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Friday, 22 September 2017

Canons Farm, 22nd September 2017

A decent morning at Canons partly spend in the pleasant company of Geoff B, with my first Reed Bunting of the autumn for the patch and other highlights in the form of a Yellow Wagtail overhead and a southbound flock of six migrant Cormorants. Among a subdued passage of Meadow Pipits were five moving Pied Wagtails. It was nice to see Skylarks flying around the farm again after their usual late summer/early autumn absence, although only three birds were counted. Another bird that has been very thin on the ground is Common Gull, in fact they've been virtually non-existent and it's only in the past few days that I've started to see the odd one; today two were in Broadfield. Two Canada Geese and a Mallard made it onto today's list of patch mentionables and a Little Owl was calling. Migrant warblers were still around, with six Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap noted.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Beddington Farmlands, 21st September 2017

My good birding friend Christian C tends to have Thursdays off so I joined him for a morning's jaunt at Beddington. It seemed I was missing a hirundine spectacular at Canons but, after dropping Christian back home, I figured there was little point in me heading there to pick up the dregs and opted instead to just return to Beddington to sift through the gulls and keep an eye and an ear open for fly-overs.

A few grounded passerines included singles of Wheatear, Whinchat, Reed Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, as well as at least four Stonechats and around 20 Chiffchaffs. A few Meadow Pipits were milling around, a late Swift flew through and all three common hirundines were passing through at a very low ebb. One Yellow Wagtail called overhead and at least three Grey Wagtails were knocking around. In the south-east corner, we located the juvenile Wood Sandpiper feeding along with two of the four Green Sandpipers logged. Aside from around 15 Lapwings, the only other wader record was Snipe, with a flock of four disturbed.

Grilling the gulls produced two Caspian Gulls, representives in their first and second calendar years, and an adult Yellow-legged Gull, I think the same bird as I had on 8th September. That's not to mention a rather striking leucistic juvenile Herring Gull! I imagine this bird could cause confusion later in life if it wanders around the country... The roll call of ducks included two Wigeon, 70 Teal, 73 Shoveler and 31 Gadwall, while two Egyptian Geese made a ruckus. A Water Rail hurled itself across the North Lake by the hide and onto one of the islands.

juvenile Wood Sandpiper
second-winter Caspian Gull
first-winter Caspian Gull
adult Yellow-legged Gull
leucistic juvenile Herring Gull

Monday, 18 September 2017

Canons Farm and Hastings, 18th September 2017

A morning walk at the farm produced a Yellow Wagtail, 80 Meadow Pipits, a couple of Common Gulls, a Hobby and two Stonechats. Later, in Hastings we saw a Peregrine over the cliffs.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Canons Farm, 17th September 2017

After work, I popped out to the farm in the hope of tracking down a Sedge Warbler, the fourth patch record, located earlier by Darragh C. I had no luck but did find a Barn Owl and a couple of Stonechats of note, so all was not lost!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Canons Farm and Carshalton Ponds, 16th September 2017

A morning at Canons Farm was dominated by Meadow Pipits, with 118 counted by midday but I was most pleased to encounter two patch year ticks, the first being a Firecrest calling by the compost heap at Legal & General which eventually showed itself, followed a couple of hours later by Golden Plover calls from high over Broadfield, although I just couldn't get on the bird (or possibly birds) involved, despite hearing its progress across the sky. A few Swallows and House Martins were also trickling through and a couple of Canada Geese honked over. Three Little Owls announced themselves from different spots.

Later on, I joined Christian C for an evening jaunt around my original birding spot at Carshalton Ponds, highlights including a Kingfisher and two Grey Wagtails.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Beddington Farmlands and Staines Reservoirs, 15th September 2017

I spent the morning at Beddington with Christian and Magnus. I was pleased to pick out my first Caspian Gull of the season, a smart 1cy which had mostly moulted its mantle/scapulars. A juvenile Wood Sandpiper was the first decent bird I had seen on the enclosed lagoons for longer than I care to remember, nicely picked out by Christian. Other bits included two Wigeon, 19 Gadwall, 57 Teal, five Cormorants, 56 Shovelers, two Little Egrets, two Buzzards, 24 Lapwings, two Green Sandpipers, three Snipe, a late Swift, a Sand Martin, 46 House Martins, 15 Swallows, three Cetti's Warblers, two Yellow Wagtails, two Grey Wagtails and a movement of 120 Meadow Pipits.

1cy Caspian Gull at Beddington
 Mag and I continued to Staines Reservoirs where we joined Franko M, Lee E and others to pick through the offerings... A Grey Phalarope showing on the North Basin was easily the highlight, with most of the birds on the South Basin being frustratingly distant. These, however, included at least four Curlew Sandpipers and three Knot, a Golden Plover, two Greenshanks, three Ruff, a Green Sandpiper and good numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plovers. A Red Kite was circling in the distance and a few Sand Martins flew through.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Canons Farm, Lodmoor RSPB and Portland, 14th September 2017

A quick visit to Canons while waiting on news from Dorset was rewarded by a couple of Yellow Wagtails and a continuing trickle of Meadow Pipits, plus the regular Peregrine dealing with an intruder. A Collared Dove was an increasingly rare sighting.

Ian J picked me up and we made tracks for Lodmoor, successfully connecting with my first LEAST SANDPIPER and my second STILT SANDPIPER, both juveniles. Other sightings there included a Great Egret, 11 Mediterranean Gulls, a Green Sandpiper, a Yellow Wagtail, a Kingfisher and a few Sand Martins, House Martins and Swallows. A jaunt onwards to Portland bolstered the day's haul with the showy Buff-breasted Sandpiper there (my third) and a Wryneck which sunbathed on a rock in the observatory quarry for a good 30 minutes before slinking into the grass.

Least Sandpiper at Lodmoor
Stilt Sandpiper at Lodmoor

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Canons Farm, 12th September 2017

Having got back in the early hours from the Barra twitch, I was late to get going in the morning but joined Geoff B at Canons just before midday for a couple of hours. A Hobby and the regular adult male Peregrine were the best features of our walk, plus a few Meadow Pipits. Around 200 Swallows were feeding over Broadfield.

I went down to the Sussex coast to see Ingrid later on but sneaked in a quick exploratory visit to the area between Goring and Ferring. Three Mediterranean Gulls were in the fields and fly-pasts at sea included a Common Tern, 11 Sandwich Terns and two Gannets. A congregation of waders on the beach included 46 Sanderlings, 78 Turnstones and 80 Ringed Plovers. There were two Wheatears on the wooden groynes.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Barra-Oban, 11th September 2017

A miserable morning post-twitch on Barra featured only a couple of Rock Pipits but the sailing back to Oban produced personal totals of 35 Eiders, 94 Fulmars, a Sooty Shearwater, 31 Manx Shearwaters, five Storm-petrels, 85 Gannets, 20 Shags, an Arctic Skua, eight Bonxies, 30 Razorbills, a Guillemot and 85 Kittiwakes. Several Ravens were also seen as we passed land.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Alston Wetlands and Barra, 10th September 2017

When news came through the other day of an American Redstart on the Hebrides, I was chomping at the bit to get up there but simply couldn't make it straight away due to other commitments. An opportunity came up to travel today with Lee, Jeff and Tony so I naturally jumped at the chance. We stopped off at Alston Wetlands, Lancs, on the way up, the plan being to bag the Wilson's Phalarope that turned up there yesterday, hear positive news on the redstart, continue to Oban and duly bag it. Things didn't quite work that way, with the phalarope nowhere to be seen and a frustrating lack of news either way on our main quarry. A Curlew, a couple of Wigeon, a good few Snipe and a handful of Teal were on site, along with a mini-swarm of House Martins and Swallows. With no time to spare, we had little choice but to head blind towards Oban with the only news coming from Barra being that the weather was horrific. Thankfully, we had the joy of positive news on the bird's continued presence in the nick of time, just as we were thinking of bailing out. Long story short, we eventually got on the ferry from which we had six Bonxie, four Arctic Skuas, several Manx Shearwaters, three Whimbrel, three Bar-tailed Godwits, a Razorbill and a few Guillemots, a few Shags and good numbers of Kittiwakes, Gannets and Fulmars. Singles of Sooty Shearwater and Arctic Tern were the highlights. With double rainbows and sunshine emerging, it looked optimistic. Racing along to Eoligarry, we found the fabled group of sycamores and a couple of birders then enjoyed marvellous views of the AMERICAN REDSTART flashing its brilliant yellow as it fed quietly among the browning leaves for some 20 minutes on what was a surprisingly pleasant evening given the washout forecast. What a success!!! Local birds included Rock Dove and Hooded Crow. Many thanks to Geoff W for putting news out of the American Redstart!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Canons Farm and Beddington Farmlands, 9th September 2017

A decent early morning session at Canons turned up local 'value' in the form of a Sand Martin, a Grey Wagtail, the adult male Peregrine again, a Stonechat, two Yellow Wagtails, a Cormorant, four Canada Geese, a Grey Heron and a trickle of Swallows and Meadow Pipits overhead. An evening walk with Christian C at Beddington produced a 1cy Yellow-legged Gull, the two lingering juvenile Ruff, two Common and seven Green Sandpipers and continuing reasonable early autumn numbers of Teal and Shoveler (56 and 27) along with the Wigeon again. Six Swifts made for a good count this late in the season for the species.

Stonechat at Canons Farm

Friday, 8 September 2017

Canons Farm, Banstead Woods and Beddington Farmlands, 8th September 2017

I spent a very enjoyable morning at Canons with Ian J but boy was it a lifeless start to the day, the carpet of cloud making it feel like the day the dinosaurs died. Before Ian arrived, I'd scored two Ravens as they cronked quite low east, by far my most satisfying encounter with this species on patch so far. I'm still waiting to see one or two on the deck here! Ian joined me from my sheltered skywatching position along the side of Broadfield and before long a large raptor appeared which immediately 'felt' different - getting the scope fixed, it was clear that we were looking at a fairly pale juvenile Honey-buzzard, just my second record at CFBW in eight years of patching! We enjoyed pretty good views of it for some eight minutes before it vanished behind some trees. It seemed likely that the bird had arrived yesterday and roosted overnight on site or nearby. We completed a walk covering the key areas of the farm and some of the southwestern end of Banstead Woods, featuring common migrant warblers such as Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff, plus a few Bullfinches. On the way back, it was pissing down but I couldn't help checking the 'corner post' in Owl Meadow - it was a good thing I did as it sported a lone Whinchat.

After heading home to dry off and have lunch, I headed back out into the field and scanned the lakes at Beddington, a fairly uneventul venture but for an adult Yellow-legged Gull, a Wigeon (my first locally of the autumn), a Cetti's Warbler and a rather eye-catching advanced 1cy Lesser Black-backed Gull.

adult Yellow-legged Gull at Beddington

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Beddington Farmlands and Ferring, 7th September 2017

I spent three hours at Beddington this morning, briefly in the company of Christian C, Mike N and Frank P. The highlight was being given the opportunity to process a re-trap Cetti's Warbler which had flown into the mist-nets that Mike and Frank were running. There was a suggestion of overhead movement into the light southwesterly wind with eight Yellow Wagtails and 13 Meadow Pipits tallied by the time I left mid-morning to get my jabs for Ethiopia. We also enjoyed some spectacular views of a hunting Hobby throwing some shapes over the mound. After my jabs, I headed down to see Ingrid and we had a couple of Yellow Wagtails in the furrowed field by the Asda in Ferring.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Oare Marshes, 6th September 2017

I teamed up with Cory from the States for a short day's birding at Oare Marshes but one filled with several avian rewards! An ambulance was on call at one of the houses along the approach to the reserve so we parked up and watched the mixed Yellow and Pied Wagtail gathering in the fields for a bit; a Wheatear and a Lesser Whitethroat were in the same area. Once on the reserve, the first unexpected encounter involved a juvenile Cuckoo feeding on caterpillars in a dead tree on the grazing marsh - the first I've seen for some time - closely followed by the strange sight of a juvenile Hobby trekking low across the surface of The Swale. Two Greenshanks dived over onto the East Flood and good numbers of Grey Plovers were on the Sheppey side, along with three Marsh Harriers and a couple of Buzzards. A couple of Bearded Reedlings teased us with their calls from the reedbeds but remained unseen, as did a few Cetti's Warblers. A Peregrine buzzed the flood, repeatedly setting up the waders, and later on a juvenile Osprey gave good scope views as it circled to the west. It later took its turn at stirring panic among the waders as it cruised low over the East Flood, where highlights included nine Curlew Sandpipers (one adult and eight juveniles), the adult Long-billed Dowitcher and four Knot. Two Wigeon also put in an appearance.

Best of all, while Cory was back at the car, a curious call overhead alerted me to a Pectoral Sandpiper which circled the west side of the reserve twice before disappearing to the southeast! Hopefully Cory wasn't too gripped as he has seen loads in the States. Walking back to the car, conversation with a group of three other birds revealed that they had also clocked the Pec. This is the third I have found in Britain, following birds at Dungeness RSPB and Tice's Meadow over the last few years.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Beddington Farmlands, 5th September 2017

A hasty post-work check of the lakes produced a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull, a Green Sandpiper and a trickle of Sand and House Martins, as well as singles of Sedge Warbler and Grey Wagtail.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Canons Farm and Beddington Farmlands, 4th September 2017

It was miserable weather at Canons and my walk 'only' produced the 12th and 13th Whinchats of the autumn for the site. After getting Linda M onto the birds I bailed out and headed to Beddington to join Dodge, Swifty and Prof in the hide for a bit. A couple of Grey Wagtails flew over and two Cetti's Warbler had found their voices again but the most exciting moment came when watching a Hobby clock something above it, ascend and then effortlessly pluck a Swift (one of three) from the sky after a short and merciless pursuit. Duck counts included 40 Teal and 43 Shoveler, while 22 Lapwings were counted.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Canons Farm and Beddington Farmlands, 3rd September 2017

Just before my early shift finished mid-afternoon, news came through from Steve G of a Pied Flycatcher in Lunch Wood at Canons. As soon as I clocked off I raced over there and it was good to bump into Shaun F along Reads Rest Lane. We encountered Steve by Reads Rest Cottages and all three of us marched to Lunch Wood for a brief and unsuccessful search for the flycatcher, just the fourth patch record. The weather was grim so it was hardly surprising that the flycatcher had gone to ground. I decided to revive my initial plan of heading to Beddington for the evening, which turned up a couple of successes in the form of a vocal Firecrest along the hedge on Cuckoo Lane and two juvenile Ruff which were feeding on the North Lake the second time I checked it, just as the light was fading and I was heading for the car. One was a male and the other a reeve. Other sightings included two Greenshanks and two Common Sandpipers but just three Green Sandpipers.

Ruff at Beddington at dusk

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Canons Farm and Banstead Woods, 2nd September 2017

Paul G and I led the annual CFBW Bird Group's Autumn Migration Tour around the farm, with a quick jaunt into the woods. Patch birders were most excited by the Sand Martins over Broadfield. Of the three, I only saw the one. Other highlights included a Garden Warbler, a surprisingly scarce autumn migrant on the patch, a Wheatear, four Meadow Pipits and a trickle of Swallows. The Tawny Owl hooted again in Lunch Wood. I saw a Spotted Flycatcher and the adult male Peregrine prior the the walk starting.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Canons Farm and Banstead Woods, 1st September 2017

A brilliant day on the patch. The magical fallen tree near the Watchpoint had the Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat and Lesser Whitethroat in it all at the same time! A couple of Wheatears were nearby. Paul G found a Firecrest in Banstead Woods and I gave it a short stake out to no avail.

1cy male Redstart
Spotted Flycatcher
Whinchat