31 March 2011

Plastic fantastic!

Not much time for birding at the moment. Had a Barnacle Goose fly over the A3 this morning and land in a field to join 10 Canada Geese (just east of the A244 junction, by Claygate Common). I guess this is just one of the increasing number of feral birds roaming Surrey.

27 March 2011

Bold as brass!

One of our neighbours has been feeding the local Red Foxes and they have now become very tame, allowing great photographic opportunities from the living room. Found all around the northern hemisphere, the Red Fox is now the most widespread canid on Earth (and has 45 subspecies!), and the UK is well known for its urban populations. This vixen was still out foraging at 10am this morning, suggesting she has a den nearby with hungry cubs.

13 March 2011

The tail end of winter

A few hours traipsing around Staines Moor this afternoon failed to produce the hoped-for first Sand Martin, Wheatear or LRP of the year, but a singing Chiffchaff, 4 displaying Lapwing and 5 singing Skylark added a spring-like feel. 4-5 Water Pipits along the River Colne, 2 Goosander and a flock of 70+ Fieldfare were the highlights.

Staines Moor is littered with the oldest Yellow Meadow Ant Lasius flavus nests
in Britain, and are a good indication that the ground here has never been ploughed!
This is also a great area for Green Woodpeckers.

5 March 2011

A tale of two gardens

Twitched the 1st winter Oriental Turtle Dove at Chipping Norton this morning (I know, I'm weak!). With my back improving I wanted some easy birding, and what could be easier than watching a ninth for Britain from a warm kitchen? With the crowds now subsided I was able to spend 45 mins watching the bird feeding and preening just metres away in the garden of no. 41 The Leys (many thanks to the Akers family). I knew very little about this species before today so it was an education studying the salient ID features. Great bird! Also amongst the common species on the feeders were 4+ Brambling (including a very bright male), 4+ Bullfinch and a Reed Bunting.

The journey back along the M40 was livened up by 36 Red Kite, 2 Common Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk, but then things got even better when a detour for petrol at Sunbury led me to at least 150 Bohemian Waxwings feeding on berries on the A308/A316 roundabout at Sunbury Cross (present at 11 am).

Back home watching the feeders in my own back garden, I was thinking birding for the day was over when at 13:20 a Red Kite flapped lazily low over heading north! Not a bad day so far!