Hawfinch frenzy

After the day the sky went orange the south of England started to see the largest influx of European hawfinches in living memory

Berkshire has had its share with Paul Bright-Thomas first photographing early morning birds flying over his Wokingham garden in late October. By November they were being seen at multiple site. None more fantastic than Basildon Park (Nation trust entry £12.70). I was barely believed when I postulated 30+ but on later visits I upped the anti to 50+. Ian Lewington (Oxon county recorder) saved my reputation when he recorded 100+

Download the Basildon Park leaflet and follow the blue route to the “Secluded valley” where the birds use the mature Yew (in the middle of the valley) and the Hornbeam on the eastern ridge

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Parrot crossbill


Michael Hunt found the first Parrot crossbills in Berkshire for about 30 years at one of my favourite sites, Wishmoor Bottom

This is where to find them:  Park at the top end of Kings Ride, Camberley: 51.351201, -0.744468 is the Google maps link to their favourite tree. It can be muddy getting there. They are pretty unpredictable (I know this after about 30 visits) and it always makes me smile when I get there and am told what they usually do. They can spend the entire day in the north-east corner of the common or show no sign all day … or anything in between. A visit is a lottery. However, I would say that it’s worth getting there at first light

If they are not there, what to do?
Option 1: wait
Option 2: Try Surrey. They haven’t been found anywhere else on the Berkshire side of the Wish stream. They have, however, been seen in Surrey. Cross the stream and check the pines beside the power lines up to Saddleback Hill – a favoured spot for about a week in December. Then try “Poors allotment” – an area of heather and isolated, large Scots pine north of the radio tower (visible from anywhere on the site) …. and feel lucky!

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Great reed warbler & Spotted redshank, late May 2014

Great reed warbler is a mega bird for Berkshire and an excellent find for Kevin Tubb in a new reed bed at Green (business) Park in Reading and the first twitchable bird for just about every current lister (even the top county lister, Chris Heard, needed it for his Berkshire list)


The “Spot shank” was the first “summ plum” bird this century and showed well, if distantly, for a few days at Burnthouse lane GP (opposite AWE)


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Marsh harrier: Moor Green Lakes, June 6th – July 15th at least

IMG_8817BoB_MarshMarsh harrier is a pretty scarce bird in Berkshire and usually very tricky to see being, generally, one-day-fly-throughs over early morning gravel pits. So the “long-staying” female at this very popular site is quite a treat (and opportunity)
Here’s a link to the Moor Green page on BirdsofBerkshire where there’s info on parking etc. It seems to disappear for long periods but the new workings seem to be a pretty reliable spot …

This Streetview link takes you to the car park

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Sanderling: Queen Mother Reservoir, April 22nd – 28th

QMR is the best place to see waders in Berkshire and the last week or so is the best time for this species. The series of records seem to be waves of the wader passing through on a broad front – with largish flocks at Farmoor too

IMG_6649_jpegBoBThis link takes you to the BerksofBerkshire website with info on QMR

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Dotterel: Bury Down, April 26th – 29th

The last weekend in April is the most likely time to trip over Dotterel and Bury Down, on the Downs above West Ilsley, is the most likely spot

This bird was found late on the Friday and showed well, if distantly, all day Saturday

Here’s a link to a page of The Downs to see how to get there

Click the “More info” button then the Bury Down link. The bird was north of the eastern car park

Here’s something about the day I found three birds (two males and a female) at Burnthouse lane … on the last weekend in April 2005!

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Black-necked grebe: Woolhampton GP, March 23rd – April 14th

Three summer plumage birds have been showing very well at the eastern end of the largest of the pits – Rowneys predator lake


Here’s a link to a page which has a map and info about the site

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