Sunday, 30 December 2012

New Patch Tick

Just lately birding around Gayhurst Quarry has been rather hard work.
  What with the incredible amount of rain we've had recently the water level has raised considerably meaning most of the islands and muddy shoreline has disappeared, making it unsuitable for any wading birds.
Not to mention that it's almost impossible to walk around the bottom end of the lakes
 We are also smack bang in the middle of the shooting season so any birds that are there are spooked very easily.
 Today didn't look as though it would be any different.
Of course there were the usual large flocks of Mallards and Wigeon, 50 or so Tufted Ducks, only 5 Gadwall and a solitary drake Pochard.
Three Little Egrets and three Herons stood in the flooded field between the rivers.
It was on Motorway Pit where most of the birds were gathered as this is where the feed is put down for them. Some 400 Greylags and about 50 Canada Geese were taking advantage of this and I counted 86 Mute Swans on the Pit. While checking through for any rarer winter visitors I noticed two smaller birds - a pair of Shelduck. While not a scarce species nationally, we do get very few in the county and these were the first I had seen at Gayhurst in almost 10 years of watching regularly. My 129th species for the site.
 They did go for a fly around at one point but dropped back down in to what they obviously felt was the safety of the large Swan flock.
 I make no apologies for the record shot below.

 A flock of 31 Golden Plover was a bonus flying over along with 60 odd Lapwing.

Monday, 17 December 2012

The Queen Mother....God Bless Her !

I was in twitch mode this weekend.
On Saturday afternoon, a Grey Phalarope at Dunstable Sewage works was a bit to good to be ignored. This bird should have long since departed for Africa but obviously the warmish sewage water held enough insect life to keep this frenetic little wader happy.
 Although it never actually moved very far, good views were had even though at some 100 yards range.

On Sunday morning I set my sights even higher with a trip to the Queen Mother Reservoir in Berkshire.
For a couple of days a very rare American vagrant a Buff-bellied Pipit had been present.
Normally entry to this site is by permit only but fortunately Berkshire Ornitholological Society had managed to get access for the huge number of people who wanted to see this bird.
 On arrival it was easy to see which way to go as a steady stream of birders wandered down  towards it's favoured area just beyond the pier.
 Unfortunately the only Pipits seen around this area were Meadow Pipits, but a bit further along our target bird had been located.
 To say this little fellow had no fear of Humans is a bit of an understatement as it fed happily just feet from the hordes of admirers.

Buff-bellied Pipit

Buff-bellied Pipit
When eventually I'd had my fill of this mega rarity, I decided to complete the lap of the 3 mile circumference of the reservoir to try and see a couple of the other good birds that were also on site.
 While I managed to find the long staying Long-tailed Duck, the Red-necked Grebe seemed to have chosen that day to depart.
the bird in the centre is a Long-tailed Duck(honestly)
I thought I might have seen a few Ring -necked Parakeets as this is their heartland but 3 flyovers were the only ones I managed.


Friday, 14 December 2012

From the Hide at Willen

Just to let you know that I'm still around.
Here are some pictures taken recently at Willen, before the floods and subsequent cold snap.


just three of the eighteen Snipe that have been present

three of the eleven Little Grebe (plus a Tuftie)

Sleepy Mute