Monday, 9 April 2018

Can it get any better

I was doing family stuff yesterday afternoon when Brian called in with 2 Little Gulls at BSL, but it didn't take me long to get there and enjoy the little beauties flying up and down the East side.

I even managed a class pic of one of them....

But today at 06:51 Marek had just joined me at the sailing club for the first time in about 6 months before work and I looked up and said "is that Egret as big as it looks"? Sure enough it was a Great White Egret, my 5th, Marek's 1st.

I think Marek's shot is better

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Lots to catch up with

Not that it has been non stop or anything, but the Wheatear was nice and getting Sand Martin same day was also good.

A day pause on the 1st April with nothing new, then Tim James got a lovely early Common Tern on BSL, which I also made it to see. My earliest by a mile.

The next day (3rd)  I got in a quick car park field recky and got another Wheatear very distantly on the landfill. I also heard a Hawfinch go over. I was ill with tonsilitis and what with the flooding making things near impossible anyway I gave up, but toward the end of the day I gave the car park field another quick look around in the rare sunshine.

Almost immediately I was rewarded with my first 2 Swallow, looping over the bottom end of the car park field towards Lavell's. I was looking at my phone and when I looked up saw 4 long necked ducks coming in fast from the North over Lavell's. They were up high enough to stay on and it was easy to see they were 4 Pintail, getting the scope on the them it became obvious it was 2 pairs.

The 4th I slept in and stayed home to try and rest and get better, late morning Geoff texted saying a Tern went by LFGP toward DP and looked a bit Arctic like.

I was at the door and the breezy but showery weather might help my health, so headed out. I found the bird immediately with Alan and we watched it sat for 10 minutes, after which it flew about and returned 2-3 times over the next hour. The weather was pretty rubbish really so light pretty poor.

The Tern had a dainty jizz, light and bouyant flight, snatched food from the surface like a marsh tern.

Plumage : Long'ish but not extensively long tail streamers, not long bodied. Wings had typical dark edge on under side for Arctic, but the upper wing was a bit more confusing with 4-5 primaries having small smudgey grey marks running up the shafts, not a long way and subtle, but easily visible.

When perched it's bill was black from tip to about half way then graduated into very dark red, but not especially short. Legs, probably short. The head had the 'cappy' look about rather than the 'napey' look of Common.

Here are my best shots from the 300m range.

After conversations, re-reading etc, I believe this was more likely Arctic than Common.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Heady heights

Despite the totally silly amount of water falling from the sky yesterday, the afternoon unfolded pretty well and since I was at my son's 6th birthday party when it all happened, I was blissfully unaware until nearly 14:00.

So after the Willow Warbler excitement, rain first thing left me unenthusiastic so I left so I had good time to get ready. Then Wheatear was found on the East shore, then Sand Martins went thru and it didn't seem likely I would even get down the Loddon footpath due to flooding, but of course I tried and succeeded.

The male Wheatear was still around the South end of the East shore along with a Green Sandpiper further right.

Then Ann WhatsApp'd the Red-legged Partridge again and I felt compelled to head that way, I'm glad I did but despite my inability to find it, I did pick up 7+ Sand Martin over Lodge Wood heading toward DP.

March was a pretty good month, it thrashed 2016 by 4, making a new 1st place high count of 100 species and whilst doing that it beat the running year totals of 2016 and 2017 by 2, hitting the heady heights of 106.

It will all even out as all the usual migrants arrive, but it's those little bonuses that make all the difference at year end, Tim's Little Gulls may be matched in mid to late April, we can only hope. This next 2 weeks are a key window for Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Ring Ouzel, as are even a mythical species like Water Pipit, Tree Pipit and Black Redstart, but all could drop in.

Okay I have to mention it, it's the 18th year anniversary of my Purple Heron on the 5th & 6th!

We have 3 credible April records of Goshawk, 6th & 15th 2009, immature female seen by me, then Trev. Prior to that 23rd 2002, again Trev and again a female. With big raptors coming thru each April, I'd say April is the month to get lucky.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

1 bloomin hundred

Since the annoying cold weather has not ceased it has been an endless hope we will get a migrant, but I wouldn't wish that on a bird having flown so far, to arrive here to find sod all to eat because it's so damned cold still.

Much as I'd like to have seen Sand Martin, LRP, Swallow, even House Martin and Willow Warbler, none look likely in the next 48 hours, but we shall see.

Nonetheless, a Blackcap's song graced my ears this morning, probably 2, marking my 100th species for the year, and that is just fine indeed.

I look forward to an April Hawfinch as Richard saw one today and Rick saw 6-8 at the nearby StNicholas predicted, but I couldn't find the time to prove myself.

Any day now a biggy will show, the 18 year anniversary since my Purple Heron is here on the 5th and 6th April, my hasn't time flown...such memories....such bliss.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

2018 flying high

I knew things had been tracking well and no individual species makes a year, but the bonus birds keep coming for me.

All was pretty quiet this morning at Lea Farm G.P. today, then up went everything....Peregrine? No some muppet dog walker on the East shore, you've got to be kidding me. Off I went, quickly locked the hide, running back the green bridge and clambered over barbed wire fence.

As I crossed the the ditch at the base of the Southern spit, I whistled to the man now heading East parallel with Lavell's. So it went something like "my dog ran off at the gate, which was open and I couldn't catch him, so I kept chasing and now I got this far I'm trying to get back home not far from the Chocoholics place".

I explained in polite terms he was on private property and should he come back, would be faced with gates and promises of fines. He seemed genuinely apologetic.

Onwards and out of breath I went, off to BSL sailing club, nothing, Lavell's Tern scrape, next to nothing, a last minute check of the car park field to see if a Hawfinch was about, led to my seeing a football sized bird lift of the ground and buzz over the hedgerow. I knew it was a Red-legged Partridge without even getting my bins on it, so ran to the landfill viewpoint, where I picked it up legging it to the track and watched it continue to adjacent to the recently cut willows, where it paused allowing terrible record shots, before speeding on West along the track out of sight.

99 for the year, blimey. In itself it's nothing amazing, but if you don't miss the annual migrants and continue hitting bonus birds, it makes for a darn good score and I know I remain 7-10 days ahead of any other year. This means if we get the expected Sand Martin, Blackcap, Redshank, then possibly add LRP, Wheatear, Garganey, Swallow, Curlew, Red-crested Pochard and early House Martin and Willow Warbler on the 31st, we could smash it out of the park on all fronts.

The month is also ahead, 1 more to equal the heady heights of 2012's 100 and the year on 101, needs 5 more to equal the running total in 2012.

Here is the shot of the Merlin on the post, distance and shakes make it impossible, but it was a fabulous male.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

More typical snowy result

I was due to go to Cardiff for work but snow stopped play and I got out to Lea Farm GP for a quick check and it was an underwhelming experience, much more like many a cold snap gone before.

2-3 inches of snow, strong East good birds....what was the difference from the last event that blew us all away?

No idea, the highlights were 8 Snipe, c60 Wigeon, c40 Teal, 3 Lapwing, 6 Common Gull, 2-3 distant 'probable Raven' 50+ Redwing, 30-40 Siskin in Alder above the path.

I can't recall a mid March date when snow did settle like it did overnight and continues as it does tonight, I'm sure I am just not aware of the facts. A few shots hopefully capture the glory of it.

I'd still love a Water Pipit, a Garganey and a Curlew would be great, perhaps a Little Gull, like other sites have been getting.


Saturday, 17 March 2018

March marching on

As per the trend these days, a few things have happened since my seeing Black-necked Grebe, the first being never seeing it again despite it remaining til at least the 13th.

Hawfinch were last seen 11th from what I can find.

4 Oystercatchers 13th, the 14th brought me my first Chiffchaff along the Loddon near the green bridge, Barn Owl each morning I've been out, 111 Wigeon and 27 Teal still LFGP, not counting Lavell's, but it was today that was the most exciting. When I arrived at LFGP 06:30 it was snowing fine granules of snow and a very cold East wind blowing in, I scanned 2-3 times for yesterday's Redshank without success, checked for Garganey, pipits and then began checking for Wheatear.

Right to left, each vent, nothing, nothing, nothing, err what's this on a post on the far landfill, too big for a Wheatear, but grey, not a Stock Dove...'no it's a raptor, blimey it's a male Merlin'.

fumbling for my phone adapter, no joy it was in the car, calls to John, Brian and grabbing a couple of pathetic hand held shots and a WhatsApp message....take your eye off it for 3 seconds and it's gone.

Panning around a pair of Mandarin went by, so another year tick, but no further sign before Jack arrived 2-3 minutes later.