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Friday, February 27, 2009

27th February

Female Smew in area 5. The first record since 1963

The not the clearest of pictures, it shows that the bird below is fully winged.

Drake Common Teal in area 5

Grey Heron in area 2 on the prowl for the first of the spring frogs.

Redwing in area 32, a flock of around twenty birds have been present here for a couple of weeks.

Green Woodpecker feeding in area 32.

Little Grebe: Three birds were on the lake.
Smew: A redhead was asleep on the north side of area 5. It was first seen on Wednesday, but the observer thought that it had escaped from the collection. This is the first record since the cold winter of 1962-63.
Common Teal: A pair were also in area 5.
Gadwall: 19 birds were in area 5.
Red Crested Pochard: 27 birds flew out of area 26.
Egyptian Geese: 22 birds were on the lake, making a racket.
Grey Heron: 28 pairs have taken up territories, with several sitting tight on eggs.
Redwing: 20 birds were on the grass by the Outer Circle, area 32.
Siskin: At least 8 birds were present, seen in areas 5 and 26, with several males singing.
Goldfinch: Sixty birds scattered around the park.
Jackdaw: Two birds flew SW at 8.00am

Monday, February 23, 2009

23rd February

As it was half term, I took my wife up to her mums home on the caost in Norfolk.
While away, I forunately didn't miss anything. The species are much the same, though the number of waterfowl on the lake has dropped significantly.

Birds present today:
Water Rail:
Two birds were seen today in the rail ditch.
Siskin: Birds were heard calling in area 24.

Snow Buntings at Salthouse

Bewick's Swan a pair plus a cygnet near Ludham.

A flock of 156 Bewick's with the odd Whooper Swan mixed in, near Potter Higham

Drake Common Teal at Salthouse

Norfolk as usual proved quite productive, and even the weather was kind to me.
I was staying on the coast just below Happisburgh. Short walks along the coast here produced good numbers of Red-throated Divers, 1 Black Throated Diver, Common Scoters and Guillemots on the sea plus a flock of 30 Snow Buntings feeding on a shingle ridge. Birding on afternoon at Hickling Broads, Stubbs Mill produced 4 Common Cranes,15 Marsh Harriers, 1f Hen Harrier, 2 Merlins, 2 Barn Owls and a Cettis Warbler. Driving around on my three day stay produced 20 Barn Owls, Norfolk is definitely the place to go to see this species as it patrols the edges of the fields and verges.
I put one day aside to meet up with friends and bird the north coast, from Salthouse in the east to Titchwell in the west. .
1st stop he Beach Car Park at Salthouse produced at least 50 Snow Buntings, and 25 Turnstones, that given time approached to within 5ft of you. This is due to the fact that the area has seed scattered around, the noise of the Turnstones turning over the shingle all at the same time is very loud. On the sea here, were again good numbers of Red-throated Divers, 1 Black-throated Diver and a few Fulmars.
We moved on to Cley Coastguard car park in the hope of bumping in to the Glaucous Gull that had been feeding on a seal carcass. How ever the carcass had drifted off and so had the gull. In the field nearby was a flock of several hundred Brent Geese that were accomanied by 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese.
We did call in at Lady Ann's drive to look for White-fronted Geese, but were suprised by how few geese were present. They must have already started to head back north. Choseley Barn produced good numbers of Corn and Yellow Hammers. We had lunch at the Titchwell Cafe before heading out on to the reserve, a very obliging Water Rail fed in the ditch by the path allowing superb views(not a patch on the Regent's Park birds). The light was magnificant, birds were every where, mostly birds you would expect to see at this time of year. Highlights here and on the sea were; 8 Red Breated Mergansers, 20 Goldeneye, Black Brant, Spotted Redshank, 30 Ruff, 2000+ Golden Plover and Mediterranean Gull. Our last stop I decided would be the car park at Stiffkey, hopefully for raptors. This is not my usual viewing point, that is at the end of a long rough and bumpy track at Warham Greens that overlooks the salt marshes. This after all the recent bad weather was much to muddy. There was already a few birders present when we pulled up. We hadn't been there long when I spotted the first Hen Harrier a female, over the next hour and a half we were to see 1m Hen Harrier, 12 Marsh Harriers, 1f Peregrine, 2 Merlins, 25 Little Egrets plenty of other birds to keep you interested. As the light began to fade we all headed back to our various destinations.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

15th February

This is the third Water Rail to be seen in the rail ditch. It has a somewhat dumpy appearance, with a short tail and white undertail coverts.

Redwings on the canal slips, showing how different amount of red on the flanks can be.

Water Rail: What was the third individual in area 2, showed well this morning.
Tawny Owl: A male calling from area 29 at 6.50am.
Redwing: 75 birds feeding by the Outer Circle, area 32.
Chaffinch: 68 birds feeding under the Hornbeams, by the Outer Circle, area 32.
Siskin: Fifteen birds in area 24.

Friday, February 13, 2009

13th February

The team putting out the net, before it was dragged down one of the narrower parts of the lake.
A nice sized Tench was a pleasant surprise.

As to was this Carp

Most of the other fish that were netted were small Perch, with lesser numbers of Roach and Rudd.

For the last couple of days we have been down at St James's Park. The lake their is being draining and the silt and the silt removed. So that not all of the fish are lost we have been helping their wildlife officers catch them.

Birds seen their today were.
Peregrine Falcon:
One was circling high above the lake before drifting off east, possibly back towards the Tate.
Great Black-backed Gull: An adult was on the Pelicans rocks at lunchtime, it was present here yesterday.
Little Grebe: Four birds were trilling and chasing each other around the lake.

Kensington Gardens:
Tawny Owlet:
One youngster was resued from the ground this morning.

Regents Park today
Peregrine Falcon:
A very high flying bird drifted south-east at 8.00am.
Water Rail: Two birds at least were in area 2.
Redwing/Fieldfare: There has been a small nomadic flock roaming the park this week.
Blackcap: The male was singing in area 24 last Monday.
Siskin: Still a small group present mainly in areas 24 and 25.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

8th February

Fieldfare and Redwing

Redwings and Fieldfares

No matter how cold, birds really need water to bath and drink in.

I wasn't in the park yesterday, but another birder reported seeing a small mixed flock of winter thrushes, today this flock had increased.

Water Rail:
There are possibly three birds in the rail ditch. The undertail coverts seem to indicate this.
Fieldfare: Forty-eight birds feeding on the ground in area 20.
Redwing: Sevent-two birds feeding in area 20.
Siskin: Four birds in area 24.
Goldfinch: Twenty-six feeding in area 24, there were also a few feeding on the ground in area 20.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

4th February

The Water Rails have taken very well to the feeding station, though occasionally the more aggressive bird flexes her muscles.

Moorhen and Egyptian Geese in the rail ditch.

Not much to report, how times have changed. Though this is the worst snow in London for eighteen years, I was two years out. If we had had these conditions back then by now we would have witnessed large movements of birds looking for food.
I remember over a thousand Lapwings and Skylarks passing through in large flocks, as well as the winter thrushes and even small numbers of Yellow Hammers and even the odd Corn Bunting and Tree Sparrow. To date we have had under one hundred Fieldfares and a handful of Redwings.

Monday, February 02, 2009

2nd February

As you can see, conditions in the rail ditch are not that easy.

Heavy Snow to a depth of at least 6". The first large amount of snow to drop on London for over twenty years.

220 birds on a very crowded lake.
Tufted Duck: 17o bird on the lake, the above species nearly always out numbers them.
Water Rail: Two birds feeding in difficult conditions.
Fieldfare: 55 birds in two flocks prior to 9.30am.
Redwing: 32 birds in with the above species.