Sunday, 28 July 2013

Evening at Beddington Farm!

(Starling invasion)
I met up with Pete Alfrey late afternoon & embarked on a walk around the Farm. After checking the lakes I walked up over the mound towards the lagoons where a large flock of Starling were occupying one of the beds. The starlings would fly up sporadically all returning to the sludge beds. Numbers where estimated at 1500+. It always amazes me how a flock this big flies perfectly in formation without there being in flight casualties.

Pete lived up to his nickname "Pinpoint" by picking out a Dunlin in amongst the starling. Even when the bird landed on the sludge it took me a while to find the bird. I took a couple of dot shots of the bird before moving on.

A walk over the hill towards Pongo Park had us stop in our tracks as a swarm of starling hurtled past us at great speed. The reason for this soon became apparent as an adult Peregrine Falcon honed into view behind the fleeing pack.

The rest of the walk through to 100 Acre was fairly uneventful a few Green Sandpiper & 3 Common Sandpiper were seen on Jim's bed.

Tree Sparrows were sadly once again not seen. It is estimated that there is only a dozen birds in a single flock on the Farm these days!! Is this because of  habitat change with only a few suitable areas for this species to feed or was there another explanation for this rapid decline?!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Counting on Beddington Farm!!

With waders turning up in various regions of the country I took a trip to Beddington Farm this morning. I was not up early enough to see the Black Tailed Godwit but spent an hour in each of three areas on the Farm. I was going to use a Timed Species Count which is described in the Bird Census Techniques book by Bibby, Burgess, Hill & Mustoe.
(Peregrine Falcon)
First up was the path from Mile Road to 100 Acre. The sun was out which was a surprise as rain had been forecast. I spoke with Pete Alfrey & Tank who informed me the Ruddy Shelduck & a few other birds had been found dead on the site over the last few days. The reason for this was not known. Had the stifling weather caught up on these birds?!

The path was slightly overgrown in places & fairly quiet but I guess the heat was keeping the birds low in the bushes. I recorded thirteen species using the habitat along the path. The pick of the bunch was a Peregrine Falcon that was using a pylon to scan the area for a potential meal.
(Dry area of 100 Acre)
I spoke to Frank & Bulldog at the gate to 100 Acre. The Blackwit had earlier departed SE. I recorded twenty-seven species including a Cuckoo, Green Sandpiper & Common Sandpiper during the hour spent in this area.

The last area I was covering today was the Lakes (N & S).  I recorded twenty-three species in this hour which included a count of 77 Canada Goose, 53 Grey Heron & a brood of Tufted Duck on the S Lake. Surprisingly I did not see a single Tree Sparrow in this area which is a concern as this species has been in decline on the Farm in recent years!

For the Timed Species Count abundance method to work at least fifteen counts of each area at different times of the day & season are required. One count down many to go!!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Ruddy Shelduck at Beddington Farm!

I took a short trip to Beddington Farm this morning in the hope that a Ruddy Shelduck had decided to stay for a few days. Not many records of this species are accepted as there are many birds kept in collections.
(Ruddy Shelduck)
I had not even seen an escaped bird in the UK outside of a collection. I decided it was time to at least have a record of a bird especially as one was at my patch a few miles down the road. I made my way to 100 Acre where the Ruddy Shelduck had been seen earlier in the day & there it was stood on a small island.  I noted six Green Sandpiper & two Common Sandpiper on Jims bed.
Tank informed me of two Cuckoo that were still hanging around the Go Kart track & I caught up with the group just missing the birds. After a chat with Tank & Pete Alfrey I remained on 100 Acre & looked for the Cuckoo one which obliged by perching itself on the fence between Jim’s & the race track.

Pete has recently completed the 2012 site report & I must say it is a comprehensive report on all aspects of life on the Farm. I would recommend the purchase of a copy when it goes to print in the next few weeks. Full details of how to obtain a copy is shown on Pete’s website " Non Stop Birding " which is listed on this blog.

With the sites future as a sanctuary for wildlife in the balance as the result of the proposed incinerator this report will help to raise the profile of an area which has a formidable record for breeding & rare birds

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Weymouth....Dorset Part II

My next stop was at The Ferrybridge Inn at Chesil Beach.  The tide was out but there were Little Tern on the buoys in the centre of the inlet. A Black-tailed Godwit was seen in flight along with an Oystercatcher and a Dunlin was seen along the water’s edge.
(Little Tern)
I had heard that Mediterranean Gull had been seen at Radipole RSPB, this was to be my next port of call. The conditions were perfect with no wind which would improve the chances of seeing  Bearded Readling & Cetti’s Warbler sadly I did not hear or see the former even though they had been reported that morning.
(Reed Warbler)
 I did however get excellent views of Reed Warbler, Whitethroat and a Dunnock who literally walked up to my foot.
(Mediterranean Gull)
Two Mediterranean Gulls were seen though, one of which had a silver ring which I could not read.

The sun was at its height and bird activity had all but ceased so I made my way to Lodmoor RSPB. The only species of any note were five Oystercatcher & two Little Egret.

I then made my way to The Martyrs Inn at Tolpuddle for the birthday surprise which had remained a secret.  Numerous friends & family must have crept into the village under the cover of darkness!!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Portland Bill....Dorset Part I !

Last weekend 13th & 14th July was my ex neighbours 60th birthday surprise gathering & the party was in Dorset. I could not stay with them as the game would be given away so I opted for the Portland Bird Observatory option! Life can be tough!

The traffic Saturday morning was typical for a steamy hot summer day but I arrived safely after a 4hr journey. I have not stayed at the Observatory before but I must say the facilities were perfect and good value for money.
(White Horse)
My first port of call was to stop at The White Horse Osmington Hill which was created in the Limestone in 1808 and depicts King George III riding his horse. A buzzard also made an appearance during my brief stay at this icon on the landscape.  

(Portland Bird Observatory)
Next stop was at the Portland Bird Observatory having seen the number of people & lack of birds at The Ferrybridge Inn at Chesil Beach. I dropped my bag off at the observatory & took a walk to the lighthouse & cast my eye over the Bill & the calm sea. I am not a great sea watcher but a bit of practice wouldn’t do any harm. Gannets, Razorbill & Guillemot were the order of the afternoon.
A Whimbrel flew past the Bill early evening turning inland past the lighthouse.
(Portland Lighthouse)
The evening was spent in the pub practicing Spanish of all things! By 9.30pm I was finished & turned in with an early start in the morning in mind.

Sunday morning soon appeared & so did I but not as early as I had planned!! But the Bill was about a 5min walk away so all was not lost! The weather was calm and surprisingly warm for 6am!
(Northern Gannet)
I settled on the boulders by the Bill setting up my telescope for the distant birds. The sea was almost like a Mill pond visibility would not be an issue here! But would there be birds?! Razorbill were more numerous than Guillemot & Gannet were surprisingly few in numbers compared to the previous day anyway.
Single Shag passed close to the rocks total count 4 birds. I don’t get to see them that often so they are always worth a mention.
(Common Scoter)
Two groups of Common Scoter were also seen flying out to sea. The total count reached 18 birds. Once movements had died down I returned to the observatory & settled up...

Next stop Ferrybridge,  Radipole RSPB & Lodmoore be continued