Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Little Owl. 30th Jan 2007

Marsh Tit and Nuthatch were the best birds in the garden this morning and Black headed and Common Gulls are still feeding in the fields.This afternoon a male Sparrowahwk was circling over Frieth and a female Sparrowhawk flew low across the road at Bovingdon Green.Finally i found a Little Owl this year perched on a farm roof near Frieth,Bucks, there are a number of pairs in this area but they have been keeping well out of sight recently including a pair that are often seen in and around our garden.

Monday, 29 January 2007

Up On The Downs. 28th Jan 2007

Up to the Berkshire Downs today and as usual for the weather on the downs at this time of year it was windy, so much so that it soon drowned out any bird song.
The first birds seen along the Ridgeway were 2 Yellowhammers shortly followed by a flock of 80+ Golden Plover as they wheeled over the fields.A flock of 40 or so Corn Bunting appeared from out of the fields and perched in a number of bushes along the pathway and as the wind died down for a matter of seconds their "key jangling" call could be heard before they took to the air again and headed off in to the stubble fields. Further down the path a pair of Stonechats were sat on the fence posts and 2 Red Kites soared above in the wind,moments later a small flock of Meadow Pipits took to the air and struggled as the fought the strength of the wind which seemed to carry them off in the wrong direction.Looking out across the Ridgeway a flock of 40 or so Stock Doves were flying across the downs before coming to rest in a field and 2 Grey Partridges flushed from next to the pathway flying low over the fields and out of sight.Sadly no sign of any Owls.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Slavonian Grebe, Bray. 26th Jan 2007

I decided to return to Bray gravel pits today with the hope that i may get a better view of the Slavonian Grebe. On arrival i found the Grebe preening on the water right in front of the sailing club but before i had a chance to get my scope and camera it had began feeding and slowly moved across the lake.It spent much of the time under the water and before long had moved across the lake to the far bank.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Moor Green. 25th Jan 2007



Barnacle & Canada Geese

On a cold but sunny day i made my way over to Eversley to visit Moor Green Lakes LNR, Moor green is always a good site for Goosander in Winter and there's always a chance of seeing Little Egret.As i walked down the track towards the hide i could hear Geese calling from the fields next to the gravel works so i crossed over the path to scan the fields, as i peered through the hedgerow and out across the fields a large flock of Canada Geese were feeding in the fields with a small flock of Barnacle Geese and a single dark morph Snow Goose.The Barnacles and Snow Goose are believed to be feral(escapee) and have been visiting Moor green for sometime now.Continuing along the path i scanned the lakes but all was very quiet no sign of Goosander or Little Egret further down the path i soon realised why, work was being undertaken to clear the scrub and give some excellent viewing areas across the lakes which should improve viewing immensely.
As i reached Grove lake a Green Woodpecker flew in to the trees and perched on the trunk but was quickly ushered on by a pair of squabbling Jays.On the lake a male and female Goosander patrolled the waters edge and before long they were joined by another male.Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted Duck and Mallard were present in good numbers, a few Cormorants were also present.As i walked back towards the car park i finally spotted a Little Egret stalking it's prey in the shallows.
After leaving Moor green i headed just up the road to Finchampstead Ridges, this is a reliable place to see Goldcrest and Firecrest during Winter.As i pulled up in the car a fellow birder pointed me in the direction of the Firecrest which was flitting through the bushes alongside the road,2 Goldcrest's were also in the same bush.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Slavonian Grebe, Bray. 24th Jan 2007

I headed off to Bray gravel pits today hoping to see the Slavonian Grebe that had been found.After checking the surrounding lakes unaware that i was in the wrong place i soon heard and saw my first Jay for the year, wandering back to my car i passed a gravel workings where i noticed a Grey Wagtail washing in one of the many puddles that adorned the workings.
As i drove back along the lane i decided to check the sailing club lake, i parked up and looked across the lake for the Slavonian Grebe, as i scanned the lake i noticed a couple of birders on the far side of the lake obviously looking for the same thing. Finally i found the Grebe on the far bank of the lake and with the light starting to fade i decided to call it a day.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

The Kronker. 20th Jan 2007

This morning started with my first year sighting of Nuthatch as it fed on Sunflower hearts on the bird feeders, Marsh and Coal Tit both busy in and out of the garden.
Sadly an old Walnut tree came down in the storms, believed to be at least 80 years old it finally uprooted in the winds that ravaged most of the country, Red Kites sat in it most mornings calling across the fields to each other and many of the Corvids would gather in the tree before heading off to roost,Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle and Song Thrush and a whole host of other birds used it, sad loss but good firewood!.
Later in the afternoon a Raven flew over heading South-West, i was first alerted to the "Kronking" call and looking up watched as it flew overhead, the diamond shape tail could be seen clearly and i watched as it rolled and pitched before it flew over the trees and out of sight.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Staines & Wraysbury. 5th Jan 2007

Off to Staines Reservoir, Surrey this afternoon to find Great Northern Diver and Black Necked Grebe. On arrival i met up with Berks birder Peter Hickman and his grandson James, looking out over the reservoir a Juvenile Great Northern Diver was still present on the north basin along with a Black-necked Grebe.The reservoir is usually a reliable site for Black-necked Grebes during Winter as long as you can endure the weather while searching for them, Staines reservoir seems to have it's own climate, cold and very cold.As usual the weather was extremely windy but for once it didn't rain.
The next stop was just down the road at
Wraysbury gravel pits to find Smew, a good site for this winter visitor.I followed Peter to Wraysbury and as we parked up a small flock of Ring Necked Parakeets passed over, before we got to the pits another 4 small groups flew overhead.Looking out across the pits 2 Drake Smews were soon visible before they flew to the far side of the pit, later a 3rd Drake was found.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

Scaups, Sonning Eye. 4th Jan 2007

I was awoken early this morning, 5am to be precise to the call of a Tawny Owl outside in the garden, i dragged myself downstairs and turned on the outside light to find a Tawny sat in the tree in the garden, i watched as it searched for prey before it finally flew off 10 minutes later.They often visit the garden and we get extremely close views of them.
Late afternoon i received the news that a Lesser Scaup and Greater Scaup had been found together at Sonning Eye Gravel Pits, Oxon, i grabbed my scope and bins and made a mad dash before it got dark.After walking what felt like a eternity i finally found a small group of birders that were watching the Scaups, a fantastic find by local birder Hugh Netley.The Lesser Scaup is a lifer for me.
Finally get not one but 2 Marsh Tits in the garden.

Otmoor Starling Display. 2nd Jan 2007

The morning started off well with my first year sighting of a Wren as it visited the garden.Soon after a Male Sparrowhawk flew in to the garden at lightning speed, it spooked everything from the bird feeders but didn't catch it's prey, he was left perched on the feeder pole looking rather out of breath and disappointed that it would leave empty handed, both Male and Female Sparrowhawk visit our garden regularly and can also been seen flying low along the country lanes nearby.
A afternoon visit to RSPB Otmoor was next and although i did see Pintail and a small flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover it was quiet, the Starling display at dusk was certainly an added bonus on a cold and windy day.
I had heard that the Starling roost at Otmoor was impressive but hadn't really appreciated how good it was,we watched as numbers built up above the surrounding fields before dusk.Slowly small flocks grouped in distant trees before taking to the air and grouping in larger numbers, before long it went from hundreds to thousands and attempts to count them became fruitless.The sky was soon full of Starlings as they wheeled and dived in formation, growing in numbers as they flew.They continued to display for over 30 minutes and it has been estimated that numbers have been reaching somewhere in the region of 40,000,It was incredible sight and well worth the visit.

Bean Goose, Remenham. 3rd Jan 2007

After news broke that a Tunda Bean Goose had been spotted at Remenham, nr Henley on Thames late afternoon on the 2nd January i decided to head off in search of it.
On arrival the Bean Goose was soon found feeding alongside a group of Mute Swans in the fields between Remenham Church and Aston and just inside the Berkshire border.Unfortunately i had missed 4 Bewick Swans that had been seen earlier in the morning and since departed.Ring-necked Parakeets were calling as they flew along the river and as many as 15 Red Kites were seen flying over the Hambleden Valley.A flock of Golden Plovers and Lapwings were in acrobatic flight over the fields.
Having lived at Hambleden Lock previously for a few years this area became "my local patch" and i watched it most days, i have a good knowledge of the area and hoped to put it to some use by locating the Bewicks.Local birder Adam Bassett and i wandered off along the River Thames footpath checking the fields as we went, a small flock of Ring-necked Parakeets were calling noisely from the trees at Hambleden Marina.
Crossing the fields by Hambleden Lock we flushed a solitary Snipe which was only a few feet in front of us and above Red Kites were gracefully soaring in the strong winds.Black-headed & Common Gulls were sat on top of the mooring posts and a small number of Canada Geese were sat on the river at the lock.Further along the river at Temple Island a small flock of Geese including Canada, Greylag and a Snow Goose(Escapee) were preening on the towpath but no sign of the Bewicks Swans.We walked back across the fields towards Aston before stopping along a small backwater ditch, a Little Grebe popped up out of the water before disappearing again beneath the surface.
I decided to return to Remenham late afternoon in the hope that the Bewick's may return and roost there, as i left home i spotted a Song Thrush sat in a tree and further down the road i also added Mistle Thrush to my year list.I stopped at the Henley Management College gates and looked across the meadows knowing that many of the local Geese and Swans often feed here and use the ponds, i found 4 Egyptian Geese that were asleep alongside 14 Mute Swans and a few Mallard but little else.
The Bean Goose was still present at Remenham late afternoon when i left and roosted there.

A New Dawn, A New Day. 1st Jan 2007

After watching our garden feeders and surrounding fields for an hour to start my year list off i had reached a reasonable 15, Goldfinch,Great Tit, Blue Tit,Coal Tit, Magpie, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Crow, Jackdaw, Rook, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Red Kite, Wood Pigeon and Redwing.Sadly no Brambling or Siskin in the garden this year and even the Marsh Tits and Nuthatches were a no show.
I decided to head off to Foxcote Reservoir near Buckingham to see the Drake Ring-necked Duck that has been present there for almost a month.
Looking out across the reservoir from the hide the Ring-necked was found asleep on the far side of the lake,he didn't really seem too interested in much and was obviously oblivious to the fact that a number of birders would be dropping in to see him to add to their year lists.A male Goldeneye gave close views as he passed in front of the hide.
Back in the Hambleden Valley i soon spotted Red-legged Partridge,Buzzard, and Fieldfare.