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Tuesday 22 August 2017, Wokingham, cloudy, calm air, 22C

It may not have rained every day in August, as one of the more unreliable tabloid newspapers forecast, but we haven't exactly been reaching for the sun cream, either. Today has been fairly typical of late, largely overcast and humid.

Birding at the local gravel pit (now a nature reserve) has been pedestrian as all the lovely wader-friendly shallow pools have coalesced into one large lake just in time for Autumn migration. Common Tern and Sand Martin have had a good breeding season but a pair of Great-crested Grebe are now on their third attempt following previous lost nests as a result of a (probable) mink attack and flooding.

There are a few post-breeding mixed Tit flocks (Great, Blue, Long-tailed and Coal) around now with the occasional Chiffchaff amongst them and they are always worth checking through just in case there's something more interesting in there. In fact I added Coal Tit to my Wokingham 'garden list' just at the weekend!
Juvenile Common Tern

Grey Heron
Kingfisher - almost the classic 'No Fishing' photo!

Red Kite in the gloom
Good news for Bearded Vulture (Lammergeier) in Andalucia, as two chicks fledge, click on link to read more:
Bearded Vulture successes

Tuesday 25 July 2017, Wokingham, partly cloudy, calm air-light W-NW wind, 23C

A cool start to the day but cheering up late afternoon to leave a nice warm evening. During the last couple of weeks of changeable weather I've managed to 'dip' on yet another local Mediterranean Gull - this one a summer plumaged adult, too! Wader passage has been slow, with just a few Green and Common Sandpiper and a very small bird, that we eventually agreed was a tiny Dunlin, through (and one fly-over Black-tailed Godwit).

Good to see some interesting juveniles around with the nearby woods/hedgrows producing young Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat and Wren. There are still agood number of Common Swift here, though the rain forecast for tomorrow may send a few on their way south.

When not birding there have been some lovely early Blackberries to snack on!
Red Kite
Red Kite

juvenile Common Whitethroat
adult Common Whitethroat

Early Blackberries!


Saturday 08 Jul 2017, Wokingham, mostly sunny, light N-NW wind, 27C

Today's light breeze and lower temperatures were a bit of relief after a couple of very still, hot and humid days when temperatures hit 32C. This may be the UK, but there is a risk that this may turn into a 'proper' summer! 
As is normal for this time of year, birds activity is reduced as they concentrate on breeding and feeding the resultant progeny.
Locally we have a pair of Barn Owl, of which I've only managed to get the following distant photo. They have four chicks, that should be fledging soon, so maybe I'll have more luck later on.
Adult Barn Owl

As 'reverse' wader passage begins we've seen Redshank, Ringed Plover, up to 6 Little-ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper but, as yet, nothing 'exciting'.
Today saw the highest count of Little Egret of the summer with 8 gracing the ex-gravel pit shallows:
2 of 8 Little Egret and a Grey Heron - interesting how posture changed the apparent size of the (same-sized) Egrets

Green Sandpiper

Grey Heron

juvenile Grey Wagtail

Little Egret
Beyond the lake is a landfill area with Methane release valves. Not sure if this was just a heat thing or if Methane escape was a factor, but recently cut grass was picked up in a mini-whirlwind.
Landfill Methane valve

Grass cuttings pulled up by a 'whirlwind'
The reason for a bird-free 'scrape' was explained by a visiting young Red Fox!
Red Fox

Some good news for Andalucia's Bearded Vultures

This year a total of 6 Bearded Vultures will be released in Andalucia, as part of the reintroduction project there. Last weekend one bird named Larva was released in Cazorla, and yesterday two birds were released in mountains of Castril.

Click here: Bearded Vultures to read more:
 

Wednesday 21 June 2017, Wokingham, sunny, light S-SW wind, 32C

Flaming June it is as the warm spell continues into Midsummer's Day.
The recent local birding highlight was a 1st summer Mediterranean Gull but excuse me if I'm not overly excited having seen plenty in Spain over the years! Also, despite being 'ever present', it manages to time its absences perfectly with my visits....
A male Kingfisher was showing well this morning, and there was a brief glimpse of a Barn Owl, hunting low over the reedbed no doubt looking for breakfast for its 4 chicks.
On the 14 June I finally got a good look at a local Hobby then a couple of days later was treated to the spectacle of 5 of these wonderful raptors hawking insects over water near Stodmarsh in Kent.
There are still lots of dragonflies around which is great to see.
male Kingfisher

Common Blue Damselfly

A shy Muntjac Deer

male Kingfisher
It's a Hobby!

Common Whitethroat

The local wheat field

Monday 05 June 2017, Wokingham, scattered rain showers, light-fresh S wind, 16C

A bit quiet bird-wise here, though I was delighted to find a Little Tern at the local reserve (just the 2nd for Berkshire this year).

Little Tern - very much a 'record shot'!
The Lesser Whitethroat is still singing away in a nearby hedgerow and, as well as the many Red Kite, there are at least 3 Common Buzzard in the area.

Common Buzzard
The recent warm spell brought out a good number of Butterflies and Dragonflies. Here are a few of them:

Speckled Wood
Banded Demoiselle - male
Beautiful Demoiselle - female

Chaser sp.?
Emerald Damselfly?

Red Admiral



Monday 22 May 2017, Wokingham, mostly sunny, light S-SW wind, 23C

A lovely warm late Spring day today with a couple of good sightings in the morning and a bit of excitement during the afternoon as I heard what I thought might be an Iberian Chiffchaff.

A 15 min bike ride to the local lake nature reserve at 08:00hrs produced several Red Kite, a Common Buzzard, a Common Tern, a Red-legged Partridge (not that common a sight hereabouts), 2 singing Whitethroat, 1 singing Lesser Whitethroat, 2 singing Garden Warber and a singing Nightingale.

An afternoon walk around nearby crop fields/woods/stream produced another Common Buzzard, more Red Kite, a Little Egret and a strange phylloscopus warbler......Initially I heard a bit of a Willow Warbler-like cascade (would be late for a passing Willow Warbler) but it soon became apparent, as it began its song with chiff, chiff, that it was a Chiffchaff sp. My initial thoughts were Iberian but something about it wasn't quite right - the flourish was too strong and the song concluded with a couple more chiffs for good measure. I didn't get a good look at it and as I tried to record its song, someone appeared, calling after their dog, and the bird fell silent! Another look an hour or so later was fruitless. I alerted local birders, just in case, but spent a night doubting that it really was an Iberian!

I managed to hear it with another birder this morning (Tuesday 23 May) and our consensus was that it was a mixed singing Common Chiffchaff (a mix of Chiffchaff and Willow Warber). A new experience for me!

A couple of shots of a Roe Deer in the fields: