Saturday, 28 October 2017

At last

I feel like singing Etta James 'At Last'

For I have finally seen my Hawfinch for sure. My pain began again 19th October after seeing a probable over, bins not around my neck. But the pain began in October 13th 2010, when I saw a robust and short tailed bird moving over the car park field quickly North, I panicked and tried to get my scope on it, but failed.

So after 7 years and 9 days of possibles and probables, 2 went quickly and a little excruciatingly brief silhouette views as they 'bombed' across the DAC car park at 07:56. John and I went on a recky across the golf course and whilst we had 2 Redpoll, 13+ Siskin, 200+ Redwing, 20+ Fieldfare and a few other LBJ's, no further sign.

Back to usual protocol we camped up at the bottom of the car park field and witnessed fairly big Redwing passage of around another 200-300, another 100 Fieldfare, 6-8 Meadow Pipit  lingering still, more LBJ's and then as it got close to my sessions end, I got onto a group of bulky birds, quickly focusing I couldn't believe my eyes and blurted out "it's a whole flock of Hawfinch over the big Poplar", for a second they whirled in the air as if to land, revealing their short tails and large wing bars, but kept going onward over the Loddon, allowing a pretty good count estimate of 13-15 birds.

We're back out there tomorrow on the hope another group comes over and lands for a record shot!

Monday, 23 October 2017

Lots to report

In reverse order...

Today I went to meet the contractor again for the daily update and instructions, to guide the final stages of digging.

And before I even got to him a lovely male Wheatear was jumping around the Tern Meadow piles of soil, my latest by about 2 weeks, but 3 days shy of the latest.

Still small handfuls of Meadow Pipit are pinging about, perhaps the newly arrived sheep will move them on? Redwings are here in numbers, but not big numbers. This morning there were many small groups of finches going over, mostly South, or SW, but as is often the case, so few are seen close and well enough to ID, I'm sure I heard 1 Linnet, various Chaffinch, then a distant larger thrush may have been a Fieldfare, but it didn't seem to drag it's tail enough so was probably a Mistle.

Over the last week a lot has happened, 17th I  had what was almost certainly a Woodlark over, annoyingly just too East to be totally 100% sure, but I'm sure enough to add it to the year list. Same day 4-5 Mipits, 3 Skylark, 3+ Redpoll, 14 Siskin alighted the Willows late afternoon.

Mid morning 19th I was in the car park having a meeting, when a stocky short tailed finch went over West, 99% certain this was a Hawfinch and today John McGowan had a 100% one looking West from the Loddon near the green bridge, perched for 20 seconds, so we certainly are sharing in the UK invasion this winter.

20th Geoff picked up 2 Stonechat, Trevor made that 3 by late afternoon, next day Richard had 2 Mandarin, I had 2 Redpoll, 1 Siskin and a Peregrine over East low, Richard picking up 2 Green Sandpiper later.

Later still I heard rumours of Marsh Tit on the feeders, but as it stands I have no confidence in the report as Coal Tit is being seen daily at Bittern feeders.

22nd Richard found 2 Stonechat again, it's been days since I've been near Lea Farm and I feel out of touch.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Missing out?

With my hectic schedule I could not patch on Friday, Saturday, or even Sunday mornings and with so many Hawfinch being seen in neighbouring counties I felt the chance slipping away.

Same yesterday and today, potential maybe but with small birds firing in every direction and not enough time, still nothing to be certain about.

That said this morning offered some potential, 30+ Redwing around, 2 small groups of Lesser Redpoll, 3 Skylark, then annoyingly a shorter tailed lark - probably Woodlark went over South, but too far East to get onto properly due to the light and distance. Then also annoyingly 2 hirundines most likely House Martin fired thru over the landfill, but I lost them behind the nearby big Willow.

By late afternoon 14-15 Siskin landed in the trees behind Tern Meadow.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

LBJ's continue

Time has been unsparing for me recently, the mornings offer the most sparse chance to bird before work and family obligations call, so the last 2-3 mornings I've failed.

I managed 20 minutes whilst waiting for Simon from DPCS in the car park and 150+ Redwing went thru North and NW.

Yesterday Alan called with news of a fairly brief view of a Tit that he expected to be a Coal, but turned out to be either a Marsh, or Willow.

Now, we will never know which it was for sure, but given the utter population crash of Willow, on balance it would seem logical to assume Marsh was most likely. Oddly enough there have been very few Marsh reports since 1987 that warrant serious belief of their authenticity, but perhaps that's just my opinion.

Today I managed an hour around Bittern hide and the car park field, 140+ Wigeon, Water Rail heard, 1 Chiffchaff, one moment a pipit looped in and out, but kept going. The landfill was busy, 35+ Meadow Pipit up when a Kestrel came over, a few groups of LBJ's just one proven to be 4 Linnet, plus 1 back the other way, 4-5 Skylark over and around, 4 Siskin West, Coal Tit by the footbridge and heard near the style 20 minutes later.

By now a typical year in recent times we'd be seeing a slowing of Meadow Pipit passage, so it's either carrying on, or the landfill is just holding on to more birds that bit longer. A few on the wires kept us busy checking...just to be sure.

Monday, 9 October 2017

High expectations

With LBJ's coming over most mornings, I've been feeling like something big might be about to happen. I might just be an optimist and you need to be to patch quiet old inland Berkshire, but we have to have our wits about us to not miss a tiny window of opportunity for a good bird.

I have a company meeting to attend each first Saturday which now means I leave before it is light and pre work visits are down to about 35-40 minutes, so week day chances are diminishing each day.

But take this morning.11 Redwing over West 07:13, Peregrine North 07:27, then 2+ Redwing more heard only, then 15 dropped in the car park field itself 07:29. 5 Reed Bunting over (2 + 3) South, 8 Chaffinch (3 + 5) West, 1 Lesser Redpoll South 07:32 and circa 15 Meadow Pipit over the landfill. That did not include a number of flocks of finch sp, 6-10 in each group, too far to identify.

Sunday was similar, 2 Redwing, 30+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Mistle Thrush, 10 finch sp East, 1 Siskin West - my first of the autumn. At Lavell's 121 Wigeon, then LFGP 4 Snipe, 3 Little Egret & Garganey, 28 Pochard Sandford.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

A little lunchtime peek

After taking a lie in this morning, I felt obliged to pop down to LFGP before meeting the digging contractor at 13:00.

The Garganey was totally asleep, the Wheatear was bouncing about along the East shore and over 25 Meadow Pipit pinging about over the landfill, appearing upset at the presence of low flying Red Kite.

2+ Snipe were hiding in the lovely cropped East shore, 2 Little Egret present, various Shoveler, Lapwing, Teal and Gadwall.

My site visit pushed off the Wigeon from Lavell's, but I am not upset or feel like apologizing as we are planning exciting improvements, with luck ones that will go ahead in the next 2 weeks and bring 1300 square metres more of Phragmites reed, a newly replenished scrape with green energy irrigation system and a wonderful wet grass meadow, which will no doubt appeal to Little Egret, Snipe, Water Rail, maybe the odd crake, Jack Snipe and hopefully in spring Redshank, Oystercatcher and who knows what?