12th February 2012 - London Wetland Centre

This week it was back to our favoutire haunt, the London Wetland Centre again, as they had a reptiles weekend.  We headed straight for a cooked breakfast and then into the Observatory for a meet the reptiles event.  As adorable as the tiny crocodile was, a Snipe was right up to the window which was distracting us and even worse was when I spotted a dark shape amongst the reeds - a first Bittern spot for me.  I was very proud of myself!  The usual birds were around and Stuart got some lovely shots of another Bittern later in the day which I shall put up when he gets around to uploading them to his computer.  A bird was seen darting from one set of reeds to another, a Cetti's Warbler?  Unfortunately I'm not strong enough in my identification of Warblers to count it, but I rather think it may have been!


1) Mute Swan
2) Coot
3) Moorhen
4) Ring-necked Parakeet
5) Starling
6) Carrion Crow
7) Robin
8) Snipe
9) Bittern
10) Tufted Duck
11) Gadwall
12) Little Grebe
13) Grey Heron
14) Shoveler
15) Lapwing
16) Greenfinch
17) Reed Bunting
18) Magpie
19) Water Rail
20) Canada Goose
21) Blue Tit
22) Lesser Black-backed Gull
23) Black-headed Gull
24) Stonechat
25) Great Crested Grebe
26) Wigeon
27) Great Tit
28) Blackbird
29) Chaffinch
30) Mallard

My year list for 2012 comes to 101.

10th February 2012 - New Forest

If you've read the previous posts, you'll remember me mentioning the great Dominic Couzens.  We had had a nosey on his website and noticed that he was leading a walk in the New Forest, a 'Finch Safari'.  As we were rather lacking on Finches, we decided to take the day off work and go along.  It was still snow covered, making the Forest look even more beautiful than usual.  After a feeding frenzy in the car park, the first ten minutes of the walk was slightly lacking in wildlife apart from a small flock of Roe Deer (the first we'd ever seen) and seven rather lost Skylarks.  It soon looked up though as I got my first lifer for the day, one I'd been anxious to see for a long, long time - a Crossbill!  We were provided with excellent views as it perched on the top of a tree and also of a female who came (unusually) towards us then disappeared into the middle of the tree - Dominic thinks she may have had a nest in there.  A few Lesser Redpoll and Siskin were spotted in a more tree heavy area further along, after we'd been deluged with lots of Crossbill - I was extremely happy.  Stuart was still on his lookout for his target for the day - a Hawfinch.

Where are the Hawfinch?!
This wasn't to appear anytime soon though, but I spotted a Treecreeper which cheered him up a bit!  A lifer for me was spotted on the roadside as we travelled to the next place, a Mistle Thrush.  Stuart had already had one of these with Jono a couple of weeks before.  We headed down into a set of trees to look for Bramblings.  Unfortunately I'm pretty useless if things look very similar so it took me a very long time to see one, even with precise instructions from Dominic and other members of the group - 'But they all just look like blinking Chaffinch!'.  An unexpected and rather good spot in this area was a Tawny Owl sleeping in a hollow in a tree. 


Another was a Marsh Tit - another lifer for the both of us.  Eventually we headed round to the last area of the walk where the Hawfinch were known to go before roosting.  I, as ever, got bored standing around and headed off to look to see if I could find a Woodpecker of some sort.  After a while I spotted an unusual bird with a huge chunky beak...could it be?!  As I stood looking at it, I was whistled over to the rest of the group - they'd also spotted another of the same on a different tree.  It was the elusive Hawfinch!  Needless to say, Stuart was elated. 

In his full birding regalia.

1) Blue Tit
2) Chaffinch
3) Pied Wagtail
4) Lesser Black-backed Gull
5) Black-headed Gull
6) Herring Gull
7) Fieldfare
8) Mallard
9) Moorhen
10) Redwing
11) Meadow Pipit
12) Bullfinch
13) Skylark
14) Crossbill - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
15) Blackbird
16) Lesser Redpoll
17) Siskin
18) Robin
19) Great Tit
20) Jay
21) Treecreeper
22) Greater Spotted Woodpecker
23) Coal Tit
24) Nuthatch
25) Buzzard
26) Mistle Thrush - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
27) Carrion Crow
28) Tawny Owl
29) Brambling - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
30) Marsh Tit - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
31) Sparrowhawk
32) Hawfinch - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
33) Long-tailed Tit
34) Goldcrest
35) Greenfinch

My year list for 2012 comes to 100.

I thought this was pretty adorable.

5th February 2012 - Hampstead Heath

A large unexpected (by us two anyway!) snowfall the night before meant we headed up to Hampstead Heath, along with most of London, to galavant in the snow.  The usual suspects were found here, along with the most posing Robin I have ever seen in my life!  He hopped up to a log about a foot away and then stood there, twisting and turning into all sorts of poses for the eager photographers. 


There were also some rather impressive snow sculptures, including this one:

We spotted 2 new birds for 2012 on this trip, the Jay and Mandarin.

1) Mute Swan
2) Coot
3) Mallard
4) Black-headed Gull
5) Great Crested Grebe
6) Moorhen
7) Great Tit
8) Blue Tit
9) Long-tailed Tit
10) Blackbird
11) Coal Tit
12) Magpie
13) Jay
14) Dunnock
15) Ring-necked Parakeet
16) Wren
17) Shoveler
18) Mandarin
19) Carrion Crow
20) Robin

My year list for 2012 comes to 90.

4th February 2012 - London Wetland Centre

After not having been to the Wetland Centre in a month, we were there two weeks in a row!  It was World Wetlands Day on the 2nd of February so the Wetland Centre had a weekend of events to celebrate.  We got there for our customary fry up in the morning and took so long eating it we only had 45 mins before the first talk.  Excellent 45 minutes though - on the way back to the theatre for the talk we had a lifer.  A Lesser Redpoll was perching on the top of a tree and made us late for the talk, but definitely worth it, it was adorable!  The talk was given by Rebecca Lee of Slimbridge WWT on saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and was brilliant.  I do have to admit that it had me in tears throughout though, I am a bit of a wuss.  Did you know that the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is actually born with the distinctive bill?  Amazing!  We had an interlude to buy some binoculars, then popped back to the theatre for the next talk, by Dominic Couzens, about the top ten European places for birding.  These were all extremely interested and have gone down in our ever extending list of places to visit.  Then it was back out into the cold for a few more hours of bird watching - highlights included a scampering Water Rail and 5 Snipe coming for a wander right up to the hide.  A slightly more unusual sight was a Grey Heron devouring what we think was an adult Teal - it was having some difficulty swallowing it can be imagined and was being rather hilariously stalked by two other Grey Herons. 

If you squint, you can see the Teal in the mouth of the right hand bird...

1) Starling
2) Coot
3) Mute Swan
4) Robin
5) Parakeet
6) Magpie
7) Black-headed Gull
8) Blue Tit
9) Goldfinch
10) Chaffinch
11) Mallard
12) Teal
13) Great Tit
14) Crow
15) Redwing
16) Cormorant
17) Blackbird
18) Canada Goose
19) Green Woodpecker
20) Moorhen
21) Pintail
22) Shoveler
23) Lesser Redpoll - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
24) Water Rail
25) Wigeon
26) Snipe
27) Egyptian Goose
28) Grey Heron

My year list for 2012 comes to 88.