Friday, 31 December 2010

Moor Green Lakes (31/12/10)

My final bird trip of the year was to have a walk around the lakes.

There were 11 red-head and 6 drake Goosanders around the reserve, a flock of about 50 Redpolls on the path to the hide from the car park, a selection of gulls loading on the ice and then best of all a Little Owl (185) by the paddock next to Horseshoe Lake and a pair of Red-creasted Pochards (186) on Horseshoe Lake.

I dropped in on Edenfield CP on the way back but the CP isn't finished and the gate was locked anyway.

Freemans Marsh, Hungerford (30/12/10)

I got home about lunch time from Mum & Dads and decided to make the 40 mile trip to Hungerford. I'm glad I went!

Walked over the canal then over to the stream and the Glossy Ibis (184) was seen immediately showing fantastically well on the stream. Sometimes the bird was within about 6 feet. I wish I had brought my good camera but had to make do with my little point and shoot.

I had a good hunt around for any Jack Snipe but couldn't find any.

Other nice birds here were a fly-over Red Kite, lots of Redwings, a Green Sandpiper (heard), Little Egret and a Kingfisher.

I then went over to Great Shefford but the location for the Great White Egret only held a couple of Little Egrets.

I continued on the road to Welford to try for the Dipper but only managed to see a Grey Wagtail. I understand the Dipper was seen very late on at about 4pm.

I drove back to Great Shefford to find the Little Egrets now tallied 3. I got back into the car and was just going to leave for home when I glanced over the field and noticed the Great White Egret had suddenly appeared. I got back out of the car and viewed the bird and got some terrible photos with muy point-and-shoot camera.

Drove back home with the car making quite a racket - need to take it to the garage tomorrow!!!

Littlehampton East Beach (29/12/10)

An extremely murky day with very low cloud/fog made for viewing extremely difficult. Managed a few Turnstones but not much else. No Med. Gulls on Mews Park Lake

Mini-Sussex Tour (27/12/10)

Tour started at Burpham, then Rackham, then Lancing and finally Worthing.

Highlights were:

1. 28 Bewick's Swans (182) were feeding with a few Mute Swans by the road to Burpham.
2. 4-5 Buzzards on Bury Hill.
3. c70 (183) White-fronted Geese on Amberley Wild Brooks viewed from Amberley village.
4. Brooklands Lake (Lancing): 3 Teal, 3 Snipe, Yellow-legged Gull, Green Sandpiper.

Chichester GP's (26/12/10)

We were going to go to Pagham (east side) but the Boxing Day pram race was on so we couldn't get to the car park.

We opted to go to the GP's. They were mostly under ice but the couple of open areas of water held quite a few wildfowl. There was nothing particularly interesting apart from 4 RD's (181).

We didn't walk far enough to find the Bittern and Smew.

I did stop off at Climping on the way back but no sign of any Black Redstarts. Half a dozen Red-breasted Mergansers, 3 Eiders and 3 Common Scoters on a very flat sea were the highlights.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Dinton Pastures (12/12/10)

Another bitterly cold today although it was bright and sunny.

Met up with the NE Hants RSPB group and we then walked out to Black Swan Lake and checked out the first area of open water where there was quite a close drake Goldeneye.

There were lots of gulls roosting on the ice but checking through them revealed they were mostly Black-headed with a sprinkling of Common.

Mots of the waterfowl were in a small area of open water and suddenly all the Coots decided to leave on masse but rather than flying they all started slipping and sliding over the ice - very funny!

We then walked around Sandford Lake which was all but frozen over and came across a small flock of Siskins feeding in alders.

Next onto Lavell's Lake (Bittern Hide) where up to 3 Water Rails (180) showed on and off by the island and on the far bank. I kept continually scanning the reeds for the Bittern but gave up and went outside to find a patch of sunshine and warm up a bit. As I did so I was called back into the hide because the Bittern was now showing (typical!). I went back into the hide and the bird was showing on the far bank just beyond the bund of the scrape. It actually showed very well in the sunshine.

We then walked around to the new hide on Lee Farm and it was my first visit (although I was a member of FOLL). All the wildfowl again was congregated on a small area of open water.

Finally we returned to the car park via White Swan lake. As I stood on a small jetty I suddenly picked up another Bittern clambering through the reeds and got two other people onto it. Suddenly this bird disturbed a third Bittern. The first one flew off left and the second one off right. The first tried to land back in the reeds but was pushed back up again by a Grey Heron and then proceeded to dive into the heart of the reed bed. We lost track of the second bird.

Wow, a 3 Bittern day, I've only had that once before on the Somerset Levels.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Moor Green Lakes (28/11/10)

Up to 2 Common Redpolls had been reported at this site so, on another bitterly cold day, I went to the site and walked from the car park to the Colebrook Lake hide. However, at the hide all I could see were Siskins. I then continued onto the new diggings and saw the Barn Owl (178) sitting in the doorway of the owl box.

I then spoke to another birder who said he may have had a Scaup on the Grove Lake. I walked to this lake but careful scanning the Tufted Ducks didn't reveal anything that remotely looked like a Scaup.

I returned to the Colebrook Lake hide, and another birder and me stood checking out the mobile Redpolls that occasionally landed. Eventually 4 birds dropped into some trees by the main path abnd after scanning them one revealed itself to be obviously larger. Better views were obtained and we could see that it really did stand out being larged and much paler, although it was difficult to see the white bars on its back.

We both agreed that it was one of the Common Redpolls (179).

Also on the reserve was a flyover Buzzard and 13 Goosander.

Bracknell (27/11/10)

A bitterly cold day, but because a) I needed to some shopping and b) Waxwings had been recorded recently, I decided to go to Bracknell to do both.

On arrival I made for Birch Hill and then drove down Birch Hill Road. Just after passing the shopping centre I spotted some Starling sized birds in trees on the side of the road. Stopping the car on the kerb I got out my bins and there they were - 11 Waxwings (177) perched and preening at the top of the trees. I tooks some photographs and then went off to do some shopping.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Hayling Oyster Beds (21/11/10)

After lunch we had a short walk around the oyster beds. Main highlight was the 5 Black-necked Grebes (176) that could be scoped distantly from the car park.

Farlington Marshes (21/11/10)

On the previous day had a Green Woodpecker feeding in Mum and Dads garden.

Drove from Mum & Dads to the reserve to meet up with the NE Hants RSPB group.

The weather was quite good although it was pretty cold.

The first decent birds seen were a flock of Avocet which flew from the harbour into the main lake and a Sandwich Tern feeding in the same area. This is the first time I have seen a Sandwich Tern at this location and this late date.

We then took a gentle stroll around the reserve, and the timing was quite good as the tide was nearly in. The water levels on the main lake were really too high for many waders to appear on there - the Avocets were swimming rather than wading!

Around the reserve these were the highlights:

A couple of Buzzards over the A27 and later one sitting on the grass and fence posts on the main area reserve.
Nice selection of the user winter waders.
Lots of Red-breasted Mergansers
A few Little Egrets
Rock Pipit (175) feeding on the sea wall
A couple of Ravens which I picked up late as they left the reserve heading for the downs (my first Farlington record)

I noticed on the way around they have removed the fence that used to cross the main reserve - this is a shame because this used to be good for Wheatears/Whinchats in te autumn.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Cutt Mill House Pond (07/11/10)

On my way to Mum and Dads and decided to pop off to see the Red-necked Grebe (174). Although quite murky could see that it was a bird of the year with two toned yellowish bill and dusky throat/breast but the remnants of the juvenile head markings.

A Redpoll heard flying over but not seen.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Bittern off more than I can chew! (07/11/10)

What a terrible pun for the title for this blog entry.

As the American Bittern had been showing well from the Walmsley Sanctuary in Cornwall on Saturday, I decided to make the 200 mile trip today.

I needn't have bothered!

A stupid couple of Pheasants decided that walking across the A303 was a good idea. One of them found out that it wasn't when half of it ended up on my cars front grille (taking out the number plate) and the other half flew over the roof!

At the sanctuary I crammed into the first of the hides and spent a couple of hours searching for the American Bittern with no luck. I evnetually made my way over to the tower hide and spent the next 4 hours scanning every nook and cranny for the bird to no avail.

Recompense came in lots of Fieldfares (172) and a solitary Whooper Swan (173).

The journey back was a nightmare - I was so tired and the drivers on the road extremely aggressive. I eventually got home at 9.00pm after buying a chinese in Hook.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Pennington to Keyhaven (31/10/10)

What looked like a nice day turned into a horrible one with a howling easterly wind and rain showers.

I started from Lower Pennington Lane and walked on the landward side to Keyhaven. A Roe Deer fed unconcerned near the path on the infill site.

At Keyhaven I was checking out some Meadow Pipits feeding on the foreshore when I falcon appeared from nowhere and tried to grab a pipit but missed. The bird then flew out towards the saltmarsh but stopped and perched up on the top of a yacht mast. It then revealed itself to be an immature/female Merlin (168).

I then started walking back to Pennington. One the Fishtail Lagoon at the eastern end I found the Grey Phalarope (169). A first winter bird with some black feathering on the upperparts, a dark crown, dark mark through the eye and a yellowish wash to the side of the neck. I showed it to a couple who were walking nearby.

I then walked towards the jetty, scanning the sea for any grebes etc. Managed to pick up a couple of Eiders and a Red-breasted Merganser.

Near the jetty I heard the unmistakable song of a Dartford Warbler (170) and almost immediately a couple of birds flew from the gorse by the sea wall and started chasing each other (one singing as it did so).

Next up was a winter plumaged Slavonian Grebe (171) which was diving in the sea on the east side of the jetty

The final good birds of the day were a loose flock of Spotted Redshanks on a pool on Oxey Marshes.

I left early as the weather deteriorated further.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Keyhaven to Oxey (31/10/10)

What started off as a reasonably bright day ended up being a pretty horrible day with a strong E wind and rain on and off. However, there was some good birding to be had.

I started off in the Pennington Lane car park and walked on the inland side to Keyhaven passing a very confiding Roe Deer feeding on the in-fill site.

A crest gave me the run around and I couldn't identify it to species.

At Keyhaven I was checking out the pipits on the foreshore when a falcon appeared from nowhere and made a grab for the pipits and missed. Unusually, then the falcon went and perches up on one of the yacht masts - it was a female/immature type Merlin (168). I then walked back towards Pennington in the teeth of a strong E wind.

At the Fishtail lagoon I happened on the 1st winter Grey Phalarope feeding at the eastern end. Showed basically grey upperparts with a few black feathers, dark

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Port Meadow, Oxon (16/10/10)

The bird I wanted to see was still present so I drove the 60 miles to Oxford and then to Port Meadow. The weather had improved greatly and there was beautiful sunshine and it was pleasantly warm.

There was a large area of floods and the Lesser Yellowlegs (166) was found pretty quickly feeding amongst the small flock of Golden Plover. Basically similar in proportions to the nearby Redshank but smaller with yellow legs and a more dainty gait. Noticed a fine two toned bill spangling on the upperparts.

Also here was a very distant Little Stint (167), a Ruff and numbes of ducks.

Decided not to bother with going to see the Dipper at Witney but just returned home to do some shopping.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Moor Green Lakes (13/10/10)

As there were a couple of diggers on the new diggings I wasn't expecting to see the Avocet but amazingly it was still there feeding belly up in an area of water with a Dunlin.

The Avocet was a Berkshire tick.

Wishmore Bottom (10/10/10)

A gorgeous afternoon and news broke of a Great Grey Shrike (165) at Wishmore Bottom. Got in the car and walked out to the central area of open heath where flushed the bird from some small trees into another tree.

Set up my 'scope but couldn't find it and then noticed it had flown into a large dead tree on the western side.

Reasonable views were obtained with another birder and once he departed I got a bit closer and took a photograph.

Also at this site was a Kestrel and one Stonechat.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Titchfield Haven (19th September 2010)

The North East Hants RSPB group trip but I thought I would nip down to Farlington Marshes first to see the reported Lapland Bunting.

I didn't hang around but did the reserve in just over an hour walking clockwise towards the Deeps.

On the way around I had a couple of Yellow Wagtails feeding amongst the cattle, 3 Wheatears and a Winchat on the central fence and a fly-over Snipe.

Once I got to the Deeps I didn't have to wait long for a Lapland Bunting (161) to appear, creeping amongst the short grass only a few yards away. Basically like a Reed Bunting but with redder brown in colour. Noted the dark crown stripes with grey median crown-stripe, reddish brown ear coverts with black border and quite a strong malar stripe.

In the harbour an Osprey was feeding on a fish by Hayling Island bridge. Lastly Bearded Tits (162) were showing very well in the reed beds by the main lake.

Onto Titchfield Haven where as I was heading off to meet everyone I caught a brief glimpse of a Cetti's Warbler (163). I met with everyone (Rob had reported a Kittiwake in the Solent) and then it transpired I was going to be the leader for the day. I went and got permits for everyone and then collected money from all before setting off towards the hides.

The reserve was quite quiet despite the high tide, the highlights being Common Sandpiper, 2 Dunlins, Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpipers.

On the way back to the car park for lunch the river had 25+ Mediterranean Gulls on it including 1st-winters, 2nd summers and adults. During lunch we watched the arriving gulls and waders as the tide started to recede. One gull had a white ring with red letters (A5PF) which I believe is a bird rescued by the RSPCA in Sussex. I have sent and email to them asking about the bird.

Also in the waders was a juvenile Sanderling (164).

After lunch we went to the other side of the reserve but as usual it was pretty poor.

Thursley Common (18th September 2010)

I had news that Common Hawkers had been seen here recently, so I went to have a look.

I didn't have any success although it was quite windy and I did see a hawker sp. but couldn't identify it from Migrant as it was constantly in flight.

Other species included:

Common Darter
Common Blue Damselfly
Small Red Damselfly
Brown Hawker
Lots of Black Darters

Birds included a large flock of Meadow Pipits, 3 Buzzards and a fly-over Tree Pipit.

Gosport (11/09/10)

A dark and gloomy day but I got wind of a rare shrike at Gosport. I filled in the coordinates in my TomTom and was off. I eventually reached the destination coordinates but couldn't see the expected water. I drove around the block a couple of times and then decided to get as near to the coordinates and get and walk.

I stopped the car and walked to a gap between some houses only to find that I had found the location and was parked in the perfect spot.

The Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike (158) was only barely showing when I arrived and I got glimpses to say that I had seen it.

I then walked around the other side of the bushes where the light was better and was eventually rewarded with good views of the shrike - it wasn't being very shrike like at all - disappearing for minutes on end in the depths of the bush!

Noted the following ID features: Generally pale and sandy with diffuse dark bandit mask, slight orange shade to throat, slight eye ring crescent above the eye, grey brown head, bill horn colour with black tip, fine scalloping on sandy breast, long brown tail with buff tip, darker tertials with buff edges, buffy rump/uppertail coverts.

After Gosport I went over to Farlington Marshes (where after a while it chucked it down with rain and I got soaked!).

This time there was nobody working on the main pond and I caught it just before high tide so the roost was quite impressive: 50+ Knot, Dunlin, Lapwing, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, 8 Greenshank, Redshank, 3 Curlew Sandpiper (159), Black-tailed Godwit, c10 Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and 2 Snipe.

Embarrassingly I just notice my year list doesn't have Meadow Pipit (160) but as were a lot here it does now :-). Also around the reserve were at least 20 Yellow Wagtails, 20+ Little Egrets, female Pintail, Common Sandpiper, 6 Wheatears and 3 Blackcaps.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Cockmarsh (06/09/10)

With reports of a Red-backed Shrike I popped out to this site near Cookham at lunchtime.

A few birders were about but none had seen the bird.

I had no luck either and returned to the office. I then found out that the bird had been seen west of the railway not east - I was in the wrong place! Luckily the bird was never seen again.

Radley GP's (05/09/10)

On a particularly overcast and damp day went over to Radley GP's but the directions to the bird were somewhat patchy. I eventually found a couple of birders who told where to find it.

Once at the ash lagoon I quickly found my quarry, i.e. a juvenile/1st-winter Spotted Crake (157) which was feeding with a couple of Moorhens on the ash right out in the open (although a little distant). ID features noted were the buff undertail coverts, white spotting on body, greyish throat and and yellowish bill. Unlike most crakes I see this one spent more time in the open than it did in cover!

Around the rest of the lakes were a couple of Green Sandpipers, 3 Greenshank, a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Pheasant walking across the ash! and a Common Sandpiper.

Moor Green Lakes (03/09/10)

My parents came up for the day and as it was a nice day we went for a walk to the reserve. The variety of waders were quite low with a couple of Common Sandpipers, 2 Snipe (155) and a number of Lapwings.

There was an adult Egyptian Goose with a youngster on the new diggings.

Walking around the main lakes revealled a couple of distant Hobbies over Finchampstead Ridges and one (possibly two) Spotted Flycatchers (156) flycatching from a dead tree by the river.

No sign of any Little Owls.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Farlington Marshes (31st August 2010)

In the best of the weather for some days I made a trip for migrants to this reserve.

First up was a pair of Migrant Hawkers in a mating wheel which actually landed on a bush so that I could photograph them. The only other odonata I spotted were a few Blue-tailed Damselflies and some other hawkers who did not stop flying so it was difficult to identify them.

Around the reserve was some evidence of migration including 2 Blackcaps, 2 Whitethroats, 15+ Yellow Wagtails, Common Sandpiper, 5 Swallows and 4 Sand Martins through, 4 Wheatears and a couple of Whinchats.

There was a very distant Osprey (154) sitting on a post in the channel between the marsh and Hayling Island.

Other good birds included 2 Buzzards, 14 Greenshank, quite a lot of Grey Plover, 25+ Little Egrets and a Little Tern.

The most annoying thing was that the Wildlife Trust had picked today to cut back the reeds around the main lake. They were doing this at high tide so stopped any roost building up there - I had to make do with the roost moving (in part) to the stream.

Monday, 23 August 2010

19th August 2010

Booked Southern Thailand with Birdfinders in February next year - first time to Asia

Birdwatching Fair, Rutland (22nd August 2010)

Very muddy around the fair.

Said hello to Andy Foster from Serra dos Tucanos for a chat.

Met Vaughan Ashby from Birdfinders and introduced myself and asked about bird book for Thailand.

Bought some birdbooks and then looked at the Tree Sparrows (153) on the feeders and then after a couple of hours returned home.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Woods Mill (16th August 20101)

Photos: Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Southern Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Brown Hairstreak

My first visit to this Sussex Wildlife Trust site and it looks like a good place for dragonflies/damselflies based on the species that we saw there.

We walked along the ditches and around the lake and saw the following species:

Southern Hawker
Common Darter
Common Blue Damselfly
2 (maybe 3) Migrant Hawkers
2 (maybe 3) Brown Hawkers
Emperor Dragonfly
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Small Red-eyed Damselfly
Ruddy Darter

In the main lake were loads of Carp and a few Roach - you could hear the Carp sucking the lily pads!

Mum spotted a hairstreak butterfly feeding on some flowers which turned out to be a Brown Hairstreak which is a new species for me.

Pagham Area (15/08/10)

First stop was Selsey Bill which didn't reveal much although the weather looked like it should.

Best birds were a Fulmar, an Eider (148) swimming offshore and a finally a Black Tern heading east.

Next, it was over to Sidlesham Ferry to meet up with the NE Hants RSPB Group. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the visitor centre. On the pool were 2 Ruff (149), a Little Ringed Plover and quite a few tool. In the distance, behind the pool were a Wheatear (150) and a couple of Buzzards. A Greenshank dropped in very briefly before flying off north.

Walking towards Church Norton we stopped to look over some setaside which contained lots of Greenfinches, a few Goldfinches and Linnets, as well as a Whitethroat, a juvenile Skylark and best of all a couple of Corn Buntings.

We then returned back to the visitor centre seeing a Common Sandpiper near to the sluice and a Wasp Spider in grass near the side of the road.

We then headed to Church Norton and walked around to the hide and back through the cemetery. We then had lunch and did some more birding over the harbour and then walked towards the Severals where I left the group and drove to Mum and Dad's.

The only other species of note in the harbour were a Knot, a Bar-tailed Godwit (151) and a Whimbrel (152).

Monday, 2 August 2010

Cliffe Pools (01/08/10)

Migrant Hawker, Scarce Emerald Damselfly
It's a long time since I have been to this site - the last time was well before it became an RSPB reserve.

I wandered around looking in loads of ditches for the rare Emerald and Hawkers that had been seen, but with no luck.

I did, however, get a new species (Scarce Emerald Damselfly - they were quite common on the ditch edges where taller reeds grew) and five new bird year ticks:

Turtle Dove (143)
Greenshank (144)
Avocet (145)
Corn Bunting (146)
Spotted Redshank (147)

Other odonata:

Blue-tailed Damselfly
Ruddy Darter (loads)
Migrant Hawker
Emperor Dragonfly
Black-tailed Skimmer

Monday, 26 July 2010

At home (23/07/10)

Got woken up in the early hours by a noisy pair of Green Woodpeckers feeding on the grassy area outside my house. A juvenile and an adult.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Dungeness (17/07/10)

A very breezy day in the south-east made birding quite tricky.

Immediately on arrival I went to the ARC pit and eventually had good views of the bird I came for, i.e. White-tailed Plover (139). A very pretty little bird with long yellow legs, typical plover type shape and a pale head and face. A noticeably short tail gave it a front heavy appearance. Basically buff above and pale below with a well demarked buff breast with black wing tips. Seen once in flight where the very distinctive wing pattern was seen - very much like Sociable Plover and also Sabine's Gull in appearance. At the same place were a couple of Green Sandpipers and two Little Egrets.

Next stop was the patch at the power station where I managed eventually to find a Yellow-legged Gull (140) and half a dozen Mediterranean Gulls. Couldn't find any Roseate Terns.

Now over to the RSPB reserve and had a look at their books. I then got directions to where the rare herons were showing. I then walked to Denge Marsh and waited with some other people to see the herons.

First up was a flying Bittern followed by one of the Purple Herons (141) which flew from right to left and disappeared into the reeds (possibly the male as it was quite well marked). A female type Marsh Harrier was seen quartering the reeds but it didn't put the Purple Heron up. Finally I had couple of reasonable flight views of the Great White Egret (142). This meant I had seen 5 different species of heron today!

I then caught a duck in flight which at first I thought was a Shoveler but in fact it was a Garganey!

I then returned back to the ARC pit to see if there were better views of the White-tailed Plover but there wasn't.

Odonata species recorded:

Azure Damselfly
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Ruddy Darter
Emperor Dragonfly

Monday, 12 July 2010

Thursley Common (10th July 2010)

A very good day at the common including a new place for White-legged Damselfly. The only birds were a couple of Swifts and a female Redstart.

However, recorded 17 species of Odonata:

Black-tailed Skimmer
Azure Damselfly
Brown Hawker (2)
Common Blue Damselfly
Four-spotted Chaser
Banded Demoiselle (1)
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Small Red Damselfly (c10)
Keeled Skimmer
Large Red Damselfly (6)
Emperor (3)
Black Darter (c10)
Emerald Damselfly (c5)
Downy Emerald (3)
Common Darter (1 female)
White-legged Damselfly (c20)
Golden-ringed Dragonfly (1)

Pictures: Keeled Skimmer, Downy Emerald, Small Red Damselfly, White-legged Damselfly, Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Emerald Damselfly, Common Darter, Black Darter

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

6th June 2010 (Little Marlow GP)

Had my lunch here again and saw plenty of blue damselflies, a Banded Demoiselle, male Emperor and a male Ruddy Darter which actually sat on my hand at one point!