Sunday, 30 April 2017

Longham Patch 22nd/26th/ 27th April 2017

What a few days it as been at my local patch Longham Lakes, the patch is a in land wet land on the south coast ( for those that do not know the place) comprising of two large lakes the North Lake and South Lake with a causeway running east to west between the two and gravel paths going round both lakes, at the west side is the river Stour and Hampreston meadows.
On the 22nd I arrived late at 10.40 at the lakes on a cloudy but with sunny spells hoping for a Wheatear or some migrant that might of dropped in over night. It did not take me long to find 3 Egyptian geese resting on the east side of the large island in South Lake. Walking up the causeway I flushed 3 Common Sandpipers, stopping at the gap in the willow scrub to look over the north side of the island two of the Sandpipers were on the exposed shoreline. I had a pleasant walk round south lake with Blackcap, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff singing but did not locate anything new and reaching the start of the causeway I paused for a moment. As it was a very nice day and the cloud cover was almost gone I decided to walk back up the causeway and go round the North Lake. That was a very good dession to make as I arrived at the western side of the lake I looked over Hampreston Fields scanning the fence posts and ground for Wheatears or Yellow Wagtails. I noticed a small bird flitting about between fench posts and a patch of bramble, I was expecting it to be a Stonechat but through the binoculars the bird did not fit for a Stonechat. So I got the scope fixed on to the bird and it was a wonderful male Whinchat,these are very rare spring migrants for the patch and I believe it is only the 10th one and the first since 2014.

Male Whinchat
 On the 26th April while at work I checked the BirdGuides app just to see what was about just before going back to work after my lunch break, only to read a Bonaparte's Gull! had been seen a round the north west corner of South Lake so I was kicking myself for not checking the app at the beginning of my lunch break as Longham is only a 5 minute drive depending of traffic from my place of work.
The rest of the afternoon I was thinking do I wait until tomorrow or shoot over after work. 4.30pm could not arrive quick enough and I phoned the wife that I would be late in for tea as I had made up my mind to go after work.Arriving in the car park my heart sank a little as it was empty so I thought the gull had gone, but luckily there were to birders sat on a bench on the west side of South Lake . We searched and searched but not having my scope or my best binoculars with me I was finding difficult with birds out in the middle and towards the south side of the island. Lucky one of the birders had picked up the bird and kindly let me have a view, so I got my 1st distance view of my 1st Bonaparte's

All day on the 27th I was hoping that the bird would stay until the weekend as I knew I was unable to make my usual Friday afternoon trip. Getting home after work I kept mulling over whether to go back and see if I could obtain a better view of the gull. So after tea I decided that's it I have got to go and boy was that great decision .Arriving to find the car park almost empty apart for a couple of angler's cars I  made my way up the causeway scanning North Lake as I went and half way up the causeway I stopped  and scanned again with the binoculars , I said to myself is that the bird so I got the scope fixed on to it and yes a wonderful view of the gull. I managed to get a very ropey phone scoped record shot of the bird just before it lifted off the water and watched fly towards me and dropped down behind some reeds. At this point Two birders (Terry Elbon and Mike Gibbons) arrived and I told them gull was just behind the reeds, we moved a little to the right to get a better view along the edge of these and the gull was sitting on one of the small artificial floating islands giving very good views. While the bird was sat on the island I managed again to get a couple of record shots of the bird but the light was not great. An angler started putting in some bait and the the Black-headed Gulls that were settled on the water lifted off and the Bonaparte's joined them give spectacular close flight views.
ropey record shot of Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte's Gull on the island

Bonaparte's in poor light
 While the gull was flying a round with the Black-headed Gulls we all lost sight of it and started searching the sky and speculating whether it had gone off to roost somewhere , when Mike Gibbons shouts out Red-rumped Swallow hawking over the causeway, it them promptly flew towards the three of us. Tweets were sent out and slowly a few birders joined use to see the spectal of the Red-rumped Swallow wizing about hawking over the causeway at eye level at times The Red-rumped Swallow is an over shoot from Southern Europe were it comes to breed after spending the winter in tropical Africa . With the many Swallows, Sand Martins and a House Martins along with a couple of Swifts it was not long before a Hobby shot through cuasing a stir. What a carzy, exciting wonderful evening it was with one bird from North America and the other from Southern Europe. It was great to be part of it all.

Sand Martin

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Longham Patch 14th April

Had a wonderful morning at Longham Lakes today from 09.00 -11.40hrs, on getting out of the car and setting up the scope I was greeted to the sounds of goldfinches flying across the car park. A Cetti’s Warbler blasting out its short song just south of the study centre, going south towards the causeway I heard the wonderful song of a Willow Warbler which was quickly located by the bench opposite the causeway. Stopping off at the slipway to look across to the large island I noticed the Common Sandpiper on the little jetty, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls a Lapwing and Tufted ducks on the east side of the island. I made my way up the causeway past the carp fishers that were bivied out along the shore of North Lake, and stopping at the gap in the willows to scan the island from this point where I found two Redshanks a sleep on the exposed shore line of the island. With Reed Warbler and Reed Buntings call/singing and another Cetti’s Warbler shouting at me as I made my way up to look over Hampreston Meadows. While standing here I heard my second migrant of the morning and was located singing on top of some hawthorn it was a lovely Whitethroat, and a gain another Cetti’s shouting out its song north from my position.
As I scanned the island from the west bank of South Lake I thought I saw two Common Sandpipers fly from the causeway and land on the island but could only see one. Though a sighting of two sandpipers were confirmed later on in the morning. I carried on up the west bank listening to Blackcaps singing the hearts out. I stopped and scanned up and down the oak trees with binoculars like I have done on every visit for the past four years with the hope of seeing a Treecreeper or the holy grail of Samuel’s Wood a Nuthatch, with only finding my 1st Treecreeper last year working an Oak. I was very surprised to find working a large limb of an Oak at the back of the wood a wonderful Nuthatch!
Eventually I arrived at the small ponds at the south end of the lake were I found the Great White Egret working the edge of the reeds, before flying up in to the large Oak at the back of the ponds. Working along the reeds looking for hiding snipe or anything else that could be in them I was surprised to find a fresh water terrapin out up on the bank warming up in the sun, not sure what type of turtle it was but it was pretty large, obviously released by someone when it got too large for their terrapin tank.
Great White Egret


 This time last year I was on 70 species and ended the year with 96 species seen.
This year I am on 81 species so far, can / will I get to a hundred this year with a bit more effort I hope so.


Saturday, 8 April 2017

Longham Patch 7th April

On the Friday afternoon of the 7th April I headed off to Longham Lakes, after a very busy and slightly stressful morning at work. I am a C.N.C ( computer numerically control) programmer/operator machinist which means I program machines to machine parts out of steel or aluminium. So after rushing to get a job done by 1.30pm only to be told it can wait until next week after I finished the work.It was very nice to be able to get over to the lakes on a wonderful sunny afternoon and bright blue sky and a gentle warm breeze.
Walking down the east path

Walking round the large lake I found there was not really much about except for Tufted Ducks, Coots and a few Great Crested Grebes. Two of the grebe were half heartly doing the courtship weed dance again,it is interesting to watch this happen but I still have not seen them get up on the feet, only a lot of head shaking with the chestnut hoods/frills spread wide and diving for weed.

It was very nice to hear the bird song as I walked the path ways round the lake Cetti's Warblers, Wrens, Dunnocks, Chaffinches and best of all two male Blackcaps giving it the all  which presumed was to entice a female which was spotted near by to in to the territory? I did make a lovely sound to the ear as I stood there listening to the beautiful melodic song.
I scanned the gulls out on the water still hoping to find my first Ringed billed Gull but once again no luck just Herring Gulls and to my surprise 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
As the sky was cloud less and clear blue I was hoping I might spy a Red Kite or an Osprey flying over as they have been reported in the past but I have never seen on over Longham Lakes and today was no different with only one Buzzard seen displaying with it climbing high the pulling its with a plummeting towards the ground and pull and start again.

Female Tufted Duck

Male Tufed Duck with female in the back ground

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Longham Patch 2nd April

Went back to Longham  today with my son, but found the car park mega full as the canoeists were there in force this afternoon so parked at Green Lane and walked down past the horse paddocks.
Chiffchaffs and Chaffinches singing away as we walked down the lane, out on north lake it looked like most of the Tufted Duck were on the water with a few med gulls and G C Grebes.
A Cetti’s Warbler was calling on the western side of the lake, scanning over the fields I found the Great White Egret down on the river  up stream from the dead tree, going through my records I have seen Great White Egrets ( most likely the same individual or one of the three) more than Little Egrets this year 17 times, also there was 2 Shelduck in the pool in the shire horse field. We did not stay long as Dan as been very unwell most of the year and was starting to feel a bit under weather especial in the sunny parts round the were it was quite warm, so we made our way back the same way as we came in  and found a Great Spotted Woodpecker, but still no sign of those darn Bullfinches. 
One from earlier  Great White Egret

Shelduck one of a pair in the flooded pool in the field

Male Chaffinch that was singing is heart out.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Longham Patch 1st April 2017

Spent a couple of hours walking round the lakes this afternoon. 120 Tufted Duck, 11 G C Grebes, 1 Little Grebe, 7 Shoveler, 20 Mediterranean Gulls came in and settled for a short time. 2 calling Cetti's Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff and a male singing Blackcap  which was very nice to see and listen too