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.

Saturday, 29 September 2012


Had to pop in to Sarah's this morning, so got to Amwell a bit later than usual.
Ran into Simon in the lane checking out the ivy. Lots of Red Admirals and Commas-he also had a Small Copper.

 Only Tony and Barry at the point-Phil arrived later having gone down to Hollycross, and later still Colin appeared. A few Meadow Pipits over, and small numbers of Swallows and one or two House Martins through. Buzzards active for a change as were Sparrowhawks.

 Apart from the Lapwing, the only wader was a juvenile Dunlin. Missed some Siskin, but just before leaving a distant Brambling appeared with a few Swallows.

Friday, 28 September 2012


Had to do a couple of hours work this morning, finished at 0930 and started my fortnight holiday. First priority was a county tick at Wilstone.
 Arrived at 1030 and immediately on getting to the top of the steps saw my first Herts Great White Egret feeding beside the southern reed bed, a long way off. Made my way to the hide, picking up a Ringed Plover and an assortment of ducks. Not a lot happening in the hedge or trees apart from the usual Chiffchaffs and Robins.
Got to the hide, met two photographers (one from Stevenage) and sat down to wait. The Egret spent a lot of time out of view behind the reeds, occasionally coming round the corner. Unfortunately a Grey Heron seemed to make it nervous and it never got all that close.

 Three Golden Plover were on the causeway, and after everything was flushed I managed to see two Pintail. Duck and gull numbers gradually built up over the two hours I was present, but nothing else was noted until a distant Arctic Tern caught my eye. Later, a juvenile Common Tern appeared.

 Hirundines were present in large numbers, initially it was mainly House Martins, but a lot of Sand Martins eventually arrived. Small numbers of Swallows were also present. At one point a Kingfisher flew past the hide, a few Little Egrets wandered around and a pair of Grey Wagtails turned up.
 A lot of distant shouting appeared to relate to a dog running in and out of the reeds, putting up all sorts of birds, but luckily the Egret was not disturbed. Rain eventually arrived and I left soon after,

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


A bit late with the weekend update-modem packed up on Saturday and only been up and running for a day, so lots of catching up to do.
Anyway, the weather system looked promising for an east coast trip, with a low swinging up from the channel and north. Easterly migrants were a good possibility and maybe a bit of sea watching as well. With the new trails open at Titchwell, and not having visited for many months, I fancied starting there and then going on to Holme.
 Called in at Chosely on the way, but not much happening. A few flocks of Pink Feet were coming in from the wash, and some Golden Plover were on the ploughed fields by the barns.
Arrived at Titchwell just after 0900, and it felt good, a decent easterly breeze overcast and Robins ticking in the car park. Headed off down the Fen Trail and on to the new section. The new pool held an assortment of duck from the two blinds, including a female Red Crested Pochard. Nothing in the hedgerow as we made our way to the woods. Chiffchaffs, tits and finches plus Song Thrush and Blackbirds seen. Hoped for a Yellow Browed (one was later found nearby at Gypsy Lane) or maybe Barred Warbler.
The view across the fresh marsh from the south east corner was novel to say the least. A large flock of Bearded Tits was the highlight, and I picked up Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint. Still a lot of Avocets, and the Bar and Black Tailed Godwit flock hid a good number of Knot.
 Made our way back and then up the main path to the sea. Several flocks of Pink Feet flew west, and two Spoonbills initially in Thornham Channel flew in to join four or five on the Fresh Marsh. Unfortunately, despite the increasing wind (which had shifted slightly to a south easterly) the sea was a bit quiet. A close in drake Common Scoter (my first this year!) and two Eiders were good, as were three flyby Red Throated Divers. Lots of Gannets of course, a few Wigeon and more Scoter, plus a lone Sandwich Tern.
 On the way back a Greenshank flew in,  joining a Redshank, Avocet and Little Egret.

 Had a bit of lunch and went to Holme. Stopped off by the gate where a Barred Warbler had been present for a few weeks, but the wind kept it out of view. Went to the paddocks where a few crests and tits were milling around. One or two Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs in the hawthorns, and what appeared to be a Yellow Browed Warbler flew through with them.
 We moved down to the Firs and on to the coastal path in the pines. I noted several birds in a clearing covered in brambles. One turned out to be a female Pied Flycatcher but a second browner bird proved harder to see. Eventually with one or two others we were able to pin down the first winter Red Breasted Flycatcher that had been present for a couple of days in the observatory area but had gone missing. Gradually the crowd built up, including some American birders and we all got pretty good but distant views as it flitted around in the pines.

Called in at the observatory and gave Sophie the news that it was still around, which pleased a few visitors ready to depart.
 Did not fancy a trudge along the sea wall at Burnham Norton for a Booted Warbler, feeling a bit too tired so we called it a day.

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Today was distinctly different, cool and low cloud, distinctly autumnal.
This made the morning visit to Amwell pretty interesting. All morning small parties of hirundines were moving, along with Meadow Pipits. Got on the wrong bird at one point and missed a Yellow Wagtail. Huge flock of Mistle Thrush was seen to the north-count of 27 or 28 depending on who did the counting.
 Usual assortment of duck and geese. Two Snipe were seen, and thanks to hints from Messrs Ball and Ward I saw the Common Sandpiper and Dabchick (the latter is rather unusual on the main pit and is usually found elsewhere).
Went for a walk down to the Water Vole pit A Cetti's Warbler was singing quietly continuously.  Big Tit flock going through, Great, Blue and Long Tailed. A warbler with them seen feeing on elder berries was not Chiffchaff as expected but a Lesser Whitethroat-don't see them all that often this time of year.
 Back at the watchpoint Simon had arrived so we got to see images from his recent Irish holiday-two American Goldens together, Pec Sand, Wilsons Phal etc. Not a bad haul but not as good as he had last year.


Last weeks big news was that a Dowitcher at Lodmoor was Britains second Short Billed Dowitcher. Not a problem as we went up for the 1999 bird at Roseharty (though we had to wait, and eventually went up the night it flew off-luckily it was refound in Cleveland so we got it eventually). I also had family commitments with a birthday bash in Bournemouth.
Had I known about the the Monarch on Portland I may have escaped for a couple of hours. I missed a Monarch at Prawle by about ten minutes after twitching a Bobolink and it was a couple of hours before the news got out.
Unbelievably both were still present on Friday so plans were made and Colin and i went down for them yesterday.
Arrived at Easton around 1000 and saw a small crowd in the park. One or two spotted the Monarch behind the fence in a garden and it appeared to fly towards the front of the house. We made our way and peered through the screen wall where I found it feeding on Japanese Anemones. A little while later it went back to the Buddlea in the park and showed very well over the space of forty minutes, but never associated with the much smaller red Admirals.

 The warm sunshine and clear blue skies was not conducive to bird migration-theer were a few Swallows going through and one or two Meadow and Tree Pipits.

We went down to the Bill where we found four Wheatear in the quarry. Little on the sea-one Med Gull, one Yellow Legged and a few Gannets.
A quick stop off at Barleycrates Lane was a waste of time, there were no birds at all. A few Tortoiseshells and a Common Blue were seen.

 Eventually we arrived at Lodmoor at 1230 and the Dowitcher showed almost immediately. Rather distant, the heat haze proved troublesome for the camera. At one point a Snipe could be seen feeding behind it and a Water Rail had a habit of disturbing it.

 We ended the day near Southampton at Badminston Heath. I had heard that a few weeks back a large number of Red Veined Darters had been seen. Unfortunately they were not on the small pools (now dry) on the satellite images but were more likely to have been on a nearby pit that I did not know about. Checked the Common Darters of course but there were no sign of any Red Veined. Did encounter a number of rather late Meadow Browns and Small Heaths though.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Deadman's Hill

Spent just over an hour at Deadman's Hill this morning. A bit dull with a lot of low cloud, and a westerly breeze.
Around eight Red Kites up near the barns and Buzzards everywhere. One female Marsh Harrier came in briefly from the south east before flying off.
The wheat fields are being cut-no chats seen, but plenty of Grey and Red Legged Partridge now visible and two Ketrels hunting over the straw mounds left by the harvester.
Driving back through Sandon, pleased to see a large flock of House Martin and Swallows feeding.

Saturday, 1 September 2012


Its the first of September, which means it's autumn, and rare birds should be pouring in now. Winds are light and westerly so not much is happening. The east coast had a decent sea watching spell two days ago but nothing to tempt me today so I went to Amwell.
Bill and Barry were present, and Jay, Phil and Colin turned up later. Starting to get a build up in ducks now, with two Wigeon on the lake and another dozen flying around. A few Teal in, but no Garganey. Two Common Terns lingering.
My first (plastic) Barnacle Goose of the year flew in mid morning.
The Four Common Sandpipers are still around, and we were treated to the rare sight of an adult Hobby perched up in the woods hunting.
A bit too dull and cool to think about dragonflies-one Migrant Hawker around the watchpoint and a Red Admiral went over.