Saturday, 29 September 2012

A touch of wind (and rain)

A good start to the day with a Red Squirrel in the wood opposite our B and B.
Then a walk in the Findhorn Valley. Not the best weather for birding but we weren't there for birding! Strong winds and rain but an enjoyable walk all the same. Not many birds as you might expect but we did manage Golden Eagle (2), Raven (c6), Red Kite. Also Red Deer and Mountain Goat (feral I think?, sorry I don't know much about goats).

Friday, 28 September 2012

Weekend Break

A long weekend in the highlands with my better half. Sightseeing not birding, however, I did manage to sneak in the following;
Grey Wagtail-Aberdeen airport.
Red-breasted Merganser-Grantown on Spey.
Dipper- Carrbridge.
Red-breasted Merganser-Loch Garten
Crested Tit-Abernethy.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Get in the Hole

A mid morning visit to Ivinghoe Beacon then Incombe Hole.
When I left home it was quite a miserable day, cloudy with light rain. But as the day wore on it turned into a very pleasant but quite windy day. A walk along the Beacon nothing much about with exeption of; Linnet, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff, Meadow Pipit, Buzzard, Swallow, Skylark. However, on studying some scrub to the west of the Trig Point I noticed something interesting flitting about. On closer inspection it was a Redstart. It showed briefly before skulking off deep into the scrub. I searched for a further half an hour but no joy.
From the Beacon I headed over to Steps Hill and Incombe Hole. I made my way down into the hole but not much doing except a Buzzard and then a Raven overhead. When I reached the far end of Incombe Hole I noticed an interesting bird fly up onto a bush deep in some scrub. I could not get a decent view and almost immediately it appeared to fly out of the hole towards the sheep pens. I did get a flash of red as it flew. I made my way towards the sheep pens and almost straight away connected with a Redstart. It flew from a bush near the sheep pens to the hedgerow and fenceline. It then made it's way back along the hedgerow towards Incombe Hole before finally disappearing back from where it had come from. Interestingly a Chiffchaff was in close attendance the whole time even dropping onto the ground with the Redstart. (oops nearly put "hole time" unintentional pun!). On my way back to the car I noted a Red Kite and then what appeared to be 2 female Sparrowhawk locking talons briefly before disappearing out of sight below the ridge.
The first of my top quality pics is the Redstart on Ivinghoe Beacon then the next few another Redstart this time close to Incombe Hole near the sheep pens and finally a Chiffchaff in Incombe Hole. Look closely at the third image below and you'll notice the Chiffchaff in close attendance.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Maple Lodge NR and Woodoaks Farm

A mid morning visit to Maple Lodge. An hour or so in the Teal hide with Tony, Martin and Geoff. Pouring rain so more banter than birding. 2 Green Sandpipers, Red Kite and a Grey Wagtail were the best we could manage. Then a cup of coffee in the clubhouse hide. Nothing much here except for a couple of Little Grebe's. Tony headed for home whilst Geoff, Martin and myself headed over to Woodoaks. By now it had stopped raining which was a relief. At Woodoaks we encountered the following; Red Kite (6), Buzzard (2), Kestrel (2), Yellow Wagtail (2), Egyptian Goose (18), Little Owl, Swallow and House Martin (mixed flock c100).

Sunday, 23 September 2012

A Gregory in Berks

After yesterdays success in Norfolk I couldn't resist just a bit more birding. So first thing this morning Paul and myself headed over to Dorney Common near Eton Wick. Here we had good scope views of a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper. Also noted here were several singing Cetti's Warbler, Ring-necked Parakeet and a Grey Wagtail.
On our return we called in at Black Park near Pinewood Studios. Here we encountered 2 pairs and several juvenile Manadarin Duck.
Finally on returning to Maple Lodge (our meeting place). I checked my Birdguides app to see if any decent birds had been reported locally. Sure enough it had and in the shape of a Great White Egret at Wilstone Reservoir. I immediately phoned Brendan who was blissfully unaware of this Hertfordshire "Mega". In fact Brendan needed this bird for his Herts list. Paul was running a little short of time so headed straight over to Wilstone. I went over to Brendan's picked him up and dashed over to Wilstone. Here we were able to enjoy rather distant views of a Great White Egret as it fed in front of the reedbed. Thanks to finders Steve Rodwell and the artist known as LGRE for getting the news out so quickly.
Some pics below of my usual poor quality but at least they add some colour to the posting. Especially the Mandarin!
Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper and Grey Wagatil at Dorney Common. Mandarin at Black Park. Cormorant at Dorney Common.


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Four go Mad in Norfolk

A days birding in Norfolk with Paul, Brendan and Ephraim. First stop was NOA Holme Bird Observatory. Here we enjoyed good views of a rather elusive Red-breasted Flycatcher. Also here a Bonxie flew over as did a Brambling. From the obsevatory we headed onto the dunes for a spot of sea watching. The most noteworthy birds here were; Red-throated Diver, Arctic Skua, Gannet. From the dunes we made our way to the exit of our reserve. Near the pay hut we enjoyed good views of a very showy Barred Warbler. Next up was a visit to Titchwell. Several species of wader were encountered here including a Little Stint. However, our luck was in as word reached us that there was an even better bird on an island on the next saline lagoon. We hot-footed it to the next lagoon where a handful of birders had already assembled. Then in amongst a few Ringed Plovers was a Baird's Sandpiper. We all had goods views of the bird but as soon as our thoughts turned to maybe getting some photo's the Plovers and the Baird's took flight and did not return. Next we made our way to the beach where we did a spot of sea-watching. Lots of Gannet, 3 Eider, Common Scoter and a Guillemot were the best birds here. Also here a couple of skeins of Pink-footed Goose.
Norfolks news was coming in thick and fast so after a quick team meeting we headed for Warham Greens and the chance of our second Red-breasted Flycatcher of the day. Sure enough, shortly after arriving on site we were able to connect with an adult Red-breasted Flycatcher. Also seen here 8 thermalling Common Buzzard, perhaps a migrating flock? Not a bad day so far then!
The nearby Wells Woods was next. Here we connected with 2 or possibly 3 Yellow-browed Warbler, Brambling, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and a female Pied Flycatcher.
On our return journey we stopped off in the Brecks to check on a Stone Curlew site but it seems they have departed for sunnier climes.
We kept a day list  and managed 95 species in total. Ephraim's account of our day can be found on his blog here;

1 Mute Swan Titchwell
2 Pink-footed Goose Titchwell
3 Greylag Goose Titchwell
4 Egyptian Goose Titchwell
5 Shelduck Titchwell
6 Wigeon Titchwell
7 Gadwall Titchwell
8 Teal Titchwell
9 Mallard Norfolk
10 Tufted Duck Titchwell
11 Eider Titchwell
12 Common Scoter Titchwell
13 Red-legged Partridge Norfolk
14 Pheasant Norfolk
15 Red-throated Diver Holme
16 Little Grebe Titchwell
17 Great Crested Grebe Titchwell
18 Gannet Holme
19 Cormorant Holme
20 Little Egret Holme
21 Grey Heron Norfolk
22 Spoonbill Titchwell
23 Sparrowhawk Brecks
24 Buzzard Warham Greens
25 Kestrel Holme
26 Moorhen Norfolk
27 Coot Norfolk
28 Oystercatcher Titchwell
29 Avocet Titchwell
30 Ringed Plover Titchwell
31 Golden Plover Titchwell
32 Grey Plover Titchwell
33 Lapwing Norfolk
34 Knot Titchwell
35 Sanderling Titchwell
36 Little Stint Titchwell
37 Baird’s Sandpiper Titchwell
38 Dunlin Titchwell
39 Ruff Titchwell
40 Snipe Titchwell
41 Black-tailed Godwit Titchwell
42 Bar-tailed Godwit Titchwell
43 Curlew Holme
44 Greenshank Titchwell
45 Redshank Holme
46 Turnstone Titchwell
47 Arctic Skua Holme
48 Great Skua Holme
49 Black-headed Gull Norfolk
50 Common Gull Titchwell
51 Lesser Black-backed Gull Norfolk
52 Herring Gull Titchwell
53 Sandwich Tern Holme
54 Common Tern Titchwell
55 Guillemot Titchwell
56 Stock Dove Norfolk
57 Woodpigeon Norfolk
58 Collared Dove Norfolk
59 Great Spotted Woodpecker Holme
60 Swallow Holme
61 House Martin Norfolk
62 Meadow Pipit Titchwell
63 Pied Wagtail Norfolk
64 Wren Holme
65 Dunnock Holme
66 Robin Holme
67 Wheatear Titchwell
68 Blackbird Norfolk
69 Barred Warbler Holme
70 Yellow-browed Warbler Wells Woods
71 Chiffchaff Holme
72 Goldcrest Holme
73 Red-breasted Flycatcher Holme and Warham Greens
74 Pied Flycatcher Wells Woods
75 Bearded Tit Titchwell (heard)
76 Long-tailed Tit Norfolk
77 Blue Tit Norfolk
78 Great Tit Norfolk
79 Coal Tit Wells Woods
80 Nuthatch Wells Woods
81 Jay Norfolk
82 Magpie Norfolk
83 Jackdaw Norfolk
84 Rook Brecks
85 Carrion Crow Norfolk
86 Starling Norfolk
87 House Sparrow Norfolk
88 Chaffinch Norfolk
89 Brambling Holme/Wells Woods
90 Greenfinch Norfolk
91 Goldfinch Norfolk
92 Siskin Wells Woods
93 Linnet Titchwell
94 Lesser Redpoll Wells Woods
95 Canada Goose Titchwell

Thursday, 20 September 2012


A couple of hours before work at Woodoaks Farm this morning. No sign of yesterdays Whinchat but the following species were of note; Little Owl, Red Kite, Ring-necked Parakeet, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Swallow, House Martin, Kestrel, Yellowhammer, Skylark.
The pics below are as follows; Little Owls in Old Orchard, Red Kite near Trig Point, Yellowhammers near Chalfont Lane, Red Kites between Trig point and Chalfont Lane. On leaving Woodoaks I bumped into Paul Lewis no doubt he will give an account of his sightings on his blog here;

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Whinchat at Woodoaks

I arrived at Woodoaks Farm this morning at about 10:00. On scanning the fenceline with my bins along the bottom field I noted what I thought was a Whinchat. Too distant to be certain so I went back to my car for my scope. On closer inspection through my scope the bird in question was indeed a female Whinchat. I sent out a few texts to some local birders and shortly after Steve Carter and Geof Lapstrop arrived on site. Although the bird was quite mobile Steve managed a pic. You can see this on his blog here
I did manage the record shot below

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Craking in my boots

Today I will be mostly wearing Caterpillar.

After yesterdays success at Rainham I headed up to Northamptonshire this morning. Stanwick Lakes was my destination and the target bird Spotted Crake. I arrived at the lakes just after 07:00 and made my way to the pool where the Spotted Crake had been reported. I was the first birder on site but was soon joined by several others. One local birder confirmed we were looking in the right place. Then another birder alerted us to what he thought was the bird but it had disappeared into the reeds. This was in a totally different area of the reed bed. After some discussion with the other birders on site we decided to split into two groups, one group viewing the original area and the other where the latest sighting had been. After a couple of minutes the birder who originally thought he had seen the Crake called it again. We all scanned the edge of the reed bed and sure enough there it was. One local birder said he had seen the bird on at least 6 previous occasions and all in the same spot and never where it was now showing.
The Spotted Crake showed well for a few minutes then went into the reeds. After a few minutes it showed well again for another few minutes before going back into the reeds. I was aware that an escaped Sacred Ibis was on a nearby lake so I had a quick view of this bird before heading back to my car. On the way to my car I passed the pool where I had seen the Spotted Crake. I stopped and had a quick scan immediately connecting with the Spotted Crake showing well at the foot of the reeds.

From Northamptonshire I headed across country to Cambridgeshire and the RSPB Ouse Washes Reserve. Here I had distant views of a Great White Egret from the Kingfisher hide.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Baillon's Crake at Rainham Marshes

A bad start to the day with Brendan waiting at the "three horseshoes" and me waiting outside his house. Once this was sorted we headed off to Rainham Marshes arriving shortly after 06:00. We made our way round to the "shooting butts" hide which was already packed with birders. We were informed that the Baillon's Crake had been showing well for about 10 minutes just before we arrived. We feared that our early morning mix up might have cost us any chance of seeing the bird. During the next hour we had two very brief flight views of the Baillon's Crake. Then out of the reeds in front of the hide it appeared and gave us great for just over 5 minutes before disappearing back into the reeds. What a relief!
From the reserve we went around to the landfill site on Coldharbour Lane where there were not many gulls around although we did manage 2 Yellow-legged Gulls.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Croxley Common Moor

An hour on the Moor before work today; Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Little Owl, Green Woodpecker, Chiffchaff.

Spelling and grammar

My spelling is not too bad but my grammar is quite poor. I must have played truant that day. Anyway the pics below are of a Comma I saw at Maple Lodge on Tuesday this week. I have probably put them where full stops should be.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Short-billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor

Saturday 8th September 2012.

A trip to Lodmoor with Brendan. Our target bird being the Long Short-billed Dowitcher.
I picked Brendan up about 05:45 and we made our way down to Lodmoor. Not too bad a journey but more holiday traffic than I expected. We arrived at Lodmoor shortly after 08:00 and made our way around the reserve to where around 30 birders had gathered. Some of the birders I recognised were hampshire birders Dennis (the menace) and "Mad Geoff". We positioned ourselves where the Long-billed Dowitcher had been showing but no immediate success, however, after a couple of minutes we were told that if we moved 10 or 20 metres further along the footpath we should be able to connect.  We moved along the footpath and immediately connected with the juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher. We enjoyed good scope views of the Dowitcher feeding and loosely associating with Common Snipe. Occasionally and quite frustratingly disappearing behind clumps of sedge grass. Also noted at Lodmoor; Cetti's Warbler, Meditteranean Gull, Black-tailed Godwit, Bearded Tit.
Some record shots of the Dowitcher below.

From Lodmoor we headed over to Portland Bill with a brief stop at Ferrybridge on route. 
Ferrybridge was really busy so a brief scan revealed only a single Sanderling.
At the Bill a seawatch was first up but very quiet and only a dozen or so Gannets and a handful of Shag were noted.
A walk around the general area was quiet too with hardly any migrants. We did note the following; Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Wheatear, Whitethroat, Meadow Pipit, Peregrine, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Little Owl, Raven, White Wagtail.
White Wagatil pics below.

After Portland we stopped in Easton for some mega butterfly twitching. We visited the ornamental park where many butterflies were on a Buddleia. The biggest and best butterfly was a vagrant Monarch. Also noted were Red Admiral and Painted Lady.
A few Monarch pics below and one Painted Lady pic.

From Easton we headed over to Durlston Country Park in search of Wryneck.
Despite an extensive search of the western perimeter of the reserve we could not find the reported Wryneck. The search involved lots of walking including negotiating quite steep hills. Brendan seemed to struggle with this but I bounded up down them like a young gazelle. The birds we did note on this picturesque reserve were; Whinchat, Wheatear, Spotted Flycatcher, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Blackcap. Stop Press; "Wryneck at Portland Bill today!" 
Durlston Country Park can hold up to 34 species of butterfly. We noted several species with the most noteworthy being; Marbled White and Adonis Blue.
Spotted Flycatcher and Wheatear pics below.


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Woodoaks Farm

A pleasant hour and a half spent at Woodoaks Farm this morning.

Buzzard (6), Red Kite (2), Little Owl (2, 1 adult and 1 juvenile,) Peregrine, Kestrel, Swallow (c12),Yellow Wagtail (3), Chiffchaff, Ring-necked Parakeet, Green Woodpecker.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


A mooch around the fields near my house. Much the same as yesterday but a Sparrowhawk mobbed by House Martins and then another Sparrowhawk mobbing a Buzzard provided some interest. On my return a Chiffchaff was singing in the garden.

What chance the Short-billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor hangs around till Saturday?

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


A wander around the fields near my house between Abbots Langley and Bedmond. Common Buzzard (3), Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Mistle Thrush (3), Yellowhammer, Linnet, Great-spotted Woodpecker, House Martin, Swallow.
Pics below; Army Jellycopter over m25, small tortoiseshell, large white.