Friday, 30 September 2011

Out and about

Maple Lodge Close:-
Early morning I observed 13 Egyptian Geese flying in from the west towards Lynsters Farm.
The Bury, Rickmansworth
While walking through the Bury heading towards the Aquadrome I heard a Coal Tit calling briefly from conifers.
Stockers Farm
On the pasture above the farm a total of 10 Yellow Wagtail were noted feeding on insects among the horses as overhead a male Kestrel passed by.
Stockers Lake
A singing male Cetti's Warbler was busily singing from the west end of the causeway near the fishing platform and showed well and 25 Shoveler flew in and landed near the heronry.
Bury Lake
A Nuthatch was heard calling near the Cafe in the park as I headed off back towards Rickmansworth.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Woodoaks Farm

I visited the farm mid-afternoon where the following species of interest were noted:-
Red Kite (1), Common Buzzard (4), Sparrowhawk (1), Kestrel (female on manure pile), Green Woodpecker (1), Great-spotted Woodpecker (1), White Wagtail (1 on old barn), Yellow Wagtail (10 feeding among cattle on pasture above old orchard), Meadow Pipit (3), Chiffchaff (2).

                                                    Yellow Wagtail at Woodoaks Farm

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Maple Lodge Nature Reserve

A brief late afternoon visit provided the following species of interest:-
Little Egret (1) feeding on marsh from Rotunda Hide, Green Sandpiper (2) feeding on stony islands from Teal hide, Kingfisher (1) very mobile, Sparrowhawk (1) hunting above Poplars near sluice hide, Chiffchaff (4) in long hedge, Little Grebe (2) from sluice hide. Water levels continue to drop making ideal conditions for waders to drop in so worth keeping an eye open over the coming days.

Ring Ouzel at Croxley Common Moor

A late morning visit to Croxley Common Moor with Steve Carter in glorious sunshine paid off when we finally viewed the long staying, elusive male Ring Ouzel. It was briefly observed drinking from the bank of the River Gade before disappearing into a dense Hawthorn. Just before we left the area the bird showed briefly on top of the Hawthorn before darting back into cover. Several observers were present including Martin Parr and Joan Thompson. The bird was located about 60 yards down from the entrance bridge and is best viewed early morning.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Birding Northern Spain with Boletas Birdwatching Centre

Steve Carter and I headed off to Northern Spain and to the Boletas Birdwatching Centre based at Lorporzano, Huesca, Aragon. We took a Ryan air flight from Stansted to Zaragoza and arrived late evening where we were met by our guide Alberto Bueno who drove us to our hotel located near the town of Belchite. The journey was made difficult with heavy rain and thunderstorms, the first for eight months, but Alberto did a sterling job and we arrived safely. We checked in to the Hotel Rincorn del Cierzo that it situated very close to the steppes of Belchite and retired for the evening.

An early start was organised with Alberto so as to try and connect with some steppe specialities so we awoke at 06:30 and arrived at the El Planaron Reserve at dawn. Here we located at least 4 singing Dupont's Lark but I was unable to view any of them as they remained hidden in the low foliage. We then noted a large group of Calandra Lark on the move and viewed several Lesser Short-toed Lark at close range. Other notable species observed included Tawny Pipit, Southern Grey Shrike and Northern Wheatear. En route back to our hotel Alberto pointed out a Black Kite that was at rest on a telegraph post.   

                                          Thekla Lark at El Planeron Reserve.

After breakfast Alberto drove us to Belchite where we photographed the old town ruins, a relic of the Spanish Civil War. Birds noted included a couple of Black Redstart plus many House Sparrow and Collared Dove. Then on to Bonelli’s Eagle breeding site via Villanueva where we spotted our first Griffon Vulture and 2 Rock Sparrow before arriving at our destination above the village of Tosos. Here we observed the resident pair of Bonelli’s Eagle, the male bird sporting a radio transmitter as along the cliff faces dozens of Crag Martin buzzed by and a Cetti’s Warbler sang out below. We then headed back to the steppes of Belchite where en route a Short-toed Eagle was noted as it flew over the forested hills. Once at our destination we noted a Short-toed Lark and dozens of Northern Wheatear and another Tawny Pipit. At an Almond grove dozens of Stone Curlew sat in the shade and nearby 2 Raven were seen. Then first contact with Black-bellied Sandgrouse, 2 that were flushed as we drove by and nearby 14 red-billed Chough displayed overhead briefly. Then on to Los Monegros for Great Bustard noting another Short-toed Eagle posing well on a pylon. A male Dartford Warbler was briefly viewed but alas no sign of any Bustards. We then headed off to a nearby lake where we ate lunch from the hide viewing waterfowl and at least 3 Marsh Harrier. Then back to the steppe habitat where we noted 10 more Black-bellied Sandgrouse at Albertos’s local patch. Then as we were driving a long a dusty track 6 Little Bustard appeared before they took flight and disappeared among long grasses. A Little Owl was seen on a derelict building before we departed for Huesca. As dusk approached we could see the wonderful panorama of the Pyrenees foothills before checking in to the Boletas Birdwatching Centre.

                                                       Boletas Birdwatching Centre

Black-necked Grebe (1), Little Grebe (42), Cattle Egret (6), Grey Heron (c10), Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Pintail, Northern Shoveler Duck, Red-crested Pochard (2), Tufted Duck (2), Black Kite (1), Short-toed Eagle (2), Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier (4), Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Bonelli’s Eagle (pair), Common Kestrel, Red-legged Partridge, Water Rail (2 calling), Moorhen, Coot, Little Bustard, Lapwing (1), Black-bellied Sandgrouse (12), Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl (4), Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Short-toed Lark (2), Lesser Short-toed Lark, Dupont’s Lark (4 singing), Calandra Lark, Sand Martin, Crag Martin, House Martin, Swallow, Tawny Pipit (3), White Wagtail (2), Yellow Wagtail, Robin, Stonechat, Black Redstart, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush (2), Cetti’s Warbler, Blackcap, Dartford Warbler (2), Great Tit, Coal Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Magpie, Red-billed Chough, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, Rock Sparrow (2), House Sparrow, Linnet, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting. 

                                          Little Bustard in flight.

After breakfast Steve and I took a leisurely walk around the village noting Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, Spotless Starling and Common Whitethroat. Then Alberto arrived to take us to Parq natural de guara and Embalse de Vadiello spotting 2 Cirl Bunting and singing Woodlark en route. Then on the approach to the dam we discovered a female Pied Flycatcher as overhead many Griffon Vultures basked in the morning sunshine. After viewing commoner species we then headed off to a vulture feeding site near Santa Cilia. Here we had wonderful  views of at least 4 Lammergeier that were present with c200 Griffon Vultures. Then on to Caste de Montearagon for lunch where we ate sandwiches while viewing 3 beautiful Black Wheatear and a male Blue Rock Thrush with brief views of Zitting Cisticola. After lunch we visited a nearby river bank where at least 5 female Pied Flycatcher obliged as did Cetti’s Warbler, Kingfisher and Blackcap with a Golden Oriole possibly heard calling. Alberto then decided to take us to Huesca rubbish tip where we noted 44 White Stork and dozens of Raven among the rubbish while nearby on waste ground 2 Willow Warbler and c50 Serin fed greedily. We then continued on our way noting another Lammergeier and 2 Golden eagle as we neared Pena’ de San Miguel. This dramatic area gives eye level views of the vultures as they cruise by the cliff face and c100 Red-billed Chough were also seen. A good area for Rock Bunting although we did not encounter them during our visit. As the late afternoon approached we moved off and made our way to the steppe area near Gallegua where a Goshawk was flushed from its roost. Then as we headed back to Zaragoza Airport I noted 2 Monk Parakeet in flight before we reached the terminal building.

White Stork (44), Red Kite, Lammergeier (5), Griffon Vulture, Sparrowhawk, Goshawk, Common Buzzard, Golden Eagle (2), Common Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet (2), Little Owl, Kingfisher (1), Great-spotted Woodpecker (2), Woodlark (3), Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sand Martin, Crag Martin, House Martin, Swallow, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Robin, Stonechat, Black Redstart, Redstart (female), Northern Wheatear, Black Wheatear (3),
Blue Rock Thrush (male), Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Pied Flycatcher (c5), Great Tit, Magpie, Red-billed Chough, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Spotless Starling, Rock Sparrow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin (c50), Goldfinch, Cirl Bunting (2). 

                                          Griffon Vulture at Pena de San Miguel.

                                          Lammergeier en route to Pena de San Miguel. 
                                           Black Wheatear at Caste de Montearagon.
Alberto Bueno

Born in Huesca in 1962. Member of SEO-Birdlife since 1978. At the age of 14 a group of Dutch birdwatchers employed his services to localize and observe the Dupont's Lark. Well acquainted with all the good ornithological sites in the northeast of Spain, he is considered the first Spanish involved in birdwatching guide work. Author of numerous articles about the birds of Aragón and several texts for the book "Where to Watch Birds in Spain" edited by SEO-Birdlife. During many years he has organized private tours and collaborated with different nature tours companies (from Europe and USA) that operate in Spain. Has collaborated with Boletas Birdwatching centre since its foundation working as a bird guide. Since 1999 Alberto works as a "forest ranger" and naturalist for the regional government of Aragón, and he lives at the steppe area of Monegros, he has a deep knowledge of the steppe birds (mainly bustards, sandgrouse and larks) and where to find them. From 1997 to 2010 he co-leaded every spring the most comprehensive and successful birding tour in Spain (with a total range of 250 species recorded) for an American company.

                                           Alberto and I at Steppe area near Gallegua

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Northern Spain

Steve Carter and I are off to the Zaragoza area of Northern Spain tomorrow for a brief birding trip returning late Sunday night! I hope to bring back tales of a wondrous avian adventure so watch this space to see how we fared!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Cetti's Warbler at Stockers Lake

While conducting an early morning WeBS count at Stockers and Bury Lakes I discovered a singing male Cetti's Warbler. Present on the causeway ten yards north of the watchpoint noticeboard.

                                                     Cetti's Warbler at Stockers Lake

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Woodoaks Farm late afternoon

A late afternoon visit provided the following species of note:-
Kestrel (female on manure heap), Hobby (1 hunting hirundines), Collared Dove (many feeding on grain stored in barn), House Martin (c80 passing through in several small groups), Swallow (5), Yellow Wagtail (20 feeding in horse paddock below old orchard), Mistle Thrush (3 on pasture adjacent Bottom Wood).

                                           Collared Doves.

                                          Yellow Wagtails.

Woodoaks Farm

A morning visit to Woodoaks Farm in mild but breezy conditions provided the following species of interest:-
Collared Dove (c160 in fruit trees at old orchard), Green Woodpecker (1), Great-spotted Woodpecker (1), Skylark (8), Swallow (c30 passing through), House Martin (c100 passing through), Meadow Pipit (1 over), Grey Wagtail (1), Pied Wagtail (1 over), Chiffchaff (2).

Friday, 16 September 2011

Yellow Wagtails at Stockers Farm

After a disappointing visit to Croxley Common Moor I decided to move on to Stockers Farm where I noted 11 Yellow Wagtail feeding among the horses on the fields above the farm house.

Croxley Common Moor

A morning visit to Croxley Common Moor in search of a reported Ring Ouzel drew a blank with myself, Joan Thompson and Lee Evans all grilling the moor to no avail. Geoff Lapworth was up early and had observed the bird briefly at 08:00 hrs feeding on berries on the canal side of the River Gade.
A list of species observed during my visit as follows;
Cormorant (6 over), Grey Heron (1), Little Egret (1), Mute Swan (2), Moorhen (4), Black-headed Gull (2), Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker (3), Great-spotted Woodpecker (1), Swallow (2), Meadow Pipit (2 over), Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Lesser Whitethroat (1), Blackcap (3), Chiffchaff (4), Blue Tit, Jay (2), Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling (5), House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch (5), Goldfinch (23), Reed Bunting (1).

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Spotted Flycatcher at Woodoaks Farm

I conducted a late afternoon visit to the farm where I discovered a Spotted Flycatcher in a Hawthorn hedge on the upper pasture above the old orchard. It was observed catching insects and preening before moving into deeper cover. On the pasture adjacent Bottom Wood 15 Yellow Wagtail fed among the cattle as overhead dozens of Swallow passed through.

Woodoaks Farm mid-morning

A mid morning walk to Woodoaks Farm with Steve Carter in glorious sunshine produced the following species of note:-
Red Kite (3), Common Buzzard (5), Sparrowhawk (2), Kestrel (1), Little Owl (1 in old orchard), Yellow Wagtail (10 over), Meadow Pipit (3), Whinchat (1 on farm track north of manure pile), Chiffchaff (1 singing male).


                                          Red Kite

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Woodoaks Farm early afternoon

A brief visit to the farm where I bumped into Chris Howard and Dave Simms provided the following species of note:-
Red Kite (2), Sparrowhawk (1), Little Owl (1 in old orchard), Yellow Wagtail (40 feeding among cattle on lower pasture), Swallow (several passing through), Wheatear (2 on tractor machinery and straw bales opposite the old barn), Chiffchaff (1 calling).

                                                      Fly Agaric at Woodoaks Farm.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Return to Tring

A return to Wilstone reservoir with Steve Carter provided the following species of note;
Little Egret (11), Pectoral Sandpiper (juvenile), Little Stint (1), Ringed Plover (8), Black-tailed Godwit (1), Common Sandpiper (1), Black Tern (juvenile), Yellow Wagtail (1 passing through) plus dozens of Hirundines including Sand Martin and House Martin, all viewed from the jetty.


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Pectoral Sandpiper at Wilstone Reservoir, Tring

Geoff Lapworth and I made a flying visit to Wilstone res where a wonderful juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper was present for it's second day. Viewed from the jetty at very close range the bird performed well and I was able to take a few records shots through my scope with my phone. Other waders noted from the jetty included 8 Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper and a single Dunlin.

Woodoaks Farm

A late morning visit provided the following species;
Grey Heron (1), Canada Goose (34 feeding on stubble field), Mallard (2 over), Red Kite (2), Woodpigeon (26), Collared Dove (c60 in old orchard), Ring-necked Parakeet (1), Green Woodpecker (2), Yellow Wagtail (10 feeding among cattle on lower pasture), Wren, Robin (4), Blackbird, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie (3), Jackdaw (c20), Carrion Crow (4), House Sparrow (10), Chaffinch (5), Goldfinch (3).

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Woodoaks Farm and Maple Lodge Nature Reserve

An unsettled, autumnal morning was spent at Woodoaks Farm with fellow birder and pal Steve Carter before we moved on to Maple Lodge. The the following species of note were observed:-
Woodoaks Farm
Common Buzzard (2 briefly), Little Owl (1 in the old orchard), Kestrel (female), Swallow (1), House Martin (several), Whinchat (1 at manure pile before moving off to the lower pasture where it fed from the fence-line), Blackbird (9 feeding below Blackthorn bushes opposite cottages).
Maple Lodge
Little Grebe (3), Hobby (mobbed by Carrion Crow), Kingfisher (2 from long hedge hide), House Martin (several passing through), Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Jay (4 collecting acorns from long hedge).

                                          Whinchat at Woodoaks Farm

                                          Large Black Slug Arion ater at Maple Lodge Nature Reserve

Friday, 2 September 2011

Woodoaks Farm

A late morning visit provided the following species of note:-
Grey Heron (2 on stubble field), Common Buzzard (1), Red Kite (3), Kestrel (2), Hobby (hawking insects overhead), Little Owl (2 in the old orchard), Yellow Wagtail (3 feeding among cattle), Whinchat (1 on lower pasture fence line), House Martin (5 over briefly), Swallow (over briefly). The Whinchat and Yellow Wagtails were first observed by Chris Sharp who had arrived earlier at the farm. Other observers present included Geoff Lapworth and Brendan G. 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Yellow-legged Gull at Broadwater Gravel Pit

An afternoon visit provided the following species:-
Great-crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose (54), Canada Goose (25), Egyptian Goose (11), Gadwall, Mallard, Northern Shoveler (2), Pochard, Tufted Duck, Common Buzzard (1), Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull (adult), Common Tern (5), Woodpigeon, Kingfisher (1), Ring-necked Parakeet (1), Green Woodpecker (1), Grey Wagtail (1), Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Blackcap (1), Chiffchaff (5), Goldcrest (3), Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Treecreeper (1), Jay (3), Magpie, Jackdaw (15), Rook (2 over), Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch.

                                          Yellow-legged Gull (adult)

                                          Banded Demoiselle (male)

                                          Banded Demoiselle (female)