Sunday 23 April 2017

Beddington Farmlands, 23rd April 2017

After seeing yesterday evening that there was a London Bird Club walk today at Beddington Farmlands, I was desperate to come. Other than last year, when I had watched the White Stork from the gate, I had never even got close to going in. My parents dropped me off at 9:20am, where I met all the other birders (around 15 in total) and Derek Coleman, who was leading the walk. At 9:40am, I entered the Farmlands for the first time. We started by going to the viewing platform on the North Lake, where Sedge, Reed and Cetti's Warblers were singing from the reeds. House Sparrows were everywhere, and a Song Thrush was singing. Although not too much was showing, the noise was incredibly, especially with the Gulls crying away in the distance. A few Shelduck swam distantly, and a pair of Great Tits darted around. 


Great Tit

On the South Lake, a very distant Common Sandpiper was wandering around on one of the islands. A Peregrine was spied near the incinerator, and a Sparrowhawk caused some mayhem on the North Lake.
Common Sandpiper

With news of a Ring Ouzel on 100 Acre, we trudged onwards. 
Whilst listening to the cacophony of gulls, a Sedge Warbler hurriedly announced itself, then proceeded with a mating flight, much to my joy. A new life tick! It then perched some way off, singing from the top of the reeds. 
Sedge Warbler

Sedge Warbler

Sedge Warbler

As we continued onwards, reaching the end of North Lake, a Lesser Whitethroat was heard, along with Cetti's Warbler and Whitethroat. On the way, we stopped to try and find a Wheatear (not successfully) but I did find another Whitethroat. 

When we approached the first lakes on 100 Acre, we paused to look for any waders. A Blackcap sang, and a few Lapwing whirled above but no other waders yet. A few Reed Bunting were also around.

While we started down a small side-path to see what might be around, a Little-Ringed Plover was found on a nearby island, starting by providing good views. 

Then it flew around an island, and I went ahead to find a further 2 LRPs. 

Then the call 'incoming waders,' and two birds zipped over, towards a different lake. Derek concluded Green Sandpipers. 
Green Sandpiper

We then stopped to think about how to try and approach our Ring Ouzel. Roger had gone ahead, and had said it was there but not easy to see. After discussion, 6 of us (who hadn't seen one before - myself included) went through nettles to another side-path to to try and find it, led by Roger. After a little while, several black-birds appeared but none our white-chested, silver-wing-panelled Ouzel. Unfortunately that was one bird that evaded us, so we carried on to try and find the Green Sandpipers. They didn't want to show clearly either, as they flew between several lakes. We eventually gave-up.
Small Tortoiseshell

Song Thrush

We carried back towards the entrance, where another Common Sandpiper was found and another 2 LRPs. A Kestrel hunted too, and there were 30 Starlings and c.50 House Sparrows. 4 Swallow were also around.
Common Sandpiper

f Teal (I think)

One of the company had been wandering nearby, when suddenly he gave the words I'd been waiting for. 
'I've got a Wheatear!'
It was quite a little way away, feeding on the ground and then bounded off when we got nearer but it gave us at least a minute to view it. Another first!

f Wheatear

f Wheatear

It was an incredible visit, and I'm so pleased I live so close to such an amazing place for nature. However, it is somewhere that it is under threat and really needs our help to make sure such an important place isn't lost. 
f Orange Tip

(No idea what's happened to this bird? It seems like a leucistic Blackbird?)

Saturday 22 April 2017

An unnamed Park in Carshalton, 22nd April 2017

 After the first week of the school term and my first cricket match of the year today, I went to a park in Carshalton. I'd been there before, and I don't know what it's called. It doesn't help that the sign at the park saying 'St Mary's Park,' is not confirmed on Google Maps. So it's here. It is a small park behind fields and Little Woodcote.

At first, what caught my eye was the number of nests being used. A Dunnock had a nest in a tree, with 3 pairs of Blue Tits using nest holes and also a pair of Blackcap which appeared to have a nest deep in some brambles. Also, a Nuthatch had a hole, a Crow had a (mess) nest and a Robin had a nest.

There were at least 4 pairs of Blackcap, 2 Great-Spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Green Woodpecker, 5 Chiffchaff, 4 Greenfinch, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Song Thrush and lots of small birds.
f Blackcap
2 Chiffchaff seemed to have a meadow to themselves.
Chiffchaff 1

Chiffchaff 2

Chiffchaff 2
Song Thrush 1
Song Thrush 1

Blue Tit
A Blackbird once again tricked me into thinking that it was a Ring Ouzel, when it flew over a field into a tree. The bird even seemed to have a very faint white bib, but I'm not good at this tight recognition calls and it is not nearly strong enough for what I call a Ring Ouzel! 
Blackbird (damn it!)
Butterflies included lots of Blues, Small Tortoiseshell, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood,
2 Blues (Holly/Common)

Speckled Wood

Thursday 13 April 2017

A mystery Garden Falcon - Merlin? 13th April 2017

This afternoon I was sitting watching the gulls coming over, practising my identification skills, when what I thought originally was my first Swift of the year started drifting towards me. When I got the camera on it, I still thought it was a Swift, with it's wings fairly tucked in and thin. Although I checked in case of a rarer Swift, it didn't seem like that. Then the wings broadened slightly, giving me the impression of a  Hobby - this would be equally satisfying. After watching it drift around about 80ft up for a while, with the dark clouds above it, it looked like a Swift again. My mind then went back to a smallish Hobby, as it gained speed and flew SW. When I went to submit my sighting of a Hobby, I noticed that at Holmethorpe SPs, a Merlin had been sighted. Everything seemed to fit in with a Merlin - slightly smaller, long rounded tail, resembling a small swift/large swallow as well as the fairly large chest. I'm very open to ideas for the pictures below, and would be grateful for suggestions. 


Also over included the 1st Swallow (very fast but assumed with flight pattern.)

Update: After comparing with other pictures, the bird definitely looks more like a Merlin. I'm hoping for some clarification later on. 
Update 2: After suggestions of a small male Peregrine, which seems much more likely than a Merlin, I think that it is better to say that the falcon was one of the three falcons and more likely to be the Peregrine.
Update 3: With a varied opinion to start, now the general view of Merlin seems to have been concluded. 
Update 4: Still doubt as to whether it is a Merlin or Peregrine now is making me leave this as a Merlin/Peregrine.. Left as Peregrine for now.

Regent's Park, 12th April 2017

Yesterday, we went up to London and I went to Regents Park for the majority of the day. Unfortunately I chose probably the worst day in a while to go there, with the Greenland Wheatear no longer around and nothing much showing. Upon arrival towards midday, we started by going to the RSPB stand where they were showing people the nesting Grey Heron's through their scopes.
Grey Heron with young


What's for dessert...
While walking towards the Boathouse Cafe, a striking, large gull came in and really confused me. Gulls are birds which are generally quite hard to distinguish. This bird though was very interesting, resembling parts of a Glaucous Gull. However, it did come in with several Lesser-black Blacks so it's probably just me being hopeful. I would be grateful for any help with this though.

Further on, I was hoping to find a Sedge warbler with two individuals reported. I have 5 reasonably common birds which I am yet to find in my life:
╳Barn Owl               ╳Wheatear               ╳Sedge Warbler
╳Little Owl              ╳ Stonechat         (yes, no Stonechat!)
đź—¸Short-toed Eagle
đź—¸Little Bittern
đź—¸White Stork
So no Sedge Warbler or Wheatear today...
Mistle Thrush

Anyhow, Wrens sang throughout and at least 4 pairs of Mistle Thrush browsed in the grass. I finally got a picture or two of a male Blackcap, which I was relieved to get. 
m Blackcap

When we left in the late afternoon, smaller birds were coming out and I did hear the Sedge Warbler very briefly, but no sighting so it has avoided me yet again. Other than a brief appearance of the breeding Kestrels and 2 Chiffchaff, all was quiet.

Egyptian Geese 
One of the young Grey Herons popped out of the nest, and was about to take off (or so it seemed) but when a Carrion Crow leapt up at it it seemed to prefer its nest!

Grey Heron juvenile
With 4 days left of holiday, hopefully I can get one more chance to spot something.  

Tuesday 11 April 2017

A Cetti-Chatter at Morden Hall Park! 11th April 2017

After going to Morden, I went for a quick walk in Morden Hall Park. Near the entrance, where I found 2 Water Voles last holiday, butterflies were busy including Orange Tips, Comma, blues and a Painted Lady.
Holly Blue
When I went through an area of Woodland, it was alive with birdsong from Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Blue Tits and Mistle Thrush. At the river, there were Grey Wagtail and Little Grebe.
Grey Wagtail

Mistle Thrush

Blue Tit

Little Grebe

So I carried on, still unable to get a picture of a Blackcap. I didn't think the new Boardwalk/Reedbed area was really worth going to, with the possibility of Reed Warblers not due for another few weeks, but I went there anyway. Good decision.

While walking through and stopping to admire a Comma, an explosive sound popped burst out from the bushes about 20m away, taking me by surprise. A Cetti's Warbler in Morden Hall Park! It flew between the reeds for about an hour, while I got frustrated trying to get a picture. All I managed was several poor record shots, but it was enough to prove I wasn't lying!
Cetti's Warbler

Cetti's Warbler
Cetti's Warbler

Cetti's Warbler

On the way back, a Mallard brood dozed on a log and I finally got a picture of an Orange Tip butterfly!

Orange Tip