Tuesday, 26 September 2017


No I'm not quoting Bowie...yesterday it was raining quite hard when I got out, trudging through big puddles and mud along the Loddon path. 3 Green Sandpiper and a lone Snipe were barely visible and it felt the weather should have produced more worthy of excitement.

Today clear but grey and an untimely and infrequent snooze put me 10+ minutes later than normal, by which time Marek had already found a Garganey, still I was only 8 minutes behind him and it was still sat in the SW corner when I got there.

3 Green Sandpiper and the same Snipe again in the SW corner.

Later in the day Richard et al had a Marsh Harrier over North, 2 days off my 24th 2005 bird. This got me checking 2005 and it blew my mind to rediscover the month total - 74! Good grief what were we playing at, look at how things have changed;

104 in 2012 & 2015
102 in 2016
99 in 2017
97 in 2010
96 in 2014
95 in 2008  & 2011
92 in 2013
90 in 2009
83 in 2007
81 in 2006
75 in 2004
74 in 2005

25 species difference for this year, 30 off for the record species count, are we covering the patch so much better now? Probably, I believe knowing what species occur focuses the mind to confirming them and a by product is more get seen. Maybe LFGP has and is continuing to add a variety of species on the whole, but this September has been bereft of waders, so perhaps that isn't totally true either.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Off patch Phalarope

Trev said the Red-necked was still at Farmoor and offered the lift, so why not I thought.

It was 40 feet away...but moving all the time so darn hard to capture in focus

More year ticks

I was busy on the morning of 19th and that's when Marek found the first Stonechat of the year, there may have been 2? I got there around 14:00 and luckily a male was still on show in the Phragmites ditch way off.

103 Shoveler were also present, so numbers are nearing the records of 130+ 22nd Jan 2005 and not far off the highest count of 146 in Dec 2016.

And despite being there each day, nothing much has happened, 24+ Mistle Thrushes still 17th was last big count, the odd Mandarin, no waders to speak of on LFGP.

Thursday 21st brought the first frost of the autumn.

Yesterday it was foggy but despite this a duck went over me quickly at Lavell's heading for Sandford, so in view for about 3-4 seconds, as it flanked I could see it had a long neck, sharp wings, pointed rear and was light brown with very pale below - a female Pintail, I never saw it again.

The views at Sandford were pleasant all the same.

Today, I checked Sandford first, 92 Shoveler, 3 Teal, 4 Gadwall, LFGP : 38 Shoveler, 27 Gadwall, 24 Teal, 2 Mandarin, 1 Green Sandpiper, Lavell's: 70 Gadwall, 5 Shoveler, 4 Teal, 35 Wigeon, 2 Water Rail heard again. Wigeon and Gadwall teasing me again for a nice shot.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Retrospective year tick

All week I've been watching Meadow Pipits go over, from every angle and their characteristics are very familiar. Meadow occur from early September and in recent years always on and over the landfill, their flitting jerky flight unmistakable.

So when the three pipits flew from the trees near the DAC last Sunday (10th), landing in the tops of trees twice and not at the top, within the top I think that was good reason to suspect something. The first autumn passage of Meadow Pipit began the day before, 7 went over that morning in the typical style, 3, 1, 1 & a 2, the odd call and never stopping.

But the 3 on the golf course did not do this and no pipit since that day has done so either. My conclusion is that they were Tree Pipits. And while some, most or even the majority may laugh, I am including them on my 2017 year list.

Since Thursday I have seen a good few more Meadow Pipit, c100 today. Hirundines have been around in numbers too 500-700 in the last 3 days, few today. Hobby has been on offer most mornings around 07:00 too.

Dawn was very pleasant today, 30-40 Mipits thru by 06:45, another 70-80 off the landfill 08:00, still 15+ Mistle Thrush, Hobby, then John found the another Spotted Flycatcher, on the big Hawthorn once again, my 7th this autumn. And where are the Redstart? It worrying me!

A notable increase in Song Thrush, 5-6 car park field alone.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Pipits spike

Nothing to get too excited about, but before it was proper light I got onto something jumping around the track beyond and left of the shingle island. After 10 minutes of gradual sunrise, it was obvious it was a Wheatear and I just love Wheatear.

I could see pockets of pipits, 14 at one time rising over the landfill, so did a quick Mandarin head count....3 then left, but not before clocking 3 small birds, 2 were mipits, 1 seemed too stubby and could have been a chat.

At BSL nothing much to say, another 9-10 Mipits over, but 700+ hirundines was quite a nice sight.

Marek and checked the behind the DAC and 1, then a 2nd Spotted Flycatcher sat in the sun for a few moments;

3 Grey Wagtail went over as we walked up the car park field, 40+ more mipits went over. I went back for 30 mins at lunchtime and another 40+ mipits went over.

DP records show Siskin could occur any day now, with NW wind cooling down perhaps it's tomorrow?

Wednesday, 13 September 2017


Richard WhatsApp'd the Spot Fly still at Sandford and an hour later I called to ask if it was still there and where to look. I was there not long after and got it in flight,but the wind had yet to die down so it wasn't easy.

Moments later he called me saying "I've got one on the big Hawthorn" I'm there I said and left, moments later we had it in my scope, but moments after that it flew over SE and kept going.

"Might as well check the landfill while we're here" I said, raising my bins at a large bird hovering over Lavell's to our left, I said "Osprey" and instantly got it in the scope. As it headed left we moved quickly to the car park field and got back on to it as it came over Bittern hide, over the nearest end of Sandford and Black Swan, where it slowed up had a good peer down and kept going.

So if Richard hadn't found the 2nd Spot Fly I wouldn't have gone there and not seen the Osprey, funny thing birding.

It's my 4th ever and I have seen 3 of them stood in the car park and now this one a mere 250 metres from it. A nice species to mark my 130th for 2017.

Winds of change

Yesterday felt like it had potential, but nothing much happened. LFGP 41 Shoveler, c20 each Gadwall & Teal, no waders again.

Straight on to BSL DAC area, 9 Meadow Pipit thru South, then as I crossed the car park toward the landfill 2 small brown birds - not pipits flitted over and were goen, I am convinced they were Spotted Flycatcher. Onto my look over the landfill 2 Raven came in from the West as often happens, but these are the first since my 4 over on 4th June, am sure they are being overlooked, or passing too far North to be noticed.

A few more Mipits over was it for me. Spotted Flycatcher was caught up with by Steve and a few others on the West side of Sandford later.

Today, I was out early in hope of a phalarope due to the Billingbear Grey yetserday, no such luck of course, so I counted the wildfowl.

Gadwall : 156 - 32 LFGP, 58 BSL, 66 Lavell's I expect there were more as I did not check the South end, or West side of BSL, WSL, Middle Marsh, WSL, West end Lavell's, or Tufties Corner.

Wigeon : 13 Lavell's

Shoveler : 60 - 47 LFGP, 13 Lavell's again probably more

Teal : 18 - more around somewhere

Mandarin : 2 LFGP

At the balancing pool a Hobby was doing a few dives, overhead 250-300 mixed hirundines.

Maybe as the winds die down, more stuff will show up today and if calmer tomorrow maybe that elusive Redstart and Stonechat might appear?

Monday, 11 September 2017

waders anyone?

It was a bit blowy with showers on arrival at Lea Farm GP at 06:20, very little happening, 18 Shoveler, 16 Gadwall, 14 Teal, no waders at all. I could see small birds on the move, 2-3 pipits, 4+ unidentified small jobs, probably finches. 2 distant Sparrowhawk were clearly together.

Quickly moving on, but Sandford was empty.

BSL, things were looking up, 400-500+ hundred mixed hirundines, but too showery to search for late Swift. Looking behind the DAC, 5 Chiffchaff, 1-2 Blackcap, just 7 Mistle Thrush.

More small jobs over and 1 was a pipit, 5+ seemed to suggest Chaffinch, then another group of 6-7, not sure I've had Chaffinch on the move this early, or in a Southerly direction at this time of year?

With some wader habitat it is a bit bizarre no waders, apart from Lapwing and the odd Green Sandpipe are showing up. It needs to settle down again for any chance of a Redstart, but I am not sure that is likely in the next 2-3 days?

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Golf course antics

With the fun of Mistle Thrush counting still in mind, I arrived late after 07:30, John & Eddie already out there. Quickly we began counting, but as always they hide in the trees above the DAC. At least 5-6 there already a large group headed that way, certainly 17 of them, then another, then 1 more, so at the minimum 25 and we couldn't be sure of the number at the DAC, 5 Meadow Pipit went over, just a couple of calls giving them away.

I have decided I have neglected the gold course due to dog walkers phobia and after yesterday's Spotted Flycatcher, another look seemed the right thing to do. Off we went, but nothing doing, then on the way back 3 slim brown birds undulated past us, then headed up along the Emm Brook treeline.

Hmmm I thought, they rather favoured the trees, not right for Dunnock, too undulating a flight, too slim, they had vanished into the tops of trees 150-200 metres South and despite an early thought of Spotted Flycatchers, they did not alight the tops and never looked right.

We picked up one again hugging the treeline, but lost it and never re-found them. With Meadow Pipit going over we discussed the likelihood of them being that, but my instinct says that with ALL the other Meadows going straight over and calling, I feel Tree Pipit was much more likely....and bloody annoying it is to not clinch them.

The Swift the chaps had remained overhead, so always nice and getting into the top 5 latest;

21st 1992 (AJ)
14th 2008
12th 2015
11th 2002
10th 2010 & 2017
8th 2002

All the others are 1st to 4th.

Nothing else really happening, lots of mostly House Martins, probably 500+

Saturday, 9 September 2017

A special morning

I had a lovely lie in til 06:25 and then hurried out as it was still and bright with some cloud cover, I decided the Mistle Thrush record count might be breakable and headed straight to BSL.

No sign on arrival, actually quiet, just barely 50 House Martin over the lake, nothing in the compound either. For some reason I thought perhaps they are further up the golf course "they flew in from that direction yesterday".

I walked about 250-300m and spotted some Mistle Thrush another 200m+ ahead around the electric wires, but barely stepped another foot when a slender brown bird flew across me 100m away and landed in the trees above the Emm Brook, thru bins I strained to see what it was half thinking "pipit?", but it sat up and the penny dropped, "Spotted Flycatcher, finally", my phone began ringing,  I knew it was John but wanted the bird in my scope, but in the scramble, the bird moved unseen and I missed his call.

I called back and he said come quick the Black-tailed Godwit left but has just come back at Tern scrape. Some moments later and I was watching it, nice too.

It was nervous about hassle from Coots and Moorhen and left towards Lea Farm, John and I headed there. Joined by Brian, we had no sign and bright sun in our eyes to the East. After nearly 30 minutes I picked up something fast in flight, "Black-tailed Godwit" as it whirled in fast. Panning around I picked up 4 small birds, 3 were the autumn's first Meadow Pipit, but one flicked it's tail and alighted a thistle, it was a Whinchat, my fifth this year, fourth of the autumn...blimey.

Jack and his dad arrived and quickly got on the birds, a Skylark flicked over the rough, a Sedge Warbler to the left, 3 Nuthatch on the feeders.

Brian suddenly said, "there's 2, no 3 Black-tailed's" sure enough now 3 in the SW corner, all as Richard and Gill walked in. Terrible shot...

I wanted more still, "car park field?" I said and John, Brian, Jack and Martin all joined us and off we went. John and I checked well, nothing on the landfill at that end, the car park field took patience and a Lesser Whitethroat, another Sedge and about 8-10 Blackcap and a few Chiffchaff were never easy to see.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Of all the months

August left and I am now worried I am running out of time to get a Spotted Flycatcher and a Redstart. Looking out of my window right now it appears sort of quieter and we need it to be more settled to get the above. It's not over yet, but let's look at last bird dates;


2016 - Sept 11th
2015 - Sept 3rd
2014 - Sept 2nd
2013 - Sept 5th to 10th
2012 - Sept 15th to 18th
2011 - Sept 14th & 27th
2010 - Sept 10th
2009 - Sept 15th, 20th to 25th

Spotted Flycatcher

2016 - Sept 16th to 18th
2015 - Sept 13th & 16th
2014 - Sept 12th & 18th
2013 - Sept 23rd
2012 - Sept 11th to 26th
2011 - Sept 11th & 27th
2010 - Sept 5th to 8th & 20th
2009 - Sept 15th, 20th to 25th
2004 - Sept 6th & 8th

Make of that what you please.

But either way, of all the months to not add a year tick, amazingly August was mine this year, which is quite unusual and I 'll need to dig beyond 2012 to find when that last happened, if ever.