Monday, 28 September 2015

Fudged it!!

With the recent run of North to Northeasterly wind I have found myself camped out at the Farm. There has been a distinct lack of rain and cloud but the wind has been perfect. Having left Sunday lunch time with only a few migrants to show for my efforts I could not help but think that something was due to turn up in the Vice County.

I was not expecting the next addition to my Vice County list and I guess I could not have been further away from my car when the news broke. I actually made good time from Haringey to home but also had commitments early evening therefore getting back through the rush hour was going to put me to the test. This twitch was going to be a challenge!

Life was made easier by some precise directions from Dave Harris and before I knew it I was feasting my eyes on the Ferruginous Duck which was sticking like glue to a small group of Pochard. Thanks Ninja!

The smaller size in comparison to the Pochard was my first observation. The long bill and round peaked head and dark back with lighter flanks were evident. The white rump patch was also visible.

I was hoping this bird would also flap its wings showing the white panels. I did not have to wait too long before I had splendid views of this through my scope. Unfortunately capturing the moment is lacking finess!

The bird also obliged showing its white belly patch with white and grey underwing having raised itself out of the water during a wing stretch.

That was definitely worth the slog across town and country. Vice County tick number 227 was in the bag. Fantastic!

I was joined by Jeremy Gates who had a look at the duck through the scope before it moved off with the Pochard into the sun.

Time was pressing on but and rush hour traffic was looming! JG passed on a life saving traffic avoiding tip which incidentally did save me a good 30mins on the way back! 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Day of the Ducks!

I decided to take a different approach to gaining access to The Farm today under the cover of darkness and wearing full regalia I was dropped onto Mount Beddington. I kept low for a while to surface at around 10am having circulated Pyros find a Cetti’s Warbler near the hide. This bird did call infrequently during the day.

The number of duck on the lakes has been slowly increasing throughout the month. The North Lakes water level is particularly high following recent rain. This has flooded the islands presenting ideal habitat for the ducks.

The Garganey was still taking advantage of these conditions but was on the West side of the lake by Elands Island this morning. A small group of Pochard were also patrolling here.

Tufted duck were scattered all over the lake some preferring the deep channel in front of the Sand Martin bank to feed. A couple of birds did seem a bit tamer than the rest perhaps they were Beddington park birds on a day trip. They must have been disappointed at our lack of supply of bread!

The Shoveler were however very wary of our presence remaining within the confines of the island edges. Many of these birds were still in their eclipse plumage.

The Teal have made their home in the now flooded channel in the centre of the largest of the Islands. Their blissful existence was infrequently disturbed by a Sparrowhawk which had the flock of around 40 birds dispersing in all directions!

The family party of Mute Swan were causing their own form of havoc on the lake busy practicing their flight techniques. They appear to have mastered the take off and flight but the landing stage had every inhabitant on the lake diving for cover.

Wigeon, Mallard and a mobile group of Gadwall were to complete the line up of ducks on the lake. Three Buzzard was the highest count in the sky at one time.

I settled in for the afternoon  on top of the Sand Martin bank with the NE to E wind picking up and a band of cloud moving in. The weather looked promising but would it produce a rarity! I was caught by surprise by a more regular visitor to the Farm, a pair of Little Egret that appeared from the SW and after a lap of the lake departed NW. A lone Egret was to make up the count some time later.

I left at 1700hrs with the taste of the tip on me but it was an enjoyable day! There are more E winds tomorrow. Who knows what that will bring!

Other sightings today:- Hobby, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 2 Kestrel, 7 Buzzard, 3 Whinchat, 2 Wheatear, 3 Stonechat, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 8 Swallow

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Garganey is Top of The Pops!

A few Wryneck have popped up in the South with the most recent found on Staines Moor. This species is still a Surrey tick for me having missed two at The Farm and numerous in the Vice County.

The only way of guaranteeing to add one to my list is to find one myself. The mounds at The Farm were my target for the morning. The weather was surprisingly calm and quite pleasant for stupid o clock in the morning! I slowly zig-zaged my way across the uneven surface checking the borders of the truck created paths.

The first species of note was a couple of Yellow Wagtail and a Wheatear which flew low between two groups of newly planted trees/shrubs. A skylark was joined by a group of Meadow Pipits shortly afterwards.

I meandered down to the lagoons which were almost devoid of birds. A couple of Green Sands did make an appearance en route to the SE corner. I took a short hike to the top of the next mound which has a small volcano type flat indent at the top. This is a good place in winter for Jack Snipe and Snipe when the top becomes sodden. As I reached the top two birds took flight from the top of a raised scrub like bush. One called confirming its identity as a Tree Pipit. Both flew off towards the SE corner.

I made my way along parkside which is another good area with its trees and line of bushes with grassy path like areas to stalk my intended quarry. Sadly the search was in vain and I returned to Kojak’s Corner to continue a vigil across the lakes.

I was joined by Pyro who spied the Garganey which was having a nap close to the top end of the southern island. This bird was to show well at various times during the day. A group of Wigeon and a Common Sandpiper were still present. A few Siskin and Mistle Thrush passed though along with a mix of hirundines during the morning.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Barred Warbler on the Moors!

I spent the morning at the Farm with the Barred Warbler at Staines Moor pecking away at my mind. Even revolutionary and Beddington Observatory inhabitant Pete "Pinpoint" Alfrey had made the reasonably short journey to see this rare London / Spelthorne (Surrey!!) bird. I can't remember too many birds he has twitched outside the Farm!

I cannot explain why I had not been to see this bird earlier during the weekend. But when Pinpoint reported the bird was showing frequently and there were only a few onlookers I made a swift exit from Kojak’s corner to see the bird.

I was wearing in a new pair of walking boots. This came off the good idea list as I made the trek across the moors to join a very small group who were watching a couple of bushes laden with berries.

The Barred Warbler did not take long to show itself as it tucked in to the feast of berries on the bushes. A couple of minutes later the bird would disappear into cover only to emerge again about five minutes later.

The presence of a Lesser Whitethroat gave good comparison as to the greater size and overall greyer plumage of this rare warbler. After watching the bird for around thirty minutes I turned tail and made my way back to the car stopping to watch a Whinchat that was posing very nicely indeed for the paparazzi!

The warbler is my second bird seen in the UK. The last was on Isles of Scilly and joins Bluethroat and Brown Shrike on my Staines Moor rarity list! But does not make my Surrey list as this area is outside the Vice County! A fantastic find on an extensive area!