Friday, 29 January 2010

weekend up north

From the 23rd to 24th I was up in Manchester and took the opportunity to add a few birds to the year list that would be tricky in the south east.Martin Mere; with skeins of Pink-feet flying in while Whoopers rest up
On Saturday I made my way to Martin Mere for the wildfowl there including Whooper Swans and Pink-footed Geese.Whooper Swans flying in

Even on driving up to the reserve I added Pink-foot to the year list as streams of birds landed on a nearby field. Whooper Swans were more than easy to see and were an impressive sight especially in the grand numbers in which they occur at the site. Other year ticks at Martin Mere were Pintail, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit and Barnacle Goose.A Tree Sparrow at the main feeding station was nice to see as were the large numbers of commoner wildfowl, and a Common Buzzard.Whooper Swan
Skein of Pink-footed Geese

Whooper Swans

Pink-footed GooseBlack-tailed Godwits
Ruddy Shelduck x Mallard?
Barnacle GooseTree Sparrow

Reed Buntings
Great Spotted Woodpecker

Sunday was spent closer to the hotel, at my northern patch Pennington Flash, a brilliant place. I got two nice year ticks here, Willow Tit and Goosander which both afforded excellent views. 2 of the former were at the feeding station and I counted a total of 22 Goosanders. 8 Goldeneyes including 5 drakes was a treat and 103 Lapwings were startled by something.Willow TitGoosander

Reed Bunting

Sunday, 3 January 2010


Arrived at Staines Moor at about 9.20am this morning, confident that I would be able to add the long staying 1st winter Brown Shrike to my year list, but completely and utterly failed.

Did however locate a single Water Pipit, a Kingfisher and a Cetti's Warbler which were all nice year ticks. The Kingfisher gave pretty good views. Shame about the Shrike.

Moving on to Staines Reservoirs, I enjoyed the wintering female/immature Scaup on the north basin and a Black-necked Grebe on the south basin, a couple of useful year ticks out of the way. A Common Sandpiper was a pleasant surprise, Goldeneyes, as always, were lovely and I got a series of other year ticks too.Driving home through Sutton I saw one of the resident Peregrines on their favourite corner of the Reed Building.

The year list is now on 86.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

2010 starts well

2010 started better than I expected, yesterday, I went up with Kev to Rainham Marshes RSPB first off.

It was a beautiful day, and high tide. Things were good. As we were walking along the seawall we came across the reserve warden Howard Vaughan and he instantly put us on the Bonxie (aka Great Skua) and we got distant views as it sat on the Thames, before it flew east (although we saw it back at the same spot on the walk back). This is an excellent bird for the LNHS area and it was even a tick for some high listing London birders. Also a potentially tricky year tick out the way.Bonxie

We walked up to the special viewing mound where we also instantly got onto a female/1st winter Serin, another useful year tick and my best views yet. I would have got a decent pic but unfortunately a twig was covering much of its front. At least one Rock Pipit was present on the foreshore of the Thames.SerinRock Pipit

A long overdue London tick came in the form of good numbers of Golden Plovers.Golden Plovers

Having got the two main target species out of the way, we decided it was best to head up to Westcliffe-on-Sea to get Rossi the Ring-billed Gull and the Black-throated Diver, both seemed to be more or less guaranteed.

After a bit of scanning from the yacht club Kevin spotted the Black-throated Diver and we enjoyed fairly distant views, although all of the key features could be noted. Another tarty lifer out of the way.
Common Gull

With Gulls scattered all along the sea front we didn't know where to start with scanning for our quarry but thankfully it was perched up on a post right in front of us! The Ring-billed Gull showed well, I got my best views of it yet, and Rossi is a very fine specimen.Ring-billed Gull

Other Gulls present included one or two adult Mediterranean Gulls, the lowering sun shone right through their white primaries at some angles.Mediterranean Gull

As the tide was starting to go out, revealing a small amount of rocky shore, there was a small group of Turnstones that showed down to a couple of feet, way closer than the Leysdown birds! The evening sunlight had a beautiful effect on them.Turnstones

As we were driving away we spotted 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the edge of the increasingly exposed beach.

A very good day, the year list having a relatively healthy beginning of 53 species (I think that's more than the 1st day of 2009!) and I was still missing very common things like Woodpeckers, all Tits but Blue, Wren etc.


Today (2nd) I popped down to Canon's Farm and Banstead Woods where the highlights included 2 or 3 Woodcocks which I flushed in Banstead Woods, 6 or so Yellowhammers, 2 Common Buzzards (the resident bird plus a distant individual over the Chipstead Valley), 17+ Skylarks, a Treecreeper, 5+ Nuthatches, 3+ Coal Tits, c.3 Lesser Redpolls, 2+ Bullfinches and a handful of Rose-ringed Parakeets.

The year list is now on 71, with some very common species still avoiding me e.g. Song Thrush. Very early days yet anyway.

See the right hand side of the blog for my chronological 2010 year list.