Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Patchwork Challenge - Longham Lakes Visit 10 17-May-2016

I had high hopes this evening as a Black-Necked Grebe and a Mandarin Duck had been reported. Sadly, I didn't see either of them.

Despite this, and despite the fact that I foolishly tried to handhold my 600mm lens. I still saw a nice selection of birds and got a few patch ticks too, which was nice.

First up was the large number of Swifts that were flying around. They were absolutely everywhere and often joined by Martins and Swallows. As Martin pointed out in his post, it's spectacular to see them whizzing past your head at insane speeds and it's amazing that they don't fly into you, so close do they get.

I spied plenty of goslings around the lakes, although ducklings weren't very plentiful. I couldn't see any Great-Crested Grebe young either, which was a little disappointing as they carry them around on their backs.

I did see a pair of Reed Buntings gathering food however, and while the shots were a little soft, I'm quite pleased with how they turned out.

An uncropped shot of the Reed Bunting

As I walked up the narrow causeway I could hear a Cuckoo calling in the distance. It's apparently okay to include if you can successfully identify it by call, so it's being added to the list :) There were a few little brown jobs flying about in the reeds and I was hoping they were Sedge Warblers, but it was Reed Warblers, a bird I've already ticked off this year.


Walking along the back of the lake I strained my eyes for the Grebe and the Duck but saw neither. I did spot a Jay fly across the small back pond and into the trees though, which is a first for me. That means with the exception of Raven and Hooded Crow, I've seen every corvid on the patch now.

I diligently scoured the reeds for Water Rails, but came up with nothing and the rest of my walk was rather uneventful. Still, I'm now up to 61 birds, so I'm quite pleased with myself :)

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Great British Bird Hunt - A New Bird Is Spotted

Wow, it's been an absolute age since I saw a brand new bird, partly because I'm mainly confined to my patch, but largely because I'm bloody lazy.

Anyhoo, I decided to head off to Lodmoor on Sunday as a Cattle Egret had been spotted in the area. Sadly, I didn't see it as it had disappeared before I arrived. I did however get to spot several Grey Plovers, a lifer for me.

Here's a shot showing all five birds together.

The great news was that they were showing quite well and came within 60 feet of where I was standing. The bad news was that I had all sorts of problems with my camera and simply couldn't get any sharp shots. Fellow blogger Tim White reckons it was because I was shooting just after midday on a blazing bright day, meaning heat haze softened my images and made it hard for my lens to properly focus. I'm inclined to agree with him.

I'm always fascinated by the size of different birds. Here are some Dunlin and
Ringed Plovers for reference.

The actual birds consisted of three males in stunning summer plumage. They're truly majestic looking birds with lovely feather patterning and a lightning fast gait. They were quite happy speeding back and fourth along the mud flats eating worms and other goodies and were occasionally joined by several Dunlin and a small group of Ringed Plovers.

An original uncropped shot. Yet another reason why cropping wasn't great.

The rest of the trip was largely uneventful. I saw no Marsh Harrier, only one Little Egret and a brace of Sandwich Terns with the odd Common Tern thrown in for good measure.

If my calculations are correct I'm currently on 146 birds. A decent figure until you realise that I've been running the blog for just over two years now!

Monday, 2 May 2016

Patchwork Challenge - Longham Lakes Visit 9 02-May-2016

So after hearing there was a Mandarin Duck on the patch, I hurried out with the wife to see if I could spot it. Annoyingly, as we reached the lakes it started to pour down with rain, meaning our time there was very limited.

Despite only staying for around 40 minutes, we nevertheless saw a decent amount of birds, including four new ones for the year. When we arrived, the air with think with Swifts, Swallows and House Martins, all busy hawking for flies. Before long I spied a few Sand Martins, giving me my first new bird. There were plenty of baby ducks around and we also saw a pair of Canada Geese with several young, which is always nice to see.

Ducklings were everywhere. These ones were quite old.

Although we searched the island, I couldn't see any sign of the Mandarin Duck, but I did spot my first Common Sandpiper of the year, rushing along the bank in search of food. Aside from a few Mallard the island was mostly empty.

A number of Reed Buntings were in the reeds along the centre causeway and I also spied a Reed Warbler too, which kept on returning to a spot suggesting a nest was possibly nearby. Moving to the back there were a few very distant gulls in the back fields, as well as Magpies, Rooks, a Grey Heron and a Little Egret. Several blackbirds were also flying about in the thicket and I also spied a couple of Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Goldfinches. It was relatively quiet and the rain was starting to hammer down so we headed back to the car.

A very distant Blackcap.

Getting to the car park we spied a distant Blackcap singing, several Dunnocks and my first House Sparrows of the year.

Finally, some boring old House Sparrows on the patch!

I'm now up to 59 birds for the total year, which isn't that bad going at all.