Sunday, January 31, 2010

A day birding on Sheppey

Superb day- weather as well - until about 2 when the temperature decided to plummet and the sun went in! Still it kept dry!

Full details will be on my blog tomorrow

thanks to Derek - who gave me heads up on the White-fronts, Barnacles and Spoonbill. All duely seen and admired, along with the many Brents!

Raptor day - over near Capel Fleet - and Raptor watchpoint with flying and perched female Merlin, a Pair of Peregrine perched and a male who entertained us with his flying and hunting,
lost count of the Marsh Harriers - all jolly splendid
Hen Harriers - 2 females -
I presume the resident female flew up from her perch in trees to attempt to see off a visiting female - looked matched for size- the flying was superb - at one time they mirrored each others flying so not lacking in skill there!
Pair of Kestrels near the entrance road to Elmley- on a chimney stack.

We ended at the Raptor watchpoint with 4 Barn Owls all out hunting - one individual who ate his catch in front of us on a bank!

Down side - well dipped Little Owl at Elmley about 11 and again at dusk - we heard from Gordon -( good to meet you at last Gordon!)
he'd left his box at 4 and was out hunting (the owl not Gordon!)
We also couldn't find the Little Owl up at Harty - and no sign of the Hooded Crow- in fact we searched for Crows! Corvid flock containing Rooks with 6 crows! They were with 35+ Stock Doves!

Still added 15 to the year list.

I love being on Sheppey in the sun with nar a breath of wind! It didn't last of course...by the time we were sea watching it was cold!
Still Common Scoter (yr tick) and Sanderling in dozens(just lovely seeing sanderlings!) were reward enough at Shellness along with lots of other waders and gulls - altho no Med gull showed their heads - or wings or anything else.

I'll copy and paste my blog to the North Kent Section of KOS website.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Garden patch

Well another new bird(s) today - Long tailed Tit! Wonderful surprise and a Garden tick!

Thinking - without my notebook - which I must have left at the office....

Goldfinch
Robin
Blackbird
House Sparrow
Starling
Collared Dove
Woodpigeon
Feral pig
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Chaffinch
Crow
Magpie
BH Gull
Lesser BB Gull
Herring Gull
Pied Wagtail
Ring neck Parakeet
Redwing
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Greenfinch
Long-tailed Tit


Quite a collection for West London!
Refound the notebook....in a pocket in the back of the car.
left out Grey Heron and Greater Black-backed Gulls.
(24)

I am on a flight path west to the Gull roost on Queen Mary Reservoir - so all the large gulls go over at 16.30! or near enough between 4 and dusk....
I bet there are Caspians and Yellow-legged as well....but I need them to be on the water or sat still to id these!
Trying to add pagers to my Birding Blog - as i want to add tabs - for my lists....
Kent and Sussex as well as keeping a running total for this year - not in a competitive mood this year.

But I seem to go around and around and not achieve adding any pages - as the dashboard page keeps saying add a widget - not add a page...maybe I'll try again....later.

In order to keep an eye on my year list I put it on Bubo listing - ypu cant double count anything there !
I have reached 105....seeing as I have been out 4 times thats no bad.

I have to sort out a couple of trips to Sheppey for my tetrads....

When Bob comes back from his Iberian Lynx trip to Espana we want to go to Norfolk for a couple of trips - the annual Crane trip and the annual early winter trip!

BTW I had a text this morning from my mates - they saw a Lynx this morning - brill- not at all jealous...nope not at all.....

Friday, January 22, 2010

Another Birding day!

This has got to stop! Titles like this mean only one thing - I havent done much birding this year yet!

Bob and I went to Gosport to see our friend "Gossie", the Ring-billed Gull. We took all of 5 mins to find him on the pond - he was just floating! Well when the bread came out there he was showing off his wing panels and his ability to fly!





So Gossie - then a photo of Gossie with a Common Gull in the background.
The photos of the "gulls" are all by Phil Wallace - thanks for permission to use them!



Oh yes along with the BH and Common Gulls - and a Herring or two! So after having a nice conservation with a elderly couple we went to see what might be about in Haslar Creek and there were two Med Gulls! We searched a bit and came up with Red-breasted Mergansers,Brent Geese, a Curlew, Redshank then Ringed Plovers lots and a Dunlin with them, an Oystercatcher was hiding in an inlet and we finally saw a Little Grebe or two! 10 year ticks within 45 mins!







Sussex was calling so off we went - among places we visited were Thorney Island, Selsey Bill, and Pagham area.

76 species later and 36 new year ticks for 2010 for me (34 for Bob) and we had seen some lovely places in Sussex and some wonderful birds.

Highlights were Bearded Tit at Thorney (finally!) and Ruddy Duck (undisclosed site to prevent Defra shooting the a*** off these!) both Sussex ticks for me!
Project starting in 2010 is to improve my Kent and Sussex lists.

Kent Life List 252
Sussex Life List 183

We also saw Whimbrel, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper,a Blackwit, and at Church Norton
Great Northern and Red-throated Divers and a Slav Grebe. We also found Siskins and Green Woodies!
We finished the day in fading light at Pagham Lagoon - watching a sleepy adult male Scaup...what a beauty! He did look up briefly so we could catch a glimpse of his bill and head properly then promptly went back to sleep!

A good day out and a good days birding in great company.

No pics as I left the camera in the boot of Bob's car - and when I finally remembered it - the light was not good - so I shall borrow a couple of photo's or post the links to them - the Scaup being one!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

A birding day!




Pics are of Broadwater GPs.
Finally I have been out birding! Bob and I decided on Thursday we would go to Stocker's Lake and then on to look at some Red Kites. I met Bob about 9am and we set off for Stokers Lake.We missed out the motorways - when we did go over the M25 it looked nose to tail!

Well we began to see more snow on the way out of Greater London and into Herts,
Roads were fine.

At Stocker's - the Canal was frozen apart from a bit in the middle - which appeared frozen over but less thick...in fact we watched a boat being move from the side with 2 big guys pushing it - with its engines running and they were having a big fight.
It drizzled almost all the time we were at Stoker's - the hides were welcome cover!

The Lakes were frozen except for some areas of free water in the middle.

But there were the Red-crested Pochards - by the Sailing lake - 7 males and 6 femailes. Lots of Goldeneye - displaying males...Shovellers, Gadwall and obviously Mallards and Mutes. Coots galore and Moorhens aplenty.

We then walked into the Reserve and around the Lake...Song Thrush, Fieldfares, masses of Tits and Robins.Flocks of LT Tits were everywhere - occasional Wren...

again on the lake - Red-crested Pochards - 9 males and 7 females. The males were al glorious in their breeding glory. Females looking pretty too.

Masses of Goldeneye - again lots of displaying -

We spot a Red head - great so where is the male - or male Smews?

Nope we missed em! Seen on Thursday and today! But a couple of birders had seen one male further behind us...


Then the year ticks came quickly - Nuthatch, Jay, but no sign of a Siskin!
Bob who had 20 odd less than me (having only been back from Espana for a few days was ticking merrily!

We decided we would go to Broadwater GPs as 2 Goosanders had been seen on Thursday - there was also a Siberian Chiffchaff there......

we tried parking in the Anglers Car park where they used to let birders park - no longer...all locked up! So it was park on the side of the lane.

Wethen walked all along the track to the Sailing Club- we were after the Goosanders so stopped every clearing to scan with scopes the open water - but no sign- Bob picked up Lesser and Greater Black backed Gulls for the year list - it was gull city out there - he spotted a Greylag - I didn't see it!

Well no Goosander meant we were almost at the Sailing Club so it was decided we would try for the Siberian - a lifer for me - not yet split from Chiffchaff on the BOU list.

We spent ages looking - then I saw a movement - a Chiffchaff - over wintering brightly coloured Chiffchaff - low down in the Willow trees - catching insects stirred up by the fast moving River waters...we eventually saw 6 individuals - one looked duller but all Chiffchaff - so the seige was on! Surprisingly lots of Wrens about...I was startled by an accidently flushed Grey Wagtail -which showed beautifully and there was another whizzing down stream.

Robins popped up - andthen there it was a grey version of Chiffchaff! Veru pale under and greyer tha I had imagined! Great - we were both cold now - so a brisk walk back to the car - keepng ears andeye out for Sisikins- none!

So then off to theA40 and drive up towards High Wycombe - with a stop at the recycling centre- not far from Hedgerley tip....great views of about 30 Red Kites and for Bob Pied Wags! We watched the Kites wheeling and flying beautifully along with thousands of gulls!

On towards Stokenchurch - we were both hoping we might spot a perched Buzzard.

The snow in Bucks was something to behold! Roads fine but the snow on the pavements and in the fields...as we journeyed the weather conditions worsened and it got foggy.As we drove towards Stokenchurch the weather closed in but - yes there was a Buzzard - female perched in a tree at the side of the road...great! Onto the M40 and there was the fog- on with fog lights and careful driving - then it cleared a bit as we passed Hedgerley Tip- a bird flew across the road and we realised it was a Merlin! Brilliant!

The rest ofthe jouney was ok- as it appeared to be low cloud as we went uphill and cleared as we descended! A40 and then to Bob's.... a good if wet and cold days birding

Year List about 70 - I will go through it later - as I am not doing a published year list this year not that crucial!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More snow - so Redwings are back!





Redwings were in my Garden today - Pyracanthia berries on cut down branches in the corner of the garden (from my neighbours garden were the attraction!
Oh and the Woodpigeons in the largest tree nearby - looking very cold!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Arctic Tern in the News - new mapping of migration.

The BBC reports that new evidence has come to light on the remarkable migration of the Arctic Tern. Most of us know that this little bird has pole to Pole migration. Now we know more about its route(s).

Here is the link -Arctic TernThe thaw appears to be here in West London - a much milder night and temps are up! Great.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lots of Goldfinches on the feeders

Bateleurs in South Africa






To cheer myself up I am posting some beautiful photo's by my SA birding friend Sal.

See those deep blue SA skies!

Grey here and more snow last night - well a couple of cms..enough to cover the birds food left from yesterday.

Up to 30 Goldfinches this morning trying to get fed.I shall see if any pics taken from inside the kitchen window have come out later.

Here are the Beautiful Bateleur Bird of Prey. Click on the image for an even larger and more impressive photo!

Thanks Sal!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Lapwings on ice



Another photo from Monday at Barnes.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Well you ought to laugh!




Heather and the others - down the cliffs from where I was!

As promised my photos of Risso's Dolphins - they were there honest!

Now you realise why I needed to ask Heather for one of her photos! ;)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Snow today - well a bit!





































Because I was in most of the day due to weather - I realised I had not posted some photos from Shetland. These are all by Heather Gerrard. Heather and her husband Don were great companions on our Shetland Trip. Heather as you can see is a good photographer and she had promised to send me some copies of the special birds we had seen. I had mentioned a number to her - including the Risso's Dolphin we saw on Fair Isle - I will try to find my pic- you will have a laugh!The Raven - well that is a perched Raven - and we spent a while trying to find one that was perched and not flying! Its one of those if you were there at the time things!

The Taiga was a triumph as all I managed was an empty trunk and an empty wall where it had been!

The AGP - I didn't realise there was a photo! That was one we self found.

Anyway its good to think about Shetland again.

Australia managed a minor miracle and won their test - well perhaps the Pakistani batsmen gave it away!

Graham Smith was majestic yesterday and not bad this morning - phew finally gone!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Barnes yesterday








Well here are a few photo's as promised yesterday. They are all Pat's photo's.
First the Bittern on the ice from the Tower Hide.I think then its a cold Duck - you can really see the ice.Then the inevitable Robin - there were so many yesterday and they posed nicely! There are no scenic photo's as Pat wants me to pick those, as I expect there are lots and lots! I was a bit surprised that I havent been sent any Lapwings on the ice as they looked really pretty in the sun! Redpoll feeding and that mystery bird, which isn't any more.

Hopefully they will be in the correct order!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Barnes on a frosty day

Well as the Brown Shrike has left Staines Moor we decided to go to Barnes this morning.
We couldn't go very far as we both had other committments/work to do.

-3 as I left my house and -2 as we arrived at Barnes at 9.30 - no traffic on the A4 which made a change as that time in the morning!

Beautiful light for photography and beautiful scenery with a deep crisp frost.
Photos of this later when Pat sends me some.
We were thankful for the take away Coffee......
Arrive at WWF hide to see a Bittern fly to our right and disappear into reeds- then almost as we had settled a birder called "Bittern"- and we looked through his scope and then I got onto the bird myself while Pat was trying to find the Bittern who was being a reed! After a few shots Pat went for a wander and we concentrated on finding the Bitterns...and not long later a Bittern popped up onto the top of a reed - another appeared below and then that Bittern went to its left and flushed - another Bittern! Who flew away and then landed in the reeds opposite the hide as in this pic!





So that was 4 Bitterns!

Needless to say the water was frozen and the Lapwings,Shelducks and assorted gulls were standing on ice - I noticed a bunch of Canada Geese were still on their island keeping off the ice! Mallards waddled and slipped and slid their way towards what they thought was open water.

I walked towards the Tower Hide and re met Pat and we went to the 1st floor to see Water Rail, Common Snipe and lots of activity including a flying Bittern! Plus lots of gulls, mallards and cormorants. Oh and of course Grey herons - everywhere!

I went to the top deck where a very loud American Woman was evidently having the time of her life! Lots of windows were open and there were three people up there - one birder obviously enjoying his superior knowledge telling two non birders what was about. All very loudly- where has field craft gone?

I closed all the windows where they weren't and looked out to see a Bittern standing out on the ice and in full view in the sunshine - so it was a scurry down the stairs to get Pat onto the Bittern...yes it was a long way and a 100-400 lens is not really enough - but I await the photo with baited breath - it looked ok in the viewfinder!

We were by now cold as the wind was vv cold coming through the window. so it was time to return to the warm!Via Long tailed Tits, Redwings, Robins, other tits and Song Thrush and this bird who tried to be tricky!



who then looked around!Lol.


So no longer tricky!

So a loo stop and then off towards the Wildside...and possible Redpolls.
A visit to the much more settled Cranes.
then Redpoll...found some amidst Goldfinches - Lesser.

Continue walking and outside the hide I never remember....Wildside Hide will do! There is a bridge and in the background silver birch trees - lots of birds on these- a few Goldfinch and there are the Redpolls - lots of them and then there is a different one and its a Mealy! Great - a patch tick!

After some photographs of Redpolls on a tree next to the hide, its back to the cafe for lunch...Bangers and mash and onion gravy with broccoli....lovely and warming.

Home by 2.30 and its dog walking!

Finally I am in the warm and watching the Cricket from SA and then as I post this Oz and Pakistan. Well the SA 2nd test is in the balance.....Oz were on the wrack a bit!

We might have a photo of the Redpolls....and perhaps a Mealy as well.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Welney - swan feeding

video

And gone again!

Well my Brown Shrike has departed. Thankfully I saw him before he left!

So instead of Staines Moor again tomorrow - we have another local patch to visit.

Test Cricket again this am- what an interesting time is going on in SA!

Man U out of the FA Cup and Leeds drawn away to Spurs.

My Eagles got through the 3rd round - so its more giant killing next round!

35 Goldfinches collectively chatting this morning in my tree!

Finally got the videos downloaded on my pc....of the Whooper Swans at Welney and the Cranes at Barnes.
Noe to see how to upload onto here! LOL! ;)

Friday, January 01, 2010

Brown Shrike is back at Stainesmoor!

Well surprise surprise - after a fortnights holiday "our" Brown Shrike is back!
Wonder where he went? Somewhere without snow- but then he clearly likes "our" moor!

What great news this morning and lo there he was again...clear skies even if very cold!

I am now hoping that I can get my photographer friend to accompany me on Monday to get some photo's.

First bird of the year in my Garden? Goldfinch - beating Robin or Blackbird which were my guesses!


There are now 4 Collared Doves !!

Well the Kent list is sorted (apart from those birds that I know I have seen but need to find my old diaries!) - its the Sussex list tonight!

I shall put the Sussex list on the front of my blog along with the Kent list -be interesting to see these change over the year!

ok Kent list at mo is 252 (although this might be higher by up to 10 others - still to be checked - if I cant find the diaries easily I might just start at 252!!)