Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Thursday, 31 March 2011

My Quest Fulfilled - Spotted Crake, Brandon Marsh

Golden Plover above East Marsh

It had to be done! I had to go back! My quest for Spotted Crake was becoming an obsession, with eight hours spent to no avail on Monday, I was determined to nail this bird as a lifer! I arrived at Brandon at 1300 in time to see c100+ Golden Plovers on the main island. I spent another four hours, in good company, hoping. A White Wagtail was spotted on the main island, together with a good number of Common Snipe, Little Ringed Plover and Redshank and two Oystercatchers flitted from island to island. Overhead were several Buzzard and at least 50 Sand Martins. A Water Rail flew in front of the hide, generating a degree of excitement! I was beginning to think that I had "dipped" again for Spotted Crake and indeed a number of birders were drifting away. Then, it happened! Eureka! At 1725, The Holy Grail - a view for all of thirty seconds of the secretive Spotted Crake! It had taken over twelve hours of soul destroying searching!

Spotted Crake

Todays Sightings:

Robin; Blue Tit; Wood Pigeon; Carrion Crow; Great Tit; Canada Goose; Grey Heron; Sand Martin; Moorhen; Mallard; Chiffchaff; Shoveler; Golden Plover; Lapwing; Coot; Mute Swan; Black Headed Gull; LBB Gull; Teal; Great Crested Grebe; Pheasant; Wigeon; Tufted Duck; Snipe; Grey Lag Goose; Pied Wagtail; Little Ringed Plover; White Wagtail; Cettis Warbler; Buzzard; Redshank; Oystercatcher; Gadwall; Starling; Cormorant; Reed Bunting; Green Woodpecker; Water Rail; Spotted Crake; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Magpie.

Grass Snake.

Monday, 28 March 2011

My Quest for Spotted Crake! (or NOT!) Brandon Marsh

Reports confirmed by images of a Spotted Crake on east marsh at Brandon Marsh yesterday ensured this as my destination today. An early start in rather foggy and cool conditions saw me arrive in the carpark in time to receive a text from Dennis W saying it was showing at 0645. Racing to the hide, I arrived in time to be told it had been flushed by a Moorhen, had gone into the reeds and it was not seen again in my eight hour vigil! Slightly rude words will be uttered if it shows again this evening!

The early fog was slow to clear, but clear it did, giving way to a pleasantly warm spring day. A Little Egret landed briefly in front of the hide before being seen off by the Canada geese. As the fog cleared east marsh hosted at least 19 Snipe, 27 Shovelers, 2 Oystercatchers, 3 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Shelduck and 20 Sand Martins. Around the site were at least 6 Cettis Warblers, 7 Chiffchaffs, 5 Buzzards and 1 Willow Warbler.

Unfortunately, due to the conditions, no images were taken.

WELL, it had to happen - the bird has just been reported at Brandon at 1845, twelve hours after it was seen this morning! Just typical...........................and i'm back at work tomorrow. Rather rude words!!!

Todays Sightings:

Wood Pigeon; Robin; Song Thrush; Wren; Pied Wagtail; Magpie; Blackbird; Chiffchaff; Carion Crow; Moorhen; Cettis Warbler; Canada Goose; Blue Tit; Grey Lag Goose; Teal; Black Headed Gull; Coot; Snipe; Little Egret; Shoveler; Oystercatcher; Grey Heron; Lapwing; Green Woodpecker; Mallard; Redshank; Tufted Duck; Mute Swan; Pheasant; Cormorant; Little Ringed Plover; Great Tit; Gadwall; Reed Bunting; Shelduck; Great Crested Grebe; Kestrel; Buzzard; Jackdaw; Sand Martin; Chaffinch; Willow Warbler; Stock Dove; Dunnock.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Black Redstart - Draycote Water

I had no plans for today until a text from RBA alerted me to a Black Redstart near the fishing lodge at Draycote Water. This was too much of a good local bird to miss so away I went. Arriving at the old fishing lodge there were no birders or Black Redstart. I began to despair after half an hour searching and decided to try out the sailing club buildings. Eurika! It was on the roof and it spent time flitting from here to the storage containers, occasionally disappearing from view for long periods. It showed reasonably well, but when on the roof it was well camouflaged against the moss and lichens. Texting the birders who I have numbers for, soon had a small gathering to enjoy and appreciate the bird. Unfortunately, in my hurry to see the bird, I was not well dressed for Draycote, and the coolness persuaded me away after an hours watching.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Stanford Reservoir

Brown Hare

I really couldn't decide where to go this morning so I returned to Stanford Reservoir - one of my boyhood haunts, and somewhere I rarely go now even though it is only a few miles from home. Solitude or what? I was the only person walking the perimeter of this permit only water. The weather was again fantastic and a year tick in the form of a pair of Red Crested Pochards plus several very obliging Brown Hares made for an enjoyable couple of hours. Unfortunately, despite waiting some time, I could not persuade the Hares to "box". I have a feeling that Stanford might become my new "local patch"! A full list of sightings can be found at the end of this post.

Red Crested Pochard

Brown Hare

Todays Sightings:

Wood Pigeon; Wren; Robin; Chiffchaff; Coot; Carrion Crow; Pheasant; Chaffinch; Mallard; Mute Swan; Tufted Duck; Great Crested Grebe; Song Thrush; Grey Lag Goose; Canada Goose; Grey Heron; Cormorant; Dunnock; Rook; Jackdaw; Reed Bunting; Shoveler; Red Crested Pochard; Gadwall; Goldeneye; Green Woodpecker; Skylark; Great Tit; Blackbird; Buzzard; Red Legged Partridge; Sand Martin; Greenfinch; Coal Tit; Linnet; Blue Tit; Kestrel; Stock Dove; Wigeon; Goosander; Black Headed Gull; Pochard; Lapwing; Long Tailed Tit; Willow Tit.

Brown Hare; Muntjac Deer.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Draycote Water

Blue Tit

After a slight mist and early morning coolness, the sun soon shone, burning off the mist and the temperature rose, making a very pleasant spring day. Unfortunately, I was again overdressed, despite leaving off several layers, and was quickly sweating profusely. Had I been at a quieter location, I would have been tempted to strip to underpants and t-shirt! However, Draycote is not really the place! Note to self - pack some shorts!

Yet again, the reservoir was very quiet, with reduced numbers of birds on the water. However, I still managed a tick list of 54 bird species. The fields below Farborough Bank held 100+ Fieldfares with 20+ Redwings and 60+ Starlings. Six Meadow Pipits flitted along the bank and views were had of five Buzzards and one Sparrowhawk. Chiffchaffs were calling well with at least five being seen and heard around the site. An Oystercatcher flew over Toft Shallows but did not land. Goosander numbers were well down with only four females being seen. A Curlew flew off the golf course and directly along the length of Draycote Bank, but again was not seen to land. Three male and one female Shoveler were off the inlet and the longstaying drake Scaup hugged the distant "M" buoy, and refused to come in closer. Even the arrival of Francoise (Scaup Magnet) failed to persuade the Scaup closer!
Interestingly, I have not seen a Dabchick at Draycote for several months.

Finally, a chat with Richard M and Mark P on Farborough Bank, who were spending their time counting Buzzards.

 A list of sightings can be found at the end of this post.


Carrion Crow

Great Crested Grebe



Todays Sightings:

Starling; Wood Pigeon; Song Thrush; Blackbird; Chaffinch; Goldfinch; Carrion Crow; Robin; Chiffchaff; Dunnock; Great Tit; Rook; Mallard; Coot; Tufted Duck; LBB Gull; Cormorant; Grey Heron; Black Headed Gull; Herring Gull; Pied Wagtail; Great Crested Grebe; Meadow Pipit; Wren; Goldeneye; Canada Goose; Magpie; Fieldfare; Goosander; Redwing; Mute Swan; Reed Bunting; Buzzard; Green Woodpecker; Oystercatcher; Teal; Common Gull; Gadwall; Blue Tit; Bullfinch; Jackdaw; Moorhen; Wigeon; Curlew; Long Tailed Tit; Pheasant; Yellowhammer; Skylark; Shoveler; Scaup; Greenfinch; Kestrel; Sparrowhawk; Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Brandon Marsh

Common Snipe

I arrived at Brandon Marsh at 1030 after my early morning visit to Marsh Lane (see previous post) and enjoyed the spring sunshine (overdressed and sweating profusely!). Two more year ticks in the form of two Little Ringed Plovers and six Sand Martins were added but photographically, it was a "Snipe & Redshank fest"! At least fourteen Common Snipe entertained in front of east marsh hide and two Redshank in front of teal hide. The spring sunshine brought a number of butterflies onto the wing with several Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock being the ones I could identify. Sightings list at end of post.

Peacock Butterfly

Common Snipe


Todays Sightings:

Robin; Grey Lag Goose; Magpie; Wood Pigeon; Carrion Crow; Great Tit; Canada Goose; Blackbird; Stock Dove; Chiffchaff; Blue Tit; Song Thrush; Dunnock; Coot; Long Tailed Tit; Reed Bunting; Mute Swan; Cettis Warbler; Bullfinch; Mallard; Tufted Duck; Lapwing; Teal; Shoveler; Chaffinch; Wren; Great Crested Grebe; Moorhen; Redshank; Black Headed Gull; Common Gull; LBB Gull; Little Ringed Plover; Oystercatcher; Jay; Greenfinch; Grey Heron; Green Woodpecker; Snipe; Sand Martin; Buzzard; Shelduck; Wigeon; Goldfinch; Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Brimstone, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies.

Marsh Lane Reserve


The forecast said it was going to stay clear, dry and rather warm. Imagine my despair when I arrived at Marsh Lane at 0630 this morning to find it shrouded in thick mist! I had not visited Marsh Lane for over six months and with some good spring migrants being reported, I felt it was worth the trip. I decided to walk down the old road which was clear of mist, finding several Chiffchaffs, Bullfinches and Reed Buntings. As the mist began to burn off, I headed for the Car Park Pool Hide which held a year tick in two Redshanks. At least fifteen Snipe were on the shoreline, the water holding Tufted Duck, Pochard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal and Great Crested Grebe. Moving on to the Oak Hide found me another year tick in a solitary Ringed Plover. The gulls consisted of good numbers of Black Headed interspersed with Lesser Black Backed, Herring and Common. Two Oystercatcher were on the islands and Redshank increased to five. The elevated views from the Railway Hide enabled me to scan the reserve but nothing out of the ordinary was to be found. A fair amount of disturbance outside the Oak Hide by an excavator and tractor, creating a new path, led me to move on, meeting Dennis and Kath on my way out. By now, the sun was shining and the temperature was soaring and I was sweating! Complete list at end of post.








Todays Sightings:

Blackbird; Wood Pigeon; Chiffchaff; Pheasant; Reed Bunting; Song Thrush; Carrion Crow; Jackdaw; Black Headed Gull; Coot; Wren; Cormorant; Mute Swan; Dunnock; Bullfinch; Skylark; Lapwing; Greay Lag Goose; Dabchick; Tufted Duck; Great Tit; Chaffinch; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Robin; Blue Tit; Canada Goose; Redshank; Oystercatcher; Shoveler; Gadwall; Snipe; Great Crested Grebe; Mallard; Pochard; Stock Dove; Teal; Goldfinch; Jay; Moorhen; Ringed Plover; LBB GUll; Herring Gull; Common Gull; Pied Wagtail; Magpie; Rook; Grey Heron; Treecreeper; Green Woodpecker.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Swan Lake..............

Not really knowing what I wanted to be (or should be) doing, and not really caring, I decided to have a look in at Napton Reservoir for a change. Occasionally, this small reservoir throws up a good bird, but today was not to be one of those days! Very little was on the water and very little was in the hedgerows! However, I spent a quiet hour in the company of two Mute Swans whose actions were begging to be photographed.

Todays Sightings:

Mallard; Coot; Rook; Wood Pigeon; Mute Swan; Canada Goose; Tufted Duck; Chaffinch; Great Crested Grebe; Skylark; Common Gull; Green Woodpecker; Carrion Crow; Wren; Reed Bunting; Jackdaw; Pheasant; Blue Tit; Magpie; Stock Dove; Great Tit; Blackbird; Cettis Warbler; Moorhen; Shoveler; Robin; Buzzard; Pied Wagtail; Starling; Kestrel.