Thursday, 2 August 2012


To all my followers, just to let you know my blog has now moved... Alex

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Iberian Chiffchaff Details

It has been requested that I post the recordings and high res images of the Probably Iberian Chiffchaff online, so here they are: (please note the sound is not great quality so turn your volume up!)


My new blog can be found at:

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A Busy Day!

Today we decided to cover a number of local spots in the hope of seeing a variety of species. We started off at a local spot where I found Dartford Warblers recently and we saw at least 3 Individual birds including one stunning male, but no photos unfortunately! We then moved onto Henley Road GP in hope of seeing the recently reported 4 Smew. We immediately picked up 2 Smew ( a Drake and a redhead) on the far side of the GP but for the next half an hour it was like cat and mouse trying to get near them! We then discovered that there were in fact 5 Smew (though still just the one drake) all constantly as far away as possible. At one point we managed to get a closer but very obscured view of the drake.

We then took a quick look at Dinton Pastures where we got some nice views of a female Pheasant.

Our final trip of the day was to see the Short Eared Owls at Papercourt Meadows. It's been over 6 weeks since I last visited so I was unsure whether they would still be there but luckily, there were still at least 3 birds showing well, a fantastic end to a great day!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Local Surprise!

My aim of the day was to see a very debatable Blue Morph Snow Goose which has recently appeared at one of my local patches, Moor Green Lakes. The bird is almost certainly feral (judging by the fact it associates with feral Barnacle Geese and the area once had a feral population of 20 Snow Geese) although there has been no Blue Morph bird sighted in the area for several years. This led me to believe that this bird is likely to have come from another collection, but I still thought it was worth a look. The bird has been sighted in the Dell Field on the New Workings but today, it was nowhere to be seen. While looking for the bird another birder kindly informed us he had just been watching a Bittern from the Grove Lake hide. Those of you who know the area will know these birds are very scarce indeed locally and this bird is likely to have departed by tomorrow, proving birding is all down to luck!!

Unsurprisingly we headed straight down to Grove Lake where within ten minutes we caught sight of the Bittern. We then watched the bird for around 90 minutes foraging on the open ice. The bird was very distant (around 200-300 metres) but was certainly a showy individual. It was while watching the Bittern we got a brief glimpse of the Snow Goose. The flock of Geese flew past but unfortunately landed in the fields to the north of the lake.

We had only around an hour left so decided to go and look at Colebrook North Lake. The entire lake was frozen apart from a small patch where all of the birds were congregating. There were large numbers of Wigeon and Gadwall, along with 3 Teal and 1 Drake Goosander. There was also a strange hybrid asleep. On the way back we stopped off at the fields we thought the geese had landed in, and sure enough there were 15 Barnacle Geese with the Blue Morph Snow Goose amongst them. 




Blue Morph Snow Goose

Blue Morph Snow Goose

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Stars of 2011...

A bit late I know but I thought I'd finally put together the birding and photography highlights of 2011:


January was one of the best months birding. The highlight was of course Hungerford's Glossy Ibis which allowed some stunning views. The bird stayed a long time allowing everyone to see the bird. After the Glossy Ibis we were also able to go and find the Great White Egret just 10 minutes down the road!! Of course a summary of January would not be complete without mentioning the Waxwing invasion. I was lucky enough to have these birds in my garden although I think the majority of birders were able to connect with these lovely little birds. They were tame as well!! A Great Grey Shrike at Arne was also a fantastic bird to see.

Great Grey Shrike - Arne

Glossy Ibis - Hungerford

Great White Egret


The highlight of February was undoubtedly my trip down to Dorset where the bird highlights include a very tame Ring Billed Gull which came down to bread in Poole Park, a Tawny Owl in the Arne RSPB car park and photographing Fulmars at Durlston Country Park.

Ring Billed Gull - Poole Park 
Tawny Owl - Arne RSPB

Fulmar - Durlston


March was a quiet birding month for me although the Waxwings continued to pose brilliantly. (Photos will appear in due course).


Another surprisingly quiet month but highlights included a Nightingale singing his heart out at Dinton Pastures who even decided to show himself for a bit. We also went up to Thursley common and found my first Woodlark and Tree Pipit. However none of these even come close to the main highlight of April, Fiona the Flamingo. Fiona continued her grand tour of the country and for 2-3 days she took up residence at Lower Farm GP. She was very distant but gave nice views through the scope, a great bird (though a little out of place!).

Nightingale - Dinton Pastures 
Fiona the Flamingo! - Lower Farm GP


May, as always was a very good time for birding. For me a highlight was being able to watch a Blue Tit family in my own back garden, they successfully raised 3 chicks. I also managed to get some decent shots of Hobbys at the Jubilee River, as well as photographing a very obliging Juvenile Long Tailed Tit on my patch.

Hobby - Jubilee River


The highlight of June for me was the opportunity to see Great Bustards back in the wild in the UK, down at Salisbury Plain. We saw two birds one of which was the oldest bird in the programme. These are birds I hope to see again in the near future. Photographing (badly) Redstarts at a nest site at Thursley Common was close behind!!

Redstart - Thursley Common

Great Bustard - Salisbury Plain


July was also another fantastic month which begun with me attending a ringing session where I was able to get very close views of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Treecreepers, Jays and Blackcaps. I also found a Yellow Wagtail nest site in Berkshire (a rare sight these days). I managed to get decent shots of both the beautiful male and the juveniles. A showy Sedge Warbler was also a highlight along with some Black Tailed Godwits in summer plumage at Titchfield Haven. I also managed to get my best shots of Terns here.

Yellow Wagtail - Berkshire 
Yellow Wagtail

Sedge Warbler - Jubilee River

Common Tern - Titchfield Haven

Black Tailed Godwit - Titchfield Haven


The highlight of the year, my trip to Scotland!! If I mentioned all the species seen this post would be even longer than it already is! Highlights for me were finally finding Crested Tit and Snow Bunting (Summer Plumage), photographing Red Grouse from just a few metres away, having good views of both Otter and Pine Marten, gaining good photographs of Dunlin but most of all, the White Tailed Eagles and Osprey. In the cairngorms we were lucky enough to have an Osprey fly right over our heads and on the Isle of Mull we were treated to mesmerising views of White Tailed Eagles fishing.

Sea Eagle - Isle of Mull 
Red Grouse



Pine Marten



September was also one of the best birding months of the year. I was able to get within a few feet of a wild urban Fox as well as photographing Little Grebes at Dinton Pastures with young just a couple of metres from the hide. A summary of September would not be complete without my day trip up to Titchwell Marsh, Norfolk. I saw my first Curlew Sandpiper as well as getting very poor views of the Little Bittern.

Juvenile Little Grebe - Dinton Pastures

Adult Little Grebe - Dinton Pastures

Curlew Sandpiper (and Ringed Plover) - Titchwell RSPB

Urban Fox - Hersham


Another good month where I got close views of Woodlarks up on Thurley Common, as well as photographing Red Deer Stags at sunrise at Bushy Park. The highlight of October for me though, was the Ferruginous Duck at Dinton Pastures. This is a duck I had wanted to see for a long time but every local bird had quickly been dismissed as a hybrid, but at last a pure bird turned up!!

Woodlark - Thursley Common

Ferruginous Duck - Dinton Pastures CP


November was a little quieter than October and winter migrants failed to arrive in large numbers due to the very mild weather. The highlight of November was of course my close encounter with a male Dartford Warbler which allowed an approach down to 2-3 metres.

Dartford Warbler

Dartford Warbler

Dartford Warbler


The month begun with Short Eared Owls turning up locally which allowed for great views but unfortunately the light was not good enough for any great photographs.  A trip to Slimbridge WWT was also fantastic with great view of my first Bewick's Swans and female Lesser Scaup. The main highlight for December however was Norfolk. I got some spectacular views of Golden Pheasant at Sculthorpe Moor as well as some wonderful views of Bearded Reedlings and Common Cranes (both had been on my wish list for a very long time!!). Although for me the stars were the 10 or so seals at Wells beach.

Lesser Scaup - Slimbridge 

Pintail - Slimbridge 
Bewick's Swan - Slimbridge

Short Eared Owl - Papercourt Meadows

Short Eared Owl - Papercourt Meadows

Common Crane - Norfolk

Bearded Reedling

Golden Pheasant - Sculthorpe Moor
Common Seal - Wells Next the Sea

A cracking years birding which resulted in me seeing over 215 species. 2012 has already turned out great with Jack Snipe, Kingfishers and Whooper Swans!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Moor Green Firecrest

Today was my chance to try and see the Firecrest which has set up home at Finchampstead Ridges, near Moor Green Lakes. Despite spending around an hour and a half at its preferred location we only managed to see the bird for around half a second, before it disappeared back into the undergrowth! It was still a fantastic day's birding with around 30 Goosanders on show from the Grove Lake hide along with a drake Goldeneye. Most exciting of all was a female Bullfinch (they're not common down here by any means!!) which showed down to around 10 metres.

Drake Goosander

Great Crested Grebe

Female Bullfinch

Long-Tailed Tit