29 January 2010

Will the real Cream Tea Birder please stand up?

On this blog you will find some real cream tea birding! You know, the type that actually involves scones, jam, cream and a cup of char, as well as birds. This is me in July 2009 at Ye Olde Smokehouse at Fraser's Hill in Malaysia, where at 3pm every day we would chill out after a busy mornings birding with a superb cream tea, while watching Streaked Spiderhunters (second photo), Silver-eared Mesias (third photo) and Chestnut-capped Laughingthrushes bombing around in the garden! Jungle birding with a touch of English class! So don't let the excellent but rather inappropriately named Cream Tea Birding blog fool you - although there's plenty of birds, I've never seen a scone or dollop of jam anywhere near it!

18 January 2010

London Wetland Centre

I dropped by the WWT London Wetland Centre this afternoon to try and catch up with Bittern. First stop was the Dulverton Hide - I opened the hide door, sat down, opened the window and there siting on top of a clump of reeds was a Bittern in full view! Unfortunately it was far too distant for a photo. Good numbers of duck were also seen including about 200 Teal, 30 Shoverler, 20 Wigeon, 6 Pintail (inc. 3 drakes), 20 Gadwall and 1 Shelduck. Also noted were 2 Water Rail, 7 Common Snipe, 40 Lapwing, 1 Kingfisher and 1 Sparrowhawk.

15 January 2010

Thaw underway

After the rapid thaw of the last two days the snow has all but disappeared, so hopefully birds will start to return. Still very little about at Staines Moor. A walk along the east edge produced 2 Woodcock (flushed from Bonehead Ditch) and on the Colne a female Goosander was a bonus. Despite the thaw, wildfowl are still restricted to the river as the floods remain frozen. Also, numbers are still very low, with 2 Shoveler, 1 Gadwall and 7 Teal being about it. The best of the other birds present were: 1 Little Egret along the Colne, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Reed Bunting, 19 Linnet, Fieldfare, Redwing and c1000 Ring-necked Parakeets heading to roost at dusk.

10 January 2010

White nuns

With the moor frozen I went in search of any unfrozen patches of water at Wraysbury Gravel Pits. A tiny puddle on the BA Silver Wing Sailing Club Pit was teaming with duck including 150 Gadwall, 50 Wigeon, 50 Pochard and 2 pairs of Red-crested Pochard bobbing about amongst the 55 Mute Swans and 100 or so Coot. A quick check of Wraysbury No. 1 Pit held just 2 Shoveler and 2 Teal of interest and Hythe End Lake was little better with a male Goldeneye, 2 Shoveler, 6 Tufted Duck, 2 Pochard and a single Teal. Heron Lake was curiously completely ice-free (surely nobody is watersking in this?) and the long trek to view it paid off with excellent views of 5 stunning male Smew displaying together! Not a bad days winter birding!

9 January 2010

Big freeze at the moor

Spent the day crunching around in the snow and ice at Staines Moor in a bitterly cold north-easterly. The reward for my effort was a Curlew passing low over, which almost landed. Hardly surprisingly most birds have moved on to try and escape the worst of the arctic conditions, and those that remain were mainly concentrated around the River Colne - the only unfrozen water on the moor. Counts today include 2 Water Pipits, 3 Common Snipe, 4 Northern Lapwing, 25 Eurasian Wigeon, 2 Northern Shoveler, 3 Eurasian Teal, 3 Little Grebe, 25 Fieldfare and just a single Skylark.