Saturday, 28 April 2012

Orange Tip

Just a picture to lighten the gloom of the past fortnights almost non stop rain.Taken in one of the few sunny interludes at Calverton last week.
orange tip

Friday, 27 April 2012


Sunday saw the Bedford RSPB group off to the Brecks of Norfolk and Suffolk.

First stop was RSPB Lakenheath.
Looking out over the Washland a drake Garganey was soon spotted as well as a spectacular male Blue-winged Teal/Shoveler hybrid.A few Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Mallard and Tufted Ducks were also present as well as a couple of Common Terns and my first Whitethroat of the year sang from nearby bushes.
 A walk down to the Fen Watchpoint gave us views of several Marsh Harriers, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 3 Cuckoos a Cettis and several Sedge and Reed Warblers.
 Bearded Tits were the main attraction from the watchpoint along with close-by 'skydancing'  Marsh Harriers.
 A Whooper Swan that looks as though it will be staying with us this summer as it has a badly damaged wing, was the highlight of the walk back down the riverside.

 Next was a visit to Mayday Farm which wasn't quite a productive as on past visits but several Siskins and Bramblings were seen  and Coal Tits called but remained unseen. Best birds however were a couple of Woodlark that gave very brief views.

 Lastly a visit to the Weeting Heath Reserve gave us 3 Stone Curlews through the hail showers.
 On the feeders several Marsh Tits, Coal Tits and a Great spotted Woodpecker showed well.
The fields over the road were well worth a look as a Curlew, a pair of Red-legged Partridge, at least 3 Green Woodpeckers and a couple of Red Deer were sighted.

Friday, 20 April 2012

More Migrants

The last few days has been very productive as to catching up on summer migrants.
The Ring Ouzel I found at Ravenstone Sewage Works had stuck around and had drawn in birders from all around. This proved very useful as the extra pairs of eyes had found a very smart male Redstart at this site on Monday which I managed to get down to see.
The Wheatear total rose to 7, more Yellow Wagtails were seen and another Ring Ouzel appeared briefly.
male Wheatear

female Wheatear

 On Wednesday afternoon it rained heavily so I set off on a twitch to a place called Willow Tree Fen, near Spalding in Lincolnshire.
 A Black-winged Stilt had been making it's way slowly across country, stopping off in Oxfordshire, Rutland and now Lincolnshire. I had seen this species in England before, but Sammy the long staying bird at Titchwell was rumoured to be an escape from nearby Pensthorpe, so I thought I ought to make sure I had seen a genuine wild bird.
 It wasn't a lot of fun driving through the rain, but after an hour and a half I arrived at this very bleak out of the way reserve.
 There were 4 other birders just leaving who kindly pointed out the general direction of the bird, which was stood in some flooded pools about 200 yards from the track. I stood watching for some 20 minutes or so and this creature hardly moved in all that time. My viewing was cut short though as the heavens opened again and I beat a hasty retreat.
 A real shame, such a lovely bird, so far away, barely active and then the viewing time was limited.

 Thursday morning saw me back at Willen where I saw my first Reed Warbler and Sedge Warblers of the year. The spit held a couple of Little-ringed Plovers, an Oystercatcher and the now usual Barnacle Goose.
 On South Lake 3 Waders on the ski-tow boardwalk rose my excitement for a while but these turned out to be only Redshanks. There were a couple of dozen Common Terns on the lake and it was while looking at the Redshanks I noticed one of the Terns sitting right in front of them was shorter necked, had noticeably shorter legs and much longer tail streamers - an Arctic Tern !
A very distant photo of the Redshanks with the Arctic Tern sitting in front of them (definitely one of them photos you have to click on)

 A bird I also stumbled upon was this tired looking White Wagtail.

White Wagtail

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Early Birds

Found this family of Mallards at Willen yesterday.
Quite early I would have thought, especially with this cold weather we've ben having lately.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Willen Barney

This Barnacle Goose has taken up residence at Willen Lake in recent weeks. I'm presuming it's the same individual that has been tagging along with some of the local Greylags in the vicinity over the last couple of years.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Migration Time

Migration has been in full swing in North Bucks in the last couple of weeks.
Chiffchaffs are here in force, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers too.
 Last Saturday on the way to work I received a text saying there was a Common Redstart at Central Milton Keynes. As I was nearby I popped along, to find not a Common but a superb male Black Redstart. But hey either bird is worth seeing.
Last Monday I took a wander around the Manor Farm gravel workings where I finally managed to find some Sand Martins - April 9th is by far the latest I have ever managed to see these birds which are usually one of the first to arrive. A Swallow, several Little ringed Plovers and a Wheatear were also new arrivals here.
 Wednesday lunchtime I did my regular check at Ravenstone Sewage Works which had proved pretty migrant free on my previous five or six visits.
female Wheatear
 Two Wheatear on the Rabbit Bank  and another on the track down to the works were a sign of things to come.
male Wheatear

 Here several Reed Buntings fed with a couple of Grey Wagtails. The Wagtails flew up on to an overhead wire where they joined by a third bird, this one a female Yellow Wagtail.
 Another migrant on the walk back up was a fly through Cuckoo. This magical half hour though wasn't quite finished yet though, as another scan for more Wheatears revealed a male Ring Ouzel on the field at the top of the bank, - a brilliant bird for these parts.
 Trips out of county on Thursday and Saturday proved worthwhile as I connected with a part summer-plumaged Slavonian Grebe at Stewartby Lake in Beds and a Great White Egret at Earls Barton in Northants.
 Saturday morning a visit to Linford Reserve was marked as special because of a pair of Garganey asleep on the Bund.

Today a walk around Willen produced my first singing Sedge Warblers of the year although I failed to see any of them. Five Common Terns were on North Lake and the South Lake held several Swallows,Sand and House Martins. 

Friday, 6 April 2012

Peepo !!

A fairly uninspiring walk around Caldecotte on Monday failed to produce any hoped for migrants aside from a few Chiffchaffs. Birdwise 3 drake and one duck Goosander were the highlights.

 Most interest was from these Guys near Keith's bridge (did Parks Trust have a point mate ?)

Most of the time these young Brown Rats were peeping at me from their nest hole, but eventually there were 4 of them picking up the spilt bird seed from the gaps in the bridge.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Forest of Dean Trip

As mentioned in the last post the RSPB group had another day out last Sunday.
We were heading down to the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.
I had an idea that we might stop off at a site in Oxfordshire on the way down to look for a Great Grey Shrike that had been present for a few days, but travelling through Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire the fog was so thick I feared this would be pointless.
 However by the time we reached Oxford the sun was out and we had a clear day, so pulling  a couple of hundred yards off of the A40 at South Leigh we began the search for the Shrike.
 After a while the bird was eventually located in the top of an Oak Tree where it sat for some time giving good views to all. Suddenly though it took off and chased after 3 passing Meadow Pipits, twisting in mid air trying and failing to catch one of them.
 Other birds seen at this location included a couple of Red Kites a few Buzzards, Yellowhammers and a couple of Red-legged Partridges.

 It was then on to the New Forest, where our first port of call was the Raptor Watch point at New Fancy.
 Small birds flying around the conifers included Siskins, a few Bramblings and a single Crossbill. But it was raptors we had come to see. Several Sparrowhawks soared over the vast woodlands as did a good few Buzzards and 3 or 4 Ravens.
 Eventually a reasonable sized bird emerged from the woodland canopy, circling and gradually gaining height. This was no Sparrowhawk but a splendid male Goshawk that soared around for some time - magic ! But then even better, from the area where the male originally appeared another bird was spotted sitting in one of the trees. This time a huge female that allowed detailed scrutiny through the scope for probably fifteen minutes or more.
 It was by now a very warm day so we popped in to nearby Cannop Ponds for our usual ice-cream and a look at the resident Mandarins.
 This time there were 3 males and 2 females on view.
drake Mandarin
duck Mandarin
 A stop of at Brierley to see if we find any Hawfinches was unproductive, but a newly arrived singing male Blackcap was nice to see.

 Symonds Yat was the final destination, where the resident pair of Peregrines put in an appearance around their cliff nest site.
 Yet more Buzzards were present including a pair that were seen mating in trees on the other side of the river. More Sparrowhawks were observed and the icing on the cake was another male Goshawk thermalling above the cliff-face.

 An excellent day out in which I had seen no less than 8 Bird of Prey species. Remarkably though Kestrel was not among them !