Showing posts from 2019

Broom GPs

A final visit of the year to Broom that started off well with plenty of movement overhead. The plan was to spend a little longer here today to check the waterbodies for winter wildfowl.  It was a lovely morning, not too cold, and with high cloud pierced by the low winter sun.

The Goosander from yesterday had disappeared so we were back to normal for wildfowl counts albeit with the usual fluctuations in numbers.  Across the lakes  68 Wigeon, 13 Shoveler, 14 Gadwall, 13 Teal, 13 Tufted Duck, 10 Great Crested Grebe, and a single Pochard represented reasonable mid-winter numbers.  A total of 157 Coot were present on the main lake.  112 Black headed Gull, 33 Common Gull, and 2 brief adult Herring Gull were congregated on GLE.
A Peregrine shot through over GLE sending everything skyward before disappearing off to the east.
The real surprise came in the form of an adult winter Little Gull that was associating with the Black headed Gull on the main lake. It didn't appear to hang around f…

Broom East GPs

A while since I'd visited Broom that was rewarded with a surprise drakeGoosander that drifted along the length of GLE.

Other than the sawbill, it was pretty routine with counts of 48 Wigeon, 13 Gadwall, eight Teal.
Overhead, a paltry seven Lapwing moved through with a decent number of Fieldfare commuting over the pits.

Whipsnade Zoo - Black-throated Thrush

Sadly no photos of the Black-throated Thrushbut grateful that I got to see it as unfortunately it failed to reappear after around midday.  Feeding on a cotoneaster bush with Redwing, Blackbird and a single Fieldfare, the contrast of its black neck and white underparts made it a surprisingly striking bird.

A strange setting for a new species but it made for a good day roaming around the enclosures and the warm and humid biomes of the Butterfly House.

Lunch at the River Cottage Kitchen is highly recommended providing lovely views over the Chilterns.

Broom GPs

A dull and dreary day with the status quo well and truly set now for the winter.  Hopefully there will be a few oddities over the season but today was a case of as you were sir.

Totals from an hour this morning;
Shoveler 41  Gadwall 52 Wigeon 10 Teal
1f Pochard 4 Great Crested Grebe 200+ Golden Plover 3 Common Snipe 3 Common Gull 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull 12 Cormorant 2 Goldcrest 2 Mistle Thrush 8 Fieldfare

Pennington Marshes - Semipalmated Sandpiper

When the alarm rang at 5am, I was in no mind to head out on a cold drizzly morning.  I stayed in bed and deliberated for an hour.  The thought of enduring a tedious drive down to the south coast was not very appealing.  Time was not on my side as kick-off was at 3pm and I had to be back well before then.  Should I stay or should I go.

At 6am I bolted, got myself ready and was out of the door. 

It was a great decision.  Arriving at Pennington Marshes, the leaden grey clouds filled the sky, but it had stopped raining.  The landscape with good visibility was a sight and sound to behold.  The flooded fields and lagoons held good numbers of wildfowl and waders.

The coast path meanders towards the estuary and there was plenty to see en route to Oxey Marshes. 

On the flooded fields, large groups of Lapwing were being shared with good numbers of Golden Plover, Common Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Teal.  A single Ruff was feeding on the pools and two Spotted Redshank flew over.

There was a…

Broom GPs

A respite today from the persistent run of showers and prolonged spells of rain that have blighted parts of the country.  It was a bit grey but perfectly still.

Notable sightings from today from around Broom Gravel Pits;
Gypsy Lane East (GLE) Gypsy Lane West (GLW) 
48 Gadwall (GLE) 44 Wigeon (GLE) 26 Teal (GLE) 7 Pochard (on GLW) 23 Tufted Duck (22 on Main Lake) 8 Great Crested Grebe (1 on GLE, 3 GLW, 4 Main Lake) 125 Lapwing (55 on GLE) 5 Common Snipe (GLE) 1 Red Kite (by Main Lake) 2 Common Buzzard 1 Peregrine 1 Kingfisher c60 Skylark 25 Fieldfare 1 Grey Wagtail 1 Lesser Redpoll (over GLE) 1 Siskin (over GLW) 4 Yellowhammer

Walberswick Marshes - Eastern Yellow Wagtail

A gentle amble across to the beautiful Suffolk coast on a lovely crisp clear morning.

Having parked in the Walberswick car park, I headed south along the beach.  It was glorious.  With the sea to the left and the marsh on the right, there was plenty to see on the lagoons illuminated by the low late autumn sun.  Four Spotted Redshank were present on the lagoons with around 20 Ringed Plover, 15 Dunlin and plenty of Redshank.
A Great Egret rose up from the reedbed and languidly flew towards one of the pools. 

One of my favourite winter birds, the Snow Bunting.  A group of eight were busily feeding on the shingle.

The 20 minute walk down to Corporation Marshes was a real cardio workout.  The Eastern Yellow Wagtail showed well shortly after, scurrying around a small pool and then popping out along the edge of the shingle.  The call was diasgnostic - much harsher than Yellow Wagtail of which one was present but wasn't as vocal.  The two birds together were quite flighty, but always ret…

Titchwell RSPB

A first and well overdue visit to Titchwell RSPB of the year, one of the organisations finest flagship reserves.

The day started cold and clear, and with light winds, it made for a pleasant walk round the reserve.

It was generally quiet with the frenzy of autumn migration now appearing to have reached a natural decline.  On the freshmarsh, the lazy autumn light did nothing to enthuse the waders that roosted peacefully but for the occasional frenzied aerial movement evading in most cases, nothing in particular.  A Merlin was seen cruising through so perhaps the simultaneous burst of activity was not entirely without reason.

Groups of Avocet, Common Redshank, Golden Plover, and Dunlin were standard fare with Black-tailed Godwit, a handful of Knot, decent numbers of Ruff, Curlew and a few Grey Plover providing the wader assortment.

Along the shoreline, the tide began to rush in.  Active groups of Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Sanderling, and Turnstone added more variety.

The sea was …

Broom East GPs

Some decent variety today but wildfowl numbers seem to have settled now albeit with minor fluctuations.  The following minimum counts were;

44 Gadwall
41 Wigeon
26 Teal
1 Shoveler
2 Common Pochard
2 Tufted Duck
1 Great Crested Grebe

An approximate count of 270 Lapwing were circling the area and 37 high flying Golden Plover were noted headed west.

Three Common Snipe roosted on the large island and there was a decent congregation of larids that included 23 Common Gull, 22 Lesser black backed Gull, and four Herring Gull.

A female Sparrowhawk flew through as did four Redwing.

Around 40 Skylark were present again and a pair of Stonechat were active near the pond.

Fowlmere RSPB / Broom East GPs

A bit of a change today, deciding to head over to my closest RSPB reserve at Fowlmere.

It was generally very quiet but the Barn Owl showed really well as it sat in its nesting box viewed from the Reedbed hide.

A female Bullfinch and a Treecreeper were seen on the walk round.

In the afternoon, I headed over to Broom where over 300 Lapwing passed overhead, none of which stopped to settle on the pits.
I carried out minimum counts of the wildfowl with the following results:
51 Wigeon 48 Gadwall 37 Teal 5 Shoveler 4 Common Pochard 3 Little Grebe
Also of note were five Skylark, two Yellowhammer, a single Common Snipe, and 15 Common Gull.

Broom East GPs

Another productive day with plenty of interest.

The feeling of Winter was palpable today with a real changing of the guard.  Wigeon numbers were slightly higher today with 42 counted on the pit.

Five Common Snipe and a paltry nine Lapwing were the only waders of note.  Gull numbers have increased with 85 Black-headed Gull and two Common Gull resting on the exposed mud.

There was plenty of activity over the fields with encouraging numbers of at least 40 very flighty Skylark, three Stonechat present in the tall ruderal, a single Yellowhammer, and 19 Fieldfare over.

A Grey Wagtail flew onto the muddy fringes.

Broom East GPs

It's been a few weeks since visiting my new patch and it was interesting to see an increase in wildfowl.

At least 45 Wigeon were present on the pits with six Shoveler.  There were some real highlights that included 120 Lapwing and 70 Golden Plover passing overhead.

A Common Snipe and Little Egret were present on the islands.

The main highlight was a juvenile Peregrine that flew in at speed and pinned a Teal, tearing chunks out of it while it despairingly attempted to wriggle free.  Nature at its savage best.

Scillies Roundup

Great Northern Diver - one drifting off Porthcressa Bay
Gannet - common offshore
Cormorant - 1 off Porthloo, and 1 off Penninis Head
Shag - Common around the islands
Little Egret - 1 in Old Town bay and a few offshore
Grey Heron - a few around St. Mary's
Mute Swan - 2 on Great Pool - Tresco
Mandarin - female on Porth Hellick
Blue-winged Teal - 1st winter on Porth Hellick
Pink-footed Goose - 2 flying over Porth Hellick
Gadwall - Great Pool - Tresco
Teal - present on Porth Hellick and Great Pool Tresco
Green-winged Teal - dodgy putative juvenile on Newford Duckpond
Mallard - common around the island
Honey Buzzard - one over Telegraph while attempting to locate the YB Cuckoo
Sparrowhawk - a couple of sightings on St. Mary's
Kestrel - 1 or 2 seen daily
Peregrine - a couple of sightings on St. Mary's and one on St. Martin's
Pheasant - a couple seen on St. Mary's
Water Rail - a few heard and one seen from ISBG hide Lower Moors
Spotted Crake - incredibly confiding individual Lower Moors

Scillies - Day Fifteen

An interesting marked change in the weather with the moderate south-westerlies replaced by a cool northerly breeze.  This was the final morning of the trip and there was real interest in the air with the first proper arrival of winter thrushes.  Large flocks of Redwing coursed overhead emitting their diagnostic 'seep' calls as they moved over Penninis Head.  Pipits and Larks were also conspicuous with this Skylark hitting ground with a couple more passing through.
You just felt that if these northerlies persisted, the coming week could be an interesting one.  It makes it so frustrating to leave.
These islands definitely have a hold on me.  I cannot emphasise more just how magical they are.

Scillies - Day Fourteen

The weather was still lively on the final full day.  Watching the storms pass by the Isles always provides a sense of vulnerability of how exposed the archipelago is to the weather systems that power along the south-west corridor.

Highlights of the day featured a Common Redstart along the Penninis Trail still present from the day before.  The long-staying Red-backed Shrike was also in the same area, flying from the trail and later viewable from the coastal path near the Old Town.

Two Yellow-browed Warbler were noted, one in the dump clump where the Red-breasted Flycatcher was giving typically fleeting views with the other by the Cricket pitch.

A Chiffchaff at the dump clump, two Kestrel, and 56 Herring Gull on Porthcressa were other noteworthy sightings.

Scillies - Day Thirteen

A much slower day yesterday with a lot of distance covered with very little seen over the course of the day.

A Common Redstart was seen along the Penninis Trail first thing - one of my favourite birds.

The Spotted Crake was again showing to a couple of metres along the boardwalk through Lower Moors.
The Blue-winged Teal was roosting at Porth Hellick with a Grey Wagtail present toward the back of the pools.
Three Swallow wheeled over the lake and four Chiffchaff were seen at various points during the amble.
A flight view of the Blue Rock Thrush was all I could manage on the walk around Penninis Head in the late afternoon.