Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sunday November 30

I arrived shortly after 09.10 to find Dave trying to keep his spirits up in the thick fog. We decided to walk through the village as the visibility was better in the lee of Bannams Wood.

The sun soon started appearing and after 30 minutes the fog suddenly lifted. I pursued a few Goldcrests unsuccessfully but finally reached the ton with a photo of a Treecreeper.

100. Treecreeper
 It won't be winning any awards but it'll do.

We headed down the hill across bright sunlit fields, noting about 50 Yellowhammers and 20 Reed Buntings behind the pool. The flashes were covered in birds, mostly Lapwings. We estimated 250 Lapwings plus 17 Black-headed Gulls, 36 Teal, 80 Mallard, 14 Snipe and two Green Sandpipers. Behind the furthest flash sat a single Kingfisher.

The return journey provided us with two Sparrowhawks, about 30 Skylarks, a fly-over Redpoll, and the best bird of the day, an adult Peregrine on the pylons.

This species has been scarce here this year, and this was the first since two juveniles on Aug 24.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunday November 23

The predicted rain duly arrived, but it wasn't too heavy and gradually died out during the morning. Dave and I  strolled around trying to winkle out something different from the usual suspects.

The passerine numbers were encouragingly high, and we estimated 80 Chaffinches, and 120 Linnets in various strips of game cover. There are still plenty of Redwings around, maybe 50 or so, and a smaller number of Fieldfares. Starlings are now here in strength. I counted 176 in a tree, and estimated another 100 in the flash field.

The flash itself contained 20 Teal and about 90 Mallard, while at least 10 Snipe flew from the marsh as we walked past. The pair of Stonechats were present again along the hedge leading away from the bridle path, and we found another one at the dragonfly pools.

A female Stonechat
 The nearest we came to finding anything new was Dave's discovery of a fresh Barn Owl pellet in the tin shed.

Dave left at 11.00am while I resumed my fruitless attempt to add to my photo list below Bannams Wood. Instead I added a new birder to my Morton Bagot list in the form of Jan, who told me she had seen the Ring Ouzel at Middle Spernal with Mike. Respect.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Thursday November 20

A slightly late start on a morning that began sunny, but became cloudy. A very light south-easterly breeze.

I had the bit between my teeth regarding this flippin' photo-year list. Currently on 99 species I decided to concentrate on the road and village because most of the "easy" species I am missing are small woodland passerines.

Target 1 was Goldcrest. I saw about six today, and yes I did photograph one, but the image was sufficiently blurred that it failed even my relaxed attitude to quality control.

Target 2 was Treecreeper. I saw two, but neither came close to getting photographed.

Target 3 was Coal Tit. I didn't even hear one.

That was about it I'm afraid. I saw plenty of Redwings and Fieldfares, and when I did venture into more traditional patch areas, one Stonechat, 18 Teal, and two Green Sandpipers.

The forecast for the weekend is more rain and no year-ticks.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sunday November 16

A cloudy, mild day with hardly any breeze. After a quick look around Netherstead had produced 250 Greylag Geese heading south having been flushed from a distant field by a farmer in a 4 X 4, Dave and I headed through the village for a change and this proved to be a pretty reasonable plan.

We noticed several Redpolls flying over, and then six Bullfinches in the top of a tree tucking into its seeds. I forgot to consider what species of tree it was. Being mindful of the slow progress of the photo-year list I was very pleased when a single Lesser Redpoll flew in and perched in another tree.

99. Lesser Redpoll
We continued along the bottom of Bannams Wood without recording anything better than a few Marsh Tits and Long-tailed Tits, and then headed back down the hedge to the pool. At the bridle path the pair of Stonechats showed well, but after that things went distinctly down hill.

A 4 X 4 slithered along the muddy field boundary behind the pool and disappeared over the rise. 120 Lapwings flew over, and then Mallards were scattering. We feared the worst, and sure enough the occupants of the vehicle were rediscovered messing about with decoy ducks behind the nearest flash. A cacophony of Chaffinch and Yellowhammer calls from the hedge up to Church Farm suggested the presence of an owl so we diverted and eventually I had a poor view of a Little Owl as it flew from the other side of the hedge.

Back at the flashes the three lads were still wandering about, and eventually they fired a gun at something. It is the first time I can remember witnessing anyone shooting on a Sunday at Morton Bagot, and it signalled the end of our chances of seeing anything more today.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sunday November 9

A beautiful sunny morning after a misty start. Hardly a breath of wind, and sadly no birds of note.

Actually it wasn't that bad. About 40 Fieldfares flew over, and there were more gulls than usual, about 25 Lesser Black-backs, two Herring, and 18 Black-headed. The flashes had reverted to the typical fare, two Green Sandpipers, two Wigeon, 15 Teal and 20 Lapwings.

A fly-over Redpoll was arguably the highlight, except for the unexpected rediscovery of the Yellow-crowned Weaver, still surviving with the Yellowhammer flock.

So I leave you with a misty scene of some Pheasants taken when I first arrived.

Thank goodness I came here yesterday.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Saturday November 8

A rare opportunity to nip out on Saturday following torrential rain until lunchtime.

I took full advantage, parking at the church and heading straight to the flash which, for the first time in ages was full of ducks. I counted 303 Mallard, 49 Teal, five Wigeon and 42 Lapwings. Among the latter a pale bird stood out.

A leucistic Lapwing
Also present were two Green Sandpipers. I strolled away and had just reached the pool when a sharp call stopped me in my tracks. A Dunlin, the first this year. I scanned around and then heard it call again, much further away. Shortly afterwards it returned and I got a view as it circled the pool before continuing south.

The walk back produced about 30 Yellowhammers and a dozen Reed Buntings, and then a pair of Stonechats.

The male was particularly showy. Back at the car I noticed a Mistle Thrush. They have been scarce again this summer, so it was worth a shot.

A very enjoyable little visit.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Sunday November 2

A morning which started and ended with frequent showers, but in between, despite lead grey skies, the conditions were pretty good for birding. The very light south-westerly was particularly helpful for finding passerines.

Dave was back, and we gave it our best shot. The initial signs were encouraging as there was plenty of southerly passage.The main feature of this was the arrival, at last, of good numbers of Fieldfares. I logged 153 flying south, along with 220 Woodpigeons, 75 Starlings, and 100 Redwings.

Other small birds were well in evidence, and we counted 60 Skylarks, 80 Linnets, 50 Chaffinches, and 20 Goldfinches. Other notables were a male Stonechat and a very brief Kingfisher.

Once again the watery areas of the patch let us down. There were, admittedly, a lot of Mallard (maybe 150) on the main pool, but other than that we saw two Tufted Ducks, 17 Lapwings, two Green Sandpipers, a Cormorant, and 53 Canada Geese.

Back at the car I recalled I had only got the camera out once (a failed attempt to photograph a large female Sparrowhawk which was as thrilled as we were to see so many small birds). So as Dave drove home I decided to try to boost my photo-year list by targeting some of the small stuff I am still missing. I intend to get to 100 before I send my camera off for repair. This meant stalking along the road at the base of Bannams Wood.

Sadly the weather closed in and all I managed was a Goldcrest whose head was completely obscured by a branch. I briefly saw/heard Treecreeper and Coal Tit but no shot was attempted. So I am jettisoning the Goldcrest photo, and remain on 98.

What am I going to put into the blog? Well I did notice that the local Pheasants are behaving more strangely than usual, like sitting in trees, and in the following example on top of woodpiles.

Cannon fodder
 Stupid birds.