Sunday, 25 March 2012

A Quick Hat-trick

Our latest RSPB outing (details later) was an early one (for some anyway) and what with the clocks going forward as well it was barely light when I left home today.
 I didn't have to meet up with Bob on my way to Sandy so I cut across country and travelled the quiet backroads.
 Apart from the odd early rising pheasant and several corvids there wasn't a lot of birdlife to be seen, however a small shape on an roadside wire turned out to be a Little Owl  - nice !
 Further along my journey somewhere near Cople a white bird was flying around the roadside -  a Barn Owl !  -  this gets better.
 The light was gradually improving as I neared the car park at The Lodge and I could see the rest of the group standing around looking at something on the fence nearby.
 To my amazement it turned out to be a half asleep Tawny Owl ! - 3 Owl species in 20 minutes or so ! Wow !!  He was totally unfazed by people standing just yards away taking his picture. In fact when we left shortly after he was still there.

Tawny Owl
 A brilliant start to the day. Was it a sign of things to come ?  Indeed it was !

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Probably an escape.

We were up in Notts today and I escaped to wander around Attenborough Nature reserve.

 I was hoping I might bump into a few newly arrived migrants but aside from hearing a couple of singing Chiffchaffs this didn't happen.
 My best find though  was this Ross's Goose on the other side of the river.
It's more than likely an escape as you wouldn't expect them to mix with larger Geese like the Canadas and Greylag it was consorting with.
 All the same a new bird for me and I was quite pleased with it.
Ross's Goose

Ross's Goose
Around the reserve other notable birds were a couple of heard but not seen Cettis Warblers, 2 pairs of Goosander,3 drake and 2 duck Red-crested Pochard, a pair of Shelduck, a Redshank and several Tree Sparrows around the feeding stations.

From one of the bridges it was possible to look over a small Heronry of 3 nests, 2 of which contained Herons and the other surprisingly a duck Mallard who looked like she was sitting on eggs. Sounds risky to me !!


Mallard in Herons nest

Friday, 16 March 2012

Do you ever get the feeling..... are being watched ?
At work in Lathbury yesterday I had seen a Red Kite over a nearby field earlier on but was pleasantly surprised to look up and see this handsome fellow looking down at me from a nearby tree.

 This bird has been in the area for a couple of months now and obviously likes it around here.
From the photo it is possible to see a ring on it's right leg.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The sun came out

The sun really brings out the colours on this drake Mallard
It was very Springlike at Willen  today.
I was hoping I might bump into a few migrants but as yet it seems nothing is happening on that front.
There was one turnup for the books however, a Tree Sparrow amongst a small group of Reed Buntings was the first I have ever seen at this site.
 A Water Rail scurried around in the inlet stream and a Little Egret was on the island..A group of Long-tailed Tits around the hide contained at least 3 Goldcrests and the ducks on North Lake included Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted and a single Goldeneye.
 Birds on the Spit consisted of Lapwings, Herons and Cormorants. Great-crested Grebes were numerous, including some in courtship mode.

courting Grebes

 Highlights of the South Lake were 9 more Goldeneye and a Kingfisher that flew the entire length of the lake.
 Again ducks included Tufted Pochard, Gadwall, Wigeon and Mallard. Lots of Mute Swans were present as well as Canada and Greylag Geese. Lots of Great-crested Grebes here too.
Canada Goose
There were a few birds hanging around near the Pub, presumably waiting for any food that might be on offer including a confiding Collared Dove and this juvenile Lesser-black backed Gull.

Lesser-black backed Gull

Spring flowers including Primroses and Violets were very much in evidence and my first Butterfly of the year, a very smart Brimstone was seen.


Saturday, 3 March 2012

Out West

I ventured out to the west of the county yesterday afternoon. Primarily to visit the Gallows Farm Nature Reserve as there were a few birds around that I still needed for my county yearlist.
 As luck would have it I was just setting off when news came through of a Whooper Swan at Hillesden. This was on my way so it would be rude not to have called in. Sure enough very distantly in the valley, where I had seen the Great Grey Shrike last year, in the company of 5 Mutes was an adult Whooper - a good start.
 A bit further up the road at Edgcotte a Red Kite soared low over some farm buildings. This was to be the first of five birds that I saw during the afternoon.
 Arriving at Gallows Bridge I was greeting by the distinct babbling call of a Curlew - the regular birds having returned - and looking over the entrance field three birds were soon spotted.
 A walk up to the hides didn't produce too much more as Mick was working up there but from the second, distantly a flock of some 130 ish Stock Doves, 3 Buzzards, a flock of 50 odd Linnets and a Red-legged Partridge sat on a gatepost were spotted.
 Back at the car park I met Tim Watts and while chatting to him he pointed out a Peregrine on one of the Pylons and shortly after a Raven on top of another.
 Tim informed me that there had been an Iceland Gull on Calvert BBOWT lake a little earlier so I decided to make this my next call -' I wouldn't miss it as being a second winter and totally white it stood out like a sore thumb'. Well I did miss it. After scanning through the numerous Lesser-black backs several times I think I can safely say it wasn't there.
 A quick look in at Stony Stratford Nature Reserve on the way back showed the two now regular Oystercatchers to be back on site
 All in all this proved to be a very productive afternoon, despite missing out on the Iceland Gull I managed 4 county yearticks and 2 British yearticks, taking me on to 99 and 126 respectively.
 Migration starts any day now !!!