Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Blood on the Wall! 14-March-17

After dragging myself out of bed at 7:15 this morning, I freshened myself up in preparation for another long day at school. 
With my eyes drooping, I drew my curtains and a large bird flew down from the wall about 20m from the window onto a water tray at the back of the garden.
Not yet awake I thought,  "That's a big pigeon." 
I turned back immediately and watched as this huge bird flew back up onto the wall.
It stood and peered over the wall towards the road.
It was a female juvenile Sparrowhawk, a bird absent to my garden tick list.
Scrambling for the camera, which I realised was downstairs, I watched the bird before it swooped down suddenly on the other side of the wall and then landed on my dad's new car. Then gone.
After a minute, as I hurriedly retrieved the camera, hoping it's batteries were charged, my sister woke up, the Sparrowhawk returned to the garden clutching a pigeon.
I had, obliviously, seen it catch a pigeon. The pigeon was still alive, but after a few seconds it definitely wasn't. The Sparrowhawk disassembled the pigeon, leaving feathers everywhere. 
Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk
For a good 10 minutes, it sat on the pigeon (which it was probably the same size as) at the back of the garden. Once I had hurriedly got changed, I crept downstairs and through the garden door. Knowing very well not much would disturb it from its meal, I approached cautiously from around 12m away and got some decent shots. 
      The bird itself appears to be a juvenile female, with a brownish back and visible, chevron-like chest markings. It looks like a 1st/2nd year, but not great at identifying age. I would be grateful for any ideas on its exact age.
      Eventually, after gathering enough satisfying shots at least, the remaining parts of the pigeon were gathered and she flew over the wall and out of sight in the neighbouring gardens. The smaller birds returned, and I thought she was gone. But when I got back at about 16.30, all the Starlings suddenly alarmed and she flew into an evergreen out of sight. 
      Although not a mightily rare bird, it was quite incredible watching it hunt in our relatively small garden! Who knows what might happen tomorrow morning...

Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Sutton Peregrines, March 2017

 As some may be aware there is a pair of Peregrines at Quadrant House in Sutton. Last year they bred successfully with 4 chicks fledging. Both birds were present this month, hunting above oblivious shoppers. These pictures were taken from the Morrison's car park, so aren't great quality.
(The fact that there was a random teenager standing in the middle of the car park made many gawp at me!) A live camera of them can be found here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zLY1Do0Qb8
Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine

Peregrine
A few recent garden pics - I say 'garden,' but our garden generally doesn't attract as much as our neigbouring few so I count them into the term 'garden' too! (Then again, there have been some 'overhead' highlights like an Osprey in 2014!)
Greenfinch

fem Blackcap - been around all winter but left yesterday

Redwing - last remaining Redwings around (at its peak at Christmas up to 200 were in the local gardens.)
Hopefully some spring migrants will come through too in the next month.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Beddington and not much, 5th March 2017

A quick half hour walk around Beddington was quite uneventful, but after a long, indoor weekend the fresh air was good. The usual local birds were around, with just a hint of spring with blossom and bees.
Kingfisher

Mandarin

Grey Heron

Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Kings of Beddington, 26-Feb-17

At school, I have to do a project on Social Issues with two friends - we decided to learn and help the Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust. For our presentation in a few weeks, we needed some pictures and videos so we met up for a quick walk in Beddington Park this morning. I practised filming some birds, and managed to film a Kingfisher catch a small fish. 
The session was fairly productive, and the highlights consisted of 3 Kingfisher (1 male, 2 female,) 6 Nuthatch, 3 Grey Wagtail, 1 Mandarin, c.60 Redwing, 4 Little Grebe and 3 Green Woodpecker.
Kingfisher (1)
Little Grebe


Redwing


Green Woodpecker

Grey Wagtail
Towards the end, my sister found this male Mandarin and all 3 Kingfishers appeared at once - the male evaded the camera though. 
Kingfisher (2)

Kingfisher (2)
Mandarin

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

LWC Barnes - 15th January 2017

Last week we planned to go to the London Wetland Centre in Barnes with my school-friend Dexter, and so we did.
We arrived at about 11:15am, and straight away went to the Headley Hide on the West route. This is where one of the Bittern's had been seen regularly over the winter.
There was nothing really showing, although the hide guide said that the Bittern was around. With nothing other than a Reed Bunting, we continued to the Wildside hide.
Reed Bunting (m)
All was quiet in the wildside. A few ducks lazed around. Another Reed Bunting showed himself.
Pochard (m)
Reed Bunting (m)
Then we bumped into my mum and sister, who had seen the Bittern in the Headley hide after we'd left. So we returned. 
We were then rewarded with views from 15 metres away of the Bittern, which was climbing up the reeds, staying well hidden amongst them. 
Bittern

Bittern

Bittern
Then we had lunch, after a fairly satisfying start to out visit.
When finished, we started trudging to the Peacock Tower, via the South Route, when we came across another kind birder. He told us that another Bittern was showing well from the WWF hide.

And so we carried on, jogging slightly. We were then rewarded with some cracking views of a Bittern for a good half hour. It was very happy out in the open, fishing and posing delightfully. This was fantastic for us, especially as my friend Dexter had never seen a Bittern before!


Bittern

Bittern

Bittern

Bittern

  
Bittern

Bittern

Bittern
Some Shelduck made an appearance, as did some Lapwing.
Shelduck 
Lapwing
After settling with the double Bittern bonanza, we walked to the Peacock tower in the hope of a Water Pipit - a bird not yet on my life list. However, today seemed to be the day. I spied it about 600m off, nearer the Charing Cross hospital, but always distant. Using my scope I spied a Redshank as well.
Water Pipit

Water Pipit
Redshank
Our luck continued. I scanned the edges and found another Bittern badly camouflaged under a small tree!

Bittern (3)

Bittern (3)
We headed back at around 1630, with several more birds added to the list, including a yellow-billed Moorhen.
Moorhen (yellow-bill)

Green Woodpecker

Chaffinch (f)
An incredible day with some exciting species. After a total of approximately 45 species had been recorded throughout, making this (probably) the most successful Barnes visit yet.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Beddington Park, 14th February 2017

After feeling bored throughout the morning, my mum, my sister and I decided to get up and go to Beddington Park for a quick afternoon walk. As we left the house, all the birds went up as a Red Kite flew straight over. It was a surprise, and I hadn't got the camera out yet.

When we drove into Beddington Park, things almost got off to an absolute disaster or if you like, a flyer. A smallish bird flew right across, making me yell, 'Mind the robin.' 
The robin with bright blue - We almost ran over a Kingfisher.
After 5 minutes of searching, we found it fishing on the opposite side of the river, further away than I'd wished for a picture.
Kingfisher
We then just went for a general walk around the lake, where Teal and Mallard lazed around. Several Little Grebe swam around the bare islands.
Little Grebe

Teal
My sister found a Mallard with a bluish-grey bill; I would appreciate any ideas on why the bill's this colour?
Bluish-grey beaked Mallard
We carried on walking. A Robin followed us for around 300m, singing all the way.
Robin
Then my mum spotted a Little Egret, fishing peacefully away from the dogs. Also nearby, a Little Owl was calling but I couldn't find it in the woody area - I am yet to see every type of British owl except Tawny Owl (even if I woke up at stupid o'clock in the Brecon Beacons as a Barn Owl lived down the road.)
Little Egret

Little Egret
Little Egret

Little Egret
Once it flew into a tree, spooked by a dog, we started trudging back to the car.
On the way back some Mute Swans swam calmly on the water.
Mute Swans