National Mega, Buff-bellied Pipit; my first proper twitch

Queen Mother Reservoir, Berkshire ~ 15th and 23rd December 2012 ~ 

On the 12th December, an American Buff-bellied Pipit was reported to have been seen at a reservoir not all that far from me. So, naturally, as it was still present at the weekend I managed to get to the reservoir for about midday on the 15th where we paid our £2 for a day permit and parked the car.

From the road approaching the entrance gate we spotted a number of people walking along the bank of the reservoir carrying scopes, cameras and assorted tripods. From the car park we walked round the edge of the reservoir and headed towards the growing number of people congregating on the bank. It took us about 20 minutes to reach the crowd of birders and photographers.

To our amazement, the bird (bearing in mind this was only the second ever mainland Buff-bellied Pipit and only the 22nd for whole of the UK) was casually strolling along the bank just metres from the on-looking birders, photographers and general observers!

We stayed until the light had totally gone and then made our way back to the car, amazed at the tameness of the bird - which at one point had come within the min focusing distance of my lens (3.5m)!! Anyway, enough of my ramblings, here are a few shots of the bird I got on the 15th:

Despite managing the shots above, which I am pleased with, I decided that I wanted to have another go at photographing the pipit and so persuaded the parents to take me once again to see this rare bird.

When I arrived, the bird was down on the bank in front of the Sailing Club feeding along the edge of the water. I decided to wait a bit, take a few shots to see what the light was like and determine what its feeding habits tended to be. After about 5 minutes of watching it feeding, I moved away and as I did that the pipit turned round and started heading the other way.

Knowing that it tended to keep in a fairly straight line and  ignore most things, I decided to make my way round past the sailing club and down the boat ramp before the bird got any closer to the ramp.

By doing this I knew I was chancing it, but in the end it paid off very well indeed as the pipit made its way towards me slowly but surely, feeding contentedly as it came!! I was very lucky that at one point, while I was lying on the ground at the bottom of the boat ramp, the pipit came within 2 feet of me! I have to say that this encounter will not be forgotten easily and I got some decent shots as well! Here are a few of the images from the 23rd that I am very pleased with: 

Wonderful Waxwings

Elvetham Heath ~ 8th December 2012 ~ 

All over the UK Waxwings have been the most numerous species to have been reported recently, however none of these reports were even remotely close to me.

So when I received a text late in the afternoon saying a flock were in the local vicinity I decided that I would head over there in the morning. Excited, I couldn't sleep and so reminded myself of their call and behaviour and flicked through the hundreds of photos already taken of Waxwings until I finally fell asleep.

In the morning I waited for another text which would confirm the Waxwings were still around and as soon as it came in I gathered all my gear and headed out. Upon arrival the Waxwings were not present, but I was informed that they had disappeared and returned 9 times already. I set up and waited for their return, chatting to another young photographer also present.

The birds eventually returned and became tamer and tamer as the morning went on! The flock grew to an amazing 56 and allowed me to get pretty much as close as I needed in order to achieve some decent shots!

Here are a few of the shots I got throughout the day:

Titchfield Haven NNR

Titchfield Haven NNR  ~ 31st October 2012 ~ 

Hi everyone, apologies for not posting for such a long time but I hope you enjoy my following post about my trip to Titchfield Haven NNR, Hampshire.

On 31st October I managed to persuade my mum to take me to Titchfield Haven as neither of us had ever been there before. The weather forecast looked okay for the day but much to our disappointment, no sooner had we arrived than the heavens opened; not a very good start to the day! We went straight to the visitor center to buy entry tickets and on the way spotted 10 Redshank and many more Turnstone, unfortunately I didn't manage to get any shots of either.

We got to the visitor center  purchased our tickets and started our journey out into the pouring rain. We decided to go to a few of the hides first and take it from there. So we headed round, walking the 5 minutes to the first hide with great anticipation! From here we saw Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Redshank, Tufted Duck, Teal, Shoveler, a Kingfisher and a Grey Heron.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinera)
Following this we walked round to the second hide where we were greeted with close views of yet more Teal, two Little Egrets and yet another Grey Heron.

We carried on to the next two hides and saw very little so headed back, visiting each hide once more but with no new birds.

Instead of walking round to the next few hides on the other side of the reserve we decided to walk back to the coffee shop to sit down and warm up.

However, as we walked back, I noticed a large group of waders congregating at the waters edge so I had a quick scan through the group in hope of anything unusual. To my surprise I spotted a Sanderling among the Turnstone group. As I had previously only ever seen Sanderling very distantly I decided to try and get a decent photo of it. After much frustration and revising my tactics several time, I managed to get in the right position and this is the result:

Sanderling (Calidris alba)
 I also noticed a Knot, a species I had never seen before, and just as I was leaving I noticed an odd looking wader which I later identified as a Grey plover, another lifer! So, on the whole it wasn't a bad day, apart from the weather, but that's the Great British weather for you eh?! Here are a few more shots from my great day at Titchfield, thank you all for reading and any comment are very welcome.

Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

Black-winged Stilts; awesome but a long, long walk

Lymington Keyhaven Marshes ~ 9th June 2012 ~

Firstly I must apologise for having not posted for over 4 months... I've been very busy with school & birding!

Now then, on to my most recent 'twitch' to the Keyhaven/Lymington/Pennington Marshes to see the two Black-winged Stilts that turned up.

Having not done any birding for nearly a week, half term was becoming rather boring. So, on Friday 8th I managed to persuade my dad to take me to see the Stilts provided I did all my homework while he was at work. I did and so he said yes.

Getting up early is definitely NOT my strongpoint so at 9.20am ish we set off. We arrived an hour or so later and immediately set off along the sea wall being blown all over the place by the gale force winds. We walked for what seemed like hours but was, in fact, only 40mins or so. This is the rough walk we did:

Here I have explained what the different coloured lines mean. Black = going to where we thought the Stilts were. Red = walking back from where thought the Stilts were. Blue = the walk we took once we were told by fellow birders were the Stilts were. Green X = where we viewed the Stilts from. NB there is an unmarked pool which is where they were. And finally, Yellow = our walk back to the car after seeing and photographing both the Stilts.

Here are a few of the photos I got of the Stilts:

As you may be able to see, the left hand bird has a totally white head, making it an adult bird. On the other hand, the bird on the right has black on it's head, making it a 1st-winter bird.

This is the adult bird in flight

Once back at the car we debated whether or not to go and attempt to see the Glossy Ibis at Farlington marshes but we decided against it as we knew it would be another long walk. So, we headed home.

As always, thanks for reading :)

Moor Green Lakes

Moor Green Lakes ~ 10th March 2012 ~

Today I went to Moor Green Lakes. I got there just after 8:30 and got home at around 14:00. It was a long but enjoyable morning with quite a few species of bird being seen, including Green Sandpiper, Red Kite, fem Pintail and Snipe.

I walked to the feeders first to see what was about; there was not much. I then walked to the first hide to scan Colebrook Lake North as a female Pintail was reported on Thursday. I got into the hide and opened a window to find a Green Sandpiper on the scrape along with a Snipe and a male Shoveler. I managed to get some decent shots of all three.

After spending quite a while in the hide, I headed round to the New Workings as 2 Shelduck had been reported in the first hide and would be the first ones I had seen this year. I did manage distant views of them and after about 10 minutes they did an overhead circuit but my photos are not very good.

I then decided to walk to the second hide to see if any Water Rail were on show. Unfortunately none were. I did however, get good views of a male Reed Bunting, a few Goosander (drakes and females) and also a white-headed sub-species of Cormorant.

Back at the first hide, nothing much had changed apart from the arrival of approx 50 pairs of Wigeon so I went to the feeders to try and get some photos. There was lots around, including: Blue Tit. Great Tit, Long-Tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Reed Bunting, Greenfinch, Nuthatch, Blackbird and Wren. I managed to get some in-flight shots of Blue Tit, Greenfinch and Nuthatch.

The feeders at the car park showed up most of the above as well as a Coal Tit and a possible Brambling.
My best shot of a Green Sandpiper

The closest male Shoveler I have ever had.
My record shot of a Snipe
My first sharp in-flight shot of a Blue Tit.

I was lucky to get this shot.

 Shame he was facing away from me!!

Blackbushe Airfield

Blackbushe Airfield ~ 6th March 2012 ~

After school this afternoon I went up onto the airfield to watch some of the filming they are doing up there. It was great fun watching and I got a few good shots of the F1 cars racing. No Dartford Warblers though. In fact, there were no birds at all apart from 4 Meadow Pipits, a few Blue Tits and 3 Blackbirds.

Here are a few photos from today:

Two of the four F1 cars being used in filming for "Rush" 

Not sure this will do the Dartfords any good!

Blackbird against sunset background.

Dinton Pastures

Dinton Pastures ~ 3rd March 2012~

Well, here goes. My first blog post ever!

Today I went to Dinton Pastures, our aim to see the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker hanging around the Teal Hide, and a Bittern at Lea Farm. I didn't see either bird.

We covered the whole of Dinton in just under 3 hours. It started out raining but the sun made an apperance later on. I managed some fleeting views of Kingfisher, but still no pictures.

At the Tern Hide, there were at least 10 Snipe feeding on the scrape to the left of the 'No Fishing' sign, there were also Shoveler, Teal, Cormorants, a Little Egret and a Pochard. On and around the feeders were 5 female Phesants, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Long - Tailed Tits, Blue + Great Tits and last but not least, a Moorhen underneath the feeders.

Unfortunately, none of the other hides had anything worth mentioning here. However, it was a great morning and I met lots of nice people, some of whom I already knew, saw lots of birds and hope to go back soon.