Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Bird id of the day.... Dave was in the hide when a couple of birders called a couple of snow buntings on the fresh marsh. He looked through their scope and guess what he saw......2 ruff!! What the f**k do people think they are doing, are they too scared to carry a fieldguide, ask for help or just stupid. I can understand if they had confused ruff and redshank or two species of similar passerine but as far as I know, snow buntings don't have long bill and wade. I must be getting old and intolerant!!
Went down to Rainham Marshes on an Area Team 'away day' to have a look at some of their management issues and share some ideas around visitors, environmental education and interpretation. Living and working on the edge of London is not my cup of tea but I pleasently surprised how 'rural' the reserve feels. having said that, you only have to look around and you realise where you are. The Thames is on your left, Eurostar line on the right, massive tip at the end and on a good day you can see the London Eye! The wet grassland habitat looks great at the moment with loads of water on. We had good numbers of wigeon, teal and lapwing. A 1st winter med and 2 adult little gulls were about but no large gulls. Green sand, little-ringed plover and peregrine were also seen but not a great deal else. After only hearing them last summer, it was nice to catch up with marsh frog (below). One thing I wanted to look at was how the new Butts hide was developing. The hide was designed by the same person as our Parrinder Hide and uses the same window and seat system. The first thing was how the wood has faded and blends into the surroundings. When we saw it last summer is was still orange like ours is now. Good news that Parrinder will soften in no time. The hide at the bottom also uses the large window design and is opening is a few week but unfortunatly we couldn't see in it. A few more spring migrants are now in. Highlight of the week so far were 3 red kite and 4 garganey on monday and at least 3 singing blackcap today.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Despite the weather forecast being wrong and having to shut the nets by 10am because of heavy rain, we had a pretty decent morning. We ended with 110 birds of which 31 were new. Highlights were 5 new chiffchaff and a returning one from last year, 2 new goldcrests and a re-trap nuthatch. 4 woodcock back into the wood at dawn and a female marsh harrier were also recorded.
Here are a couple of photos of the female brambling and marsh tit from the other week.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Not a great deal happening recently hence the lack of activity. Been down to my parents last week and caught a nice female brambling amongst other things and added marsh tit to the garden list by trapping one a couple days ago - photos to follow.

Comma, small tort and brimstone in the garden this week.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

First real signs of spring today.
A new chiffchaff ringed in a couple of hours before work could have been a wintering bird but there were 2 singing males on the Meadow Trail today so it could have been a new arrival. A cracking male wheatear this afternoon on the reserve went to the top of the list and knocked black swan off the top spot...thankfully. Although it spent most of its time asleep, I don't think it had just arrived from Australia!!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

After being inspired by Ben's recent blog post and a converstion with someone on the reserve, I decided to head down to the Brecks today for some early spring birding. The plan was to look for lesser spotted woodpeckers at a couple of sites where they had been showing recently.

First stop was Lynford. Not exactly the best conditions as it was rather windy but at least it was dry and bright. No hawfinches in the paddocks so I headed straight to the area where the woodpeckers have been. First bird in the area was a singing marsh tit followed by a drumming great spot. A walk further up the stream produced another marsh tit and a flock of redwings including several singing. As I was watching a great spot, another bird higher up caught my eye - a cracking male lesser spotted woodpecker! As elusive as ever, the bird moved quickly off and despite hearing is calling I didn't see it again. A search for firecrest failed to produce anything so I headed off for goshawks.

On arrival, several other birders had seen a couple of birds but by now the weather had changed for the worse and there was hail and rain about. At least 10 crossbills were in the area and a couple males kept perching in the tall trees giving scope views. Two woodlarks and a buzzard kept us awake but no goshawks. As the weather cleared, 2 buzzards appeared followed shortly after by a male goshawk. He flew across the area and then came back and started to display. We then realised that there was a female moving over higher up. Both birds moved slowly over the area with the male giving a full display flight - awesome birds!

Final stop was Santon Downham to look again for lesser spots. A displaying male had been seen earlier in the day but I was probably a bit too late and didn't see anything of them. Some confiding redpolls (below) were feeding along the path and allowed me to get close enough to get some reasonable shots.

On the way home I managed to bump into 9 buzzards and 4 red kites between Fakenham and Swaffham.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Made the most of the decent weather and had a conserted effort on garden ringing. 21 new birds ringed which isn't top bad. Highlights were 3 siskin (8 this year) and a lesser redpoll.

The birds keep coming at our weekend ringing site with another 115 birds (27 new) handled on Saturday. For some reason we had a load of new blue tits arrive making up at least half the birds we ringed. There is the chance they are migrants as we also had a chaffinch with a longer wing measurement than our local birds. A pair of nuthatch and a treecreeper were also caught and are probably in the top 3 of the best birds to handle. A singing mistle thrush and 2 drumming great spots were a nice change.

The ringing group have just had an interesting ringing recovery. Kevin ring a woodcock in his garden on November 7th. We have just heard that it was shot 56 days later on January 2nd, 1145km south near Oviedo in northern-Spain! We assume that it was moving south to escape the cold weather. It is a shame that it had been shot but still a facinating recovery.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

1st bumblebee of the year today despite it being chuffing cold!