Saturday, 16 September 2017

Retrospective year tick

All week I've been watching Meadow Pipits go over, from every angle and their characteristics are very familiar. Meadow occur from early September and in recent years always on and over the landfill, their flitting jerky flight unmistakable.

So when the three pipits flew from the trees near the DAC last Sunday (10th), landing in the tops of trees twice and not at the top, within the top I think that was good reason to suspect something. The first autumn passage of Meadow Pipit began the day before, 7 went over that morning in the typical style, 3, 1, 1 & a 2, the odd call and never stopping.

But the 3 on the golf course did not do this and no pipit since that day has done so either. My conclusion is that they were Tree Pipits. And while some, most or even the majority may laugh, I am including them on my 2017 year list.

Since Thursday I have seen a good few more Meadow Pipit, c100 today. Hirundines have been around in numbers too 500-700 in the last 3 days, few today. Hobby has been on offer most mornings around 07:00 too.

Dawn was very pleasant today, capped off with another Spotted Flycatcher, my 7th this autumn. And where are the Redstart? It worrying me!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Pipits spike

Nothing to get too excited about, but before it was proper light I got onto something jumping around the track beyond and left of the shingle island. After 10 minutes of gradual sunrise, it was obvious it was a Wheatear and I just love Wheatear.

I could see pockets of pipits, 14 at one time rising over the landfill, so did a quick Mandarin head count....3 then left, but not before clocking 3 small birds, 2 were mipits, 1 seemed too stubby and could have been a chat.

At BSL nothing much to say, another 9-10 Mipits over, but 700+ hirundines was quite a nice sight.

Marek and checked the behind the DAC and 1, then a 2nd Spotted Flycatcher sat in the sun for a few moments;

3 Grey Wagtail went over as we walked up the car park field, 40+ more mipits went over. I went back for 30 mins at lunchtime and another 40+ mipits went over.

DP records show Siskin could occur any day now, with NW wind cooling down perhaps it's tomorrow?

Wednesday, 13 September 2017


Richard WhatsApp'd the Spot Fly still at Sandford and an hour later I called to ask if it was still there and where to look. I was there not long after and got it in flight,but the wind had yet to die down so it wasn't easy.

Moments later he called me saying "I've got one on the big Hawthorn" I'm there I said and left, moments later we had it in my scope, but moments after that it flew over SE and kept going.

"Might as well check the landfill while we're here" I said, raising my bins at a large bird hovering over Lavell's to our left, I said "Osprey" and instantly got it in the scope. As it headed left we moved quickly to the car park field and got back on to it as it came over Bittern hide, over the nearest end of Sandford and Black Swan, where it slowed up had a good peer down and kept going.

So if Richard hadn't found the 2nd Spot Fly I wouldn't have gone there and not seen the Osprey, funny thing birding.

It's my 4th ever and I have seen 3 of them stood in the car park and now this one a mere 250 metres from it. A nice species to mark my 130th for 2017.

Winds of change

Yesterday felt like it had potential, but nothing much happened. LFGP 41 Shoveler, c20 each Gadwall & Teal, no waders again.

Straight on to BSL DAC area, 9 Meadow Pipit thru South, then as I crossed the car park toward the landfill 2 small brown birds - not pipits flitted over and were goen, I am convinced they were Spotted Flycatcher. Onto my look over the landfill 2 Raven came in from the West as often happens, but these are the first since my 4 over on 4th June, am sure they are being overlooked, or passing too far North to be noticed.

A few more Mipits over was it for me. Spotted Flycatcher was caught up with by Steve and a few others on the West side of Sandford later.

Today, I was out early in hope of a phalarope due to the Billingbear Grey yetserday, no such luck of course, so I counted the wildfowl.

Gadwall : 156 - 32 LFGP, 58 BSL, 66 Lavell's I expect there were more as I did not check the South end, or West side of BSL, WSL, Middle Marsh, WSL, West end Lavell's, or Tufties Corner.

Wigeon : 13 Lavell's

Shoveler : 60 - 47 LFGP, 13 Lavell's again probably more

Teal : 18 - more around somewhere

Mandarin : 2 LFGP

At the balancing pool a Hobby was doing a few dives, overhead 250-300 mixed hirundines.

Maybe as the winds die down, more stuff will show up today and if calmer tomorrow maybe that elusive Redstart and Stonechat might appear?

Monday, 11 September 2017

waders anyone?

It was a bit blowy with showers on arrival at Lea Farm GP at 06:20, very little happening, 18 Shoveler, 16 Gadwall, 14 Teal, no waders at all. I could see small birds on the move, 2-3 pipits, 4+ unidentified small jobs, probably finches. 2 distant Sparrowhawk were clearly together.

Quickly moving on, but Sandford was empty.

BSL, things were looking up, 400-500+ hundred mixed hirundines, but too showery to search for late Swift. Looking behind the DAC, 5 Chiffchaff, 1-2 Blackcap, just 7 Mistle Thrush.

More small jobs over and 1 was a pipit, 5+ seemed to suggest Chaffinch, then another group of 6-7, not sure I've had Chaffinch on the move this early, or in a Southerly direction at this time of year?

With some wader habitat it is a bit bizarre no waders, apart from Lapwing and the odd Green Sandpipe are showing up. It needs to settle down again for any chance of a Redstart, but I am not sure that is likely in the next 2-3 days?

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Golf course antics

With the fun of Mistle Thrush counting still in mind, I arrived late after 07:30, John & Eddie already out there. Quickly we began counting, but as always they hide in the trees above the DAC. At least 5-6 there already a large group headed that way, certainly 17 of them, then another, then 1 more, so at the minimum 25 and we couldn't be sure of the number at the DAC, 5 Meadow Pipit went over, just a couple of calls giving them away.

I have decided I have neglected the gold course due to dog walkers phobia and after yesterday's Spotted Flycatcher, another look seemed the right thing to do. Off we went, but nothing doing, then on the way back 3 slim brown birds undulated past us, then headed up along the Emm Brook treeline.

Hmmm I thought, they rather favoured the trees, not right for Dunnock, too undulating a flight, too slim, they had vanished into the tops of trees 150-200 metres South and despite an early thought of Spotted Flycatchers, they did not alight the tops and never looked right.

We picked up one again hugging the treeline, but lost it and never re-found them. With Meadow Pipit going over we discussed the likelihood of them being that, but my instinct says that with ALL the other Meadows going straight over and calling, I feel Tree Pipit was much more likely....and bloody annoying it is to not clinch them.

The Swift the chaps had remained overhead, so always nice and getting into the top 5 latest;

21st 1992 (AJ)
14th 2008
12th 2015
11th 2002
10th 2010 & 2017
8th 2002

All the others are 1st to 4th.

Nothing else really happening, lots of mostly House Martins, probably 500+

Saturday, 9 September 2017

A special morning

I had a lovely lie in til 06:25 and then hurried out as it was still and bright with some cloud cover, I decided the Mistle Thrush record count might be breakable and headed straight to BSL.

No sign on arrival, actually quiet, just barely 50 House Martin over the lake, nothing in the compound either. For some reason I thought perhaps they are further up the golf course "they flew in from that direction yesterday".

I walked about 250-300m and spotted some Mistle Thrush another 200m+ ahead around the electric wires, but barely stepped another foot when a slender brown bird flew across me 100m away and landed in the trees above the Emm Brook, thru bins I strained to see what it was half thinking "pipit?", but it sat up and the penny dropped, "Spotted Flycatcher, finally", my phone began ringing,  I knew it was John but wanted the bird in my scope, but in the scramble, the bird moved unseen and I missed his call.

I called back and he said come quick the Black-tailed Godwit left but has just come back at Tern scrape. Some moments later and I was watching it, nice too.

It was nervous about hassle from Coots and Moorhen and left towards Lea Farm, John and I headed there. Joined by Brian, we had no sign and bright sun in our eyes to the East. After nearly 30 minutes I picked up something fast in flight, "Black-tailed Godwit" as it whirled in fast. Panning around I picked up 4 small birds, 3 were the autumn's first Meadow Pipit, but one flicked it's tail and alighted a thistle, it was a Whinchat, my fifth this year, fourth of the autumn...blimey.

Jack and his dad arrived and quickly got on the birds, a Skylark flicked over the rough, a Sedge Warbler to the left, 3 Nuthatch on the feeders.

Brian suddenly said, "there's 2, no 3 Black-tailed's" sure enough now 3 in the SW corner, all as Richard and Gill walked in. Terrible shot...

I wanted more still, "car park field?" I said and John, Brian, Jack and Martin all joined us and off we went. John and I checked well, nothing on the landfill at that end, the car park field took patience and a Lesser Whitethroat, another Sedge and about 8-10 Blackcap and a few Chiffchaff were never easy to see.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Of all the months

August left and I am now worried I am running out of time to get a Spotted Flycatcher and a Redstart. Looking out of my window right now it appears sort of quieter and we need it to be more settled to get the above. It's not over yet, but let's look at last bird dates;


2016 - Sept 11th
2015 - Sept 3rd
2014 - Sept 2nd
2013 - Sept 5th to 10th
2012 - Sept 15th to 18th
2011 - Sept 14th & 27th
2010 - Sept 10th
2009 - Sept 15th, 20th to 25th

Spotted Flycatcher

2016 - Sept 16th to 18th
2015 - Sept 13th & 16th
2014 - Sept 12th & 18th
2013 - Sept 23rd
2012 - Sept 11th to 26th
2011 - Sept 11th & 27th
2010 - Sept 5th to 8th & 20th
2009 - Sept 15th, 20th to 25th
2004 - Sept 6th & 8th

Make of that what you please.

But either way, of all the months to not add a year tick, amazingly August was mine this year, which is quite unusual and I 'll need to dig beyond 2012 to find when that last happened, if ever.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Make that 3

Yesterday evening I got a call from Simon at Lodge Wood Lake, he had been checking fish stocks when in came an Osprey crashing in grabbing a fish and heading on to Lea Farm G.P.

He said he had seen people in there as he went by on the way, so it is likely someone was there, but no WhatsApp news followed. So that was year tick no. 3 I missed on the bank holiday weekend...nice.

This morning, like yesterday it was as quiet as it gets, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 18 Teal, 1 Wigeon, but 13 Mistle Thrush away from the sailing club East was nice.

It was also great to see my friend John again this morning and when I came back later for a late morning wander with my boy, I bumped into John W and Rick D as well. As I got back to my car around 13:00 a Hobby was circling overheard drifting East.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Chat passage

Out later again, 07:20 LFGP and nothing happening, so off to the car park field and a good call that was. On arrival Eddie was already scanning the landfill, in moments we picked up 1 Yellow Wagtail heard, then 4 seen heading SE. Moments after that Richard and Gill arrived as I picked up a chat like bird dropping out of view onto the same hedgerow left of the Oak.

Scanning from the balancing pool viewing spot I quickly picked not one, but 2 Whinchat together. They spent 35-45 minutes moving along the hedgerow nearer and settled on the larger of the two Hawthorn left of the pylon.

Still at quite a range they looked good thru scopes.

1 more Yellow Wagtail over heard only and it was time for me to go, Brian came and left too securing on his dip from yesterday. I passed Marek and knew Trevor was not far behind him and sure enough, within 20 minutes he was messaging saying Spotted Flycatcher in the same hedge, but no Whinchat, then moments after a Redstart in the same spot.

By the time I got there they hadn't been seen for 5-6 minutes and no further sightings over the next hour and half. What changed was 3 Wheatear were pitched up on the far landfill, 2 on the new posts and 1 on a vent.

WhatsApp seemed to let us down again by not broadcasting for over an hour after messages were sent. I'll be looking into this.But for now I am robbed of 2 year ticks that would have secured my 130th species for the 8th year straight. Maybe tomorrow eh?!

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Repeat of 1st Sept 2013

Out slightly later at 07:00, LFGP was quiet, 12 Teal, 3 Little Egret but little else. Most of the Gadwall were on Lavell's 48 in fact.

A lovely bright morning, that felt like more should have been happening, then finally as I arrived at the bottom of the car park field, I got onto what on first impression looked like a Wheatear on the wires near the green barn. It dropped like a stone below, which got me thinking "not very Wheatear like". I pushed the news out and scanned.

Finding a male Whinchat in the top of an Elder, but it flicked right out of my scope view, I updated the news and scanned again, but no sign. At that moment a call from behind me stopped me dead in my tracks ..."Tuuu, Tuuu, Tuuu". Blimey just like the call of ?? years back. It called again as I scanned more for the Whinchat, then finding it out left on the Hawthorn 100+ metres left, allowing a record shot. The call occurred just once more further away and was gone.

Male Whinchat
Later after arriving home Brian called asking me if the Whinchat was still showing, it transpires WhatsApp had not delivered the messages until 09:06.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Bated breath

I've had virtually no time, or energy to get out, but managed a walk Weds and this morning.

Out 06:30 Weds at LFGP and it was nice to see our lake edge strimming had an immediate effect, 1 Green Sandpiper and at least 2 Snipe, the latter flying about too, about 8 Teal about, little else, but the GC Grebe have 2 young.

This morning I was in the hide by 06:00 and found thick fog, which never fails to annoy me. It looked like it was clearing, but then didn't. I did pick up 14 Teal, 1 Little Egret, about 100 Lapwing in the SW corner tells us waders can now stand there again. One duck that flew off I failed to get on until the last second before the fog enveloped it, did leave me suspecting it might have been an early Pintail, 7-8 Gadwall were mobile.

At Sandford 12 Shoveler, another 2 at BSL, Grey Wagtail on the DAC building, Nuthatch calling nearby, 20 more Gadwall were in Coot bay - near to Sandford, at Lavell's 30 more Gadwall, 1 Wigeon, 1 Water Rail calling from main island.

Nothing to speak of in the car park field, a distant raptor heading North was probably Peregrine, but no Redstart, Spot Fly or chats so far.

Thursday, 17 August 2017


Two mornings achieved, one failure this morning. It was a in some form a tiring holiday, but in the two days I got out added month ticks for the park in the form of Green & Common Sandpiper, Mistle Thrush, Peregrine & Ring-necked Parakeet.

Nuthatch are calling in various spots, notably large tit flocks around area, but not in car park field while I've been looking. No chats or Wheatear, no starts, no flycatchers, nor extra waders.

Still time and if I add anything it will be a rare year when all 8 months straight held year ticks, September should mean Stonechat and or/Pintail, so if a Brambling or better shows in October, then 10 months straight would be exceptional.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Nearly back

Family holidays are funny things and after 3 weeks I feel totally out of sorts and cannot wait to get back to patching.

Nothing to report and happy to see I missed nothing too.

Next up Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Pintail, Stonechat and hopefully a good wader too, water levels are not helping.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Odd wader

Out at 06:10 at Ron's barely sat down 5 minutes scanning the East shore and this tiny wader took my attention. I say tiny because it was near LRP and was about the same size.

It was very buff coloured on the head, thru to it's belly, white along the side of the buff belly, not especially long looking wings, black looking legs, rather short black bill, dark feather in scaps, pale fringed. Apart from that it was 300+ metres away and hard to see much else.

I watched it and decided it could be a stint, or a 'peep sp' meaning unknown, so called Trev and we talked about the various peeps, next I called Brian and he got down pretty quick. We watched it for over an hour til I had to go.

Returning 09:40, it hadn't moved much and the belief started to lean towards and extremely small Dunlin juvenile.

The two with other waders show how small it was, the last two shots were taken a lot closer but annoyingly I couldn't see over the nearby vegetation. As it shows there were white 'tram lines' along the edge of the mantle, the bill was very short for Dunlin.

Nearest I could find on plumage was this Dunlin, but on size comparisons?

Also present was the juvenile Yellow Wagtail, 2 Green, 2 Common Sand and 2 LRP.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

90's July

And I'm not talking about the year....

I arrived usual sort of time 06:10 at LFGP, hide left insecure lock on but gate open, not very clever whom ever did that, as you can the lock on the did it not occur to their subconscious brain what am I locking here?

Peering out mum and foal Roe deer on the shingle island, don't see that every day, terns and BH Gulls were not happy.

I began scanning and quickly found a summer plumage Dunlin, which we usually get 4 out of 5 years in July. then something small next to 2 Common Sandpiper had me guessing for a second, I stared and the penny dropped, this pale yellow bird turned and I realised it was a juvenile Yellow Wagtail, very uncommon in July, the first since 2006.

These two and Geoff's Snipe 2 days ago put us on 90 for July, = 3rd place with 2014, 1 more to match 2015, 4 more to equal 2013's first place.

And with species like Redshank, Greenshank, Little Grebe, Peregrine, Yellow-legged, Common, or Med Gull and Linnet all good candidate additions, we might again break a month record.

The SW corner is still looking great, about 2" more water now, but still perfect for goodies like Wood Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Ruff, Garganey, or a Spoonbill???

Tuesday, 11 July 2017


At 06:10 I'd barely been in the hide 5 minutes and was photographing the 2 Mandarin, when something made me look out and up, a fast flapping narrow and medium sized bird was heading directly in from the East, it turned, big white and black wing bars revealing Black-tailed Godwit, it was about 200 ft up and turned toward the NE corner, but wasn't dropping, it turned again and kept going North and away.

5 LRP back, probably the same birds, 1 Common, 1 Green Sandpiper, a Sparrowhawk prowling for a lucky Sand Martin.

Back at Lavell's a Garden Warbler perched in view near the benches, Bullfinch are around in numbers, so must have a had a good breeding season, the Barn Owl arrived and tried to entice of of the bigger chicks out, no luck...another day then.

What will the rain bring??

Monday, 10 July 2017


I want to say sorry for not posting over the last 10 days, I hadn't realised just how much time had gone by since my last post, what with running WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook accounts, it does all get a bit much.

If I haven't posted here, it's worth a look at the FOLL Facebook group

Or even follow us on Twitter, but it's not for urgent bird news, just general 'stuff'

Anyway, after posting 'waiting for waders' it began the next day with a July Ringed Plover, always nice. It went on to stay til 7th, 7 days being the second longest ever stay and we have to go back to Sept 15th 1984 to find a longer staying (juvenile) bird, til 30th in fact.

3-6 LRP's have been seen, 1 to 3 Green Sandpiper, with 4 on the 9th, 4 Common Sandpiper yesterday too, all on Lavell's old Tern island.

As with other July's Little Egrets have begun gathering, 3 at first, then 4 on 8th, 8 later that day and again today.

1-2 Mandarin have showed up again, presumably 1 or both are from the family seen last month, the Sand Martins are doing great, 50+ birds seen from 2nd, possibly second broods in the making.

Out of season ducks have been on offer, 1-3 Teal for a few days, 1-2 Shoveler the same, Steve found 5 Pochard on Sandford on the 6th only. Even the adult Cuckoo seen yesterday was great, rare for adult this late, just 3 folks got to see that.

The main attraction has been the Barn Owls, 4 chicks in the box are about to fledge any moment.

I'm still waiting for a Black-tailed Godwit!!!

Friday, 30 June 2017

Waiting for the waders

With no LRP's or Sandpipers this morning, I sat waiting for the godwits to fly in, they didn't but I did have the pleasure of a Kingfisher landing on my new perch for the first time.

Am a little frustrated as it could have been a tiny bit clearer, but I hadn't seen it arrive and as per normal it wasn't there long,

Taking his time nibbling in front of me was this lovely Roe Deer,

A Redshank was on the NE shore, but flew across to the SW for 5 minutes

A couple of days ago I counted 51 Egyptian Geese at BSL which is the most I've ever seen and whilst it isn't exciting, its interesting, not even half of them were on the beach.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The lull

I was out at 06:20, straight to Lea Farm GP as usual, I could hear 2 Oycs, but only one was there when I got in the hide. 2 LRP, but little else. So I took a shot of the SW corner before we get the rain in case it gets flooded and we can't remember what it looks like with lovely shallow water and muddy fringes.

Doing my loop, it was quiet really, 20+ Swift over BSL.

Mid morning and Steve WhatsApp's saying Med back at Tern scrape. Here it is

Discussions around it's age point to a 1st summer bird due to the black in the primaries, but such a developed head keeps things interesting.

What I hadn't known was someone had 2 Meds yesterday evening, no age details given, but certainly this bird is the third individual in June, which is quite something considering we've never had a June record until this year.

Monday, 26 June 2017

June Black-tailed Godwits

It was easy to count, just 1 record 1/28th 2011 Sandford (RNM & SPD).

But the first week July has a few more;

2014 - 1/2nd Tern scrape (Linda Martin) Islandica race flew in 09:13 to 10:15 only
2013 - 7/1st LFGP 13:00 only (Bert May)
2008 - 1/7th Ad summer Tern Scrape 17:00 (FJC et al), til 8th evening (M Whitney)

With flocks of 8 in Hertfordshire yesterday & Bucks today (same birds?), I'm fingers crossed for LFGP pulling a few in any day and I hope our little puddle we made in the shingle gets them to land and the SW corner brings them closer

Saturday, 24 June 2017

June Common Sands

Today's 2 Common Sandpiper were fairly unusual, so I thought why not put up all the past June records?

2017 - 2/24th LFGP (FJC)
2016 - 1/17th LFGP (Les Blundell)
2013 - 1/23rd LFGP NE corner (RNM), & 1/29th (FJC)
2012 - 1/23rd LFGP (H Whitall & RBryant)
2010 - 2/30th LFGP, in front of hide (RNM)
2004 - 1/7th (OU), 1/12th Lavell's (K Girling) & 1/22nd (TL)
1995 - 1/13th (OU)
1994 - 1/15th Lavell's,
1992 - 1/26th onwards

Just into July
2017 - 1/2nd LFGP (FJC)
2016 - 1/1st LFGP (RNM & FJC)
2015 - 1/2nd LFGP (A Rymer)
2014 - 1/7th LFGP (RNM)
2012 - 2/1st LFGP (A Rymer)
2009 - 1/4th LFGP (FJC), 2/7th (A Rymer)
2008 - 1/6th Tern Scrape (MFW)
2007 - 2/8th onwards LFGP (FJC)
2006 - 1/9th onwards
2005 - 5/7th BSL (ADB), 1/8th BSL (A Slater)
2004 - 2/10th BSL (B Hollands)
1997 - 1/7th
1995 - 1/3rd
1994 - 1/3rd

I like to ask folks to read into it what they will, for me this says it was random until LFGP came along, but now it is looking like the last 5-7 years a new pattern of earlier arrivals, which led to my feeling that a Common could turn up any day prior to today's find...nice to have 2 as well.

There are many in July, but the trend of first passage date has come forward quite some amount since the 80's.

Blink and we're there

I put out the request for information on unrecorded species, Phil fires back Kestrel and Hobby, then Jenny and Steve spot 2 Peregrines over yesterday and at 07:30 this morning I found not 1 but 2 Common Sandpiper...putting us on 90 for June matching last year.

Perhaps we can still add Little Grebe, is there a Water Rail lurking in a ditch, how about a secret spot for breeding Willow Warbler, will a Shelduck fly in??? I think Little Grebe is out there somewhere allowing us to push the June total one higher than ever.

So back to them Common Sandpipers, here is what I saw first;

I'll forgive myself for being a bit quick off the blocks and calling one a Green, but shortly after my first WhatsApp message the truth became clear, not great shots of course

Same 3 Teal, 3 Grey Wagtail and for me first views of Common Tern chicks