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Sunday, 31 December 2017

Pitsford Year list


This is an account of my year patch birding at Pitsford Reservoir. It is very long but I hope the pictures keep you awake!

2017 started off with a wet, windy and cold day on the 1st January making birding difficult. The three highlights of the day were Red-Crested Pochard, Pintail and Great White Egret. None of these species I managed to get for months the previous year. The next day picked up a few waders, Redshank and two Green Sandpiper being the highlights. I always managed to pick up a scarcity from the year before on the 3rd January this bird decided to stick around well into 2017, this was the stunning, blood red eyed Slavonian Grebe that wintered in the ‘Narrows’ area. The fourth January was one of the best days of the month with two adult White Fronted Geese dropping into Pintail Bay with the mass of ‘feral’ Greylag and Canada Geese. There was also a first winter Yellow Legged Gull in the gull roost that day and the first Common Snipe of the year was flushed from the feeding station bushes. The 5th saw one of the highlights of the year, five pearly white adult Bewick’s Swans flew high south over the dam early in the morning. There was also some great birding to be had on this day with two Great White Egret, 2 Red-crested Pochard, 3 Green Sandpiper, 4 Snipe, Slavonian Grebe, adult Caspian Gull and the 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull. The 8th provided the first Dunlin and Stonechat of the year. I didn't note anything new in for a few days and it wasn't until the 15th when things started to change. The first Peregrine and Brambling of the year arrived and a new 1st winter Caspian Gull joined the gull roost with the 1st winter Yellow-legged and adult Caspian. Again, it became quiet for a few days until the 21st when the only new arrivals were again… gulls! The first Mediterranean Gull of the year arrived in the gull roost while two Caspian Gulls and a new Yellow-legged, a fourth calendar year joined. There was large numbers of large gulls this night with not enough time so there may well have been some more notable gulls out there. Out of interest, the Yellow-legged was bearing a colour ring but was too distant to obtain the code. The 23rd saw some new Snipe and Pintail arrive with 40 Snipe and10 Pintails while a new Brambling was about (however these grew to two the next day) and the Slavonian Grebe was still kicking about. The first Smew of the year arrived on the 29th in the Walgrave Bay.

Slavonian Grebe

February started very quiet however the Slavonian Grebe carried on making the Pintail Bay its home throughout the month and a lot of other birds carrying on over from January. The first new arrivals were a 1st winter Caspian Gull by the sailing club on the 2nd and a drake Smew in the Holcot Bay on the 6th and 7th. The 13th became a very stressful day. I decided to have a day out with mates around Milton Keynes, against my own will I have to say, and a Red-necked Grebe arrived just south of the causeway and a Merlin was around the sailing club. Luckily the Red-necked Grebe hung around for the rest of the month and I was able to connect the next day but the Merlin wasn't as obliging and I never got that at Pitsford this year! The 15th was a cracking day as I connected with four grebe species on site, found a White-fronted Goose in the Scaldwell Bay and also found 14 Bramblings at ‘The Pines’ south of the causeway. The most I have personally recorded on site. In the morning of the 17th, I was ringing at the Old Road Feeding station when eight Pink-footed Geese flew south. These were the only new arrivals for the day. It wasn't until the 25th when new birds started to arrive however all the scarcities were still about. The new arrival was the second Mediterranean Gull of the year however the next day saw an arrival of 90 Snipe and a Jack Snipe with the lingering Mediterranean Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Redshanks, 2 Green Sandpiper, Pintail, 2 Great White Egret, Slavonian Grebe and Red-necked Grebe.

White-fronted Goose

An unknown observer noted the first Sand Martins of the year, a pair, fly north over the causeway on the 6th March. I noted a 3rd winter Caspian Gull in the Scaldwell Bay the next day. On the 12th I found the first Black-tailed Godwit of the year just north of the causeway while 3 Snipe were with it. The Red-necked Grebe was last recorded on the 20th March and the first White Wagtail of the year was on the Dam with the resident Pied Wagtails on the 21st which stayed till the 23rd. The first Osprey was a colour ringed individual from Rutland, it arrived on the 25th March fishing up and down in the Scaldwell Bay affording great views at times. On the 26th, the first Curlew of the year arrived heading north while a third Green Sandpiper joined the regular two. On the 30th a new Osprey was about however the next day provided the first Tern of the year, a Sandwich Tern flying north through the southside of the causeway and 12+ Bramblings were at the Pines too.  


Nothing new was found on the first but the Slavonian Grebe was still lingering in Pintail Bay and the first warblers had started arriving most notably Blackcap and Chiffchaff but a Short-eared Owl flew west over the Scaldwell Bay on the 2nd. My first adult Little Gull of the year was seen flying south over the Scaldwell Bay with Black-headed Gulls, probably to roost on the 9th while a two calendar year bird was seen in the Narrows are the next day, a White Wagtail was on the dam on the 10th too. On the 12th, a Osprey was north of the causeway for most of the day and 4+ Bramblings were still at the Pines while a female Garganey was on the point between the maytrees hide and causeway furthermore a Whimbrel flew north over the causeway that evening too. On the 14th a Marsh Harrier flew north over the Scaldwell Bay, the only record I had on this very poor year for the species, while two Little Ringed Plovers and a Dunlin were south of the causeway. The 15th was a cracker of a day starting off with a Rock Pipit going south over the Maytrees Hide at 08:20 followed by an Osprey heading in the same direction at 08:25. I walked upto the lodge to collect my bike then cycled down to the Dam. An Arctic Tern was in the Narrows area as I cycled past while a White Wagtail, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, Redshank and 8+ Bramblings were around. To finish off, a Whimbrel was showing incredibly close in front of the Maytrees Hide on the walk home and the Arctic Tern had been joined by a Common Tern in the Scaldwell Bay. The 16th was just as good, a White Wagtail on the causeway started off the day, and a/the Arctic Tern circled high north at 12:50 from the Scaldwell Bay and a female Garganey was on the point between the Maytrees Hide and the causeway again. A Osprey was also about as were 8 Little Ringed Plovers and a Peregrine. In the morning of the 17th, a White Wagtail was in the Scaldwell Bay, as were a Green Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper and a Little Ringed Plover. In the evening, a Rock Pipit was on the Dam and a Northern Wheatear was flycatching from the valve tower as were 40+ Yellow Wagtails which dropped in on their northbound migration to the bank below the causeway. On the 18th, 50+ Yellow Wagtails were below the Dam with a Channel Wagtail and a Rock Pipit still. The Channel Wagtail was still present the next evening but departed minutes after. It became quiet for a few days, probably due to the discovery of three Black-winged Stilts at Stanford Res however a Black Tern was north of the dam on the 21st. The 23rd saw the discovery of two Common Scoters in the Scaldwell Bay, a very unexpected find due to the water level of the Scaldwell Bay this year and the next day a Black Tern and Osprey replaced the Common Scoters. An Arctic Tern was by the Dam on the 28th after a few quiet days and on the 29th a Wood Warbler was blasting its spinning coin song from the Beech Trees at the Old Road car park on the Walgrave side while a female Common Redstart was just further up the track. An Arctic Tern was in the Scaldwell Bay too. The 30th was an absolutely barmy day! David Arden found a migrating flock of c55 Arctic Tern flying north over the causeway and just under an hour later news broke of a Little Tern north of the Dam along with a couple of Grey Plovers. Racing down there and I managed to connect with all of them and then watched the mass of migration piling through the highlight for me was finding a Knot on the point at Moulton Grange Bay but it was great to wigness 100s Common Terns heading north along with at least 30 Black Terns went through during the day also another Arctic Tern, Dunlin, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, a few Ringed Plovers, Red-crested Pochard, White Wagtail, 7 Whimbrels over, Little Gull north and at dusk a Osprey, 3 Ringed Plovers and a Whimbrel were in the Scaldwell Bay.

Little Tern


Following on from the 30th April, the 1st May sounded like an excellent day however I was preoccupied elsewhere for most of the day. The highlights Neil McMahon had were a new Knot on the point at Moulton Grange Bay (luckily the one the day before was colour ringed), Red-crested Pochard, 2 Grey Plovers, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, 3 Ringed Plovers, 3 Dunlin, 4 Common Sandpipers, Black Tern, Sanderling and Greenshank. The latter two being new for the year here. I arrived later that day to find a female Blue-Headed Wagtail below the dam amongst the 30 strong Yellow Wagtail flock but the only other birds to note were 4 Common Sandpipers, 2 Hobbies and a Little Ringed Plover. The next day, the 2nd, a Great White Egret in full summer plumage had found its way into the Scaldwell Bay with 3 Whimbrels and a Greenshank. On the 4th, 6 Black Terns were present on a pontoon in Yacht Bay. The late evening of the 6th saw the discovery of one of the best birds of the year by John Friendship-Taylor of a Black-throated Diver in the Scaldwell Bay and it stayed till 05:20 the next day however I was away this weekend and didn’t manage to see this bird, which was very disappointing! However, a late evening visit to the dam on the 8th was very successful with a Sanderling, 2 Ringed Plover, 4 Little Ringed Plover, 5 Dunlin, 2 Common Sandpiper and an Arctic Tern was about. I found what is arguably one of my best if not the best bird I found this year at Pitsford on the 9th, this was a Temminck’s Stint just south of the causeway with 3 Common Sandpipers on the eastern bank showing incredibly well it stayed and showed well till the 10th when it was watched flying south down the reservoir with Common Sandpipers and couldn’t be relocated. On the 12th a Sanderling was reported around the Dam area however I couldn’t find it in the afternoon but 7 ‘Tundra’ Ringed Plovers, a Dunlin and a Little Ringed Plover. The 13th was the 24hr bird race day and we managed to obtain 112 species by dusk but was surprised to add another to our tally at the Dam as the sun was falling behind us, a summer plumaged drake Long-tailed Duck off the Dam. This bird stayed until the next day while three Black Terns were about, a Whimbrel and Curlew was in the Scaldwell Bay and the first Little Stint, a stunning but small summer plumaged bird was on the mouth of the Moulton Grange Bay. On the 19th May six Arctic Terns were north of the causeway and five were still present the next day. An Osprey was present on the 21st while the first Turnstone of the year arrived on the 25th in the Scaldwell Bay. It was still present the until the 27th but was joined by two Common Sandpipers and a pair of Red-crested Pochards including a hybrid female. On the 30th a Black Tern was in the Scaldwell Bay along with two Yellow-legged Gulls and on the 31st two Turnstones were in front of the Maytrees hide along with a Dunlin.

Turnstone (right) and Black-headed Gull (right)

It was a pretty quiet month, partially because I was doing GCSEs for the first half and then in Iberia for the second half. However I noted a 2cy Caspian Gull on the 10th and a Sandwich Tern on the 19th in the Scaldwell Bay.

On my return, I noted two Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper and a Greenshank on the 4th. While there was three Black-tailed Godwit, two Green Sandpiper and four Yellow-legged Gulls on the 5th. Just a single Black-tailed Godwit was left on the 7th, two were on the 8th and three on the 9th with Greenshank and Yellow-legged Gull. A new Black-tailed Godwit (colour ringed) was present on the 10th with no sign of the day before’s previous three but new arrivals were Greenshank, two Yellow-legged Gull, Little Ringed Plover, Garganey and Caspian Gull. The 13th provided a very unusual record in the form of a Northern Wheatear in completely juvenile plumage. This is not just an incredibly early record for a Africa bound Wheatear but I had also never recorded this plumage in Northants and only in their breeding grounds. The supporting cast on the 13th included Garganey still, Common Sandpiper, Redshank and Yellow-legged Gull. The 15th saw the arrival of another two Black-tailed Godwit and a Dunlin with the Garganey still around the car park until the following day. Neil McMahon discovered a Curlew Sandpiper flying around north of the causeway on the 17th only for it to promptly disappear, a Whimbrel and two Red-crested Pochards were also about then. The 20th saw yet another dip in the shape of a Pied Flycatcher which was around with a Redstart in the vicinity of Brixworth Country Park. However, this visit lead to the discovery of a Spotted Flycatcher nest. The 22nd saw a ‘fall’ of Common Sandpipers across the reservoir with upto 20 being recorded. There was also at least four Whimbrels about and three Yellow-legged Gulls. On the 23rd, a large band of rain hit the reservoir and two juvenile Garganey promptly dropped in to the Scaldwell Bay as this happened these birds actually staying for an unprecedented length, being last recorded on the 9th September A Great White Egret also dropped in during this band of rain but there was still 16 Common Sandpipers noted and a Green Sandpiper. A juvenile Yellow-legged Gull arrived the following day as did another Green Sandpiper but Common Sandpiper numbers continued to fall to 12. On the 25th, Common Sandpipers dropped to eight while the remaining birds were joined by two Dunlin, a Redshank, 2 Green Sandpipers and a Great White Egret was in the Holcot Bay.   The only new arrivals on the 26th was a flyover Curlew and two Yellow-legged Gulls. On the 27th an adult Arctic Tern was lingering in the Scaldwell Bay as were two Red-crested Pochards, two Dunlins, six Common Sandpipers, Green Sandpiper, and three Yellow-legged Gulls. The 28th saw the arrival of two Turnstones onto the waters edge of the Old Road in the Scaldwell Bay while the Great White was still about and other bits about were Ringed Plover, 3 Green Sandpiper, six Common Sandpipers, Arctic Tern, Greenshank and juvenile Yellow-legged Gull. On the 28th I left Northants for a month in order to help my friend George with party preparations while a week on Bardsey and a week at Spurn were also planned. However things were still being reported with 18 Whimbrel flying south over the Dam that evening and the next day bringing a lot of birds in including the Great White Egret in Walgrave Bay, seven Black-tailed Godwits (six in Walgrave Bay), five Dunlins, three Green Sandpipers, six Common Sandpipers and two Yellow-legged Gull (adult and juvenile). Bob Bullock on the 31st then recorded 19 Whimbrels flying south over the feeding station.

Garganey (eclipse drake)

I was away for most of August however Pitsford was still being watched by a number of observers and lots of general passage waders were being noted throughout the month with Common Sandpipers, Green Sandpipers, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit peaking at 29, Dunlin, Ringed Plovers, Ruff etc but also other birds like Common Scoter, Osprey, Great White Egrets, Peregrines etc all arrived during this time too. I arrived back on the 29th and had my first visit back on-site on the 30th were I year ticked a juvenile Cuckoo flying around the Scaldwell Bay. Cuckoo has been a very tough bird to get locally over the last few years and I didn’t see one at all at Pitsford the year before. I also noted a Great White Egret, three Ringed Plovers, two Dunlins, seven Greenshanks, Green Sandpiper and two Common Snipe. Peregrine and Common Sandpiper were the only new birds to note on the 31st.

The Great White Egret was still about on the 1st as also a Osprey over south, Peregrine, Ringed Plover, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, Ruff, Dunlin, Greenshank, Redshank and Common Snipe. The 2nd saw an arrival of Common Redstarts, three arrived throughout the day, one in each bay and I connected with the one in the Holcot Bay. Other new arrivals on the 2nd include two Ruffs, three Dunlins, eight Greenshanks and a Common Sandpiper. On the 3rd the Great White Egret was still present as was Peregrine, Hobby, Black-tailed Godwit, three Ringed Plovers, Ruff, two Dunlin, eight Greenshanks, Green Sandpiper, Black Tern, Common Sandpiper, two Common Snipe. A ringing session at Harrington Airfield on the 4th was disrupted by the discovery of a Spotted Redshank near the Dam however I managed to get to the bird in little over an hour after the news broke. The only other new birds about were a Pintail and White Wagtail. The 5th saw the Spotted Redshank relocate to the Walgrave Bay while other birds included Garganey, two Little Ringed Plovers, two Ringed Plovers, Black-tailed Godwit, four Ruffs, Dunlin, eight Greenshanks, Green Sandpiper, two Common Sandpipers, Common Snipe and six Yellow-legged Gulls. The next few days continued to be the same until a Whinchat was in the Scaldwell Bay on the 8th and 1634 House Martins passed through the reservoir on the 11th however I didn’t catch up with Whinchat here until the 14th. The 14th also saw a Grey Plover flying north through the Scaldwell Bay and the usual other passage waders were still about. The 16th and the Spotted Redshank was still present as was Great White Egret, four Ringed Plovers, Black-tailed Godwit, five Ruff, eight Dunlin, Redshank, five Greenshanks, Green Sandpiper and two Stonechats. Waders increased the following day to six Ringed Plovers, five Ruff, 10+ Dunlin also four Yellow-legged Gulls about. On the 18th I discovered a small wader flock just south of the causeway containing seven Ringed Plovers and five Dunlins with a darting juvenile Little Stint amongst them. It or another was in the Scaldwell Bay the following day with 23 Ringed Plovers, ten Dunlin, four Ruff, Greenshank, Turnstone and Great White Egret. The following day to that, the 20th, someone picked up two Little Stints together just south of the causeway car park. I then had two myself on the 21st, one south of the causeway and another north of the causeway, the one north of the causeway was with 24 Ringed Plovers, eight Dunlins and an adult Yellow-legged Gull was about too. On the 23rd I noted a new Great White Egret, 18 Ringed Plovers, 11 Ruff, three Dunlins, two Greenshanks, Green Sandpiper and two Yellow-legged Gulls. On the 25th I noted two Great White Egrets, seventeen Pintails, thirteen Ringed Plovers, eight Ruff, Greenshank, two Common Snipe and two Yellow-legged Gulls. These birds lingered and there wasn’t a new arrival until the 28th when a second winter Caspian Gull was near the Dam. The 30th noted another new Little Stint in the Scaldwell Bay with two Dunlin before flying south down the reservoir. There was seven Ruff and a Greenshank about.


The 1st of October and a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper was flying around the Scaldwell Bay with a small group of five Ruff. This was an absolute relief after dipping the adult bird in July. There was also two Great White Egrets, adult Yellow Legged Gull, second winter Caspian Gull, another three Ruff, Greenshank, two Dunlin, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Little Stint and six Ringed Plovers, Stonechat and six Pintails about. On the 2nd October I discovered a Firecrest in the pines and bushes around the Scaldwell hides, the bird was regularly calling amongst the Goldcrest flock however would not show itself up easy. On the 6th I noted my first Golden Plover of the year, as one flew over calling heading west. There was also four Ruff, a Little Stint, two Dunlin, two Great White Egret, three Pintail, two Greenshanks, four Yellow-legged Gulls, and three Stonechats. The 7th saw the discovery of a pair of Whooper Swans in the Holcot Bay with the present hundred plus flock of Mute Swans. These stayed till the 24th after being joined by another individual on the 22nd. The 8th also had a supporting cast of nine Pintails, Peregrine, Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, six Ruffs, two Dunlin, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, three Yellow-legged Gulls and two Stonechats while a Little Stint was discovered the next day. A Barnacle Goose joined the goose flock on the 12th however everything else stayed the same for a few days with no new arrivals to note. A third Great White Egret arrived with the semi-resident two on the 15th. The morning of the 16th had an absolutely brilliant vismig session, the highlight being a pair of Bar-tailed Godwits heading south west but there was also loads of other birds on the move too including 923 Starling, 316 Redwing, 69 Skylark, a Swallow, eight Redpoll, nine Siskin and 50 Chaffinch being the highlights and there was also a Brambling about too. The evening of the 19th produced an adult Mediterranean Gull, second-winter Caspian Gull plus 12 Golden Plovers and 2 Ringed Plovers over in a south-westerly direction. The next 10 days or so were very quiet with no notable new arrivals apart from more finches and thrushes on the move but the 30th October provided a Snow Bunting heading north low over the Scaldwell Bay as it completed its ‘tew’ call. There was also two Great White Egrets still, two Ruff, five Dunlin, two Redshank, three Green Sandpipers, three Common Snipe and a first-winter Caspian Gull.

Migrating Redwings

Migrating Starlings

There was very good birding to be had on the 2nd with the highlights being two Hawfinches flying south-west with migrating Redwings and three Scaup hanging out with Tufties just south of the causeway. There was also 22 Pintails, four Great White Egrets, two Ruffs, five Dunlin, three Redshanks, Green Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, six Stonechats and three Bramblings were trapped and ringed at the Old Road Feeding station. The fourth was probably the worst day of my life, I started the day having a lay in till half nine when as I was walking downstairs for my breakfast my phone started pinging like there was no tomorrow and that was because a Cory’s Shearwater was flying around south of the causeway, I went into a state of mass panic and confusion while running back up the stairs to get dressed in what felt like a lifetime but must have been just a matter of seconds and then ran back down the stairs screaming to tell mum that I needed to get to Pitsford fast. I got onto my bike and made it to the causeway in 15 mins maximum however, there was already no sign of the bird or any birders. I made my way halfway between the causeway and Dam waiting for it to fly back north but after over half an hour of waiting there was no luck, until, someone next to me’s phone rang to alert them that the bird was in fact north of the causeway. I bolted on my bike, must have got to the causeway in 90 seconds if that and there was already no sign there which sent my alarm bells ringing, especially as I had been told that it had settled in the Walgrave Bay just seconds prior to my arrival. Although, I waited for at least 3hrs after it was seen north of the causeway and was the last person to leave I never saw it and was on the brink of having a meltdown. The best bird of the year and I didn’t see it after all the work that I put into Pitsford this year but thats birding and it's what drives you to go out everyday when you are a patch birder. It wasn’t all bad news however as I did get a year tick in the shape of a Water Pipit walking up and down the causeway. There was also 4 Red-crested Pochards, 4 Scaup and Caspian Gull about. The 6th came along and I was doing my usual, sitting in my pop up chair at the Old Road and I was trying to count the Golden Plovers flying around over my head while I noticed a smaller, more agile looking bird. After a few minutes of watching it and jotting down features I finally had everything I needed to call it a DOTTEREL, the bright white shaft on the outermost primary being the clincher for me. I then photographed the whole flock and after some very intense cropping, I could make out the Dotterel in my images. This represented as the twelfth county record and the second in twenty years but foremost a lifer for me and only Pitsford’s second record! The Golden Plover flock flew north and presumably the Dotterel went with them but couldn’t see the Dotterel when the GPs returned an hour or so later. Other birds to note that day were Water Pipit, 3 Great White Egrets, 51 Golden Plovers, 2 Ruffs, 2 Dunlins and 3 Redshanks. An evening visit on the 9th provided now five Great White Egrets, 14 Dunlin, 3 Redshanks and a Stonechat. On the 11th, I noted another Hawfinch flying south over the causeway, a Caspian Gull, three Scaup, twelve Pintails, four Great White Egrets, fourteen Dunlin, three Green Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull and Stonechat. On the 13th five Scaup were still present, also were three Great White Egrets, eighteen Pintails, three Redshanks, two Green Sandpipers, seven Common Snipe, two Stonechats and three Bramblings. A Red-crested Pochard was by the lodge on the 15th and four Scaup were still present the next day. The 17th saw Great White Egret numbers increase to five again while also 3-4 Scaup, 2 Dunlins, 3 Redshanks and 2 Green Sandpipers were still present. The 18th provided a Water Pipit in the Scaldwell Bay with Meadow Pipits while the other birds lingered still. The 19th saw a female type Common Scoter in Pintail Bay along with four Great White Egrets, Scaup, two Dunlins and two Redshanks and two Caspian Gulls in the gull roost. It was generally quiet for the rest of the month with varying duck counts.

Dotterel (in the middle to the left underneath Golden Plover)

The month started off quiet, however on the 4th it picked up. The highlights on this day being a Hawfinch in and around Christies Copse, a Snow Bunting south-west, 7-10 Woodcock, a Smew, two Redpoll, a Siskin and seven Brambling. On the 7th, there was a Great White Egret still, also nine Pintails, 33+ Golden Plovers, Ruff, three Redshank, Green Sandpiper, two Stonechats and an adult Caspian Gull in the roost. On the 11th, there was two Great White Egrets, eight Pintails, seven Golden Plovers, two Redshanks, six Common Snipe, first-winter Mediterranean Gull and first-winter Yellow-legged Gull. A third winter Caspian Gull was in the gull roost on 16th and there was a redhead Smew in the Walgrave Bay on the 18th. However, for the rest of the year Pitsford Res became very quiet and there wasn’t much to note.

Woodcock (trapped and ringed)

I would just like to take this moment to thank everyone (who has actually reached here, sorry for it being so long) that has spurred me on to complete this fantastic year at Pitsford Res and manage to see a full total of 166 species at the site, more than anyone has ever done before. I would also like to thank everyone that has sent me news of birds at Pitsford Res too, I wouldn’t have got such a high total without that help!

Now I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and hopefully 2018 will be an even better year, if that's even possible!

Kind Regards, 


Saturday, 14 October 2017

Rock Thrush


Today was spent getting to and from Gwent to see a Rock Thrush that has turned up in a quarry in the middle of nowhere! The bird showed brilliantly to a crowd of around a hundred or so people while it flicked around the rocks and bracken around the three quarries it was feeding in.

Below are images of the bird as it hopped onto a rock a matter of 15metres away!



Saturday, 30 September 2017

Scops Owl


Today started with a gentle stroll from home to my patch, Pitsford Reservoir yielding views of a Little Stint, two Great White Egrets, seven Ruff, two Dunlin, a Yellow Legged Gull, a few Pintail and with a few Meadow Pipits going steadily south. However at 10:50am all hell broke loose...

When Scops Owl which had been spending the last few days in Durham which had presumably went yesterday had been refound. Andrew Tyrell promptly rang me up and off we went on the 3 and three quarters hour journey up north and as always it was an eventful journey with constant stories of old times and how things had changed in birding but this may have caused the odd overshoot in junctions delaying us and using up valuable petrol which we were running out of!

Though, after filling up only 15mins away from the bird and getting some much essential chocolate we arrived at Ryhope as the rain hit, I promptly grabbed my scope and ran before Andrew had even had a chance to open his door! We both got there at the same time though as I managed to lost but we were both afforded with great views of the amazing Scops Owl as it was roosting in the elderberry bush infront of us. Amongst the rain I managed to get some very dodgey digi-scopes which can be seen by following this link too my tweet:


Just like to thank Andrew for taking me and putting up with me for yet another twitch!



Monday, 10 July 2017

Iberia Images


Sorry for the lack of posts of late, to say I haven't been incredibly busy would be lying and the days have been long so plenty of time for birding. In the back end of June, I visited Iberia (Portugal and Spain) for 10days only a matter of hours after my last GCSE exam, Physics.

The following images are what I think are the best images from the trip. The whole experience was fantastic, birds, food, people, area etc. Just a wonderful time to relax!

Hope you enjoy the following images...


Black Winged Stilts


Black Kite

Cory's Shearwater

Caspian Tern


Little Tern


Woodchat Shrike

White Stork

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Start of the Easter holidays


Last Thursday, the 30th March, I visited Pitsford Reservoir and watched a fire take place between the Mattress Hide and the Causeway. It started by two Canoeists setting off a firework which caught the reeds but the fire brigade came out and quickly diffused it all.

Friday, my efforts had been rewarded with four patch year ticks, the best being a Sandwich Tern which flew north up the reservoir at 09:10 and was a nice county tick! The other ticks being three Little Ringed Plovers, three Blackcap and a Feral Pigeon flying north. Other birds include 12+ Brambling at the Pines, a Kingfisher, a Redshank, two Oystercatchers, a Green Sandpiper, two Raven, 85+ Sand Martin and the Slavonian Grebe which is starting to moult into its summer plumage.

Saturday came thundering along with a early wake up call of 4am so I could try and get to Suffolk for as early as possible. This was hindered by my brother who does not like early starts but once he was out there, he surprisingly enjoyed it even more so when he was using my camera. Can I make a birder out of him yet? So, my mum, my brother and myself arrived at Landguard at around nine to meet Ellie Zantboer, her little brother and her dad, Justin. We started off by doing a net round catching a Chiffchaff and two Robins then Ellie gave me a 'tour' round Landguard. There wasn't much around but we did manage to see a Black Redstart but still, a nice area even with the constant noise of Felixstowe Port in the background. Afterwards, we moved onto Trimley Marshes where the highlights were a adult Little Gull and a 1st winter Caspian Gull. Some of the birds that were common there but definitely not common back home included Avocets, Black Tailed Godwits, Brent Geese, Cetti's Warbler and a Peregrine. No amazing birds but overall a really good day and nice to go birding in a new area.

Sunday, today saw me back at patch and almost straight away I found a Short Eared Owl flying over the Scaldwell Bay heading west, another county tick! However, it turned out to be a quiet day in the end but a steady but small stream of Linnets and Meadow Pipits were heading north with the odd Pied Wagtail thrown in for good measure. Other birds include a Raven, a Marsh Tit, a Kingfisher, a Green Sandpiper, a Redshank, two Oystercatchers, two Willow Tit and 30+ Sand Martin.



Little Grebe courtesy of Joseph Spinks

Little Grebe


Mute Swan

Little Gull

Ashy Mining Bees

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Summer visitors


This weekend I have spent all my available daylight hours, apart cooking my mum breakfast in bed today as it is mothers day and I am a good boy, I have been down at Pitsford Reservoir doing my daily checks and an obvious movement of birds is starting to take place.

There has been quite a fair amount of gull passage occurring over the last two weeks or so and Friday was no exception. I was round the dam area of Pitsford Res in the evening after school and there was no gulls or very few birds to be seen at all from here, then in one big flock, at least 300+ Herring Gulls dropped in with about 50+ Lesser Black Backed and a handful of Greater Black Backed Gulls. I thought my luck had changed for a white winged gull but my hopes didn't come to much at all.

Yesterday was a bright but windy day with a strong northerly wind persisting through most of the day, however this did not deter a female Osprey to fly in from the south at around 11 O' clock and fish for about half an hour in the Scaldwell Bay before it continued its journey north without a fish, but with a Red Kite chasing it till it was out of sight. Interestingly, this bird was bearing a green colour ring and was originally ringed at Rutland Water in 2004 as a female. This makes it 13 years old if it reaches to the summer, imagine the number on miles that bird will have covered in its life! Other birds noted include the White Fronted Goose, two Oystercatcher, a Snipe, a Redshank, two Lapwing, three Green Sandpiper, a Marsh Tit and a few Little Egrets. I then went up to Harrington Airfield to feed the birds were I flushed two Grey Partridge and a male White Wagtail was along the concrete track with Pied Wagtails and Yellowhammers.

Today was the day of patch year ticks, I managed to catch up finally with the Nuthatch in the Moulton Grange Bay which has been present for nearly two weeks now as it was singing refutably as was the Willow Warbler in a neighbouring tree, this was my first of the year. Then, after walking less than 100 yards, a Curlew went over calling wildly as it was flying south, I was able to repeat its call and it started to circle above me, this was when I found out I had left my camera battery at home. Ah well. After five minutes of it circling, it continued its journey south. The Slavonian Grebe was still present in its winter plumage in the Pintail Bay and other birds included the three Green Sandpipers, two Oystercatchers, six Snipe, a Pintail and what could possibly be my last Fieldfares of the year. Its weird seeing winter and summer migrants on the same day.




White Fronted Goose


Saturday, 4 March 2017

Third time lucky!


Today I set off to go and see the male Pine Bunting in Dunnington, North Yorkshire and third time lucky seems to tell the truth! Andrew Tyrell and myself set off at 6am this morning and we reached Cunnington at about half 8, we were then pointed in the direction of the bird by two teenagers who probably thought we were all a bit mad, all flocking to see one bird but never the less, we had arrived. After waiting around for 20mins or so after observing some Corn Buntings, Tree Sparrows and Siskins, I scanned the top of the trees through my scope and what was sitting on top of the Silver Birch was mind blowing. The male Pine Bunting, finally after three attempts to see this species, and everyone around me got onto it as it sat quite proudly in the same place for about five minutes before flicking down and into the field.

A record shot of the Pine Bunting

We then moved onto Acaster Malbis where a Great Grey Shrike had been seen however we had some confusion as Birdguides where calling it Acaster Malbis and Rare Bird Alert were calling the site Acaster Selby so after stopping a cycling birder we found that it was in-between the two villages. However, once we found the bird it was showing incredibly well around the Ebor Trucks compound.

Now we had ticked Great Grey Shrike for the year, we moved south, heading to Willow Tree Fen, Lincolnshire for the male Bluethroat that has been performing excellently there for the last few weeks. We arrived and the hour long wait began but that wait wasn't worthless as I managed to pick up a Water Pipit calling with some of the Meadow Pipits which were gathering there. Other birds included a Peregrine and a female Marsh Harrier. Then the Bluethroat stopped playing games and hoped out of view but it seemed to be struggling with swallowing something, probably some of the Mealworms that its being fed. However it was showing incredibly well down to four feet! 

Then, our last site of the day was Frampton Marsh RSPB which seems to be an excellent site holding very large numbers of Golden Plover, around ten thousand. Also big numbers of Brent Geese, Wigeon, Teal and other common waterfowl but some of the less common birds included a Barnacle Goose, ten Ruff, three Spotted Redshank, a Merlin, a male Marsh Harrier, a Peregrine, four Whooper Swans, quite a few Pintail but we didn't catch up with many of the birds with Sand Martins, two Common Cranes and a Dotterel being seen there today! 




Brent Geese

Golden Plover

Great Grey Shrike



Meadow Pipit