Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Ring Necked Parakeet at Richmond Park

The wife and I took a drive to Richmond Park today.
The park was full of deer and alive with Ring Necked Parakeet and Jackdaws.

Ring Necked Parakeet
Red Deer

Monday, 29 April 2013

Dotterel Delight

With news coming through that the Berkshire Dotterel had stayed for a third day I decided it was worth the trip. I set off at lunchtime for the ninety mile journey around the M25, across the M4 and up the A34 and arrived at 1pm in the small car park of Bury Downs. I walked a few feet along the Ridgeway path and was pleased to see a couple of birders on the target bird.

My first ever DOTTEREL was in my scope, a nice female bird in great plumage. This is one of those birds that's been on my wanted list since I first read bird books as a child and I was delighted to have finally caught up with one. I enjoyed the birds company for a couple of hours but it stayed quite distant and only offered me a small record shot.

The Ridgeway
Also on the Downs were Grey Partridge and Wheatear and good numbers of Red Kite circled over head.
On the way back I stopped at Lea Valley and was pleased to see a couple of Common Tern.
Sedge Warblers were calling along the river bank and a Cormorant dropped in to feed in the river too.

Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler 

A memorable day and bird 216 for 2013.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

No sign of Subalpine Warbler at Languard

I couldn't resist the journey to Languard today in the hope that yesterdays newly arrived Eastern Subalpine Warbler had stayed over night. Problem was the night was clear with a bright moon so chances of the bird moving on had to be considered too.
Ringed Plover
On arrival at 7.30am (would have been earlier but the A12 was closed) several other birders were on site looking for the bird and we quickly joined the search. We found several of yesterdays Wheatear had stayed and a female common Redstart showed well too, Linnets were everywhere and a Ringed Plover dropped in from the beach to feed  presenting a photographic opportunity I couldn't resist although the ground was a little wet as I lie on it to get the shot I wanted.

Ringed Plover
We left mid morning somewhat disappointed with the dip putting out the news that the bird had not been seen.

The trip home was also delayed because of another accident on the M25...it's not been a good weekend for traffic delays but I suppose we should be thankful we weren't involved in the accidents and I still arrived in time to take the good lady shopping for more crafty supplies. (She really needed some!)

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Birding in Kent

We drove down to Grove Ferry today hoping to catch up with a Cattle Egret that's been showing there on and off for a few days. Arriving at 7.30am we were lucky to meet Dave (a local birder) who gave us a run down of what's about and the best places to look for the Egret. We found a Turtle Dove (215)  calling along the entrance track. At the mound we scanned for the Egret without joy so we searched further around the reserve where Jimmy saw a Wood Sandpiper but I missed it whilst scanning further along the track. The bird was flushed by a Marsh Harrier but I somehow managed to miss it again and then a Sprawk settled on the bank and that ended any chance of the bird coming out of the reeds. On the walk back Dave called as he'd found a Turtle Dove and had it in the scope and we managed to get good views too.
We tried the back of the reserve as we drove around to Stodmarsh but didn't connect with the Egret here either. At Stodmarsh we found the water alive with Hirundines but none of the expected Hobby. There was lot's of Marsh Harrier activity and the reeds were humming with the sound of Reed, Sedge and Cettis warbler.

We had a quick walk around East Blean Woods in search of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but managed just Great Spotted and Green. A second Turtle Dove was heard hear but not seen so we moved on to Oare Marsh were Whimbrel flew over and Yellow Wagtails showed well. I managed to catch a few shots of a smashing Little Egret as it hunted for Marsh Frogs. The Frogs were all over the place and really noisy so I'm sure the Egret had easy pickings.
Little Egret
Little Egret
From Oare we stopped at Elmley on the way home and here we enjoyed good views of Lapwing, Redshank and Yellow Wagtails.

Redshank sleeping on one leg
Redshank sinking a Marsh Frog
Yellow Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail with dung fly
Yellow Wag bath
The journey home was hampered by accidents and lane closures on the M25 and A2 but the day gave me another tick and moves me one bird in front of last years April total.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Red Kite delight

Red Kites are protected by law as a Schedule 1 species. That law says they cannot be disturbed at or near their nest sites. The pictures taken here were of birds feeding from a residential area and no disturbance to any nesting areas was made, in fact I never left the comfort of the car to get these shots as the birds circled above the houses.

Red Kite
Red Kite
Red Kite
Red Kite

Red Kite
Red Kite
The kite was extinct in England and has been the subject of a reintroduction programme in England and Scotland. The birds were brought in from Spain in 1989 and have since established a healthy breeding population with the first breeding success way back in 1992 and it's estimated that there could be over 600 pairs now breeding in the original reintroduction area in the Chilterns as well as populations established in the Midlands, Yorkshire, Gateshead as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The reintroduction programme should I suppose be considered a great success helped by the fact that these birds are scavengers and happy to use residents feeding to support their diet as well as feeding on carrion and the small prey items like worms etc that they take. I think the RSPB would encourage less feeding support locally in the hope that the birds spread out away from the reintroduction areas although I regularly see Kites now in most counties of southern England so I guess they are starting to spread.

I know the countryside is a richer place for having them back in it.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

A day out in the Cotswolds and the birding is good too.

I took the good lady to the Cotswolds today as she has long wanted to visit the area.
We set off nice and early and arrived in Chipping Camden as the starting point of our tour of this beautiful part of the country.


Arlington Row Bibury 
Lower Slaughter 
The Cotswolds
A step back in time!
Thatched Cottages 
Suzanne took my old camera out today and most of the above were taken by her and very nice they are too.

We moved down to Bourton on the water, through the Slaughters taking in Snowshills before moving south through Burford and into Bibury which was by far the nicest place amongst a lot of nice places.

Bilbury gardens
As for the birds well how about a Peregrine seen flying over the road with a kill, I stopped the car and grabbed a couple of distant shots of the impressive falcon sitting in the field eating the Jay it had just caught.

Peregrine (and a Jay)
Add a nice Grey Wagtail whilst taking a coffee break on the river at Bibury and Mallards sharing my lunch and then there's the Red Kites which were just incredible so I've added a sample picture here but I'll post a few more tomorrow.

Grey Wagtail
Female Mallard
Male Mallard
Red Kite
A lovely day out enjoyed by me, the wife & Tia (who had a good splash in several rivers along the way)
This is an area we will return to for a longer visit at some time and if you haven't been then all I can say is... GO DO IT...IT'S BEAUTIFUL!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dipping the Western Bonelli's Warbler at Church Norton

I left home this morning at silly o'clock and drove 115 miles to Church Norton with the hope that I might connect with a Western Bonelli's Warbler that has been in the Churchyard for a couple of days.
This is a bird of Western Europe that's somehow found itself on the south coast and more importantly for me it would be a lifer!

I parked in the churchyard car park and walked through to Pagham Harbour where the mist was heavy and visibility was really poor. I found the hide and spent the next four hours searching for the Bonelli's without any joy. I saw plenty of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, Blackcaps and Whitethroat, Cuckoos and Woodpeckers but no Bonelli's apart from a very possible fly by which evaded the binoculars so remains a frustrating.....was that it? (Small clear white underparts, grey / green back with a hint of yellow....what else?)

On the beach I had Wimbrel and a Little Tern (213) gave me a year tick as a consolation prize for the trip.
A lot of miles, a long time searching with the other birders who'd come out for this target and a long drive home which always seems longer when you dip.
This tick is for another day but for now the bird has been added to my dipped list.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


The Moon
It was there so was I
would have been rude not to get the camera out.

Garden Warbler moves the year list along

I popped back to Fishers Green this morning to see if the local Nightingales would be singing and hoping one might just come out of cover to allow a photo opportunity. The good news was that the birds were singing and when the Nightingales sing it seems all the other birds just give up and let them have their moment maybe through lack of competition or maybe they like me just enjoy listening to the song.
Nightingale singing
During the gaps in song Blackcaps would be heard along with Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Whitethroat.
As I walked through the gate towards the power station I heard another song and quickly got on to my first Garden Warbler of 2013 (212) Back at Seventy Acres lake I spotted another two Common Tern but again the Black-headed Gull chased them off. I'm hoping they'll come back with a few mates and set about finding territory. Also witnessed a Greylag Goose diving completely under the water like a Coot and staying down for several seconds before popping back up. I've never seen this behaviour before with Geese and don't think it's common by any means.
Greylag (just bobbed back up from being underwater)
I took the dog back later for a walk around seventy acres lake and spotted a Sparrowhawk amongst the more usual birds. Still no Hobby despite them being reported since Saturday.

Robin (couldn't resist as he sat up for me)
Mute Swan 
I now need two more in April to break even with last Aprils total of 214.

Terrapin on Goldings Hill Pond
On the drive home I noticed the above Terrapin sunning itself on Goldings Hill pond. It was about eight inches across the shell so quite a large creature that has obviously outgrown it's tank and been released at some stage into the pond.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Greylags make good parents

Having spent most of the day at my sons gardening I needed a birding fix so made the short trip to Fishers Green where I witnessed the Greylag Geese demonstrating their bond with the four chicks they have.
First they watched over them as they found food on the grass bank and saw off any other bird that ventured too close including an aggressive Swan.
As night closed in the adult took all four chicks and tucked them under her wings for the night.
A real tender moment that just underlines the commitment these birds have to show to raise a brood.
I'm hoping they can get the four chicks reared but will keep posting development here for anybody interested.

Four Greylags looking for Mum
All four chicks getting settled for the night
And sleep!

On the walk around Seventy Acres lake I had hoped for my first Hobby but failed to see one although eight Swifts hawked high up with the Swallows and Martins and a couple of Common Buzzard drifted over the lake.