Tuesday, 29 April 2014

28-04-14 Maple Lodge Nature Reserve

A late afternoon visit provided the following species of interest:-
Little Grebe (pair incubating eggs), Great Crested Grebe (pair nest building), Great Cormorant (2), Eurasian Hobby (2 hawking over at altitude from Rotunda Hide), Black-headed Gull (8 pairs attempting to nest on tern rafts from Shell Hide), Common Swift (2 above Long Hedge), Barn Swallow (1), House Martin (2), Cetti's Warbler (singing male), Reed Warbler (singing male), Mistle Thrush (pair incubating). 

                                                              Mistle Thrush at nest.

                                                           Record shot of Eurasian Hobby.

                                                                    Cetti's Warbler.

                                                        Record shot of Common Swift.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Leucistic Blackbird

A very odd looking male Common Blackbird was present at my garden feeders this evening for several minutes.


Life and death at Maple Lodge

An afternoon visit with my eleven year old daughter began at the Clubhouse Hide where a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gull seem to have taken up residence on the tern raft.

We then made our way to the Rotunda Hide where a singing male Cetti's Warbler burst into song while several Common Pochard dabbled in the shallows. Continuing around the reserve we eventually reached Lynsters Hide where we discovered a pair of Greylag Goose present with two goslings on Lynsters Farm.

We then followed the footpath adjacent the Long Hedge where we happened across a small group of young Rabbit. As we drew closer they suddenly bolted except for one individual which on closer inspection looked ill. Under instructions from my daughter I picked it up to place under the hedge but it suddenly had a seizure and shortly after died. I think it may have been attacked by a fox and sustained a broken back.

                                                           Mortally injured Rabbit.

My daughter was somewhat upset so we quickly entered the Long Hedge Hide. Here we discovered a duck Mallard with eight newly hatched ducklings that cheered up my daughter. 

Before returning back to the Clubhouse we briefly visited Shell Hide where we noted a dozen or so nesting Black-headed Gull on the tern rafts that were briefly disturbed by a female Sparrowhawk that passed through very quickly.

26-04-14 Broadwater Gravel Pit

An afternoon visit provided the following species:-
Great Crested Grebe, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose (2 pairs with goslings), Shelduck (1 near gravel workings), Gadwall, Mallard (duck with ducklings on River Colne), Northern Shoveler (3), Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Red Kite (1), Eurasian Sparrowhawk (female), Common Buzzard (1), Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-headed Gull (20+ pairs on tern rafts), Lesser Black-backed Gull (1), Herring Gull (5), Common Tern (7 on jetty), Arctic Tern (1 on jetty), Woodpigeon, Collared Dove (1), Ring-necked Parakeet (3), Common Kingfisher (1), Green Woodpecker (1), Barn Swallow (2), Grey Wagtail (1), Wren, Dunnock, European Robin, Common Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler (2 singing male), Reed Warbler (4 singing male), Common Whitethroat (1 singing male), Garden Warbler (6 singing male), Blackcap (15 singing male), Common Chiffchaff (5 singing male), Goldcrest (1 singing male), Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Common Treecreeper (2), Common Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Common Chaffinch, European Greenfinch.

                                                       Canada Goose (pair with goslings).

                                                    Green-veined White on Dandelion.

                                                       Green-veined White on Nettle.

                                                         Peacock (very worn individual).

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Woodoaks Farm

This afternoon I received a call from Geoff Lapworth who had found a male Whinchat at Woodoaks Farm. It was present on the fence bordering the lower pasture and was very mobile throughout my visit.

Stockers Farm

A brief visit to the flooded field produced the resident pair of Egyptian Goose present with five remaining goslings, 2 Northern Wheatear and a single Yellow Wagtail.
Filming is taking place at the farm with the Stockers Road entrance shut all day next Tuesday. 

                                                   Record shot of the Northern Wheatear.

                                                             Egyptian geese with young.

Croxley Common Moor

A morning visit in bright mild conditions provided the following species:-
Greylag Goose (2 over), Canada Goose (pair), Mallard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Pheasant (cock), Common Moorhen (3 plus pair with young), Eurasian Coot (3), Lesser Black-backed Gull (6), Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker, Wren, Dunnock, European Robin, Northern Wheatear (1), Common Blackbird (7), Song Thrush (5), Sedge Warbler (4), Reed Warbler (2), Common Whitethroat (6), Blackcap (5), Common Chiffchaff (6), Willow Warbler (2), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Common Magpie, Carrion Crow, Common Starling (c20), Common Chaffinch, European Greenfinch (4), European Goldfinch (2), Reed Bunting (2).
While walking the riverside path I met Geoff Lapworth who found the Wheatear and informed me of its presence.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

22-04-14 West Hyde

A mid afternoon visit to West Hyde produced good views of a lone singing male Corn Bunting present on a fence post along the new hedge adjacent footpath number four.



Monday, 21 April 2014

20-04-14 Stockers Farm

While out conducting wetland bird survey counts at Stockers and Bury Lakes I happened across a single Little Ringed Plover and two Eurasian Oystercatcher on the flooded field at Stockers Farm. I had noted the Oystercatcher at Stockers Lake earlier.

                                                                   Little Ringed Plover.

                                                                 Eurasian Oystercatcher.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Maple Lodge Nature Reserve

An early afternoon visit with intermittent sunshine provided a few opportunities to photograph the emerging butterflies dotted around the reserve. Not much new to report on the birding front other than a breeding pair of Little Grebe present at a nest with a single egg observed from the Long Hedge Hide. On the cricket field an adult Song Thrush was observed collecting food. At Lynsters Farm four Egyptian Goose were present on the cattle field while at Lynsters Gravel Pit 12 Sand Martin buzzed overhead.     

                                               Common Pochard from the Long Hedge Hide.

                                                                  Green-veined White.


                                                                          Small White.

                                                 Orange Tip (male) feeding on Ground Ivy.

                                               Orange Tip (male) feeding on Garlic Mustard.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Birding my local patch

I decided to spend the day birding my local patch in hope of discovering a few new migrants that may have arrived with the following species observed.  
West Hyde
Red Kite (1), Common Kestrel (male), Woodpigeon, Eurasian Skylark (8), Barn Swallow (2), Pied Wagtail (1), Dunnock, Long-tailed Tit, Western Jackdaw (2), Common Chaffinch, Common Linnet (2), Corn Bunting (1). I bumped into Geoff Lapworth who had earlier noted a singing male Common Whitethroat nearby in a hedge at Tilehouse Lane although the bird did not show for me.
Troy Mill Gravel Pit
Common Buzzard (2), Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1), Eurasian Oystercatcher (1 on jetty), Little Gull (4), Common Tern (10), Common Kingfisher (1), Sand Martin (20+), Barn Swallow (1), Blackcap (2), Reed Bunting (1).
Woodoaks Farm
Northern Wheatear (2 on lower pasture among cattle), Barn Swallow (2).
The Withey Beds LNR
Blackcap (1), Common Chiffchaff (3).
Croxley Moor
Very busy with many dog walkers present and not much to see with two Barn Swallow the only birds worth a mention.
Stockers Farm
Egyptian Goose (pair with 5 goslings remaining), Little Ringed Plover (2 briefly on flooded field before flying off to the east), Barn Swallow (10).

                                                          Egyptian Goose with goslings.

                                                             Little Ringed Plover.

Stockers Lake
Little Egret (7 present at heronry), Egyptian Goose (2), Common Tern (2), Reed Bunting (1).
Bury Lake
Black Swan (1).
Maple Lodge Nature Reserve
Great Crested Grebe (pair), Canada Goose (pair), Mallard (duck with new brood of ducklings from Rotunda Hide), Northern Lapwing (2 over), Common Tern (3 over clubhouse heading towards Stockers Lake), Blackbird (adult with food), Mistle Thrush (adult at nest plus 2 feeding on cricket pitch), Cetti's Warbler (singing male), Blackcap (3), Common Chiffchaff (3).



Thursday, 17 April 2014

Poole Harbour, Durlston Country Park and Swanage, Dorset

A family day out to Swanage provided me with a couple of hours birding at my favourite part of the world, Durlston Country Park. On route we briefly stopped off at Pool Harbour where I noted Eurasian Oystercatcher, Dunlin and Sanderling all feeding on the mud flats.

                                                             Eurasian Oystercatcher

While crossing over to Sandbanks via the chain ferry I added Shelduck and three Sandwich Tern to my day list. Once at Durlston Country Park a couple of hours birding provided the following species:-
Common Pheasant (2), Fulmar (5), Great Cormorant, European Shag (2), Common Buzzard (1), Common Kestrel (pair), Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Guillemot (90+), Razorbill (5), Feral Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker (1), Barn Swallow (2), Rock Pipit (4 inc displaying male), Meadow Pipit (1), Pied Wagtail (1), Wren, Dunnock, European Robin, Northern Wheatear (female), Common Stonechat (male), Song Thrush, Common Blackbird, Blackcap (2), Lesser Whitethroat (1), Willow Warbler (1), Common Chiffchaff (3), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Common Magpie, Eurasian Jay (2), Western Jackdaw, Common Raven (2), Carrion Crow, Common Chaffinch, European Greenfinch (4), European Goldfinch (1), Eurasian Bullfinch (male).

                                                                  Common Guillemot





                                                                    Feral Rock Dove

                                                                     Common Raven

                                                                          Rock Pipit

At Durlston Castle an Adder was briefly observed before disappearing into a stone wall.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Virginia Water, Surrey

A walk around the lake late morning in glorious sunshine provided the following species:-
Great Crested Grebe (24), Grey Heron (2), Mute Swan (5 inc pair on nest), Canada Goose (1), Egyptian Goose (2), Mallard (22), Tufted Duck (5), Common Pheasant (2), Eurasian Coot (5), Stock Dove (1), Woodpigeon, Ring-necked Parakeet (1), Pied Wagtail (1), Wren, European Robin, Common Blackbird, Mistle Thrush (1), Blackcap (9), Common Chiffchaff (3), Goldcrest (2), Coal Tit (2), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch (1), Common Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Common Chaffinch, European Greenfinch (2), European Goldfinch.

                                                                   Mistle Thrush

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Maple Lodge Nature Reserve

An afternoon visit provided an interesting insight into breeding behaviour of a few resident species. To start with during yesterday's visit I was concerned for a nesting Mistle Thrush that had to contend with at least three Eurasian Jay that strayed near the nest. The female left the nest and harried the Jays which finally left the area. On my leaving the female hadn't returned to the nest so I was more than happy to see her sitting tight on the nest today. Within feet of that nest a pair of Long-tailed Tit look to have completed a nest and hopefully will be brooding soon. Within fifty feet of both nests is an Eurasian Sparrowhawk nest. Over the past few weeks I have noted the male and female bird at or near the nest which seems to have grown over this time. Today during my visit I discovered the male at the nest and watched while it collected twigs. It was odd seeing it do this with the use of it's talons instead of it's bill like many other species. I still have to find a plucking post which must be nearby. I wonder if this pair of accipiter will prey heavily on the resident breeding species? Only time will tell and I look forward to watching as these breeding events unfold.
Yesterday at the Shell Hide I discovered a nesting Chaffinch and watched with delight as the female built the nest that was only a few feet away. During today's visit I was amazed to see its nest nearly finished and watched as the female began to line the inside of the nest. At the Long Hedge at least two singing Willow Warbler were heard and numbers of Common Chiffchaff and Blackcap continue to build.

                                                 The female Mistle Thrush sits tight on the nest.

                                                  Male Sparrowhawk collecting twigs.

                                          The female Chaffinch tends the nest, taken yesterday.

I would like to add that all my pictures of nesting birds are taken from the designated pathways or hides and I am in no way encroaching or intruding on the nesting sites.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Osprey at Maple Lodge

An early evening visit produced an Osprey over briefly at 17:45 from the Teal Hide. I have to admit that I didn't find it as my daughter beat me to it. It was heading in an easterly direction towards Stockers Lake. Looking on the Herts Bird Club sightings page this evening an Osprey was noted over Amwell NR at 19:00 and may have been the same bird. Below is a poor record shot of the bird.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Maple Cross birding

I decided to make a late morning visit to my local patch starting off at Beechen Wood. On arrival I discovered a carpet of Wood Anemone among the Bluebells that were beginning to flower. High in the canopy a Great-spotted Woodpecker called while spring arrivals in the form of Blackcap and Common Chiffchaff began to sing. A male Eurasian Nuthatch began to sing too while on the path ahead it's mate was busily searching for food. Reaching the farmland above Chalfont Road I walked the perimeter of the recently drilled field noting Eurasian Skylark displaying overhead. Common Buzzard, Red Kite and Common Kestrel were also observed in flight while on the fence line a male Yellowhammer sang. I then continued along the road reaching Bottom Wood where a pair of Mistle Thrush and a solitary Green Woodpecker showed well in the sunshine. I then arrived at Ladywalk Wood where I discovered my first Speckled Wood butterfly of the year before heading home.  

Monday, 7 April 2014

Stockers Farm & Stockers Lake

A late morning visit in mild but wet conditions provided the following species of interest:-
Stockers Farm
Egyptian Goose (7), Barn Swallow (2), Northern Lapwing (2).
Stockers Lake
Little Egret (5 at heronry), Black Swan (1), Canada Goose (pair at nest), Red Kite (1), Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1), Black-headed Gull (copulating pair), Barn Swallow (11), House Martin (8), Cetti's Warbler (singing male), Willow Warbler (singing male).

                                                           Grey Heron at Stockers Lake


Saturday, 5 April 2014

Garganey at Maple Lodge

I visited early morning after working a night shift and discovered parts of the reserve cloaked in light fog. From Rotunda Hide I heard my first Willow Warbler of the year. Making my way to the Shell Hide I sat quietly for a while watching the Common Pochard jostling amongst themselves. All of a sudden from the left a duck flew past heading down towards the Sluice Hide. Clearly marked was the diagnostic pure white superciliam of a wonderful male Garganey, my first for the year. I made my way down towards the Sluice Hide but could not find the bird again. Leaving the reserve I hoped that others might see the bird today.
A full list of species noted as follows:-
Little Grebe (1), Great Cormorant (1), Grey Heron (1), Mute Swan (pair), Canada Goose (pair), Gadwall (6), Garganey (1), Mallard (14), Common Pochard (22), Tufted Duck (22), Eurasian Sparrowhawk (2), Common Moorhen (4), Eurasian Coot (14), Black-headed Gull (pair), Stock Dove (1), Woodpigeon, Ring-necked Parakeet (1), Green Woodpecker (1), Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Common Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush (1), Cetti's Warbler (singing male), Blackcap (5 singing male), Willow Warbler (singing male), Common Chiffchaff (4 singing male), Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Common Treecreeper (singing male), Eurasian jay (3), Common Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Common Chaffinch, European Greenfinch, Reed Bunting (singing male).

Friday, 4 April 2014

03-04-14 Hengistbury head, Bournemouth

Arriving at noon in mild conditions in hazy sunshine my wife and I decided to walk up towards the headland overlooking Christchurch Bay. Passing the Cafe we discovered the new lottery funded visitor centre which I must say is very impressive. The facilities are good and there is even a live webcam focused on the nearby heronry showing fantastic views of the young herons at the nest. After a wonderful couple of hours walking we headed back to the car and spent an hour or so in Bournemouth walking the full length of the pier before heading home.
A full list of species observed as follows:-
Little Grebe (1), Great Cormorant, Little Egret (4 inc at least one nesting pair at heronry), Grey Heron (4 pairs occupied nests), Mute Swan, Brent Goose (c50 on far shoreline of Christchurch Bay), Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Mallard, Eurasian Coot, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Eurasian Curlew (1), Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern (3 from Bournemouth Pier), Great-spotted Woodpecker, Sand Martin (12), Wren, Dunnock, European Robin, Common Stonechat (3 male), Common Blackbird, Common Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Eurasian Jay (4), Common Magpie, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet (2).     

                                                            Common Stonechat (male)

                                                                       Quarry Pond

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Spring flora and fauna

The morning began cool and cloudy but as the day progressed the sun began to break through the gloom and the air slowly warmed. My better half and I decided to visit Shenley Park, Hertfordshire to walk the trail from The Old Orchard Cafe to Cow Banks Wood. This was a little disappointing as the walk was more urban than we expected. Despite this we continued on towards the wood and was pleasantly surprised on our arrival to find carpets of Wood Anemone in full bloom. We then retraced our route and headed back to the Cafe for lunch. Near the old pond we found an area of Cowslip that was also in full bloom as overhead a male Nuthatch sang out. We both enjoyed a fantastic lunch and while dining 'Al fresco' I noted a nesting pair of Nuthatch in an old oak as a male Common Kestrel glided past overhead.

                                                                     Wood Anemone


On returning home I had a few hours spare for a spot of 'proper' birding so headed off to Croxley Moor. Many of the common resident species were busily readying themselves for the breeding season ahead. Two pairs of Common Magpie added the finishing touches to their nests as a pair of Grey Wagtail began to build at Common Moor Lock. Two species of warbler were noted with an impressive 12 singing male Common Chiffchaff and two Blackcap present on the moor.

                                                                  Common Chiffchaff

I then moved on to Stockers Farm where on the flooded field five Eurasian Wigeon, four Common Teal, two Northern Lapwing a single Mistle Thrush and my first Barn Swallow of the year were all seen. I then followed the path over the canal bridge to the causeway at Stockers Lake. At the far north end a male Cetti's Warbler burst in to song as nearby in the shallows an escaped exotic in the form of a Black Swan fed quietly. At the Heronry the resident Grey Herons were busily feeding young. Among them was several nesting pairs of Little Egret, a total of nine birds seen. A lone Great Cormorant was also present at the nest while below a Common Kingfisher flashed by. 

                                                                    Black Swan

Returning home I briefly stopped off at Froghall Farm where 10 Greylag and 12 Canada Goose, many paired up, grazed on the meadow.