Monday, 27 March 2017

Winter Birding.

A few images of species seen during my winter birding forays.

A reflective pair of Mute Swans on a very cold January day at Frensham Little Pond on the only ice free patch of water.

On the same January day a rare inland Surrey sighting was this juvenile Long-tailed Duck that spent some weeks at Frensham Great and Little Pond.

A Kestrel just taking off. A resident and regular sighting on my local patch.

On a sunnier day in January a record shot of a Dartford Warbler, a resident breeder on Thursley Common. This species appears to have fared well this winter.

A Kingfisher seen at Tices Meadows in February seeking food from a very small stream when most of the main water areas were frozen.

A trip to Staines Reservoir in early March produced this record image of a long staying male Scaup (top left) in the company of Tufted Ducks .....

... and during the same visit several Black-necked Grebes in various plumage's.

Finally, my favourite winter goose, the Dark-bellied Brent. Just one of a few thousand seen around Langstone Harbour earlier this month.

Linking to:
Wild Bird Wednesday
Saturday's Critters

Friday, 24 March 2017

Garden Friends.

With the promise of some sunshine today I decided to carry out some much needed work in the garden.

The massed bells of Lecucojum vernum (aka 'Spring Snowflake) were dancing in the light breeze.

While I had a break from digging up a patch of lawn the opportunistic Mr Blackbird decided it was a good time to root around for a meal.

He made quick work of locating a number of worms while occasionally stopping to check what I was doing! 

I'm pleased I made the effort earlier in the year to remove many of the large leaves on the Hellebore's which are now putting on a glorious show.

Elsewhere around the garden there is plenty of colour from the miniature Prunus, Hyacinths, Narcissus and Scilla siberica

As always the friendly Robin made an appearance. FAB.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Farlington Marshes Fieldtrip.

On Sunday I drove southwards to lead a Surrey Bird Club field trip at Farlington Marshes.

The weather forecast was not promising with heavy rain predicted for most of the morning but fortunately this failed to materialize with any significance. Under an overcast sky and light drizzle just two members, Trevor and Victoria, joined me at 9am for the planned walk around the reserve.

High tide was due at around 11.30 so we started by scanning the extensive mudflats locating numerous Dark-bellied Brent Geese plus good numbers of Shelduck that traditionally overwinter around Langstone Harbour. Small groups of Northern Pintail with the elegant males in their full finery were spotted together with a few waders; Dunlin, Grey Plover, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher and Curlew.

As the tide rises the Brent Geese leave the harbour to fly into the grazing marsh.

Heading inland towards the stream the first of several Cetti’s Warblers boldly called from the nearby vegetation, typically moving ahead of us out of sight! Amongst a small group of gulls we found two Mediterranean Gulls enabling a clear comparison with their Black-headed companions. A few Lapwing briefly appeared in the sky above the reed bed. Due to the damp conditions, not surprisingly, we failed to see any Bearded Reedlings near the information building where we sheltered briefly from the constant drizzle. At this point Victoria unfortunately decided it was time to return home.

The sun eventually tried to make an appearance and the drizzle finally abated so under a lightening sky and hopeful for an interesting afternoon Trevor and I walked out to rejoin the sea wall path.

Oystercatchers flying across the harbour. This image was taken just a week earlier under better lighting conditions.

With flat calm waters on the falling tide we finally spotted a small flotilla of Red-breasted Merganser, a single female Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe. An LBJ flitting through the field edge shrubbery was eventually identified as a Chiffchaff. Walking towards The Deeps we added Wigeon, Shoveler plus a distant perched Kestrel eating its prey.

Another image shot a week earlier shows a collection of waders; Dunlin, Grey Plover, Turnstone and Knot: taking refuge on a tiny reducing island at high tide.

At the Deeps, a winnowing Little Grebe failed to make an appearance but a pair of Reed Buntings and Tufted Duck were added to our day list. Several more Skylarks were seen and heard. Having earlier heard a Meadow Pipit calling in flight we located 2 Rock Pipits feeding in and out of the grass margins on the sea wall path.

At around 1.30pm while watching various flocks of waders moving out across the harbour I turned around only to find a Short-eared Owl hunting over the Point and then disappearing out of view. We retraced our steps and relocated this individual sitting on a fence post before it eventually flew of east towards North Binness Island.

Chatting to another birder helped us to get scoped views of a preening Spoonbill at the back of the distant reed bed. A definite rarity for this site and an excellent addition to the trip list. Shamefully I had previously spotted and discounted an unmoving white blob well-hidden way out in the grass as probably a plastic bag!!

Moving further around the Point and thinking that having seen one ‘Shortie’ was a bonus we were delighted to have even closer views of a second bird who after briefly flying around perched on a grassy mound allowing for another photo opportunity.

Short-eared Owl

Returning full circle back to the main pool we enjoyed close views of a feeding Little Egret and Common Snipe and logged 5 Greenshank and a single Spotted Redshank in its typical grey winter garb.

Little Egret.

My thanks to Victoria and Trevor for their company and making this a worthwhile trip to the coast with a final tally of 60 species. FAB.

Linking to:

Tuesday, 7 March 2017


The most abundant thrush seen on my local patch and during my recent farmland survey is the Redwing (Turdus iliacus), a regular winter migrant from Northern Europe.

Easy to identify but definitely not the easiest species to get very close to as at the slightest hint of any disturbance they all fly off to the nearest trees. Fortunately I was able to make use of the dense hedgerow and utilize a small gap to hide my presence for these record cropped shots.

Linking to:
Wild Bird Wednesday


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