Sunday, 29 April 2007

Glossy Ibis, Saul Warth, Frampton-on-Severn, Gloucestershire. 29th April 2007.

Glossy Ibis.

Marbled Duck.

Blue Tit.

Off to Frampton-on-Severn, Glos, today to see the flock of Glossy Ibis that have turned up at Saul Warth SO744081. Walking along the canal towpath from Fretherne Bridge a Lesser Whitethroat was singing from a bramble thicket on the opposite side of the canal, it didn't show so i decided to stop on the way back. After entering the fields overlooking the water it didn't take long to spot at least 5 of the Glossy Ibis feeding together in the mud, Another group of 3 could be seen feeding along the far side of the wetlands and another 2 single individuals were feeding separately on either side. They continued to probe the mud in frenetic fashion with only brief pauses to preen and scan the area.
A lone Spotted Redshank was feeding along with 2 Redshank, Skylark were in full song accompanied by the drumming of a Great-spotted Woodpecker and a Blackcap sung from the bushes that run along the towpath. Good numbers of Shelduck could be seen out on the Noose with at least 30+ feeding.
The Marbled Duck was finally found hiding amongst the vegetation on the adjacent pool with a single Greenshank close by.
Walking back along the towpath the Lesser Whitethroat was still in song and after a wait of 5 minutes it briefly showed at the top of the bramble thicket before disappearing again, 2 young Blackbirds were being fed by their parents underneath the hedge on the towpath.
Added To My Year List.
135. Glossy Ibis
136. Spotted Redshank
137. Marbled Duck
138. Greenshank

Friday, 27 April 2007

Henley on Thames, Oxon & Little Marlow GP's. 27th April 2007.

My first year sightings of both Swift and House Martin mid afternoon over Crisp Road, Henley. I heard the screaming calls long before 5 Swifts flew over, a small group of 8 House Martins were later circling closely high above before drifting out of view. 2 more groups of Swift flew over and by late afternoon i had counted 11 Swifts.

A early evening visit to Little Marlow GP's helped me add 3 more species to my year list. My first Common Terns of the year which were calling and squabbling nosily amongst each other on the spit and in the air. On the spit a few Pied Wagtails looked for insects in the vegetation, 2 Little-ringed Plovers fed along the waters edge along with a single Oystercatcher. The usual collection of escapee's include 2 Snow Geese, 1 Barnacle Goose and a single Egyptian Goose. Swift, Swallow, Sand & House Martins all present and a single Buzzard drifted over in the distance. A Kingfisher could be heard calling and a Great-spotted Woodpecker made a fly over.

Added To My Year List
130. Swift
131. House Martin
132. Oystercatcher
133. Little Ringed Plover
134. Common Tern

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Theale, Berks. 18th April 2007.

Willow Warbler.

Young Robin.

Little Owl.

An afternoon visit to Theale, Berks today started off with a stop off at Burnthouse Lane, as i parked up i soon could hear the song of Lesser Whitethroat and after waiting 15 minutes finally got a quick view before it disappeared into the brambles again. Not much on the pits, a few Pied Wagtails and a small number of common ducks.
At Theale main pit a pair of Blackcaps were moving through the bushes by the gate and it didn't take long before i heard a Chiffchaff calling from the scrub near the pylon. As i approached i soon heard a number of Blackcaps calling followed by the Chiffchaff and finally a Willow Warbler perked up and joined the melee of Warbler song filling the air. As i waited for something to show itself the alarm calls of Lesser Whitethroat could be heard coming from the bramble thickets, the Willow Warbler continued to sing for at least half an hour above me and was perched in a tree by the pylon, i decided to take advantage by taking a few photos. Warblers are very rarely still and difficult to digiscope at the best of times.
Across the road at Hosehill LNR at least 2 Sedge Warblers were singing from the reeds, my first of the year. Another pair of Blackaps were moving through the bushes by the horse paddock, a single Mistle Thrush and 2 Pied Wagtails were feeding in the Paddock. A few Black-headed Gulls were squabbling amongst themselves on the raft with a small number of Cormorants looking on.
Driving home through Skirmett 2 Swallows were sat on the lines near to where they have nested before, and later 2 were feeding across the fields next to our cottage. A quick walk round the garden early evening, 3 Red Kites sat in one of the adjacent fields, presumably eating worms on the newly ploughed field, 2 Buzzards circling above, a single Red-legged Partridge wandered through the garden and off into the fields. A pair of Jackdaws have nested in the bottom of an Apple tree in the orchard and seem to be adding material to their nest. While watching the Jackdaws i could hear the calls of a number of young birds from the hedge and after a couple of minutes 2 Robin fledglings showed themselves, it wasn't long before the parents turned up with a beak full of food and led them along the hedge and out of sight. Seems a bit early to me but there seems to be plenty of food about. I could hear a Great Tit sending out a alarm call and made my way towards it, it was sat near the entrance to a nest box that it is currently occupying and was obviously very agitated, as i moved closer i soon found the source of the problem, the resident Little Owl was sat in the tree next to the nest box and obviously the Great Tit wasn't happy. The Owl finally got the message and moved along to a fence post and continued to watch the fields, it's been sat outside our cottage on the fence posts for the last week and seems to be taking food from the ploughed fields,Perhaps Worms, Beetles and other insects. A single Goldcrest has been feeding in the evergreen trees by the garden for the last few days and Wednesday morning brought an unusual flyover, 8:45am 2 Ring-necked Parakeets flew over heading towards Hambleden, their noisy calls could be heard well before they actually passed over. I have seen them recently as close as Bovingdon Green, Bucks, but have never seen or heard them this far out in the country, especially without large areas of water.
Added To My Year List.
127. Swallow
128. Lesser Whitethroat
129. Sedge Warbler

Friday, 13 April 2007

Ring Ouzel, Twyford GP, Berks. 11th April 2007.

With the news on that Adam Bassett had located a male Ring Ouzel at Twyford GP's, Berks, I decided to make a afternoon visit. As i arrived I was given the good news that the Ouzel was still present and after walking along the track from Park Lane the male Ring Ouzel was located in the Pony fields at SU785749. These are certainly the best views I've ever had of a Ring Ouzel, much closer than my previous experience's at Aston Rowant, and although the Ouzel often hid in a nearby thicket it seemed less nervous than others I have seen. It hopped across the fields 100 yards or so away, 2 Song Thrushes and a single Blackbird added to the Thrush clan as they busily searched for Worms.The Ouzels crescent white breast-band and silvery/grey wing fringes were very clean and clear, as too were the scaly markings underneath it's body, a really good specimen. A Willow Warbler was singing from one of the fishing lakes and a Chiffchaff was in full song above us as we watched the Ouzel, Green Woodpecker also made an appearance.
A Red-legged Partridge was found hiding behind our shed early morning, and Nuthatch and Marsh Tit on the feeders.

Spring Arrivals 9th April 2007.

A good start to the day as a Grey Partridge wandered through the garden and out towards the nearby fields, this is my second record for the garden this year and I'm hoping they have a successful breeding year. I was concerned they may have been bred for shooting and not wild birds but my understanding is that they are extremely hard to breed in captivity unlike the Red-legged Partridge which is bred for shooting and certainly a common sight in the Chilterns. I also spotted a single Grey Partridge crossing the fields near the convent at Parmoor on Monday.
The resident Little Owl was sat motionless sunning itself it the sun and only moved to the next post to avoid a number of Jackdaws, 2 Red Kites and 2 Buzzards were circling across the fields and a male Sparrowhawk that often visits the garden feeders had made a number of fly throughs, all unsuccessful. 2 Nuthatches and 2 Marsh Tits have been busy visiting the feeders, both presumably pairs.

At lunchtime I was alerted to a Warbler singing outside our cottage and ran outside to listen, I waited with baited breath for it to call again and was delighted to hear a Willow Warbler singing from the adjacent orchard, I grabbed my bins and off I went to investigate. I located the Willow Warbler as it perched up to sing from the very same tree I had found my first garden Chiffchaff of the year on 27th March. I watched it as it searched for insects around the tree tops and then thought I should try to get a photo, by the time I got back with my scope and camera the bird was long gone and I could hear it as it headed along the hedgerow towards Hatchet Wood, Skirmett. I gathered a few bits 'n' bobs and off towards Hatchet Wood I headed, it wasn't long before I could hear the Willow Warbler singing again and located it feeding through the hedgerows, it didn't hang around and I soon reminded myself that trying to get a photo was going to be almost impossible, I decided to leave it to feed and headed off along the path. I had walked a short distance when I heard another singing further along the path and doubled back to check it wasn't the first one I had seen, as I turned to walk along the path it started singing to confirm 2 in the area. I found the second in the tops of a hawthorn chasing the insects round the branches and another a few trees further along, I watched both of them for over 10 minutes as they constantly searched for insects in the afternoon sun, only stopping briefly to sing. The sun had obviously stirred up the insects and the Willow Warblers were taking full advantage to replenish fat reserves to continue their migration. By the end of the afternoon i was pretty confident of at least 4 Willow Warblers being present. 1 Goldcrest seen and another 3 heard in two separate areas, a single Mistle Thrush, 3 Red Kites and 2 Buzzards around Hatchet Wood.

Added to my year list.

126. Willow Warbler.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Linkey Down, Aston Rowant, Oxon. 8th April 2007.


A return to Linkey Down at Aston Rowant today didn't produce any sightings of Ring Ouzel, in fact it was rather quiet. A lone Buzzard crossed Linkey Down and at least 5 Red Kites were circling above. At the top of the Downs 2 Chiffchaff were singing from the scrub feeding as they went. Back at home a Little Owl sat on a fence post in the garden late afternoon sunning itself.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Ring Ouzel, Linkey Down, Aston Rowant, Oxon. 6th April 2007.

An afternoon visit to Linkey Down at Aston Rowant in Oxfordshire today gave me my first year sighting of Ring Ouzel. A lone female was in their favoured patch at the bottom of the hill but very mobile, staying out in the open more often than other Ouzels i have seen it made it's way across to the far side of the down.

Added to my year list.
125. Ring Ouzel

Woolhampton GP, Berks. 5th April 2007.

I headed back to Woolhampton GP this afternoon hoping to catch up with the elusive Garganeys. I was in luck as both were sat quietly on the pond next to the larger pits. Both male and female were asleep but very wary of any unwanted attention and often made their way to the other side of the pond to hide amongst the reeds. While watching them a Goldcrest made an appearance as it made it's way around the Ivy on some nearby trees, 2 Chiffchaffs could be heard calling from the surrounding woods and later 2 Cetti's Warblers burst in to song from the surrounding reedbeds. Finally the Gargeneys woke up and slowly made their way across the pond, reaching the edge of the reeds the female got in amongst them and started to feed, the male on the other hand patrolled the waters edge where the female was feeding, the males striking white eyestripe was dazzling in the afternoon sun and it clearly stood out amongst the Tufted and Mallard Duck, a female Gadwall was also present. It is presumed that the Garganeys are a pair and although i didn't witness any mating behavior they never left each others side. They continued to fed through the reeds before going out of sight.
Making my way back to the car a number of Skylark were calling from the fields alongside the track, A male Yellowhammer was calling from the top of the bushes and a small flock of Reed Buntings flushed from the hedgerow and headed across the fields.
Added to my year list.
124. Garganey

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Padworth GP, Woolhampton GP, Berks. Penn Wood, Bucks. 1st April 2007.

Brambling-Penn Wood,Bucks.

I headed off towards Theale today hoping to catch up with a pair of Garganey that had been present at Woolhampton gravel pits for the last week. Stopping at Theale main pit i soon bumped in to local birder Ken Moore, Ken watches the Theale area like no other and if something turns up he's often the one to find it. Ken gave me the directions to Padworth and Woolhampton and helped me with the access and viewing points, as we walked towards the lay-by a Chiffchaff burst in to song which on a beautiful day like today made it feel like Spring was well under way. Saying our goodbyes i got in the car only to see a male Blackcap perch up on a tree branch in front of the lay-by, a quick flit around the bushes and it soon disappeared again.
Next stop was Padworth, this is the first time i have visited Padworth Gp's and with the weather being so nice a walk round the whole pits was in order. 2 Chiffchaffs were calling from the trees along the River Kennet and a Mute Swan was sat quietly on it's nest. Scanning the gravel pits i soon found 2 Redshank as they probed along the waters edge, Pied and Grey Wagtail were busy checking the mud for insects and a solitary Green Sandpiper was busy wading further along the bank. 4 Egyptian Geese joined the number of Canada and Greylag Geese feeding and sleeping in the surrounding fields and at least 5 Shelduck were present.

Woolhamton Gp's is another site that i had never visited until today and on arrival it didn't take long to hear a Chiffchaff calling as i walked towards the gravel pits. Sadly there was no sign of the Garganey on the small pit but looking out across the largest pits 5 Shelduck were present, a few Cormorant and the usual odd and sods. My first year sighting of Sand Martin as at least 5 circled above and 2 Cetti's burst in to song from the reeds.

Off to High Wycombe next to see the mass Brambling flocks coming in to roost at Penn Wood, entering Penn Wood a Nuthatch was soon spotted clinging to the side of a beech tree and was soon joined by it's partner with a bill full of nest material, standing quietly gave me excellent views as it flew to the tree above me and disappeared into what i presume was an old woodpecker hole. A male Brambling flew out of the bushes and was joined by another 3 or 4 as they flushed in to the trees above, their wheezing calls could be heard distinctly from the tree tops. Continuing down the pathway a Chiffchaff was sat in a tree calling out across the woods and was soon joined by another close-by, their "chiff-chaff" calls echoed through the wood. Approaching the roosting spot the wheezing calls of Brambling could be heard once again, this time increasing in volume as small flocks joined up with each other in the tree tops. Small flocks alternately flew to the conifers to feed on the cones and clung on tightly as they were blown in the evening breeze. I was surprised to see how agile they were, much like the Siskin when they feed upside down on Alders. Goldcrest and Coal Tit also made a number of appearances. Walking back towards the car still more Bramblings were flying overhead, heading off to roost. I've seen large flocks of Brambling in Thetford, Norfolk but this flock dwarfs my previous sightings and 900+ have been recorded in Penn Wood recently.
The first Chiffchaff in the garden for this year was heard and seen on the 27th March, it sung for over an hour before departing along the hedgerow and out of sight, a Blue Tit carrying nest material was also seen entering a small hole in a Apple tree. I cleaned the next boxes out the previous week and found that 3 had definitely been used for roosting, within days of cleaning them out i watched 2 being entered by Great Tits and another being entered by a pair of Blue Tits. My Camera nest box is also in use by a pair of Blue Tits, last year a pair of Blue Tits successfully raised a brood of 12 in it.
I actually manged to see a Bullfinch which had been eluding me for this year, a female flew across the road in front of me near Skirmett, Bucks.
Added to my year list
119. Bullfinch
120. Blackcap
121. Green Sandpiper
122. Sand Martin
123. Brambling