Saturday, 10 December 2011

Puppet on a string, Dinton Pastures (09/12/11)

At last the Jack Snipe at Dinton Pastures.

When I arrived in the hide a lot of birders had the bird but I couldn't find it.  A chap put my scope on its location and, finally, when it moved I saw the bird.  After a few minutes it started to move about a bit and then it started to bounce.  A very weird action for a bird bouncing up and down on flexible legs - it reminded me of a puppeteer controlling his puppets.  I'm sure the bird must get leg ache - why does it do it?

No sign of the Bittern on White Swan Lake.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Hosehill Lake, Theale (27/11/11)

A blustery but bright day and a quick jaunt up to the lake.  Managed to park on the west side of the lake and scanned for the reported Smew.  Eventually managed to pin them down on the west side of the lake by the reeds - 2 red-heads, but as I was nearly looking straight into the sun, the views weren't great.

A visit to Dinton was disappointing because the work party had emptied the scrape so little chance of seeing the reported Jack Snipe

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Farlington / Hayling Oyster Beds (12/11/11)

I arrived late after oversleeping but managed to catch up with all the birds that had already been seen.  This included a flock of Avocet on the sea behind the lake, 3 Greenshank and at least 3 Water Rails on the lake and a few Snipe there as well.

We then proceeded to walk around the reserve with the best birds being 1 male and 2 female Bearded Tits, a couple of Buzzards, a distant Peregrine, Rock Pipit by the southern sea wall and plenty of waders in the high tide roosts.

I then popped over to Broadmarsh to try and see if the Long-tailed Duck was still present on the sewage farm ponds but I couldn't find it.  There were 3 Green Sandpipers there.

Onward then to Hayling Oyster beds but despite the large numbers of waders there was little of note except 3 Goldeneye and a few Red-breasted Mergansers.  No sign of any Black-necked Grebes

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Great Grey Shrike (23/10/11)

A bright but blustery day and I went to Thursley Common.

On arrival I walked out on the boardwalk, over shrike hill and then along the bog near the moat.  There were quite a lot of people searching for the shrike and nobody had seen it.  I gave the bog one more scan and suddenly picked up the bird sitting on a blackened tree.

I got another couple of birders onto it and then watched it for the next 1/2 hour or so.  It seemed to have a circuit and didn't seem overly afraid of casual walkers.  I eventually went down to where it seemed to perch a lot and eventually got some photos.

Also in the area were a few Crossbills, one male perched in a low tree by the boardwalk.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Lower Farm GP (09/10/11)

The immature Spoonbill was still present so I went to have a look.  Originally viewable from the far right of the hide, it then moved slightly left and was quite difficult to spot behind the undergrowth.  Also a Little Egret here.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Suffolk (03/10/11)

At last! The Sandhill Crane originally seen in Scotland had now become within my reach as it had pitched down at Boyton in Suffolk.  I set my alarm early so to get there at first light but eventually reached the location 1/2 hour after sun up.

However, the bird was still on site and feeding reasonably close in a field at the end of Mill Lane.  What can you say - a large grey bird with a red patch on its head and a long dagger like bill.  However, it was a lifer and a British tick! It was busy feeding in the field mostly with its head down but looked up occasionally.

I then drove to Minsmere - what a mistake, it was dead!  4 Red-breasted Geese (escapes) amongst the Barnacle Goose flock was the oddest thing.  The only birds of note were 2 Little Egrets and 4 Ruff.  There was supposed to be a Garganey on the scrape but I couldn't find it.

Finally I went to Levington Creek where after a few minutes frustration I managed to get onto the moulting adult Dotterel which was amongst the large numbers of Golden Plover on the far side of the creek.

Fudgy duck (Dinton, 02/10/11)

When the news came through that this bird was good for Ferruginous Duck I headed over.  It was feeding on the west side of Sandford Lake loosely associating with Tufted Ducks and Coots.  Obviously a male with its pale eye but lacked the rich mahogany colouring of a full adult so must be a bird of the year.

Nothing interesting from Lee Farm, just a Barn Owl at Lavell's and two Red Kites which flew over as I was leaving.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Back to Pennington

The lure of another good bird at Pennington had me back to the south coast and straight away over to the Shoveler pool.  Initially picked up a Little Stint and then the Semi-palmated Sandpiper.  Superficially similar to the Little Stint in size but much greyer with much more evident supercilium.  The sandpiper also lacked the obvious white V on the mantle. It appeared slightly more bulky than the Little Stint.  At times it showed so closely that it was possible to see the palmations between the toes.

After viewing the bird for some time I went for a walk down to Keyhaven and then back on the inland path.  Other species included an adult Mediterranean Gull, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank and 2 Curlew Sandpipers.

Also 2 Wheatears, one on the path by Fishtail Lagoon, the other on shingle at Keyhaven.

Also heard a Cetti's Warbler calling.

Black terns galore (Theale, 25/09/11)

On hearing of a potential Berkshire tick it was off to Theale Main Pit.  On arrival the flock of Black Terns were feeding at the back of the lake towards the motorway.  Although I only managed to get to 49 in my estimates I was led to believe there were 54 birds!

The Little Gull was seen quite early on but the Berkshire tick, two juvenile Kittiwakes, were a little mor erratic in their appearances.

Also over the lake was a single Hobby and 2 distant Red Kites.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Amazing Pec (24/09/11)

The Pectoral Sandpiper originally seen at Crookham Common had returned (or it was another bird!) so I went to see it.  I've never been to this site before so didn't know where to go but eventually found the areas of water.  Initially, I couldn't find any other birders but I then saw a couple of guys sitting on the ground watching something.

I crept over to them and realised the Pectoral Sandpiper was feeding unconcerned right next to them.  Over the next hour or so I sat enthralled watching this wader from point blank range, sometimes down to about 10 feet.  At one point I thought it was going to walk under my tripod.

After admiring this bird I needed to retrieve my scope but I didn't want to flush it so had to wait.

When I headed back to the car I caught the unmistakable song of a Dartford Warbler and looking at the bush where it came from saw 2 birds and a Chiffchaff.

Also in the area I heard Woodlark and 2 Yellow Wagtails flew by.  A distant Red Kite was being mobbed by corvids.

Harrier time (20/9/11)

The harrier at Burpham, just north of Arundel, had been identified as a Pallid Harrier so I had to go for a look as this would only be my 2nd in Britain after the distant difficult male on the Isle of Sheppey years ago.

Initially I followed the map to The Burgh but this turned out to be totally the wrong place although it did yield 20+ Grey Partridges and a Wheatear.  I then found the right place which turned out to be only a few hundred yards from the car!
Eventually I caught a glimpse of a ring-tailed Harrier disappearing into the valley.  I called it out and a few moments later the juvenile Pallid Harrier gave a cracking view as it floated over the base of the valley just above the ground.  Could see the "boa" on its neck and the gorgeouse unmarked orange underparts.  It proceeded to fly around the hill we were stood on then disappeared from view.

A while later it flew over the other side of the hill and appeared, a bit more distantly, over the further fields.

At one point it landed briefly in the field.

A grand day out (19/9/11, Sturt Pond & Pennington - Normandy Marshes)

As there were good birds to be found in the area I made another visit today.

I first went to Sturt Pond and walked up the side of the pond where I found the juvenile Sabine's Gull showing very well.  The bird was initially swimming up and down amongst the other gulls, then it started preening and finally rested up on the bank.  In amongst the gulls were at least 30+ Mediterranean Gulls of all ages.

Next onto Pennington marshes where one of the first waders I clapped my eyes on was a Little Stint feeding on the mud.   I then walked around to Normandy Marsh which was quite a stretch and saw the 1w Grey Phalarope along with another Little Stint.  I couldn't, however, find any Curlew Sandpipers.

Other good birds in the area included:

15 Eider
4 Greenshank
4 Mediterranean Gulls

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Pennington/Keyhaven Marshes

As there was some good birds to be had here I made the effort to see them.

First off was the Baird's Sandpiper which was feeding with Dunlin on the Shoveler Pool.  I distinctly paler, smaller and more stint like wader than the accompanying Dunlin.

I then proceeded to search for the reported Grey Phalarope but there was no sign of it.  A bonus arrived in another Wryneck which showed in the scrubby area behind the pools and this time the bird actually sat pretty much in the open.

Other good birds around included at least 3 Mediterranean Gulls, Spotted Redshank, quite a few Ruff and lots of hirundines.  I missed the Honey Buzzard that flew over with a flock of about 20 Common Buzzards.

When I got home I found out that the Phalarope had moved to Normandy Marshes and there was also a Spoonbill there - damn!

Elusive Wryneck

Today spent the afternoon looking for the Wryneck at Old Basing.  It was extremely elusive in the strong wind and just as I was going to give up a bird popped into a bush next to me and I managed to pick out it was the Wryneck - all I could see was its back!  It then moved right into another bush giving me a chance to see its head.  I tried to get the other birders present onto it but it had obviously shot out the back of the bush which I couldn't see!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Farlington Marshes (25/08/11)

A walk around the reserve revealed some migrants around including 7 Whinchats, 3 Wheatears and a few Whitethroats.  In Langstone Harbour an Osprey was sitting on a post until it flew off towards Hayling Bridge and eventually caught a large fish.

I heard a few Yellow Wagtails calling but couldn't find one.

In the bushes a sheltered spot held 2-3 Spotted Flycatchers and a Lesser Whitethroat.

Finally had a look at the lake (where the water level is very high) and found 2 Wigeon.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Thursley Common (22/08/11)

Hearing that up to 5 Common Hawkers had been seen here, I went to have a look and was successful in seeing at least 3 males and one female ovipositing.  Trying to photograph them was another matter.

Can you spot the ovipositing female?

Other species included: Black Darter, Small Red Damselfly, Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Keeled Skimmer, Black-tailed Skimmer, Emerald Damselfly, Common Darter, Common Blue Damselfly

Tundry Pond (21/08/11)

The usual stuff except disturbed a Grass Snake which swam into the reeds by the main pond and a couple of Migrant Hawker's flying up and down.

My first Ruddy Darter of the year decided to identify itself in my book which I had put down, but it got the identification wrong!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Thursley Common (19/08/11)

Some warm sunny weather saw me at the premier Odonata site close to home.  Species seen were:

Emerald Damselfly
Large Red Damselfly
Small Red Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly
female Emperor Dragonfly
Keeled Skimmer
Common Darter
Black Darter

Birds were thin on the ground but did see a few Stonechats, a couple of Wheatears and a fly over male Crossbill.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Pagham (14/08/11)

Started off with a seawatch at Selsey Bill but the only interest was lots of Gannets.

Met up with the RSPB group at Sidlesham Ferry and we had a brief look around the pool and hedgerows because there was a function at the visitor centre later.  We saw a Wheatear distantly in the field behind the pool, 2 Common Sandpipers on the pool and a Bar-tailed Godwit in the channel.

We then drove to Church Norton where the tide was coming in quickly.  Very few waders were showing but a Peregrine was sitting on one of the islands in the harbour.

Careful looking revealed a Whimbrel and 3 Mediterranean Gulls.  In the hedgerow was a Migrant Hawker and an Emperor Dragonfly.

We had lunch in the car park then drove over to the beach car park on Pagham side only to find it closed, so we drove to Pagham church and parked there.  We then walked out to the Breach Pool in a very strong SW wind.

Scanning the Little Egrets didn't reveal the reported Cattle Egret but there was a moulting adult Spotted Redshank on the pool along with a couple of Little Ringed Plovers.  I walked on a bit and spotted a wader on a piece of mud the others couldn't see.  I was just going to get them on it when it flew up calling and left - a Wood Sandpiper!  As I told the rest of the group a Yellow Wagtail flew over.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Still no Lesser Emperors (07/08/11)

Went to Blashford to try and see the reported Lesser Emperor but despite several visits to its favourite pond I couldn't find it.

Had some good birds though:

c10 Common Buzzards
female Red-crested Pochard
juv. Black Tern
2 Goosander
6 Ravens (family group?)


Common Blue Damselfly
Red-eyed Damselfly

Emperor Dragonfly (including ovipositing female)
Black-tailed Skimmer
Brown Hawker

Warren Heath (31/07/11)

Yep, no Brilliant Emeralds here either, did see a Golden-ringed Dragonfly tho!

Basingstoke Canal (30/07/11)

Spent most of the late morning and lunchtime walking up and down the canal, but in all that time only found a couple of Downy Emeralds and one Brilliant Emerald which I nearly photographed but it spotted me and flew high up into a tree and wouldn't come down.

Also 3 or 4 Silver-washed Fritillaries seen.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Tundry Pond (26/07/11)

Followed up on a report of a Lesser Emperor but no luck - however, my first 3 Brown Hawkers of the year as well as some Red-eyed Damselflies.  A Spotted Flycatcher was flycatching by the boathouse and a eclipse Wigeon was in the Mallard flock.

Dungeness (23/7/11)

No sign of any Lesser Emperors despite lots of searching, the only highlight was about 10 Porpoises of Dungeness power station and a Pectoral Sandpiper on the ARC pit.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Fleet Pond (17/07/11)

As a Wood Sandpiper had been reported from the scrape for the last 2 days I decided to go and have a look.

I parked at the end of Chestnut Grove and scoped for a scrape - I could only see an adult Yellow-legged Gull perched on one of the posts in the pond.

I then walked around to Sandy Bay where there were a few Egyptian Geese and then onto the picnic site where I found the scrape, although it was difficult to see all of it.  At the northern end I finally located the sandpiper and as I got my scope onto it a Moorhen took a dislike to it and flushed it left.

I then searched for it again but it wasn't until the heavens opened that I found the bird preening at the southern end in the reeds.  As I and another couple watched it, it suddenly flew off.

Based on the brown spots on the back and diffuse grey brown mottling on the breast I believe it was a juvenile bird.

I dropped into Sandy Bay back on the way to the card and the sandpiper was feeding quite close on the muddy area in the bay. These are where these photos were taken.

Just as I reached the car a Little Egret flew off.

Daventry Reservoir (13/07/11)

As soon as I looked at Birdguides I saw that a Greater Yellowlegs had been seen at the reservoir. I immediately jumped in the car and drove to Northamptonshire.

On arrival I paid my £2 and then proceeded to the reservoir and immediately scoped the bird. It was indeed Greenshank like with yellow orange legs that were muddied, strong streaking on the breast and an obvious eye-ring. I did notice quite a lot of white on the back when it stood preening but not having read up on the identification did I spot a problem with it.

I took a few snaps and then headed home. On arriving home I looked at my identification guides and saw that Greater Yellowlegs doesn't have white running up the back. Also one guide said that some Greenshanks can have yellowish legs. Alarms were ringing so I got onto the web and found out that indeed the bird had been re-identified as a odd looking Greenshank - bugger, all that way for a Greenshank!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Dorothy Tubb (27th February 1942 - 21st June 2011)

Mum & me in Kenya 2005

Tragically my mum died of cancer at St Barnabas Hospice (Worthing) on the 21st June.
She was a brilliant artist (see attached picture), great cook and an admirer of nature (which is probably where I get my love of wildlife, and particularly birds, from). Above all though she will be remembered as a lovely mum and wife to my dad, Laurie.
In her final days she was taken care of very well at St Barnabas' and they are always looking for donations:
She was buried at the Sustainability Centre at East Meon in a very moving ceremony, in the woods that she so loved (
Love you mum, goodbye, xxx

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Ober Water (3rd July 2011)

Based on Paul Winters recommendation (Bird Forum) I explored the water east of the A35 and managed to see at least 3 adult male Scarce Blue-tailed Damselflies.
Also in the area:
Golden-ringed Dragonfly (5)
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Small Red Damselfly
Large Red Damselfly
Beautiful Demoiselle
Keeled Skimmer
White-legged Damselfly (8)
Azure Damselfly
Broad-bodied Chaser (1)
Also 2 Little Egrets flew over and a family of Redstarts were flying around