Saturday, 25 February 2012

Birding and lure fishing

On Friday walked to Maple Lodge met PLewis and PDelaloye, on route,the hides produced a few teal
and Wood pigeon going to roost in the Alders.It was generally quiet  apart from Robin and Dunnock
singing.So I retraced my steps to the Rotunda hide where I saw the reported 2 Green Sandpipers. On
leaving a single Ring necked parakeet obliged.

The following morning I got a lift to Springwell GP where a lovely morning produced a Chiff chaff
singing, a herald of Spring,I was lure fishing this time I caught  a 3lb Pike on an Abu Tormentor.

I  saw a couple of Kingfishers ,a Wigeon was calling ,moving on to Stockers GP it was glorious in
the sunshine. No more fish just a final picture of yours truly with Steve Brown and my prolific lure
The Abu Tormentor.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Piking and Birding

On Thursday the 23rd  my old mate Lewis turned up and we set off for Stockers gravel pit.
We decided  on
 lure fishing concentrating on the canal side.We met Steve (Savage) Brown.
He was fishing for Pike as well,apparently this guy has a tackle shop in Aylesbury.
Moving on towards Bury gravel pit where Cetti's warbler was calling from the Phragmites
reed bed.A Red crested Pochard male was being fed by the "Bunny Huggers".
Still no Pike,further along Colne side Paul hooked a double on his orange squid,alas it got off.
The morning got warmer and with it the lake got busy with people.
So it was time to go Blankety Blank FOR BOTH OF US.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

In search of Esox luscius

Well after Saturday's Charity pike match for Help the Heroes I thought I would fish
the Rickmansworth gravel pits prior to work today.
Not much time available, so  some lure fishing with an ABU tormentor lured a nice 8lb
Pike to the net.I noticed the Herons at their nests on Stockers and on leaving 3 male
Goosanders were cruising on Inns GP as I headed for home

Monday, 20 February 2012

Help the Heroes Pike match at Farlowes gravel pits

Well a weekend off , I was at Jerry Bart's 60th at the Horns on Thurs night,so Friday I was a bit jaded,
howevever 0630 HRS I am waiting for Tony Collins to pick me up on Sat morn,yes he oversleeps and
arrives 0715hrs and eventually we get to Farlowes around 0800hrs.
Better late than never, on arrival we meet old friends Paddy Crilly and the Gomms. While Tony and I
set up and got settled in our swims. Four hours on nothing was  doing, just opposite the Gomms were
catching lots of jacks. So I moved from the above swim to try and  change my luck,it proved a good
move as Alan Gomm and I ended up runners up in one category.Many thanks to
Paddy Crilly for organising the event and thanks to the Gomms who helped me out with bait etc.
Help the Heroes needs your help any way you can,RULE BRITTANIA.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Rare Thrush the E.Mails

These are the following e.mails received by a cross section of the birding fraternity,that shows
what we have is an unusual blackbird or a rare hybrid thrush.I leave you to ponder the complexities
as I now decamp from garden watch and return to some regular birding.Please feel free to email me
on your thoughts and conclusions.

1st Reply Mike Ilett county recorder for Herts.
"Not convinced about Black Throated Thrush -yellow on bill doesn't look extensive enough,looks long in one picture,the breast has very little black markings although female can have very little,your bird seems
to have rufous/brown tinge to side of breast,my best bet is an unusual song thrush,past the photos on to Barry  Reed for his opinion.Picture above Song Thrush at Maple Lodge.

2nd Reply from Lee Evans friend Nick,who has seen many thrushes in the far east"Odd Thrush in snowbound UK". I have seen lot of Dusky/Naumanns in the far east around 10 to15 years ago they are
incredibly variable however this individual lacks a supercillium(behind the eye) that seemed to be a pretty consistent feature,also no red in tail,but some first year birds can be dull. I have seen a number of dull Dusky Thrushes in some respects your bird is a better fit for Red Thoated Thrush but your species had no streaking on the flanks.
Given that Red throated and Black throated seem more inclined to lack a supercillium.
A Naumann's/Red throated hybrid would work.Above is a Dusky thrush.

3rd Reply from Jack Fearnside "I can see it looks very different and must have caused considerable
excitement.Looking at rare thrush species there is nothing that fits and is probably  a dilute female
I would be interested to see what Mike Ilett makes of it.
Female Blackbird at Maple Lodge in snow leaf cover.

4th Reply from Joan Thompson "Comparing photos with black,red throated and Naumann's the length of the tail potruding past the primaries on this odd bird is more in line with blackbird.
I therfore now feel that it is a Blackbird.
male Blackbird at Maple Lodge.

5th Reply from Paul Lewis the only other observer to see it in the flesh,"Well what can I say
the consensus of opinion is that the Turdus species is a Blackbird.
I've never seen one looking like that(An interesting record)
The unidentified? Turdus species in question.

6th Reply from Jeff Baker BTO "Showing some characteristics of Black throated ,though not typically
the key ones.Seems to be rufous in colour on upper parts,not he cold grey as in Black throated,while the underparts not that white as would normally be the case,it is very odd however.
Naumann's thrush South Korea above.

7th Reply from Tony Hulls via John Holloway in Orkney.
"I think I would be searching photos of Black/Red throated thruish the species are considered
conspecific and show an amazing array of plumages and there is clearly a wide area of inter breeding
.It would surely be a first winter ,but I would not stop at Blackbird,did you notice if it had bright
rufous arm pits.Hope id is soon resolved.

Above first picture Naumanns in Japan ,second the odd thrush at Maple Cross
Is this really a BLACKBIRD let me know your thoughts.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Garden Watch and brief visit to Maple Lodge

Suffering from man flu caught from the wife I have been confined to barracks,so its noting winter
thrushes and blackbirds with a few passerines thrown in. The frozen lake held nothing except a
Carrion Crow.So I returned home had a day of today stayed in and it was garden watch but not much
about a few raptors over ie Red Kite and Common Buzzard.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Another day in Turdus Paradise

It looks like that I have to bow to my learned colleagues.Yesterday Joan Thompson and Paul Lewis
thought I had found a rarity,but they to have bowed to ornithological pressure.
My last e mail was from Jack Fearnside makes it rather conclusive as I have great respect for this guy
who has always been on side and has faith in me.
So its a funny blackbird then,I waited for it to show in the garden this morning alas no just the usual
suspects,mistle thrush,blackbird and fieldfare. An hour at Maple Lodge feeding station revealed only
blackbirds and song thrush none with supercillium or malar stripes.
On return home Christine Bessant rang me it seems she had an odd thrush in her garden last year
and Lee Evans had  the photos for perusal. The verdict yes you guessed it dodgy blackbird.
Christine is e mailing the photos soon for my perusal and comparasions.
Finally I would like to thank everybody for their help with this species.
ie Mike Illet,Paul Lewis,Joan Thompson,Lee Evans,Jack Fearnside,Christine Bessant etc.
My apologies to the birders who scoured Maple Cross recreation ground yesterday afternoon.
But many thanks to all for having faith in me.
The South west corner of Herts  has some superb birders who supply records and photos and I would personally
like to thank Herts Bird Club and Jack Fearnside in particular who stands out whose faith in us is
most welcomed and appreciated.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Great Debate

Well  my excitement has been curtailed,sadly the county recorder has identified this bird as first
song thrush then blackbird,now I am giving him the benefit of the doubt.
The only people on side are Paul Lewis,Joan Thompson and Lee Evans ,who says its the strangest
blackbird he has seen.My First gut feeling was Naumanns Thrush this is Lees line of thought,
I was swayed by a Dark Throated Thrush of atrogularis species,obviously not being an expert on the
Turdus family,although I have seen a few species worldwide.
So here is what I think it is a cross bred Naumanns or Dark throated/Dusky.Looking at my picture
the bird has a pronounced supercillium and Malar stripe also some reddish tinge.The classic pose
he recalls Naumanns as it sits on the fence.Another shot here of the strange one.Finally head down note bill and head is this a song thrush or blackbird?.
Here are some other shots of Siberian visitors.
Dusky Thrush female.
Hybrid Dusky Thrush in flight.
Naumanns thrush note bill.
Naumanns thrush see the variation .I have not given up yet.

rare thrush in garden

This is the rare thrush seen in my garden today , I thought it was Naumann's but may be more correctly black throated or dark throated thrush possibly atrogularis,P Lewis saw it and Joan
Thompson missed it ,not seen for 2 hrs now 1345 hrs.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Winters morning at Woodoaks Farm

Walked Ted to Woodoaks this morning a few winter thrushes obliged as I passed the cottages in to
the farm yard ,the cattle were in there stalls.
I passed the barn and gazed towards the manure pile and noted a small flock of birds.
As I approached them it was obvious they were golden plovers,I has missed them earlier this year,
so it was great to see them.
Patiently I stalked them Ted obeyed my command and sat as I photographed them eventually they
moved off.
Also of note a few skylark obliged along with Yellowhammer and on leaving a Red Kite passed over.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Stockers Lake

Birding with Paul Lewis it was cold today as we walked canal side of the lake of note a few Siskins
were feeding in the Alders.Moving on towards the hides we noted first a female Goldeneye
it was reasonably close but my hands were frozen as I attempted some photos.
We waited patiently for males to show while waiting Tony Hulls arrived and Paul and I
greeted him and of course any news of the smews,
A male Goldeneye obliged then a couple of males started displaying although quite distant it is
always a pleasure to witness.
We moved on as did the goldeneye ,then we met Geoff Lapworth who had seen the Smew from the causeway,while they chatted I raced on only to see the two drakes fly off.
Paul and Tony caught up as we crossed the causeway and on adjacent Bury GP were two Wigeon
and seven Red crested pochards.
Following the lake we scanned the islands,Paul found them cruising away from us,and I managed a
distant record shot for the day.
Well that was it not a bad morning but bloody freezing ,home for lunch then off to work.