Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Grove Ferry NNR and Reculver, 28th June 2017

An outing with Christian C and Magnus A in north Kent today saw us start by scouring the rolling countryside and woods away from the marshes for raptors but we had no success. A gentle saunter around Grove Ferry NNR started off quite slowly but we relocated the first-summer male Red-footed Falcon, last reported early on Monday morning, while other highlights included a spanking summer-plumage Spotted Redshank, at least four Turtle Doves and five Green Sandpipers, a Bittern and a number of Bearded Reedlings. After a pub lunch by the river, we headed for a quick trip to Reculver, which turned into a short seawatch with notables of a 20-strong Common Scoter raft, two Curlews and 12 Gannets logged.

2cy ♂ Red-footed Falcon at Grove/Stodmarsh
Spotted Redshank amid the moulting Mallards at Grove Ferry
one of five or so Green Sandpipers at Grove Ferry
♂ Cuckoo at Grove Ferry
Mistle Thrush at Grove Ferry
Curlews heading past Reculver

Monday, 26 June 2017

Banstead Woods, Canons Farm and Beddington Farmlands, 26th June 2017

A pleasant walk in perfect weather through Canons Farm, where a Hobby was hunting, took me to Banstead Woods and I managed to connect at last with a Small Blue, my 34th butterfly species at the patch. WoodChips Conservation Volunteers constructed a Kidney Vetch scrape last year, which has swiftly attracted this latest addition to the lepidoptera of Banstead Woods.

Small Blue at Banstead Woods

Kojak and I teamed up for an evening ringing session at Beddington, setting just three nets, including two in experimental positions. One of these proved its worth by catching five juvenile Starlings in one hit, these being among 22 new birds caught, making for one of our most profitable sessions to date!

two of the five juvenile Starlings caught and ringed at Beddington

Sunday, 25 June 2017

20-25th June 2017

Another varied few days. Developments at the patch include the opening of the new Banstead Woods 'nature reserve', although quite what this means remains something of an enigma. A couple of patch visits have revealed little newsworthy in ornithological terms, while I continue to somehow avoid the plethora of interesting butterflies on offer. An evening ringing session at Beddington with just one net produced catches of juvenile Chiffchaff and Whitethroat, along with two re-trap Reed Warblers. Surrey Ed gave we a tour of his patch, with highlights including Spotted Flycatcher, Firecrest, many Mandarins and a movement of Swifts, with a female Shoveler being of local/seasonal significance. A trip to the Harting Combe area offered up two each of Goshawk, Crossbill, Firecrest, Raven and Tree Pipit, along with an adult Mediterranean Gull, a Hobby, and a Marsh Tit of particular note.

adult Mediterranean Gull over Sussex downs

Raven over Sussex downs

Comma at Canons Farm

Monday, 19 June 2017

13-19th June 2017

A busy last week or so, most birding ending up a little off-piste. It feels as though I've adopted two new patches, as I've been to both Frensham and Pagham twice more since my last post. The first time, on 16th, was another great success with further excellent views of the Elegant Tern and the Red-footed Falcon but a repeat on 19th resulted in a double-dip. Frensham also produced a flock of 13 Crossbills (on 16th) and 'other wildlife' lifers in the form of a Sand Lizard (on 19th) and Silver-studded Blues. Both visits to the Common produced nice views and sounds from Dartford Warblers, Woodlarks and Tree Pipits, while the same male Redstart showed again nicely on 19th. Pagham was great for the tern and gull colony (including good numbers of Meds), as well as a 2cy Little Gull and a Cuckoo on 19th, and the Whimbrel again on 16th.

A fabulous evening at Leith Hill on 13th was rewarded with four Nightjars, a couple of Woodlarks, singing Tree Pipits and several Woodcock passes, as well as a hooting Tawny Owl and a couple of Siskins. That day, a Kestrel was nice to see at home in Belmont. I've made a couple of visits to Sutton as a small contribution to keeping an eye on the Peregrines as they fledge, enjoying lovely views of the two juveniles as they become more mobile - there is clearly a pair of Grey Wagtails in the same area, with occasional fly-overs there. A trip to Oare Marshes for some easy birding made for a nice change on 14th and, though nothing unusual was seen, we enjoyed seeing Bearded Reedlings, a couple of Mediterranean Gulls and the usual gathering of Black-tailed Godwits.

The 2cy male Red-footed Falcon spinning some moves over Frensham Common on Friday
Seconds also for the Elegant Tern on Friday
a lucky encounter with a female Sand Lizard at Frensham on Monday
against migration: the Whimbrel at Pagham on Friday
one of my first Silver-studded Blues at Frensham on Friday

a challenge for the title in Sutton on Friday

Perry and Gwen's progeny in Sutton on Friday
A peaceful scene on the East Flood at Oare Marshes on Wednesday

Sedge Warbler at Pagham on Friday
2cy Little Gull at Pagham (PW)

Monday, 12 June 2017

10-12th June 2017

Time with Ingrid on Saturday included a gorgeous donder along the undercliff at Saltdean, east of Brighton, featuring a few Fulmars and Rock Pipits. This was rudely interrupted by an unmissable event at Pagham Harbour - I left Ingrid to visit her friends in Brighton and rushed over to Church Norton where I spent a wonderful evening watching the adult ELEGANT TERN stealing fish from and cavorting with Sandwich Terns. It sometimes required patience for it to materialise amid the colony of Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls, Little, Sandwich and Common Terns but when it did, enthralling flight views were available. Other bits included a Whimbrel, Cuckoo and Lesser Whitethroat. After a mess of a trip which amounted to a dip and run yesterday, I returned to Frensham Common today, successfully latching eyes on the 2cy male Red-footed Falcon, a great Surrey rarity, as it hunted by hovering and diving from dead trees; among a nice selection of other birds were Redstart, Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, Stonechat, Siskin, Garden Warbler, Common Tern, Egyptian Goose and a number of Swifts and Sand Martins.

Fulmar along the cliffs at Saltdean
Elegant Tern at Pagham
2cy male Red-footed Falcon at Frensham
♂ Redstart at Frensham
Dartford Warbler at Frensham
♂ Stonechat at Frensham

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Alvecote Pools, 7th June, and Watlington Hill, 8th June 2017

Away for work again, David D-L and I took a couple of chances for some birding. A fleeting visit to Alvecote Pools in a hopeful listen for the recent Corncrake drew a blank on Wednesday but scanning from the gate revealed a Little Egret, a couple of Reed Buntings and a congregation of Swifts and House Martins. A pit stop on the way home yesterday at Watlington Hill in Oxfordshire led to some spectacular views of Red Kites, plus three singing Willow Warblers and some 'other wildlife' highlights, including a Dingy Skippers and a couple of Small Heaths.

Red Kite at Watlington Hill
Small Heath at Watlington Hill

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Banstead Woods and Beddington Farmlands, 4th June 2017

I sauntered around the east side of the Banstead Woods recording sector early this afternoon in the hope of catching up with some butterflies, a group which I have shamefully neglected so far this year. I've not seen anything other than the usual common species and figured it was about time I saw at least a Green Hairstreak, a Dingy or a Grizzled Skipper. Alas, the wind was stopping anything from really showing.

In the evening, Kojak and I headed to Hundred Acre to do some maintenance on our ringing sub-site and put just one sheltered net up, catching seven birds in a couple of hours, including three new Reed Warblers. Perhaps 400 Swifts swarmed around the site as we were leaving and other notables included three Egyptian Geese and a Grey Wagtail, not to mention the Kingfisher that shot within inches of my face - my first on the site for a little while!

adult ♂ Kestrel at Banstead Woods

Friday, 2 June 2017

Headley Heath and Canons Farm, 2nd June 2017

This evening, a few members of the CFBW Bird Group went on an off-patch jaunt to Headley Heath, within the LNHS area, to look for Nightjars... We were successful, enjoying superb views of a pair and trying to listen to the male churring between passing planes. A Woodlark was also a valuable spot and at least three Willow Warblers were singing. (While driving to the site, two Mallards flew over the patch recording area)

A Nightjar!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Belmont, 1st June 2017

I counted 11 local Swifts were on their aerial rampage around The California and a Pied Wagtail flew over.