Thursday, 27 October 2011

October 2011.

October is traditionally top migration month with bird movements generally south. South from higher altitudes for birds like Redwing and Fieldfare and south from here for our summer migrants. By now most of the movers south from here are on the move or gone. Early in the month about twenty swallows were flying south over Balham, heading back down to Africa.

Was there much movement over the common?

10th October.
Of note were the abundant Goldcrests. There must have been a 'fall' overnight as these are the first I've seen here for over a year. I must have counted at least 15. There was still one singing Blackcap and a Chiffchaff.

A few Goldcrests still but otherwise much as normal.

An early frosty start with a brief look around the pond.
A Little grebe was on the pond, a first on the common for me.
Cormorant and a plane.

A fair walk, a car burnt out by joy riders on the Triangle, the bird count wasn't bad, 32 species and there was a female Bullfinch at the far end of the Triangle. A rarity in these ere parts. Presumbaly, it was the same one that dropped in by the pond an hour later.
Female Bullfinch, shooting straight into the sun.


A rat by the pond.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

August and September.

August saw me back again in Libya. What was supposed to be a fairly relaxed assignment in the Jebel Nafusa became a full scale assault on Tripoli and the complete downfall of the regime. It was coming and we had an intense month. Not much time for birding.

Birds: Lesser crested tern, Little, Pallid, Alpine and Common swifts, Sardinian warbler, Bee-eaters, Hoopoes (abundant), Linnets, Raven, Spanish sparrow, Crested lark, Black wheatear, wheatear sp plural, Woodchat and Southern grey shrike (the most common bird in Tripoli, certainly the most visable).

The best bird for me was the Rufus-tailed bush robins at the hotel in Tatouine, Tunisia, where I overnighted on the way into Libya.
They were very confiding and joined the guests for breakfast.

Rufus bush robin, Tatouine, Tunisia.
Southern grey shrike, Tripoli zoo, Libya.

R&R in Cley (September).
A lazy week from the 12th September, sticking pretty much to the Cley, Salthouse and Blakeney patch.
Winds weren't great, though strong. Westerlys throughout which was surprisingly good for sea watching. Others saw much more than I, though I did see Arctic and Great skuas. Given how little effort I put in generally, (I ran out of steam after a couple of days) 90 species was fair. Best birds were Pied fly and Firecrest in Walsey Hills on the 18th, Hobby over the farmland behind Cley (19th) and a cracking Barn owl over the marshes one early morning. Others of note were Spoonbill, 000s of Black-tailed godwit, Pink footed goose, Curlew sand and Little stint.

Common Sandpiper, Cley.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Catch up, June and July.

Little tern, Benghazi, Libya.

Lesser crested tern at sunset. Benghazi, Libya.

For most of June and part of july, I was back in Libya again. We were based in Benghazi for the most part and didn't get out into the field much.

There was some consolation in the abundance of Lesser crested and Little terns around the port and the promenade. Though the smell of sewage around the port was off putting. Others of note were Southern grey shrike, Spanish sparrow, Crested lark and a Kentish plover on the beach, Hoopoes common.

Great spotted woodpecker, Tooting Bec Common. One of the six nests found.

For the rest of July I was on holiday in Tuscany...
A small species list but all quality: Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Sardinian, Fan-tailed and Melodious warblers, Black winged stilts, Alpine swift, Little and Cattle Egret amongst the more exotic.

Barn swallows in the rain...

Monday, 30 May 2011

Dead thrush!

Walking across Clapham Common, there was what looked like a mobile hanging from a tree. In fact, it was a Mistle thrush hanging by it's neck from kite line or similar. I can only assume that the line was caught in the tree and the thrush got caught in the line. Macabre!

Another strange site is the 'bog eyed' cat in the neighbour hood. There is something wrong with the skin around it's left eye which gives it a circumspect appearance.

Birds: The two Whitethroats are still on the Ecology pond and the young woodpecker has left the nest. I've only seen the one. In the same bit of Cafe Wood there were also at least three young Nuthatches.

During a brief visit to Richmond Park (28th), I saw a Common tern, Mandarin duck and Red-crested and regular pochard on the Pen ponds. All three woodpeckers, a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by parakeets...

Monday, 23 May 2011

Warblers continue!

The run of warblers continues with a Whitethroat at the Ecology pond, which is my first of the year here. Having just spoken to Peter W there have been a pair here for nearly a month and he suspects they may breed. A heron was heard overhead and a pair of Lesser black backs flew over. Another Great spot nest was found (Cafe wood).

Peter White's monthly and annual bird reports from Wandsworth and Tooting Commons can be found on the Wandsworth council website. For some reason I cannot post the link, but if you 'google' Wandsworth council bird reports, they will be the first links.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Osama bin Laden's house and back.

A Black drongo on Osama bin Laden's electricity cables...

White male, Asian Paradise flycatcher.

Away again... A short notice departure to Pakistan on account of Osama bin Laden being found and killed in Abbotabad. I had hoped it would also give an opportunity to spend some time running around the Margalla hills that border Islamabad. We did get up there a couple of times which was better than none. They are a fantastic place for birds both in variety and number. Some of the goodies are the abundant Grey hooded and Hume yellow browed warblers as well as Blythe's reed warblers this time of year. Other highlights were the Long tailed minivet which is a fantastic colour and probably the best picture was a white male Asian paradise flycatcher in Abbotabad.

Other news from Tooting. First Common swifts were over Balham on the 30th April and the Lesser spot was still drumming away up until I went away. Looking for it on the 15th May and again today unsuccessfully. Not sure what it means, hopefully, that he found a mate. Also on the 15th was a low hunting Sparrowhawk, otherwise not much else apart from a few singing Black caps and Chiffs. Today was better, at least 15 swifts, two Herring gulls, a calling Garden warbler at the back of the Triangle and a singing Reed warbler by the pond was the highlight. There are lots of Long tailed-tit chicks kicking around at the moment and there are some big Great spotted woodpecker chicks in a nest in Streatham wood. As for the ducks and swans on the pond it is another story. The Mallards (including the returned Farm duck) all appear to have lost there chicks as have the second pair of Egyptian geese. Alas, it also seems the Mute swans have had another unsuccessful year with the female having abandoned the nest... What happend?? You can't blame it all on the giant Pike.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

FOUND! Peter White.

Lesser spotted woodpecker drumming.

I have been testing a new camera (Fuji x100), very good for quick, candid observational snaps.

A dog walker and a giant dog!

Self portrait on Tooting Bec road.

Rubbish left after a picnic. I am astounded by what people throw away: Plates and knives and forks. Such waste!

Outings over to the common on the 8th, 10th, 11th and 20th were all productive and I had a week in Cornwall in between.

Top spot for me on the 8th was Peter White who I hadn't seen for ages. He had had a productive morning seeing a male Pied flycatcher in Cafe wood. This was after he had seen two Reed buntings and remarkably the Lesser spotted woodpecker. The male Pied fly is a good looking bird and an unusual migrant on the common and we went to have a look for it. Unfortunately, it had moved on. The Egyptian geese have two chicks, though Peter said it was four a week ago. Within a few days it was down to one and when I went past yesterday I couldn't see the geese at all.

9th-11th. Three early visits hoping to find something similar. I found the Lesser spot three times (9th), firstly at a corner of the Triangle and then twice by the lake area. Always a male so probably the same bird. There was a good smattering of migrants, Willow warblers and Chiffchaffs and 15 male Blackcaps and at least two females which is a good number. The Lesser spot was still on the same tree on the Triangle on the following day so I persuaded Brian, who still hadn't seen it to come over the following morning. True to recent form it was in the same tree at 7am, punctual, and we had good view.

20th. Lesser spot still drumming persistently on the Triangle. Hope he finds a mate. Hobby over at about 08.00 heading north was a year first for me and almost in exactly the same place as I saw one last year though a couple of weeks earlier. Of continuing amusement is the aggressive male swan, protecting his partner who is on the nest, presumably with an egg. He spends the whole day chasing seemingly one Canada goose in particular. An annual ritual. No Barn swallows yet over the common but at least two passed over Balham (8th).