Thursday, 21 July 2011

Flycatcher Update

I've been checking on the Lathbury Spotted Flycatchers at least once a week since the first bird arrived at the beginning of June.
 Up until now I'd only ever seen one bird but assumed there must be a pair, as surely the lone bird just wouldn't stick around.
 Today this was confirmed as a pair were seen collecting insects and taking them off to feed young in a so far unseen nest.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Young Ones

Gayhurst Quarry seemed to be full of young birds this morning. Walking down the track I saw family parties of Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Blue and Great Tits, young Blackbirds and Robins.                          
At the pits the theme continued with juveniles of Black-headed Gulls and still lots of young Common Terns.The Swans still have two fast growing Cygnets and there are 2 families of Great-crested Grebes.
New on site was a brood of 5 tiny Tufted Ducks following mum around on Motorway Pit, and 3 young Kingfishers chased one of the parents up the river.                                                                                   
I couldn't find the Oystercatchers on the island today, but on my walk back I could hear the piping calls of the adult birds on Reedy Pit.
 I didn't think this was a good sign, but as I sat and watched the two babies emerged out of the undergrowth. They can obviously swim from a very early age.

 Other good birds seen around the site included a Hobby that was harrassed by a large gang of Sand and House Martins, a Buzzard, 4 Little Egrets, one Green and one Common Sandpiper and a growing flock of just over a hundred Lapwings.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Vidye-vudya vu (how the heck are you ?)

It's often the case that the most non-descript birds have loud distinct songs. This is most certainly true of the Common Rosefinch.
 The Three Musketeers (Nik, Paul and Myself ) embarked on our latest Twitch into Cambridgeshire last night to try and see the said bird
 We had done our homework before we set off (lesson learned from this weeks Greater Yellowlegs debacle at Daventry Reservoir, where a few hundred  birders had happily ticked the above, only for someone to say 'Actually Guys it's  a Greenshank !!' (thank goodness I was waiting until the evening before going)), and studied all the features and call.
 The small village of Melbourn was our destination and following local directions we soon found the gardens, where the the little guy was hanging around.
 Luckily we had studied the call as this bird is a real typical little brown job  (well first summer males as this one is) and I'm sure we would never have found it on looks alone.
 Like I say the call is very noticeable and we were soon able to trace the bird in the conifers of the largest of the said gardens. We did enjoy good views for prolonged periods, before deciding it was time for  a beer and a curry at a nearby Indian

Friday, 8 July 2011

Now it starts

In amongst the heavy showers I took alook around Gayhurst Quarry this morning to see if any wader migration was taking place yet.
 I was not disappointed as I found 5 species around the site.
On Fishing Pit there were the usual Lapwings with a few well grown juveniles amongst their numbers. I had scanned the whole lake, seeing a few Coot, Mallard and Great-crested Grebe, when I noticed a Little-ringed Plover on the nearest exposed mud spit. Looking closer this became 2, then 5 and finally 7 - easily a site record as I had only ever seen the odd ones and twos here. They were all adults and amongst them was a Common Sandpiper so I would guess they were all returning migrants.
 The Swans on Spinney Pit have finally given up on their eggs and the family of Great-crested Grebes are still doing well.
 The Motorway Pit Mutes have now relocated to Reedy Pit with their surviving 2 young and these are growing fast. It was here that I noticed another small wader picking around the mud - a Green Sandpiper.
 Motorway Pit was alive with birds, very noticeably Common Terns, which seem to have had a very good year. I counted a minimum of 26 juveniles, most of which are flying around. It was here that I spotted yet another Little-ringed Plover, but my biggest surprise was the Oystercatchers. I had presumed they hadn't bred this year as I kept seeing two birds at opposite ends of the site, but was very pleased to see two adult birds on the edge of the island and then two fluffy balls appeared out of the grass. There were at least 5 Little Egrets around and another pair of Great-crested Grebes with their stripey hitchhikers.

 Up at Quarryhall, there was a lot of chirpinng coming from the bushes and closer inspection revealed probably a dozen Tree Sparrows, including several young birds. Also seen here were Linnets, Yellowhammer, Skylarks, Reed Buntings and Stock doves.
 A pair of ears kept popping up out of the Oatfield and eventually these revealed them to belong to a Roe Deer.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Still Quiet on the Birding Front

June and early July have always been quiet months regarding birds, especially in inland counties like Buckinghamshire. This year seems worse than ever, but at least there are a few interesting insects to look at.
When I came back from Mallorca I commented that there seemed to be an abundance of Hummingbird Hawk Moths over there, and wondered if we were in for an invasion year. It seems we could be, as a lot of people are reporting them lately and I have seen 3 myself in the last week including 2 together this morning. They are incredibly difficult to photograph as they are so active, but here are a few of my efforts. Click on the photos to see more details including the incredibly long proboscis.

I also came across this gathering of Green-veined and Small White Butterflies on the edge of a dried up pond.I haven't seen this many together for twenty years or so.