Redpolls, Finches, Pipits and a Warbler

Chobham Common Ringing ~ 30th October 2013 ~ 

After almost a month without any ringing, I was very pleased that the weather cleared up enough for a session to go ahead this morning. The lead ringers in our group decided to visit Chobham Common, a SSSI reserve. It is Site of Special Scientific Interest because of these 3 rare birds that breed there: Woodlark, Nightjar and Dartford Warbler. We weren't targeting any particular species today, however we were hoping that we would catch some Redpolls, Meadow Pipits and, if we were very lucky, a Dartford Warbler.

We arrived at Chobham for 06.00 and had all the nets set up by 07.00

Fieldfares were everywhere, apart from in the nets. Wood Pigeons were moving over in their hundreds. And Meadow Pipits found that they are very good at balancing on the top strings of our nets.

Much to our surprise we caught not one, but two Stonechats-a ringing first for me and a privilege to see in the hand. We also caught a Dartford Warbler and by 'eck are they amazing!! I never knew there were so many shades of burgundy.

Below are a few images of some of the birds we caught:

3M Stonechat

3J M Dartford Warbler (Image 1 of 3)

3J M Dartford Warbler (Image 2 of 3)

3J M Dartford Warbler (Image 3 of 3)

3M Greenfinch (If I remember rightly)

Totals for the morning: 58 (3)

MEAPI  - 21 (1)
LOTTI   - 8 (1)
LESRE   - 19 (1)
COATI   - 1
STOCH  - 2
GREFI    - 5

Dartford Warbler is a species that I have always wanted to see in the hand primarily because I have had many close encounters with them while out birding. I never really imagined I'd actually manage it, but to see them up close and be able to study them in detail really is an incredible and interesting experience. 

Anyway, it was another great session in which I learnt loads (as usual) and one that reignited my admiration for the insectivorous Dartford Warbler.

Many thanks for reading!

South Coast Birding

Sturt Pond and Pennington Marsh ~ 19th October 2013 ~ 

On Saturday, my friend and I headed down to the south coast for a day of birding. We were aiming to see the Red-breasted Goose that has been present at Sturt Pond for over a week now.

As high tide approached, we finally picked out the Goose which was surprisingly inconspicuous given its rather brightly coloured appearance! It was about 100m offshore and was with 100's of Brent Geese, however as the tide rose, the geese came closer, and closer, and closer still, until the Red-breasted Goose was a mere 15m from us. We never expected to get such amazing views of the bird and it more than made up for the soggy trousers I got (note to self: don't lie in puddles when wearing jeans!!)

Anyhow, the bird drifted parallel to us for about 10 minutes before flying off with a few Brent's to some nearby fields.

Here are a few shots of the Goose:

After we were satisfied with our views, and positive that we had some decent images, we headed over to Pennington Marsh where we hoped to catch up with an american wader, a Long-billed Dowitcher.

Upon arrival we were told the very worst news possible - that it had gone, and hadn't returned after being spooked by a Peregrine flying past. We were then told by a different birder that it had simply taken shelter in a clump of vegetation and hadn't yet reappeared. Unperturbed by any of this news, we trained our bins and cameras on said clump of vegetation, and hoped that the bird had done the latter and was still present.

After about 15 minutes with no sightings of the bird, and the number of birders now increasing, I decided to take a stroll and head along the path towards the next lagoon, thinking it may have flown there when nobody was watching. I had only walked 20 metres when I looked back at the clump of vegetation and noticed a greyish bird on the edge, near the back. I looked through my bins at it and knew at once that this was the Dowitcher. Knowing that it was still hidden from the view of the birders, I signalled to them that I had it, and they made their way over, some more calmly than others.

A few remained sceptical that I had pointed out the right bird, but the majority agreed and were very happy to have seen it.

As it was fairly distant, a record shot of the Dowitcher will have to suffice!

Long-billed Dowitcher (left) standing next to a Common Snipe (right).

Throughout the day we saw some other birds as well, including 5 Mediterranean Gulls (one of which is pictured below) and some very obliging Turnstones:

Needless to say that great company combined with some great birds had resulted in having a terrific day!! 

As always, thank you very much for reading and you can keep up to date with my activity on Facebook and Twitter and view my website here.

Competition Success

Marwell Wildlife Photographic Competition 2013 ~ Saturday 5th October 2013 ~ 

Hello everyone.

Firstly, I must apologise for taking so long to write the next posts about my Australian adventure; going through and processing close to 10,000 images is, as I'm sure you can imagine, quite a tedious task!

Now, onto the main subject of this post:

Yesterday morning I attended the award ceremony of the Marwell Wildlife 2013 Photographic Competition. I was immensely chuffed to be the runner up of the Junior Native Wildlife category, as well as having a commended image in this category too. Since this is the first time I have ever got past shortlisting in a competition, it was a pretty surreal experience, but is one that I hope to repeat in the not too distant future!

These are the two images that got placed:

'Heron in the Snow' - Junior Native Wildlife - Runner Up

'Dunlin Dreams' - Junior Native Wildlife - Commended