Thursday, 27 July 2017

Beddington Farm - Warblers and an Oik!

The mornings are beginning to draw in which is a good thing if you are banding because the start times are not as stupid as stupid o clock! Rain was forecast for later in the day therefore there was a chance of something else turning up beforehand.
The day manning the nets turned out to be a good one with two new species to add to my own worksheet. The first was a Garden Warbler which is an annual occurrence at the Farm but generally does not linger for any length of time. It was great to be able to examine this species in the hand. The plain appearance of this bird distinguishes it from other warblers.
There was also a movement of Sedge Warbler today with most journeys being interrupted in the margins of the lakes. Juvenile and adult birds were processed.
My first net Goldfinch found a net along the edge of the South Lake. A splendid male bird was temporarily detained and processed.

Shorebird of the day was an Oystercatcher which was initially picked up by Frank over the South Lake. The bird flew a small loop over the North Lake before flying over the mound and out of sight. It was a shame this bird did not stay but I guess it was put off by the number of gulls on the lakes. Tank took a walk around the site but could not re-locate the Oik! Common and Green Sandpiper made up the shorebirds numbers for the day.

I’m back at the Farm tomorrow morning to check the nest boxes with Derek Coleman. Rumour has it the Tree Sparrows have had another brood!

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Beddington Farm - Garganey Grounded by Storm!

Today’s visit to the Farm was two fold one to complete a WeBS count the other with a feint expectation of what the storm might have dropped in. Every corner of the site would be covered. After yesterdays torrential rain the ground was always going to be on the soggy side and difficult in parts to traverse but my objective was clear.

The focus today was on ducks and shorebirds so without wasting any time I started at the North lake. It did not take long to spy a Garganey in front on the main island. The bird was roosting on the water behind the raft.
The next challenge was to get some pictures of the bird. The path along to Eland’s Island was clear so I took a short walk along the lakes perimeter and then waited for the bird to stir. Some thirty minutes later and the bird was contently feeding on the green algae.

A group from the Croydon RSPB was on site this morning and the Garganey was the perfect start to their day. The group observed a Peregrine that had taken a disliking to a Kestrel that was hunting over the South Lake and a short pursuit ensued but lunch was not served as a result!

The rest of the morning was also productive with Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper and Lapwing making up the species of shorebird. The ducks were represented by single figures of Gadwall, Teal, and Shoveler. Mallard and Tufted completed the species list.
A Little Egret had snuck onto the North Lake by the time the group had made it to the top of the landfill.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Beddington Farm - A First in the nets!

Banding days at the Farm have been busy of late with numerous juvenile birds dispersing. Cetti’s Warbler is one species that has flourished with the change in lakeside habitat. To think that over five years ago this species was considered a MEGA at the Farm. Today we had four birds in the nets which indicate a healthy population.
The lack of eye stripe one of the features of a juvenile bird.

The first record was on 100 Acre on April 5th 2002. My first sighting of this species was on October 10th 2009. This at the time was the 2nd record found by John Allan by the hide on the North Lake.

Today the weather suggested the day would be more productive than it turned out but there was a steady flow of birds with the best saved until last.
Just as Frank, Mike and I were beginning to close up for the day a juvenile Magpie landed in a net on the South Lake. Magpies are common birds in England so what was the big deal. This bird was a first in the nets for Beddington Farm. The bird was processed by Frank and released.

What a great end to the morning!

REF: The Birds of Beddington Farmlands by Alfrey,Milne, Coleman and the BFBG. Beddintgon Farmlands Bird and Wildlife Report 2012.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Hertfordshire - The Doves having a Laugh!

I was up at stupid o clock this morning to take a relatively short journey to Hertfordshire for the Laughing Dove which has been present at Sandon for around a week.
This species is a breeding resident in Africa and was a regular feature during my birding adventures in Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana and Namibia). I also recorded birds in Tanzania whilst following the Wildebeest and zebra migration through the Serengeti.
They also breed in the Middle East and around India. Laughing Dove has been introduced to Perth and established itself in Western Australia, and originally introduced to the Middle East (inc: Turkey, Israel).
This Dove is small and is a striking mix of pink through the head with cinnamon through the mantle and breast with grey blue forewings. The breast has a diagnostic black speckled necklace which with its plain cinnamon back distinguishes it from Turtle dove.
They are not considered a migratory species but in the words of some information sites can turn up anywhere. They have adapted to gardens and city centres and can be quite tame. It is highly likely it has escaped from a collection but birding does turn up anomalies every once in a while.
I enjoyed my time viewing the bird. I was the only one there for a good hour as I wandered around this peaceful English Village. I hope the residents (who were very birder friendly) are successful in thwarting the proposed wedding venue to be situated in the village!

At least I nailed some pictures which is more than can be said for the Marsh Sandpiper earlier in the week!
Ref: IBC Bird Collection, Wikipedia, Sasol Birds of Southern Africa, Helm Birds of East Africa.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Beddington Farm - Shorebirds on the Move!

This morning I headed over to the Farm to see if the rain had dropped any new shorebirds in. I bumped into Pete Alfrey as I was parking up and a plan to meet up on 100 Acre was hatched. The water levels had risen quite considerably making 100 Acre the most likely area for new arrivals.

I met Pete at the gates and the search began. This was going to be a careful investigation with all likely beds to be covered. The species that became the bookies favourite was Black-tailed Godwit with Pete particularly on the look-out for young Yellow-legged Gull that move at this time of the year.
It did not take long to find a juvenile Yellow-legged on Jim’s bed. I must confess I would probably of overlooked this bird but eagle eyed Pinpoint was on it straight away. There were a few shorebirds on the small pit which included an adult and a juvenile Little Ringed Plover which were surprisingly quite approachable as they scurried about on the mud.
Green Sandpiper was also present with a final tally of eight birds in this area. This species numbers tend to build up at this time of the year as birds stay to moult before moving on. Numbers in the past have reached the late forties and of course with that there is a chance of a Wood Sandpiper as well.
With 100 Acre completely covered we moved on to the Lakes where a Common Sandpiper was busily feeding away on one of the few places that still had some exposed mud.
The bookies favourite did not come in on this occasion but I wonder if that was down to the rise in water levels. A bit of gull training which was an un-expected bonus for the morning. See for more gen on gull identification. Cheers Pete!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Beddington Farm - Regular as a Red Kite!

Red Kite is a regular occurrence at The Farm these days. To think that only ten years ago this was a difficult species to see with only a handful of sightings a year. These sightings would also be high fly-overs with little opportunity to get good views of the birds moult pattern.

This species is primarily a scavenger feeding on carrion but will also take live prey and even fish. The landfill still contains food waste despite local councils implementing a collection service. I have noticed in the last few years that Kites are looking to feed on the landfill swooping very low over the site in search of a meal.
Very few birds are successful due to the eagle eyed Corvids that perch and patrol the site. This morning as Mike, Frank and I were ringing one bird attempted to land on the landfill then turned its attentions to us circling over the hide as we were processing our highest tally of birds in the nets  so far this year (61 new and 5+ re-traps).

This species has in the past has been heavily persecuted which led to a committee being set up in 1903 to protect nest sites. In the 1980’s the Kite was one of three species that was globally threatened residing in the UK.

Introduction programmes saw the first successful breeding records in Buckinghamshire and North Scotland in 1992. 1994 saw the first wild chicks being reared. This species is now established in the East Midlands, Central Scotland, Leeds, Derwent Valley, Dumfries and Scotland. Populations in the South are thriving with feeding programmes in place.

Many birds are wing tagged and any sightings should be reported to the BTO.  

Ref: RSPB, Raptors of Europe and Middle East by Forsman.