Monday, 29 August 2011

Morning walk behind the RSSKL

A late morning walk behind the RSSKL was rather productive as I saw both a Buzzard and Kestrel with a further record of 2 Yellow Wagtails flying south west near Middle Farm, they seem to becoming a more regular sight in the local area perhaps indicating an important passage location for these birds.

Farmland behind the RSSKL (28th August)

A trip down towards Rookery Wood produced several species of common farmland birds including Linnet, Buzzard, Kestrel and large numbers of House Martins and Swallows.  After turning left at the woodland margin that overlooks the farmland south west of Berrybush Farm there were at least 6+ Yellow Wagtails in the field accompanying the cows whilst 2 Red Kites and 23+ Stock Doves also flew over.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Staines Reservoir (27th August)

The clouded sky at the start of the day began to become more overcast throughout our first visit to Staines Reservoir.  The day started well with strong westerly winds passing over the reservoir following a storm in the previous night.  My brother and I were both hoping for a sea blown rarity eg. a Skua but unfortunately no luck.  Soon after arriving we scanned the northern part of Staines Reservoir which produced 1 Turnstone and 2 possible Ruff (unfortunately too distant for certain ID and only seen in flight).  The ridge between King George VI and Staines Reservoir produced 1 Buzzard mobbed by at least 2 Kestrels.  On the northern bank of Staines R. regular Ring-necked Parakeets flew over, 2 Hobbies and later in the afternoon a Red Fox skulked along the bank.  The causeway was also attractive to the local Pied Wagtails and 1 Yellow Wagtail.  Strong showers in the afternoon brought in c.50 Lapwing that landed on the tern rafts to accompany the 100's of Common Terns already hunting over the reservoir.  The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the almost full summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe that stayed faithful to the small stretch of water infront of the white hospital on the southern part of Staines Reservoir, preferring to dive and fish during sunny weather or rest and preen during showers.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Another Tawny Owl in our back garden (26th August)

I stayed most of the day indoors yesterday but in the evening I was surprised to hear a screeching Tawny Owl from our back garden.  I was even more surprised to find it perched on a high exposed branch on the ash tree in our back garden, but only for a brief period before it flew into the woods.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Yellow Wagtails and 2 Little Owls along Barnes Lane (25th August)

Regular trips behind the KL School are now producing good birds including 5 juv. Yellow Wagtails and a record count of 8 Green Woodpeckers on the same playing field at one time!  Black-headed Gull numbers are also on the rise with 15+ now present.  1 Great Spotted Woodpecker also flew over as did 1 Red Kite.  Later on we continued down Barnes Lane to the Little Owl spot were my brother an I located 2 Little Owls (1ad., 1 juv.) along the poplar avenue.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Birding behind the KL School

An amazing array of birds on the local patch today (as it is usually quiet with little about).  I only got out past midday but birds started flooding in only minutes after I arrived.  Most obvious were the large number of Wagtails covering the playing fields.  The majority were Pied Wagtails but amongst them there were at least 16+ Yellow Wagtails (a first for my local patch).  In addition a small congregation of Black-headed Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also at the back of the field.  2 juv. Green Woodpeckers were also searching for ants unaware of the recent arrival of an immature Sparrowhawk that made a short aborted chase for one but gave up and landed in the tree under which I was standing.  Later on in the afternoon I was thrilled to find a Lesser Whitethroat along the hedgerow in the far northern corner, it showed only briefly but the view was amazing and my second new bird of the day for my local patch.  Minutes later the entire field of Starlings, Warblers, Wagtails, Linnets, Goldfinches and even the Black-headed Gulls were put up by a totally unexpected Hobby that swooped across the playing field.

one of many Yellow Wagtails

combination of photos taken by my brother and myself

Monday, 22 August 2011

Ringing at Mr Downhills House


Just came back from another ringing session at my trainers house between 6:30 and 8:30am.  On the way, whilst cycling along the canal a Kingfisher called as it flew (out of site of me) along a small stream to the left of me, just into Berkhampstead.  It then overtook me on the right heading up the canal and over the loch.  What I assume was the same bird then hurtled back over the loch and headed straight towards me and only veered away from me at the last moment.  Only meters from the location I saw a Sparrowhawk fly up into one of the overhanging willow trees, perhaps the reason for the Kingfishers hasty retreat back towards me.


Very little was caught today except 2 Blue Tits, 1 Coal Tit and a Nuthatch, all the same we occupied ourselves with passerine books and watched the birds swerving deliberately out of the way of the net.  Also in Mr Downhills garden was a party of 3 Bullfinches and 4 Jays.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Hobbies over Middle Farm

Just came back from walking Theo(our dog).  The highlight birds on the walk were 2 Hobbies that I saw together over the Berrybushes Wood.  One came closer and even began speeding around the farm before briefly alighting on a wire.  However it soon headed of towards Chipperfield.  The other Hobby remained over the wood and was perched on a tall fir tree until a pair of Carrion Crows forced it to take flight and it too headed towards Chipperfield.  Very few other birds were about except 1 Buzzard and flocks of House Martins and individual Swallows.

Twitching the South Coulsdon Hoopoe at Farthing Downs (20th August)

My brother and I left at 6:30am to catch the train to South Coulsdon (making no less than three changes) to try our luck with the long staying Hoopoe that had taken up temporary residents at Farthing Downs near South Coulsdon.  The trip alone took over an hour and a half and on arriving it took an additional half hour to get to the location at which the Hoopoe had last been seen.  Fortunately after making our way half way through the park we encountered a small group of birders already on the bird.  This meant no hard searching or trekking around the Downs.  Instead I was rewarded with my first ever British adult Hoopoe.  Although the view was distant it soon took flight and within minutes it was perched much closer on a dead tree were we continued to have an excellent view of it.  It became more confident throughout the day and after perching on the dead tree for only a few seconds it glided down onto the path even closer than before and offering the best view yet (unfortunately flushed by a jogger running straight into the bird causing it to fly back to the hedgerow west of the Downs and flying southward were we didn't find it for over an hour).  It was later relocated in the original field in which we first saw it, as before the view was distant but it remmained and feed in the location for a long period before flying back onto the Downs further south and being relocated by a new arrival of observers.  Unfortunatel it flew from the ground after being flushed by a dog but on our way back m brother and I and a handful of luck observers managed to get amazing views of the bird as it feed within meters of us perfoming beautifully and allowing me to take some record shots of the bird including some with its crest fully erect!

 one of the best views we had of the Hoopoe as it feed in the open on the path

 a rare view as it had its crest fully erect

some record footage of the Hoopoe feeding on the path taken by my brother Ephraim and edited by myself

good view of the buff orange mantle followed by first thin dark brown/black bar on mantle indicating adult male

 one of the first views we had of the Hoopoe perched in a dead tree

Also on the Downs as we trekked around searching for the Hoopoe (at times when it was more elusive) we came across 2 Hobbies, 3 Swift and 2 Kestrels.  The Downs also had large flocks of Linnet and Jackdaws in the neighbouring fields.

White-clawed Crayfish!

In the past week I was lucky enough to gain an excellent view of a White-clawed Crayfish!  For safety purposes it is best to keep the location secret.  An amazing animal with only one huge claw (the other missing perhaps taken of in a conflict).

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Ringing at Drayton Beauchamp (17th August)

Caught a large total of 28 birds on sight today (Drayton Beauchamp) including several common species such as Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren and Goldfinch and by far the most numberous of the day were the Blackcaps.  Also on the list of species ringed were less commonly ringed birds on the site including a Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and even a juvenile Sparrowhawk!

photo for reference to Long-tailed Tit eye ring for aiding aging of bird

The second Sparrowhawk I have seen caught (juv. ♂) 

My trainer Mr Downhill with juv. Sparrowhawk

Garden Birding (16th August)

Stayed at home yesterday which allowed me to recover from some late nights out and previous days birding.  Large numbers of commoner tits, including, Long-tailed/ Blue/ Great and Coal where all swarming around the peanut feeder in the back garden yew tree.  I also observed 2 Coal Tits becoming fiercely territorial over the sunflower seed feeder in the front garden and performing the warning signal (showing their obvious throat markings and swaying their head gradually from side to side) often characteristical of a Robin.  A Nuthatch was a surprise visit to the peanut feeder as was a Blackcap in the same tree.  Later in the day I also saw 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker in the tall dead tree in our back garden and 2 Swifts (probably my last for the year).

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Ringing at the Boxmoor Trust

Another great day ringing at the Boxmoor Trust outside Hemel.  In total we caught five species, including 1 Dunnock, 1 Robin (unfortunately escaping us before getting the opportunity to ring and measure it), 2 Blue Tits, 2 Great Tits, 1 Marsh Tit (a good close up view of my latest year tick!), and most surprising of all was a juvenile Sparrowhawk (flying straight into the net without escaping but drawing blood, it was all worth it when it was eventually ringed and measured)!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Garden Tawny Owl

I decided to do a little garden birding today and only after a few minutes of scanning I came across a dark stump like silhouette of something high in the Cedar tree in our front Garden.  It was instantly recognisable when I lifted my bins to my eyes to reveal a rufous type Tawny Owl.  The excitement of encountering one in our front garden roosting was both amazing and a privilege, hopefully it'll return in future (although having said that it's still present now).

Tawny Owl, what an amazing bird to add to my garden list, easily one of the best

A little digital enhancement of the same photo by Jack Fearnside of the Herts Bird Club