Monday, 17 December 2012

RSPB Pagham Trip (16th December 2012)

Before meeting up with the group and had a quick scan at Selsey Bill but could only see a few Common Scoter.

At Sidlesham Ferry the highlights were a couple of Buzzards.

It was then round to Church Norton which was also quite quiet with a pair of Peregrines the highlight.  A Kingfisher flew past and paused to hover for a moment and I picked out a distant Mediterranean Gull.

There were a good number of Knot in the harbour and another Med Gull from the seashore but no sign of any Slavonian Grebes - just a single Eider riding the waves.

On the way home I dropped into Farlington Marshes where managed to see the Red-breasted Goose.

Queen Mother Reservoir (15th December 2012)

On finding out that there were going to be day permits on the gate I made my way to Queen Mother Reservoir and paid £3 to twitch the bird.

I made my way round the reservoir and eventually reached the bird - a Buff-bellied Pipit.  This bird was extremely confiding, running around the edge of the reservoir feeding ignoring the crowd of birders sitting on the wall photographing it.  Even though it was so close it was quite difficult to photograph because it was mostly on the move.

Also round the reservoir were a couple of Goldeneye, a Red-necked Grebe in amongst a small flock of Great Crested Grebes and a Long-tailed Duck feeding nearby.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Waxwings at last

After very little birding in the last couple of months, news finally broke of some nearby Waxwings.  What was even better was that they were right next to Morrisons where I was going shopping anway.

The birds were showing extremely closely and were seen to land on the ground picking up the windfall berries.  This is the first time I have seen Waxwings on the ground.

Friday, 26 October 2012

West Sussex

I needed to spend a couple of days looking after my father after an operation.

On day two he seemed to be OK and I went for a quick walk down to Mewsbrook Park Lake where Mediterranean Gull's can be regular.  There were none there so I had a look at the swimming pool roof - none there and then had a quick look at the beach - none there.

On the way back a bird flew up from the grass in front of the houses opposite the swimming pool - it turned out to be a Black Redstart but before I could photograph it, it flew onto the roof of the house and I lost it.

Later, after lunch, I found out that a strange wheatear reported from Worthing the day before was now confirmed as a Desert Wheatear.  I said goodbye to Dad and then drove to the pier area and parked.  Getting out of the car the bird was found immediately being extremely close although it could be quite difficult to pick up against the shingle.  At one point it actually flew into a nearby shelter.

A very buffy wheatear with black legs, a blackish (flecked white) throat, all black tail and obvious white supercilium.  Based on the black areas being black rather than brownish and the background colour being sandy rather than brownish I would say the bird was probably and adult autumn male.

NE Hants RSPB group to Farlington/Hayling

A pleasant day but the bird life was fairly un-interesting apart from 2 couple of Avocets on the lake (the water level was too high for good numbers of waders) and best of all a Short-eared Owl showing very well at the point.

Of other interest were a couple of Migrant Hawkers perching next to each other.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Farlington Marshes

On Wednesday the house inspector turned up early giving me the opportunity on a nice day to go down to Farlington Marshes.  After following a guy who was driving extremely erratically down the road (was he drunk!) I reached the reserve and checked out the lake first.  My first 2 Curlew Sandpipers of the year were seen.  On the fence line were 3 Wheatears and to be honest round the rest of the reserve it was pretty quiet with no Ospreys or Whinchats.

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Finally decided that I would go for the Short-billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor RSPB reserve although it meant driving to Weymouth which can be a pain.

On arrival stuck £1.10 into the car park meter for an hour (daylight robbery).  Spent the next hour watching where the bird had been reported earlier but no sign.  While waiting a Common Sandpiper showed and then a Water Rail gave good views.

Returned to the car park and added another £2.10 and returned to wait.  About another hour and a half the dowitcher suddenly popped out with a couple of Common Snipe.  Following ID features noted: snipe size, the wing coverts seemed to have a grey wash to them, a fairly distinct supercilium which was more obvious when the bird faced me, a yellowish, quite thick bill and from the literature the clincher was I could see the tiger stripes on the tertials.

I then went over to Portland and did a seawatch but apart from a few Gannets the highlight was a juvenile Kittiwake.  On the way back home I dropped into Easton where the Monarch butterfly was showing well roosting in a tree.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Overdue update

Haven't been birding in earnest in the last few months - mainly concentrating on dragonflies/damselflies including my first Red-veined Darters.  Here are the latest decent pictures I have obtained

Sunday, 17 June 2012

River Colne, Rickmansworth (17/06/2012)

The first decent day weather wise for a while and I ventured to the Aquadrome and the River Colne.  I then walked down the canal and eventually found my way to the river where after a wait the female Little Bittern showed and then showed very well.  At one point it appeared to have caught a stickleback but had difficulty swallowing it.  It then spent some time rubbing the fish against the vegetation - presumably to get rid of the spines.  It eventually flew a few yards upstream showing its very distinctive flight pattern.

Friday, 18 May 2012

RSPB Dinton Trip (13/05/12)

Six people met up for the earlyish morning start at Dinton Pastures and, considering the recent weather, we had a beautiful sunny day.  The attendees were Kevin, Pete, Paul, Pay, Maralyn and Stella.

We set off towards Black Swan lake where we had a singing Garden Warbler which was quite elusive but everybody at least got views.  Garden Warblers were actually the most common warbler apart from Blackcap - we probably heard 5 individuals.

Not much on Black Swan lake except a singing Song Thrush and Chiffchaff at the top of the same tree, there were a few hirundines and Swifts over the golf clubhouse.  A male Whitethroat gave good views as it flitted along the stream by the golf course.

Next round to Sandford Lake where we heard a Bullfinch but it didn't show.  We had brief views of an Oystercatcher flying onto one of the islands on the lake - I believe they are attempting to breed this year (it took me ages to see an Oystercatcher at Dinton over my years of birding there!).

We went into the Bittern hide but it was pretty quiet because the scrape was flooded.  There were a couple of Common Terns on the tern raft and numbers of massive Carp spawning in the scrape.  We heard a Cuckoo but it didn't show and there was a distant Red Kite and a fly past Buzzard - during the morning we must have seen about 6 individual Buzzards.

When we came out of the Bittern hide we stopped to look at another Garden Warbler when a pair of Bullfinches appeared and the male positively shone in the bright sunshine, although typically it didn't hang around for long.

We then went over to the Lea Farm hide where the light wasn't great as were looking into the sun but it did turn up a pair of Egyptian Geese with a lot of goslings (if I remember it was about 10 and I was told they had lost some!), two Little Ringed Plovers, another Oystercatcher,
2 Redshanks and 2 or 3 Red Kites.  We heard the Cuckoo again but it wasn't seen.

We then returned to the car park via the other side of Sandford Lake, then White Swan lake and finally the viewpoint.

We had great views of a male Reed Bunting singing in the top of a dead tree and Pete took some photos.  At the hedgerow between White Swan and Black Swan lake we heard 2 Nightingales and had brief views of one of them.  At the viewpoint, where I expected Lesser Whitethroat, we didn't see one but one was heard singing on the island in Black Swan Lake.  We had good views of a singing Sedge Warbler though.

For Dinton Pastures, at this time of year, the number of species was quite poor especially the numbers of warblers.  We didn't see:

Reed Warbler - 2-3 heard singing
Lesser Whitethroat - 1 heard singing
Willow Warbler - none
heard at all (which is worrying)
Cetti's Warbler - uncommon, but I
usually hear one (and sometimes see one)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Another crap spring bank holiday (07/05/12)

First port of call was Selsey Bill where we had to shelter in the lee of the houses on the point to get out of the wind.  Lots of terns passed as well as a few Gannets and the highlights were Black-throated Diver, 2 Bonxies, 7 Common Scoter and 4 Whimbrel.  I found out later that I missed some Pomarine Skuas by 45 minutes.

Next onto the North Wall where there had been no news of the Glossy Ibis so I was pleasantly surprised to see they were still present.  On the way back to the car saw a nice Short-eared Owl sitting in the top of a small bush behind the Breach Pool.

On the way back home I dropped into Thurlsey Common where had decent views of a Tree Pipit and a Woodlark.  There was another Woodlark singing nearby which I didn't see.  On the way back to the car a nice male Redstart

Hard work in the New Forest (06/05/12)

I started at Acres Down which had been successful in the past but not this year - the highlights being 4 fly-over Crossbills.  Then onto Beaulieu Road Station where had views of a Cuckoo but not a great deal else.  Then onto Eyeworth Pond where eventually had views of Redstart but it wasn't until I got to Bolderwood that I eventually pinned down a Wood Warbler singing in the wood near the Deer Watchpoint.  A bonus in this same area was a Spotted Flycatcher.

Next onto Pennington Marsghes where the Glossy Ibis had done a bunk. Walking to Keyhaven a flock of waders was flying around and eventually settled on the land fill - the flock consisted of at least 60 Wimbrels and 13 Bar-tailed Godwits!  Doing the loop to Keyhaven and back to Pennington revealed a female Wheatear, a couple of Little Terns and a flock of Eider offshore including 10 full plumage drakes.

I then headed back to the car and drove down to corner of the road where a birder pointed out a 1st winter Little Gull over the flood (also another 9 Barwits on the flood) and another birder told me about 3 Garganey, a Common Sandpiper and a Wood Sandpiper on the 'Shoveler Pool'.  I had to go back and saw a pair of Garganey and the Common Sandpiper but not the Wood Sandpiper.

Hirundines galore (05/05/12)

Went to Moor Green Lakes and there were hirundines everywhere and also lots of Swifts.  There was a pair of Little Ringed Plovers on the main lake, 4 Buzzards over the New Diggings and finally brief and bad views of the Barn Owl in its box - seen to stretch its wing once before moving away from the box entrance and disappearing.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Sussex (22/04/2012)

I dropped into the tenative Iberian Chiffchaff at Apuldram.  It was singing immediately on arrival and occasionally sand like a true Iberian Chiffchaff but a few times through in some nearly Common Chiffchaff like phrases although never actually called "chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff".  The bird appeared to have slightly paler legs than dark and a paler bill but the bird didn't really appear particular bright.  I will leave it to the experts to make a judgment call on the bird but my feeling it may not have been a true Iberian Chiffchaff.

Next onto Selsey Bill where there were plenty of terns including a couple of Little Terns, 3 flypast Whmbrels, a couple of Fulmars and then I picked up a pair of falcons chasing something over the sea.  They hit their prey 2 or 3 times before actually catching it and then looked to fly off.  However, instead of disappearing they flew into the bill and then deposited the unfortunate victim on the beach in front of us.  For the next 30 minutes or so they have fantastic views as they flew around the bill and were harassed by the local gulls and even an Oystercatcher that had a go.  The female eventually went back to its prey and then sat stripping it of its feathers.

I dropped into Church Norton on the way to Pulborough Brooks but only managed another Whimbrel.

At Pulborough it was very quiet with a couple of Whitethroats, a White-fronted Goose and a couple of Nightingales.  I left before the rain.

Backup Ring Ouzels (21/04/12)

BEcause of the crap views of the Ring Ouzel in Bracknell, I decided to go to Combe Gibbett where I had better of a pair of Ring Ouzels below the gibbett just before the rain came.

On the way to Theale I had at least 10 Red Kites in a loose flock by Chieveley services.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

...the last day of the run (15/04/12)

A breezy and cold day didn't look promising but I managed at least 8 Redstarts, a couple of Marsh Tits, my first Cuckoo of the year, 15 Crossbills and finally a Woodlark at Beaulieu Road Station.  Also a Grey Wagtail was seen.

Next onto Keyhaven/Pennington Marshes which was hard work but managed a couple of Greenshank, a couple of Spotted Redshank, a Ruff, a close in fishing Little Tern and my first Whitethroat of the year.  Also had two fly over Ravens but couldn't find the Mediterranean Gulls I heard calling in the distance.  There were a couple of Little Ringed Plovers on Pennington flood.

An unexpected bird was a singing Dartford Warbler in the brambles away from their usual haunt of the gorse bushes along the sea wall.

I then dropped into Hordle for further views of the Rose-coloured Starling which proved just as elusive as last time. There was an old geezer here who was a serious grump - complaining about the swarm of birders (I counted 6 of us), how they were pathetic and needed to get a life (his wife (?) looked totally bewildered with him).  I witnessed no running around or birders making a nuisance of themselves so unless someone has p****d him off previously I don't know what his problem was.

My final destination was Blashford Lakes where there were 2 more Arctic Terns, a couple of close in Little Ringed Plovers and a Common Sandpiper from the first hide.  I walked over to the Lapwing hide and was rewarded with two singing Reed Warblers, one eventually found singing fairly low down in a reed bed.