Friday, 27 February 2009


Calvert BBOWT; Great Crested Grebes doing weed display dance

We are pretty sure the Bittern bonanza is now over, with the last one leaving on night of 25 February.

This winter the first one arrived 29/12/08, and this built to a definite 5 by early February. It then reduced to four, with 2-3 remaining until 21 February and the last 2 to 24.

Nearly a month of daily superb close views of them feeding, fighting, flying, roosting and croaking!! They were watched every day for most of the daylight hours, enabling accurate counts and fascinating behaviour to be noted.

I do hope the many, many visitors who witnessed this rare event went away pleased!! This occurence is the best ever reason for joining BBOWT if you are not already a member.

You must be a member to visit the reserve. BBOWT will do its best to manage habitat to try and attract them again next winter and have just agreed to Mink control. A Mink was seen a few times in reedbeds including the 2 days before the last Bittern was seen and this may have prompted them along with the mild weather to move off.

Tim Watts (honorary BBOWT warden)

Thursday, 26 February 2009


Although 1 or 2 EURASIAN BITTERNS have remained throughout February, it has largely been very quiet. There has been the odd Gadwall, drake Common Goldeneye and Shoveler, and WATER RAILS occasionally show, like this individual 'swimming' (Tim Watts, honorary warden)

Sunday, 15 February 2009


I thought it couldn't happen on these very deep clay pits but for the first time in 14 yrs at least, they froze over!! BBOWT 99% and Sailing lake 75%.

An influx of wildfowl included a drake COMMON GOLDENEYE.

An adult CASPIAN GULL roosted on the ice, as well as the white -winged Herring Gull; also 9 colour-ringed gulls.

c120 European Golden Plover flew over (Tim Watts, Warren Claydon)

Tuesday, 3 February 2009


EURASIAN BITTERN - Calvert- 3/2/09

Jon Holt and I had only a few brief flight views after a long watch but we knew there was one
Bittern inside reedbed. There was a good layer of snow over ice in shallows but it was rapidly
thawing and luckily one appeared just in time to capture some snow in photos!

This bird walked quickly across the ice and didn't get sharp pics of this. Have reviewed previous
pics and unless just the light, this one has a yellow iris yet previous pics show bird with
mahogany coloured iris. Indicator of age?
Only 2 confirmed today, much fewer flight views, maybe some moved off or they are sitting tight in the cold weather. Most reedbeds unfrozen (Tim Watts)


Reviewed my images again today and can confirm that we definitely have more than one bird inclined to walk out
into the open and show well. One photographed a few days ago shows darker iris/ longer moustachial stripe
and a knarled up formation at base of upper mandible.
Compare this to one with lighter iris taken in snow today (Tim Watts)

Sunday, 1 February 2009


TREE SPARROW (MIKE LAWRENCE) - one of my favourite birds


The first day of February was a cold one, with freezing air rushing in from Russia on a blasting easterly. Although dry and bright for the first half of the day, snow flurries moved in by mid-afternoon and at the time of writing, snow is now lying at least four inches deep on my driveway.


A large flock of 241 FIELDFARES feeding on a sunlit field just south of the A41

GRENDON UNDERWOOD LAYBY (opposite Winding Brook Farm)

Although I failed to find the female/immature Merlin that RDA saw yesterday afternoon, I was absolutely delighted to find a single TREE SPARROW feeding with the large flock of finches and buntings on the strip adjacent to the hedgerow visible from the gate at the north end of the layby. The flock also held a fabulous male BRAMBLING, as well as 168 Chaffinches (in two flocks), 97 Linnets, 7 Goldfinches and 28 YELLOWHAMMERS.

The field also held 9 Common Pheasants, 17 Fieldfares and a Common Buzzard, with a flock of 59 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER in flight.


I was surprised to find a shivering Rosie Hamilton and friend in the Crispin Fisher Hide but very pleased that they had both seen one of the remaining EURASIAN BITTERNS at the site (it was a new bird for her friend) - briefly seen in flight in the left hand reedbed.

I had travelled over for the gull roost with particularly Iceland and Glaucous in mind (especially as so many have arrived in the country in the past week). I was to be disappointed though as by 1700 hours, heavy snow had moved in seriously affecting visibility.

It was a large gull roost however and from the lower hide I click-counted a total of 3,336 roosting gulls by 1645 hours - just 413 Black-headed, a miserly 33 Common, 912 and increasing Herring (the vast majority Scandinavian argentatus), 57 Great Black-backed and an overwhelming 1,921 Lesser Black-backed.

Of the rarer species, all I had was a first-winter CASPIAN GULL (with some paling at the base of the bill) and 2 4th-winter YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS.


A total of 31 RED KITES roosted in tall Pines at a traditional roost-site at dusk (1734).