Sunday, 16 February 2014

Weekend at Beddington Farm!

My weekend off started with more grim weather rain and SE winds. I had gone to the Farm fully prepared and found a sheltered spot near the Sand Martin bank. I pitched my brolly and started working my way through the mass of gulls that were resting on the side of the mound closest to the tip.

I do not consider myself an expert on Gulls but you can’t go to the Farm and not look at them. They are everywhere on site! My plan with the gulls is to photograph any unusual birds and look at the photos at home and compare features using the Helm book of Gulls of Europe, Asia and N America by Olsen and Larsson. Pete Alfrey is another good option to help identify this tricky group of birds.
(Mediterranean Gull)
After several hours of scanning I could only find a Mediterranean Gull which was successfully digiscoped and a white Herring Gull which could easily be mistaken for an Iceland gull!
The water levels are still high with parts of the permissible footpath blocked by flood water. Shoveler, and Water Rail have been reported from along the path!! There are a lot of ducks taking advantage of these conditions.

Today a few of the Beddington faithful gathered once again with the prospect of a rarity in their minds. The skies were relatively clear the wind was moderate which always presents the possibility of raptors passing through. There were enough Gulls and Corvids loafing around on site to act as an early warning system for any incoming raptor.
(Common Buzzard)
Two Buzzard were seen during the early part of the afternoon. Dodge compared photos of both and confirmed they were indeed different birds. 
(Great Crested Grebe)
A Great Crested Grebe a scarce bird at the Farm was also present on the North lake today. 
(Common Shelduck)
Four Shelduck appeared on the North lake the female seemed to be attracting too much attention from the males and scuttled off.
(El Zorro RIP!)
On returning home I noticed an unusual visitor to my garden. El Zorro hobbled in collapsed and just as quickly passed away! Not the best end to the day but these events did not seem to bother the birds on the feeders!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Grim weather! Great birds!!

The weather forecast was pretty grim today but heavy showers with sunny spells could be the right mix for Beddington Farm. I got up early for a Saturday and toddled off with my bag crammed with kit and bad weather gear....
(Armbands required!)
However on arrival at the farm the Hide was completely flooded with the lakes joined at the middle and the water level was rising! This is the first time I have seen the water this high! With more rain forecast this was not a good situation to be faced with! Wind rain and no cover!!
(Glaucous Gull)
Garry Messenbird and company had travelled up from Sussex to see the adult Glaucous Gull that was found by Devilbirder in the week. This bird had been seen a couple of times from the obs!
(Glaucous Gull photo Devilbirder)
I made an executive decision (and what a good one it turned out to be!) and legged it home to get my fishing brolly which would allow me to sit out the weather to come! As I left I saw Pinpoint and told him what my plan was and of I went driving back through heavy rain.
(Brave souls!)
I timed my windows perfectly slipping back through the gates in sunshine and set up my kit. The rain was on its way and Garry and co left. Pinpoint and I were now ready to sit it out and hopefully this madness would pay off!!
(Kittiwake photo Pete Alfrey)
It wasn’t long before my eagle eyed friend shouted Kittiwake and started rattling off shots. I locked on to the bird in my bins but didn’t even get to raise the camera. The bird seemed to be checking out the two loonies under the brolly and then flew off towards the South Lake!

Nick Gardener passed by stating he had seen the adult Glaucous Gull on the South Lake. Bulldog turned up shortly afterwards searching for this plumage tick for him. Pinpoint left the temporary hide and was replaced by Bulldog. Another shower later and the Glaucous Gull paraded itself along the top of the ridge of the mound at the East side of the North Lake. I bit of shuffling around of the gulls and it disappeared out of view showing briefly as it flew up to re position itself among the masses of gulls behind the ridge.

I sat it out until 3pm and attempted to get to grips with the new camera! This is definitely a work in progress. With only three weeks until I fly out to Paraguay I need to get a shift on! Two Egyptian Geese were the only additions to the day list.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Canons Farm and Banstead Woods!

Today I took the short trip to Canons Farm and Banstead Woods to put some new kit to the test, The Nikon D7100 and Roland R 05 wave/mp3 recorder. The later will certainly help with bird counts in the Atlantic Forest at Laguna Blanca.
(Canons Farm)
First stop was Canons Farm where the fields near the first set of barns were alive with Fieldfare and Redwing. This mixed flock was flighty regularly switching fields in their search of tasty morsels. 
(Flooded Field)
It was also apparent that Canons had gained a pond as a result of the rain! Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Linnets and Pheasant were other farmland species seen on the way to Banstead Woods.
(Banstead Woods)
The entrance to the woods was a bit of a swamp but with wellies at the ready this part of the track was negotiated fairly easily. I made my way to the scrub in search of Bullfinch and it was not long before I heard and then saw 4 birds including a male.  
I returned to the woods and remained there putting my new kit to the test. During this time I saw Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Song Thrush, Blue, Great and Long tailed Tits amongst other regular woodland species.

Overall a good days birding but I need to get to grips with the new camera hence the lack of bird pics! The Roland is an excellent piece of kit with crystal clear sound reproduction. I was surprised at the range of this recorder and would recommend it.