Saturday, 22 October 2011

Outwitted !

I popped into Tongwell to have a look around the lake this afternoon.
There was a definite increase in duck numbers with quite a few Tufteds, twenty or so Gadwall and 3 Shoveler mixed in with the regular Mallards.
 A Kingfisher sat on the edge of the dam and a Grey Wagtail paddled in the adjacent stream, but the star of the show today was a Black-headed Gull. A group of these stood on the dam wall and I noticed one was bearing a metal ring.
 My usual trick is to take a few photos of the bird and to blow up the pictures on the computer to see if I can read what it says.
 This bird though seemed to know what I was up to and although it allowed me to approach relatively close, the minute I lifted the camera it retracted it's leg into it's feathers and stood there on one leg.


This standoff carried on for five minutes or so until the leg came back down, but for only for a couple of seconds, when the bird decided to sit down !


 Another five minutes and then it moved, but this time on to the water in front of me !

 I did get some photos eventually, but then someone over the far side arrived with some bread and the flock headed off.



 Looking at the photos I have concluded that the bird was not ringed in this country, but where I'm not sure as I only have part of the inscription

 PITFE
THEM
3582

 Shame as would have loved to have known where this little chap came from. He was a real character.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Bucks Bogey Bird Bagged

Common Scoter is not a rare bird off the coast of Britain and I have seen many thousands. They occur probably every couple of years in inland Buckinghamshire and usually only stay for one day at a time.
 Every time one turns up I usually for one reason or another I am unable to get there to see it - usually due to work and on one occasion being too ill to get out of the house. Even Velvet Scoter is on my county list !
 When news came through of a bird at College Lake on Saturday night -too late to get there before dark I thought here we go again !
 It wasn't reported Sunday or Monday so I assumed my theory of one day wonders had come good again.
 However a text from Paul this morning informed me that it was still around.Luckily I was finishing work early and a quick dash down to the middle of the county had me watching this smart male seaduck before the reserve closed. He never came particularly close, but I wasn't particularly bothered, the monkey is off my back and my next Bucks tick is guarranteed to be something reasonably rare.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Home of Big White birds with Yellow beaks

I didn't visit Gayhurst Quarry this morning as I presumed there would be shooting going on. Looks like I slipped up.

 Instead I opted for a walk around the Willen Lakes.
Here there was an obvious increase in the number of ducks around. Lots of Wigeon, Teal, Tufted, Gadwall and Shoveler, but on the South Lake 2 Goldeneye were unexpected as were the 2 on North Lake - these are definitely a bit early !
 Coot nubers have incresed dramatically with easily a couple of hundred on site, about 100 Mute Swans are on South Lake and at least 50 Great-crested Grebes are spread around. 6 Little Grebes were seen from the hide.

 This afternoon, news came in of 6 Whooper Swans on the Fishing Pit at Gayhurst .Typical !
 Of course I had to go see for myself, and sure enough just up from the footpath 6 adult Whoopers were loafing on the side of the pit.
 I assume these birds have either overshot the Ouse Washes in this mornings fog or have stopped off on their way to the Severn Estuary. It would be fantastic though if it was last years over-wintering bird who had brought five of his friends to stay at the Gayhurst complex for the winter vacation.

Monday, 10 October 2011

He likes it here !

I managed a visit to Gayhurst Quarry this afternoon, having not managed to get there since I finally  connected with the Great White Egret there a couple of weeks ago                                                     .
It was quite windy so I didn't expect to see too many small birds and indeed this proved to be the case. A Chiffchaff in the local Long-tailed Tit flock being the highlight.                                             
A few ducks have arrived with a dozen or so Wigeon, an equal number of Teal, a couple of Gadwall, a Shoveler and a handful of Tufteds.
The Great-crested Grebes with the mobile nest have finally hatched out a youngster - seems very late in the year !
I had already seen a Heron and a couple of Little Egrets, when aproaching Reedy Pit I spotted a larger bird. It was the Great White ! He saw me and hopped over to Spinney Pit, where I watched him for a while until the Heron chased him over to Motorway Pit, where he seemed quite content to stay for a while. That's over a month now he's been in the area, I wonder if he'll overwinter.
Great White Egret

 I continued on around the river, seeing very little, other than a Grey Wagtail and a couple of Buzzards battling with the local crow flock.
 I always look under the motorway bridge for the local Crayfish and was happy to see one right in by the bank. I grabbed hold of it and took a few shots as they are quite impressive creatures. This one is posing beside a pound coin to give some sense of scale. This is by no means a big one as I have seen some twice this size.
Signal Crayfish

Monday, 3 October 2011

Mediterranean Weather

 Making the most of the unseasonably warm weather Angela, Becky and I took a trip to the coast yesterday.
 Great Yarmouth was the destination- not a place I could cope with for more than a single day at a time, but O.K in small doses and besides it is almost  the nearest you  are to the sea from inland Buckinghamshire.
 As it happened we had a very enjoyable day doing all the things you do at a typical British seaside resort, Funfair, Amusements, Fish and Chips, Ice-cream etc.

 This was not meant to be a birding day but, the bins are always handy and I happened to stumble across some decent birds during the course of the day. Not least the 5 Common Cranes that were flying alongside the A11 near to Snetterton, a Raven near to Lingwood and an Egret that looked too large to be a Little in a field just out of Yarmouth - unfortunately the road was too busy to stop.
 At Yarmouth itself the amount of Mediterranean Gulls was quite impressive, apart from Herrings they seemed to be the most abundant Gull as they scoured the beach on the lookout for any scraps that might have been on offer. I guess there must have been at least a dozen flying around with probably more out on the sea

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Wheatears

Working in Lathbury on Thursday I was keeping my eyes open for any signs of migration, but other than quite a few Skylarks and a couple of Yellow Wagtails passing over there didn't seem to be much going on.
However a  bird that just bobbed over my head and seemed to land on the roof of the house certainly attracted my attention - a Wheatear !
 Unfortunately it didn't linger, but surely this warranted a trip to Ravenstone Sewage Works - the local Wheatear hotspot during migration.
 So after work this was where I headed and sure enough the first bird I clapped eyes on was - a Wheatear !
 A further scout around the site revealed another Wheatear plus 5 or 6 Chiffchaffs feasting on the hoardes of Midges at the works, a Buzzard and a couple of Stock Doves but little else..