Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bramblings count

I found three. Once the pic is seen full size they are relatively easy. Pics are the original area with the birds circled, then the birds in sequence.

This technique (taking photos of feeding flocks and searching later) could have potential!

Weymouth Interlude

Down Sunday, back Tuesday. here was a fair amount to choose from - Pallas's Warbler, Surf Scoter, Cattle Egret, but time was tight, so it was family trips to scenic places.

Cogden Beach - 24th - several Stonechats, lots of Blackbirds and black birds (Starlings, corvids). Plus a Red-throated Diver flying East. Nice view - familiar hunched appearance with a regular wriggle of the head.

Osmington White Horse Hill - 25th - 4 Wheatear, 2 Chiffchaff, plus Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Common Buzzard

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gadwall Madness!

Not much birding recently - just a couple of trips to SLRS, which gets progressively more flooded by the week.

The first trip on the 15th had a couple of new ticks for my site list; an impressive 9 Gadwall, 5 Teal and a Greylag Goose over. Otherwise, the first singing Chiffchaff of the year, 6 imm Mute Swan over NE, 4 Lapwing, a Stonechat - presumably moving through, and more usual stuff.

Good Friday an amazing 22 Gadwall on the pond, plus a White-Cheeked Pintail - yes, I’m having that on my site list too. A flock of c30 Stock Dove moving in close rapid formation round the Chaff-dump field, like a flock of waders. The Jackdaws were similarly jumpy; I feel I missed a raptor. Still a few Fieldfares and Redwings, and a Treecreeper too - new for my site list which stands at 53 this year.

I’ve put a site guide to SLRS on DipperWorld. If its confusing, incomplete, or inaccurate please let me know and I’ll update it accordingly.

How Many Bramblings?

I took this picture when I was out in West Wood. Its got a Brambling in the middle of it. But are there any others?

Its the original photo so you should be able to zoom this up and have a look around.

Answer (well my answer) shortly.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

West Wood

I went back to West Wood with my Camera today (Canon 30D, 100-400mm + 1.4x converter, so manual focus). The wood is heavily managed by both man and deer, consequently there are strong tall trees and not much under growth. Its possible to get good views through the forest, and in principle should be good for photography

At first, there was nothing to be seen. Complete quiet apart form the wind and a few Blue Tits. Gradually, the residents of the wood appeared. A couple of GSWs started drumming, and one showed reasonably well. The Fallow Deer saw me and slowly moved off; there was about 10 in one group, one a fine stag with Antlers,and another group of 3. All the birds then appeared in one area. A flock of somewhere between 50 and 100 Chaffinches rooting around on the forest floor. A flock of Redwings singing to themselves up in the tops of the trees; a Goldcrest, a Nuthatch, and then amongst the chaffinches a Brambling (well I only saw one at a time on a few occasions, so at least one possibly a couple more). My first for the area, and it perched for the camera too!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

My trip to work takes me past a variety of habitats, and there’s often some birds of interest.

First it’s a walk from central Sawbridgeworth to the station, typically leaving the house at 7:15 am to catch the 7:33. As the picture shows, Sawbridgeworth is an old town so there are large gardens with large trees in them. Consequently at the moment there are lots of typical garden birds around. On Wednesday there were 4 Greenfinches, 4 Chaffinches, 2 Goldfinches, a Mistle Thrush, 7 Dunnocks, 8 Blackbirds, 4 Starlings, 3 Blue Tits, a Robin, a House Sparrow, and Woodpigeons in good numbers. This week a Great-Spotted Woodpecker has been calling loudly, and on one day there was a flock of Long-tailed Tits.

Then its across the “river” Stort. Recently there’s been Mute Swan, and Mallards, or Moorhens are generally about. Today a couple of Canada Geese flew over.

The station is in the flood plain, and as the photo below shows there are reeds and boggy scrub around. Further up the line is Sawbridgeworth Marsh reserve, Thorley Wash, and then Rushy Meads reserve

At the moment a Reed Bunting is in residence just opposite the down platform. Last week a few Fieldfares flew over, Bullfinches are regular as are Wrens, Cormorants go over high on an almost daily basis, occasionally Water Rail call, and in summer there are often most of the commoner warblers singing, Common Terns drifting along the river, and on a couple of occasions Hobby was seen. In autumn, depending on time, small flocks of Woodpigeons migrate south at some height over the station

The train journey into Liverpool Street takes about 40 minutes, and goes past SLRS (1 Lapwing today), past the back of Beckingham Palace, past the Roman Temple site in Harlow, and then along the path of the Stort and Lee into past the Warwick Reservoirs and Walthamstow Marsh. Its all good habitat as this blog demonstrates. In practise its not possible to see much from the train.

Then it’s a quarter of an hour walk down London Wall, past the Barbican, some preserved remains of bombed out churches from the Blitz and a peek down into the site of the original Roman wall, keeping just north of the Guildhall,then past St Paul's Cathedral and into the office.

Apart from Feral Pigeons there are generally very few birds – the odd Magpie, Dunnock, and House Sparrow, but recently I’ve heard Robin and Song thrush singing, Herring Gulls yelping, and the occasional Cormorant flies over.

The reverse trip tends to take place in the gloom at the moment, so the view is more like the one shown below, and there’s generally nothing to add to the list.

Commonly Spotted Orchids

We are fortunate in the UK in that the commonest orchids are also amongst the most beautiful. I spent a morning photographing some on the lo...