Monday, 28 November 2011

Hoping for Snow

Well no not really. Not the cold stuff anyway !
With news coming in of another Snow Bunting in the county today, this time at Broughton near M.K. centre, I felt it warranted a bit of my time.
 The bird was seen flying around with a flock of Linnets on the site of a forthcoming housing development. That should be easy enough I thought, find the Linnets and you'll find the Snow Bunting.
 As my luck is going lately that was never going to happen. The site was huge - a wasteland of fairly long weedy plants that were covered in seed heads -perfect for small finches.
 Well I found a Linnet flock of about a hundred birds flying around - nothing white stood out amongst them, - but then looking around there was another flock and then another, they were everywhere ! I'm guessing at 300 but there were probably more. There was also a group of around 60 Goldfinches, several Reed Buntings, Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails were mixed in but no sign of the little white waif.
 Wandering around the site I managed to flush a total of 35 Grey Partridge in coveys of 17, 11 and 7, by far the most I've seen in the county in many years, also a couple of Snipe and numerous Pheasants. Raptors included a couple of Buzzards, a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

In search of Geese

Our latest RSPB trip was trip to Norfolk with the aim of catching up with some of the Geese that spend the winter on our shores.
We had planned to start off in the Yare Valley, but for some reason the regular flock of Taiga Bean Geese have failed to turn up there this year, so it was straight to Lady Anne's Drive at Holkham. This was probably a good decision as the whole of Norfolk seemed to be swathed in dense fog, which luckily cleared about a mile away from the coast.
On arrival small numbers of Pinkfeet were gathered alongside the drive and a few  Greylags and Egyptian Geese could be seen in the nearby fields.
Pinkfooted Geese

We then took a walk down to the beach where up to ten Little Gulls flew offshore. On the sea 4 Red-breasted Mergansers  3 Slavonian Grebes and a Red-throated Diver were the highlights along with numerous Gannets.
A wander through the sand dunes found an impressive flock of around 60 Snow Buntings and surprisingly 5 Red-legged Partridges.                                                                                                    
It was then back to the Pinewood where  the usual Coal Tits, Treecreeper and Jays were seen. The duckpond held at least a dozen Little Grebes and a reasonable flock of Wigeon.,  From the Washington Hide more Pinkfeet and a few Curlew wandered the field. A couple of Marsh Harriers flew over and a Buzzard that sat on the hedgerow proved not to be one of the  Rough-legged type that have been around recently.                                                                                                         

We then moved on to nearby Friary Hills at Blakeney Freshmarsh. Two Barn Owls hunting over the marsh were among the first birds we spotted. There were more geese, this time a large flock of Brents and in a more distant field around 30 Whitefronts, 20 Barnacles and a few Canadas. Seven species of Geese for the day not bad at  all !                                                                                               
There had been a Cattle Egret at this site for several weeks, but this was the day it decided to go missing. So although we saw some great birds, the two 'rares' managed to get away. 

Monday, 21 November 2011

Great Bird, Rubbish Photo.

I've been on a run of dipping all the birds I've been going to see just recently. The Snow Bunting on Ivinghoe Beacon - a day too late !, Desert Wheatear at Holme - a day too late ! Slavonian Grebe at Little Marlow you guessed it a day too late !
 So when news of a Great Northern Diver showing up at nearby Caldecotte Lake came through last Wednesday and I was unable to nip out of work I expected the worst.
 Luckily I managed to pop out before work Thursday and to my surprise the bird was still present in the small shallow bay in the eastern end of the North Lake.
 As with all Divers this bird spent most of the time underwater, but when it was up it was sometimes less than ten yards away from where I stood, allowing for a good look at it's intricate plumage.
 I have added a dreadful photo of the bird (hopefully I can get back for a better effort when I have more time as it still remains today.) Excellent photos can be seen on Keith's Holding Moments blog - just click on the link to the right of this post.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

View from a Bridge

At Attenborough Nature Reserve in Notts, the birds seem a bit more confiding than elsewhere and several Cormorants fish under one of the bridges even while people are constantly walking over.


Sunday, 6 November 2011

Super Squacco and Smew surpass Slav and Snowbunt

(Sorry Carolyn couldn't resist)

 Having to work Saturday and visit Mum-in-law on Sunday meant I had to miss out on two Bucks ticks this weekend ! A Slavonian Grebe was at Little Marlow and a Snow Bunting turned up on Ivinghoe Beacon.

 However consolation was there was a Squacco Heron at Attenborough Nature Reserve, within walking distance of the wife's mothers.
 Luckily this was easy to find as it had stayed loyal to a particular spot on the River Erewash underneath a railway bridge.
 It was quite unperturbed by all the attention it was getting, although as usual the guys with the long lenses were getting as close as they possibly could. If your lens is that good surely there's no need you tossers !
 This was only the second Squacco I have seen in this country, but it was far the most confiding and gave great views until 3 local yobbos decided it was a good idea to ride their mini-motorbike down the river -wtf ??!!.
Squacco Heron

 It was then that decided to look around the rest of the reserve. I had heard there was a female Smew around and amazingly I managed to find this on the main lake - a very early bird. A female Goosander was also my first of the Winter and say it quietly but there was also a female duck of the kind that has almost been culled out of existence. I won't say it's name in case Defra are listening.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


I've been neglecting the blog just lately.
It's not that I haven't been out, it's finding the time to write it up.
So in brief this is what I've been up to.

 Sunday last saw the Bedford RSPB Group trip up to Fairburn Ings in West Yorkshire, where we saw Willow Tits Tree Sparrows, Siskins, Redpolls, Bullfinches, Whooper Swans, and a couple of Black Swans, one of which was a juvenile ( how long before these are accepted as Category C birds ?)
 At the Lin Dyke end of the reserve there were a pair of Pintail, Curlews and Snipe but alas no sign of the Long-eared Owl reported earlier in the day.

 Last Thursday was wet so I took the opportunity to visit Rutland Water to see if I could see the White-rumped Sandpiper and/or the American Wigeon that had been around for the past couple of weeks.
 Lots of Dunlins were moving around in front of Lapwing Hide and presumably this was where the Sandpiper was hiding Likewise the Yank Wigeon within the Eurasian Wigeon flock and unfortunately I failed to find either.
About 400 Golden Plover, 3 Ruff and around a dozen Pintail were the best bits of this unproductive trip.

Surprisingly I've been having more luck locally.
On Saturday I caught up again with the Great White Egret at Gayhurst Quarry, where there was also a Greenshank - a very unusual record for late October in Buckinghamshire.

 We again have wintering Short-eared Owls at Linford Reserve. Last week I saw one and yesterday there were two putting on a real spectacle as they hunted the field and also did battle with the local Crows.

 Sunday morning I took a walk around Willen and finally managed to catch up with a local Cettis Warbler for the year.
 Water Rails are back, with at least two squealing in the reeds. Duck numbers continue to rise, as do Coots, Great-crested and Little Grebes. A Kingfisher was a welcome sighting from the Hide, although I'm not so sure about the Fox hunting the Ducks in the same area.

                                                              Sleeping Swan

                                                              Hiding Heron

                                                             Loafing Lapwing