Having spent the majority of March birding in Spain I embarked on my own patch watch challenge. My personal objective was to see Bar-tailed Godwit as well as record the passage of migrants through Beddington Farm. The month ahead was particularly gruelling at times but it had its moments which provided the fuel to continue on with the campaign!
I will begin on a sad and rather worrying note.The Farms flagship species Tree Sparrow was still present but having spent time with Derek Coleman checking the nest boxes there only appears to be two breeding pairs with the possibility of a third that may still be prospecting. A few years ago the BFBG recorded just short of 1000 birds including pulii! Efforts are being undertaken to assist in this species recovery but is it too late! Time will tell!
|(photo by Roger Browne)|
The first week of April provided the perfect start when Dodge picked up a Goshawk flying N over the lake. He was also sharp on the lens providing pictures of this amazing raptor. I certainly did not have this species on my list of possible! Red Kites were on the increase with up to three a day during some periods. The Sutton Peregrines were also regular visitors causing flight chaos amongst the residents!
Great Crested Grebe which is not a common feature at the Farm spent time on the lakes. This species has now been added to my photo gallery. Little Egret and Cormorant were regularly present. The lakes limited stock of fish and eels had to remain forever on guard with a dark torpedo shape whizzing around seizing every opportunity for a meal. One Tench was clearly caught napping as a Cormorant scooped it up in its bill despatching it unceremoniously down its throat!
A record passage of Mediterranean Gull over a few days. The highest tally of twenty one flying N. This species is usually a regular feature during the Winter months but had rarely been seen until this point.
A Male Ring Ouzel thought it had escaped my glances as I checked the sludge beds on 100 Acre with Frank. But the "Blackbird with a white bib!" was not quick enough on this occasion. The bird was re-located hiding in the lower part of a line of trees waiting patiently for the intruders to move on!
Iceland and Glaucous Gulls were seen throughout the month. One large Iceland Gull causing a few id issues amongst observers. This bird is still present favouring 100 Acre.
A good passage of Reed Warbler were processed in the nets along with some very lively Ring-necked Parakeets who left their mark on both Devilbirder and myself. Another lively character was processed today more scars but the bird was fine!
The weather was playing its part with a generally cold rain free month which appeared to hold many birds on the continent until there was a change in conditions. This provided a surge of birds and the best days birding at the Farm for a few years.
This saw my target bird fall and it stuck around long enough to get a few digi-scope shots as it fed on the North Lake.
The appearance of a Temminck’s Stint threw a good morning into chaos as attempts were made to get keyholders to the Farm to see it. This species has not been seen since 2004 and represents the eleventh record. Was it the same bird I had seen the previous day (pic above)!
The birds continued to fall throughout the day with a very obliging Nightingale singing near the gates. A Turtle Dove which flew low S over the lake. Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Greenshank added to the shorebird list. The first Hobby and Whinchat of the year were recorded. Wheatear were also present on the mound
The evening continued with the arrival of Arctic Tern who had a brief look at the lake before flying off E. A thirteen hour day which in the past would have kept keyholders here from dawn to dusk but saw periods when I was the only observer present!
This was a great ending to April with the Observatory (Pete Alfrey’s flat window) providing an early surprise at the beginning of May. A Black Redstart that was feeding in an adjacent garden to his.
Four new birds for my Beddington Farm list which stands at 185 species. One addition to my Surrey Vice County list which now stands at 229 but I will be losing one when the Redpolls are lumped!
The marathon continues into May with a mix of bird banding which has me up at in-describable o clock and stake outs on the corner! We are entering the period of the MEGA but will the Farm produce another surprise?!