Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Filling a gaping hole

24th September - some rain this morning made a change and I was, as always, optimistic that it might produce something at the lake.  However, with a strongish breeze from the NW, conditions were obviously not optimal and my vigil produced very little.

Swallows were moving steadily NW into the wind at a rate of about 100 per hour and I saw about 200 during my watch.  House Martins were much less plentiful, only about 40 of these.  Meadow Pipits were passing over in 1s and 2s and probably numbered about 20 birds in total.  There were a few Snipe feeding along the edge of the spit and also into the vegetation, so there could have been more than the 9 I saw, 4 of these were seen to fly in from the south and may have been feeding on Cock Marsh.  5 Shoveler represented a slight increase and a 2nd summer Common Gull was the only gull of interest.

The male Firecrest remains faithful to the hedgerow along the concrete road and was seen again with a Goldcrest, located as always due to being very vocal.

I have been conscious for a while that I still haven't seen Coal Tit for the year.  This is a slightly tricky bird to get around the lake - I usually see it during the Winter when forays are made to the feeders in the cottage gardens, but I had missed out during the first Winter and the small stand of conifers which it liked have recently been cut down.  So I decided to pay a rare visit to the churchyard where there are several big yews and other conifers - I had been a couple of times in the Spring to no avail.  However, today, as soon as I got of the car I could hear Coal Tits calling from the large trees by the entrance to the manor and soon enough, a single bird flew down into the yew by the latch gate fed for a while and then flew back into the grounds of the manor.  Success and another one for the list.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Another Stonechat

22nd September - I think Stonechats have had a good year as there seem to be above average numbers passing through the region.  Yesterday, five birds were reported from hills to the north and today three more not too far away, so I decided to check out Pump Lane at lunchtime, which is the most likely place to get one.  Bingo! as I walked the footpath near to the vines, a Stonechat flew up from the area of rough planting next to me.  It perched up on a nearby tree to allow a record shot to be taken.

Not much else other than a few Meadow Pipits.
A quick check of the pit found the regular adult Yellow-legged Gull on the spit, one of two LWHG present! Otherwise, 2 Little Egrets, 2 Snipe, a single Shoveler and into double figures of Teal.
On Friday morning, a quick stop at the lake before work was rewarded with a Ringed Plover on the spit, the first of the autumn.  Yesterday, despite not being reported on Saturday, a juvenile Ringed Plover was in the same spot, though I watched it fly off SE, so possibly the same bird.  The Firecrest was still around yesterday, still associating with 1-2 Goldcrests and all still very vocal, which is the best way of picking them up.  I also had 2 Shelduck flying over east early on, the first since the middle of June.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Firecrest Lingers

17th September - I had only heard negative reports on the Firecrest since watching it last Friday, so assumed it had moved on and spent no time looking for it yesterday.  However, this morning, a bit of dejavu when no sooner had I left the car in the car park than I heard strident crest calls coming from the hedge by the crossroads.  A few moments later, the Firecrest appeared in the company of a Goldcrest.  I watched this beauty for a few minutes until it flew over the road and I continued my walk.  An unexpected sighting, which means that it has been present for at least 6 days, which is odd for an Autumn migrant - maybe it will take a liking to the place and over winter.

When I returned an hour later, I gave it 10 minutes in the company of Graham S, but to no avail.  However, I came back at 2:30pm just before school pick up and within 5 minutes, crests were calling by the cross roads and there it was again.  I tracked it with 1-2 Goldcrests moving along the hedge towards the cottages for about half an hour before I had to leave.  A lovely little bird, that shows well on occasion, but can be hidden within the foliage, I just wish I had a proper camera to do it justice.  I've attached another massive crop from my point and shoot camera, as it looked at me from a hawthorn bush.

Not much else on site today.  A Green Sand flew over going north and a Yellow Wagtail flew over going south shortly followed by my first Skylark of the Autumn here going SE.  There are still warblers moving through, at least 6 Chiffchaff today in a small area, some singing, 4 Blackcap and a single Whitethroat.  The spit is swamped with Greylags at present, in excess of 300 birds, which doesn't leave much room for anything else!

I took a walk over Emmett's fields and found a Wheatear in one of the stubble fields, a few Linnet flying around, about 10 birds and 2 Ravens, which were flying with Red Kites and Buzzards.  A flock of 7 Mipits flying south was another sign of migration.

Yesterday, the highlight of my visit was a nice 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull, one of only a handful of LWHG on site.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Firecrest brightens up a dull morning

12th September - as I got out of the car this morning, I could hear a tit flock going through the trees right next to me.  Not unusual at this time of year.  I watched it for a short while and as usual saw mainly Long-tailed Tits with quite a few Chiffchaff, so I began to walk off.  I had only walked a few paces when I heard crests calling, again not unusual as there are lots of Goldcrests on site all year round, but I turned to watch the elder bush they were coming from and immediately saw a cracking male Firecrest with its crest up chivvying was I presumed was another crest, though this was hidden by foliage.  The view lasted all of 5 seconds and then I lost it.  I waited another 10 minutes, but the tit flock had moved on and the crest calls had stopped, so I went to the lake.

Nothing much here, although there were tit flocks and Chiffchaffs all over the place, many singing intermittently.  I decided to walk the circuit, which I haven't done in ages, as it's usually quite unproductive.  Today was no exception!  A couple of Bullfinches in the southern trees and a Reed Warbler scolding from a reed bed on the NE side were the highlights!

As I neared the car park and walked the northern footpath north of the concrete road, I heard crests calling from a low oak right next to the path - I almost ignored them, as I often do, but today I stopped and walked back towards the calls.  I picked up a bird - it was a Goldcrest, then another bird - a Firecrest!  It was now about an hour and a half since I had first seen the bird less than 100 yards away, so it looked to be favouring this general area.  It wasn't with a tit flock now and just kept close company with this Goldcrest, both being quite vocal.  It was showing really well in the undersides of the trees, so after watching it for a while, I decided to try and use my point and press camera for a record shot.  This would have been impossible if it hadn't been fairly close and in fact at one point it came within 6 feet of me, though the lack of light underneath the trees didn't help.

You can make out the white super and vivid green mantle

Same record shot cropped
Unfortunately blurred, but you can see the head pattern

This is another patch tick for me and a bird that is fairly scarce on site with only a handful of records that I am aware of.

Last Tuesday, I walked around parts of the patch that I rarely see and found a nice Whinchat perched on the fence surrounding the new athletics track.  It actually looked to be lying on it having a rest when I first saw it and then stood up to show its legs in a normal posture.  A Spotted Flycatcher was also in this area and now makes about 5 of these over the past couple of weeks, so obviously having a good year.

On a couple of after work visits, I have seen the regular adult Yellow-legged Gull both yesterday and the day before and yesterday it was joined by another adult, a bird with vivid yellow legs rather than the washed out colour of the regular bird.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Perseverance pays off

8th September - well all my checking of hedgerows and fence lines over the past few weeks finally paid off today when I found a female/immature type Redstart.  It was using a fence line to the north of the 'polo' field in Pump Lane and was happily flying down and up along it until it flushed into the nearby hedge when someone came to tend their horse.  Hopefully it will remain for a better photo opportunity, as my quick record was taken at a range of 260m, as measured on google maps - I'm amazed anything came out at all!

Edit:  It was still in the same place at lunchtime and I managed to get slightly closer for a more recognisable record.  It was also quite vocal, easily audible from where I was standing 100yds or so away.

Nearby in the paddocks, a Whinchat was also taking advantage of the fences and hedges - another poor record in strong sunlight at about 150m range.

Other birds noted were a flyover Yellow Wagtail, 5 Meadow Pipits and a couple of Whitethroats.

Weekly round up

I haven't been on patch much over the past week, a few quick visits generally before and after work here and there, but there are some snippets worthy of note.

A Whinchat was reported from Pump Lane on the 1st.  I paid a visit after work on the 3rd and found presumably the same bird in the same spot.  It was sitting on top of the vines at the top of the vineyard and allowed a quick (rubbish!) record shot in low light.

6 Yellow Wagtails also flew over.  In a quick pre work visit to the lake in the morning, 3 Wigeon were my first of the autumn.

After work on the 4th, a noisy flock of 4 Common Sands were flying around the spit, the regular adult Yellow-legged Gull was present again and 13 Teal represented a small influx.  It was interesting to see about 60 Pied Wagtails flying over east to roost.

Not much pre-work on the 5th, but a steady passage of Swallows S/SE numbered in excess of 300 birds by the time I left. 2 Yellow Wagtails over here and 1 more at Pump Lane.

On the 6th, it was nice to see a Spotted Flycatcher at Pump Lane - this bird was near the warehouse.  The following day, it or another was near the aerial compound and a Wheatear was in the paddocks.  Best birds of the day though were 4 Raven flying north over the lake early morning.  They appeared quite high from the SW and were flying as 2 singles and a pair, though may all have been a family group.  The pair were tussling and cronking as they flew.  I don't see many Ravens here, though they are fairly regular over the woods not too far away, so nice to get them on the patch list for the year.  A single Yellow Wagtail over, a couple of Little Egrets and 2 flocks of Shoveler (4 and 5) flying over were also notable.

I should also mention that the last of the Common Tern colony departed last weekend, last seen on the 30th.  I last saw birds on the 29th.

Now where is that Redstart!  They seem to have been everywhere else but here in some numbers this year.