, we have a big opportunity.

Cattle Back

En route from picking my wife up, Brian called saying it's been reported back at Lea Farm, so dropping Emi home Ethan and I headed back pronto.

Meeting many local friends, we headed into the hide and enjoyed a relaxed and happy time soaking up the birds rather relaxed demeanor.

This time I took three shots of the Cattle Egret with my bridge camera and they will do!

This morning the wind direction was right, the conditions were pretty good, cool, but promising. 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 2 Oystercatcher, 3 Lapwing, 2 LRP, 1 Shelduck, 10+ Gadwall, 2 adult Grey Wagtail, was about it at LFGP.

BSL, another Common Sandpiper, the Lesser Whitethroat still noisy in Lavell's car park field.

So a bit of history...

Staying Greenshank is quite uncommon in spring, the only other records which in some cases appeared to involve staying birds are;

1996 Lavell's : May 1/8th, 1/9th, 4/10th, 1/14th, 1/18th
2000 Lea Farm Flash (Now LFGP) : May 9/4th to 6th, 1 or 2/7th
2007 Lavell's : 1/1st, 1/3rd, 1/10th to 15th
2009 LFGP : 1/12th, 1/13th

Little Tern 
1983 9/18th June (FJC & Mike Russell) : heading over North, and driven off over Sandford by Common Tern 07:00
1983 1/18th July (FJC) flying around Sandford 07:20 to 07:30 only
1996 A claim of 1/27th April, no details, or observer
2003 1/15th April BSL (Adam Bassett et al) stayed around all day
2017 1/7th May LFGP 06:34 - 06;41 (FJC), then BSL 06:55 (Ray Reedman) on and off (et al) & Lavell's briefly 12:00 (GSE), not seen after

Spring Black Tern Flocks
1984 : 8/27th April BSL (FJC & Mike Russell) & 8/30th April BSL, 3/17th May (P Andrew, Jo Fuller, Mike Russell & KN)
1990 : 4/5th May BSL (Adam Bassett)
1992 : 4/23rd BSL (Observer Unknown)
2009 : 9/13th May LFGP (BTB) stayed all day and into evening
2017 : 7/1st May LFGP (FJC, Jack & Julie Jones) 06:35 to 06:53, then BSL til 08:00, off high SE.

Spring Wood Sandpiper
1989 : 1/11th May Tern scrape (BTB, BU & John Gunningham)
1991 : 1/27th May Tern scrape (Adam Bassett) with Ruff & Turnstone!!
2017 : 1/4th May Tern scrape (Observer Unknown) awaiting photo

Condition are great from today folks get out there and find stuff

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Mega spring

I have continued my early mornings for quite some time now and those following my blog know this year has been a pretty good one for me.

Today didn't start so amazing, fog in fact, so I couldn't really see anything much. At least the Common Terns were enjoying the new raft nearly 20 all over it, happily squabbling away.

Now fast forward to 10:55 when Derek called to say he had a Cattle Egret at Twyford, but I was heading into my dentist appointment, so couldn't go. When I came out, it had flown off.

A few phone calls later and Adam was telling me Redstart and Whinchat were seen at Little Marlow today. So I thought I should check the car park field.

I had just parked and taken my phone out to find I'd left it on silent from seeing the dentist and just missed a call from Geoff. I called him back and he more or less shouted "I've got a Cattle Egret here at Lea Farm".

Wrestling with calls, WhatsApp messages and driving is near impossible, not much better while trying to run, but I got some messages out on arrival at Ron's hide and calls straight after. I got 2 half okay record shots of my 200th species for my patch...CATTLE beauty!

Sadly it got spooked by the Greylags and Canadas being spooked and off it went around Lodge Wood and gone.

So the big 200 is finally upon me when I suddenly remember we all need to drop Mealy Redpoll, surely not robbed? But lose one add one I got my Taiga Bean Goose 8th December 2010, so am officially on 200. By official I mean my official not Berkshire Rarity Committee, who.....well most of you know how I feel about that.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Tern trio in one week

It's been a busy time since my birthday on the 1st.

Greenshank each day since, but I was not expecting today's mega when I opened the viewing flap at Ron's. I was hoping for a good wader as it is that time, but it was only when I was panning did a small tern pass through my field of view, "what" I thought catching up with it going the other way "wow it's a bloody Little Tern, first since 2003".

It was highly mobile and only in view for 5 minutes before heading off South, I out the news out and marched off to DP. Bumping into 2 RSPB dawn chorus parties I broke the news, but admit I was a bit casual about it.

Not until I got to the sailing club did I begin a proper search and moments later Steve Day was WhatsApp'ing it was in the South Bay.

Later he got this brilliant shot and Geoff even got shots of it on the bund at Tern scrape.

I'll do a synopsis of the 4 records soon, but for now I think I can safely say that I've never had 3 tern species in 6 days in spring before. I am very happy it didn't show up yesterday or I would have been freaking out while away.

This is my 124th species for 2017, level with 2012 and in essence 3 months ahead of all the years in between.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Arctic v's Common again

Over the last 3-4 days I have seen 2-3 individual terns that were going away from me and looked more delicate, with streamers that looked longer. Always the views were too brief and add to that the annual familiarisation all over again and doubt is prevalent.

This morning the wind was back from the North and cold, Lea Farm was quiet, 1 LRP, 1 Lapwing, 1 Oyc, 1 Snipe skulking and trying to steer clear of the Jackdaws patrolling the East shoreline.

Less Common Tern today and I witnessed one Black-headed Gull pummel a Common Tern, it had it by the throat and when they moved to on to the water I thought it might drown it for one moment., but luckily it got away. One Common in front of the hide had a BTO type ring, upside down and I only managed 3 characters 'T06' which I suspect won't give much away about it's origins.

One Grey Wagtail, but no sign of the juvenile.

At BSL it was pretty quiet, a Common Sandpiper flicked by, a Little Egret went over toward Lavell's, I scanned with my scope then realised a tern was on the left hand yellow buoy. It looked good for Arctic Tern so snapped a few pics, but my adapter is now damaged and requires my holding it together, which makes it nearly impossible to keep steady and click. This is the best I got before it left 07:06:

I draw a lot of similarity with the 2004 photo of one

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Back to normal

06:30 today and it was back to quiet times, but it felt like there was potential.

Common Terns are here in numbers now, at least 18, making a good deal of noise, but waders were limited to 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Oyc, 1 Lapwing.

Little happening at the other end, the Lesser Whitethroat still noisy in the car park field.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Predicted joy turns amazing

I was watching the weather forecast for the last 2 days and the forecast said S to SE winds and rain for dawn. I was all set for waders galore!

Peering out of my curtains at 06:00 "err where's the cloud and rain" I said to myself.

A quick peek at BSL, nothing happening but 3 Little Egret upstream from the sailing club bridge and I could hear the Lesser Whitethroat in the car park field.

I called at Jack's and off we set at 06:25 for Lea Farm G.P. As we entered the enclosure I was opening the hide gate and a bird took my attention at the top of an Alder. I binned and got the huge 'super' ..."Whinchat" I pronounced and went to scope while Jack clicked away on his camera.

For about 40-45 seconds there it perched, what a beauty.

And we hadn't even entered the hide!

In we went and quickly scanning the SW corner....there were no waders whatsoever! But 10 seconds later "Black Terns" I shouted ...."5, 6 no 7 Black Terns!"

They were as the species always is, highly active sweeping back and forth over the lake, WhatsApp messages sent, we waited but barely 8 minutes and the tern vanished. Brian arrived and we kept checking just in case they returned. Jack has a few shots I'll share when he sends them over.

At 07:26 I heard the highly distinctive "Tu Tu" and called "Greenshank" as it dropped into the SW corner. Just one half decent shot achieved

Moving on we headed to BSL in case an Arctic Tern or Little Gull was around, no joy but we instantly got on the 7 Black Tern on the West side. Even more mobile they spiraled up to 1000 feet and I lost them heading SE.

A few bursts of Nightingale, lots of Garden Warbler song, Cuckoo in support, all amounted to a special morning for my birthday.

Back from a late afternoon sneaky peek and no massive changes, except a distant Hobby at the South end of BSL leaves no further 'expected' migrants for the year list.