Sunday, 30 October 2016

Sunday October 30

A mild, grey, still morning. Dave and I wandered around without, if I'm honest, seeing anything very interesting.

There were good numbers of Woodpigeons flying over, at least 400 were logged. Other than that it was all a bit samey. Three Stonechats, about 70 Fieldfares and about 60 Redwings. Only about 10 Redpolls were seen, and the Linnet flock was down in number to about 100.

Only 10 Teal, one Green Sandpiper, and one Snipe.

Reed Bunting
About four Siskins narrowly avoided being photographed, as did a Fox.

Hopefully November will produce a few more birds.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Friday October 28

Cloudy with a very light south-westerly breeze, and sunny periods by late morning.

This morning I was joined by Richard Brooke, who was keen to improve his birding knowledge, and was well armed with a gadget fed through his iPhone aimed at boosting the bird sounds he could hear through his hearing aids. It is perhaps fair to say that this worked to a point.

My plan was to carry my scope around on its tripod so that any birds which perched up were available for Richard to view in close up. Unfortunately the birds didn't understand the plan, and mostly felt it their duty to fly off seconds before Richard looked at them.

At least he got some good views of Linnets. Their numbers seems to have returned to the numbers seen last week and close inspection of this photograph;

A lot of Linnets
revealed a total of 234 dots, almost all believed to be Linnets.

Inevitably, visiting the site two days in succession and in similar weather, produced more or less the  same birds as yesterday. The Wigeon was still present, and two Stonechats showed well. At least four Snipe were seen in the flash field before the farmer appeared on his quad-bike. Three Mistle Thrushes flew over us, that being the largest count this year.

Bannams Wood
Blackberries and a Sloe in the hedgerows
All very pleasant and autumnal, but a bit on the quiet side for my liking.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Thursday October 27

A rare opportunity to spend the whole day at the patch due to Lyn getting the chance of an all day shopping trip to Solihull with a friend who is visiting from Australia. Everyone's a winner.

A cloudy morning with a very light south-westerly breeze, but the sun struggled out during the afternoon. I cut the day into several segments as I needed to return home a couple of times. The morning visit was ok, but I didn't feel that there were as many birds as last weekend.

I logged 13 Redpolls, about 100 Linnets, several small parties of Redwings and Fieldfares heading over, and a flock of 59 Woodpigeons heading south. Matt Willmott arrived and we had a nice chat before I had to leave. On the way back to the car I saw two Stonechats, and later learned that Matt had seen three. On the drive home I flushed a Green Sandpiper from a tiny pool at the roadside near the church. It turned out to be the only one I saw all day.

On my return I chose to park at Church Farm where the improved light allowed a couple shots of some wagtails.

Grey Wagtail
Pied Wagtail
By now I was on a bit of a mission to try for an autumn day list. My circuit down to the flash field and back added 12 House Sparrows (a decent total here these days), the Grey Wagtail, 41 Teal, a Grey Heron, several Rooks, five Song Thrushes, a Sparrowhawk, three Greenfinches, a Snipe, and the first Wigeon of the autumn.

The afternoon session commenced at just before three o'clock. I began by solving the issue of the disappearing Redpolls. I noticed a flock of 50 over Netherstead, which briefly landed in the trees there. By the time I had got my scope up they had disappeared, but I eventually found a party of 35 which which circled in the distance before disappearing into the birches at Clouse Wood. It would seem that this is the origin of the flock Matt saw on Monday.

A Mistle Thrush got the day list back on track before I headed for the ridge field intending to count the Linnets on the telephone wires there. I kicked up at least 21 Meadow Pipits en route, before estimating 150 Linnets, although a photo count only produced 122. Red-legged Partridges made it onto the list, and then, more excitingly, a flock of 30 Golden Plovers headed south.

Golden Plovers
With the sun dipping towards the horizon I decided to try my luck at the Water Rail pond. Sadly, it was almost dry and so my final bird of the day turned out to be a rather anti-climactic Lesser Black-backed Gull.

My day total was a fairly modest 58 species.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Monday October 24

News from the patch. It's a while since I was able to say that.

Matt Willmott has texted me to say that as well as 200 Linnets and plenty of Goldfinches, he saw a flock of 200 Redpolls today.

So it looks like it will be another winter of Redpoll fun.... Oh God!

Sorry, Freudian slip, I of course meant Oh Good!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Sunday October 23

With Dave choosing to return to Flamborough to try to find rarities on the latest batch of north-easterlies, I was left to attempt to turn something up at Morton Bagot.

The morning was cloudy and cool throughout, with a north-easterly gradually increasing in strength resulting in birds accumulating in the lee of south-west facing hedges.

The first hour was especially lively, with finches all over the place, and regular flocks of winter thrushes heading west. A party of 20 Redpolls flew around, and then a great surge of pigeons and Jackdaws heralded the appearance of an immature Peregrine.

So, overhead passage comprised 245 Fieldfares, 134 Redwings, and 80 Starlings. There was a big increase in finches, with 250 Linnets, and 70 Goldfinches in the ridge field. A few Siskins flew over, and when I did managed to see Redpolls perching up, they were all thought to be Lesser Redpolls.

Lesser Redpoll
Pigeon totals reached a minimum of 70 Stock Doves and 120 Woodpigeons. At least three Stonechats perched on hedges and fences, and a Grey Wagtail was still around.

Moving on to the pool, I was surprised to see that the Little Grebe had returned, apparently undeterred by the fact it was diving in little more than a large puddle. The flash field contained two Green Sandpipers, three Snipe, 33 Teal, and 50 Greylag Geese.

So quite entertaining, but not quite Flamborough.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Thursday October 20

A mostly cloudy morning, although the sun did come out for 30 minutes late morning. A light northerly breeze.

Today's visit was not one that will linger in the memory for long. I chose to walk along the road for a change, though experience should tell me that this is never a very productive route. Ironically it did provide the day's only, very minor, highlight as 15 Fieldfares flew west, my first of the autumn.

After that the tit flocks revealed only tits and at least six Goldcrests, although hearing them is one thing, seeing them while the hedgerows remain in leaf is extremely difficult. A Marsh Tit was the only other notable bird recorded.

I logged 19 Redwings, 10 Chaffinches, 28 Goldfinches, 18 Skylarks, 15 Long-tailed Tits, a handful of Siskins and Redpolls, 70 Linnets, and 70 Stock Doves. Well you've got to do something to keep awake.

The pool has resumed its decline towards a puddle, while the flash field produced 47 Teal, two Green Sandpipers, and a Snipe.

I'll leave you with a couple of token birds to prove I had my camera with me.

Reed Bunting
Common Buzzard

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Sunday October 16

I'm back, after an essentially non-birding holiday in east Cornwall when all the birding action was on the east coast of Britain! I took my bins of course, and managed a few Firecrests and a couple of Med Gulls during the week. We certainly had great weather.

But this morning it was good to be back on the patch, albeit after waiting for the rain to clear through. Dave joined me, and professed to being a bit down in the dumps after choosing not to return to Flamborough this weekend and still managing to miss some Bearded Tits at Marsh Lane. He then went and found two at Napton Reservoir, so every cloud etc.

Anyway, the initial signs were good as the copse at Netherstead was teaming with birds. Most were Blue Tits, we reckoned about 30, but we did winkle out a Chiffchaff. Two Redpolls and two Grey Wagtails flew over before we dragged ourselves away to look at the rest of the area.

The good signs continued, with 14 Redwings south, about 15 Song Thrushes and seven Blackbirds in the hedgerows, 16 unusually photogenic Starlings, and a Stonechat.

We carefully sifted through the Reed Buntings without finding anything better. Totals of 46 Teal, 70 Greylag Geese, and 22 Lapwings were seen, mostly as they flew over, while the flash contained a couple of Green Sandpipers and a Snipe. A single Siskin flew over.

Back at Netherstead we were just in time to see a Swallow flying south, just one day short of my latest here, which was in 2010, and a distant Peregrine.

So that was it, nothing spectacularly unusual, but plenty to see. Normal service has been resumed.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Thursday October 6

A sunny morning with a light easterly breeze. These are the conditions birders pray for in October, but the question is; would Morton Bagot see the benefit?

Well the first thing I noticed was a complete absence of hirundines. Migration was represented by a few Meadow Pipits, and the first of four Chiffchaffs. A Mistle Thrush posed in the copse.

Mistle Thrush
Indeed, thrushes started to play their part as the morning progressed. At least five Song Thrushes and four Blackbirds were much more obvious than they have been of late, perhaps hinting that some or all may be newly arrived migrants. Definitely a migrant was the first Redwing of the autumn which called high above me, but remained unseen.

Six Snipe did an unexpected fly around at Netherstead, while the day's highlight was just a hundred yards away at the little pond. I scanned the bushes, noting three Lesser Redpolls as they flew off, and then caught a movement at the base of the reedmace. It was not, as I had expected, the local Moorhen. Instead, I was just in time to see a Water Rail stalking into cover. BOOM, as they say. This was a first for Morton Bagot, and not before time. Its taken ten years to get one on the list, and frankly I was beginning to give up hope.

I waited for it to reappear, and waited, and waited. A movement turned out to be this.

A Muntjac coming down to drink
Further waiting produced only a Moorhen. Eventually I decided it was time to give up and continue walking round. A pair of Stonechats were in the chat field, I flushed a Green Sandpiper off the pool, and found another three at the flash field along with 46 Greylag Geese, a Snipe, and 18 Teal.

On the return journey I decided to give the pond one more go. Sneaking in to position I discovered that the Green Sandpiper was on the pool. This was a little bittersweet because although it gave me the chance for a really close photograph, I also knew that as soon as I moved it would be away, calling loudly, and alerting the Water Rail that I was back. And that is exactly what happened.

Green Sandpiper
I waited a few more minutes before deciding enough was enough.

So no Yellow-browed Warblers (there are currently thousands of these tiny Siberian migrants in the country, but only a handful have been located in the Midlands) but a Morton Bagot tick.

I'll settle for that any day.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Sunday October 2

A quiet morning, in every sense. After yesterday's heavy rain, this morning was sunny and pretty calm, with just a very light north-westerly developing.

It is too early for the Scandinavian migrants to turn up, which just left a few British migrants to search for. So we saw five Swallows heading away (two of them were going north!), and counted four Blackcaps and six Chiffchaffs in the hedgerows. Although both of these species winter in the UK, they almost never do so at Morton Bagot, so it is safe to call them departing summer migrants.

There was an increase, to five, in the numbers of Stonechats, one or two Redpolls and Siskins were heard, and at least 27 Meadow Pipits flew south. About 50 Linnets in the ridge field now outnumber the Goldfinches, some of which may also have headed for the coast.

Despite the pheasant shoot which I assume took place yesterday, wildfowl numbers at the flash field were holding up well, with 36 Teal, eight Snipe, and five Green Sandpipers still present. There was even a new wader in the form of a single Lapwing, the first for nearly a month.

The resident species included at least eight Magpies (surprisingly close to the very modest site record), a Song Thrush put in an appearance, and two Mistle Thrushes flew south.

The last of the summer's dragonflies are the Common Darters, now looking drained of colour and a bit sad as they desperately search for sunny spots to prolong their lives. Our only butterfly however was a beautifully fresh Red Admiral, not yet ready to start hibernating.

Common Darter
Red Admiral
In a couple of weeks I expect to see the first of the true winter migrants arriving, adding new zest to the birding year.