22 Mar 16   It was one of those days. I popped out this morning to see if the Great Egret was still around in Milton Keynes but no joy although there was the first singing Chiffchaff I’ve heard this year. On my way home I decided to drive along a narrow lane to a favourite area and park up. There seemed to be Buzzards everywhere plus a couple of Red Kites and five noisy Ravens.  Also there was a Goshawk which looked really good in the scope as it soared around for 5 or 10 minutes. I had thought that the area looked good for such a species but had not noted one before although there have been odd reports. It may only have been passing through or it may be resident but I will keep an eye on the area.


21 Mar 16

An opening set of notes to hopefully stimulate further correspondence:

Currently, mid-March, it is a fairly quiet time birding wise with calm, settled weather over most of the UK. Indications are that the bulk of winter visitors have departed, there being little to keep them back, and, apart from a few exceptions, e.g. Wheatears and Sand Martins, the summer migrants have yet to arrive.

Great Egrets seem to be turning up quite regularly in my neck of the woods. A Milton Keynes lake has hosted one in the last few days and a lake in the Nene Valley, Northants has had two through most of the winter. Another lake some way south-west of Milton Keynes has had a roosting Bonaparte’s Gull on and off for about a month now but it only appears just as the last light of the day goes so it is very difficult to see, as I understand.

In a brighter light Keith’s pictures and notes from California, as entered into the RAFOS Face Book pages, have been entertaining members via identification challenges. He and his family are currently progressing south down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to San Diego and more pictures are to be expected. In my opinion driving this road is a wonderful experience.

Sally and I have suggested to Keith a couple of locations a few miles south of Long Beach which he may or may not know of:

Bolsa Chica – a saltmarsh crossed by a boardwalk offering great views of marshland species. When I was last there it bordered a working oil field having a number of nodding donkey oil pumps on the go.

Upper Newport Bay: a largish, almost enclosed tidal inlet a short distance inland at Newport Beach. It is/was one of the premier sites in the south-west US. A road along the south shore affords excellent views of the large range of birds utilising the bay. Hopefully it has not been too badly affected by developments in the 15 years or so since we were last there. One memorable occasion: at high tide I sat down on the beach in the bay and was surrounded by a large flock of roosting waders, mostly sandpipers, within yards of me. When I stood up to leave they just shuffled about a bit, totally unfazed. That just would not happen in the UK.

If members have their own favourite locations they could add some notes, Scott has uploaded some similar notes into the Spring 2016 Newsletter. If any member is planning a trip then there may well be further info available from other members.

I’ll end it at that for now.