Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Another migrant

With a small flock of roaming warblers I found an adult Lesser Whitethroat today, first the flock was in the small wood in the corner of Infront George Field then they were relocated along Slangs. This is a surprisingly scarce patch bird, with 3-4 singing males in the spring (none staying to breed) and 1-2 autumn migrants in a typical year. With two Yellow Wagtails, a Whinchat, a Meadow Pipit and two fresh-in Willow Warblers in the last couple of weeks, passerine migration is slowly starting up.

Monday, 30 July 2012

A young Peregrine visits

A young Peregrine visited the farm today, and spent a few minutes tassling with one of our Common Buzzards. Presumably from one of the three or four so pairs within ten kilometres, Sutton perhaps being most likely.
As usual, switch to 1080p if you can

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The last thing I twitched

Last Saturday. The male Red-backed Shrike in Hayes (Middlesex). Been a bit lazy with this blog lately I know. Mainly because there's been little to put on it and I've got a lump of work to do before my annual holiday, which is in a few days and will be very exciting, no doubt. I'm spending a week and a bit in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly doing almost non-stop seawatching/pelagics with Liam.
Best viewed in 1080p

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Spoonbill and another grip off

Last Friday I left on news for the Spoonbill at the London Wetland Centre. It showed well on gravel on the main lake. Nice to see a smart adult, especially as it was in London and Surrey, which is the main reason I went. When I arrived it was feeding well and put on a good show but soon returned to the stereotypical Spoonbill thing of sleeping. A nice life. I have photos that were taken with my phone (because my compact camera is broken) but sadly my mobile is also now broken. I also still can't process files from my new SLR. Annoying.

A week ago on Wednesday Ian and I were trudging around the edge of Banstead Woods in the evening as hailstones the size of walnuts nearly knocked us out... for some reason. Roy had a smarter idea and was watching from near Canons Farmhouse. What does he go and do? Only perform another big-style grip! A Little Egret. Flying over him having flown roughly from where we were. For pity's sake not again! I think this is the first time I've missed a bird I need for the patch while actually being on patch. There's only one previous record of Little Egret, a bird in a temporarily flooded field in a wet spell of 2008 so it's quite something for CFBW. Roy does it again. Another one I'll have to grind back some day.

Monday, 9 July 2012

An uncommon Common Tern

Common Tern. Still can't edit/convert pics from my new camera to put on here so still waiting on shots from the weekend, I only managed to get this one on by taking a screenshot of the pic in my image viewer program
I haven't been getting much sleep lately and had to stay up late again last night so waited till late morning before I doddled over to the patch. On arrival, it looked like there was a reasonable amount of settled rainwater following the recent persistent precipitation so I went straight to Bog Field to see if any wader habitat had been created. Viewing the 'Main Pool' which goes in and out of existence is now very difficult because of growing crops and hedgerows but I couldn't see anything upon a quick look. Just to make sure, I clapped my hands once and immediately heard what sounded like a Green Sandpiper call once. Sh*t! I had a massive hedge in front of me and couldn't see anything. That was it, gone, not heard again or seen. I'm 95% sure it must have been a Green Sand but I'd want to hear it call clearly at least a couple of times to put down this significant record in the books and I'd want a visual to tick it.

Pretty miffed, I started down the lane. I had barely got beyond Canons Farmhouse when I picked up what I instantly recognised as a tern flying south-south-west. I didn't manage to get a firm ID on a 'Commic' Tern I had last May so didn't want to balls up on this opportunity too... I didn't... phew, a Common Tern bagged and photographed! Being a dry site any tern is a real mega and a very good bird to get under the belt. I soon forgot about the probable Green Sand, but not for long; I gave it a couple of hours for the bird to hopefully return but I had no such luck. I'm sure I'll get another stab at one before long.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

This weekend

Should have pics to illustrate this post but some file issues with the NEF images, hopefully sort out soon (got pics of Quail!)

There's not been a lot happening in birding terms for me since the Little Swift. The highlight has probably been the Gannet at Walthamstow Reservoirs, my first for London and also a visit to Elmley Marshes RSPB last Sunday which involved finding a Quail (see later in this post for a re-visit).

I was looking forward to my friend Liam coming down from Manchester for the weekend for an excuse to go trucking about a bit, plus a bit of his great company. We started off with a visit to the patch yesterday, not really producing a lot but it was my last chance to bid farewell to and thank Fiona and Stella for their help on the patch over the last year; they're moving away this week.

After CFBW, we made a little trip to a site near Epsom for Red-legged Partridge but didn't find any... so poor Liam continues to need RLP :-). We did see a Peregrine and a Hobby there though, which was cool (latter being a yeartick for Liam, they don't get many up north). Next, Holmethorpe for a quick look at the drake Red-crested Pochard which was still there... not a bad local bird.

Final trip of the day was a local site for Nightjar which was successful with a very curious male bird singing and circling around us about half a dozen times in the short while we were there. This bird afforded both of us our best views of this fascinating and unique British bird.
Today was very productive. A trip to the New Forest was planned and we had an idea of what we wanted to get, and a bit less of an idea of how much the weather was going to hinder these expectations from being realised. I had told Liam that Goshawk were easy at the site we were visiting and I had seen them on each of my visits so was half-expecting a blank on that front but within half an hour of arriving we'd seen about three different Goshawks, including an adult and juvenile females. This was the first lifer of the weekend for Liam. A Gos is a really distinctive bird, even with the naked eye at an okay range you can be quite confident (and correct) that you're onto one. I always love seeing them, truly powerful and wild things.

The odd Crossbill and several Siskins flew over while a couple of Common Buzzards flew about; we also managed to locate a single Tree Pipit and were treated to a bit of a surprise when two Hawfinches passed us (tick for Liam). We perched ourselves up at the 'viewpoint proper' and enjoyed further views of Goshawks - it was then that the third lifer of the day for Liam flew over - a Woodlark... at last! Liam's approaching 300 for Britain and still needs a fair pile of common-ish stuff so is doing well.

We were watching a close Common Buzzard when I noticed a different-looking raptor way above it. Honey-buzzard wasn't my first thought so I let my guard down and had a closer look at the bird (I'd been saving Honey-buzzard as a joint British/patch tick at CFBW so planned to avoid looking at any elsewhere, having got beyond the point of being pig sick from dipping every time I've tried for them at various sites in the past) - as soon as I whacked it up to 60x it did the butterfly/wing-clapping display of a Honey-buzzard - happiness and disappointment at once, I'd done myself out of getting a British lifer at CFBW! I've seen H-b in France and Italy before but have always had awful luck with them in this country and it had got to the point where I had given up some time ago. Of course it was destined that the one time I didn't really want to see one I would. Never mind, it was done and dusted the moment it performed the display flight so I got on and enjoyed the sight as it drifted past us, in view for about ten minutes, rising, wing-clapping and then slightly descending 12-15 times in total. A really cool bird. Liam's fourth lifer of the day and my first (and only).

Ian texted that he was enjoying great views of the Quail that I'd found last weekend at Elmley Marshes so we decided we'd go. It was quite a smooth journey and we arrived to join a little gathering of birders, the Quail sang straight away and was in our scopes almost as quickly. Wonderful! These were my best ever views of this ruddy tricky bird that I've had. Love these cryptic, dinky, secretive little wet-my-lippers. Talking of wet, it suddenly became very much such in terms of weather so we went home. Liam had now seen five new birds today/this weekend and I'd had one plus many other nice birds - we make a good team! Cheers for the company, Liam, see you in Cornwall in a few weeks for lots of seabird specials!
Video best viewed by switching resolution to 1080p and putting it to full screen if you can