Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A stroll around Beddington

Yesterday, after a walk around Canons, I simply fancied a look around Beddington as I hadn't been birding there for a while. I have a key to this great place just up the road so why not use it now and again? It was an enjoyable session. A short stake out of the main lake in the company of Cliff Allan revealed the Ruddy Shelduck that had been around for a couple of days but I was even more pleased to pick out a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull. Peter Alfrey joined me on a tour of Hundred Acre where most of the beds were completely dry but the water level at Jim's Pit offered prime wader habitat. About fifteen Green Sandpipers flew around the pit as we appeared and we also startled two Common Sandpipers - nothing scarcer there but seeing these common passage waders and hearing their calls is always great, especially locally. A Swallow also flew over, apparently the first one in a while. Worryingly, the flock of thirteen Tree Sparrows on the side of the landfill apparently could have represented the entire site (therefore also Surrey and Greater London) population of these iconic birds. Also concerning was a report of a sick male Blackcap on the public footpath; we checked it out to find a long-dead adult male along with a sick juvenile so there were three dead or dying Blackcaps along the track... mysterious and disconcerting indeed. A Swallow flying over was unseasonal for the site.

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull
Ruddy Shelduck
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Jim's Pit looking good...

Monday, 22 July 2013

Three times two!

Yesterday I headed to Norfolk with Oliver Simms and Ian for a day's birding, with the primary hope that one of the Two-barred Crossbills from yesterday would be pinned down, or another would be found. As we approached the Norfolk coast, news of a probable briefly at Lynford in the Thetford Forest wasn't enough to get us to change direction. We instead decided to spend some time at Titchwell and see what happened from there. Titchwell was enjoyable, with a few passage waders. An adult Little Stint was the highlight while I was impressed by the number of Avocets. We also saw three Spoonbills, two Common Sandpipers, two Whimbrel, quite a few Bar-tailed Godwits and Knots, three Spotted Redshanks and at least five immature Little Gulls. Next, we stopped off for and were successful with Montagu's Harrier.
Little Gulls

Mid-afternoon we decided we didn't have time to check the pine-littered coastal sites that we had hoped to, and headed home quite content with a pleasant few hours' birding. As we were driving through the Thetford Forest, the pager went off with the breaking rarity tone and Ian checked it to see that a juvenile Two-barred Crossbill had been confirmed and was showing just a few minutes ago at Lynford! We were only fifteen minutes away and found the site without too much trouble, getting on a juvenile TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL straight away! We enjoyed good views of this bird but soon another juvenile appeared, the two feeding side-by-side. This was pretty incredible stuff (especially as the arboretum is so far inland) so we couldn't quite believe it when a rather prim female then appeared (although briefly). Cracking stuff, and nice to see a decent-sized flock of Common Crossbills there, too. My fifteenth lifer of the year and mission of the day accomplished!

female Two-barred Crossbill
One of the juvenile Two-barred Crossbills
Another Two-barred Crossbill

Friday, 19 July 2013

Video review of the twitching year so far...

Here's a little clip I made, featuring footage of the rarities I've seen so far this year...

Tuesday, 16 July 2013


PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER has for a while been on the relatively short list of regular waders that I still need, but this was put right yesterday with the bird at Rutland Water which stayed long enough for Ian and I to twitch it in the evening. A nice supporting cast from the hide made for an enjoyable evening although the plover wasn't as satisfying as it could have been, always distant and only showing three times for no longer than two minutes. An adult Osprey standing guard by a nest containing two mature offspring probably won second prize while a splendid adult Yellow-legged Gull that flew in, calling, was dead smart. Also present was a single Greenshank, a Green Sandpiper heard and an assortment of commoner bits and bobs.

The Pacific Golden Plover spent much of its time on the other side of the bund, only emerging into view twice, then flying off to a more distant bund then heading in the direction of Manton Bay and out of sight...
Adult Osprey standing guard over the nest containing two juveniles

Adult Yellow-legged Gull
Part of the current nationwide movement of waders, this Greenshank was feeding away on the shore

Friday, 12 July 2013


On Saturday I finally succeeded in seeing my annual Nightjars, I met Richard and Peter in the Ashdown Forest and we had at least four churring males, one of which showed quite well in silhouette on a singing post. Also a couple of Woodcocks calling but not seen. This follows a largely disappointing evening (thanks to the weather) at Chobham with Jamie and Josh on the June 23rd where we heard one Nightjar and saw a couple of Woodcocks.

Record shot of one of the Nightjars in the Ashdown Forest

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Farne Islands tern continues run of megas

News of a Bridled Tern on the Farne Islands was almost unbelievable when it came through; this year has been unreal for the number of megas arriving that haven't been twitchable in Britain for decades. Plans were soon hatched and I headed north yesterday evening with John Pegdon, Josh Jones, Richard Bonser and Will Soar, getting the boat at 6.00am this morning to Inner Farne. We were instantly put onto the BRIDLED TERN by the very hospitable wardens and it showed spectacularly, sitting on the rocks and flying around us, calling occasionally. Absolutely mental! I'm so pleased that I've had such an incredibly successful year in twitching terms, with every long distance trip working as planned and my shorter-haul expeditions having an almost as incredible hit rate. I must be due a horrific dip! The Farnes have always been on my list of places to visit, anyway, because of the seabirds and the Bridled Tern was an excellent excuse to stand there and soak in the sights, sounds and smells of the seabird city. Arctic, Common and Sandwich Terns created the main soundtrack and were constantly on view in amazing numbers (primarily comprised of Arctics), while I enjoyed my best ever views of Puffins plus the Guillemots, Shags and Kittiwakes. Smiles all round and a pleasant journey home made for a great day. Thanks guys for taking me.