Friday, 29 January 2016

Summer Leys



On Thursday, 28th January, we took a trip out to Summer Leys, in Northamptonshire. Always some good birds there, and Thursday was no exception.

A frosty start to the day, crisp and cold, but once the sun climbed the sky a bit, its rays soon took the chill away; until you happened to walk into the breeze.


From the first hide, opposite the car park, we managed to see a good number of birds, including a couple of Egyptian Geese, and over on the far side, a Little Egret and a Great White Egret.
Some Fieldfares were in the trees to the left hand side of the hide, and we heard a quick burst from a Cetti's Warbler.



We began our walk anti clockwise around the reserve.





Wellingtons have been the footwear of choice for a long time now, and even though a lot of the ground was frosty and frozen, once the sun warmed it up, it quickly became soft and muddy again.
In some places, very muddy.




Good numbers of Wigeon out on the water, along with all the usuals, including a few Shoveler.





Once we reached the feeding station area, it was good to see that someone had topped up the feeders and table. It always attracts plenty of birds, and today there were a lot of Bullfinches around, with Greenfinch, Reed Bunting and Blue Tits.





Male Bullfinch




Female Bullfinch




There was also a brief visit from a Marsh Tit







After a few pictures, it was across the road to 'Mary's Pool', to see what was there.


Quite a few Goldeneye, all far too distant for pictures though, and a few Mute Swans.


We walked on towards the old railway track area, checking the bushes for birds, and scanning the lake for anything else. Unfortunately, by now, it was a case of looking towards the sunlight on the lake; not so good.


Back at the car, a warming coffee, and then time to head home. A total of 46 different birds this visit.




Full list of birds seen

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Gadwall [sp] (Anas strepera)
Common Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Common Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
British Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes indigenus)
British Dunnock (Prunella modularis occidentalis)
British Robin (Erithacus rubecula melophilus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
British Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos clarkei)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
British Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus rosaceus)
British Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus obscurus)
British Great Tit (Parus major newtoni)
English Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris dresseri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
British Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs gengleri)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
British Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula pileata)
Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)


Total species  46


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Shag



There has been a Shag at Stewartby Lake, Bedfordshire, for the last few days, favouring one of the pontoons at the sailing club.



Myself and Whisky took a ride over there on Sunday to see if we could find it. It's also a good walk round the lake, and it's not far from where we live, so we both got the benefit of it.




A few birds around and quite a few joggers and other dog walkers too,


We passed a couple of people with a spotting scope scanning the water, and got chatting. He mentioned the Shag was still here, on the pontoon, just a few yards further on.
We set off and just before we got to the spot, a Cormorant type bird flew from around the spot, and headed out across the lake. Was this the Shag? Very likely, but I didn't get even a half decent look, so no good saying I'd seen it.




Today we set off again, once the rush hour traffic had subsided, and decided to try our luck again.






And there it was, usual spot, and preening. The weather wasn't as good as it could have been though; very cloudy, and very windy. Still, when there's a Shag around, you have to take the best you can.



I took a short video too, which gives an idea of how windy it was.


I took a few more pictures, and then it was joined by a Cormorant.







A very similar looking bird, so it was good to see them side by side for a bit of comparison.


After a few minutes the Cormorant left, and shortly after that, the Shag disappeared too. Both off fishing for lunch I suppose. I decided it was time for us to go get some lunch too.










Thursday, 21 January 2016

Snettisham



Myself and Whisky had a great day out today, along with Trevor, at Snettisham, on the edge of the Wash, in Norfolk.


A cold and frosty start to the day,






but it soon clouded over.


Some excellent birds seen today, and Whisky really loved the freedom of running along the shoreline.


Lots of Goldfinch flocks, or 'charms', with some Linnets, Chaffinches and Greenfinches amongst them.


We started with some great views of a few Red-legged Partridge once we left the car park.







A nice surprise was a couple of Whooper Swans that flew past.






We walked towards the hides, and went off to the left, to take the circular route around the large lake that housed plenty of Greylag Geese, and Wigeon, amongst others.


Another great sight was a couple of Marsh Harriers dominating the sky. Excellent to see.



Of course, throughout the visit, the constant sound and spectacle of thousands of geese was just amazing.




Greylag Geese






Eventually we made our way back to the car park, and some warming coffee.


It was here we found a couple of Mallards, eager to share our sandwiches, and a pair of Egyptian Geese.







A really good day out, with some excellent birds.





Full list of today's sightings


Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Gadwall [sp] (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Red-legged Partridge [sp] (Alectoris rufa)
Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Eurasian Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Common Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
British Herring Gull (Larus argentatus argenteus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
British Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes indigenus)
British Dunnock (Prunella modularis occidentalis)
British Robin (Erithacus rubecula melophilus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
British Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus rosaceus)
British Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus obscurus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
British Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs gengleri)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Acanthis cannabina)
Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)


Total species  43




Sunday, 17 January 2016

Whisky's first snow



What a difference a day makes.



Yesterdays walk was cold, but blue sky and sunshine; today was cold, grey sky and snow.


The first snowfall of the year, and the first that Whisky has ever seen.


We set off about 9:30, and headed towards Kents Hill.




Looks so much better draped in the white stuff.



On past the Hilton Hotel, and up towards the field where Whisky has a good run around.




This sloping, waterlogged field has been earmarked for some house building.
I expect the new owners will wonder why they flood when it rains .......... poor buggers.







Whisky enjoying the snow.

He couldn't understand how snowballs suddenly vanished when they hit the ground.



Very short video of Whisky in the snow.








After Whisky's quick run here, I decided to go across the road, and down alongside the Open University. 





All the usual birds were about, and quite a few people walking their dogs too.
Must be the weather.



Pretty soon we were at Walton Lake, and what a difference from yesterday.






Still frozen, but no sun; instead snow, but the Mute Swan was still there.




Whisky was having such a good time running around, we decided to carry on to the north end of Caldecotte Lake.
I'm glad we did, because the Black Swan that was here up until the last day of last year has returned.





 Quite distant pictures, but good to see him/her again.



A quick look along the arm that goes behind the pub found Pochard, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Coots and some Cormorants, amongst others.





We turned, and made our way back home.


A very enjoyable walk.




Full list of today's sightings


Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Greater Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Gadwall [sp] (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Common Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
Feral Pigeon (Columba livia 'feral')
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
British Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes indigenus)
British Dunnock (Prunella modularis occidentalis)
British Robin (Erithacus rubecula melophilus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
British Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos clarkei)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
British Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus obscurus)
British Great Tit (Parus major newtoni)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Total species seen  33






Saturday, 16 January 2016

Long walk


A very cold, but sunny day today, so we decided to go for a long walk this morning; just over 2 hours.


Towards Kents Hill, along the river, Walton Lake, and back again. A few people around, but then a weekend, so couldn't be helped.


First bird to show was this posing Green Woodpecker.






As we reached the river, a Robin sat in the sun, long enough for a picture.






A few Blue Tits in the bushes too, along with some Long Tailed Tits. Plenty of Magpies around today, I counted 15 in one tree, and good to see at least 5 Song Thrushes too.
A new addition to the list of birds for this walk was a Mistle Thrush, near the Open University buildings.





Once we reached Walton Lake, there wasn't much to see, except for a pruning Mute Swan.







The water had frozen over, so any waterfowl had made its escape to the river. A walk to the screen overlooking the reedbed didn't produce anything either. Maybe some Bearded Tits? Water Rail? Nope. All was quiet.


One last look at the river in the sun,





and then it was time to head back home.




Not a bad walk.





Full list of today's birds.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Feral Pigeon (Columba livia 'feral')
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
British Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes indigenus)
British Dunnock (Prunella modularis occidentalis)
British Robin (Erithacus rubecula melophilus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
British Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos clarkei)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
British Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus rosaceus)
British Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus obscurus)
British Great Tit (Parus major newtoni)
British Jay (Garrulus glandarius rufitergum)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
British Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs gengleri)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
British Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula pileata)


Total species  26









Friday, 15 January 2016

Frampton Marsh


Myself, Trevor, and of course Whisky, traveled to Frampton Marsh this morning, in Lincolnshire.
One of my favourite reserves, but sadly, the RSPB don't seem to allow dogs on their reserves, even if they are under control. A shame really.
However, there is plenty of spaces to walk with a dog at Frampton, apart from 'inside' the reserve itself, and where the hides are.
Despite this we managed to see a cracking 48 species of birds.


Lots of Brent Geese around.




My contenders for the smartest geese around.




Most of our walk took in the sea wall area, where dogs are allowed, and then the long walk down to Witham End, where it meets the sea.

Lots of Oystercatchers flew in as the tide went out, which made us wonder where they had suddenly come from.



Some other highlights were ...........



Turnstone








Grey Plover









Bar-tailed Godwit



and a real star of the day




Slavonian Grebe




The long walk, in freezing windy weather was well worth it. And Whisky enjoyed every minute of it.



Lots of Fieldfares and Goldfinches along the trek there too. A great day as always.





Full list of the days sightings

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Brent Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Gadwall [sp] (Anas strepera)
Common Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Slavonian Grebe [sp] (Podiceps auritus)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Common Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Bar-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa lapponica)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
British Robin (Erithacus rubecula melophilus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
British Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus obscurus)
British Great Tit (Parus major newtoni)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow [sp] (Passer montanus)
British Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs gengleri)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Yellowhammer [sp] (Emberiza citrinella)
Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)


Total species 48











Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Mud, mud, and more mud.



The day started promising.




Sunrise over Wilstone Reservoir




But my goodness, it was windy ............. and bloody cold.

Muddy too. So muddy, it was difficult to walk at times; as bad as trying to walk uphill on ice.






We made our way all round the reservoir, along the old canal, and back to the car park. A Red Kite, Grey Wagtail and a Buzzard were some of the highlights. 
Not the best of visits though, the mud made it all a bit hard going.


From the car park, we headed off to Ivinghoe Beacon.


Would it be as muddy?



Not quite, but still bloody cold.


We made our way up to the top of the beacon, and passed a pair of bins hanging on a fence post.







Hard work getting to the top, slipping on the mud and battling against the wind.



Whisky enjoyed it though. A few other dogs to say 'hello' to, and the freedom to run around like a mad thing.









Not very many birds around though. Far too cold and windy for them I would think.



Friday, 8 January 2016

Muntjac


A visit to a couple of local places a few days ago; Aspley Wood, Woburn park and Stockgrove CP.


Here's a Muntjac deer from Woburn.




Whisky was fascinated by it; especially when it 'barked'.



Friday, 1 January 2016

Kingfisher


A long walk with Whisky today, that took in Kents Hill, Caldecotte Lake, Simpson and Walton.
Good to be out in the cool air, and even better to spot a Kingfisher in the reeds at Walton.
A bird I've strived to get a decent picture of for ages, without having to sit in a hide.

Got this one today, with my trusty bridge camera.







Pleased.