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).