20 March 2015

Solar eclipse birding: 20 March

Frustratingly, thick cloud this morning completely obscured the 85% solar eclipse, with a small drop in light and a much more noticeable drop in temperature being the only clues to the spectacle unfolding above. Of course, in the early afternoon the cloud cleared for a beautiful early spring day.

Spring passage has begun in style at the patch with a fantastic summer plumage littoralis Rock Pipit beside the Colne - only the third record of Rock Pipit for Staines Moor (my second) following the first on 20 October 1999 and a partial summer littoralis bird beside the Colne on 15 Mar 2003. With littoralis seen at several London sites over the last few days I was really hoping for one today. Unfortunately I only managed a record shot. 2 Water Pipits along the Colne, included one in almost full summer plumage, made an excellent comparison.

Scandinavian Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus littoralis) - only the third record for Staines Moor! Note the diffuse broad streaking on the
underparts, grey mantle merging into the grey head, white supercilium becoming broader behind the eye and you can just make out
the dark malar patch (thanks to Mark Pearson for his view on the identification).

Water Pipit along the Colne today moulting into summer plumage

The same Water Pipit - note the paler (and pink washed) and largely unstreaked underparts, very fine malar stripe and lack of dark
malar patch compared to the littoralis Rock Pipit above

2 Redshank along the Colne are probably returning breeders, and 9 Northern Lapwing (also seen on Stanwell Moor) included at least one displaying on the east side. 7+(4+H) Common Chiffchaff were my first wave of migrants, and 6 Reed Bunting, c28 Meadow Pipit, c 7 Skylark (included several singing) and 5+(3m) Linnet were along the Colne.

Other notables at Staines Moor were 1m Eurasian Wigeon feeding on mud along the Colne in the evening (very unusual here nowadays with all the disturbance), 1f Goosander over SE, 26 Fieldfare (NE corner), 1 Redwing (old railway), 2 Red Kite (with another distant NW over King George VI Reservoir), 2 Common Buzzard (including 1 pale bird), 1 Little Egret (Colne), 2+ Pied Wagtail, 2 Goldcrest, 1m+ Kingfisher (Colne), 2 Egyptian Goose (Colne briefly), 2 Greylag Goose SE, 1 Canada Goose NE, and 6+ Mallard paired up.

Also found two pairs of nesting Long-tailed Tits - one nest is almost complete that the birds were lining with feathers, and the other has not long been started.

Two Long-tailed Tit nests found today, at very different stages of being built

An hour or so night-birding after dark produced 1 Eurasian Woodcock (seen very poorly), 1 Jack Snipe (seen equally poorly) and 10+(7H) Common Snipe, 3 Roe Deer in the NE corner (a site record count and my second record) and a Red Fox. Redshank and Northern Lapwing calling at night was a nice bonus.

Stanwell Moor added 6(3H) Chiffchaff, 3 Chaffinch N, 1 Little Owl in the usual horse paddock, 2(H) Cetti's Warbler, 2 Canada Goose and 1m Common Pheasant. In Stanwell Moor Village a Little Egret gave ridiculously close views as I was parking the car, fishing in the stream along Hithermoor Road and occasionally walking around on the pathment and flying up onto the house roofs.

Little Egret in Stanwell Moor Village this morning

Little Egret on the pathment - not something you see everyday!

Nor on a roof!

Taken for granted nowadays, but imagine this bird showing like this back the in 80s!

7 March 2015

Nest boxes at the patch

Built eight nest boxes for the patch a couple of weeks back and spent a few hours yesterday and today (7 March) putting them up in Bonehead woodland along the east boundary of Staines Moor. Surprisingly, it was more difficult to find suitable spots for the boxes than I thought it would be - north to east facing and out of sight from the public, and I only managed to put up six - three hole-fronted boxes and three open fronted, as I spilt one and gave one to my dad. Looking forward to seeing what species move in.

Lots of birds singing at Staines Moor today including 3 Cetti's Warbler (H) along Bonehead Ditch (1 NE corner, 2 east stretch) and 1 Chiffchaff (H) in Bonehead woodland (and another heard on Stanwell Moor). Also noted today were 3 Red Kite together over S at midday, 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk in Bonehead woodland and a Kestrel. Yesterday in Bonehead woodland I had my first Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni of the year and a fly-catching Goldcrest.

Four of six nest boxes put up in Bonehead woodland

One of three Willow Bracket Phellinus igniarius fruitbodies in Bonehead woodland today - apparently uncommon in Britain

Southern end of the woodland along Bonehead Ditch on Staines Moor. I really should bird this woodland more often.