Sunday, May 29, 2016

Peregrine Falcon / Part 3

The Woking Peregrines are doing well! Both chicks are now 4 weeks old and have been ringed and sexed (by Richard Denyer), one male and one female. Both adult birds are proving to be good parents, sharing duties and hunting successfully.

It was another fun day with Surrey Bird Club in Woking today where we were supporting the Woking Peregrine Project. Penny Williams, Nigel Burke and I set up the stand and covered the first shift 10:00 - 13:00, though Penny had to leave early.  There was a good trickle of people to keep informed with at least 10 finding out about the nesting Peregrines because of our stand. Matt Phelps and Richard Denyer took over from us until 16:00. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ash Ranges - May 2016

An enjoyable sunny morning on Ash Ranges with Lori - 06:45 - 09:15

30 species seen with highlights including Wood Lark, Dartford Warbler, Tree Pipit, Redstart, Cuckoo, Red Kite and Stonechat.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Woking Peregrine Falcons / Part 2

In  2001 Peregrine Falcons were first spotted on Export House (B.A.T.) in Woking and since then have been recorded off and on ever since. In 2005 and 2006 there were failed breeding attempts with eggs being washed out by rain as the nest site was too exposed. Nick Dixon, an urban Peregrine expert was consulted and with his advise and guidance, financial support from a variety of sources (see Woking Peregrine Project for full details) including Surrey Bird Club and a devoted people - John Banister and James Sellen a nest box was constructed. This state of the art nest box, including camera with live feed, was positioned on the northeast corner in January 2016. The resident pair of Peregrine took to it immediately and four eggs were laid at the end of March.

On the 1st of May 2016 the first chick hatched followed by two more in the following days. One chick unfortunately died and was eaten by the adult and one egg didn't hatch. However, this pair are first time breeders and have successfully hatched the first Peregrine Falcons ever in Woking! 

Both adults seem to be doing a good job and hopefully the remaining 2 chicks will fledge around the 10th June 2016.

James Sellen, Nick Dixon, Rich Mooney, John Banister
On the 4th May 2016 I attended the Guildford Environmental Forums AGM where Nick Dixon gave a presentation on the history of the Peregrine Falcon. His talk was absolutely fascinating giving a detailed account of the history of this species including the battles against egg collectors, persecution, secondary poisoning and the eventual and successful recolonisation of traditional sites. Since the late 80's Peregrines began to move into urban areas, taking advantage of high buildings, cathedrals, chimneys stacks, pylons which all afford them safe breeding free from predation with an abundant food supply - pigeons! 

View of Export House
Export House, often referred to as 'the old BAT building' is the tallest building in Woking. It was completed in 1974 and is 240 ft high. 

On 7th May 2016 I joined Penny Williams of the BTO and Surrey Bird Club in Woking to inform the public about the breeding Peregrines. We had a fantastic response and all the people we spoke to were all very enthusiastic and positive about the news. Penny and I took the morning shift and James Sellen and Matt Phelps took the afternoon. This was the first of a few community outreach events informing local people about the Peregrines.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tice's Meadow Bio Blitz

My first Tice's Meadow Bio Blitz and it was a cracker! I arrived on site at about 10:00 am and after setting up camp began my vigil with the rest of the crew. The whole day and night was fantastic and it was great to meet up with the some more A.O.S. members. 

Army Ornithological Society members 
In between watching from Horton's Mound I spent some time with the ringing crew - Roger Dickey (Army Ornithological Society), Mark "Slasher" Cutts (Royal Navy Birdwatching Society) and Laura Robertson.

It was great to meet up with Roger Dickey again, especially as this weekend my article  - Expedition to Ascension had just been published in the latest issue (May 2016) of Birdwatch Magazine! 

Reed Warbler

Rich Mooney and Roger Dickey - Birdwatch May 2016 including AOS to Ascension Island Report

AOS in Birdwatch Magazine - Expedition to Ascension by Rich Mooney
The ringing station produced a steady trickle of birds and a good variety including Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Garden warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Long-tailed Tit, Reed Bunting + others. 

Some of the organisers and regulars stayed over Friday night, but I stayed just Saturday night. Wonderful atmosphere all day and a nice campfire and Curry (thanks Dave Baker) in the evening.

Dave Baker making his incredible curry

Rich Mooney and Rich Horton

Birdwatch Magazine - May 2016 - Expedition to Ascension

Had an article I wrote published in this months Birdwatch magazine! They gave me a three page spread including a few photos. Great exposure for the Army Ornithological Society. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Woking Peregrine Falcons / Part 1

This morning I headed into Woking to see if the Peregrine Falcon's were around. These avian celebrities have been here for a few years now and it's looking promising that they will breed this year. Copulation has been recorded and they have been investigating their new nest box (complete with video camera).

I arrived on site at 07:40 am and both adults were present. The female sitting close to the new nest box, the male on the same ledge but on the far side of the building. My vigil lasted until 10:00 am and though neither had moved from their spot before I left, both birds were seen to be preening and the male vocalised twice while. Though most people are aware and used to these  fantastic birds  being around, I am still completely amzed that we have them here. I was born and raised just outside this town and never in my wildest dreams did I think Peregrine Falcons and Red Kites would be make up the local avifauna! Brilliant! 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hawfinch at Bookham Common

I managed a few hours birding today which I was very happy about as the weather hadn't looked great according to the forecast. My first stop was at Thursley Common where I connected with the wintering Great Grey Shrike. Nothing else really to report from there other than 2 Dartford Warbler and 1 Stonechat. 

There was no real planning but decided I would check Boldermere Lake (A3 / M25 junction) next. A quick scan produced Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Coot and Mute Swan. As I hadn't heard about any recent Hawfinch sightings from Bookham I thought i'd take a look. I had them there 3 years ago but that's it. No harm in trying. On arrival I headed behind the railway station where I found Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, tits, thrushes etc but no Hawfinch. I then followed the footpath past the woods where I got my first Lesser Redpoll of the year. It was when I was walking back I located a single Hawfinch perched on top of a tree. It didn't stay long but flew over into the wet area directly behind the station up into an Alder tree. It remained there the whole time i was watching. It continually vocalised so if you go looking keep your ears peeled. 

My final stop was at Papercourt Water Meadows - birds of note here were Little Owl, Fieldfare, Redwing and Sparrowhawk.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Norfolk Weekender

Had a great weekend (15th - 17th January 2016) in Norfolk staying at the Three Swallows in Cley. The Starting point was at Hickling Broad where I arrived at 16:00. With daylight slipping away I picked up the pace to get out to Stubbs Mill to check the roost site. All of my efforts to get here on time paid off with Common Crane, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl! 2 hours later I was walking through the doors of the Three Swallows in need of some food and a pint!

Common Crane

Saturday I mainly birded between Cley and Blakeney. Here I totalled 60 species most noteworthy being Snow Bunting, Twite, Water Rail, Kingfisher and Pink-footed Goose. 

Snow Bunting
Sunday was someone hectic as I tried to connect with some key target birds. It started off well with 2 British ticks - Red-necked Grebe at Cley Marshes and Lapland Bunting at Blakeney.

Red-necked Grebe

Lapland Bunting
My luck, at least on the rarity side ran out then. Rough-legged Buzzard was a no-show at Chosely drying barns, 3 missing Shore Lark at Holkham was my reward after a ridiculous hike and the Pallid Harrier at Flitcham decided to go MIA. However, Titchwell was great as always with 14 shorebirds my first Siskin of the year and a cracking look at a Brambling.

95 species for the weekend
2 British ticks and 48 year birds