Friday 25 January 2013

Black Park & Eastcote - 25 January 2013

The weather looks less than promising this weekend so we decided to take one of our trips to Black Park lake and try to hand net Mandarins. This is something we do when it's too windy to do a full session using mistnets elsewhere in the park. When we've tried this before, we usually find the birds rather nervous of people - and the dogs that love leaping into the lake.


Much of the lake remained frozen.

The Mandarins kept their distance although they been much more confiding during the recent cold snap. We counted 31 in total.

However we did see a Goosander, the first we've ever seen there but it only stayed 20 minutes or so before departing, presumably to find somewhere with better feeding opportunities.

So, we moved on and after a fantastic breakfast at Griddles in Uxbridge, we went to see Mike and Margaret in Eastcote. They had seen two Waxwings outside their house on the previous day and, since Mike also rings, were trying for a catch. When we arrived just one had been seen coming to Pyracantha berries in a garden opposite.The 20ft net was in place - although success was unlikely with just the one bird present. Chris put out the audio lure but this didn't seem to be helpful as the bird flew off before long. The box was taken in and Mike put up a 60ft in the garden. We continued frequentmonitoring of the nets and an hour or so later the Waxwing had returned with pals and up to 12 birds remained throughout the day.

There was a lot of loafing in between feeding forays.

They rather liked the berries in the garden up the road.

Guttering became a convenient drinking trough.

We managed to catch a 5M bird in Mike's garden.

Later two more birds were caught in the neighbour's garden across the road. The bird below is a 5F.

We were later joined by two more members of the group, neither of which had seen thesebirds in the hand before, but there were no more captures. Many thanks to M&M for their hospitality. Ringing's always better with tea and biscuits. 


Waxwing - 3

Thursday 24 January 2013

Richings Park GC - 22 January 2013

A pm visit was made to the golf course in the hope of possibly catching some of the twenty Waxwings seen the previous day feeding on rose hips, but alas failed to produce even a sighting of one, and although there were quite a few Fieldfares around, we failed there too, and only managed a few golf course birdies.

The worst was to come at the end when we found they had called it a day early due of a lack of golfers, apparently trying to find white balls in the snow is a bugger and the gates had been locked! We managed to find someone who lived on site to let us out, thankfully.

Total: 4

Green Woodpecker (1)
Dunnock (1)
Robin (1)
Blue Tit (1)

Queen Mother Res & Staines Res 21 January 2013

Another visit to Queen Mother and a walk around the reservoir again, produced the expected Black-throated Diver, Long-tailed Duck, a single Buff-bellied Pipit, with the addition of a single Sanderling.


Buff-bellied Pipit

A quick visit to Staines Res afterwards to pick up the male and female Scaup, the Black-necked Grebe and a single Dunlin on the bank.

Queen Mother Res - 14 January 2013

A quick visit, taking an energetic walk around the 3 mile plus bank before work to see the Black-throated Diver. The Long-tailed Duck was also still present along with three Green Sandpipers.

Sunday 13 January 2013

Berkshire Birding - 13 January 2013

We decided to have a bit of a run around to pick up some of the most interesting birds to be reported in our locality. The first stop was Moor Green lakes to try for the Pallas' Warbler, initially put out as a Yellow-browed. We joined the crowd on a narrow path by the river to try for a glimpse of the warbler and managed  a mix of moderate and poor views against the back drop of a sun that shone low in the sky.

As we made our way back the sky was clear and the temperature below freezing. On the lakes, we saw Pochard, Wigeon and Tufted ducks, amongst others. There was a single Goosander and a couple of Little Egrets.

Next we went to Ceasar's Camp, the remains of an Iron Age Fort, where a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker had been reported.

We saw very few birds and there was no sign of the LSW.

Next we set off for Staines Moor in the hopes of seeing the Short-eared Owls.

The water level was high. We had a couple of Water Pipits, including one that was seen as it foraged along the waterline from just across the river.

As the cloud front advanced, we saw at least three owls in their favoured area of the moor. If you look closely, you will be able to see the photographer that insisted in staying in their favoured area. He had to attempt to get closer and closer. At least one disappeared over the reservoir bank.

The last location on the agenda was Horton Gravel pits. The Buff-bellied Pipits were most obliging. The birds were seen close to some puddles were there were several Pied Wagtails.

The pipits are somewhere behind the largest puddle. We couldn't help wondering where the wagtails usually roost.

Saturday 12 January 2013

Beaconsfield Motorway Services - 11 January 2013

Accompanied by EP, ESA and RMA we travelled from Chobham Common to the services on the M40 to see whether a Waxwing catch might be possible. Since they were first spotted at our previous attempt for Pied Wagtails on the 4th, the numbers have reached in excess of 40. Sadly, there were only 7 birds at the usual spot. They were still loafing in the tall trees and making forays down to the ornimental berry bushes on the services access road.

Netting looked difficult as the bushes were densely planted and mistnets could only be erected behind the planted area. The chance of catching from 7 birds was much reduced than had there been a larger flock.

We were relying on the birds flushing away from the rosehips as large vehicles travelled along the entrance  road. We had seen them doing this earlier in the week, but these birds had learnt to ignore the traffic and we were unlucky. The net came down and we took a break until it was time to set nets for the Pied Wagtail roost. 

We again tried nets either side of the roost trees. The birds again dropped into the coach park for a toddle about before retiring to roost. When they did move to the trees they flew high and dropped in, rather than gaining height gradually from the tarmac ( and potentially being intercepted by a mistnet.) There definitely appeared to be an element of net evasion going on and the catch was poor as a result. Again, there were no retraps.

Pied Wagtail - 5 female

Pied Wagtail, adult male


Pied Wagtail - 6

Chobham Common - 11 January 2013

We started the day with a team of seven and set most nets to target the area close to the railway line. It was a promising start with a few birds being brought back as people returned from setting the nets.However the morning continued with few other birds being caught. We saw and heard Dartford Warbler several times, but the hoped for late morning 'wave' that had been observed at other sessions in the area never materialised. We packed up and some of us went on to reccie the Waxwings at Beaconsfield Services.

5 male Reed Bunting

Goldcrest - 2
Reed  Bunting - 6

Sunday 6 January 2013

Stanwell Moor - 6 January 2013

We had intended to set up over the flooded meadow, but mist and associated dampness made us decided to walk the site rather than ring, which as it turned out was not to be a bad decision. There were few birds on the meadow, just a couple of Snipe and no Linnet flock present. We had therefore, potentially saved ourselves a lot of hard work for probably little return. We checked out our summer ringing ride and found the whole area was completely flooded, and is looking like we may struggle to get the sallow reduction done before the breeding season unless we have a lack of rain for some months. I did mange to flush a Bittern from the end of the ride though.

Saturday 5 January 2013

Chobham Comman - 5 January 2013

Now that the Christmas and New Year holidays are over the weather has definitely taken a turn for the better and Chobham was viable due to low wind speed. There were nine people from the ringing group going so we split off to target Dartford Warbler. We had walked the common on New Year's Day and saw four Dartfords and some Stonechats at that time. Having picked our spot we erected a double double and put a tape on. We also put up one full height net. Sadly, we didn't get any Redpoll and it was some time before we managed to catch a Dartford Warbler. We rejoined the group to find that they had failed to catch at all. At one point we saw a wave of birds that were feeding together and visited some pools to take on water. If there had been a net in the right place we would have got some of the 30+ Reed Bunting, Redpoll, Coal Tit, Goldcrest and Meadow Pipit - but our net was 100m too far to the right so, on this occasion we had to be content with our one Dartford. Congrats to Liz who got to ring Dartford for the first time.

Dartford Warbler - adult male

Beaconsfield Motorway Services - 4 January 2013

The team arranged to meet at 3.30pm to try for Wagtails and were treated to a view of 28 Waxwings in the tall trees around the services perimeter.

We quickly put up a 60ft net in front of the roost trees and hastily put on a sound box, playing Waxwing (just in case), while we erected a couple of double panels behind the main roost trees. Of course, the Waxwings departed leaving us to the Wagtails and as the light failed the Pied Wagtails congregated on the roof before flying in to roost.

The double panels worked well and increased the number of birds caught to 26. Unfortunately, one bird could not be ringed due to deformation of both feet. It was interesting to find that several birds exceeded the expected weight on IPMR Apparently the feeding must be quite good on the nearby refuse tip.

Total: 25

Pied Wagtail - 25

Black Park Country Park - 4 January 2013

Our first session of the new year was to Black Park. We were hoping to get more birds than the last time, and we did! Sadly, our 50% increase resulted in a rise from 2 to 3 birds. They were all Goldcrests. We did see a flock of 30 or so Siskin, 7 Crossbill. a few Redpoll and a Red Kite. The cafe was full of last school holiday parent and their kids, so was given a miss but a quick check of the lake revelaed 24 Mandarins. Other than that, there wasn't much about, so no more sessions are planned until February.

Total - 3

Goldcrest -3

Queen Mother Reservoir - 2 January 2013

A pre-work walk around the three and half mile reservoir perimeter was mainly done to the see the Slavonian Grebe which was closed to the bank at the southern end and the Long-tailed Duck which was also close in at the opposite end. A large female Peregrine was on the usual mid reservoir tower.

Wraysbury GP and Chobham Common - 1 January 2013

A morning wander around Wraysbury GP complex revealed eight Smew (four drakes) and fifteen Goosander, but otherwise there did not seem to be a particularly high number of passerines present.

An afternoon visit to Chobham Common amongst the throng of New Years day walkers as a bit of a recce for a future ringing sessions, we managed to locate four Dartford Warblers and four Stonechat, but otherwise seemed to lack any Redpolls or other Finches in any significant numbers.

Hilfield Park Reservoir - 30 December 2012

After a sustained period of dank, dark days that spanned the festive period, it was a real relief to be able to get out to join the guys from Maple Cross under clear blue skies. The catch was modest and made up, mainly of re-trapped visitors to the feeding station. The feeders are stocked up regularly and these birds obviously know that return visits are worthwhile. Rail traps were also set and I was fortunate enough to get the only new bird of the day. It was my first Water Rail but the third ringed at the site in recent weeks.

Late in the session a single waxwing flew over.
Water Rail, adult