Thursday, 31 December 2009

31st December 2009

My final trip out for the year - locally to Moor Green Lakes.

The usual species you would tend to see at this time of year including 17 Goosander, a few mixed ducks, fair number of gulls and a few Barnacle geese.

Couldn't find the Barn Owl or any Little Owls though!


Thursday, 10 December 2009

6th December 2009 (Theale)

The final NE Hants RSPB trip of the year and when I got up it didn't look very hopeful - there was torrential rain and a howling gale, so first thing was I got soaked taking stuff out to the car.

On arriving at the car park the rain suddenly stopped! A few Redwings around the car park.

We first walked along the west/north-west side of the main pit and under the motorway to view Moatlands. On the west side I could just make out the Peregrine on the far bank on its favourite perch on the electricity pylon. You could only see its head! On the other side of the motorway was a distant Red Kite.

At Moatlands were started searching for the Long-tailed Duck. The usual species were seen and after walking the whole of the southern bank we still couldn't find the duck.

We walked back to the sailing club and then I started searching with my scope to the island we had just left. The Long-tailed Duck was feeding between the island and the southern bank.

I got everyone onto it although the views were in short spurts as the bird was almost continously diving.

We then walked back to the car park for lunch. After lunch we started with 5 people, then it became 4 and then finally 3. The only species of note were 3 Egyptian Geese

Monday, 30 November 2009

Brook (28/11/09)

Got up to a bright and cloudless morning and made my way down to Stockbridge and then Brook. Walked along a path to a house where the Spotted Sandpiper was seen immediately feeding on the lawn of the house.

The bird was showing fairly well so could make out the two toned bill, the yellow legs and just about could make out the unmarked tertials. Later on the bird moved to a better position and then these features could be seen much better.

The bird wagged its tail up and down as it walked about and one of the birders there, in a loud voice, said "see how it bobs its tail up and down - that's definitely a Spotted Sandpiper!". How about that for ID?

One endearing feature was when the bird found a worm it would rush off to the edge of either the river or the stream running through the garden and consume it there.

On the way home I nearly took out a Buzzard which had flown out of a roadside bush.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Wash out Sunday (23/11/09)

Met up with the NE Hants RSPB group for a trip to Pagham, however, the weather was atrocious.

Walked to the hide over Sidlesham Pool and then the rain started. Usual stuff on the pool and surrounding farmland.

We walked around the back of the visitor centre but nothing to be seen so it was decided to go directly over to Church Norton.

At Church Norton we decided to look for Firecrest but in the strongs winds and wet it made it nigh on impossible.

We walked to the hide and then the skies opened and the visibility reduced markedly. At this point I thought that was no fun and decided to go home. I made my excuses and then drove straight home for lunch and a cup of tea.

BTW: Booked a holiday to Brazil next year - my first trip to South America!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

14th November (Moatlands)

On a very blustery day decided to try and see the juv. Long-tailed Duck at Moatlands. Spent the next couple of hours searching for the duck and eventually walked all the way around the lake!

The trouble was about 1/2 way around the heavens opened and I got totally soaked!

I eventually decided to give it up as a bad move and returned to the car. I had a quick conversation with a couple of other birders and it turned out that the bird was viewable from the eastern end (a minutes walk from my car!).

As I was already soaked I walked out to the edge of the lake and there it was loafing near to the island. Oh well, the things I do for birding :-)

Monday, 9 November 2009

Lower Farm GP (08/11/09)

On arrival at the hide the Whooper Swan was seen to be present. Spent most of its time with its head under its wing but a couple of times it raised its head and then could see the bill pattern.

Its head was quite rusty!

Amongst the large numbers of LBB Gulls was an adult Yellow-legged Gull

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Pagham Harbour (25/10/09)

I unpleasantly windy day at Pagham where I visited the east side with my mum and dad. Plenty of waders in the harbour and a fair number of Little Egrets. The highlight was a juvenile Spoonbill roosting with 6 Little Egrets and 3 Grey Herons. It was mostly asleep but did poke it's head out a couple of times - but not when my mum was looking!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

18th October (Farlington/Hayling Oyster Beds)

Today was the North-East Hants RSPB group trip to the above sites.

Not a bad day starting with a good high tide roost on the lake in which the best birds were 4 Greenshank.

At least 4 different Water Rails were around the margins of the reeds, however, the highlight were about 50 Bearded Tits showing extremely well and calling constantly in the reeds right in front of the main path. Basically appeared to be mainly adults with the odd juvenile.

Walking around the reserver in a counter-clockwise direction there was a roost of 25 Little Egrets in the harbour (although lots of other birds were seens further around the walk).

As we reached the point I heard a Dartford Warbler and then one of our group said, "There it is". Unlike most Dartford Warblers this one was sitting right at the top of a bush, preening. It stayed there for a a good time but because the group was all strung out not everyone saw it.

However, their luck was in as it was seen sitting at the top of another bush, this time much further away but at least everyone got to see it (I think!).

The rest of the walk consisted of standard fare for Farlington although I did try and string a Garganey!

There were at least 4 Clouded Yellows around the reserve, at least one of which, I managed to photograph.

We then drove around to Hayling Island for lunch and then had a walk around the oyster beds. Highlights included a male Blackcap, a very obliging Lesser Whitethroat and a group of Red-breasted Mergansers fishing in one of the ponds.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

13th October (update for 11th October)

Wow! Turns out that the Red-backed Shrike at Staines Moor is in fact a Brown Shrike (I was correct in my original thought that it was a 1st winter not a juvenile bird!)

I went back to have a better look today and the number of birders had grown considerably - about 200-300 present.

The bird was showing intermittently so I managed to see some of it's features and got some rather crap pictures.

I did note the long graduated tail and other features that the information on the web described.

I look forward to reading a more in depth identification paper - hopefully in Birding World.

Monday, 12 October 2009

11th October (Staines Moor)

Back to Staines for the second weekend running. This time the weather was bloody awful - very overcast with constant drizzle. A small group of birders were huddled around but not looking particularly hard.

I, therefore, had a walk around and eventually somebody spotted the bird disappearing into a nearby bush. While waiting for the bird to re-appear, 2 Rose-ringed Parakeets flew over calling.

I decided to look around the opposite side that everyone else was looking and while I was there another birder suddenly got onto the bird.

In awful visibility I managed some rear scope views of the juv/1w Red-backed Shrike. After making sure I had seen the bird I returned to where the other birders were and got much better views.

Noted, the horn bill with a dark tip, fairly striking bandit mask, reddish tail (1w not juv?), faint barring on underparts and buff edges to tertials.

On the way back to the car a flock of 6 and then a flock of 7 Rose-ringed Parakeets flew over.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Staines Reservoir (04/10/09)

A quick jaunt down to the reservoir and the juv. Red-necked Grebe was picked up distantly on the north basin. It was mostly asleep but did show occasionally - noted the residual striping on the head, yellowish bill and smoky neck.

Also 2 winter plumage Black-necked Grebes showing extremely well next to the causeway on the south basin.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

14th September (Cley/Titchwell)

A much windier and nastier day than yesterday. Had a pre-breakfast seawatch from Cley coastguards and recorded:

Lots of Gannets
7 Bonxies
11 Kittiwakes
6 Wigeon
1 Sooty Shearwater (west)
1 Arctic Skua

After breakfast drove to Titchwell to meet up with the RSPB group. Titchwell was very disappointing, probably due to the work being done there. The best birds were Marsh Harrier, Water Rail, 3 Little Stints and a few Bar-tailed Godwits.

I accidently dropped my telescope in the sand :-( but have managed to clean it fairly well.

I then drove home to try and beat the traffic but still ended up at a standstill on the M25 in the roadworks.

94 species over 3 days wasn't bad and I didn't do that much twitching!

13th September (Cley and Stiffkey Fen)

Had a pre-breakfast seawatch at Cley coastguards which resulted in the following:

Lots of Gannets
A few Common Scoter
2 diver sp. east
2 Bonxies (one in the company of a Gannet)
1 Manx Shearwater
1 Arctic Skua

After breakfast met up with the NE Hants RSPB group at Cley. A walk around the reserve produced a couple of Curlew Sandpipers, a Little Stint, Green Sandpiper, distant Hobby. One the sea were are fair number of Gannets and lots of Common Scoter (c150). One Manx Shearwater flew distantly east, 1 Bonxie, 2 Arctic Skuas and 2 Kittiwakes. A Guillemot was close inshore.

After Cley went over to Stiffkey Fen where saw the juv. Red-necked Phalarope. The gold and brown striped back and needle sharp bill were noted. One of the local Greylag Geese didn't like the bird very much and kept swimming after it.

Also at the fen was a Snow Goose and 3 Greenshank.

I then returned to Cley east bank where the weather was amazingly calm - the sea was like a mill pond (I've never seen North Norfolk like this!). Managed a Red-throated Diver flying west and the two drake Scaup were still on Arnold's Marsh. Also one Common Seal offshore. A Water Rail was loudly squealling in the ditch on the reserver side of the bank but it didn't show.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Cley/Blakeney Point (12/09/09)

Having finished the first part of the trip I now drove up to north Norfolk and to Cley. I started by walking down the east bank and along the shingle ridge to coastguards. Best of the birds on the way round were a Spotted Redshank, Knot and 2 drake Scaup on Arnold's Marsh. Offshore were 7 Gannets.

While seawatching at coastguards another birder walked up to me and enquired whether I had come back from Blakeney Point. I said I hadn't and he said that were one (possibly two) Red-breasted Flycatchers at the point along with a Pied Flycatcher.

I asked if I could tag along and the chap's name, who was Michael, said no problem. Having someone to walk the walk to Blakeney Point helps because it is one of the worst bird walks in the UK (3.5 miles of sand and shingle, there and back).

We didn't hang around birding but made straight for the lupins where I managed to pick up the first Red-breasted Flycatcher in brambles above the lupins. I noted the dark legs, short tail, white eye-ring and pinkish orange flush to the breast. It occasionally flicked its tail.

I then made my way over to where other birders had gathered, expecting the other Red-breasted Flycatcher, but was told they had a Booted Warbler! The bird showed on and off in the scrub and was seen to be a pale warbler like a sturdy Chiffchaff but with with a strong bill and quite a thick eye stripe and white edges to tail feathers. I managed to get a few shots which will feature on this blog shortly.

I had a look at the Pied Flycatcher which was in the Plantation and then all that remained was to walk back to Cley coastguards and walk back to the car to drive to the B&B.

Suffolk/Norfolk (12/09/09)

Left home at 4.40am and found that the best part of the M3 and M25 that I was travelling around was roadworks and unbelievably I managed to grind to a halt on the M25 at 6.00am in the morning :-(

I quite easily found my first stop which was Boyton Marshes and almost immediately got onto the Glossy Ibis on the right side of the track. It was seen to be loosely in the company of a Little Egret. Walked down to the sea wall to get a better view and the bird eventually flew to the left hand side of the path.

On the sea wall a warbler lurking in some brambles was a female Whitethroat. A Buzzard flew through before I left.

Next stop was Staverton Lakes but despite searching I only managed to find one Emerald dragonfly but have yet to identify it.

There was a Blue-tailed Damselfly and a couple of Migrant Hawkers. At one point I had a Kingfisher hovering like a giant hummingbird over one of the streams.

Next stop was the River Deben and this time I got lucky. In the sunny patches along the river I managed to find a Southern Hawker and at least 7 Willow Emeralds. Some crashing through the undergrowth on the other side of the river revealed a Muntjac Deer.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

IBM Lake/Farlington Marshes (31st August)

When I actually managed to find the site I had a walk around the lake where the Blue-winged Teal (juv.) was showing very well. At first it was asleep but then woke up when two Buzzards flew low over.

The bird was quite grey in its colouring with a farily large dark grey bill, pale eye ring, white loral spot, and diffuse eye stripe. Also noted yellow legs (which were un-ringed) and at one point it flew out of the water onto the bank where could see the large blue-grey patches on the wing coverts.

Around the lake were a lot of Blue-tailed Damselflies, a couple of Azure Damselflies and a couple of Common Darters. Also 4 or 5 unidentified hawkers which I have photographed and will appear later on this blog.

I then went to Farlington Marshes as I was nearby. I walked clockwise and met some people I know about 1/5th of the way around. I asked what was about and they surprised me by saying there was a Grey Phalarope present.

I continued walking and managed to pick up a distant Osprey perched on a low post in the harbour. When I reached "The Deeps" there was no sign of the phalarope, but suddenly it appeared. The dark eye smudge, dark line down its neck to the mantle and grey upperparts were indicating an adult rather than a juv./1st winter.

There were a couple of Wheatears on the central fence and a distant chat which could have been a Whinchat, however, further around there were definitely 2 Whinchats on the fence at the back of the main lake.

Farmoor Reservoir (30th August)

Had to go for this one. Two rare terns and a back-up tern.

On arrival picked up the three terns on the north basin and, amazingly, they were all together so it was possible to all three in a scope at the same time.

The terns were (in order of rarity): American Black Tern, White-winged Black Tern and Black Tern. They were quite easy to distinguish.

a. The American Black Tern was a distinctly darker bird to the Black Tern with the upper wing being extremely dark with a obvious dark band on the leading edge to the wing. Also there was distinctive dark smudge on the flanks. At rest it was more difficult to discern from the Black Tern but still looked darker. It appeared to be a slightly bigger bird but that may have been to its wings which looked longer.

b. The Black Tern could be picked out basically being lighter than the American Black Tern without the smudge on the flanks.

c. The White-winged Black Tern was a disinctly larger and paler bird with silvery upper wings, whitish tail and lacking the conspicuous mark on the neck which the Black Tern has. Also the brownish mantle was quite obvious.

Keyhaven/Pennington Marsh (28/08/09)

A very windy day on the coast which started with the Cattle Egret showing extremely well on the lower balancing lake roosting with ducks. Noted the off white plumage, dagger like bill with darker tip and shaggy beard!

The usual waders to be expected from this area but only small numbers and the worst thing was that the Red-necked Phalarope had gone. A single Wigeon was seen on the fish-tail lagoon.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Oare Marshes (16th August [pictures 1])

1. imm. Ruddy Darter, 2. adult Ruddy Darter, 3. female Common Blue,
4. male Common Blue, 5. Little Egret

RSPB trip to Oare Marshes (16th August)

A very pleasant day out with the group despite the place being absolutely heaving with people (most dog walkers!)

A fair selection of species around the reserve with good numbers of godwits and early on a large flock of Golden Plover, lots still in breeding plumage. There was a small roose of Little Egrets (c20) on the west flood. Other waders included 3 Greenshank, Ruff, Snipe, 5 Curlew Sandpipers, a few Avocets, 2 Knot. I missed out on the Wood Sandpipers that were seen briefly early on and then again in the afternoon, however, I did see a distant Peregrine over the Isle of Sheppey.

Bird of the day must go down to the adult male Hen Harrier seen flying over the fields to the south of the reserve.

Other good species included several Yellow Wagtails but nearly all were seen in flight, 2 Turtle Doves (one showing reasonably well from the West Hide) and in the afternoon 2 Hobbies.

The best of the butterflies was a Clouded Yellow.

Dragonflies/damselflies included: lots of Ruddy Darters, Common Darter, Common Hawker, Blue-tailed Damselfly.

Fungi at Little Marlow GP (10th August)

Thursley Common (9th August photos)

1. White-legged Damselfly, 2. Keeled Skimmer, 3. imm. Common Darter
4. Raft Spider, 5. Brown Hawker (ovipositing)

Thursley Common (9th August)

A trip for dragonflies/damselflies revealed:

1 or 2 late White-legged Damselflies
2 Small Red Damselflies
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Brown Hawker (ovipositing)
1 Four-spotted Chaser
Lots Keeled Skimmers
Common Darter
2 Black Darters

I also saw a Raft Spider.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Farlington Marshes

No sign of the Spotted Crake on the lagoon but a very white Ruff there as well as 2 Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpipers, lots of Redshanks and Black-tailed Godwits and a few Dunlin. Then went for a walk around the reserve and picked up 41 Little Egrets and 13 Whimbrel. A juvenile Swallow perched very close to me on a gate and then flew into a bush when I approached. Went back to the lagoon and eventually the Spotted Crake showed quite well walking through the reeds and occasionally venturing out. Bizarrely it then went into a mad moment, dashing here and there and trying to fly up onto the reeds - weird! Noted the buff undertail and white leading edge to wing.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Little Marlow GP

My first Ruddy Darter of the year from the overgrown path

2nd August (various sites)

Started off at Woolhampton GP's but there was little bird life - yet again no Turtle Dove. It was better with the dragonflies/damselflies with Common Blue Damselfly, 2x Black-tailed Skimmer, 6 or 7 Common Darters and best of all a Migrant Hawker (see left)

Next onto Padworth Lane to see if the Cattle Egret had returned - it hadn't. There was a Brown Hawker here.

Next was Burnthouse Lane but it was so overgrown and the water so restricted that it was difficult to see any interesting birds. A Red Kite did fly fairly low over the area.

Lastly onto Moor Green Lakes where there was a nice little selection of waders including Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper, a Dunlin and best of all a Little Stint.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

28th July (Moor Green Lakes)

Went to the lakes on the way home from work, however, only had my binoculars with me. Luckily there were a couple of people with scopes, but the birds they were looking at were all Green Sandpipers.

I then decided to move my car elsewhere so it didn't get locked in the car park. Once I got back to the new workings I joined Marek and pointed at a bird in the far distance which he identified as the bird, a Wood Sandpiper - I had a brief look through his scope.

We then tried to see if we could see it from the path to no avail. We then organised a quick fence hop with everyone who was present and managed to see the bird quite well. The gangly look, obvious supercilium and spangly back was seen fairly well.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Little Marlow GP

Lunch time visit yielded the following damselflies/dragonflies:

Common Blue Damselfly
Red-eyed Damselfly
3 Brown Hawkers
Blue-tailed Dragonfly
female Common Darter
Azure Damselfly
Large Red Damselfly

Reading the literature I believe there was an adult Caspian Gull preening on the sand spit with Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Monday, 13 July 2009

NE Hants RSPB Group visit to Titchfield Haven (12th July)

A bright but breezy day dawned.

First stop was a brief visit to Farlington Marshes but the water level was too high on the lake and the tide was out so little or no waders.

Then proceeded to Titchfield Haven to wait for the rest of the group. Spent that time scanning the Solent but there was a distinct lack of terns.

Once the group arrived we paid for our permits and then proceeded round the hides on the west side.

A fair selection of species including a juv. Water Rail from the road, 2 adult and 1 2nd summer Mediterranean Gulls, a distant Buzzard and best of all a Garganey from Spurgin Hide - I thought it was a eclipse male.

Dragonflies/damselflies included:
Four-spotted chaser
Common Blue Damselfly
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Azure Damselfly

We returned to the cars for lunch and then went round the hides on the east side. A brief view of a fox from the first hide and then I returned to the car to go home as I was so tired.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Little Marlow GP (29th June)

Usual dragonflies/damselflies but also my first Brown Hawker of the year

Hatchet Pond (28th June)

A fairly successful trip for dragonflies/damselflies. I recorded the following:

Large Red Damselfly
Small Red Damselfly (x2)
Southern Damselfly (x1)
Azure Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Red-eyed Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly (x2)
Downy Emerald (4 or 5)
Four-spotted Chaser
Black-tailed Skimmer
Keeled Skimmer
imm. male Common Darter (x2)

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Bricksbury Hill (NE Hants RSPB trip)

Photos from 21st June

Variable Damselfly
Keeled Skimmer

Small Magpie, 2x Scarce Chaser

Photo from 19th June

Unknown damselfly

Fledgling Wren

Photos from 14th June

Hairy Dragonfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Azure Damselfly

Photos from 13th June

White-legged Damselfly, Sundew, Blue-tailed Damselfly