Saturday, 30 September 2017

Morden Hall Park - A Crake Ache, 30th September 2017

After waking up early-ish for a change, Morden Hall seemed appealing, and I was there at bang on 09:00. As soon as I opened the car door, the pleasant but somewhat surprising song of a Chiffchaff filled the air; not something to expect in late September. Either way, while walking on the air was alive with bird calls, with Goldcrests, Long-tailed tits, Wrens, Robins, Nuthatches and Chiffchaffs seemingly everywhere. I did my normal circuit, along the path towards the reedbed, down a path along the river, through the reedbeds, round the meadows and back towards Phipps Bridge. I started my second circuit, with several gulls (mostly Common and Herring) catching my attention while on the way back to the reedbeds. 
At 0945, I stopped to admire a Small Copper butterfly at the entrance to the boardwalk, when I heard several bursts of song, from one of the last things I expected. And again. 
In verses of 5, 4 times, over 5 minutes. 'hwit, hwit, hwit, hwit, hwit,' around 10 metres directly in front of the viewing platform. 
At the time, I had no idea, but after 5 minutes, a Spotted Crake suddenly came to mind, with the 'whiplash' call ringing a bell. With one seen at Beddington last week, and one in Essex for several weeks, I realised what it (probably) was. Unfortunately it called only once more in the next hour, and the only recording I got were of small birds. 
Frustratingly, I had to leave soon after, with only a Little Egret showing itself, but the reedbeds at Morden Hall once again providing me with frustration an interesting bird specie.


My route
Back home, a Vapourer moth caterpillar is still hanging around. 


Vapourer moth cat.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Beddington Park, 24th September 2017

This evening I had my first walk in Beddington Park for what seems like ages. I was surprised to see a good scrape-like area on the main lake. Hopefully this will attract a few bits and pieces from the Farmlands, even a stray sandpiper. While walking, there were plenty of Grey Wagtails and Little Grebes, as well as all the commoner species. 
Then, just as I was trying to get a better picture of a Grey Wagtail with the light fading, I spotted 2 Little Egrets hiding behind some bushes. I started to make my way across when they flew right in front of me - they both realised this wrong decision and flew off a bit. While watching these two another one came over from further up the lake, and came and sat on a dead tree. 
New habitat and Little Egrets
A few egret pics. 
Little Egret 1
Little Egret 2


Little Egret 2
After walking around, I spotted a small bird at the top of a tree on the distance. Although I couldn't get a picture, I could identify it to be a late, surprise Flycatcher sp - I assumed it as a Spotted . While trying to approach it, it took flight at a dog and flew off towards the cricket club. A bit frustrating but a nice bird to see. 
Also found near the car park was our Kingfisher. Hopefully she will be reappear over the winter. To end the day another Little Egret, flying up from the Wilderness Island area, had a dispute with a Grey Heron. 

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Migration watch, 17th September 2017

I forgot about this one too.
Last Saturday, having been feeling a bit horrible all morning, I went outside for an hour or so to see what might be coming over. It started off well - 3 Meadow Pipits flew over, calling to help confirm their ID. Fortunately, it fits my criteria for a 'garden record.' (If directly above our house, or half way over our neighbours on the left.) Over the next 45 minutes, with the skies continuing to clear, a falcon was very high up, constantly disappearing over little clouds. Looks like a Peregrine to me. 
A Sparrowhawk was chasing pigeons a fair distance away for a good while. The first Blackcaps have returned, with a pair (and finally a male!) hanging around. 
3 Common Buzzards came over, 2 together, and a Red Kite also came over, heading south at a fair pace. Another great record came over too - a large juv/type Yellow-legged Gull; I could make out the dark smudge behind its eye, as it came reasonably low. This one didn't count a 'garden record' unfortunately, as it came over the road. 


Peregrine?

Peregrine?
Over the week, 2 Chiffchaff were calling at Wilson's School, and the Blackcaps have continued to entertain me. On the 21st, I didn't quite get the spectacle experienced at Canon's Farm and Banstead Woods by several birders, but had 50 House martins, and 20 Swallows flying around for 5 minutes at 8am. 

Monday, 11 September 2017

The last week, 5th - 11th September 2017

The last week has been a bit more entertaining to say the least. On Thursday, after spending a boring time in Sutton for most of the morning, I had an hour to do whatever I wanted to. I opted for a quick trip to see what Priest Hill Nature Reserve was like, with this small site often being visited by one of my favourite bloggers, Steve Gale, who has an excellent blog called North Downs and Beyond
When we arrived, for the 1st 100m, nothing was seen bar a single late Whitethroat which was beside the Glyn Playing Fields. Further on, having seen nothing else bar 30 odd Crows, a small bird flew out of a bush into the field, where it showed for 5 seconds, being a female Redstart. A half-decent bird to see here, and something of interest! It promptly flew off, over the playing fields.
After this, not a single bird was seen afterwards except a pair of Meadow Pipits which flew overhead. When heading back, an odd white-winged Crow landed on a tree a far way off. Other than that, it was fairly quiet. 

Yesterday I had a nice surprise. Whilst wicketkeeping at my home cricket ground Cheam Sports Club, I turned around and a small starling-sized bird landed on the pitch about 20m away. I turned back for the next ball, where I noticed it fly across the pitch, with the tell-tale white rump on the back showing clearly. Once the game ended, and the drizzle ceased briefly, I went outside (camera-less) to see my Wheatear; it was a male, which pleased me even more! I got a few poor pictures of it with my phone and a quick video proving what it is.as the drizzle and wind picked up again.


Wheatear at Cheam Cricket Club - I declare the worst video on Blogging history!

Today, 2 Meadow Pipits flew over Wilson's School, towards Roundshaw Downs and a Buzzard flew high over. Not a bad week, considering I've not been birdwatching!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Morden Hall Park frustration 5th September 2017

Though more in hope of a miracle, and without a camera, I had 15 minutes in Morden Hall in between the showers. With nothing seen except a Robin and parakeets up till a stream, I was about to go back when I spotted a woodpecker-like bird fly from the ground under some trees up to an angled tree, which made me look twice. It then went round the tree, then flew off South. The most frustrating thing is that on first glance it looked like a Wryneck - something which I have never seen before, but was such a brief sight that I couldn't get a detailed look. 
A few metres on, a small warbler was leaping around in a bush. It looked like a Chiffchaff, but quite pale and an odd long bill. When I approached it, expecting to see it dart off, it stared at me for 10 seconds from 3 metres away.  Another problem - no camera, so the only picture I got was an awful phone picture. It then flew off into a hedge not to be seen again. My impression was almost of a Dusky Warbler, but that was just excitement and I know that it was a youngish Chiffchaff. 
On the way out, a Kingfisher flew by and a Little Egret was wading in the distance. 
Very frustrating. 
This morning I found this butterfly in the garden, but I can't tell what it is I have never seen an outerwing like this before. If you know please comment below.

butterfly sp.

Monday, 4 September 2017

The problem with being a nature-enthusiast

It really has been very boring after being back in Surrey. My poor life bird list only stands in the 170s, and since I can barely get out of the house, let alone the county, at the moment I can't see it budging for a good while! Liking nature does have its downfall - sometimes very little happens for what feels like a long time.
Last week, we went up to the Peak District and Knutsford for a couple of days - we saw the Manchester United-Leicester match then came back home overnight. During those few days, we had a night with cousins in Earl Sterndale, where a morning walk produced several Nuthatch and Chiffchaff, a Wheatear which my mum saw but I didn't, a ton of Buzzards and a probable Osprey which was heading SE. We also went for a walk in Tatton Park, Knutsford. Along with loads of deer, there was, of course, a Stonechat, Great Crested Grebes, a Whinchat and a Water Rail. I was without the camera or telescope, and just had my binoculars. I got very bored, and even tried a phone x bino scoping, which somehow, just about, pulled off.

Red Deer
I finally got some good news, having been asked to a junior volunteering camp at Arne in October. This should be something different and sounds exciting, and I am sure to meet some new people and see and help some good wildlife. With holidays ending, and the chance of getting out to a (good) nature reserve out of the question, it's slightly frustrating.
Last week, a quick walk to Wandsworth Common had [no Night Heron,] a Hobby, 2 Sparrowhawk, a few GSWs and a few Chiffchaff. In the garden we found a Vapourer moth caterpillar - a rather sinister looking creature which is still moving around the same place.
Tomorrow I might sneak a little visit to Morden Hall, where I might be lucky to see something unusual.