Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A quiet day at The Scrubs

Meadow Pipit
A quiet day was had at The Scrubs today. The recent fine weather has caused most of our potential migrants to keep on going south across our airspace.

Saw three Stonechats, heard a Blackcap and bumped into around six Chiffchaffs.

Let's see what tomorrow brings.
Grey Heron flyby

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Good Chats down at The Scrubs

This morning's autumnal check resulted in a lingering Whinchat and four lovely Stonechats.
 Male Stonechat
Couple of females/1st winter birds
Stonechats, although biannual, are rarely seen in groups of more than three at The Scrubs these days. Prior to the severe winter of 2009/10 we used to get up to 10 birds in the grassland that would stick around for a few days before disappearing. Thereafter, three to four would winter until March when a fresh influx would swell their numbers.

I would love to know where these birds emanated from and where they where heading. Regardless, I hope that these birds are the advance guard for a new wintering population.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Autumn heats up a little at The Scrubs

Last Sunday morning I led a London Natural History Society walk around the patch.

We did well. 

A Red Kite decided to float low overhead - our 4th or 5th (can't remember right now). Just before then and before I met the group a flock of six Rook headed in from the west to land on the mown grass in front of the prison. 

They were the first of this normally rural corvid to be seen at The Scrubs this year and certainly our biggest ever flock. The previous largest count was a pair that flew over during the spring a few years ago.
 Red Kite
 Kestrel being mobbed by a Carrion Crow
 Meadow Pipit
 Another of the many Meadow Pipits
 A Reed Warbler - another 1st for the year
Two days later on another stupendous morning (weather-wise) I locked onto a female Stonechat originally found by Paul Thomas, a fellow Scrubber. It was great to capture it sitting next to a Whinchat, its close relative.
 A Stonechat and Whinchat pair
Sunrise at The Scrubs

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Mid September ornithological rays of hope at The Scrubs

I've been visiting The Scrubs almost on a daily basis recently. September is the month when it comes to autumn migration and the for the possibilities for unusual or rare birds. We've already had a Wryneck a couple of weeks ago...who knows what could show up next.
 Lesser Whitethroat

Monday, 15 September 2014

1st winter Northern Wheatear at The Scrubs

Now, you might be saying, Wheatear at The Scrubs? What's so unusual about that?

Well, you would be right. As much as we enjoy having these migrants when they arrive, they are hardly unusual. I found this bird a couple days ago. I took a couple of record shots of this bird as it sallied from the tops of Blackthorns to catch and gobble up unseen and unfortunate insects.

When I saw it from behind I noticed how black its tail was. The average Northern Wheatear shows the classic inverted black 'T' with white tailsides and rump. This bird confused me but reading up on the literature it became apparent that 1st winter birds illustrated in my books seemed to have a similiar tail pattern. Perhaps the white tailsides of this particular bird have been unusually covered by the main black feathers. Perhaps I have always overlooked the tail patterns of young Northern Wheatears.

What do you think?

Saturday, 13 September 2014

The wonder of Falsterbo

I recently spent a very enjoyable long weekend at the Falsterbo Bird Festival, Sweden. I had originally tried to be incognito but I was spotted and asked to do a couple of last minute talks that were thankfully well recieved.

Falsterbo is of course very famous as a migration watchpoint. Indeed, although the SE winds were not deemed as productive by the resident birders, for me the migration that I saw was still pretty amazing. There were stacks of Tree Pipits, Yellow Wagtails of a couple races and plenty of White Wagtails. Hunting them were legions of migrant Sparrowhawks who swooped and speedily patrolled the stands of vegetation. Some 17,000 passed through and although I didn't see anything like that number I still managed to see at least a couple hundred whizzing through, sometimes at almost ground level.
 White Wagtails along the harbour
 White Wagtail
Dark phase Honey Buzzard escorted by a Sparrowhawk
 Milling Starlings
 Another of the many passing Honey Buzzards

A migrating Sparrowhawk

Friday, 12 September 2014

Images from Fasterbo, Sweden

 A couple of controlled juvenile Sedge Warblers
 Falsterbo Lighthouse and Bird Observatory
 Beach scene
 A coasting Honey Buzzard
 A controlled Yellow Wagtail
 A controlled Pied Flycatcher 
 White Wagtail
 Beach huts near the harbour
Hooded Crow

Monday, 8 September 2014

Wryneck and a Little Egret grace The Scrubs

A rubbish record shot of the overflying Little Egret
September 2nd will forever more be marked as the day our 2nd ever Wryneck was discovered. It was disturbed by Scrubs regular Roy Nuttall, as he walked the path intersecting what we term as the Magic Bush area at the eastern edge of the grassland. It flew up from the patch and perched conveniently on a bush allowing Roy the opportunity to revel in the glory of this lifer.

Of course, when I went looking for it just an hour later it was nowhere to be found.

Ah well, at least I saw an overflying Little Egret a couple days previously. A rare bird here.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Scrubs migrants

 Spotted Flycatcher today - our 1st of the autumn
 A male Common Redstart
A female Common Redstart