Autumn is well and truly here now, the days are drawing shorter, the leaves are steadily falling from the trees and the temperature is dropping. At Moor Green Lakes, Berkshire, the ground is littered with acorns, it appears to have been a very good year for them. A few weeks ago, the bramble bushes were covered in fruit but are now long past their best. On the birding front most of the summer visitors have now departed for warmer climes. My last SWALLOW sighting was on the 3rd October, a WHEATEAR and WHINCHAT on the 8th, whilst HOBBY was seen on most days during the first week of the month, tacking advantage of the dragonflies that were still about. As they have left, the winter visitors have started to arrive, REDWING, FIELDFARE, SHOVELER, WIGEON and POCHARD have all been seen. On the 1st, a JACK SNIPE was at the New Workings, Moor Green Lakes, which stayed for several days. A really special bird for me arrived on the 11th in the shape of a juvenile MERLIN, which flew low across the new workings and settled on a fence post at West Fen, where it spent the next twenty minutes or so preening itself before flying off, heading south east. The day was clear and sunny so I had really good views of the bird, which was an absolute stunner, unfortunately it was too far away for my camera lens for a decent photo.
Red Backed Shrike
Now that Autumn is here I have seen quite a few of our summer visitors getting ready to depart our shores. At Moor Green Lakes, Berks, there has been mixed flocks of 300 plus SWALLOW, HOUSE and SAND MARTIN in early September, feeding up in readiness to head south. On the 1st and 9th, RUFF visited Moor Green, first a male and then a female, the first here since 2009. Also on the 9th, WIGEON and SHOVELER had returned but didn't stay long. On the 2nd and 18th, WHINCHAT were seen as they passed through. HOBBY have been seen regularly throughout the month, feeding up on the plentiful supply of dragonflies that are about the reserve.
On the 3rd, it was off to Farlington, Hants, where a WRYNECK had been reported, but it wasn't seen by me or reported as being seen by other birders that day, so I guess it had moved on. However it was far from a wasted trip as 6 YELLOW WAGTAIL, 2 BEARDED TIT, 3 WHINCHAT and a WHEATEAR were seen, as well as 2 OSPREY on one of the nearby islands.
On the 23rd , I visited Greenham Common, Berks, in the hope of seeing a RED BACKED SHRIKE that had been seen on the southern side near the old rusty fireplane. The day didn't start too well visibility wise, as it was very misty, but as midday approached, the sun came out and cleared the mist and the bird was seen, a life tick for me. I had very good views of it for a couple of hours and took some photos, before it hid itself away. I also saw STONECHAT, WHINCHAT and DARTFORD WARBLER.
A quick trip to Yateley Common, Hants, was made on the 30th, The area is local to me and a good spot to see TREE PIPIT and after 5 minutes of being there, one was seen. Its also a fairly reliable spot for DARTFORD WARBLER and before leaving I managed to see three.
Hi, I'm Roger Milligan. I have been interested in birds since I was a boy growing up in south east London, which was a long time ago. I now live in Farnborough, Hampshire.