After my walk this morning, I was getting ready to take my son to school, peering out of my kitchen window I could see a Pigeon and something else under the feeders, but as it was facing away I couldn't quite make it out. As soon as it turned it was obvious I had a Red-legged Partridge.
It remains in my garden now, pecking at weeds and moss on my path and looks fab wondering around between the footballs, cones, goal post and trampoline.
First few minutes
Finally it was 45 feet from the house walking between the various toys and balls
Tuesday morning Marek and I were looking across BSL from Sandford side and picked up the male Garganey yet again, in flight then on the water near the North end of the big (Goat) island.
I did a loop anti-clockwise of BSL and heard the Nightingale, then had the pair of Mandarin sat on the timbers of a fishing swim along the old golf course strip, around 60 Sand Martin were feeding low over the lake too. The Garganey was sat peacefully in the bay opposite the sailing club by now.
Later Roger found it on Sandford and later still Alan saw a female in the SW corner of LFGP.
Yesterday I was away. today it was fairly quiet, 3 Common Tern BSL, but still 17 Teal at LFGP, 10+ Sand Martin around, a pair of Lapwing still defending the islet in front of Ron's hide, making depressions etc and chasing off a pair of Grey Wagtail whom were collecting nest material themselves.
Later in the afternoon I got the text and call a Wheatear had been found in the car park field, in the front bit near the car park....and there it was.
Prior to getting the Wheatear there was a small matter of seeing the 2 spectacular Black-winged Stilt at Little Marlow
Sunday was okay really, I began at LFGP looking for Little-Ringed Plover, reported by our friend from Devon shortly before. I found 1, then 2, then 3, finally 4 on the East shore, plus a Common Sandpiper. John went and found 5 later!
Brian and I found 7+ House Martin moving around beyond Lavell's/Sandford Farm and Geoff told me later that Sand Martins were checking out the wall at LFGP.
Today, I was back out 06:30 and still 23 Teal at LFGP, 4 more at Tern scrape, 2 pairs Gadwall, 6 males. But no Shoveler, their departure was quite sudden. An LRP flew off at 06:53, a Common Sandpiper in the NE corner was barely visible.
At BSL a Common Tern was on the yellow buoy, but then mobile another Common Sandpiper had colour rings so I have made inquiries on it's origins. 100+ hirundines of mostly House Martins was a nice sight at last.
Later I was heading to the BSL viewpoint and bumped into Martin Mitchell, who told me he had just seen a Red-legged Partridge over near the WSL reed bed on the path and it had walked toward the copse near the Loddon. I bombed over there and had it in flight heading right, I quickly trudged down the TDFC path and flushed it on the left right on top of the weir, it went around me and into the Alder next to Heron's Water where I lost sight of it.
April is a good month for this species;
April 17th 2017
April 14th 2012 - near Teal Hide (GSE)
April 10th 2010 - flew over the Loddon barn at DP main centre (FJC)
April 9th 2002 - A poorly looking bird next to the path to Bittern hide (EN & FJC)
April 16th 1988 - On back fields behind Lavell's
The last thing to mention is a strange call along the Sandford backwater, a little like the pre-amble of Whitethroat, but perhaps a tone not unlike Lesser. It never showed and left me baffled.
My constant analysis of the year and all the records in the archives, brings me to various observations at different times. This year it has been quite surprising how each month has finished in a 'podium sense'. There are two types of podium, the month and the running total/year to date;
January - 86 =3rd place on all January's, equal with 2012 and 2016
February - 87 - 4th place and 1 short of third place from 2008, but somehow we added 7 more species on the running total and finished on =3rd place with 2016, one short of 2005.
March - 92 = 4th place with 2010 & 2013, but adding 11 species we hit 104 for the year to date and took new 2nd place, stealing it from 2011.
In my spreadsheet it looks easier to read than as I have typed it out, but looking at April we are way off on all counts. Currently we are on 87 for the month, pitiful even in respect of 10th place 101 in 2007, but dreadful against 114 in 2013.
With so many winter species leaving early we cannot expect to get far into the 100's if we even reach the 100's, as there is only Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Hobby and Little-ringed Plover we can say for certain will occur by May.
At least from a running total view we are ahead of 110 in 2005 and 112 of 2007 & 2009.
Recent years has proven it's not time to panic, 2016 and 2014 respectively produced double figure additions on the running total from August, both finishing on 140 = 3rd highest year lists.
I'll be out for my Nightingale tomorrow and keeping fingers crossed a shower or two will bring a sprinkle of visible passage to the mix.
One shouldn't grumble when all you get is cold bright blue mornings, but now it's Friday I'm just a bit bored of cold weather, it makes less sing and leads to little visible passage. Wednesday 5 Little Egret went over LFGP toward DP at 06:22, 1 Common and 1 Green Sandpiper still, 1 Snipe, then we left and went to Lavell's where I caught up with a male Whitethroat at Tern Meadow 07:05.
John and I were still contemplating the world at BSL and watching 10+ Swallow in company with 2 House Martin, when Marek WhatsApp'd to say 'male Garganey at Sandford'. Amazing, if they are all different birds, that's 4 in one spring!
Thursday I thought I'd try BSL first and got nothing, apart from a male Mandarin and a Mistle Thrush in the compound at the DAC.
Today it was more quiet, 12 Teal at LFGP, 2 Snipe, 4 Sand Martin and 2 Swallow, with 2 Sedge Warbler heard from Bittern hide. Brian had the first Nightingale later on the island near the picnic area.
John was already at Ron's when I got there 06:25, but the year's first Common Sandpiper showed up in the NE corner before the sunlight obscured it. A Redshank in front of the hide kept on calling.
The air was clear and not a sign of the fog of recent days.
What a difference from the other day's exercise in taking shots of the sun thru fog.
Intent on catching up with Whitethroat, we headed off to Lavell's and the car park field, hearing Willow Warblers in various spots on the way.
No Whitethroat called probably due to the cold breeze, a couple of Sand Martin were over LFGP by now and a Skylark rose over the near landfill. A male Mandarin came in from the right and over Lavell's. While we were near Bittern hide I thought a Blackbird in flight looked a but too pale in the wing, but dismissed it as it was heading too fast West to stay on.
On to BSL a Swallow, then another, displaying Sparrowhawk pair, then a displaying Redshank, a late Great Black-backed Gull over low North was nice, the Mandarin heading North again, a pair of Grey Wagtail over.
With Brian getting Sedge at LFGP after we left and Whitethroat out not calling earlier, it seems both are reluctant to sing per 08:30 after my morning efforts have ended, maybe I'll stay longer tomorrow and get myself back to just 3 behind the park's year list so far? Nightingale any day now too.