30 September 2014

That's owl for September

The title had been going to be "SOE that's it for September", but then Josh pointed out that it meant no sense whatsoever...

The month looked like it was going to end on a low, but then old Shorty comes and puts in a major performance easily surpassing the amount of time over the patch of all our other SEOs put together. 

Harassed by crows, Magpies, Starlings and to add insult to injury, bloody parakeets (who appear to be getting bolshier by the day). After they'd all got bored it just circled, finally getting higher and higher while drifting northwards. I reckon it was checking the place out for another time, it even had a close look at the brooms when it appeared it wanted to land.

Come on October and lets get another couple of biggies for the list before I decamp to Shetland on Saturday, and talking of that it would be nice if a certain thrush stayed and was joined by a few interesting mates, and the Eyebrowed Thrush can relocate to Sumburgh any time it likes next week....

28 September 2014

What a lark!

I was surprised to find my self by myself this morning (Saturday) by the enclosure.  It was quiet. I did a full circuit of the enclosure and found myself following a possible Firecrest back to the edge of Long Wood.  Couldn't find the supposed Firecrest, but did notice some interesting movement in a tree. What looked like a small grey warbler, say Great Tit sized moving around in an elder. I looked round and Bob appeared from the brooms. We waited and watched, trying to get a glimpse of this bird.  While we were at it, we also noticed a pipit, virtually completely hidden by branches.  I could just make out streaking on the flanks from where I stood, Bob, apparently, couldn't see much more from where he stood. Then a soppy dog came round the corner, and it's owner a few seconds later with bins! Needless to say the pipit flushed and Bob, ever hopeful chased its non-calling form back into the brooms.  My warbler had also taken the opportunity to bunk as well, but I soon found in elders just to my left. Grey backed with no super, and just a half ring under the eye, it looked like a small grey Garden Warbler...

I called Jono and soon five of us were watching the bush.  Soon five of us had spent a couple of hours looking at the bush, wandering through Long Wood and checking every other bit of bush in the immediate area.  Zip!  There were rumblings.  I wandered off again to check the ride to the north of Long Wood, popular with elder and popular with elder loving birds.  I found a Garden Warbler, not what I was hoping to go back and tell the others.  Didn't look like my bird, but somehow I didn't think that was going to sway the hearts and minds of the four bored birders.  It didn't and within five minutes they all gone home or elsewhere.  I went for a coffee.

One more go I thought, and met up with Josh on his return from the Alex, I explained what had happened, to which he remarked "they'll be sorry if you find something good!"

I gave the inside of the wood one more go, and got the Garden Warbler again, looking very much like it should.  I gave up and wandered back through the brooms to catch a train to Cambridge. I just passed the vis-mig point when I heard the beautifully quirky call of a Woodlark somewhere behind me.  It called again and there it was in all its short-arsed glory. It circled and appeared to land somewhere just to the south of Long Wood. I called Jono after sending the news out, and he made it out to get a very overdue patch-life-tick and to find some promising Polish porn.  Happy days.

No pics at all today so have a Chiffy from the very self same day a year ago!

26 September 2014

Being good

After managing to steer clear of controversy all week I've been keeping my head down. I made sure that there was at least one grown up with me at all times; for the Short-eared Owl and the Jack Snipe.  Then I go and blow it while being unsupervised by claiming a (probable) Olive-backed Pipit. If it had called three times I would have it on the list. It didn't and the efforts of Bob, Sally, Tim and his Bradwell mate Steve Swaby and myself drew a blank trying to re-locate it, though Tim and Steve did find a Firecrest in Long Wood. 

So tomorrow,and there is no reason why it shouldn't be still here since it appeared to be rising from Coronation Copse, we will search again with ears wide open. The call was reedy rather than the shriller Tree Pipit, of which we have heard many this Autumn, and rather than circle around as our TPs have done, it flew direct, but hopefully not off patch...

The Stonechat has now managed 14 days, but the adult and the other juvvy appear to have hoofed it and taken the last remaining Whinchat along with them.  It is feeling like October already; no Wheatear, and few warblers left, though Tim did find a Lesser Whitethroat this morning. A Linnet on Wednesday and a smattering of Chaffinch today along with a roaming charm of Goldfinch suggests the finches are on their way.

 And the larids are getting (quite) interesting...

14 days and counting...

23 September 2014

Raptor persecution

I thought I had cleared my head of this and that my last post would be the end of honeygate, however I was still troubled.  So I had a look and see if I could do anything with the awful pictures.  I couldn't, but what I realised was how far away the bird must have been and what little chance I had of seeing anything pertinent.  Did I use my bins? No idea, fact is my mind could be confusing images in my brain from that day with those from buzzard Sunday. So make of these what you will.

I also re-visited Long Wood and stood in the exact same spot, looked up to where the bird showed. A bloody buzzard was gliding towards me...  ffs!

22 September 2014

Short-eared Owl

Late out again.  Another hangover. Bob had already found a female Redstart in the brooms and Rich had found him.  I found them both. Then I wandered off. Rich wandered off leaving Bob stare into the broom where his bird had chosen to vanish. I only got a hundred yards off when I heard shouting. Bob was waving his arms and pointing. Better not be the Redstart, I thought.

"Short-eared Owl!".  I looked towards where he pointed.  I could see a few crows circling about and a paler bird in the mix.  SOE, get in! Clever crows, clever Rich for  picking them up (his first for the patch).

It felt like there could be other stuff just waiting to be found.  It still is!

20 September 2014

Always something...

Today was the anniversary four years ago of our first Wryneck, probably the best of the bunch, and today it felt that it should have been a Wryneck kind of  a day.  It wasn't, though I did spend about half an hour wandering round Cornonation copse and the little patch of broom and grass to the east of Long Wood after seeing what possibly wasn't anything more exciting than a Song Thrush zipping through. So no major finds over the last few days though there is always something...

The Stonechat did the decent thing and hung about for four days and had over ten people (all Wanstead Birders) come twitch it, there not as common as they used to be.  It wasn't seen today, though that doesn't mean a thing. Spotted Flycatcher are back and are just brilliant.

Monday was good:

Wanstead Flats: Tree Pipit, 15+ Meadow Pipit, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, 2 Skylark, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 20 + Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, 3 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk, Common Gull, 12 + Gadwall, 11 Shoveler, 7 Pochard, 2 Teal, Coal Tit, Reed Bunting (Nick Croft)

Tuesday better:

Wanstead Flats: Whinchat, Stonechat, 1-2 Wheatear,  3 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Tree Pipit, 40 + Meadow Pipit, 4 Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 1-2 Sedge Warbler (3rd record this year), 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, 6 Blackcap, Willow Warbler, 10 + Chiffchaff, 20 + Swallow, House Martin, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Kestrel, 4 Egyptian Goose, 7 Shoveler, 2 Skylark, Snipe (Nick Croft/Richard Rae/Bob Vaughan/John Weil)

and today, sort of middling:

Wanstead Flats: 2 Whinchat, Wheatear, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 70 + Meadow Pipit (could have been twice that number), 20 + Swallow, House Martin, Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 25 Gadwall, 16 + Shoveler, 2 Wigeon, Pochard, 2 Tufted Duck, 4 Egyptian Goose, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Blackcap, 20 + Chiffchaff, Common Gull, 1st winter Great Black-backed Gull (Nick Croft/Richard Rae)

Gotta love Tree Pipit, Sedge Warbler grunting from the top of an elder, and then two smart looking Wigeon. Biggest surprise today though was finding a Buzzard braving out the derision of the local corvid population at Alex, possibly the last place you'd want to be if you were a buzzard wanting a rest in a tree. After I'd finally found it it moved to another tree on the western island, obviously enjoying the attention it was getting. I was hoping for something Long-eared and owl-like.

Talking of buzzards or not buzzards to be exact Lee GR has now waded in on the flimsy conspiracy I am creating we'll call BuzzyMarsh Gate: "@LeeEvansBirding.  Wanstead claim of HONEY BUZZARD on 27 December was yet another misidentification - Marsh Harrier this time (photographed fortunately)"

Thanks to the Prof. for forwarding it on.

I replied stating that they were terrible shots and that better birders than me had agreed on my suggestion. Several more shouty replies were forthcoming on how Honey Buzzards are the most misidentified bird in the UK at the moment with Marsh Harrier being the culprit.