Monday, 10 February 2014

An enjoyable day on the patch...

Due to my shifts, working overtime and the weather, it's been almost 3 weeks since I've had my fix of the great outdoors, let alone out birding. It will be at least another week before I get my next chance so I took the opportunity today, to get out on the patch - Staines Moor.

It is certainly a lot easier said than done!..

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IF PLANNING A VISIT TO THE MOOR, PLEASE CONSIDER THIS:
I always go to the moor via the neighbouring Stanwell Moor, a great little area and decent 'warm-up' to Staines moor itself. The bottom end of Hithermoor Rd is very close to recent flooding, I actually saw residents today sorting out sandbags between themselves. I'd advise parking further up the road, just to be safe.
The path along KGVI reservoir is fine, as is the first half of the Stanwell moor path - albeit very muddy. It's from the barbwire gate that things get interesting, the entire path is under water and a lot of it! For most it, you can actually see the flow in the water and was it about an inch, at best, from the top of my wellies! The wooden boardwalk leading onto Staines moor is also submerged, with the water flowing over the top.
Other entrances to Staines moor are, as I'm aware, also compromised or impassable. Take care!
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 Back to my day; I went hoping for the Ravens, Short-eared Owl and Goosanders that have been seen there of late but to be honest, just happy to be out and about. Good job really because I saw none of the above!
It could at first, have easily been mistaken for a summers day, the wind was minimal, the sun shining (and actually warm!) and everywhere I walked I could hear Skylarks bellowing out their song, some were even showing some display flying!
The NW corner was very busy with Starlings, Fieldfare and a few Parakeets and Redwings whilst towards the flooded, southern end of the moor were good numbers of Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtails and Black-headed Gulls. The Water Pipits eluded me today but I have no doubt they were there, only further into the floods, out of reach and view.

The resident pair of Stonechat kept popping up:



...and a Buzzard made a brief appearance too:


In typical Staines moor fashion, the weather took a turn for the worse, this lot started moving in:


The winds went from next-to-nothing, to a freezing cold blast in a matter of moments and the blue skies gave way to this ominous looking downpour:





I stuffed everything into my rucksack, zipped up and sat it out. To be honest, I was in my element, I had my good gear on and love all that!

This was my view for the next 20mins or so:


The dark skies soon passed and left behind that beautiful light where the sun and moody skies actually work in harmony:


Sadly, no Ravens at the bottom of these rainbows! ;)


For the first time in a long time, I was on the moor and didn't know where to look first! As if someone had pressed the fast forward button, birds were everywhere!

SEVEN Little Grebes appeared, after a few attempts I managed to catch all of them in one shot:





I've not seen Reed Buntings on the moor for a little while but these were now showing themselves, this one quite happy taking in the view:





Lapwings, another bird absent from the moor this winter, took flight from the floods to relocate in the opposite corner:





One of the Skylarks took a rest from all the singing and dancing, to grab a drink:





The area below, in the summer is teeming with Small Heath and Common Blue butterflies. Right now though, it's probably better suited for gudgeon than anything else!..


In all, my complete sightings for today were:

  • 2 Ring-necked Parakeet
  • 4 Mute Swan
  • 35 Starling (minimum count)
  • 7 Magpie
  • 2 Redwing
  • 4 Skylark (minimum count)
  • 16 Fieldfare
  • 5 Long-tailed Tit
  • 2 Goldfinch
  • 24 Carrion Crow (minimum count)
  • 5 Green Woodpecker
  • 5 Wood Pigeon
  • 4 Robin
  • 45 Meadow Pipit (minimum count)
  • 3 Blackbird
  • 2 Stonechat (m+f)
  • 2 Grey Heron
  • 4 Canada Goose
  • 150 Black-headed Gull (minimum count)
  • 40 Pied Wagtail (minimum count)
  • 1 Buzzard
  • 7 Little Grebe
  • 5 Reed Bunting (minimum count)
  • 1 Little Egret
  • 5 Lapwing
  • 2 Cormorant
  • 1 Pheasant (m)
  • 5 Great Tit
  • 1 Greenfinch
  • 1 Song Thush
I looked hard for the Short-eared Owl after sunset, but to no avail. I left this sight behind as I left the moor for my wade back to the car: