No matter what happens to Beddington Farm when the weather is right the Farm has a fall of birds. Many are fly-overs or birds that stop off until the weather clears. The passage of birds started in the rain Saturday afternoon with Turnstone and Oystercatcher stopping briefly during heavy rain. I was watching Sutton Utd getting beat 1- 2 by Bishops Stortford but had a note to self moment to visit the Farm the next day!
The weather overnight was perfect, cloudy with rain and NE wind to take us into the morning. I was up and out early doors arriving at 6.30am. Dodge and Mike were already there setting up the ringing nets in the swamp which was now the high water level on the North lake.
I decided to do another Timed Species Count but may have been a bit too hasty starting on the lakes in the rain. The count was over in a flash with nothing out of the ordinary on the species list. I returned to the hide and within twenty minutes the action started with a flock of Ringed Plover that made their way over the mound towards the Lagoons. Snipe were next... then...
I saw a raptor coming in from the NW. At the farm you have to be quick on the draw with id but all I could see was a silhouette and got as far as “Whats this...” before I had finished my sentence Dodge as sharp as ever exclaimed Marsh Harrier!... This was the first record at the Farm this year..Nice!!
Excitement was growing in the hide as bird news beeped up on phones and pagers... Sabine’s Gull, Gannet, Black Tern all heading along the Thames the former stopping off at Rainham RSPB . I missed the last record of Sabine’s Gull at the Farm due to being on Scilly Isles. Would they join a group of gulls that would pass by the site by in the next few days!
|(Part of a flock of Shoveler)|
I still had two areas to cover in my counts. Two species that have been sadly lacking on the lists were Teal and Shoveler. There are not large numbers on the site at the moment but why did I keep missing them during the counts! True to form both species were again seen outside the count time.
Once the rain had cleared Dodge and I walked the mound and had a Yellow Wagtail and a Whinchat on the borders of the South Lake. A visit to the lagoons produced the group of Ringed Plover with a Dunlin.
Today hi-lighted a disadvantage of this survey method on the area of the lakes as other sightings that did not make the list were Hobby, Kingfisher, Cormorant, Swallow, Sand Martin and Kestrel. These species were seen over a few hours therefore all would not have made the count!
I have learnt to leave the hide when there is a combination of sharp eyed birders and ideal weather conditions is just not the done thing! I delayed my counts in the other two areas until the hide had cleared and the weather had improved for walking in.
|(Birds at rest Jim's Bed)|
I set out with Derek to cover 100 Acre which had a flock of Teal on Jim’s bed and Snipe on one of the sludge beds opposite. At last Teal on one of the lists! During my walk in this area Bulldog phoned me with news of juvenile Ruff on the Lagoons. Hmm I can’t abandon the count so carried on which was to prove costly as I returned to the lagoons and all the waders had gone!
I covered the path from 100 Acre back to Mile Road the most notable sightings were Willow Warbler one which was having a scrap with a Chiffchaff which gave a good comparison between the two species.
I left the site at around 4.30pm bumping into Pete Alfrey who had already taken a tour around the Farm had a spell in the hide gone home and returned to have a look at the Ruff. I was the bearer of bad news but Pete suggested they might have moved to 100 Acre. I had spent time there and was tired so stupidly decided not to walk back there with him. Big mistake! I received news that Pete had had a juvenile Garganey on 100 Acre.
But this just showed what kind of day it was at the Farm birds dropping in all day long. The weather is looking good for tomorrow as well....!