Saturday, 30 May 2015

Plastic Fantastic

Could resist the lure of my favourite duck on the reserve today.

I have always loved white faced whistling ducks since I volunteered at Slimbridge many years ago and was lucky to see them in West Africa last year.

It was still slightly surreal to see the bird sleeping on the fresh marsh islands this afternoon. Clearly it was tired after its long flight north.

Didn't hear it whistle but if did briefly wake up for a stretch before bedding down again :-)

Thursday, 28 May 2015

100 up

I'm sure that I didn'tyt dream several years ago a conversation between myself, John Badley and Paul French about our respective garden lists and who would get to 100 bird species recorded. Well Paul moved away leaving John and I to race to the target. We have both been in the high 90's for a while but I have the delight of winning the speedboat prize we agreed on all those years ago. Well I think that's how the story went anyway!

Well I did make it to 100s species before John and the honour went to a calling male cuckoo that was around the estate calling early on Saturday morning.

Having moved into our current house on 2007 we have been steadily improving our garden for birds and wildlife adding a pond and masses of borders and shrubs. A small pond attracts stuff into drink and bathe. Probably the most important aspect to getting a good list is the fact we live in a bungalow meaning that we are not surrounded with other houses and there is lots of sky to watch. This is ideal for watching raptors and scanning through then winter goose flocks flying over.

Ringing in the garden has certainly helped and has added several new species to the list.

So what have been the highlights....

Little egret - flyover in 2009
2 records of both mute and Bewick's swans
Brent goose - 11 over in December 2007
Gadwall - 3 on 2010. The lack of any real water close by means the wildfowl list is only 9 species
Red kite is a regular sighting and probably bred nearby last year
Merlin - 1 in 2008
Pheasant - only 1 record in 2009
Moorhen - 1 in the garden over the last winter
Stone curlew - very lucky to have these breeding nearby and can hear them flying over the house on warm summer nights. Can even hear them from bed!
Green sandpiper - 2 in 2014 Like with wildfowl, very few wader species have been recorded with 7 so far
Turtle dove - 1 in July 2007
Waxwing - several flyover records to date
Ring ouzel - 1 flushed out of the garden in October 2013
Firecrest - singing male for a morning in May 2014
Spotted flycatcher - 2 records, one in 2008, one trapped and ringed in 2014
Marsh tit - 1 ringed in 2011
Nuthatch - 1 in 2010
Tree sparrow - 2 flyovers in February 2011
Crossbill - 1 in 2008

I have also decided to complete the Patchwork Challenge 'competition' this year from the garden with the aim of getting to that magical figure of 100 species. Now that has been achieved the next aim is to get as big a list as possible. Nearly 5 months into the year and the list stands at 54 species.

Not a bad effort really :-)

Pics of spot fly and reed bunting

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Fine phalarope

Like most wetland sites along the east coast we seem to be having a very poor spring for waders. So far we haven't recorded a wood sand this year and currently there hasnt been a ruff in May! Black tailed godwits have been non-existent along with dunlin. Water levels have been perfect for the last month so at least that reason can be ruled out ;-)

With a slight change in the wind direction, this week things have started to pick up with 2 Temminck's stints, a movement of tundra ringed plovers, 2 little stints and 5 little gulls.

Things improved further this morning when a radio message came through of a red necked phalarope on the fresh marsh. Having been too busy to go straight out for the stints (unlike others) I did dash down to check this one. The guy who found it actually saw it fly in from the east and drop down in front of him!
Despite the poor morning light, the bird showed well only 30m from the path but got increasingly mobile and spent most of its time in the middle of the marsh.
The light was very poor but I did manage to get a couple of poor phonescope record shots