Birdbrain Stuff

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Saltholme RSPB

Meadow Pipits, c30 Goldfinch, 6 Greenfinch, 4 Stock Dove, 2 Chaffinch, 6 Tree Sparrow, Dunnock, 7 Reed Bunting, 6 Stonechat, 1 each Herring & GBB Gull, Little Egret. Numerous small gulls.
10 Teal, c7 Pochard, 4 Goldeneye, c12 Tufted Duck, hundreds upon hundreds of Wigeon. A splendid f Scaup standing out from the nearby Tufteds.
Making the trip well worthwhile for mine host DW were 2 lifers, females in both instances: SMEW & RED BREASTED MERGANSER. The Smew was the first I've seen in donkeys years so I was well pleased too.
60 Barnacle & hundreds of Canada Geese along with c80 Greylag. 3 or 4 each of Shoveler & Shelduck and of course lots Mallard.

Curlew were present in good numbers with a few in flight and also Bar-tailed Godwit again showing a healthy count. Two other wader species were seen: hundreds of Lapwing and a single Redshank.
Mute Swan seen into double figures, 1 Cormorant, many Coot and a number of Moorhen.
The finalé to all this was provided by a Weasel giving us the closest view possible as it ran around the center bird feeding area sniffing out food, often coming as close as a metre. We were watching through a window, I must add.

On the way home 2 Buzzard were seen on the motorway.
Thanks for a cracking trip, Dave.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Soil Hill & Ogden

45 Lapwing on Raggalds sports field at 0935 hrs, nothing on the flood. Was up Soil Hill about 15 mins later when the Lapwing flock followed me, heading up the eastern side of the hill. 8 House Sparrows in Perseverance Rd, a single Lapwing & 4 Skylark doin the boogie woogie on the hill top also 2 Common gulls.
Ogden brought tears to the eyes: small gulls, 4 LTT, 2 Robin.
In desperation down to Oats Royd to get just: 1 each of Kestrel, Moorhen, Grey Wagtail. 5 Mallard, 3 tame Geese & couple Goldfinch, small gulls in flight.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Queensbury to Low Moor Dams

Queensbury Sth fields nr High Cross Lane whitewashed in colour 14 Lapwing. Cross Lane frozen bog 2 Snipe, Wren. c9 Rook knocking around in opposite fields.
Got my first Grey Heron of the year at approx 0930 hrs flying over main road in Shelf. Started off in Harold Park at 0945 hrs with 11 Blackbird and 2 Redwing, again an annual tick.

Jug Dam was frozen over with a couple of Moorhen chasing each other on the grass and a stationary Canada Goose which didn't look in the best of health. There were 7 Greenfinch, few Goldfinch and in the distance a singing song Thrush.

On the lake were 2 male & 1 female Goosander, pr GC Grebe, 2 Herring & 1 LBB Gulls alongside the multitude of smaller ones.
Mute Swan have made a return with 2 birds actively swimming around and this individual that never moved during my time spent there.

Yellow ring 694 left leg.
Also 5 pr Tufted Duck, Coots, Moorhens
Park Dam was quiet and it appears the icy conditions have put paid to the Little Grebe as none were seen nor heard. c90 Canada Goose, the Herring & LBB gulls also paid a visit from HPL. More smaller gulls, c10 pr Tufted Duck, Moorhens, Coots, 1 Pied Wagtail, 2 Blackbird, Blue Tits, Starlings.
I noticed throughout the trek that House Sparrows were much in evidence in 3 locations, bucking the national trend still which is good.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Queensbury Ogden Res Mixenden Raggalds

I got some inspiration to go out today with a phone call from my cousin who was on Bodmin Moor nr Camelford yesterday afternoon. It involves Snipe once moor (I likes a larf I does) but with an embellishment; this one was being chased by a kick-ass male Hen Harrier. The outcome is unknown but the observer was rather excited to say the least. Let me assure you my ambitions for today don't encompass such a sighting.

At 0930 hrs I arrived at the Raggalds to find 21 Lapwing on the sports field: the flood was iced over and birdless. I went down Green Lane and up Taylor to Soil Hell, picking up 2 Mistle Thrush, 3 Blackbird, 2 Dunnock, 3 Robin, couple Crows. The top of SH was pure misery with not a single bird however on the way to Ogden Res I espied a Little Owl on the lower western slope.

Ogden Res: Bullfinch, GSW, Dipper, Nuthatch, 2 Coal Tit, pr Dunnock, Song Thrush. The Dipper was in the overflow where it stayed for about an hour. There were many small gulls on the water.
Stod Fold: 2 each of Chaffinch, Blackbird, Gt Tits and splashing about in the stream a Dipper. Mixenden Res had lots of small gulls, 2 LBBG, Grey Wagtail and 2 f Goldeneye.

BS kindly sent me a txt to say 19 Golden Plover were on the sports field at 1314 hrs so I did some manouvres and got to the Raggalds at 1425.

Sure enough they were still present and showing nicely in the sunshine. The Lapwing flock had increased to c28 birds by now.
DW also went down to view them, telling me at 1628 hrs the Goldies were still stationery but the Lapwing flock were moving off.
Turned out to be a really good day with a few annuals added to the current list.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Queensbury North then South

Received this txt msg from DW about 10 mins ago...

Just seen approx 10 Snipe drop into field between cricket club and Fleet Lane. Second field on left when walking away from club; the one with all the rushes.

Thanks a bunch for that Dave. I know exactly which field this is and in the 16 years I've been spoiling Queensbury with my presence I've not seen a wader type in it but often thought there should be. Niceeeeee.

Inspired, I went down to the Cross Lane bog and got a Dunnock only. However at 1425 hrs , 2 minutes after I left incredibly 7 Snipe flew in from NW and dropped down about 40 metres in front of me! There was just a crow or two in the trailer park fields so I headed down to the Green Lane area and eventually home. Other birds seen:
1 Mistle Thrush, 3 Greenfinch, 2 each Dunnock, Meadow Pipit & Pied Wagtail. 3 BHG & 4 Common Gull in flight. Starlings, c47 Jackdaw & other Caaawvids.

Friday, January 15, 2016

IOW Return Trip

En route to the Black Pig courtesy Capn Pugwash and Seaman Stai - lets not go there...
Finally found some Common Gulls but only about 700 or so in 2 adjacent fields and I think a Buzzard on the deck. Cowes ferry port provided a Shag, Cormorant, 7 Brent Geese & c15 Oystercatcher. Herrings BHG & a Great Black Brute but still no Lessers.
The motorway through Oxfordshire supplied 1 Buzzard, 2 Red Kite, 1
Cormorant, c110  Lapwing, pr Pied Wagtail.
Subsequently on the Mway 4 Buzzard seen between start and end of the National Forest.
Snow on the deck on arrival Queensbury. I now feel satisfied that I'm enduring a winter at last.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

IOW Summary

Took a coach trip on my last full day Thursday and encountered some beautiful environs with some hilly sections resembling those closer to home. They all had one thing in common: a chronic lack of wildlife. I managed to pick up a Pheasant to add to the pr Jay in the hotel grounds earlier. A man in the adjacent seat (ex Queensbury) was overjoyed at finally spotting a few rabbits.
Just before we pulled into a rip off choccie box stop I had the luxury of spotting a Buzzard hovering over a back garden just some 5 metres above the deck. Well the winds here are equivalent to ours on a good day.
I cant comment about the Spring/Summer migrants but this has got to be the worst winter patch birding ever and a good match for Queensbury arguably.
When the coach got into Sandown the driver dropped me off on the esplanade so with about  40 mins sunlight left I dashed down to the lake.

Oi! Kerwin leave my feet alone

Within 5 mins I picked up another MEDITERRANEAN GULL. This was a 3CY bird as opposed to the adult bird on Tuesday but like that bird it decided to leave after about 15 mins. Im so glad I fired away with the trusty camera set on IA.
While this was going on a CETTIS WARBLER burst into life on the far side making the dash well worthwhile.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

IOW Perpetual Struggle

A bright warm calm day to enjoy the lack of birds, other than gulls in. Rather than scream my head off in frustration I chose to test my  fitness and walk the coastal path  to Ventnor. Soil Hill I salute you for  preparing me for without it I would have fallen to pieces a third of the way round.
Robins Wrens Gt Tit were abundant but it took a singing Song Thrush to give me a semblance of hope. As I write a Jay is screaming to remind me I did see 4 of its brethren along with GSW, 5 LTT and a Blackbird or 3. I got 2 Greenfinch but cant claim Chaffinch.
Then I reacquainted my feet with the coast and encountered a most photo friendly Windhover (pse turn out pics!). At Ventnor I came across a Gull convention presided over by 3 Great Big Bad Gulls. Herrings in support and the small uns but yet again the LBBG wasnt represented. I got on the Ryde charabanc for a ride and leapt off by the lake in Sandown hoping for Med Gull rerun which didnt occur. As I golloped down my scran I was beset upon by a party of smartly dressed corvids namely Rooks which outmanoeuvre crows and come to bread. Hoped you enjoyed and thanks for the photo shots. There were 2 male Tufted on the water in addition to birds from yesterday. A Coot refused to budge from its chosen pavement spot so I had to circumvent the cheeky bugger.
A black cloud was hovering over the now distant cliffs so I headed back to the Hotel Du Geriatrica but not before a due hammering from some .38 hailstones. It had a silver lining: the duration was some 10 mins and in that period it dumped a present on the nearby beach. A bird chasing 2 Pied Wagtail around was a most mood lifting Rock Pipit which wasnt too camera shy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

IOW Sandown & Braden

Really hard work to get the goodies today owing mainly to flooding. This area is a wetland to start with so with the streams etc overflowing it eradicated a large number of access routes and doubled the space for the wildfowl to wander. The visibility was very good it was also windy to such a degree I was reminded of you know where.
At the end of the struggle I was rewarded with a MEDITERRANEAN GULL that allowed for photos (later) plus a poss YLG. Herring Gulls & GBBGs plus many BHGs but LBBG were MIA and Common decidedly werent. I must mention the Herrings at Cowes last night have learned to fly up over the concrete and throw shellfish onto it then gobble the flesh from the cracked casing.
Other players in todays theatrical: 2 CETTIS WARBLER, 1 f Tufted, c46 Brent Geese, 100s of Canada, 4 Mute Swan, 7 LTT, few Goldfinch & Greenfinch, Green Woody, GSW, Jay, Caaawvids. There were probably distant Wigeon among the Mallard I just couldnt be sure. 5 Cormorant, Coots but just 3 Moorhen to bring to a close.

BHG on left showing black on wings

Monday, January 11, 2016

Isle of Wight

After a horrific delay in Halifax we finally got moving but it took me an hour to return from the dead so birds weren't a priority.
Birds that relieved the long journey to Southampton for the 1630 ferry were:
Cormorant, Dunnock (same one as the previous stop I bet) Woodpigeons, Rooks in squadrons. A couple of Kestrel down the M1 and once we hit Oxfordshire 2 each GSW & Buzzard & a Sparrowhawk big enough to be a female. Finally came the one I was yearning for: RED KITE slowly gliding close to the roadside.
I learned something about my changing musical traits too. The driver had ongoing strings of albums sounding off and Tom Jones got my applause when it ended (yawnsville) whereas Bros Gibb kept me well entertained throughout. Reminds me there was a short period where I sang falsetto due to an inciden with some garden sh...oops sorry wrong blog.
The Shearwaters and Petrels etc will have to wait for the return in daylight as I reckon if they are a difficult bird to see at best of times I aint gonna nail em when the sun goes down.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Queensbury Blackcap

A belting picture of a male Blackcap taken by Denise Shields this morning. It paid 3 visits to her garden which also had 3 Nuthatches and 7 Stock Doves among others there.

Welcome back from your birding explorations Denise, hope to hear more from you in 2016.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Raggalds to Mixenden

Raggalds approx 1125 hrs. c130 Lapwing on the sports field and 18 small gulls on the flood, mainly BHG.
Trogged up to Soil Hell where DJS saved my feet from a soaking while simultaneously informing of the missing birds.

Then down to Ogden res where there was a distinct lack of activity. Pied Wagtail, Jay, 16 Canada, c45 small gulls.
Mixenden res was also comatose with Grey Wagtail and a number of small gulls.
Ah well at least it was pleasant walking weather.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Low Moor Dams

Arrived at approx 0950 hrs to find the area shrouded in slightly less fog than Queensbury but enough to ensure a pictureless blog.
Visited Harold Park first with a survey of Jug Dam - I was last there just some 41 years ago. As per the report from Dannys Cullingworth blog, it was graced by 5 Goosander - 3m & 2f. Interestingly they showed GND characteristics in snorkeling a few times which indicates to me there must be some unusual food prey present there.
I sloped down to the main lake here and within a few minutes was surprised and pleased to find a drake Gadwall close to the waters edge! It hung around for 2 minutes before heading into the foliage of the island and it probably stayed hidden as I never saw it again even on a second attempt.
The resident GC Grebe were indulging in the Weed Dance and for the first time I noted the absence of any Mute Swan. There were plenty of small gulls present and when I came back for the second crack they were joined by 2 sub-adult phase Herring Gulls (looked like 3cy).
Lets not forget the 15 Canada Geese, Mallards, Moorhens, Coots and Tufted Duck.

Park Dam - for once the less attractive location given the restricted viewing. 1f Goosander, 2 Little Grebe, c48 Canada Geese, 2 adult Herring Gull plus the smaller gulls, 7 Long-tailed Tit, 1 Cormorant which also visited HPL. 1 Pied Wagtail, few Goldfinch, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Starlings and more Coot, Moorhen & Tufted but not in the usual numbers. There was also an absence of Mute Swan here.
I walked along Soaper Lane on the route home and got c18 Greenfinch at Ashmore House farm plus a few Goldfinch.

Friday, January 01, 2016

New Year Birds

Queensbury Sth 0955 hrs. No Lapwing present in the fields but 3 Snipe were in the nearby bog.
I walked to Shibden Head; it still merits a potential assault course training ground for the marines and then some.
Rook, c40 Jackdaw, 2 Stock Dove, Jay, Kestrel, Buzzard, GSW, Blackbirds, Maggot Pies, Carry On Crows, Woodpiglets. Greenfinch, Blue & Gt Tit (unsure about brief view of Coal) LTT. Numerous small gulls Wrens, Robins & a Dunnock - they all add up to a very interesting first day of 2016.
DW reports gulls, corvids, woodpigs and others in numbers grabbing leftovers from his and local gardens. Earlier he had seen 13 unspecified Geese flying at height in the general Ogden direction.