Thursday, 28 February 2013


No birding for a few days due to a virus. Now over the worst of it I had a wander round Stockers Lake and Farm. Stockers Farm; Ring-necked Parakeet, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare.
Stockers Lake; Goldeneye, Egyptian Goose, Siskin.
Inns Lake; Goldeneye, Red-crested Pochard (3m, 2f).

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

My Waxwings Again

The Waxwings were outside Costcutter in Station Road, Kings Langley again today. They were there from 11:00 to 11:15 when they flew off towards Toms Lane. Tony Knight reported them near IPS fencing at 10:30. Interestingly one had a silver ring.

Monday, 18 February 2013

My Waxwings

For the last few months I have been trying to find some local Waxwings today I finally got lucky. I was driving along station road in Kings Langley when I saw a small flock of Waxwings drop into a tree near the junction of Toms Lane. I was keen to get the news out but my overrated iphone wouldn't connect to the web. So I sent a text to Ian Bennell who kindly put the news out. Thanks Ian long time no see! I stayed watching the Waxwings and took a few pics. Whilst waiting for the hordes of local birders to arrive a Red Kite drifted over. Time was getting on and I headed off to work. Just before I got in the car the birds all appeared to fly off but they just re-located a couple of hundred yards up station road. Brendan went a couple of hours later and could only find one bird.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Stodgemarsh Penduline Tit

A days birding in Kent with Paul and Ephraim. We had several target birds for the day the main one being Penduline Tit at Stodmarsh. A new bird for all three of us. We arrived at Grove Ferry about 08:00 and then proceeded to slip, slop and slide our way along the extremely muddy trail towards the boardwalk. We managed to take at least one wrong turning along the way but Paul's impression of Adel Taarabt lightened the mood. Ephraim thought Paul's fall into the mire was hilarious but I informed him it was not nice to laugh at other peoples misfortune. When we got close to boardwalk one or two birders were leaving. One commented "it's showing really well at the moment". Of course when we had walked the final 50 meters it had flown to some alders and was not showing. After a few minutes someone had it in their scope and kindly let us have a look. Then after waiting patiently for about 45 minutes the Penduline Tit dropped into the reedmace right in front of us. It showed really well offering great photo opportunities. Well it would have done for me if I had an sd card in my camera! We spent some time admiring this cute little bird and then decided to head off to Lade Gravel Pits. This time we took a more direct and a lot less messy route back through the reserve. Thanks Rob nice to meet you! On our way back we managed to see a Cetti's Warbler and heard a few Bearded Tits "pinging" A couple of Marsh Harrier were also seen.

On arrival at Lade Gravel Pits we soon connected with the Black-throated Diver. It was favouring the south end of the north pit.

Dungeness next and our fist stop was near the fishing boats. Here we saw a Glaucous Gull on the roof of a fishermans hut. No time to admire this bird as it quickly flew off. "The patch" was next where we noted; Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake and Little Gull.
Onwards to the ARC pit, four Smew here 2m and 2f.
Over the road to the RSPB entrance track, 3 Tree Sparrow on the feeders here. A few hundred yards along the track we stopped and scanned the fields. We were fortunate to view 4 Tundra Bean Goose and 2 Great-white Egret from this spot.
We the went to the RSPB visitor centre to look at the "recent sightings", nothing grabbed our attention so we headed over to Walland in search of Bewick's and Whooper Swan. This is not an area I have ever been to before so it was more by luck than judgement that we noticed a flock of Swans fairly distantly in a field. We stopped the car and scoped the Swans. They seemed to be all Bewick's we looked hard but could not dig out any Whoopers. I think this location was near Hawthorn Corner.
Our final stop of the day was what we hoped was a raptor roost near the Woolpack Inn.  We parked in a small layby near to the Woolpack and followed a public footpath along a high raised bank for a few hundred yards until we reached a fair sized reedbed. Over the next hour or so we saw 10+ Marsh Harrier. Several Bearded Tit that had been pinging away eventually showed themselve's. A Barn Owl, several squeeling Water Rail and a nice sunset apart from the pylons and wind turbines provided a pleasent end to the day.
Paul's Pics below; Penduline Tit from the boardwalk at Stodmarsh and Black-throated Diver at Lade GPs.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Sussex Success

An afternoon trip to Sussex with Paul, Brendan and Ephraim.
Our first stop was Princes Park in Eastbourne. Here we soon connected with the Bonaparte's Gull. It offered good views as it associated with numerous Black-headed Gulls on Crumbles Pond. We enjoyed the gull for some time and then headed off to St Leonards Churchyard, Seaford. We had hoped to see a Black Redstart but a search of the churchyard produced nothing. Southease was our next destination. We were hoping to see a Dark-breasted Barn Owl. Shortly after arriving south east of Southease Station we saw a Barn Owl of the usual persuasion! Then soon after that the Dark-breasted version showed itself. It showed well for nearly an hour as it quartered the fields. Sometimes showing down to 10 meters. Best of all it perched briefly on a fencepost right in front of where Brendan and I were standing. I quickly got my camera from my bag and rattled off a few shots. We saw three Barn Owls here including the Dark-breasted. Also Peregrine, Common Buzzard and Little Grebe (2).  Ephraim's account of todays trip can be found here
Pics below; Bonaparte's Gull on Crumble Pond, Dark-breasted Barn Owl at Southease. 


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Paul's Titchwell Pics

Paul Frost's Pics from weds trip to Norfolk.
Pintail, Spotted Redshank, Sanderling, Knot all at Titchwell.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Black Bellied Peasy

A bit of an obscure blog title!
A mid week trip to Norfolk with Brendan and Paul. An earlier start than normal had us arriving at Wolferton in search of Golden Pheasant at around 07:30. Despite spending some time cruising the Wolferton "golden triangle" we couldn't find any Golden Pheasants.
Titchwell was our next stop. A Treecreeper near the car park and then 7+ Brambling and a Siskin near the reserve centre was a decent start. The weather was not great, strong winds and light rain showers meant the birding here was a little harder going than normal for this reserve. The main species of interest; Marsh Harrier, Pintail, Shelduck, Brent Goose, Kingfisher, Curlew, Golden Plover, Snipe, Dunlin, Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, all on the reserve. On the beach; Grey Plover, Knot, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit. On the sea a single Common Scoter and c10 Goldeneye.
From Titchwell we headed over to nearby Choseley Drying Barns; Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer, Red-legged Partridge.
Our next stop Holkham Pines; Marsh Harrier, White-fronted Goose (c20), Pink-footed Goose (c10). Also here 2 Barn Owls quartering the fields at 1 o'clock in the afternoon and the weather wet and windy.
Our bogey site of Lynford Arboretum was our next port of call. This site is well known for it's Hawfinch's. We have visited this site on numerous occasions and have encountered only one very distant Hawfinch and a brief view at that. So we were pleasantly surprised to find two Hawfinch's perched up in a Hornbeam in the paddock area. They offered us good scope views for about 20 minutes. Time was getting on and we were keen to see the Black-bellied Dipper in Thetford. Once again our luck was in and after a short walk we soon found the very confiding Black-bellied Dipper.
Still some light left in the day so we headed for Thetford Tesco's. 10 donuts for 99p not bad. Waxwings had been reported in the area but we could only manage 3 in flight. Also of note here up to 1000 Starlings in a pre roost murmeration. 
variable quality pics as usual below; Black-tailed Godwit at Titchwell, Hawfinches at Lynford Arboretum, Black-bellied Dipper at Nun's Bridges, Thetford.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Fudge Duck the Top Prioryority

A mornings birding with Brendan that turned into a days birding and a good days birding at that.
A return visit to Priory Country Park in Beds was our first stop. We were soon viewing the Ferruginous Duck that had apparently flown off last saturday. In the same area of the lake was a Black-necked Grebe. So a good start.
Next up was Broom Gravel Pits also in Beds. As soon as we arrived at the edge of the West Pit we saw three small ducks fly in and land on the far end of the pit. On closer inspection they were our target birds 3 redhead Smew.
The final site for our mornings birding was Therfield Heath in Herts. We made our way from the rugby club car park to the Icknield Way Trail. We soon connected with one of the 2 Great-grey Shrikes. We continued along the trail and soon encountered 10+ Grey Partridge and 2 Red-legged Partridge in the fields either side of the track. We then continued our walk and noted the following; Stock Dove (4), Corn Bunting (c30), Red Kite.
Time was up for our mornings birding as I had to be back home to take the boss to work. However, on our walk back to the car park and where the trail joins the heath itself we saw a large flock of mixed finches. They included; Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Linnet and a single Brambling. A nice finish to the morning.
I dropped Brendan off then took my wife to work. Then on returning home Chris Jnr wanted a lift into Watford and youngest son Will wanted a lift to a skate-park in Croxley Green. So I did my bit of taxi-ing and was starting to think of yet another hilarious title for my latest blog posting when my phone rang and it was Brendan who is definitely not going out birding as much this year. He demanded I take him to Amwell to see the Caspian Gull he had seen only last week. We arrived at the viewpoint and soon connected with the 1st winter Caspian Gull. It offered good scope views but fairly distant. It did get up and have a bit of a fly around and then landed closer to the viewpoint. Once again it could be seen well through a scope but unfortunately not close enough for anything like a decent pic. We also managed Yellow-legged Gull and 2 Bittern.
All in all a much better succes rate than has been the case recently.
Pics/record shots below; Ferruginous Duck at Priory Country Park, Great-grey Shrike at Furfield Heath Icknield Way Trail, Brambling Icknield Way Trail, Caspian Gull from the viewpoint at Amwell (top quality pic this one).