27 April 2014

Birdwatch magazine - Where to watch birds: Stanwell and Staines Moors

Written a birding route for Stanwell and Staines Moors for the Where to watch birds section of the May issue of Birdwatch magazine (263: 28). Until fairly recently I could go for weeks without seeing another birder at both Staines and Stanwell Moors (especially since the demise of the once excellent pool in the 'car field' on Stanwell Moor), but over the last few years Staines Moor seems to have gained some popularity amongst local birders. I hope this route encourages even more birders to visit.

To get hold of it though, you'll have to go buy the mag - go to http://www.birdwatch.co.uk/.

26 April 2014

Hardly worth posting

A quick visit to the patch this afternoon (26 April) produced the following 'highlights': 3+ Barn Swallow, 1 Redshank, 1 Little Egret, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 2H Common Whitethroat and 1 Pied Wagtail on Staines Moor, and a Common Cuckoo on Stanwell Moor. Had 1 Speckled Wood along the old railway, and found a patch of 6 Cowslip Primula veris on Staines Moor by the iris channels in the NW corner, which is the first time I've ever found this common and widespread flower anywhere on the patch. The Colne flows through chalk so perhaps the seeds were carried here by water from further upstream? Or maybe they are a garden escape?

One of six Cowslip Primula veri, Staines Moor, 26 April 2014 - the only time I've ever seen this calcareous species on Staines Moor

24 April 2014

First Whinchats pass through

Had the first Whinchats of the year at Staines Moor today with 3 superb males flitting around at the north end, including one 1st year male singing it's head off!

One of three male Whinchats at Staines Moor today, including one bird singing. Up to four pairs of Whinchat bred at Staines Moor
from the 1930s to 1966, with the last breeding attempt in 1967.

Other migrants today were very elusive 1f Common Redstart in the hawthorns at the north end, 2f Northern Wheatear on the west side, and a very late Fieldfare in the NE corner briefly along Bonehead Ditch. Overhead, the only migrants seen were 1 Barn Swallow and 5 Sand Martin heading north. 1 Common Cuckoo in the trees along Bonehead Ditch (also seen on Stanwell Moor), and 1(H) Reed Warbler in Butts Pond are new in for the summer, 1 of the Grasshopper Warblers was heard a few times and 3(1H) Sedge Warblers were noted.

Record shot of today's late fieldfare

Other notables include 4(1m, 3f) Pochard over NE (surprisingly scarce here, even overhead), 12+ Lapwing including a pair with a chick, 1+ Redshank, 2 Red Kite, 1 Common Buzzard, 2 Egyptian Goose SE, 3+ Common Tern fishing along the Colne, 2+ Little Egret, 4(3H) Lesser Whitethroat in the NW corner, 3(1H) Common Whitethroat, 1(H) Cetti's Warbler at Butts Pond still, 5 Blackcap, 4(H) Chiffchaff, 3+ Gadwall and a male Blackbird showing some 'progressive greying' (not partial albinism apparently) in it's plumage.

Noted my first Green-veined White butterfly today - although I must admit I've ignored the whites so far this year so I've probably been seeing them for weeks! Also, a major hatching of Hydropsyche contubernalis caddislfies today. Had a go at photographing the Upright Chickweed Moenchia erecta, but unfortunately it wasn't sunny enough to open the flowers.

Hydropsyche contubernalis caddislfies

Upright Chickweed Moenchia erecta on an anthill on the east side. Hopefully I'll catch it with the flowers open.

20 April 2014

A second gropper

Clear skies yesterday evening, clouding over with heavy cloud and moderate north-easterlies by dawn, failed to produce any significant fall or movement of migrants overhead at Staines Moor today. A second Grasshopper Warbler showed extremely well along the east side during breaks between the rain, and also saw the bird found on Thursday still singing in the same place. Overhead, 1 Common Tern E, 6 Barn Swallow NE and 6 Sand Martin ENE were the only migrants noted.

Also logged: 4(3H) Lesser Whitethroat (hawthorns at north end), 3 Sedge Warbler (swamp), 9(7H) Blackcap, 4(3H) Chiffchaff, 1 Common Snipe (dropped onto the moor during a storm), 4+ Gadwall on the pools on the east side, 2+ Redshank, 7+ Northern Lapwing, 1H Cetti's Warbler (Butts Pond), 2 Little Egret along the Colne, 2+ Common Buzzard (local birds), 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Bonehead Ditch), 6 Reed Bunting, 19(1H) Linnet and 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker.

With help from Rob Innes I also managed to see Upright Chickweed Moenchia erecta at last. I'll have to go back on a warm sunny day to photograph them with the flowers open.

On Stanwell Moor, 1 Cetti's Warbler glimpst in the 'car field' reedbed.

The second Grasshopper Warbler of the spring

The second Grasshopper Warbler. I wonder if these birds will stop to breed?

18 April 2014

Sand Martin movement

A late start at Staines Moor this morning cost me a Ring Ouzel! Although still present when I arrived late morning, I couldn't be bothered to join the crowd chasing after it. A noticeable movement of Sand Martin this afternoon with 77+ over in just a couple of hours, mainly NE (with another 11+ over King George VI Reservoir), and 16 Barn Swallow mixed in. The Grasshopper Warbler was still present, but I saw it only once briefly early evening.

Also logged: 1 ad. Peregrine over, 1 Red Kite, 1 Little Egret, 1 Common Snipe, 2H Lesser Whitethroat, 1H Cetti's Warbler at Butts Pond, 1+ Redshank, 13+ Northern Lapwing, 3 Shelduck (2W, 1NE), 2+ Common Buzzard (the local birds), 3 Mistle Thrush, 2+ Grey Heron, 6 Linnet, 6+ Reed Bunting, 5(3H) Chiffchaff (including a pair on territory along the old railway), 4(3H) Blackcap (no doubt there were a lot more warblers present but I neglected the bushes today), c.15 Stock Dove, and lots of Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Starling about.

One of a pair of Chiffchaff holding territory along the old railway today

17 April 2014

Warbler arrival at the patch

Some visible migration at Staines Moor today, with good numbers of warblers! A Grasshopper Warbler was heard singing and showed briefly three times mid afternoon in the swamp in the south-east corner, where it spent most of the time out of sight in Lesser Pond Sedge Carex acutiformis, 3 Lesser Whitethroat (2 NW corner, 1 NE corner), 2 Common Whitethroat and 1 Willow Warbler along Bonehead Ditch were my first of the year, and 2 Sedge Warbler (1 Butts Pond, 1 SE marsh), 22 Blackcap and 18 Chiffchaff were also logged, and the 2 Cetti's Warblers are still present (1 at Butts Pond, 1 Bonehead Ditch in NE corner).

Other migrants seen were 1 Common Tern over E, 2 (1m, 1f) Northern Wheatear around the anthills in the NE corner, 1 imm. Peregrine SE, 6 Sand Martin (inc. 3 lingering over the Colne mid afternoon), 8 Barn Swallow and 10 Goldfinch N (and 3 local birds). Also noted: 1 Red Kite, 1+ Little Egret, 2 Shelduck W, 4 Egyptian Goose (3E and 1 on the deck briefly then S), 2 Redshank seen displaying beside the Colne, 11+ Northern Lapwing, 12+ Linnet, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Common Buzzard (the resident pair), 7 Reed Bunting, 12 Stock Dove, 2 Grey Heron, 4 Canada Goose over, c.70 Starling and lots of Skylark and Meadow Pipit.

A few more butterflies were on the wing today including 4m Orange-tip, 3 small tortoiseshell, 1+ Brimstone and lots of Peacocks. Finally, had a patch mammal tick early morning in the form of a Reeve's Muntjac Muntiacus reevesi near the old railway.

Record shot of today's gropper at the swamp

Lots of Peacock butterflies flying at the moment

9 April 2014

Buzzard day at Staines Moor

With high pressure over much of western Europe and southern England bringing light south-westerlies and very little cloud cover, skywatching was the order of the day at the Moor today. A good movement of Common Buzzard with 12+ migrants over (excluding the resident pair also seen displaying), 4+ Red Kite over, 1f Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 2 House Martin NW, 21 Sand Martin mainly NW and 4 Barn Swallow mainly NW.

Unsurprisingly there were very few migrants on the ground, with just 1f Northern Wheatear around the anthills at the north end, 7 Blackcap and 9 Chiffchaff. Also seen: 2 Common Redshank along the Colne, 1-2 Common Snipe, 2(1H) Cetti's Warbler, 3+ Little Egret, 18 Linnet, 2-3 Pied Wagtail along the Colne, 5 Reed Bunting, 9+ Northern Lapwing, including several birds still on territory, and lots of Meadow Pipit and Skylark. Also, 3 Brimstone and 7 Peacock butterflies today.

On Stanwell Moor, 1 Sedge Warbler heard singing, 1H Cetti's Warbler by the boardwalk, 5 Barn Swallow and 1H Chiffchaff were noted.

Female Northern Wheatear - one of few grounded migrants today

5 April 2014

Snippets of Sedge Warbler subsong

A very slow day at the patch today. A Sedge Warbler heard in sub-song a couple of times on Stanwell Moor (just the other side of Bonehead Ditch) is my earliest patch record. Also on Stanwell Moor: 1 Red Kite N, 4 Shelduck SE, 1H Cetti's Warbler near the boardwalk, 1H Blackcap and 1H Chiffchaff.

On Staines Moor, 7 Sand Martin lingering around the Colne mid afternoon, 8(7H) Chiffchaff and 3(2H) Blackcap were the only migrants of note. Good to see 2+ Redshank back on site and c17 Northern Lapwing, including several territorial birds. Also logged: 2 Cetti's Warbler still (1 Butts Pond and 1 Bonehead Ditch), 3 Red Kite over, 2-3 Common Snipe, 1 Little Egret, 2 Shelduck on The Butts before heading off west, 2+ Common Buzzard (the local birds, seen perching up along the old railway), 1 Pied Wagtail along Colne, 7 Linnet, 5 Reed Bunting, 4 Coot, c19 Mallard, 4+ Greylag Goose over, 2 Canada Goose N, 2+ Grey Heron, lots of singing and displaying Skylark and Meadow Pipit, and 1m Common Pheasant.

A single Peacock was the only butterfly seen today in cold, dull and windy conditions, but I did find my first flowering Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris of the year.

Redshank beside the Colne this afternoon. Lets hope at least one pair breed successfully this year.

1 of 3 Red Kites over Staines Moor today. This one drifted very low overhead a couple times - eyeing me up as I started to tire
after a long day in the field!