Sunday, 29 September 2013

Its Ruff at the Farm!

There was only one place to go today with more NE to E winds without so much cloud cover this time but the weather was still too good not to be there! The wind was much stronger but would it be enough to push a MEGA onto the Farm?!

The morning was moving along slowly with a few Swallow and a group of Cormorant flying in leaving and then returning to leave again without setting feet on the lake! Wigeon numbers were up slightly. The Farm does not normally hold many of this species.
A Buzzard flew E before a Ruff appeared completing a circuit of the lake before setting down on the exposed edges on the main island. The moorhens seemed to take exception to its arrival but the bird stood fast and took a welcome rest!

Next to appear was an Arctic Tern which was briefly seen from the hide before Nick and Tank had it quartering the S lake before it departed W. Pinpoint re-located the Pintail on 100 Acre whilst leading a group of Ramblers on a tour of the Farm.
(Ringed Plover)
Tank in his regular Sunday walk around the site had found three Ringed Plover on the lagoons. Pinpoint and I took a walk over the mound and walked the lagoons. A Wheatear that had showed well for the Ramblers could not be found.

The weather continues to look good for the coming week which means I could have a few nervous moments as my phone goes off whilst at work!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Life on hold!!

At certain times of the birding year life has to go on hold. Anyone who does not share the enthusiasm or understand this great hobby will never comprehend the reasons behind this. But at the end of the day it has to be done to fulfill a passion for our feathered friends!

Northeasterly to Easterly winds have continued and when I got up at stupid o’clock this morning there was a tiny bit of rain! Happy days the Farm has almost ideal conditions (The cloud could have been lower!).
Dodge was already on guard in the hide and the morning progressed with a few Wigeon and later some Swallow. The cloud lifted and the sun poked its head out intermittently. This was not good news!  But as the morning progressed the cloud closed in and a few spots of rain fell. The pager and rbnUK wasn’t helping morale with little movement of birds around the Thames area.

Sutton Utd were away at Whitehawk (Brighton) in the FA Cup and I decided to pack up and make tracks towards this match but then Pinpoint called a Ruff which was observed flying towards the lagoons then round towards 100 Acre. Uh oh change decision time! Phone calls were made as a Rock Pipit was seen by the small group in the hide flying N.

(Northern Pintail)
This was proving to be a bad decision as movements dried up and the sharp eyed in the hide headed home! I was determined to stick the day out and was joined by Derek in the hide. The weather was still looking good with rainclouds moving in.
(Northern Pintail)
The first contender in a small wave of movement was a Pintail that arrived out of nowhere and landed on the N lake. The bird joined some teal and made its way to the S lake where it remained. Derek departed leaving me as the last man standing with Pete keeping an eye out from the Observatory window (His flat!). A ringed Plover flew NE over the lake things were definitely looking promising!
(Common Redstart)
Pinpoint came up trumps from the Obs window finding a male Redstart in the communal garden which has been decorated with bird friendly shrubs and feeders. The Obs window has in the past produced two firsts for the Farm in the form of Common Crane and Long Tailed Skua! A Redstart was not in the same league as these two but what a fantastic bird to see.
(Common Snipe)
That was enough excitement from the Farm for one day with a clear divide between cloud and clear skies! Homeward bound to reflect on how to improve my digi-scoping skills and on a good days birding with six completed McMillan lists!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Easterly Blow..!

The weather forecast for the next few days is very Beddington Farm friendly. Easterly winds cloud and the possibility of some rain all combined with the end of September makes things very interesting indeed. I am glad the weather continues into the weekend! I always have one eye on my phone at this time of year. I use rbnUK news which can be linked into via a twitter account.

The Farm experienced a good passage of Meadow Pipit and Wigeon this morning and Buzzard started appearing from all directions. On my phone there were regular reports of Yellow Browed Warbler (YBW) in the country. I have seen a single YBW in Surrey at Blackwater Park on 7th March 2007 which flitted between the Hampshire and the Surrey border. I pondered the thought of one turning up at the Farm!
(Marsh Harrier)
Bird of the day a Marsh Harrier waited for the afternoon to show itself. It was greeted with the usual Crow welcome but did stick around for a short while before getting fed up with the attention it was getting and flying off NW.
(Marsh Harrier)
The E winds continue tomorrow which means more one eye phone watching and hopefully the weekend will bring a fall of birds at the Farm.!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

They All Count!

Beddington Farm is the only place I venture out to these days. Five minute journey no traffic jams to contend with and of course there is the distinct possibility of the unexpected especially at this time of year!

Bird of the day turned up mid morning Pinpoint Pete Alfrey phoned me with news of his find a Grasshopper Warbler on the mound. Once again I was mid count and some distance away! The Gropper was only seen once skulking away as they do so well.  I decided to continue on with my counts waiting for further news!
(Blue Tit)
There was a good movement of Swallows today and the Starlings were also having a feast under the low cloud but there was little wind to encourage a stream of migrants. A Greenshank was seen on one of the sludge beds by 100 Acre. I think there must have been a Robin convention along the path though!
(Grey Heron)
I decided to sit the afternoon out in the hide and complete a McMillan count as well as mess around with digi-scoping. This method of photography I have neglected since buying a SLR but it can still pay dividends with birds seen at distance. Mid afternoon I saw a single wader flying high E but it was too high and did not call but it did inspire a walk over to the lagoons to see if the bird had dropped down onto this area.
The lagoons are an area of sludge beds in front of the works area which attract waders when the water levels are low enough in this area. Today they held a few Pied Wagtails but sadly no waders could be found.

A dozen Linnet and a Skylark (once common on the Farm) were the only birds that were seen on the mound on the trail to and from this area. 

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Windfall at the Farm!

The weather at Beddington Farm was looking pretty good NE to N wind overnight with the N wind continuing into a NW though the morning with low cloud and mizzle to heavy fine rain from 10am (the stuff you get soaked through within a couple of minutes!).

Today I was going to combine a Timed Species Count with a McMillan count on the lakes. I worked out that I should just about get back to the hide before the taps were turned on!
(Sedge Warbler)
There were new entries to the Lakes lists, Garganey, Whinchat , Sedge Warbler and Meadow Pipit. I still havn’t managed to photograph the Garganey or the Whinchat. This was not going to be a great day for the camera despite another lesson in photography from Dodge.

I was just approaching the home straight on the 100 Acre count when I noticed a larger bird with a couple of Green Sand in flight and surely enough a Greenshank landed on Jim’s Bed. I failed miserably to get a picture of the bird deciding not to go too close with the SLR. Pied Wagtail was the only other new bird to this areas list.

As if on cue with opening the gate the mizzle began. Damn it! It would take twenty minutes to walk the path to the hide so I might as well complete the third hour count! No new species were logged and my waterproofs saved me from a soaking!
(House Martin)
I missed a Marsh Harrier which flew SE and Wheatear which were picked up by Pinpoint, Dodge and Tank near the lagoons. Once back in the hide the taps were on full and the skies were very murky. A group of Golden Plover were picked up by Pinpoint flying off W. The local Hobby made an appearance later on.
A few species made the McMillan lists that were not on the Timed Count.. Swallow, House Martin, Linnet, Dunnock, Stock Dove and Tree Sparrow to name a few!
(Great Tit)
I even moved further into the 21st century tweeting sightings kojak020 is my twitter account name and I will tweet the latest from Beddington Farm when I’m there at the weekend!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Duck Fest!

Thursday 5th September

(Egyptian Goose)
The evenings are drawing in with darkness falling just after 8pm. This is a good time of year as duck numbers are on the increase and I do like ducks!! I took the oportunity to to complete an evening Timed Species Count. The trains were kind to me on Thursday so I took advantage of this and whizzed over to Beddington Farm.
(Eurasian Wigeon)
New species are still appearing in each of the three areas. Tonight was to be the highest species counts for the Lakes and 100 Acre. The path had its lowest number of species but I think this was due to it being the third area covered which ended at dusk. 
(Common Sandpiper)
The sludge beds on 100 Acre are looking more inviting to birds with small pools of water on many of them following the rain. This also disperses the waders which makes counting tricky as many birds move beds when you approach them. 

Sunday 8th September

(Eurasian Kestrel)
The weather this afternoon looked interesting with showers from 1pm. The wind for Beddington Farm was not ideal S to SW but there was always a chance of bumping into something good. I stuck with the McMillan twenty species lists and spent the majority of the afternoon at the lakes completing four lists.
(Common Buzzard)
There were good movement of Hirundines with double figure House Martin and Sand Martin. A Swallow was not noted until later on in the afternoon. Common Buzzard and a Hobby were seen prior to the showers.
(Tufted Duck)
I took a walk around the South lake in search of a Garganey but only found Teal a Wigeon and a small flock of Lapwing. A juvenile Garganey was later re located on the North lake.  A Whinchat had been seen on one of the islands earlier in the day. Common and Green Sandpiper made an appearance on the North lake.
(Dark skies ahead!!)
I took a walk around 100 Acre with Tank Green Sandpiper were the only species of note in this area. The skies were looking menacing at this point so it was time to make tracks back to the hide or get soaked. Strangely enough the main belt of rain missed the farm but Wallington and Croydon seemed to take the brunt of the downpour!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Bird with unusual features!!

I had two trips to Beddington Farm this weekend. The first was Friday evening where I carried out my sixth Timed Species Count. I finally got Shoveler onto the grid on the lakes and 100 Acre. The areas seemed busier with birds. 100 Acre was the only area down on the previous counts. I did however photograph a bird on 100 Acre in a small tree at the edge of a dense reed-bed which has caused some interest with the regulars.
The characteristics that have caused interest is the brown on the crown and the complete eye-ring and consensus is that the bird is a Phylloscopus. The bird was Chiffchaff sized but the aforementioned features had me raising my camera and taking a couple of shots. Unfortunately the bird did not call which I’m sure would have solved the intrigue!......EXPERT VERDICT = Blackcap with odd features!
(Mistnet run with a Dodgy geezer!)
Sunday is the only day the refuse tip is not in operation and a variety of activities take place on the Farm including ringing. Dodge had created some new runs on the area known as the triangle. This area is adjacent to the permissible footpath! News headline "Man seen rummaging around in scrub!" came to mind...only thing to do is call the Police!!
(Ringing a juv Blackbird)
I was going to test the McMillan Bird Census Method on the lake. This method involves recording birds up to twenty species in length then a new list is created until twenty species is reached. The second and subsequent lists can have species contained in previous lists as long as the same birds are not counted. There is no time limit placed on completing the lists allowing more time to record species visiting the lakes. The list lengths can be adjusted but I thought I would try out the recommended number! The more lists a species appears on the more abundant it is.

The tricky part to this method was not re-counting the same birds that were using the lakes. A few birds used both the path and the lakes as feeding areas. A plus point was recording counts of all species and their activity on the area.

The path along the side of the lakes was alive with birds but fell short of a complete list. The lakes however produced three lists in just over three hours. 100 Acre was not tested as species numbers were similar to the lakes.
(Eurasian Sparrowhawk)
A lone Wigeon, 2 Gadwall, a Yellow Wagtail, 2-3 Common Buzzards, and 2 Sparrowhawk were new additions to species lists (considering previous timed Species Counts). I left the Farm thinking that the list lengths would have to be modified if I am going to compare the three areas for species richness using this method.