Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Hilfield Park Res - 28 December 2011

Today we joined the Maple Cross team at Hilfield Park Res, mainly to touch base with a few people, which was fortunate that was the main reason for visiting, as only four new birds were caught along with 18 re-traps. Not an overly busy morning with a team of ten, just about keeping the trainees busy!


Great Spotted Woodpecker - 0 (1)
Goldcrest -1
Blue Tit - 2 (5)
Coal Tit - 0 (1)
Great Tit - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (11)
Lesser Redpoll - 1

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Black Park - 27 December 2011

With the current unpredictable wind conditions we were unsure whether we would get out today or not as we were going to a fairly exposed area, but despite a night of poor sleep, we still struggled out of bed to check that there was little wind, and managed to motivate ourselves out for some welcome fresh air and exercise post Christmas food. We set up at our usual spot on the heath area and had a number of Redpoll and Siskin flying over, plus about 20 odd Crossbill flying around. Initially we did not set up next to a small pond nearby as on our last visit it had not drawn any birds down to drink, but seeing a mixed Redpoll/Siskin flocking come down, we put a 30 across an area of open water and added some cut branches to act as an area for them to use. The pool is often used by finches to bath and drink, though there are a number of wet ditches that ruin of it that also get used, so it can be a bit hit and miss. Some years ago, I had seen Crossbills using the pool, but they are not regular every year in the park, though I have found breeding birds some years ago, and some winters they can be completely absent. We had caught a few Lesser Redpolls, when we had about 10 Crossbills in the top of a high Silver Birch over the pool. After about five minutes they started to work their way down into a mixed Redpoll/Siskin flock that had come down to bath, and eventually through bins I was able to see we had a female caught, then a male and another. We decided we ought to chance our luck and leave it, so we went to extract, as we did we saw a male and female make their way out of the net and off, but we were fortunate enough to have one male and three females still retained in the net. We also caught our first two Siskin at the site. Later we managed another two Siskin, and despite having only caught four at the site, we managed one control, X281176. The day finished with 32 birds in total.

Lesser Redpoll - 3 female

Lesser Redpoll - 3 male

Male Siskin

Siskin 4 female (control X281176)

 Crossbill - 3 female

 Crossbill - 3 female

Crossbill - 3 female

 Crossbill - 3 female

 Crossbill - 3 female

Crossbill - 3 female

Crossbill - 3 male

Crossbill - 3 male

Crossbill - 3 male

Crossbill - 3 female 

Crossbill - 3 female 


Robin - 2 (1)
Goldcrest -2
Blue Tit - 10
Siskin - 4 (1 - control)
Lesser Redpoll - 8
Crossbill - 4

Friday, 23 December 2011

Staines Reservoir 23 December 2011

A quick visit before disappearing into Sainsburys with the rest of the joyess Christmas shoppers, before the weather closed in produced the Great Northern Diver, Shag, immature male Scaup and three Water Pipits. I was unable to locate the two Black-necked Grebes that were probably there, but it did seem worth while spending too long hunting for them as breakfast called!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Home Cottage Farm, Iver Heath - 18 December 2011

As it was below freezing Friday/Saturday night and in the hope of a heavy frost again today we headed off to the orchard. This time we set more nets in the top orchard containing all the fallen apples. As we set up odd Redwings were flying over and about 20 odd Fieldfare we in the nearby hedgerow and a number dropped into the orchard. We had a steady, but quietish morning, but we did succeed in catching one target bird, with a 3F Fieldfare being caught. The last bird of the day turned out to be a 3M Pied Wagtail caught in a 40 foot net in a small copse. The day finished with 18 birds being processed.

Green Woodpecker - 3 female

Goldfinch - 3 male
Fieldfare 3 female

Pied Wagtail - 3 male


Green Woodpecker - 0 (2)
Pied Wagtail - 1
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Robin - 1 (1)
Fieldfare - 1
Goldcrest - 1
Blue Tit - 2 (4)
Chaffinch - 1
Goldfinch - 3

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 17 December 2011

We originally planned to go to Black Park today, but for various reasons decided not to. I did drop in briefly to top up a feeder we had left last week, and hardly any use of it had been made, with it being still more or less full, so the decision not to go might not have been such a bad one in the end. In the afternoon, just out of curiosity and to get out of the house, we made a late visit to Stanwell, setting just two nets in the Willow/reed area to see what was coming into roost. In fact as we found out, very little with just two birds being caught, though a flock of about 15 Fieldfare flew across, fast just above net height. A Peregrine was hunting over the site for a while disturbing the Lapwings.


Wren -1
Reed Bunting -1

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Home Cottage Farm, Iver Heath - 11 December 2011

We decided to try and squeeze in a visit into the apple farm before the forecasted wind and rain came in around midday. The visit did not produce any of the hoped for Thrushes, though a few Fieldfare and Redwing were present in the area. The one thing the visit did show was that time spent in the field birding will provide a bonus for ringing visits, as it will provide an indication of what areas birds are favouring and where the good feeding areas are. This being the first visit to the site for a while, we had no idea where the birds were feeding or what food was available. After setting up we had a walk around to find that the amount of left over apples this year was probably the best in three years and there were a number of rows that were worth setting nets along, further away from the adjacent houses that we set up alongside at the start of the session. The session was very much dominated by Tits and in all we had 36 birds, of which six were re-traps.

Jay - 3 

Chaffinch - 3 male

Wren -1
Dunnock -1 
Robin - 2
Blackbird -1
Goldcrest -1
Blue Tit - 15 (4)
Great Tit - 6 (2)
Jay -1
Chaffinch -1
Goldfinch - 1

A brief session in the garden at home later in the day resulted in the Goldfinch rung earlier at the orchard being re-trapped coming into the garden feeders.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Black Park - 10 December 2011

We had our first run out ringing for a while, on what was for once a still morning, albeit a cold one. Things started off looking promising. Lots of Redpolls coming in, a few parties of Siskins and a number of groups of Crossbills, with one flock totalling about 30, about, but they were only prominent early on and very few birds were enticed down. The catch was therefore quite low with only 13 birds being caught, eight being Lesser Redpolls, one of which was a re-trap from 12 November. mid morning a Woodcock was flushed, but it's escape route was away from the nets. It or another was flushed again about an hour later, but it also headed off in the wrong direction.

Lesser Redpoll - 3 female

Wren -1
Blue Tit - 1
Goldcrest - 3
Lesser Redpoll - 7 (1)

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Suffolk - 4 December 2011

A visit yesterday to see a Great Grey Shrike at Slough SF had been unsuccessful mid pm, but today heading along the A14 at 70mph near Bury St Edmunds, a bird flys from the adjacent field/heath (Barham Bottom TL771662), across in front of us, lands in the central reservation on a bush in clear view, and despite passing at 70, with the bird 5 feet or less from the car, we both said at the same time, Great Grey Shrike! So next time you get a report from  a passing train - it might just be true - it does happen! Probably one of the closest views with the naked eye we have ever had, sadly so brief.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 20 November 2011

The first visit for a couple of months, turned out to be a bit of a disaster. Whilst setting up in the willow carr/reed area, we could not find one of the stakes to secure one of the guys to. All seemed to be going well having got a 60 and 40 up, then whilst setting the MP3 player, the 60 guy that was missing it securing stake shot out and the net collapsed (empty) into the reeds. Whilst trying to re-erect the net, the speaker box started emitting a thick amount of grey smoke, which resulted in every cable's insulating casing burning off and I have no idea whether the amplifier or speaker will be of any use. A later attempt to set up another 40/60 nets, resulted again, during setting up, two different pegs coming out, this time with the net ending up in a bramble and other debris. After this you sort of get the hint - pack up and go home, to try another day, so we did! We only managed eight birds in the carr/reed area after managing to get those nets to stay up for a hours or so.

Wren - 2
Goldcrest - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (2)
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit - 0 (1)

Monday, 14 November 2011

Garden - 13 November 2011

Garden ringing is quite infrequent these days, mainly as it is a small area it does not take long for the net to put off visiting birds to the feeders, so we often prefer not to bother and have them still come in, but we decided to give it a run today, with again not much coming in after mid morning, though it was a fairly mild day again. We managed to entice a couple of Goldcrests into the net, a bird we only occasionally see in the garden and have only caught four others.

Goldcrest - 3


Goldcrest -2
Blue Tit - 0 (1)
Goldfinch - 4

Black Park - 12 November 2011

Our second ringing visit to this site on a warm misty morning. Things started well with a catch of 11 Lesser Redpolls at set up, but after that it was a fairly quite session with only 25 birds being processed, with 13 Lesser Redpolls in total.

Lesser Redpoll - female

Robin - 1
Goldcrest - 10 (1)
Lesser Redpoll - 13

Norfolk 5 - 6 November 2011

On the Saturday we decided to head for Titchwell, which turned into a bit of a leisurely meander after spending some time looking for the Yellow-browed Warbler, which give one of us good, but brief views and the other a flight view as it flew over our heads. Pink-foots were flying over in several flocks, a few Red-throated Divers on the sea, also a few Little Gulls, with lots of Gannets and Common Scoters on the sea. A single Avocet, three Spotted Redshanks, 500 plus Golden Plovers, with more coming in at dusk and a single ring tail hen harrier at roost.




Black-tailed Godwit

Sunday saw us heading towards Cley, mainly for the Red-necked Phalarope, which again disappeared for the day, being present the day before and on the following Monday. As the sea had a strong onshore blow we headed for the coastguards and spent a while watching the sea. Many gannets were going by, along with Little Gulls and Kittiwakes, with constant flocks of differing duck species flying north along the coast, including several flocks of Eiders. Three Great Skuas went by and a single adult Pomarine Skua flew up the beach and landed on the Eye field where it spent most of the day. Later a Little Auk was seen in the surf along the shoreline. The reserve still held five Avocets and a single Little Stint was seen. A visit to Blakeney Fresh Marsh afterwards gave a good brief view of the Cattle Egret chasing a cow around the field before it flew back out of sight into a ditch, before we headed off back south.

Spain 23 - 29 October 2011

We decided to give a week near Jerez a try. October half term is not my favourite time to go birding in the Med, as a previous week at this time of year in the Camarague, compared to Spring, was relatively quiet, and this was true again to a certain extent, missing the summer Herons/Egrets, Terns and passerines. Our main hopes were for Marbled Duck and Crested (Red-knobbed) Coot. The coot we had seen in Cape Town, but apart from using a few sources for sites to visit, I did not really do much background work on either species. We did not see either, although a visit a week later seen by the local bird club at one of the sites we had tried, they had ten Marbled Ducks there, so that was a bit of a bugger. Neither are especially common, though a bit of post visit research seemed to suggest the duck is becoming a little more common and obviously the Coot has been introduced to one or two places, i.e Mallorca. A run through of the highlights for the week are as follows:

Sunday 23.

First visit was to Bonanza Salt Pans. They were full of waders and we saw most of the European species, with twenty being seen, and the only common exceptions being Ruff and Wood Sandpiper. Other birds of interest were 36 Great White Egrets, 17 Black Storks, a single Booted Eagle and Osprey, seven Caspian Terns and a few flocks of Lesser Short-toed Larks.

Second visit was to Laguna de Tarelo, an old sand pit that was supposed to be good for White-headed Duck. with the possibility of the two target birds. This is the site where two weeks later 10 Marbled Duck where seen. We saw a few White-headed Ducks, but not in any significant numbers, Purple Gallinulle and a few Night Herons.

Next stop was a quick look around La Algaida pine woods, which are adjacent to the laguna. This is a biggish area which once contained Azure-winged magpies, which by all accounts are now probably no longer found here. Nothing exceptional was seen, quite a few Black Redstarts were present, Short-toed Treecreeper fairly common, with a single Dartford Warbler.

Afterwards a visit to the Monte Algaida Salt pans produce four Black Kites, a single Red Kite, two Ospreys and a Raven.

Monday 24.
The day started with heavy rain and strong wind, so after some misconception which 'Osborne' site was the one that was open to tours and then difficulty finding the one it was, we missed the English tour and spent late am on the German tour, visiting the vaults and Sherry tasting. Afterwards we dropped down to thensea front at El Puerto de Santa Maria, where we saw Mediterranean Gull, Sandwich Tern, Sand Martin, Swallow, and Red-rumped Swallow, plus a probable Crag Martin. Later by the bull ring we saw a Common Swift and again, another poor sighting of what was probably a Little Swift.

Yellow-legged Gull

Tuesday 25.
A trip down to the Tarifa area in an area of farmland just inland from the beach provided views of a flock of about 10 or more Lesser Kestrels, Bonelli's Eagle and the first Griffons of the day. We then went up to the road that runs from Valle del Santuarion back towards the main Tarifa/Algeciras road, and parked up at a view point where we had at least 50 odd Griffons, three Bonelli's Eagles and a single Booted Eagle and a House Martin. The area was full of Black Redstarts. We also had a couple of sightings of Two-tailed Parsha and Long-tailed Blue, none settling to photograph.

Cattle Egret

Afterwards we headed further up theValle del Satuario, cutting across to Los Barrios past the Embalse de Almodovar, where in one of the groves near by a cow had died and an extremely large flock of Griffons, 200 plus, had assembled, but extensive checking failed to reveal any Ruppell's. A single Serin was here. Unfortunately whilst we were there the farmer turned up in a JCB and removed the dead cow, which did not appear to have been opened up yet, appearing only to have some removed fur so far. A shame really as I am sure the Vulture numbers would have got higher during the afternoon if left insitue.

Griffon Vultures

Wednesday 26.
Driving north from Jerez towards Los Palacios y Vilafranca we had a single Short-toed and Bonelli's Eagles. At Los Palacios we quickly checked out the La Laguna de la Mejorada, which really only had a flock of Zebra Finches, plus a single Black and Red Kites. We then spent a couple of hours driving around Brazo del Este which contained numerous, if not thousands of Cattle Egrets, single Squacco and Purple Herons, large groups of Glossy Ibis, over 500 White Storks, a couple of Black Storks, three Booted eagles, a single Merlin and at least, if not more, 15 Marsh Harriers, a couple of Yellow Wagtails and a single Willow Warbler.

Cattle Egrets

White Storks

Lesser Black-backed Gulls, that gather here due to the
American Crayfish that are plentiful in the rice fields

Marsh Harrier

Thursday 27.
We spent the day in Seville. The gardens around the Plaza de America and Espana were full of Ringed-necked Parakeets

Friday 28.
A run out to some of the Lagunas around Jerez, first of all to Laguna de Medina, which is probably the best and easiest to visit due to the boardwalk and hide that has been created. despite much effort and Coot checking, only Eurasian Coot could be seen. A few Red-crested Pochards were on the Laguna, with a single Short-toed Eagle and Black-shouldered Kite overhead, Bluethroat, juvenile Penduline Tit and Reed Warbler were seen.

Moorhen in a bush, if only Crested Coot had been so easy.

Afterwards a visit to Laguna del Taraje was less memorable, as viewing across the water was only from odd vantage points over a barbed wire fence as you walked along a muddy track, which made this site a bit frustrating. The only European Starlings were seen here, as opposed to the numerous Spotless Starlings seen elsewhere during the trip. a couple of Black-shoulder Kites were present in a dead tree.

Saturday 29.
We decided to revisit the Laguna de Medina, and on route we managed to see our first Iberian race of green Woodpecker at Manchon de Hierro. The laguna no longer contained any red-crested Pochards, most of the Black-necked Grebes had gone, but a couple of White-headed Ducks had turned up. Despite a bit of checking, again no Crested Coots could be found, but two Bluethroats, a male Penduline Tit and four Griffons were seen. Afterwards a time filling drive around the road to the Salinas de Santa Maria produced a couple of Ospreys and eight Caspian terns, before the flight home.

View across from Manchon de Hierro, showing two different
scenes, with the impact visually, that wind turbines cause.