Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Hilfield Reservoir - 30.8.11

36 today and I wake up feeling like i've been run over (and not due to booze!). To escape the whinging baby I went to Hilfield Res for a wander round. On arrival at the car park a Chiffchaff called (1 of at least a dozen), a Jay flew over and a Buzzard was harrassed by either a Kestrel or Hobby but my bins were still in the boot so i'll never know! From the base of the steps I noticed a small bird perched on top of one of the life rings so through my scope I saw it was a female Wheatear. Just as I was about to endure the steps Steve Murray arrived and so we both went up and scanned the res together. After nothing much of note on the water I said my farewells only to be stopped in my tracks by a stunning Fox in the corner of the car park. I got Steve onto it and whilst watching it I suddenly heard the call of a Ringed Plover! Sure enough I turned round to see it fly in from the North and nearly crash into Steve's head! It eventually landed on the dam and was ID'd as a juv and was apparently the first record for the year. The walk round saw a Sparrowhawk fly by, still 7 Swifts, 35 House Martins and 18 Swallows. 3 Yellow Wags flew NE over the dam and a Little Owl was sat on a post in the paddocks behind the viewpoint. Just as I was walking past the North pines a huge flock of gulls arrived from the NW and landed on the water. I scanned through them and rough counts were 600 Black-Headed Gulls, 150 Lesser Black-Backed Gulls and 50 Herring Gulls. Back in the car park and 3 Greenfinches were atop of one of the trees.

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Journey Home - 29.8.11

We weren't supposed to be coming home until the Tuesday but Barbara's grand-daughter (Smelly, my name for her!) had been rushed to hospital back home with an asthma attack. So we packed up and left this morning and headed home but news coming through was that she was ok just a little chesty and that she'd probably be staying overnight so no need to speed home. So with that good news we stopped off for a quick burger at McDonalds and a quick 5-10 minutes at Deadman's Hill at Sandon. 2 Red Kites were hunting over a ploughed field just outside the county boundary at Chrishall in Cambs whilst a quick scan of the fields at Sandon saw a covey of 9 Grey Partridge and 52 Stock Dove in the adjacent fields.

UPDATE - As I was packing the car this morning back up in Hemsby I heard an unfamiliar call so unfamiliar that I couldn't even put it to species!! It was a dysillabic call similar to Pied Wagtail but deeper and harsher. I desperately looked for what was making the call when suddenly 2 terns flew NE over the caravan site. I know the calls of the usual terns that i'd expect to see/hear around there (Little, Common, Sandwich and even Arctic) but it wasn't a call i'd put to any of them. So just now i've been checking out tern calls on xeno-canto (a great online bird call library) and the only one I can find that matches the call I heard was that of Roseate Tern!! I certainly wasn't expecting that this morning!! Only my 2nd and 3rd in the UK.

Cley NWT - 28.8.11

The juv Red-Backed Shrike, the juv Red-Necked Phalarope, the 8 sleeping Spoonbills and 3 of the Curlew Sandpipers (honestly!)

It was a toss up where to go with birds at Cley and Cromer but we decided on Cley first. We pulled up into the car park infront of the new reserve centre and from there we could see the 8 Spoonbills but there were other birds I wanted to see so we payed our money and went for a wander. First stop was Bishop's hide where we eventually got a seat and started to scan the birds infront of us. The 8 Spoonbills hadn't moved an inch and were doing what they do best and sleeping! The year ticks started falling with a very impressive 25+ Curlew Sandpipers, 5 juv Little Stints, Wood Sandpiper and only my 3rd ever Red-Necked Phalarope but my 1st juv. Other notable birds were a Marsh Harrier a Hobby which spooked all the waders and at least 20 Ruff. We left after a while and headed towards the East bank but rather than walk up it we carried on towards Walsey Hills NOA where after a short walk we found our quarry, a lovely juv Red-Backed Shrike that was busy catching and eating Wasps! This was my 8th in the UK! We then walked up the East bank where I saw 2 Greenshank and then added Spotted Redshank to the year list. We finally arrived at the beach car park where Barbara had a rest and I did a brief seawatch. Sandwich and Common Terns and a few Gannets was about it until I had my last scan of the water and to my delight I picked up a Sooty Shearwater about half way out and watched it as it flew West. A Meadow Pipit, 2 Yellow Wagtails and a Wheatear were added to the notebook on the way back to the car. A quick stop off for an ice cream in Salthouse produced 33 Egyptian Geese in the fields and the lonely Greylag Goose who is a favourite of one my friends was still there! After a 20 minute journey we arrived in Cromer and had a spot of late lunch before I had another quick seawatch which was even more quiet than Cley (apart from the sooty!) but that was soon broken when a lone Puffin flew East just off of the end of the pier! We stopped off for 30 minutes at the nearby Warren Wood but there was no sign of the Western Bonelli's Warbler (should have gone there first and seen it in the morning!) 8 year ticks though so I can't complain!

Up To Norfolk - 27.8.11

A week off work finally arrived so myself and Barbara decided to go up and stay at my dads caravan in Hemsby until Tuesday (my birthday!). The journey up was uneventful bird wise with a Swallow over just before the M1 junction 6 and whilst stuck in the inevitable traffic before Elveden 3 Buzzards were soaring over the trees. After arrival we chilled out for a bit before deciding where to go but then the heavens open with 3 large thunderstorms in a row which left the area of grass where I parked under an inch of water! So we stayed put and watched Dr Who!!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Oh My God-wit - 26.8.11

The day in Cassiobury Park started off dry so first point of call was the paddling pool area which needed a quick tidy up. Whilst litter picking I heard a RN Parakeet calling so I looked up but immediately my gaze shifted to a huge flock of waders flying overhead in a Westerly direction! There was a large messy clump of birds at the front with a long thin line of single birds trailing behind. First thing I did was ID them as Godwits and because of the feet projecting beyond the tail and the fact they had black tails I safely ID'd them as Black-Tailed Godwits! These were the first record for the park and I had a quick attempt at counting them and estimated the flock to be around 150 strong! I can only imagine what I miss flying over when most of my time is spent looking at the ground! A little later a Sparrowhawk dive bombed into gardens backing onto the park.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 25.8.11

A brief spell of sun this morning encouraged c.20 House Martins to swarm together looking for insects but soon the rain arrived and stayed for over 3 hours! Around 10 RN Parakeets were seen and heard and the long staying Chiffchaff called away by the river. However the strangest sight was of 2 adult Green Woodpeckers that were on the ground about 3 feet apart and they were swaying their heads from side to side and slowly getting closer and closer until they were infront of each other. They then threw their heads back and forth gently touching the tips of their bills together. It was like watching the display of White Storks and Gannets and I don't know if it's display, aggression or pair bonding? Anyone ever seen anything like this before?!

Cassiobury Park - 24.8.11

RN Parakeets today rose to 17. Included in that total was a group of 13 over the meadow. But shortly after seeing them the highlight of the day infact the last few days was my first ever sighting of Yellow Wagtail in the park. I initially heard them as they flew in from the North and eventually I picked them up and noted 4 birds but then I found another 2 closely behind. I hoped that they would like the look of the park and drop down but they obviously wanted to get to the heat of Africa! This occurence was only the 4th sighting of this species for the park. A single Swallow also headed South and a juv Cormorant flew over the paddling pools so low that I could hear the noise made by it's wings!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 22.8.11

A gathering of RN Parakeets around the council yard this morning held 13+ birds before the dispersed and a Chiffchaff responded to the warm weather by singing for a few minutes in the afternoon!

Leavsden CP - 21.8.11

A kickabout with my boy was ruined after about 20 minutes due to a rain shower but a Chiffchaff was heard calling by the tennis courts as was a Bullfinch.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Stockers - 20.8 .11

A brief visit this morning saw 53 Canada Geese in the field at Stockers Farm and 50+ Swallows around the lock keepers house. The only notable birds around the lake were Chiffchaffs with at least 10 birds between the hides and 8 RN Parakeets flying over.

KGVPF - 19.8.11

Just before lunch a Hobby flew in and joined 2 Carrion Crows in mobbing a Buzzard.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 18.8.11

Before the rain arrived 3 fresh juv Herring Gulls were sat in the paddling pools calling out for their parents. Eventually the adults arrived and after some pestering they regurgitated some food for them. Surely they have been born in Watford town centre? I must try harder to prove it next year!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 15.8.11

11 RN Parakeets flew over this morning including 8 in a group over the yard. 7 Herring Gulls flew over mid morning (4 adults + 3 juvs) and then I met Samuel Perfect and his brother Ephraim. The yhave been putting their sightings on the Herts bird club website and so it was good to finally meet them. Just before lunch a Chiffchaff started singing for a few seconds near the meadow.

This evening I paid a visit to Tyttenhanger GP's as 2 Wood Sandpipers had been reported there. Unfortunately no sign of them nor the 2 juv Mediterranean Gulls but there were 2 Green Sandpipers present.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Hilfield Reservoir - 14.8.11

This morning I went to the res to do a WeBS count as the usual person is abroad. On arriving at the top of the steps I heard a couple of Common Terns that sounded a bit agitated and no wonder as I looked at them through my bins they were mobbing a large female Peregrine Falcon! It flew towards me but then headed North over the castle. Whilst doing my count a Little Egret flew South and a Swift was over the NE corner. Other notable birds were 2 Buzzards, 10 Swallow, 8 House Martin, a single Willow Warbler, 20+ Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Reed Warbler and a Common Sandpiper.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 12.8.11

Another fairly eventful day saw at least another 10 RN Parakeets, 2 Little Owls were calling to each other near the car park but just before lunch we were coming back from nearby KGV playing fields towards the park I saw a group of geese feeding on the grass next to the river on Gade Avenue. There were 12 birds 11 of which were Canada Geese but in the middle of them was a Greylag Goose! This is only the 2nd ever record for the park following a flyover bird late last year.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 11.8.11

An interesting morning of birds considering the rain started off with a flock of 10 RN Parakeets flying over the council yard as I stepped out of my car. A bit later I had 4 Herring Gulls fly over (2 ads and 2 fresh juvs calling for food, surely from the town centre). The rain then got heavier as did my socks when my boots leaked (though within a couple of hours of me saying I wouldn't be working anymore today unless I got a new pair, hey presto!!). A Little Owl was calling from trees by the car park but the highlight today was the 21 Mistle Thrushes on the cricket outfield with Starlings.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 10.8.11

A Sparrowhawk was seen in Garston on the way to work. Around 1pm a juv Common Gull flew over the paddling pools briefly (probably the first juv i've seen in the park) and 11 RN Parakeets were flying around.

North Kent - 7.8.11

I'd almost forgotten about my trip down to Kent on Sunday. It wasn't bird related unfortunately but instead a family christening. I did however sneak my bins into the car and managed around 5 minutes birding at 2 sites! The first 5 minutes was at Otterham Quay where the future mother-in-law lives. The tide was out and the mud had attracted around 10 Black-Tailed Godwits with a couple still in their summer finery. The best though were the 2 Avocet in a small creek. The first time i've seen them here. On the way to the church in the village of Iwade I pulled over and had a quick look over Funton Creek. 9 years ago i'd seen a Spoonbill there in with around 60 Little Egret. Today though saw not 1 Little Egret and nothing else of note other than another 2 Avocet.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 8.8.11

5 RN Parakeets flew over mid morning and at least 2 Chiffchaffs were calling by the river. But the best bird was a Willow Warbler that was near the rustic bridge singing it's usual song but very quietly and subdued (sub song I suppose you could call it?).

Cassiobury Park - 4.8.11

Just a Kingfisher of note today.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 2.8.11

I received a phone call this morning from Joan Thompson telling me that she had found a juv Sparrowhawk down by the fishing lake but that she had only heard it calling. Unfortunately it's the summer holidays and the weather is nice so that means loads of people and loads of rubbish to clear up and no time to go looking for juv Sparrowhawks! But thanks anyway Joan! 9 RN Parakeets were flying around squawking and the last bird of the day as I was heading past the bowls club towards the council yard was a Sparrowhawk!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 1.8.11

Well it's August already which means not long until my birthday and autumn migration will soon crank up a gear! The first good bird of the day was the first returning Common Gull briefly on the cricket outfield with a few BH Gulls. Later at least 1 Bullfinch was heard just South of the meadow bridge. Just as I was getting into my car to come home I heard the alarm call of House Martins above me and sure enough a Hobby flew North fairly high up. Thats the 5th or 6th record this year of Hobby which is 5-6 times the normal average count!!