Monday, 27 August 2007

Days Lock, Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxon. 27th August 2007.

Back over to Days lock today to get my first year sighting of Ruff on the wader scrape next to the River Thames.
Walking by the lock a Little Egret flew towards the river bank before turning and flying off over the fields and out of sight.A good number of waders were present today feeding around the scrape including 3 Ruff which were my first of the year, a Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, a juvenile Spotted Redshank, 2 Juvenile Wood Sandpipers and a Common Sandpiper.Good numbers of Yellow Wagtail were also present.

Added To My Year List.

171. Ruff

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Curlew Sandpiper - Borough Marsh, Berks. 24th August 2007.

I made a late afternoon trip over to Borough Marsh, Berks today after reported the sighting of 2 Curlew Sandpipers. Borough Marsh can be accessed by Shiplake Church and gives a good view out across the River Thames near the Shiplake College boat house.

I arrived at the wooden bridge overlooking the Thames and met up with Berks birder Brian Bennett who was searching for the Sandpipers, as always I was worried that I'd missed them and hurriedly put up my scope in the hope that they were still present. Brian pointed out that a large flock of Lapwing had just flushed from the main marsh in front of us and across to the adjacent field so I took his directions and scanned the field, as I looked along the farm machinery parked along the field a small wader passed through my line of vision and I remained glued to it with my binoculars before it dropped down next to a pool of water, the first thing I noticed was the clean white wings bars and a white rump before I lost sight of it. Brian and I then set about trying to locate them which wouldn't be easy at such a distance and with high vegetation surrounding the pools of water, we did mange to spot both adult and juvenile Curlew Sandpipers as they fed along the waters edge amongst a small flock of Lapwings but they were often lost to view as they continued along the pool.

A rare visitor to Berkshire with the last recorded sighting being at Burnthouse Lane, Theale, Berks on 17/09/05, the majority of sightings have been of single birds other than 5 that were seen on 08/09/01 at Slough sewage farm.The adult and Juvenile at Borough Marsh is an extremely good county sighting.

Added To My Year List.

170. Curlew Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper - Days Lock, Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxon. 19th August 2007.

Eager to see my first Wood Sandpiper of the year i decided to head off to Days Lock near Dorchester on Thames.

After parking up i headed off towards the river, crossing over the river i made my way passed the lock and along the path until i met up with a birder watching the scrape, a Black-tailed Godwit was feeding along with 5 Ringed Plovers and a Dunlin, 3 Egyptian Geese were sat amongst the large numbers of Black-headed Gulls and the sky was filled with busy Swallows and House Martins feeding on the mass of insects over the fields.A Willow Warbler could be heard in brief song from the trees along the edge of the scrape.The juvenile Wood Sandpiper was alongside a Common Sandpiper which was feeding in the middle of the scrape, it remained in the centre of the scrape busily searching for food until i lost sight of it behind some of the overgrown vegetation.

Added To My Year List.

169. Wood Sandpiper

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Little Stint - Moor Green Lakes, Berks. 14th August 2007.

On a rather wet and miserable day I decided to head over to Moor Green Lakes in Berkshire to find the juvenile Little Stint.

I headed off towards the gravel workings, it was still raining and the visibility wasn't very good but it wasn't long before I spotted a Common Sandpiper walking along the edge of one of the workings. After walking along the river path and crossing the works entrance I came to an ideal spot overlooking the pools of water that hosted a variety of birds, plenty of Pied Wagtails, Swallow, House & Sand Martins were in large numbers and busy feeding over the pits, a single Ringed Plover sat quietly on the spit and a single Greenshank was preening, nearby a Common Sandpiper was busy probing the mud along with a Green Sandpiper and a small flock of Black-headed Gulls.

The juvenile Little Stint was finally found on the end of the spit, with it's back to me it clearly showed the 2 whites lines down it's back that determines that it's a juvenile bird but it didn't stay still for long, it was soon lost to view as it continued feeding around the spit.It then appeared again at the front of the spit and stayed in view for sometime continuing to feed along the waters edge.The rain then started again and i made my way off.

Added To My Year List.

168. Little Stint

Purple Heron - Farmoor Reservoir. 12th August 2007

After failing to see my first Purple Heron in Little Chalfont back in November 2006 I was desperate to try and see the Juvenile that was first reported at Farmoor reservoir on the 11th August, It is thought that it may have been in the area at least 6 days earlier than this.

Arriving at Farmoor reservoir I was given the news that the bird was still about but very elusive often disappearing for hours at a time so we headed off over the causeway. My girlfriend and I then met up with a local birder who was heading towards the Pinkhill nature reserve where the bird had been seen from on a number of occasions. I had remembered my key to the Pinkhill hide so we unlocked the door and headed inside, a scan round the reserve didn't show anything exciting and sadly no Purple Heron so we left the hide and went our separate ways. I decided to walk along the river path that backs on to Shrike meadow and hoped that any hiding Heron could be viewed through the back of the reeds, a large flock of Canada and Greylag Geese were on the far bank of the Thames and a single Grey Heron was stalking the shallows. Further along the path 2 Kingfishers could be heard calling to each other from the back of the reserve but little else was visible, we stopped at each of the hides to scan Shrike meadow but very little was about so we headed off to the top of the reserve to look down on the meadow. I asked a birder in the top hide at Shrike meadow if he'd had any luck, he told me that it had just flown in to the reeds at the back of the meadow and disappeared from sight, a gentle stream of birders were joining us as we stood overlooking the meadow, we scanned the reeds for nearly an hour until somebody spotted it in front of the reeds, within seconds it was gone again. We had now been joined by 2 birdwatchers from Birmingham and were busy having a conversation with them when i heard a Heron call, i stopped to listen and waited with baited breath, was it a Grey or Purple Heron?, again it called and suddenly a Juvenile Purple Heron appeared in the sky in front of us, we watched it as it flew up towards the trees before it circled round over the tree tops and then headed off towards the Pinkhill reserve.

2 Black Terns were also feeding over the F2 reservoir late afternoon with large numbers of Sand Martins also present.

Added To My Year List.

167. Purple Heron.

Added To My Life List.

269. Purple Heron.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Marsh Sandpiper & Purple Emperor - Farmoor Reservoir. 5th August 2007.

Juv Marsh Sandpiper.

Female Purple Emperor.

A Juvenile Marsh Sandpiper that was found near Abingdon sewage works on the 4th was found at Farmoor reservoir the following morning along the west bank on the F2 reservoir, it flew from Farmoor reservoir and was relocated on nearby flooded fields by the Pinkhill nature reserve where it remained for most of the day.

Having never seen a Marsh Sandpiper before I was eager to catch up with it and get a glimpse of this rare wader.On arrival to Farmoor I was given directions by a group of leaving birders and headed off towards the causeway which leads towards the Pinkhill reserve, Common Tern were busy feeding over both reservoirs and a good numbers of Swallows and Martins were flying overhead.

Walking along the footpath that follows the River Thames we finally caught up with the Juvenile Marsh Sandpiper which was on the flooded fields behind the Pinkhill reserve, it was hidden behind a flock of Canada Geese and tucked down behind the long grass and weeds.After waiting for at least an hour it slowly made its way out in to the open and began to feed, it made a couple of successful probes of the mud with it's thin needle-like bill and pulled out what looked to be large worms, a number of Black-headed Gulls soon showed an interest and followed it as it continued to search for food.Viewing it was difficult as it continued to return to the grassy area which made the bird barely visible at times.

On our way back across the causeway towards the sailing club my girlfriend and I spotted a large butterfly by the wooden huts, we waited for it to settle and walked over to find a superb female Purple Emperor sunning itself of the causeway kerb, a couple of birders that we were watching the Sandpiper with had turned up and were very excited by what we had found.It soon took to the air and headed off along the causeway towards the sailing club, I was amazed at how powerful and quick in flight it was as it left us standing in the middle of the causeway.We caught up with her again as she sheltered on the ground underneath the causeway and managed to get a few photos before she took flight again and headed off towards the water treatment works.I had never seen this rare Butterfly before this year and have now seen 2 in a month.

Added To My Year & Life List.

164. Marsh Sandpiper

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Berkshire Downs. 11th August 2007.


An early visit to the Berkshire Downs today with my close friend Jonnie Lyford, rather chilly first thing but as soon as the clouds disappeared it turned very hot.

As we started to walk from the car the unmistakable "wet my lips" call of a Quail could be heard close-by but due to the length of the crops in the field was impossible to see. It's the first Quail I've heard for many years so I was pleased to finally hear one after such a long time. Later in the day another bird could be heard calling from the crop fields on the Oxfordshire side of the county boundary.

Both Buzzard and Red Kite were circling the downs with at least 5 Kestrels dotted around the area, the Yellowhammers "a little bit of bread and no cheese" call could be heard all around the downs and near to the Oxfordshire border a Wheatear flew up from the ground and perched on a post in front of us. A few Whitethroat present as well.

Looking across the county boundary and in to Oxfordshire a covey of Partridges caught our attention and close inspection showed that there were at least 8 Grey Partridges with a couple of Red-legged Partridges nearby.

Added To My Year List.

165. Quail