Sunday, 30 December 2012

Amwell Saturday

Had to pop in and see Sarah and Ed, so naturally I then went to Amwell.
Arrived around 1000, ie a lot later than normal. Ran into Jay Ward chatting to Ron Cousins. Ron had spent a couple of hours searching for the Tumbling Bay Lesser Spot with no success-not surprising considering the strength of the wind. I went up to the watchpoint with Jay to join Phil. Barry's in Brazil again with Jan, and Bill was twitching an imported moth in Dorset.
Not a great deal happening, with most birds keeping their heads down. Usual assortment of gulls and wildfowl but nothing out of the ordinary.
Joined by a Stevenage birder, I headed up to Tumbling Bay with Jay more for a bit of exercise than anything else. Encountered a few Siskin and five or six Redpoll on the way up. A couple of others were already near the lock, scanning the trees but with nothing to show apart from a few tits and corvids. Headed up a bit further for the Scaup fix, and then walked down to the trees where we saw the Smew pair quite close in. No camera of course.
Back at the watchpoint it was more of the same so I left, bumping into Ron again at the level crossing where we saw at least 70 Siskin in the alders-by far the biggest flock I have seen in the valley for many years.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Half an Owl

Typical Christmas-had the usual health issues in the weeks leading up, so been a bit run down and the most energetic thing I've done in the last week has been putting the bins out. Decided to try and get a bit of exercise this afternoon since the rain had stopped.
There are potentially five owl species to be found in north east Herts at the moment, though Long Eared is a bit of a long shot. I know where birds have occasionally been seen flying , but there is no real chance of seeing them-I've never encountered one.
I decided to head up to Therfield in order to see the Shrike, some raptors and hopefully, being late afternoon an owl or two. Parked in Briar Lane and walked up the track, locating the pair of Kestrels and flushing a small covey of Red Legged Partridge. From the view point where this track meets Ickneild Way I saw a couple of Buzzards to the east and the occasional flock of Linnets, Yellowhammers and Skylarks flew over.
No sign of anything to the west so I went down the track to the conifers and scanned the lower fields for a while before returning. Not long after I reached the track junction I noticed a bird slowly flying behind trees near the farm. All I saw was a sandy wing with a dark carpal patch flick up and then down. Presuming Short Eared Owl I moved to try to get a better view but all that eventually emerged from the trees was a larger dark phase Buzzard. I assume the owl was hunting here as it was pretty sheltered-the wind was strong enough for the many Buzzards to hover.
Stuck it out until 1600 when the light was starting to get very bad and the wind was picking up even more but I did not see the owl again, so I left and drove home via Sandon where there was a chance of a Barn Owl in the headlights. All I encountered were three Muntjac in various spots.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Amwell's Scaup

Usual Sunday morning at Amwell and the main topic of discussion was of course the Buff Bellied Pipit.
As it was probably the first readily accessible (and easy to locate) long staying mainland record it has proved to be extremely popular. Turns out most of the regulars had been down to see it.
Despite it being a nice sunny day, there was not much to see on the main pit. The water is still at or above sluice level-and it looks like the canal is in the same position with a lot of work taking place on some of the lock gates.
Managed to see a few Snipe despite the lack of mud and the usual assortment of gulls and ducks were present, so I headed up to Tumbling Bay. The red head Smew showed briefly but we had a lot of trouble locating the Scaup largely because it was a lot closer than usual. Managed to get down to the waters edge and get some decent images.

 The walk back was uneventful and apart from a few Siskin in the woods there was not much to see. Went back to the watchpoint for a brief period where we got to see two Red Kites.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Buff Bellied Pipit

An American Buff Bellied Pipit was identified a couple of days ago on the Queen Mother Reservoir next door to Windsor. Access is restricted, but luckily the local society has been able to arrange day permits so Colin and i went down for the 1000 opening. We arrived ten minutes early to find that 150 had already been admitted.
The small crowd on the southern bank indicated the bird's location, but it was very mobile, feeding all along the southern shoreline, and it was simply a case of staking a spot and waiting for the bird to walk past in front of you. Rather like the Abberton desert Wheatear, photographers with long lenses were at a severe disadvantage as the Pipit approached to within a few feet.

 I managed to take well over 300 images within a very small space of time, and have only selected a few to work on so far.
Few other birds present-a Red Necked Grebe among numerous Great Cresteds was seen over on the far shore, but I could not locate the Long Tailed Duck. A Peregrine perched on one of the pump towers was nice as I have managed to avoid getting good views of any so far this year.
Bumped into non twitcher Phil Ball (on his second twitch of the year) and Barry Reed, along with many other familiar faces.

Called in at Bramfield on the way back. Met a couple of Cambridge guys who had seen a Hawfinch just before we arrived. After some twenty minutes one flew out of the Rectory garden, circled and was lost to view. We walked around and down a lane and found it or another high in a tree some distance away. Got decent scope views but in the camera it was barely recognisable.
Nearby, a field held a small number of Lapwing and around 200 Golden Plover.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Christmas Shopping

Another Friday off, and I went to a local Wine Merchant to pick up something good for Christmas.
Before that, I spent around 40 minutes in Bramfield Churchyard in the hope that the Hawfinches would put in an appearance. The weather was not good-dull gloomy and by 1030 rain and wind had arrived.
A few thrushes in the area-Mistle and Blackbirds, lots of corvids and a few tits. The only finches that stopped off on the tall churchyard trees were a couple of Greenfinches.
No sign of any Golden Plovers, and the only raptor seen was a Red Kite.

Sunday, 2 December 2012


I got down to Amwell a bit later than normal. Very cold all morning, with thick ice on the puddles and frost remaining in the shade.
Moments after leaving the car, a small flock of Crossbills flew over, a pretty good start. Got to the watchpoint and joined the regulars. Due to the recent wet spell the water level is now very high  and there is very little exposed mud now. There has been more work with more channels and bays cut in the reeds so Water Rails are becoming more visible. As yet there has only been a single Bittern sighting this winter, and there was no sign while the reed cutting was taking place, so I don't actually know if one is wintering or not.
Walked up to Tumbling Bay and found the drake Scaup which is now starting to develop the pale grey back. There were also a few Redwing in the area. Walking back a few finches were found feeding on the weeds so I headed into the picnic area woods where I was joined by Tony. Watched a Chiffchaff for a while before a volatile Siskin, Goldfinch  and Redpoll flock appeared. Hard to judge numbers but there were at least five redpolls including a nice pink male, and maybe twenty Siskin. A female Bullfinch also appeared briefly.
Walked back to the watchpoint but did not stay long as there had been another Stevenage report of a Waxwing in York Road. I got there just after mid day but there was as usual no sign-yesterday two had been seen in the High Street so they are very mobile.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

More Waxwings

Went with Colin to Watford to buy some camera bits and look at something suitable as a pocket camera. On the way back we had to call into Bengeo again.
The Waxwings are still around, currently numbering 20, however further up the road is another flock and they seem to meet up from time to time and then split up again. Being cloudy the light is flat, imparting a different look to todays images.
Afterwards we went up to Therfield Heath. A big flock of Fieldfares with some Blackbirds and Redwings was notable. A couple of Buzzards, Kestrels and single Red Kite and Sparrowhawk were also seen. No sign today of the Shrike, Owls or Harriers.
A few flyby Yellowhammers and a couple of Corn Buntings were the only other birds of note.

Friday, 30 November 2012


Today was a day off. Heavy overnight frost, and a lovely winter morning in the sunshine. Waxwings have been appearing in various places, including a few local spots at Hertford and Bengeo.
The pager had four birds at Tanners Close Hertford so I went there first. There was a small flock here a year or so back feeding on the same Rowan. Unfortunately being a bit shady I never got good images even though the birds were very confiding at times so I headed off to 47 The avenue Bengeo. Met a few photographers that i knew and we spent a couple of hours getting some superb shots, chatting to the residents and passers by. Everyone seemed to enjoy the birds and some came out with their own cameras to get their own records.
Only slightly low point was when Lee Evans arrived and told me he had just come from the Stevenage birds!. left my pager in the car so I did not get the news in time. By the time I got up to York Road there was no sign. Hopefully they will stick around but there are a lot of birds moving around and flock numbers are fluctuating. i had 18 at Bengeo, there are now 30.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Wet and frosty weekend

Saturday was supposed to be wet most of the day around here so I did not intend to go out. However the forecast in the morning looked a lot better, with most of the rain occurring overnight  so as the drizzle had eased off I went down to Amwell. As soon as I got the car out it chucked down and I thought I'd made a mistake, but heading south it stopped and it remained largely dry in the valley.
Met up with Bill and Tony and had a quick scan-got my first Goldeneyes of the winter, two lovely drakes. With cloud and then light rain arriving we headed off to a hide to wait it but it quickly passed. Not much on view in the hide so I headed off to Tumbling Bay. The Scaup is now starting to acquire grey feathers on it's back but proved hard to find from the viewpoint, but I found a suitable spot in the wood a few hundred yards up where it showed quite well. A few Redwings, six Redpoll (with more flying over) and around 30 Siskin were also in the area. Made my way back via the picnic area and met up again with Bill, Tony and Phil.
A few flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare were visible over the far woods, with some coming over us. The recent Bearded Tits did not put in an appearance and neither did Water Rail though one was calling. The only different bird was the drake Mandarin very close to the watch point and largely hidden by the reeds. Very difficult to see, but it was eventually disturbed and swam out.

Had intended to go out with Colin today, probably Pagham Harbour and it's slightly suspect Hooded Merganser. However I was not feeling great in the evening and decided not to go. Good job too as the Merganser had flown off and there was no sign this morning.
Apart from a headache and bad neck I felt reasonable so went up to the Ickneild Way at Therfield. Last winters Shrike is back and there are up to three Hen Harriers and various owls around.
Blue sky all day after an overnight frost and a lovely morning. Parked in Therfield and headed north. Around 50 Golden Plover flew over and there was a continual movement of Yellowhammer, Linnet, Gold and Greenfinch Corn Bunting and Skylarks. Several coveys of Grey Partridge as well. Most raptors distant with many Buzzards, two red Kites and several Kestrels. Also a lot of Fieldfare and redwing in the area.
Met up with some birders who had seen the Shrike earlier and not long after getting to the escarpment overlooking Royston I saw it in top of a tree. Unfortunately disturbed by walkers, being a very busy area it flew off but returned about 15 minutes later. Managed to get a few images before it flew off again. Failed to see any harriers or owls this time.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Lovely Autumnal Day

Woke up to a frost and lots of sunshine. I had pretty much decided to go to Amwell, but with it being Remembrance Sunday had some doubts because we park very close to the memorial and I was expecting it to be busy. Drove down in glorious sunshine, light misty patches and fantastic autumnal colour even though many leaves have dropped. Amwell church was quite busy when I arrived but I was able to just about park in the usual spot.
Got to the watchpoint at 0930 and I was the only one there! Not long after, Tony Mike and John Bartlett arrived. Most of the Sunday crowd are in Ethiopia and it turned out that the regulars were up at tumbling Bay.
 Water levels are quite high now, probably the highest for a couple of years and apparently there are pans to raise it a bit more. As a result ducks like Wigeon and Teal are largely feeding elsewhere but diving ducks are increasing. Apparently there are a few Goldeneye in now, as well as the ever elusive Mandarin. Bit early still for any Smew of course. Don't know how many Snipe are present-one or two in the new cut in front of the watchpoint and some flying around and dropping into a reed-bed pool where one of the big willows were taken out.
We walked down to the Water Vole pool where Jay had seen a Bittern recently. Being a nice sunny day there was a chance it may have emerged but there was no sign. I did see a Kingfisher briefly though, there was a Cetti's Warbler calling and a female Bullfinch sat in one of the willows. The alders in the picnic area held a small flock of Siskin, Goldfinch and a single Redpoll.
Back at the watchpoint we met up with every one else. A couple of Red Kites were over the woods and there were the usual small flocks of distant thrushes moving. One bonus with the new cut was the superb views of a Water Rail which climbed up the reeds and started sunning itself. Being a bit of a sun trap a Migrant Hawker and a pair of Common Darters were also seen.
On the way home, the lack of leaves enabled me to see three Little Egrets  by the stream at Hooks Cross.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Desert Wheatear

Went over to Abberton with Colin yesterday for the long staying Desert Wheatear. I have not visited since they started work on raising the water levels and the causeways so it would be interesting to see how the work was going. The old visitors centre was a nice one, surrounded by mature scrub and trees so was always worth a visit. The new one is a few hundred yards south on the high peninsula and seems rather barren at the moment.
The Desert Wheatear was not hard to locate as it seems to think the car park is it's feeding territory, and was using every bollard, sign and tree sapling to perch on while hunting for food. Like many vagrant chats that i have seen, it seemed to enjoy feeding under the cars and was very confiding. More than one photographer had to put their big lenses away and use a shorter close focusing one.

 The biggest problem with photography was getting a decent background-the above images include Golf and Astra headlights in the background. I also have lots of car wheels, bumpers and number plates.
 We eventually left and went to Cudmore Grove. I have not been here for many years-its one of the places that Alan Reynolds enjoys visiting and often recommends it. The previous day a Shore Lark had been seen, as well as some White Fronted Geese, but both had gone. However a long search of the flood meadows was successful for a Jack Snipe hidden among it's Common brethren. Huge  numbers of Redshank, Black tailed Godwits Teal and Wigeon were also present. Among the dark bellied Brents was an unusual one reported as a light bellied. However it looked a bid odd to me and I dont think it was one.
Walked out to the point and located the Snow Bunting. More waders including lots of Dunlin, Sanderling and Turnstone. There was nothing at all on the sea.

 Before heading home we decided to try and locate the elusive Great Grey Shrike in the Birch area, supposedly seen on wires. We drove around for a bit, not seeing it or any other birders and following a pager message headed back to Abberton. Parked outside the pump house and met another birder. Moments later the Black Redstart appeared on the roof, unfortunately a bit too far away to get a good image. The local Kestrel proved to be a bit of a problem too.
 The birder had  just come from the shrike and gave us directions to where he had seen it. Unfortunately we could not find it, and meeting up with others it was clear that no one else was having much luck. A pigeon shoot earlier, and the wind presumably meant it was staying in cover so we left-it was reported about ninety minutes later in the area we had searched.

Friday at Amwell

Had Friday off, and being a week day I hoped that it would be possible to get down to Amwell-all the level crossings are still closed, even the one at Stanstead St Margerets.
I was able to park at the old entrance to the works on Hollycross Road and walked through to the towpath and north to Tumbling Bay. It was a nice sunny day and there was a lot of activity in the woods. Several parties of tits, a few finches and thrushes, including a pair of Bullfinch. Have not seen any here for a couple of years (and my local ones seem to have vanished too).
Tumbling bay is not easy to watch without a scope-I had brought my camera and so the 1w drake Scaup proved tricky to locate as most of the diving ducks were distant. Found a couple of vantage points that gave reasonable binocular views.
Walked back down through the wood and up to the watchpoint. A few Siskins and Redpolls as usual. The water levels are slowly rising but this has not as yet led to any increase in duck numbers, and there are no reports of Goldeneye yet.
Several buzzards took advantage of the sunshine and a pair of Sparrowhawks were being mobbed over the woods.
No butterflies or dragonflies seen despite the conditions.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Another County Tick

Over the last few days, a grebe at Wilstone which started out as Red Necked, then Black Necked was, when somebody actually looked properly became a Slavonian, the first in the county for some time.
Having had overnight snow and being rather cold and windy, I set out late and only got there just before 1100. Walked up the steps and ran into Mike Illet scoping the bird-rather difficult as it was only a few feet away. Expecting a bird in the middle of the reservoir, I took my scope rather than camera.
Me up with Joan Thompson and we walked over to the jetty hoping to pick up one of the Rock Pipits but  failed. Thought at one point that I heard one go over but it was very windy and I could not locate the bird. Took some time but I eventually located some of the Pintail among the hoards of duck in the middle. There is supposed to be a Black Tailed Godwit still, but I did not go over to the hide to check, instead I called in at Startops just in case any of the Pipits were there-they werent.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Sunday in Norfolk

Having not been out for about a month, Colin was getting cabin fever, and with a hint of the beginning of an easterly airflow we decided to go to the Norfolk coast. Nothing on the pagers so we headed up to Titchwell. A bit of mist on the way up never materialised into any atmospheric sun rise landscapes.
Took the usual route and drove through Ringstead and the back roads to Chosely Barns. Having had a good Redwing movement at Amwell I was expecting some thrushes at least, but it was very quiet. The barns held a small flock of Greenfinches and a family of Pied Wagtails. A few Chaffinch as well but no buntings, geese or plovers.
We arrived at Titchwell and made our way to the sea-a fairly low high tide was due within the hour. A Short Eared Owl was watched taking on a Marsh Harrier over the Thornham block house. One of the Thornham Marsh pools was good-Redshank, Greenshank and Spotted Redshank in one scope view. A few Bearded Tits pinging in the reed beds and we were lucky to see two Water Rails having a fight. The sea was quiet despite a weak on shore breeze. Lots of Gannets as usual, and a few Common Scoter and two Eiders close in. On the horizon several flocks of Common Scoter, numbering perhaps 250 in total flew around, but there were no Velvets among them. Had a thought that maybe the off shore wind farm might be one of the reasons for the lack of Scoters here last winter.
Made our way back and stopped off at the Parrinder Hide for a while. Spent a bit of time looking at a female Pintail in among the Teal. Some Snipe were around too, but no-one could find any Jacks. A big flock of Golden Plover kept going up-we never saw any raptors though.

 Tried a few landscape shots with the 35mm lens and a polariser but lack of a focal point meant they didn't do much. However the plants were a bit better with this lens.

We went back to the car, had a bit of lunch and returned to the new trails expecting to see Scaup and Red Crested Pochard on the pool but neither seemed to be present. News of an Olive Backed Pipit at Burnham Overy was a bit more interesting.
The lack of cars and people at Burnham seemed a bit odd as we made our way out on the sea wall. A few Meadow Pipits, one flock of about a dozen redwing, several Starling flocks and a few Geese were all encountered by the time we got to Gun Hill. Met up with Julian Bahlero who told us the bad news. Apparently the Pipit was seen by a single observer late morning in the dunes with a flock of Meadow Pipits. Only the head was seen, but it was apparently heard.  Not the normal habitat, and they don/t normally associate with Meadows either. Had a search and saw one or two Meadows with an olive tint, which is pretty normal at this time of year-maybe the guy saw one of these? Did get a year tick out of it though-a Richard's Pipit flew over, presumably the bird reported in the morning at nearby Scolt Head.
Nice to get out, and saw a good selection of birds, and got some decent images. Of course on Monday the easterlies brought a flood of birds. Apparently birders were wading through flocks of thrushes on the way out to Gun Hill. Not much in the way of rares though, apart from a Bluetail at Stiffkey.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Last Visit to Amwell for a While

Paid my usual weekend visit to Amwell this morning. Got to the level crossing and saw that it would be closed next Saturday and would not be open until after the following weekend. Arrived at the watchpoint and Tony said that the whole line would be closed, not just this crossing. So the choice is very limited parking at the old gate, or a long walk in from Ware or Stansted St Margrets.
Better news was the juvenile Yellow Legged Gull at the south end. Walked down and bumped into Phil and Bill on the way. Spent a long time in the hide scanning the gulls as there was a continual turn over with birds arriving from the tip to wash. Found the Yellow Legged but did not get any good images as the light was poor and the bird too distant. Large numbers of Lesser Black Backs in particular with smaller numbers of Herring. About half a dozen Greater Black Backs also present.
Walked back to the watchpoint and joined the others. Seemed to be a lot of Redpoll movements with birds going over on a frequent basis. There were large flocks of thrushes over the woods. Phil and Barry reckoned in excess of 500 Redwings over the course of the morning. A few Song Thrush and Blackbirds were seen, but no Fieldfare. Usual movement of Skylark and Meadow Pipits.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

More Photos

Some more of the autumnal colour.

Autumn Colour

Last day of the fortnight off. Decided last night that there was nothing worth going for so had another lie in.
It was a cold night, the sky is nice clear blue so I thought I'd go over to Aston End and try for some landscapes.
Had a couple of good birds as soon as I set out-a flyover Redwing and a couple of Mistle Thrushes. The conifer plantation a bit quiet, though there were a few crests and Coal Tits calling. Should have searched through them as I only realised later that there was a Firecrest in there as well.
The stretch along the Walkern road was pretty colourful with the Spindle fruits and leaves lit up nicely by the sun, and the Dogwood and Field Maple looked good too.  Three Redpolls flew west out of High Wood, and now that it had warmed up, there were several Buzzards, a Kestrel and  Sparrowhawk in the air. Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were going over as usual. Down by the horse paddocks, heard both Tawny and Little Owls but neither could be seen.
Only one butterfly seen-a Red Admiral on Ivy, though there were plenty of bees and flies taking advantage of the nectar.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Woodlark at Amwell

Popped into the docs and got my flu jab, then headed down to Amwell arriving at 0915. Thought I'd made a big mistake-it was cold, misty and I only had my thin fleece. Gradually warmed up as the morning progressed.
Discussed the recent site management with Tony. Alan had put a big trench in front of the viewpoint , taken out most of the small trees and widened the scrape considerably. Hopefully will help with Water rail and Snipe, and in spring it might pull in a few waders.
 Went down to the hide to check the large gulls-Greater and lesser Black Backs and a few Herring. One or two Yellow legs have been roosting recently. Returned as Phil arrived and Barry came back from his walkabout. A few Larks and Pipits going over as usual, plus a couple of Grey Wagtails. By the time Simon and a few others had arrived it was quite warm and raptors were starting to appear-two Red Kites, a good half dozen Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk. We had some passerines over the woods and what seemed to be a small flock of Redwings.
At 1150 Barry picked up a small short tailed lark heading north with a bounding flight and short tail. My first Woodlark for Herts and certainly bird of the week.
A few Red Admirals still taking advantage of the late sun, and a single Small White. Apparently one or two Small Coppers are still being seen in places.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Goldfinch Record

While having breakfast, large numbers of Goldfinches were on and around the feeder. A minimum of 20 on the feeder with at least five more in the garden waiting their turn.
Two Dunnocks and two Robins are also around, but House Sparrow numbers have plummeted now that the young have dispersed-I suspect that there may not be more than five or six at the moment.
Have been going around north east Herts on a few occasions from the autumnal landscape point of view. Some foliage is turning-mainly the dogwoods and Field Maples, but so far everything else remains green.

Lots of good birds turning up in far flung locations, but nothing to justify the travelling costs. Two weeks off and the furthest I have travelled is Wilstone!
Flu jab tomorrow, so it all rests on Sunday's northerly airflow and the east coast.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Amwell Again

Still nothing exciting to go for. Sunday was foggy, went out to get misty landscapes and failed. Yesterday ended up cold and wet, so took Mum shopping.
Today is bright and sunny, not much wind and so not much happening.
Went down to Amwell hoping for a repeat of Saturday, but a lot of the warblers and Siskins seem to have cleared out. Alan Reynolds was down hoping to get more flyby Jay shots but only a few distant birds seen. Large numbers have been coming inoff the North Sea so we were speculating about a possible Nutcracker Invasion. Well it passed the time. All the photographers went for a walk down to the Hollycross path, but we failed to find anything of note.
Back at the watchpoint Royston Dave and John Bartlett turned up. We tried to string a Caspian Gull, saw the hybrid Baikal Teal and watched a juvenile Kestrel get wet feeding on the waters edge.

Saturday, 6 October 2012


Great time at Amwell this morning. The bright sunny and still conditions did not exactly promise much but I ended up with 57 species in the three hours I was there.
 Jays going over all the time-and getting close to the camera for once.

 At least two Red Kites came up over the woods, with four Buzzards, one or two Sparrowhawks and a juvenile Hobby. Small numbers of hirundines going through all the time, and a couple of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks went through too.
Walk down to the Hollycross gate produces a big mixed tit flock which contained many Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and a pair of Blackcap. Pair of Treecreepers in the area as well. On the way back a stop off at the alders produced a large flock of Siskins with a few Redpolls as well. Also heard one or two Marsh Tits in the woods.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Greenfinch and Dunnock

The juvenile Greenfinch is still around-along with 13+Goldfinches. A Great Tit has turned up in the garden as well, first for a couple of months.
A Dunnock has also turned up today-the first in the garden since June 2011. They were regular visitors ever since I started recording in 1986.
Meanwhile an Eastern Kingbird in Galway (first for the Western Palearctic) and a Myrtle Warbler on Dursey Island are tempting birders who think that Ireland is part of Britain. Still waiting for something to turn up on the mainland.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Its Gone a bit Quiet

Have not exactly done much birding over the last couple of days-the constant westerlies have not produced much to get excited about this side of the country.
Did a bit of work in the garden, got rid of one or two plants and re-arranged a few others, creating more space for some of the recent purchases. Most will have to go in in spring as a few things have died back or been eaten by slugs and snails and I dont want to plant too closely to them (assuming they come back next year).
Still got good numbers of Goldfinches visiting every day, and the juvenile Greenfinch is still around. Had a dark Common Buzzard mobbed by a Crow just outside the garden, by far the nearest one has ever been.

 Today I had intended to go out and do a bit of landscape photography, with the bright blue sky and sunshine but decided instead to have a quiet walk around Rye Meads.
Arrived about a minute before the bus load of school kids and discovered that there was a lot of maintenance work going on on the board walks and shrubs. Managed to escape all of that. Four Green Sandpipers over the Draper Hide with one calling in later. Two Snipe and a few Lapwing also present.
 The water levels on the north lagoon are quite low, but this has not brought much in. Two Common Gulls and one or two Wigeon, but no sign of the long staying Garganey. The south lagoon is pretty poor, looking straight into the sun but the Cormorants and Herons on the nearer rafts were reasonably photogenic.

Several dragonflies still around, many Common Darters and several Migrant Hawkers. One of the latter was found in long grass covered in dew, and allowed me to pick it up. After warming up a bit it flew off. Another was found perched in brambles where it remained all morning.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Hyde Hall, and todays birds

Last weekend, I went to the RHS gardens at Hyde Hall Essex with Sarah. It was their Autumn plant fair so lots of nice things to buy. Took my 35mm lens and a new B+W polariser to try out, here are a few.

Not much happening with the birding today. Went over to the river Beane-still bone dry.
At least six Buzzards in the area and two Red Kites. A few Meadow Pipits flying through and still got small flocks of Swallows and House Martins on passage.
Back home surprise of the day was a juvenile Greenfinch with the nine adult and juvenile Goldfinches. Cannot remember when I last saw one in the garden-they used to breed locally but went when the big Ash trees were felled some years ago.