Monday, 31 December 2012

Clean sheet in a few hours

What a great year!
Happy New Year to one and all but especially my massive band of followers. Hopefully I will get to meet some of you in the field in 2013.
Below is my 2012 year list. I am not a competitive lister. I only list birds for my own records

1  Carrion Crow  01 January 2012  Ascot Road, West Watford
2  Lesser black-backed Gull  01 January 2012  Ascot Road, West Watford
3  Jackdaw  01 January 2012  Ascot Road, West Watford
4  Blue Tit  01 January 2012  Ascot Road, West Watford
5  Blackbird  01 January 2012  Ascot Road, West Watford
6  Robin  01 January 2012  Ascot Road, West Watford
7  Black-headed Gull  01 January 2012  Ascot Road, West Watford
8  Wood Pigeon  01 January 2012  Ascot Road, West Watford
9  Magpie  01 January 2012  Ascot Road, West Watford
10  Siskin  01 January 2012  Ascot Road, West Watford
11  Pied Wagtail  01 January 2012  Ascot Road, West Watford
12  Great-spotted Woodpecker  01 January 2012  Ascot Road, West Watford
13  Wigeon  01 January 2012  Inns Lake
14  Mute Swan  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
15  Canada Goose  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
16  Egyptian Goose  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
17  Gadwall  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
18  Mallard  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
19  Shoveler  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
20  Pochard  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
21  Tufted Duck  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
22  Goldeneye  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
23  Cormorant  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
24  Grey Heron  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
25  Moorhen  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
26  Coot  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
27  Lapwing  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
28  Common Gull  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
29  Collared Dove  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
30  Ring-necked Parakeet  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
31  Little Owl  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
32  Kingfisher  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
33  Wren  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
34  Dunnock  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
35  Fieldfare  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
36  Song Thrush  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
37  Long-tailed Tit  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
38  Great Tit  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
39  Jay  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
40  Chaffinch  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
41  Goldfinch  01 January 2012  Stockers Lake/Farm
42  Red Kite  01 January 2012  Woodoaks Farm
43  Kestrel  01 January 2012  Woodoaks Farm
44  Green Woodpecker  01 January 2012  Woodoaks Farm
45  Skylark  01 January 2012  Woodoaks Farm
46  Meadow Pipit  01 January 2012  Woodoaks Farm
47  Redwing  01 January 2012  Woodoaks Farm
48  Goldcrest  01 January 2012  Woodoaks Farm
49  Starling  01 January 2012  Woodoaks Farm
50  House Sparrow  01 January 2012  Woodoaks Farm
51  Greenfinch  01 January 2012  Woodoaks Farm
52  Buzzard  02 January 2012  Wendover Woods
53  Crossbill  02 January 2012  Wendover Woods
54  Teal  02 January 2012  Marsworth Reservoir, Tring
55  Great-crested Grebe  02 January 2012  Marsworth Reservoir, Tring
56  Grey Wagtail  02 January 2012  Marsworth Reservoir, Tring
57  Jack Snipe  02 January 2012  Marsworth Reservoir, Tring
58  Snow Bunting  02 January 2012  Startop's Reservoir, Tring
59  Yellowhammer  02 January 2012  Bedmond nr Radio mast
60  Coal Tit  05 January 2012  Abbots Langley
61  Woodlark  07 January 2012  Hawkhill Inclosure
62  Mistle Thrush  07 January 2012  Hawkhill Inclosure
63  Dark-eyed Junco  07 January 2012  Hawkhill Inclosure
64  Reed Bunting  07 January 2012  Hawkhill Inclosure
65  Red-legged Partridge  08 January 2012  Deadman's Hill
66  Rook  08 January 2012  Deadman's Hill
67  Grey Partridge  08 January 2012  Therfield Heath
68  Great Grey Shrike  08 January 2012  Therfield Heath
69  Sparrowhawk  08 January 2012  Deadman's Hill
70  Nuthatch  09 January 2012  Abbots Langley/Bedmond
71  Bullfinch  09 January 2012  Abbots Langley/Bedmond
72  Pheasant  12 January 2012  Springwell Lake
73  Little Grebe  12 January 2012  Springwell Lake
74  Water Rail  12 January 2012  Croxley Common Moor
75  Chiffchaff  12 January 2012  Springwell Lake
76  Brent Goose  14 January 2012  Calshot Marshes
77  Oystercatcher  14 January 2012  Calshot Marshes
78  Curlew  14 January 2012  Calshot Marshes
79  Stock Dove  14 January 2012  Beaulieu Road Station
80  Treecreeper  14 January 2012  Beaulieu Road Station
81  Spanish Sparrow  14 January 2012  Calshot
82  Scaup  15 January 2012  Staines Reservoir
83  Ruddy Duck  15 January 2012 
84  Black-necked Grebe  15 January 2012  Staines Reservoir
85  Shag  15 January 2012  Staines Reservoir
86  Water Pipit  15 January 2012  Staines Reservoir
87  Goosander  16 January 2012  Stockers Lake
88  Red-crested Pochard  16 January 2012  Bury Lake
89  Temminck’s Stint  21 January 2012  Rushy Common
90  Green Sandpiper  21 January 2012  Rushy Common
91  Grey Phalarope  21 January 2012  Farmoor Reservoir
92  Raven  21 January 2012  M40 nr High Wycombe
93  Red-breasted Merganser  22 January 2012  Hayling Island Oyster Beds
94  Little Egret  22 January 2012  Hayling Island Oyster Beds
95  Ringed Plover  22 January 2012  Hayling Island Oyster Beds
96  Grey Plover  22 January 2012  Hayling Island Oyster Beds
97  Dunlin  22 January 2012  Hayling Island Oyster Beds
98  Turnstone  22 January 2012  Hayling Island Oyster Beds
99  Shorelark  22 January 2012  Hayling Island Oyster Beds
100  Rock Pipit  22 January 2012  Hayling Island Oyster Beds
101  Cattle Egret  22 January 2012  Warblington
102  Ring-billed Gull  22 January 2012  Walpole Park
103  Herring Gull  22 January 2012  Walpole Park
104  Purple Sandpiper  22 January 2012  Southsea Castle
105  Little Auk  22 January 2012  College Lake
106  Dipper  28 January 2012  New Mill nr Witney
107  Smew  29 January 2012  Stockers Lake
108  Marsh Tit  01 February 2012  Wendover Woods
109  Corn Bunting  01 February 2012  Marsworth Reservoir, Tring
110  Short-eared Owl  02 February 2012  Otmoor
111  Greylag Goose  02 February 2012  Otmoor
112  Stonechat  03 February 2012  Black Down NT
113  Golden Plover  03 February 2012  Pagham Harbour
114  Greenshank  03 February 2012  Pagham Harbour
115  Pintail  03 February 2012  Pagham Harbour
116  Redshank  03 February 2012  Pagham Harbour
117  Shelduck  03 February 2012  Pagham Harbour
118  Black-tailed Godwit  03 February 2012  Thorney Island
119  Snipe  03 February 2012  Thorney Island
120  Willow Tit  04 February 2012  Linford NR
121  Great black-backed Gull  04 February 2012  Hedgerley Landfill Site
122  Bittern  05 February 2012  Marsworth Reservoir, Tring
123  Merlin  12 February 2012  Deadman's Hill
124  Tree Sparrow  12 February 2012  Tyttenhanger
125  Linnet  20 February 2012  Abbots Langley
126  Brambling  24 February 2012  Penn Wood
127  Common Yellowthroat  26 February 2012  Rhiwderin near Newport
128  Lesser Scaup  26 February 2012  Cosmeston Country Park
129  Lesser-spotted Woodpecker  28 February 2012  Withey Beds
130  Rough-legged Buzzard  03 March 2012 
131  Rose-coloured Starling  04 March 2012  Hordle
132  Cetti's Warbler  10 March 2012  Stockers Lake
133  Pink-footed Goose  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
134  Long-tailed Duck  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
135  Velvet Scoter  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
136  Slavonian Grebe  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
137  Marsh Harrier  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
138  Avocet  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
139  Knot  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
140  Sanderling  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
141  Ruff  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
142  Bar-tailed Godwit  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
143  Spotted Redshank  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
144  Mediterranean Gull  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
145  Coues' Arctic Redpoll  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
146  Lesser Redpoll  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
147  Mealy Redpoll  11 March 2012  Titchwell Marshes
148  Hawfinch  11 March 2012  Lynford Arboretum
149  Spoonbill  17 March 2012  Lodmoor
150  Fulmar  17 March 2012  Portland Bill
151  Gannet  17 March 2012  Portland Bill
152  Guillemot  17 March 2012  Portland Bill
153  Peregrine  17 March 2012  Portland Bill
154  Razorbill  17 March 2012  Portland Bill
155  Wheatear  17 March 2012  Portland Bill
156  Glossy Ibis  17 March 2012  Radipole Lake
157  Goshawk  19 March 2012  Acre's Down
158  Firecrest  19 March 2012  Acre's Down
159  Black Redstart  20 March 2012  Woodoaks Farm
160  Dartford Warbler  23 March 2012  Coombe Heath
161  Sandwich Tern  24 March 2012  Dungeness
162  Black-throated Diver  01 April 2012  Dunlichity
163  Golden Eagle  01 April 2012  Findhorn Valley
164  Hooded Crow  01 April 2012  Loch Ruthven
165  Osprey  01 April 2012  Loch Garten
166  Red-throated Diver  01 April 2012  Loch Ruthven
167  Scottish Crossbill  01 April 2012  Loch Garten
168  Whooper Swan  01 April 2012  Loch Garten
169  Black Guillemot  02 April 2012  Lochalsh
170  Ptarmigan  02 April 2012  Applecross
171  Crested Tit  03 April 2012  Loch Garten
172  Red Grouse  03 April 2012  Grantown on Spey
173  Black Grouse  04 April 2012  Tulloch Moor
174  Capercaillie  04 April 2012  Loch Garten
175  Eider  04 April 2012  Ythan Estuary
176  King Eider  04 April 2012  Ythan Estuary
177  Kittiwake  04 April 2012  Frazerburgh
178  Blackcap  06 April 2012  Stockers Lake
179  Willow Warbler  06 April 2012  Stockers Lake
180  Common Tern  06 April 2012  Stockers Lake
181  Ring Ouzel  07 April 2012  Incombe Hole
182  Garganey  08 April 2012  Rainham Marshes
183  Common Sandpiper  08 April 2012  Rainham Marshes
184  Swallow  08 April 2012  Rainham Marshes
185  Yellow Wagtail  08 April 2012  Rainham Marshes
186  Tundra Bean Goose  09 April 2012  Thorpe Park
187  Little Gull  09 April 2012  Staines Reservoir
188  Sand Martin  09 April 2012  Staines Reservoir
189  Redstart  13 April 2012  Croxley Common Moor
190  Black-winged Stilt  14 April 2012  Abbotsbury
191  Manx Shearwater  14 April 2012  Portland Bill
192  Puffin  14 April 2012  Portland Bill
193  House Martin  14 April 2012  Portland Bill
194  Sedge Warbler  15 April 2012  Marsworth Reservoir, Tring
195  White Wagtail  15 April 2012  Farmoor Reservoir
196  Whitethroat  16 April 2012  Croxley Common Moor
197  Bearded Tit  21 April 2012  Titchwell Marshes
198  Reed Warbler  21 April 2012  Titchwell Marshes
199  Stone-curlew  21 April 2012  Foxhole Heath
200  Swift  27 April 2012  Gaywoods Lake, Kings Langley
201  Whimbrel  28 April 2012  Balscote Quarry, Oxon
202  Whinchat  28 April 2012  Balscote Quarry, Oxon
203  Little Ringed Plover  28 April 2012  Balscote Quarry, Oxon
204  Dotterel  28 April 2012  Balscote Quarry, Oxon
205  White Stork  29 April 2012  Standlake Common, Oxon
206  Lesser Whitethroat  04 May 2012  Croxley Common Moor
207  Garden Warbler  04 May 2012  Croxley Common Moor
208  Hobby  05 May 2012  Portland Bill
209  Spotted Flycatcher  05 May 2012  Portland Bill
210  Little Tern  05 May 2012  Ferrybridge
211  Cuckoo  06 May 2012  Otmoor
212  Wood Sandpiper  06 May 2012  Otmoor
213  Golden Oriole  12 May 2012  Lakenheath
214  Tree Pipit  12 May 2012  Santon Downham
215  Wood Warbler  26 May 2012  Aber Falls
216  Pied Flycatcher  26 May 2012  Aber Falls
217  Chough  26 May 2012  South Stack
218  Curlew Sandpiper  26 May 2012  Cemlyn Bay
219  Arctic Tern  26 May 2012  Cemlyn Bay
220  Turtle Dove  02 June 2012  Otmoor
221  Nightingale  02 June 2012  Bledlow
222  Barn Owl  04 June 2012  Lakenheath
223  Common Crane  04 June 2012  Lakenheath
224  Roller  09 June 2012  Aldbrough
225  Little Bittern  13 June 2012  Stockers Lake
226  Montagu’s Harrier  16 June 2012 
227  Night Heron  16 June 2012  Keyhaven
228  Great Skua  30 June 2012  Milford on Sea
229  Common Scoter  30 June 2012  Milford on Sea
230  Grasshopper Warbler  01 July 2012  Otmoor
231  Sabine’s Gull  02 July 2012  Startop's Reservoir, Tring
232  Surf Scoter  07 July 2012  Murcgar
233  Red-backed Shrike  14 July 2012  Dawley Road, Hayes.
234  Yellow-legged Gull  14 July 2012  Little Marlow
235  Woodcock  17 July 2012  Chobham Common
236  Nightjar  17 July 2012  Chobham Common
237  Balearic Shearwater  21 July 2012  Portland Bill
238  Purple Heron  05 August 2012  Sutton Gault
239  Little Stint  18 August 2012  Buckenham Marshes
240  Honey Buzzard
241  Woodchat Shrike  25 August 2012  Wyke Regis
242  Wryneck  01 September 2012  West Bexington
243  Short-billed Dowitcher  08 September 2012  Lodmoor
244  Baillon’s Crake  15 September 2012  Rainham Marshes
245  Spotted Crake  16 September 2012  Stanwick Lakes
246  Great White Egret  16 September 2012  Ouse Washes
247  Red-breasted Flycatcher  22 September 2012  Holme
248  Arctic Skua  22 September 2012  Holme
249  Barred Warbler  22 September 2012  Holme
250  Baird’s Sandpiper  22 September 2012  Titchwell Marshes
251  Yellow-browed Warbler  22 September 2012  Wells Woods
252  Pectoral Sandpiper  23 September 2012  Dorney Common
253  Mandarin Duck  23 September 2012  Black Park
254  Barnacle Goose  30 September 2012  Loch of Strathbeg
255  Long-eared Owl  06 October 2012  Elmley
256  White-rumped Sandpiper  17 October 2012  Cley
257  Hen Harrier  18 October 2012  Stubbs Mill
258  Red-breasted Goose  20 October 2012  South Swale NR
259  Glaucous Gull  20 October 2012  Dungeness
260  Little Bunting  27 October 2012  Burnham Overy
261  Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll  27 October 2012  Holkham Pines/Dunes
262  Hoopoe  03 November 2012  Swallow Point
263  Black Brant  10 November 2012  Pagham Harbour
264  Waxwing  10 November 2012  Marston Vale Country Park
265  Hooded Merganser  12 November 2012  Pagham Harbour
266  Pallas’s Warbler  17 November 2012  Dungeness
267  Great Northern Diver  17 November 2012  Theale Gravel Pits
268  Twite  24 November 2012  Dingle Marshes
269  Bewick's Swan  24 November 2012  Minsmere
270  Red-necked Grebe  25 November 2012  Queen Mother Reservoir
271  Buff-bellied Pipit  15 December 2012  Queen Mother Reservoir

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Soggy Otmoor

A belated Merry Christmas and an early Happy New Year to one and all.
A long overdue update. I've not been out much since my last post due to a combination of virus, Christmas and can't be arsedness because of the rubbish weather.
This morning Paul and myself paid a visit to Otmoor. The weather was gloomy and overcast with periods of fine rain.
Soon after we arrived we connected with a Ringtail Hen Harrier. So not a bad start. Other birds of note here were; Golden Plover, Lapwing, Teal. Wigeon, Green Woodpecker, Water Rail, Nuthatch, Stonechat, Little Egret.
On our way back to car park I slipped over. This was my fourth fall of the year so not a bad total. I wonder if I can sneak in one more before the New Year?
From Otmoor we headed off to Spade Oak Gravel Pits near Little Marlow. We had the deluded idea that we might connect with a Caspian Gull. By now the weather had worsened with pouring rain. The footpaths around the lake were almost impassable. Very few gulls around and all the spits had disappeared due to the high water levels. We did note the following before the heavens really opened; Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Snipe, Kingfisher, Red Kite, Goldcrest.
Paul's pics below. Stonechat and Golden Plover at Otmoor and Goldcrest at Little Marlow.

Saturday, 22 December 2012


Paul recently caught up with some Waxwings in Prestwood, Bucks.
His pics below.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

GND at Hillfield

This afternoon whilst watching the footie on tv I took a call from Brendan with news of a Great Northern Diver at Hillfield Reservoir. I prized my self away from the sofa, called round for Brendan and we headed over to Hillfield. Now entry to Hillfield is a bit complicated but there is access to a viewing platform near to Elstree Aerodrome. After a traipse across hertfordshire's muddiest field we reached the viewing platform. Part of the reservoir is not visible from the platform and we could not locate the Diver. However, there were a few birders on the opposite bank who were looking into the area we couldn't see. We recognised a couple of the birders and Brendan made a call to Derek. He confirmed the Diver would not be viewable from where we were. We were debating whether to try viewing from the footbridge over the M1 when Brendan reveived a call. As he was talking I noticed what I thought was the diver in flight. This was confirmed on the phone by Derek. Brendan could not get on the bird and for a few moments it looked like the Diver had departed. It then flew right above us, circled the reservoir and landed in the middle. We were able to get good scope views as it dived continuously (as divers do!). Another birder joined us and was relieved when we put him straight on the bird.

Aldenham CP, Bramfield, Fishers Green.

A mornings birding with Brendan.
Aldenham Country Park; Mandarin.
Bramfield Village; Hawfinch (2), Siskin (2), Nuthatch (3), Fieldfare.
Fishers Green; Water Rail (2), Bittern.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Farmoor then QMR

A mornings outing to Farmoor in Oxfordshire then Queen Mother Reservoir in Berkshire. Ephraim was serving a one trip suspension for bad joke telling. (Something about a zoo with no dogs!). So it was Brendan, Paul and myself that made the trip. Farmoor was our first stop. No Falcated Duck but we did manage; Slavonian Grebe (2) and a single Brambling. Then over to Queen Mother Reservoir. The Buff-bellied Pipit showed really well. Also here Long-tailed Duck and Peregrine.
Pics below; Slavonian Grebe at Farmoor then next two Buff-bellied Pipit at QMR.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Bramfield Hawfinches

A days birding in Hertfordshire with Ephraim. Our first stop was the village of Bramfield. We arrived in the village and parked up outside the church. Here a large number of other birders had gathered. We soon had a brief flight view of a single Hawfinch. We decided to drive around to the car park near the playing field at the rear of the churchyard. We soon had a sighting of another Hawfinch. Then several more brief sightings of up to three birds at a time. We also walked the hedgerow and lane close to the playing field, here we had two more single Hawfinch sightings. Also 2 Lesser Redpolls showed well. So approximately 6 Hawfinches in the general area of the churchyard.
Then up to Therfield and a long walk along the Icknield Way towards Therfield Heath. Slightly disappointing here, no owls and no Great-grey Shrike. The best we could manage here were; Corn Bunting (20+), Yellowhammer (c50), Red-legged Partridge (c25). 

Monday, 3 December 2012

Striking Blackbird

Jim a colleague of my birding pal Paul Frost found this unusually marked Blackbird. It was around the car park area of Holmers Farm recreation ground, Buckmaster Road, High Wycombe. Paul headed over and took the pics below.

Saturday, 1 December 2012


Birding at Portland, Dorset with Paul.
Ferrybridge; Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Little Egret.
Portland Harbour; Goosander, Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag, Great-northern Diver.
Portland Bill; Guillemot, Gannet, Great-black Backed Gull, Shag, Peregrine, Raven, Stonechat, Snipe, Little Owl.
On our way home we made a brief stop at Acres Down, Hants. All quiet here just; Marsh Tit,Goldcrest, Mistle Thrush.
Pics below; My Little Owl then Paul's; Stonechat (f), Stonechat (m), Raven, Raven (same bird), Kestrel.


Sunday, 25 November 2012


A short trip to Queen Mother Reservoir, Horton, Berks with Paul and Brendan. We were in search of a Red-necked Grebe. A juvenile Great-crested Grebe did it's best to fool us. But we weren't having any of it (well maybe just a bit). Anyway, after spending some time looking at a juvenile Great-crested Grebe from the boat club car park, we made our way around the perimeter of the reservoir where after a ten minute walk, we connected with the Red-necked Grebe as it associated with a flock of Tufted Duck. We enjoyed good scope views for a few minutes before it flew to the far side of the reservoir.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Suffolk Birding

A trip to Suffolk with Paul. First stop was Dingle Marshes; Twite (c20), Snow Bunting (1), Stonechat (pair).
RSPB Minsmere was our next stop; Waxwing (31), Bewick Swan (12), Marsh Harrier, Treecreeper, Marsh Tit. Also an Otter from the Island Mere Hide.
We had planned to either stop off at Thetford for the Dark Bellied Dipper or maybe Great-grey Shrike near Colchester but torrential rain intervened and we made our way home. Paul's pics below.
Twite at Dingle Marshes, Waxwing and Otter at Minsmere.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Aylesbury Waxwings

A day off from work today. I had to drop my wife off at work then my son at the station for college. So no chance of my prefered early start. I started off at Woodoaks Farm nr Maple Cross. The only bird of note here was a Little Owl in it's usual tree. Next was a quick whizz around Stockers Lake. Goldeneye, Ring-necked Parakeet, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Kingfisher were the best I could do here. From Stockers I travelled a few junctions around the M25 to the A41 and up to Aylesbury. Outside the Micha building on Gatehouse Way 20 quite mobile Waxwings. I stayed here for nearly 3 hours enjoying the Waxwings feeding on the ornamental berries outside the Micha factory. Quite a crowd of birders had gathered here and lots of interest from members of the public as they went by. The local press in the form of a reporter and a photographer from the Bucks Herald also turned up. They took some pics of us birders but the Waxwings had disappeared for a few minutes. Although it didn't rain the weather was dull, overcast and windy all day.

Saturday, 17 November 2012


This morning the People's Front (Paul) headed off to Pagham Harbour whilst the Popular Front (sh4rpy, Brendan, Ephraim) went off to Theale Gravel Pits in Berkshire.
After some lunch time reconciliation talks at my house the United Front (Paul, sh4rpy, Brendan, Ephraim) travelled over to Kent.

Paul connected with the female Hooded Merganser at Pagham whilst Brendan, Ephraim and myself also connected with our target bird a Great Northern Diver at Theale Gravel Pits near Reading.
We then all met up at my house and went over to Dungeness. We went straight to the lighthouse keepers garden where we soon connected with the mostly elusive Pallas's Warbler. I say mostly elusive as on 3 occassions it popped up in front of us less than 10 feet away but only for what seemed a fraction of a second. After having some fun trying to predict where this elusive but very active bird would pop up we decided to head over to the raptor roost on the Isle of Sheppey. We did have a quick scan of three groups of gulls near the fishing boats but no sign of the Glaucous Gull.
At the Capel Fleet Raptor Roost we noted the following, Marsh Harrier (c16), Merlin, Kestrel, Barn Owl, Bearded Tit (heard), Water Rail (squealing).

On the motorway near Ashford Brendan spotted a single Waxwing perched in a dead tree

Ephraim's account of todays events can be seen here

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Pagham Hoodoo Ended

A mad idea from Brendan to travel down to Pagham Harbour this morning came up trumps. We arrived at around 07:10 and in the gloom we immediately connected with the female Hooded Merganser as it fed in the channel near the sluice bridge. We didn't stay long as we both had to be back for work.

Small compared to Mallard

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Curse of Pagham Harbour

Saturday 10th November 2012.
Another early morning team meeting with Paul, Brendan and Ephraim. On the ballot paper was Penduline Tit at Grove Ferry or Hooded Merganser at Pagham Harbour. The Hooded Merganser won, so off we went to Pagham Harbour. We arrived before 08:00 and joined a fair few other birders hoping to connect with the relatively long staying female Hooded Merganser. We searched for approaching 3 hours but no luck. I visited this site three times back in March this year and all three times I failed to connect with Paddyfield Warbler and of course this bird was seen the following day on all three occasions. So it was no surprise when Brendan phoned this morning to say the Merganser had been reported. I checked Birdguides and saw the following message; "11/11 07:56  WEST SUSSEX : Hooded Merganser, Pagham Harbour LNR  [NR]
1st-winter female in channel near the sluice off North Wall again this morning".
By way of consolation we did connect with a Black Brant. Also noted here were; Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shelduck, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Snipe, Curlew, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Reed Bunting, Rock Pipit, Cetti's Warbler, Water Rail (squealing).
As we had spent so long at this site our options as to where to go next where slightly limited. We decided to head for Thursley Common which was pretty much on our route home. A Great-grey Shrike regularly overwinters here. News of a Penduline Tit at Marston Vale Country Park had us changing course and heading for Bedfordshire. We made our way towards the "main hide" but as luck would have it we walked straight past it. About 100 yards past the hide two other birders alerted us to two Waxwings perched in a hawthorn. Unfortunately for us they flew off before we could get a good view. We were given directions to the "main hide" but were told that viewing was almost impossible as there were so many people in the hide. We did manage to find an area of reedbed to scan but no joy and as time was running out we headed for home. So no target bird again but consolation in the form of 2 Waxwing.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Jump Through Hoops

Saturday 3rd November 2012
A trip to North Somerset with Paul and Brendan. First stop was the dunes opposite Swallow Point Caravan Park. On arrival it was pouring with rain but keen to see our target bird a Hoopoe, we decided to brave the elements. We made our way from the car along a short track to the dunes. As soon as we started to walk the dunes the Hoopoe flew from the track about 50 metres in front of us and towards the caravn park. As it was pouring with rain and we were confident the Hoopoe would show again we sheltered under the bushes in a nearby hedgerow. After about 30 minutes the rain abated and we set about looking for the Hoopoe again. Almost straight away the Hoopoe flew in to feed amongst the longish grass on the dunes. We enjoyed some great views although it was not that easy to pick out considering it's garish appearance.
Next stop was Battery Point, Portishead near Bristol. Here we connected with a lone Purple Sandpiper and also a single Rock Pipit.
Chew Valley Lake was our next port of call. We were hoping to connect with a drake Ring-necked Duck, however, despite some quite intense scanning of the ducks on the lake we could not find the Ring-necked Ducked. We did note; Scaup, Pochard, Goldeneye, Wigeon, Kingfisher, Buzzard, Peregrine and also a very late juvenile Swallow.
From Chew Valley we headed for home with a slight diversion to Otmoor in Oxfordshire. A massive Starling roost with in excess of 20 thousand birds has been reported from here. Hen Harrier, Peregrine and Sparrowhawk have been seen harrassing the Starlings. When we arrived the car park was packed as many people had come to see the Starling spectacle. On our walk from the car towards the "first screen" we noted two Lesser Redpoll and a female Reed Bunting feeding amonst a large flock of Chaffinch. We stood on a raised bank and looked out over the reserve as hundreds of Starlings flew in from all directions. A fair size flock did form and fly around the reserve but it did not reach the massive proportions of recent days. No sign of Hen Harrier but we did see a Peregrine but this was not interested in the Starlings.
Pics below; Hoopoe at Swallow Point (first three are mine and next two Paul's), Purple Sandpiper at Battery Point (first five are mine and then next two Paul's).


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Too Little

Saturday 27th October 2012
A days birding with Brendan, Dave and Paul. A decision on where to go had to be taken. So an early team meeting at 05:30 in the Harvester car park was arranged. The meeting didn't take too long as we all agreed the good birds were at Portland. So we set sail for...................North Norfolk!
First stop was Cley where Dave and Paul headed for the reserve in search of White-rumped Sandpiper. Brendan and myself joined a mass of other birders for a seawatch. Unfortunately for us the wind was gale force and the sea the roughest I have seen it in Norfolk. This made for difficult and uncomfortable viewing as there was no space in the shelter. We braved the weather for 30 to 40 minutes and did manage to note; Gannet, Kittiwake, Manx Sheawater, Guillemot, Great Skua. Little Auks were being called but neither of us could get on them. News of a confiding Little Auk at nearby Salthouse called for another team meeting. As Dave and Paul were on the reserve this had to be done by the way of a "conference call". Dave and Paul had not connected with the White-rumped Sandpiper so we picked them up from the reserve and headed off to Salthouse. Here we enjoyed the company of a Little Auk showing well down to a distance of 0 (zero) feet. Whilst at Salthouse news of the White-rumped Sandpiper  at Cley had us heading back to the reserve. On the walk from the car park we saw a Peregrine maruading through the reserve putting everything up. This did not bode well for our chances of seeing the White-rumped Sandpiper. We entered the hide and everything had settled back down. However, there were very few waders just a Ringed Plover and a couple of Dunlin. Then the Peregine was back! Everything lifted again except for a few Shelduck. The Peregrine had several goes at one of the Shelduck but was unsuccessful. Everything settled down again and we noted 3 Kittiwake amongst the Black-headed Gulls and 3 Bearded Tit dropped into the reedbed to the left of the hide. Now only one small wader was on the reserve, a Ringed Plover. After about 40 minute's the White-rumped Sandpiper emerged from amongst the Teal roosting on the far bank of the pool in front of the hide. From Cley we headed off to Burnham Overy. Little Bunting our target bird here. On our walk along the sea wall we noted lots of Fieldfare and Redwing in the adjacent fields. Also here we noted a nice male Ring Ouzel. We arrived at the sluice where we soon connected with the Little Bunting as it fed on the track below the sea wall.
As the wind was still blowing strongly and it had started to rain we decided to seek shelter in Wells Woods. Quite a productive visit to the woods with the following of note; Woodcock, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Redwing, Brambling, Lesser Redpoll, Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Nuthatch. Also here we encoutered another birder who seemed to be completely fluent in gibberish (very strange!). On the boating lake next to the car park 8 Little Grebe.
Off to Titchwell next hoping to connect with Grey Phalarope. We arrived at Titchwell and unpacked our optics from the boot of my car when a message came on the pagers that the Arctic Redpoll at Holkham was in fact "Hornemann's". So optics back in the car! I drove to Holkham Pines like someone who is employed by Royal Mail as a collection's driver. On arrival at the pay and display car park we power walked along the track, boardwalk and dunes to where about a dozen birders had gathered. Here we enjoyed great views of the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll as it fed voraciously in amonst the Marram Grass in the dunes. On the journey from the car park to the bird I took a fall in the dunes. Now I know some of my readers may find this amusing but smearing your coat, trousers and optics in green moss slime is not funny. I did call out to Dave and Brendan for help but they pretended not to hear. Now I know a thing or two about health and safety and the lack of signage such as "DANGER" "would all middle aged birders trying to walk at high speed please note that these dunes can become very slippery when wet. This can cause serious injury to your pride and may leave you open to ridicule". So NNR please act as this could (hopefully) happen to somebody else. On our more leisurely walk back to the car we noted a single Swallow.
In an attempt to squeeze one last bird out of the day we headed for a nearby village whose name escapes me in the hope of seeing Waxwings, however, as expected no joy here.
[note to myself, for future postings forget the wordy nonsense and just list what you've seen]
My pics of usual quality below; first two Little Auk at Salthouse, next two Little Bunting at Burnham Overy, last two Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll at Holkham Pines Dunes.