14 February 2015

Jack Snipe encounters and patch ticks: 14 February

The highlight of an afternoon and evening session at the patch today was 7 Jack Snipe on Staines Moor, one bird in particular giving incredibly close views! Fascinating to watch their behaviour and take in the detail.

1 of at least 7 Jack Snipe seen today - I watched this bird for 45 minutes at a range of about a metre

Typical crouching behaviour

Views were ridiculous today - I even managed to photobomb this pic (check out the reflection in the eye - click to enlarge)

Also noted on Staines Moor: 2 (1m, 1f) Goosander over NW before dropping onto Wraysbury Reservoir, 2(1H) Water Pipit along the Colne, 3(1+m, 2f) Stonechat, 1 Cetti's Warbler (seen very poorly along Bonehead Ditch), 1 Little Egret, 5 Fieldfare, 3 Little Grebe, 7 Meadow Pipit, 1 Sparrowhawk, 11 Linnet, 10 Pied Wagtail over N at dusk going to roost, and 2 Common Teal.

A few hours night-birding finally produced 1-2 very vocal Tawny Owl along Bonehead Ditch (sadly heard only) - a patch tick and just the 4th record for Staines Moor, 3+ Eurasian Woodcock (NE corner and east side), 1 Little Owl around the anthills in the NE corner, 11(9H) Common Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe (probably one the same birds as earlier), and a surprise Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus in the NE corner (patch tick).

Stanwell Moor added another Tawny Owl (heard) at night and a Water Rail heard from Bonehead Ditch.

12 February 2015

A3 sightings

A couple of barely worthy notebook entries from the week, both from the car to and from work - a (quite possibly plastic) Barnacle Goose flying south over the A3 just north of the Esher junction at 0835 on 10 February, and a Tawny Owl west over the A3 also around Esher this evening (12 February) at 1720.

3 February 2015

Lamping by moonlight at the patch: 3 February

A visit to the patch this afternoon/evening produced the following at Staines Moor: 2+ Water Pipit, 1+ Little Egret, 1 Grey Wagtail and 4 Little Grebe all along the Colne, 2 Water Rail showing fairly well along Bonehead Ditch, 1 Cetti's Warbler along Bonehead Ditch, 5 (3m, 2f) Stonechat, 3 Common Snipe (including 1 along Bonehead Ditch), 9 Pied Wagtail (including 8 over N at dusk presumably heading to roost), 16 Meadow Pipit, 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk failing to catch a Song Thrush, 2+ Kestrel, 1 Common Buzzard (landing on the moor), 6 Song Thrush, 8 Fieldfare, 2 (1 ad., 1 imm.) Grey Heron and 3 Common Teal that flew onto the moor at dusk.

A full moon after dark made night-birding very difficult with birds taking flight before any could be approached, but 2 Eurasian Woodcock were seen at the north end and 1 Little Owl was on the anthills in the NE corner.

Stanwell Moor added a Kingfisher in Stanwell Moor Village perched along the stream, 18 Song Thrush, 10 Blackbird, 1 Little Egret over N, 3+ Pied Wagtail, 21 Goldfinch, 5 (2m, 3f) Gadwall, 4 Common Teal, 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Coot, and 2 Mallard.

A full moon in the east shortly after dark did nothing to help the night-birding, although it made those hazardous anthills easier to see.
The night sky was made more spectacular this evening with Jupiter situated very close the moon, though with all the light pollution
from Heathrow and the M25, Staines Moor really isn't that good for astronomy.

Weather: Cloudy with sunny periods, becoming clearer after dark, light but cold northerly wind, moon phase: full.

27 January 2015

Half Snipes at Staines Moor: 27 January

A very long but worthwhile day at the patch today. The undoubted highlight was an extremely close encounter with a Jack Snipe on Staines Moor - watched for about half an hour at a range of approximately two metres. Frozen to the spot, the bird did its best pretending to be a part of the vegetation by crouching low to the ground, allowing a rare opportunity to study the plumage pattern and colours. The green and purple on the scapulars and mantle contrasting with the bright yellow stripes are really beautiful at such close range. Another 2 Jack Snipe were also seen around the Moor (sorry but the precise locations will remain undisclosed).

Staines Moor is a traditional wintering site for Jack Snipe. The first record was of 2 on 26 September 1937, and the highest site count is 8 on 20 March 2003. The earliest returning date is 1 in July 2002 and the latest departing record is 1 on 11 April 1951.

One of three Jack Snipe today - this bird was just two metres from me!

Spot the Jack Snipe (click to enlarge)!

Feather detail on Jack Snipe - stunning!

Other notables seen today were the Dartford Warbler glimpsed associating with a pair of Stonechat west of the Colne, 5+ Water Pipit (mainly along the Colne), 10 Little Grebe along the Colne (another new site record), a single Eurasian Woodcock in the NE corner an hour before dawn, 1 Water Rail swimming in the Colne (at the reeds by the northern footbridge), 9 (5m, 4f) Stonechat, 1 Peregrine and 4 Tufted Duck that flew off from the Colne at dawn.

Eurasian Woodcock shortly before dawn this morning

Still nine Stonechat on Staines Moor

More common species noted through the day include 1+ Common Buzzard, 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 1 Common Snipe, 2 Little Egret, 1+ Grey Wagtail (Colne), 3 Kestrel, 7 Fieldfare, 3 Mistle Thrush, 5 Song Thrush, 1 Reed Bunting, 4+ Skylark, 24+ Meadow Pipit, 2+ Grey Heron, 8 Common Moorhen, 1m Common Pheasant (swamp), Overhead, 2 Egyptian Goose SE and 25 Woodpigeon NW were logged.

Stanwell Moor added a pair of Northern Shoveler and 1m Gadwall.

25 January 2015

Nocturnal waders at Staines Moor: 25 January

Another few hours night-birding at Staines Moor this evening revealed 7 Eurasian Woodcock (another site record - beating the record set just two nights ago), 3 Jack Snipe (1 West Pool, 1 Colne and 1 east side), 23(18H) Common Snipe and a Little Owl (NW corner). The birds didn't allow close approach this evening but I did manage a record shot of a Woodcock.

Spent much of the day at the London Wetland Centre for my third Wader Quest Trustees' meeting. Friends Rick and Elis Simpson have an excellent vision to raise funds and support small conservation groups and individuals that are working in the field to conserve and conduct research on the worlds waders. We've got an excellent team with a wide range of expertise and experience and today's meeting was the best yet. Please support us by donating £5 - 100% of all donations goes directly towards our various wader conservation projects.

Eurasian Woodcock on the West Pool this evening - one of seven birds seen and a new site record!

Weather: Weather: Mainly cloudy (7 oktas), moon phase: first quarter, light south-westerly wind, mild.

23 January 2015

Night-birding at Staines Moor: 23 January

A couple of hours birding in a brisk south-easterly wind around the north end of Staines Moor with Steve Minhinnick produced 5-6 Eurasian Woodcock (a new site record), 2 Jack Snipe (1 NW corner, 1 East Pool), 5 Common Snipe, a Little Owl (NE corner), a Skylark, 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Common Teal and brief Little Grebe on the Colne. Great views this evening but nothing cooperated for photos.

17 January 2015

Staines Moor: 17 January

An afternoon/evening session at the patch produced 2-3 Water Pipit along the Colne, 6 Stonechat (4m, 2f), 1 Little Egret, 1 Kingfisher, 2 Grey Heron, 1 Common Buzzard, 2+ Kestrel, 8 Little Grebe (a new site record), 16 Skylark, 6 Moorhen, 3 Mute Swan, and overhead 2 Gadwall E. 46+ Carrion Crow roosting along the Bonehead woodland is a high count and c20 Meadow Pipit and 9 Linnet came into roost at the Swamp at dusk.

A few hours night-birding after dark revealed 2 Little Owl hunting around the anthills at the north end, 2-4 Eurasian Woodcock also around the anthills, 4 Common Snipe (2H), and a Red Fox.