Sunday, 30 October 2011

Eastern Crowned Warbler - 30.10.11

Well it looks like it's all kicking off on Birdforum about the access to Hilfield Reservoir and to be honest I can't even be bothered to go into it again.

Anyway, I recieved a call telling me that the ringers had trapped a Yellow-Browed Warbler which would have been the 5th for the county, but it's my weekend with my "birds are boring" 8 year old son and the in-laws had arrived from Kent so I had no chance to go straight away. Then just after noon the MEGA alert went off and to my amazement it read Mega - Herts - Eastern Crowned Warbler at Hilfield Res!! I eventually arrived on site at 3.30pm and wandered up the West side of the res. But the bird (as yet) wasn't seen again. All I noted in the hour I was there was 3 Goldcrest, Fieldfare and a single phyllosc warbler that flew past but wasn't seen again before dark. Fingers crossed it's still there tomorrow.

Autumnwatch - 28.10.11

On last years BBC Autumnwatch programme Nick Baker was ridiculed by Chris Packham over his failure to see a Waxwing. So after the massive influx last winter and the fact that Mr.Baker was on this Fridays episode I sent a message via Facebook asking whether Nick had finally seen a Waxwing. Martin Hughes-Games read out my name but was rudely interupted by Micheala Strachan before Chris read out my question and got the answer yes from Nick! My 15 minutes of fame perhaps? Or 15 seconds more like it!

Cassiobury Park - 28.10.11

Just 4 species of note today with singles of Meadow Pipit and Lesser Redpoll, 3 Skylark and 19 Canada Geese.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Cassiobury Park - 27.10.11

A very quiet day with just a Lesser Redpoll and a handfull if Siskins being of note.

Cassiobury Park - 26.10.11

Pretty much the same today as recent days. 2 Meadow Pipits flew over along with a Skylark and 7 Siskin and 2 Grey Wagtails, Kingfisher and a Little Egret were on the river.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Cassiobury Park - 25.10.11

The day started with a Bullfinch in trees in the council yard but annoyingly I only heard it. 9 Siskin, 11 Redwing, 2 Skylark, 2 Lesser Redpoll and a flock of 30+ RN Parakeets were also seen and 2 Goldcrest were in the Whippendell Woods car park.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Cassiobury Park - 24.10.11

A hectic first hour in the park saw 4 Skylarks, 14 Fieldfare, 25 Redwing, 15 Siskin and c.30 RN Parakeets over. Another 19 Redwings flew over just after 9am but the star bird flew North around 9.30am when a Red Kite flew over the cafe being mobbed by Starlings and Carrion Crows.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Cassiobury Park - 20.10.11

A rather quiet day to start with 16+ Siskin, 30+ Goldfinch in a flock by the paddling pools and about 3 Pied Wagtails around the park but at 2.30pm I looked up to see 1 then 2 Buzzards soaring over the park towards the town centre.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Cassiobury Park - 19.10.11

As soon as I got to work this morning 8 Cormorants flew over and other flyovers through the day were 2 Fieldfare, 14 Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Skylark, 7 Redwing, 30 Goldfinch and a Little Egret (over the meadow). Also around the meadow was a Water Rail squealing and on the paddling pools 2 juv LBB Gulls and a Common Gull.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Cassiobury Park - 18.10.11

The Little Egret was back on the river though i'd had a report of it from when I was on holiday. In the nature reserve a female Bullfinch showed briefly and 2 Skylarks flew over. 25 RN Parakeets flew in this morning aswell as 2 Sparrowhawks. A Mistle Thrush was heard singing briefly by the canal which is about 2 weeks earlier than has been the last few years.

Cassiobury Park - 17.10.11

Well it was back to work after my 2 week holiday and back to the usual birdlife of the park. 4 Lesser Redpoll, a dozen Siskin and 7 Redwing were flyovers as was a Sparrowhawk. There were 7 Mistle Thrushes around the park and the river saw a Kingfisher and 2 Grey Wagtails with another on the paddling pools.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Getting The Boot In - 16.10.11

The 1st Winter Booted? Warbler.

The last day of my 2 week holiday and I was looking to get another tick down in E.Sussex with another bite at an Isabelline Wheatear but like so many of the good birds lately it had flown off never to be seen again. Instead news of a Booted/Syke's Warbler at Languard saw myself my mum and my boy head off to Felixstowe. On arrival I found out that the bird had flown to a small clump of bushes South of the compound where a fairly large crowd was present. I got onto the bird straight away flitting around in a Tamarisk and occasionally on the floor. I managed a couple of record shots and my boy even took an interest (for 5 minutes!). As I was about to go and drink the hot chocolate that my mum had bought near the fort the bird flew into a mist net that had been erected. Whilst the bird was being processed a pipit sp had been seen flying into some brambles. Eventually after a few minutes it flew out and over our heads calling before being lost to view. The call was of a Tree Pipit but a few minutes later it came on the pager as an Olive-Backed Pipit! No one admitted calling it in though! After 20 minutes the ringers brought the warbler back out and told us that the measurements were inconclusive but it was most likely a Booted Warbler but more research was needed. 3 Mediterranean Gulls (2 adults and a 2nd winter) flew past the car park and then we set off for home.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Back Garden Vismigging - 14.10.11

I was up early this morning with plans to go to Lowestoft for a reported Isabelline Wheatear. As is typical it done a bunk overnight though from photos it may well have been just a pale Northern type. My next plan was to go to Cassiobury Park to do some vismigging but by the time i'd got my act together i'd have spent ages in traffic trying to get there so instead I stood on the back doorstep and decided to look to the skies over my garden. From 7.45-8.30am I saw the following.

351 Redwing
7 Mistle Thrush
2 Siskin
2 Lesser Redpoll
32 Greenfinch
21 Goldfinch
2 Linnet
Coal Tit

Then I went back out at 9am to hang the washing out and in the time it took me to do that I noted-

1 Fieldfare
18 Redwing
1 Linnet
1 Lesser Redpoll
2 Skylark

So not too bad and I probably missed other stuff before I got outside.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Back To Reality - 13.10.11

1 of todays 3 Kingfishers.

After last weeks excellent week on the Scillies, this week is back to normality bird wise even though i'm still off work. A Lesser Redpoll flew over the garden yesterday evening as I was getting the washing in and then at the Watford RSPB group monthly meeting I was totally gripped off with the news that on the 21st Sep whilst on a wander around Cassiobury Park they had found not 1 but 2 juv Garganey on the cress beds next to the fishing pit!! Only a 1st for the park and I found out about it 3 weeks later. So this morning I went to my place of work even though i'm on holiday and checked out the cress beds. As I was rather expecting there was no sign of the Garganeys but in the hour I spent in the park I noted 3 Kingfishers, 26 Redwing (first of the Autumn), Grey Wagtail, 5 Teal, 6 Siskin, Little Owl calling by the car park, Little Grebe and a flyover Bullfinch so it wasn't all bad! I might even be more sad and go again at dawn tomorrow to see whats about!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Scillies + Cornwall - 8.10.11

Our last day on the islands but no time for birding. A Skylark on the airfield was new for the week and then we were off. We left the Heliport having had an excellent week of birding and walking and supposed relaxing! But the birding wasn't quite done as we set of towards Drift reservoir. A Little Egret was seen in Penzance and just before the village of Catchall we parked up in a layby and immediately got onto another Black Kite! There were 3 present but in the time I had I only saw the 1 bird. A Buzzard flew past and a 1st winter Mediterranean Gull took off from the neighbouring field.

Hopefully you won't fall asleep reading my weeks worth of sightings and it's probably best to scroll down to the 1st entry so you can read it in order! The only downers of the week were the news of the Sandhill Crane in Suffolk flying off 2 days before we left and the Upland Sandpiper being found when we were 1 hour from home!

Scillies 7.10.11

The Snow Bunting, the funny Blackbird and the Grey Heron.

News over the radio before we'd left the hotel room told of a Spoonbill on Green Island near Samson. I though the best place to view it would be from Star Castle. The Black Kite was seen again viewed distantly over the airport. We sat on a bench and I scanned towards Samson and eventually found the Spoonbill sat on a small rocky island where it was getting blasted by sea spray and wind. More news came over the radio of a Snow Bunting near the camp site so we wandered through the sports area and down the path to the camp. A male Blackcap was in the bushes along the path and eventually we located the female Snow Bunting on the grass path. We carried on along the path and were alerted to a strange bird near Morning Point. I got it in my scope and saw it was a partial albino Blackbird! A Spotted Flycatcher was seen high in the trees at the start of the Lower Broome platform. After a drink in the Old Town cafe we walked around to Porth Minnick where my 5th Wryneck of the week flew towards the allotments and a Merlin flew through upsetting the Meadow Pipits. Another Clouded Yellow was also seen. We were goning to carry on to the Airport windsock to see the American Golden Plover but that had flown off so instead we turned back and went through Lower Moors where again we saw the Snipe sp but this time asleep. 3 Grey Herons were in a tree behind the pools so I took a pic of one of them for Barbara! We left Lower Moors and started walking back towards Hugh Town when that lovely sound of the MEGA alert went off again. This time though it was even better news as the Snipe sp we'd just been watching had been confirmed from photos as my first ever WILSON'S SNIPE. I turned round to tell the birder behind us the good news only for him to tell us he'd taken the crucial photo of the bird's spread tail which confirmed 16 feathers and clinching the ID!

Scillies - 6.10.11

4 of the Med Gulls, the Whinchat and the juv Cuckoo.

Today we went for a walk around the North of St.Mary's but with a strong wind it made it hard work especially as we had by now 5 blistered toes between us! Just beyond Juliet's Garden restaurant I scanned Taylor's Island and found 12 Mediterranean Gulls (1 ad and 11 1st winters) along with 3 Sandwich Terns. The next bird of note was found at Halangy with yet another Whinchat in some brambles. Soon after at Bar Point I heard a "chack" call which made me spin around to find a 1st winter Ring Ouzel sat on top of a bramble bush 10 feet away but before I could lift my bins to have a better look it dropped down into the bracken and despite 10 minutes looking for it it wasn't seen again. A Chiffchaff was at Watermill Cove and then we arrived at Newford Duckpond hoping to see the Yellow-Browed Warbler that had been there for a few days. 4+ Chiffchaff and a Sedge Warbler that was feeding in the leaf litter were seen but the YBW showed 2 hours after we left! While at the duckpond another birder told me he'd seen a Cuckoo in Holy Vale and showed me 2 photos of it and to keep an eye out for it. The Black Kite was seen again over Holy Vale and then we stopped off at the German eaterie on High Lane for a cuppa. After our tea we walked around the corner into Town Lane and what should fly into view but the Cuckoo!! It perched in a dead tree then flew into a field of vines where it sat on top of a post. I put the news out over the radio and managed a couple of photos but I was looking into the sun and through a bramble bush! It then flew off South after a few minutes just before the first birders arrived. At the log I showed Will Wagstaff the photo and he said the last sighting of Cuckoo was at the start of July so a late record indeed! A male Blackcap was near Trewince and at the start of Lower Moors I left Barbara to go back to the hotel and I wandered down to the ISBG hide to have another look at the Snipe sp. This time it was next to a Common Snipe and the colour difference was even more obvious. A male Gadwall was seen from the viewing screen and that was another day over.

Scillies - 5.10.11

The Solitary Sandpiper and the Snipe sp.

The previous nights log had mentioned an interesting Snipe down at Porthellick Pool that could well be a Wilson's Snipe from America. With that in mind we headed off in that general direction. A walk around Penninis head, Old Town and round the end of the airport runway produced nothing of note other than 1 Swallow! I decided to have a quick check of a field next to Porthellick Beach where I found 2 more Whinchats and a Stonechat. Thankfully I managed to remember where the 2 hides next to the pool were and upon entering I was shown the odd Snipe just to the left. It certainly did look different with very little brown tones to it. It looked more black and white. I managed 1 good shot before it walked out of view. More walking followed around Normandy then towards Newford. 2 Ravens flew over the riding stables and the Black Kite was seen again and 2 Kestrels were near Lower Newford. We then popped into Carreg Dhu garden for a sit down and a look for the Firecrest that had been present. There was only 2 Goldcrests and a House Martin to be seen so we decided to carry on back to the hotel but just as we approached the exit the Firecrest popped out into view. We reached the hotel but I left Barbara there to chill out and read her book while I returned to Higgo's Pool in the hope of another yankee wader. I met up with Dave Hall and together we walked down to find nobody there so we grabbed the best vantage point and waited. Thats when it started to drizzle. The drizzle then turned into heavy rain but i'd got wet enough to think i'll stay and thankfully I did as the Lesser Yellowlegs flew in followed 5 minutes later by my 2nd Solitary Sandpiper in the UK. I watched as these to American waders fed side by side on a small pool in the rain and managed 1 half decent photo whilst trying to cover my camera and scope from the rain! No sooner had I started to walk back to the hotel it stopped raining!

Scillies - 4.10.11

The Least Sandpiper and 1 of the Wrynecks.

A mixed day of weather today with glorious sunshine first thing followed by fog then rain then cloud! Today we went to Tresco to hopefully add some more good birds to the list and also visit the Abbey gardens. The boat went to Bryher first and dropped of some people then it was on to our destination. We were about 1 minute from docking when my pager burst into life, it was a MEGA alert! I looked down expecting it to be for Shetland or worse still Herts but I was amazed to read the following - MEGA Scilly - Least Sand on Tresco!! What timing! The plan to go straight to the abbey was put on hold and a brisk walk to the abbey pool was had instead. But even before reaching the pool a juv dark morph Honey Buzzard flew into view and 10 Little Egrets were on an island in the channel! We arrived and were ushered into place where just beyond some bracken on the muddy edge of the pool just 20ft away was my 2nd ever Least Sandpiper. My first had been in the scorching summer of 2003 at Startops Reservoir in Tring. That one was an adult but this one was a juvenile. It even called a few times before flying off onto the big pool where we left it for a look around the gardens. After a disappointing 45 minutes we started exploring the rest of the island where we bumped into 20 White Wagtails on the heliport grass and another Whinchat and 3 Stonechats on the fence. 2 more Wrynecks put in an appearence 1 flying over and 1 perched in a bush. The final stop was at the NE end of the great pool where from the Swarovski hide another Lesser Yellowlegs was feeding side by side with 3 Pectoral Sandpipers!

We got back to the room and collapsed on the bed only to be brought back to life with news of a Subalpine Warbler on the Garrison! I put my boots back on and made my way up there only to miss it by 5 minutes. It wasn't all bad as my 3rd Wryneck of the day posed in a dead Elder bush about 15 feet away though i'd not bothered to bring my scope or camera with me!

Scillies - 3.10.11

The fog bound Whinchat.

As the weather was forecast to get windier during the week I made the decision to go to St.Agnes for the day as it's the most likely boat journey to get wet on if it's choppy! It was just a shame that the fog had returned and so the true beauty of the island couldn't be appreciated. In birding terms it was a struggle to find anything of notewith 12 Curlew, 2 Redshank and 20+ Wheatear being as good as it got. However things picked up in the last field before the quay when I picked up small bird in flight and managed to get on it perched up on top of a hedge. It was my first Whinchat of the year! We still had time to spare before the boat returned so we had a spot of lunch in the coastguards cafe (a lovely cheese and ham toasty!) and then popped down to the famous parsonage. A Chiffchaff showed straight away followed by another Pied Flycatcher! So it wasn't all gloom and gloom!!!

Scillies - 1+2.10.11

The Northern Waterthrush, Buff-Breasted Sandpiper, Black Kite (about a mile away!) amd my Pied Flycatcher.

At the end of my last post I mentioned that I was about to have a week on the Isles of Scilly and if I had internet connection i'd update my blog as much as I could. That never happened as I was just too busy birding!

Saturday the 1st arrived and myself and my missus Barbara packed up the car and set off for Penzance. We left at 5.10am as we had to be at the heliport for 11.15am to check in for our 12.05pm flight. As it was we arrived at 9.50am so we had a wait to check in. The wait in the end turned out to be horrendous as even though we were basking in sunshine the islands were shrouded in fog with visibility down to 50 yards! Our 12.05 flight finally left at 5.20pm!! We arrived at our hotel, dumped the bags in the room then went down to "Higgo's Pool" near the dump clump. Here along with a handful of other birders we waited for potentially my first lifer of the trip but the bird didn't play ball although my first Lesser Yellowlegs of the year did show very well so not too bad a start. It was only when we got back to the room that we realised we had been bitten by mozzies! I'd received 4 bites but Barbara beat me with 17 to her legs!

Sunday morning and I was up at 6am for another crack down at the pool. I got there just before 7am and joined around 6 other birders and waited. A fly over Raven and the Lesser Yellowlegs kept boredom away. The birds favoured appearance time was around 7.30am but that came and went and just before 8am I was about to pick up my scope and leave when a small bird dropped in at the back of the pool. It was it! For the next 20 minutes or so I was totally engrossed in watching my first ever North American warbler. A cracking NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH. After managing to grab a record shot of the bird I headed off for breakfast.

After breakfast I showed Barbara around the island starting off at Porthcressa where 3 Wheatears and a Clouded Yellow butterfly were seen. Next stop was the airport where I joined other birders on the airfield itself. The next 20 minutes showed why Scilly can be amazing. In those 20 minutes I managed to see 4 juv Buff-Breasted Sandpipers (my 2nd-5th) and also my 200th species for the year, a Little Bunting (my 3rd), a Short-Toed Lark (my 2nd) and my first ever proper BLACK KITE (i'd seen the Black-Eared Kite in Lincs a few years ago). 2 more Clouded Yellows flew through and 4 White Wagtails were also seen.

After a long wander going past Lower Moors we stopped off at Porthloo beach where eventually we saw the Common Rosefinch but only as it flew off! While waiting in the hope it'd return someone shouted Wryneck! No sooner as i'd got on it it flew off to the far end of the beach but then showed well on the rocks and cliff face.

Even though it was stupidly hot for October we then walked all the way around the garrison! Pretty much nothing was found apart form my 4th Clouded Yellow of the day but as we approached the pine belt I noticed a bird behaving like a flycatcher. I got the scope on it and it was indeed a flycatcher but not spotted as i'd expected but my first Pied Flycatcher of the year! A 1st winter Mediterranean Gull flew past the Star Castle hotel at the end of the walk. We got back to the room and took off our boots and both sighed with relief!