Monday, 20 October 2008

David and Josh's bird race

With the cousins safely in Camberely, I spent the day birding around London with Josh J Shaw ( for the Young Birders Bird Race 2008.

First of all we visited Nonsuch Park, my local patch. Here we needed Little Owl, Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Stock Dove, Goldcrest etc.

We quickly ticked off Coal Tit, which was calling by the car park and it was not too long before we heard Green Woodpecker and Nuthatch. We saw a few Redwings flying over, which were my first record at Nonsuch this Autumn. At the Cheam Park end, we got site scarcities like Grey Heron, Pied Wagtail and Lesser Black-backed Gull.

After a bit of searching for the Little Owl, we heard it from the usual spot but it was quite a way north of us! Maybe it has relocated due to high disturbance where it used to be?

There were large numbers of Chaffinches and a single Song Thrush. In the gardens we flushed a Sparrowhawk.

Nonsuch Park got us up to a respectable 32 species in just over an hour (my site record is 34 in about 4 hours!).

Next up, Beddington SF. This visit turned out to be a useful boost to my Beddington list and produced an addition to my British and European year lists.

There were large numbers of Little Grebes and Meadow Pipits around and not many Gulls (because the landfill doesn't work on Sundays). 2 Pochards were over at the far side with a Wigeon and large numbers of other wildfowl. Tree Sparrows were visiting the feeders and the remains of a flock of c140 Ring-necked Parakeets seen there earlier that morning passed by noisily.

Out of the blue, a flock of 29 Fieldfares flew south! My first of the autumn and a Beddington year tick, one which got my Beddington year list equal with my overall Beddington list! Small numbers of Redwings flew over which, surprisingly was another Beddington tick.

Just after a Sparrowhawk flew over, Josh called a female Brambling on the feeders to everyone's delight. A Beddington tick for me and one of the few I've seen in the local area.

We took a walk with Johnny Allan ( around the site to see if we could find the Rock/Water Pipits which another of the regulars had seen. No joy but 6 Green Sandpipers, 4 Kestrels, a Sparrowhawk and a Reed Bunting (Beddington tick).

Shortly after we arrived back at the mound, a flock of 4 Lesser Redpolls flew over! This was the year tick I was talking about and the first I've seen for 2 and a half years! Of course, a Beddington tick too.

Now my Beddington list is on 97 and my Beddington year list is finally equal. I hope I get to 100 soon.

Beddington got our day list up to 60.

To the London Wetland Centre! We had a bit of trouble getting in because we had to be accompanied by an over 16 year old, I forgot my card and Josh didn't have one but luckily the staff sympathised with us and let us in.

Birds here included about 3 Great Black-backed Gulls, 77 Cormorants, large numbers of wildfowl, great views of Little Grebes, Wigeons, Great Crested Grebes and 2 Green Woodpeckers which landed right in front of us! If only I was quicker with the camera.

Above: Little Grebe

There was also a putative Yellow-legged Gull which someone claimed as a 1st winter but to me, the legs were too short, bill not heavyh enough and furthermore it lacked the all dark bill despite having the distinctive greater covert pattern.

We left content and with 66 species for the whole day, including a year tick for me and some much needed patch ticks. Odd thing was we saw no Warblers, not even a Chiffchaff.

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