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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:

Saturday 13 May 2017, Wokingham, mostly cloudy, light SW wind, 18C

An early morning visit to Lea Farm gravel pit in search of a Lesser Whitethroat (according to reports, "...always singing loudly in the field next to the car park.." but not today!) produced a Hobby and a possible Great White Egret (seen at a distance by three of us but none got a good enough look to be 100% certain). Also seen were Red Kite, 19 Common Tern, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Little-ringed Plover, Cuckoo and 10+ Sand Martin; a (presumably different) Lesser Whitethroat, Cetti's Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Garden Warbler were all heard.

Bar-headed Goose (Escape!) on nearby Black Swan Lake,  Dinton Pastures

Last Black Vulture in Alinyà shot by poacher

The last surviving Black Vulture in the Alinyà area of Catalunya was recently found dead, shot by a poacher.......

Vulture Conservation Foundation article

New project relating to veterinary NSAIDs: Article

The following article looks at a new project to look at the impact of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory use, including Diclofenac, on scavenging avian species in the Iberian peninsular:

Vulture Conservation Foundation Article

Peter E's visit to Sevilla....

Thanks to Peter E for the following resume of a recent trip to Sevilla:

"Sevilla is a beautiful city, and the Alcazar Real and gardens is surely one of the wonders of the world! Sevilla is not a great place for birds however, although we did see the Lesser Kestrel colony from our hotel roof-terrace and circling the Giralda. Swifts, swallows and martins were everywhere, and blackbirds, spotless starlings and monk parakeets common. Greenfinch and hoopoe were also seen as was just one white stork flying over. In the river Guadalquivir, a night heron was spotted along with other ducks, and many turtles or terrapins had clambered out of the water to bask in the sun.
One day was spent in the Donana National Park where greater flamingo, spoonbill, glossy ibis, little, cattle and great white egrets were plentiful on the El Rocio lagoon, together with black-winged stilt, egyptian goose, shelduck, and one black swan (which must surely be an escape). Black kites were everywhere.
At El Acebuche, azure-winged magpie were in the picnic area (as they were on my last visit 15 years ago) and we added bee-eaters, corn bunting and woodchat shrike to our list. A beautiful pale booted eagle was overhead. Donana is surely another of the world's great wonders!"

Wednesday 10 May 2017, Wokingham, partly cloudy, light SE wind, 17C

I hear from Gaucin that the Honey Buzzards are in full flow heading north towards their breeding grounds.....

Here, today's excitement was generated by a species that wouldn't cause much of a stir in Andalucia....a Cattle Egret! First spotted mid-morning in Twyford, a few miles down the road, there seemed a fair chance that it might drop in to our local lake at some time. After a morning dumping rubbish at the municipal tip in Reading (balanced by a nice sandwich and a pint of Brakspear's at the Green Man pub in Hurst!) I headed off on my shiny new bike for the 10-15min ride to the Dinton Pastures/Lavells Lake/Lea Farm gravel pit complex; such is the traffic around here that it would take a good 20min to drive and then there's nowhere to park.

Dinton was quiet, other than a few noisy Egyptian Goose, but at Lavell's there was a very handsome Greenshank plus 1 Shelduck, a Sedge Warbler in full song and a pair of Reed Bunting. Of note at Lea Farm there were 2 Red Kite, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 pair of Great-crested Grebe, 6 Gadwall, 2 pairs of Common Tern (there were 16 birds yesterday making an incredible noise as they squabbled with each other and a couple of Black-headed Gulls), 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Little-ringed Plover, 3 Lapwing, 1 Oystercatcher, 1 Cuckoo, 4 Sand Martin, 4 House Martin, 3 Swallow and 1, presumed escaped, Bar-headed Goose. Just as I was thinking of leaving I spotted a distant egret, with only my binoculars (haven't worked out how to carry the 'scope on my bike yet!) I had to look very carefully but it was clearly a Cattle Egret, just the 10th record for the county of Berkshire and the 2nd for this site.


Greenshank and Little Egret (a few days ago)

Common Tern

Cattle Egret (it was a long way off!)