Rock pipit: Queen Mother Reservoir, March 7th – 28th

Rock pipit is not particularly scarce but such a bright littoralis ssp is worth a visit


There are two littoralis there (one a little more typically confiding) and here’s a link to the “Queen Mum” page on

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Whooper swan: Beenham, February 18th – March 28th

Initially found with mutes in a field off the A4 near Padworth this pair have stayed quite faithfully to the same end of a large crop field

This centres the Google map of this most common location:

This streetview [] shows the gateway which is the best place to view the birds from (the gate is a little worse for wear now and is stuck open)

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Pink-footed goose: Sheffield Bottom, February 24th – April 10th

A scare winter visitor in Berkshire, this bird was found at  Hosehill LNR. It spends its time in with greylags on the lake or in the fields at Home Farm (just south of the reserve). It also disappears with the greylags for hours on end


Click here to open a google map, centering on the field it spends some of its time – when not disappearing  or on the lake

You can park just outside the entrance to the police college – click to show the street view of the place

From there you can view the field to your north (or south). There is a public footpath which skirts the western side of the field which may give better views but please don’t drive up the footpath (which ends in a private road to the farm)

Here’s a link to other Theale area sites

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Black-throated diver: Queen Mother Reservoir, January 13th – January 26th at least

Present on and off and showing well (at times!)

Here’s a link to the “Queen Mum” page on

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Pallas’s warbler: Moor Green lakes, January 3rd – April 18th

A first for Berkshire – first ever photo of a Pallas’s in the county (below) … and the first record, too!


A Pallas’s warbler was found in the tit flock along the Blackwater on the 12th. It had been identified as a YBW (on the 3rd, see earlier post) and in spite of lots of birders seeing the bird it remained a YBW until Dave Rimes took a photo revealing the “diagnostic” yellow rump!
When I sent the photo above (taken Jan 4th)  to the informed and informative Ian Lewington (Oxford recorder) he confirmed it to be of a Pallas’s (so quashing any “two-bird-theory”)
Here’s a link to the Moor Green site page on BirdsofBerkshire if you want to see it

The bird has been seen regularly along the river, generally to the west of the gravel belt as far as the small sewage works just as the river goes under the B3016.

Since the snowfall it has been seen foraging along the river bank. The “grey box” site (about 250 yards west of the gravel belt) is a favourite spot to catch-up with the bird which generally passes close on its way up and down the river but if there are too many or noisy people there it may not show itself for very long

This one (below), even showing a hint of yellow rump, was taken practically in the dark using iso 3200 and 1/10s !


This too, late on in poor-ish light

The bird seems generally unaffected by the presence of a few observers but does react to the pressure of “crowds” by staying higher and moving more quickly

IMG_2663_jpeg_900On this occasion it’s calmly looking down on me and Bruce Archer, Moor Green guru, from a river-side tree giving him a deserved Berkshire “tick”

IMG_2850_jpeg_pallassThe bird left the site on the night of the 18th/19th April  … Счастливого пути, товарищ

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Tristis in Berkshire – January 2013

With changes to what seems to pass for tristis, there are several candidates in the county. Here are links to the sites where claims are being made (it is apparently “scarce” rather than “rare”



Sandhurst SF:

Dinton Pastures:

This is the latest, possibly controversial,  ID guide to “tristis”

A rough guide to plumage issues:

1  tristis varies from brown to grey looking above with/without olive bits and extra little bits of yellow can be present.  Head plumage often distinctive.

2  Same bird can ‘morph’ appearing both brown and grey (to do with light ‘n stuff).

3  Brown/buff hues are limited to season. Many mid-winter and spring birds become greyer and can lose buffs and browns.

4  Choice for most autumn/winter Chiffchaffs is either collybita or tristis.

5  The term ‘grey and white Chiffchaff’ has been confusingly used.  Originally applied to autumn birds completely lacking buff and brown tones (these normally being present to some degree on the head patterns of most tristis). The particular ‘grey and white Chiffchaff’ plumage intended by Dean and Svensson (2005) seems to be rare in Britain n.b. identifiable Siberian Chiffchaffs are much more common.

6  There are still occasional birds which defy easy identification due to plumage/sound peculiarities. These are worthy of the most careful study with the aim of collecting as much data on them as possible. They may be best left unidentified.

7  There is still stuff to be discovered particularly about the precise extent of any hybridisation between tristis/abietinus and the degree of introgression of abietinus characters into the western tristis population.

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Pallas’s warbler: Moor Green lakes, January 3rd – April 18th

The serendipitous Ian Paine found this bird by the car park at Moor Green on Thursday afternoon and immediately put the news out. The next morning the bird showed for about 30 minutes in trees near the “five-bar-gate”. Since then it has only been seen with a tit flock along the Blackwater where it runs along the south of the “New workings”

Here’s a link to the Moor Green site page on BirdsofBerkshire


The bird has been seen along the river where the word “finches” appears on this map just east of the “gravel belt” but the flock typically roams 100 yards either side of the bridge over the ‘belt’

Please note: this bird was re-identified as a Pallas’s (previously a YBW) and is the first for Berkshire! Making it an even BIGGER find for Ian!

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