Monday, 28 May 2018

Wildelife BCN Summer Leys :: 28 May 2018

Storms passed through overnight and it was forecast to be misty in the morning - another trip to see if I could see anything new (black terns?). I opted for @WildlifeBCN Summer Leys as they had garganey, sanderling, turnstone and black terns noted in previous days. ChiffchaffI arose early and set off by 05.30am.

On the A43 there was an accident and I joined the queue, letting police cars and highways agency lorries pass between the inside and outside lanes. A wait of 20 minutes and off again - the driver appeared to have collided with he central reservation. I had to take the long route round as Hardwater Lane is still closed due to repair on the bridge.

I was the first car in the car park - I headed for the Pioneer hide and took the corner vantage point. Green woodpeckerLooking out there was nothing out of the ordinary, other than the height of the water - much higher than my previous visit and lapping up the sides and over the various island scrapes. The thunderstorms yesterday look as if they have caused significant rise in the water level - this has destroyed significant numbers of black-headed gull and common tern nests.

I opted for a circuit and as I started off a cuckoo flew past and off down the reserve. Still large numbers of garden warbler singing, in all corners.

I had another encounter with the cuckoo at the Viewing Screen and then again just past the Reed warblerCharles Towler hide / feeding station. I've still not seen any activity at the sand martin wall and to be honest there wasn't anything to see other than distant reed and sedge warbler plus more garden warbler. Just before I turned back onto the reserve from the disused railway line I had reasonable views of a chiffchaff, crossing back and forward across the line, and from the small bridge I saw pairs of both green woodpecker and bullfinch.

At the Marigold Pond I saw the cuckoo again, plus a number of reed warbler working along the reed bed. No dragonflies this time.

A last look at the Pioneer hide but nothing extra showing to headed home by 09.55am.

Today's Sightings (40) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, bullfinch, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, common tern, coot, cormorant, cuckoo, gadwall, garden warbler, goldfinch, great crested grebe, great tit, green woodpecker, greenfinch, grey heron, greylag goose, jackdaw, lapwing, lesser black-backed gull, little egret, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, mute swan, reed bunting, reed warbler, robin, sedge warbler, song thrush, swift, tufted duck, wigeon, woodpigeon and wren.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Grimsbury and Boddington Reservoirs :: 26 May 2018

Yesterday's weather had created quite a change in the passage of birds through Grimsbury Reservoir. By 7.20am there were already reports of four black terns. Where there had been nine at Boddington on Thursday night there were none. Common sandpiper, little ringed plover an common tern were soon added, with hundreds of hirundines. Flying groups of warders past through including four snipe, 20+ ringed plover / turnstone with a female wheatear dropping in.

I woke and decided to look out the window - mist and a bit of drizzle - time to visit Grimsbury in case anything had been pushed in. I started a clockwise rotation but as soon as I made the western bank my phone alerted me that Gareth (@grimsbury_birds), had found a spotted flycatcher in the willows along the river by the sailing club. I looked across, spotted him and doubled back to join him. We chatted on the way round - his third circuit. There was little going on, other than dozens of hirundines cruising overhead. As we turned at the north end we came across the little grebe he had spotted before. We also had a little ringed plover which must have just arrived as he hadn't seen it on his previous circuits.

We parted as I decided to have one more circuit and Gareth headed for his car. Grey wagtail, song thrushes and chiffchaff added on the way round but nothing of particular note - the little grebe and little ringed plover were not around either.

I decided to head over to Boddington Reservoir to try my luck there. Sedge warblers called, a handful of common tern fished but no sign of any black terns. By the time I reached the turn I thought my luck was out - Whitethroata number of whitethroat lifted my spirits. Then, from down the slope to the river, I saw a kingfisher [#125] buzz out over the reservoir, round in a circle, and back to where it had come from. I watched and soon saw it flash as it moved around. I went to the foot of the hill and saw it heading back left and out of sight. I waited but no further sightings.

Good views of chiffchaff on the return, and one of the fisherman landing a large carp from the bank.

Sightings today (30 from Grimsbury and 12 more from Boddington) included: [Grimsbury] blackbird, blue tit, carrion crow, chiffchaff, collared dove, coot, dunnock, goldfinch, great tit, greenfinch, grey wagtail, house martin, house sparrow, jackdaw, linnet, little grebe, little ringed plover, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, mute swan, pied wagtail, rook, song thrush, starling, stock dove, swallow, swift, woodpigeon and wren [Boddington] canada goose, chaffinch, common tern, great crested grebe, kingfisher, lesser black-backed gull, moorhen, pheasant, reed bunting, sedge warbler, tufted duck and whitethroat.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Wildlife BCN Summer Leys :: 20 May 2018

Another weekend, and another trip to see if I can find garganey. One reported yesterday on Gull Island at Wildlife BCN Summer Leys. A late start but on-site by 10.30am. As I got out of the car Ricky Sinfield was passing, heading towards his car - I had a quick chat to introduce myself and comment on the photos he has been posting on the Facebook Page.

Nothing unusual from the Rotary and Pioneer hides so a circuit would be required - a distant reed warbler flew across as we looked out of the windows. BullfinchFrom the Paul Britten hide we had good views of little egret, common tern, and some protection of territory by a moorhen. The grey heron flew over some of the nesting bird and young out on the water - as it closed in on a quick snack, the adults mobbed the heron and it was pushed on and away. A couple of stock dove flew over.

Good views of bullfinch at the Charles Tower Hide / feeding station. Few other birds visited, just woodpigeon, blue and great tits.

By Marigold Pond I saw some more reed warbler and a beautiful four-spotted chaser. Four-spotted chaserLots of gulls and crows up in the sky but no obvious hobby so the little guy may stay safe!

Back at the Pioneer Hide, Ricky had returned and was watching out across to the Paul Britten Hide. He saw a hobby high overhead but it was out of view before I got there. Out on the water the grey heron stalked across and eventually struck to catch his lunch. Looked like a tench to me.

Another enjoyable visit, again without seeing any garganey - I expect it will be back across at Stanwick Lakes ... Grey heron

Sightings today (36) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, bullfinch, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, common tern, coot, cormorant, gadwall, garden warbler, goldfinch, great crested grebe, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, jackdaw, lapwing, little egret, little ringed plover, long-tailed tit, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, red kite, reed bunting, reed warbler, robin, sedge warbler, stock dove, tufted duck, whitethroat and woodpigeon.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Stanwick Lakes :: 13 May 2018

Charlotte was going to be playing tennis so I thought I would try somewhere new - I decided upon Stanwick Lakes as there was a post first thing suggesting Garganey had been seen.

A small queue to get in and quite a crowd around the car park - I should have realised that it might be popular on a sunny Sunday. There were events for kids at the front of the Visitor Centre. WhitethroatI ducked past these and grabbed a sandwich and drink before heading out. Not far from the Centre I could hear sedge warbler calling and it wasn't long before I saw the first of many. I reached the first hide (noted to be where the garganey had been spotted) but couldn't see it.

I decided to continue on and heard reed warbler, chiffchaff and whitethroat as I walked - some decent views of the latter two. There were many black-headed gulls and a few common terns on the islands. A kestrel was hunting across the site and I saw it a few times. As I turned to head back, I could see a hobby high ahead. As I approached I hoped for a photo but it sailed away before I got in range.Chiffchaff

I tried another circuit, this time taking in the other hides. Nothing new there. 4.7 miles and no garganey - I think I am going to have this as my bogey bird this year.

Sightings (33) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, coot, cormorant, gadwall, goldfinch, great crested grebe, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, hobby, kestrel, lapwing, lesser black-backed gull, little egret, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, oystercatcher, reed bunting, reed warbler, sedge warbler, shoveler, swift, tufted duck, whitethroat, woodpigeon and wren.

Farmoor Reservoir :: 12 May 2018

It has been a while since I visited Farmoor Reservoir and to be honest I thought twice about it. I've fallen short of last year's year list at this point and thought I might go and target somewhere different. But hey, you just never know what you are going to find.

It wasn't such an early start this week and I set off onto the banks by 08.45am. Reed warblerI decided to try the causeway first as there might be some overnight drop ins. The place was very still and fly fishermen were already out on the water. The flies were also out but thankfully not in the numbers encountered at Draycote Water. Disappointingly, the only species of note on the causeway were two dunlin. Around 15+ swifts cruised the skies on the hunt, joining the common tern trying to keep my spirits up. As I got to the end of the causeway I wondered which way I should turn and decided to go straight ahead and onto the Pinkhill Reserve. There I could hear sedge warblers across on the opposite bank. Then from nowhere a cuckoo called to my right. I stepped round the tree only to see it take off from atop a tree on the opposite bank, Reed warblerand fly off left. Nice to see but a photo would have been nice.

I decided to head along the river bank for a while and soon came across a pair of calling reed warblers. At first they were unhelpful, skulking away in the depth of the reeds - then they flew off into a tree. I decided to be patient and sure enough one of the two flew back to the bed in front of me. Not too long a wait and up they popped for their portrait - a much better view than I'd been able to get at Otmoor.

A beautiful walk round the river with the occasional boat passing by - restful. HobbyAdded blackcap, willow warbler and chiffchaff before I got to the hide. At the hide a sign indicated that you had to call in order to be provided with the entry code (the rangers). At first the Ranger gave me the wrong one but we got there in the end. Inside it was quiet and little to watch, other than a grey heron. Front left a bird dropped into the tree and when I looked it was a hobby, presumably having a rest from the the big dragonfly hunt. Gorgeous.

Back on the reservoir I opted to go round F2. Soon I came across a group of ducks and two turned out to be a pair of red-crested pochard [124]. Another short distance ahead and Black-necked grebeI saw what I initially thought was a little grebe surfacing - but it was in fact, a drake black-necked grebe. Two in summer plumage in just a few weeks. Luck was in. I posted on twitter but later found out it had already been reported, just after I got to site.

I paused to watch one of the fisherman play his trout from the bank. As he did so he said that there was a pike following it in. Damn me it took the fish and made the job of landing the trout almost impossible - the pike was at least 15-20 lbs. For some reason the pike then released the trout allowing it to be landed but all the time following the fish. Mallard chicksNot the ideal condition for the fisherman but given that it's guts had been ripped out it wasn't going back in. An exciting end to the visit.

Sighting (37) included: black-headed gull, black-necked grebe, blackbird, blackcap, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, common tern, coot, cormorant, cuckoo, dunlin, goldfinch, great crested grebe, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, hobby, jackdaw, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, pied wagtail, red-crested pochard, reed bunting, reed warbler, rook, sedge warbler, swallow, swift, tufted duck, willow warbler, woodpigeon and wren.

Monday, 7 May 2018

BOS Balscote Quarry & Shenington :: 06 May 2018

The WhatsApp group reported the arrival of wood sandpiper and whimbrel at breakfast time, but I didn't pick this up until mid-morning. Wood sandpiperThe whimbrel was reported to have already departed but the wood sandpiper remained - I jumped in the car and headed over. The viewing area was empty when I arrived but the wood sandpiper (#122) was still there. Distant and with the heat haze, a bit difficult to get a photo of.

Roger Evans and Mark turned up to see if they could see the mistle thrush - on the long day count in SP43. I followed them to a field back along the main road as Mark had seen some red-legged partridge there on his way (couldn't get Roger to slow down enough to be sure). Nothing showing.

SkylarkI went to Draycote Water for a circuit but this was pointless from a birding perspective due to the rest of humanity deciding to go there too. Still, got some exercise.

I've often heard people mention Shenington Airfield and so I dropped the car in Shenington and strolled around the paths and bridleways for a while. I spotted reed bunting, red kite, whitethroat and linnet. The best encounter though was with a skylark who dropped into the grass and stayed there, presumably thinking it was hidden. I took a few photos before some dog-walkers arrived and scared it off. I presume it was off to feed young given the contents of it's beak.

Wildlife BCN Summer Leys & RSPB Otmoor :: 05 May 2018

It is that time of year when I add garden warbler to my year list. My go-to place for this is Summer Leys in Northamptonshire. This year my decision was helped by reports of a pair of garganey, showing close on some days last week. I couldn't sleep overnight, waking up on multiple occasions, and so I gave in and arose at 5.30am, breakfasted, and was on-site by 7.30am.

As is often the case, birds that have hung around for days suddenly depart on a Garden warblerSaturday when I am able to get to see them ... the garganey pair were no exception - I often think it is related to the number of people moving around at weekends, but I was there so early that wasn't the case - the curse of Saturday mornings.

So many black-headed gulls, building nests and making a racket - joined by dozens of common tern (#119). A single black-tailed godwit was chased around on the far shore from the Pioneer Hide. A cuckoo also flew from right to left on the opposite bank above a single oystercatcher, but nothing else unusual to see so I set off on a circuit.

Garden warblerNot far from the start I found my target bird and managed a few photos - not the best but given the garden warblers (#120) insisted on sitting with he sun behind them, it could have been worse. Whitethroat and blackcap joined in the song.

There were so many sedge warblers on and around the railway embankment - whitethroat too. Although I could hear them, I couldn't see any reed warbler. Ahead a cuckoo landed in a tree but left before I was in range for a photo; I saw it again by the time I reached the turn off the embankment and onto the reserve proper.

Willow warblerWhen I got back to the car park field I recognised two guys crossing - @987jonty and @grimsbury_birds. Amazing to bump into them so far from Banbury - they were on a mission, around Northants, to top 100 species for the day - possibly going to include Rutland Water as they had had a fall of seven wood sandpiper and a black-winged stilt.

Sightings at Summer Leys (46) included: black-headed gull, black-tailed godwit, blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, bullfinch, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, collared dove, common tern, coot, cormorant, cuckoo, gadwall, garden warbler, goldfinch, great crested grebe, great tit, greenfinch, grey heron, greylag goose, jackdaw, lapwing, lesser black-backed gull, little egret, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, oystercatcher, red kite, redshank, reed bunting, rook, sedge warbler, shelduck, shoveler, song thrush, tufted duck, whitethroat, wigeon, willow warbler and woodpigeon.

I'd promised to take Charlotte for lunch so got back and dropped into the Great Western Arms in Aynho. Was surprisingly quiet when we arrived but soon started filling up. Once finished we decided to drop into RSPB Otmoor to see if we could see the newly arrived turtle dove.

Though the car park was full, the reserve was quite quiet with little in the skies, not even swallow or martins. Turtle doveThe reeling gropers from my last visit were silent, and it wasn't until we got to the bridleway by Greenaways that we started to hear the song of sedge and reed warbler. We bumped into a family of four (two young daughters) who we pointed out the turtle dove (#121) to - then a range of other species (including hobby overhead) that the daughters duly checked off in their book. Though we could hear cuckoo they didn't fly past.

Charlotte felt tired so we turned back at the first screen; a number of marsh harriers, red kite and buzzard soared overhead or quartered the reed beds. We heard a bittern booming off to the right but it didn't show itself.Reed warbler

Returning along the bridleway we were luckier with our reed warbler sightings with one climbing high enough and for long enough to allow a quick photo.

Sightings at Otmoor (30) included: black-headed gull, blue tit, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, coot, goldfinch, grey heron, greylag goose, hobby, jay, lapwing, linnet, little egret, magpie, marsh harrier, moorhen, mute swan, pochard, redshank, reed bunting, reed warbler, rook, sedge warbler, shoveler, teal, turtle dove and woodpigeon.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Grimsbury Reservoir :: 01 & 02 May 2018

A quick lunchtime visit on Tuesday to see if I could see anything of interest - @grimsbury_birds mentioned hearing redstart, etc. The usual array of jackdaw, crow, rook, great-crested grebe, mallard joined by whitethroat, linnet, chiffchaff, but nothing out of the ordinary. Good to get the fresh air.

An alert on Wednesday from @987jonty at breakfast time to say that the squally conditions had dropped in a sanderling. As I arrived (after dropping Ailsa at school) the rain was persistent. SanderlingI crossed with @987jonty and @grimsbury_birds who joked that it had been joined by three others and then left 5 minutes earlier; the answer I deserved when asking if it was still on-site! They also mentioned that a wheatear had flown through while they watched.

I walked round to the NW corner but found only a pair of pied wagtails. Not much further round I then found the sanderling (#118), working the shoreline back to the NW corner. As the others predicted, the weather was worse on the return as the wind was blowing it directly into your face. No sign of a wheatear either.