27 August 2014

Aug 25-27th: migging wet

 Dan doing wet

With memories of last year and a rain sodden day of Quail (for some of us, one of us), Pied Flycatchers, Tree Pipit and ballsed-up IDs, Monday's weather looked a repeat performance.  True enough it lived up to expectations on the sodden front, birding gems were slightly harder to find. To be fair it was a week earlier than last year's mega day and a week is a long time in migration terms.

The lone Whinchat was still alone in the brooms (all it's mates are down at the scrubs), the female Redstart was finally tracked down, keeping low in some small oaks, a couple of Spotted Flycatcher looked rather glum as they tried to keep up with a large mixed flock of warblers and tits in the SSSI, oh and there were 4 Wheatear aqua-planing at various locations.

Tuesday started off where Monday left off but then got decidedly better when the sun came out.  The female Redstart was still in the pub scrub and a pair of Tree Pipit were making a day of it in the cut broom area of the SSSI: it's been a great autumn for these birds and more to the point I got to see them. The birches in the SSSI were still full of warbler, mainly Chiffchaff and they can't all be the progeny of our local birds. As if to make a point, Tuesday's clear night and half of them buggered off.

Wednesday and nothing much had happened (didn't find my first Chiffy till I reached the Alex) until a awesome looking Tree Pipit sat up briefly in the Alex scrub before being flushed by a dog walker. Richard joined me for the trudge back to Long Wood, where we picked up (Next Day) Keith.  With not much happening there we moved over the road to the SSSI, which never disappoints. It was disappointing...

After Rich left we finally found a small group of Chiffies in with Long-tailed Tits at the west end of Long Wood spilling onto the west side of the road.  The main group were moving north on the east side so I went to intercept as they came out of the tall trees. While a stream of LTTs passed me the alarm went up, looking up I got the source of their discomfort - a Kestrel, but then a larger raptor flew into view. Buzzard sized, but not flying as I would have expected a buzzard to. I called out to Keith "possible Honey Buzzard" and started snapping it.  Sadly the camera was still on the low exposure settings for getting vivid warblers in bright sunlight rather than dark raptors in the brightest part of the sky, albeit a now gloomy sky.  So they are crap but show a rather nice long, thin, rounded tail and how the wings were held as it flapped, soared, flapped into the wind. I ran out of the copse, but it had sailed on over east Long Wood and never came back into view.

As is customary, when I get excited with possible raptors, I forwarded a picture to a team of experts, who usually say what I thought the bird was in the first place but then caught up in some spurious/possible feature that the picture has revealed that was very apparently not there when I was looking at it.  Today I was confident before I took and saw the pictures. The experts came back 7-2 in favour of HB, which when taking into account the image they were looking at is pretty remarkable. Remember the old Collins that had silhouettes of birds on the inside front cover with the helpful map...


  1. Hi Nick - are you sure that your raptor is not a Marsh Harrier? Looks quite like one to me.

    Nice blog btw

  2. You wouldn't be alone saying that from the pictures, but I can assure you it wasn't a Marsh. Unfortunately the camera was set for capturing sunlit warblers, rather than raptors against the light, which wasn't great at the time. The views I had before slamming the camera into my face were not of a Marsh Harrier but I can understand where you are coming from. Thanks for the input