Monday, 31 January 2011
Saturday, 29 January 2011
Not actually on the reserve but the adjacent Barnham Cross Common (though had I been on the reserve, I'd have seen all three from there!). I can live without HF on my personal Lakes yearlist for now though, safe in the knowledge that Andy has already done the honours, and that the Lodgers will be gripped ;-)
Actually it has been a day of close-but-no-cigars:
Closest Hawfinch to the Nunnery boundary: 43m
Closest Waxwing to the Nunnery boundary: 1.3km
Closest Hen Harrier to the Nunnery boundary: 7.8km
Closest Rough-legged Buzzard to the Nunnery boundary: 8.0km (for once I didn't care!)
Friday, 28 January 2011
Thursday, 27 January 2011
First, we connected with the lone Barnacle Goose that has been with the Greylag throng in the Ivel Valley for the last few years. This bird originates from the Willington/ Roxton flock, so is Cat. C and thus tickable. Then a Collared Dove in a garden tree (another Lodge mega) was unblocked. Flushed with success, Richard scoped the only viewable part of Warren Villas and would you believe it? The only bird was a Shelduck!
Finally, on our walk back to the office, a Kingfisher was calling from the tiny stream that runs off of the Ivel - another decent bird. We then found a tiny wader on Derek White's Eggs Pits, but at a mile range, couldn't decide whether it was a Western Sand or a Semi-p...
Another four tick day. The list moves to 79.
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Anyway it does present the perfect opportunity for the first part of an exciting virtual Nunnery Lakes tour. And where more logical to start than the imaginatively named 'D Lake'? Yes you spotted the irony. Crap name or not, this is where it all happens when it comes to waterfowl; my one and only Lakes Smew (a cracking white nun at that), the spot for Goldeneye (where are you when we need you?) and the place where we'll finally nail Shoveler for the year (I predict September...). Today? 3 Goosanders and a modest group of 4 Gadwall. Hmmm...
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
The Lodge year list moves steadily forward to a respectable 75.
Monday, 24 January 2011
This lunchtime, I grabbed Bash and we executed the plan. Within a few minutes of our arrival, we both heard a distant bird. It also gave us a chance to explore a part of the reserve that is 'off-limits.' From our vantage point, we had great views of a stretch of water and a reedbed at Warren Villas NR, and it will probably be here that we'll get our Acro's - and possibly Cetti's - in the spring.
Walking back over the new heath, we both stopped in our tracks and before us was first one, then two of one of our key species - Raven.
Team BTO may struggle with that one...we hope!
And with my colleague Tony Payne unblocking Little Owl, our list moves on to 71.
Sunday, 23 January 2011
He continued ''I did the normal stuff: had a cup of coffee and a fag, took a shower - which gave me time to formulate a strategy to nail Little Owl - got dressed and walked the three miles to my workplace at The Lodge.''
''It was only when I arrived and found all the doors locked and the carpark empty that I realised it was Sunday. It's high time the BTO showed some responsibility towards heavy BirdTrack users...they don't even have a crisis line like the Samaritans for heaven's sake, and their staff only work nine to five - the slackers.''
Attempting to steer the conversation in a different direction, Nick asked ''So, did you see anything?'' ''Erm, yes.'' Darren replied. ''Two Woodcock and a Peregrine, which, off the top of my head, means I've recorded them on 2.76% and 3.12% of my visits respectively.''
Friday, 21 January 2011
He continued, ''right, what we need to do is get a crew up to Thetford and kick their stringy arses. It'll be a piece of p*ss, I mean, there are 700 of us and what, eleven of them? What are they going to do? Call on the BirdGuides reservists? That won't help because we've got BirdLife International watching our backs. We could annex the Nunnery, nick their year list AND all of their ringing data! It'll be a riot! The carrot crunchers won't know what's hit them!''
When he left my desk, I rang Human Resources, then 999.
Thursday, 20 January 2011
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
This morning on my way in to work, I walked through Sandy Heath Quarry where some small pools have formed. I thought this may be a reasonable area to pick up Snipe, but instead, a Green Sandpiper was feeding around the edge of the only unfrozen pool. 65 now...
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Anyway enough of all that; the sharp-eyed comment-readers amongst you will be wondering what Chris Gregory added to the list today that could possibly top-trump Darren's Peregrine (which, incidentally, got my day off to a bad start when I opened the BirdTrack Obs Warnings system only to find the record mocking me from the top of the list!). Chris's monster contribution whilst he was working on the reserve this morning was a Goshawk hunting Woodpigeons. That's the first addition since last Wednesday and takes the total to 84, maintaining the BTO's cool 20-species lead ;-)
Still, if you don't swing the bat, you won't hit the ball...
Thursday, 13 January 2011
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Birders aren't known for their trusting approach to records from other birders, let alone civilians. I have to confess that when I heard the reports of 2 (or was that 3?!) Bitterns from the local fishermen last month my left eyebrow adopted an acute angle and I muttered something cynical, probably containing the phrase 'female Pheasant'. Note to self: Take seriously fishermen's recent report of "2 egrets that were bigger than the usual one"...
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
The luxury of lakes within the reserve boundary is much envied here at the Lodge, especially with the BTO notching up a bit of a beast with a Mandarin.
So, with our challenge getting off to a slow but perfectly formed start, we were forced to find the gaps in the trees to view to locally famous Derek White's Eggs GP. A fabulous site with an impressive list of watery birds - the only trouble is, it is over a mile away from the Lodge. But without it, we'd be stuffed from the outset. Thanks to ducks etc being quite big, we've scoped Wigeon, Gadwell, Pochard, Teal, Little Grebe and a Little Egret. More lunchtimes will be spent scanning the site as wader passage starts. The smaller the bird though, the greater the challenge. We've got some ideas on that front, so watch this space...
And lets not worry about the standard of photography - it's a Little Egret by the way.
That takes the all-important scores on the doors to 82 (bird) species. We're well short of the kind of quality our oppos have achieved... fortunately there are no bonus points for rarities!
The Lodge year started with a bang with a Coues' Arctic Redpoll being found amongst the roaming redpoll flocks on 5th (luckily found by four staff members). Only the third Bedfordshire record after two in 1991 on Wavendon Heath. Waxwings have been frequent visitors too with a peak count of 23 on 4th. Now to fill in those gaps...
Thursday, 6 January 2011
Still failing to see the Barn Owl for my personal Nunnery List - must make the effort at dawn or dusk one day...
Monday, 3 January 2011
I returned from 'up north' to my house on the edge of the reserve late last night; no Tawny Owl to greet me so my first Lakes year ticks had to wait until this morning. An extensive tour of duty with Dave added a few things the team hadn't connected with over the weekend: Barn Owl, Nuthatch and the Pink-footed Goose that's been around for a couple of months - the latter a big relief as this would have been a difficult species to catch up with had this individual moved on as we feared it might.
My BirdTrack list for this morning totalled 52 species, exactly the same number Mike and Dave recorded on New Year's Day. The overall total will have to wait until Wednesday when I'm back in the office and can combine everyone's records but we must be up to 60 or thereabouts.