Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Tuesday 21st March

Despite an early arrival, I wasn’t early enough, it was bitterly cold and rather windy so I didn’t linger. The best I managed was a couple of Sand Martin.

Monday was a lot better with two pairs of Nuthatch on-site. A small flock of a dozen Fieldfare went over heading north with a couple of Snipe and a few Meadow Pipits in the usual place. There was still a single Pochard and Kingfisher was also seen.

The Alders behind the Fishing Club held a mixed flock of Siskin, Redpoll and Goldfinch. There were still several singing Chiffchaff but its still early for good numbers of Migrants. On a personal note the field behind my house has just been plowed and is attracting really good numbers of Gulls and looks promising for Wheatear in the next few weeks.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

18 March

With some fine Spring weather I just had to find time for a little birding. The changing of the guard started with the wintering Pochard flock departing during the week, dropping from 30+ to just one bird by Thursday. The Wigeon flock which has been steady at five birds all winter departed on Wednesday. Wildfowl have been incredibly low this winter with no Shoveler, Goldeneye and just a single Teal so far this year.

Wednesday was a stunning day and I recorded 53 species during the morning which was the best I have managed so far this year. Whilst I saw nothing special there was just a lot more around, with a birds preparing for the breeding season. I had an enjoyable ten minutes watching a pair of Treecreeper doing the human equivalent of "Can I buy you a drink", There were a few singing Song Thrush and an obvious fall of Chiffchaff with several seen.

The weather returned to normal towards the end of the week being overcast and colder. A flock of 30+ Fieldfare flew over and I also located a flock of 8 Redpoll. On Tuesday four Siskin were seen. It has been an unusually poor winter for these two species as they usually occur in good numbers making the most of the food available in the riverside Alders.

Finally, on Friday during my second visit I came across three Sand Martin, which for me heralds the start of Spring. My earliest Swallow was on the 17 March so I will be trying hard next week to see another early arrival!

Elsewhere, at Whitacre Heath NR I saw my first Lesser Spotted Woodpecker for two years and that took six visits! Whilst a brief visit to Middleton RSPB saw a smattering of waders with Oystercatcher, Redshank and my first LRP for the year seen.

Finally, Severn Trent are introducing parking charges for the Reservoir, I wish they would introduce charges for people walking their dogs off the leads. I have noticed that over the years the car park has also become popular with Camper Vans and Mobile Homes as an overnight stop, I suppose it is cheaper than using the official Camping & Caravan Club sites which seem to be springing up all over the place!

Friday, 10 March 2017

10 March

It has been a very disappointing winter generally in the Midlands, but Shustoke itself has been the quietest I can remember in all my years birding here. I have been over quite a few times but there has been very little to write about.

Passerines have been practically non-existent, with no flocks of Redpoll or Siskin apart from around a dozen of the later around the turn of the year. Wildfowl numbers have fared little better, although there was a good flock of 150 Pochard during February. The Wigeon flock peaked at five and they were still present on the small pool yesterday. The roosting Goosanders have struggled to reach double figures this year as well!

I have seen just one Jack Snipe and up to six Common Snipe, but the main wetland area has been partly reclaimed and I have had no Snipe there at all.

In my garden I have had few birds this winter with a single male Blackcap for half an hour the highlight. I have also had up to three House Sparrow in the last month, in 15 years I have only recorded the species twice.

As most of you will now I will be moving out of the area soon, but I will not be too far away and intent to continue birding the Reservoir and hopefully, after being rather pre-occupied selling my property I should be able to keep the blog a little bit more up to date.

Waxwing, Castle Vale

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Wednesday 11th January

Made a quick visit today as I was pushed for time. Again no Great Crested Grebe, strange as this time last year there were in excess of 30. However, there was a male Goosander and c.40 Tufted Duck on the main pool and a single Pochard. Most of the wildfowl this winter have been on the small pool.

I checked an area of wet grassland where I saw four Snipe the other day, this time just a single Jack Snipe was seen with c.12 Meadow Pipit, there was also a Raven crocking away from the top of a tree.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Monday 9th January

Ventured out into the murk today and again the Reservoir was devoid of life, with nearly all the wildfowl on the small pool. And, just for SH the totals were as follows:

  1 Great Crested Grebe (year first)
14 Little Grebe
  1 Teal
  1 Mute Swan
12 Canada Geese
  1 Goosander
47 Pochard
91 Tufted Duck
  5 Wigeon

In addition I saw 4 Snipe and 11 Meadow Pipit. There was a Kingfisher on the river, whilst there were around a dozen Siskin in with the Goldfinch feeding on the riverside Alders.

The paddocks held 30+Redwing, c.20 Blackbird and 2 Song Thrush.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

AWOL - Guilty as Charged

My life has been very busy recently with my youngest son moving out of the family home three days before Xmas day. He got his own house but decided it needed a rewire, plastered top to bottom, redecorated and carpeted, new doors etc, etc., Guess who ended up doing most of the work.

I managed a couple of trips out, seeing Dusky Thrush in Derbyshire and a Blue Rock Thrush in Gloucestershire. Pre the New Year I spent two afternoons searching for Waxwings at Hams Hall without success.

Made my first visit to Shustoke Reservoir in nearly two months and it was quiet, very quiet. In fact for the first time ever I failed to see Great Crested Grebe!

Wildfowl wise c.80 Pochard, 5 Wigeon, c.60 Tufted Duck, 16 Canada Geese, 2 Mute Swan and c.12 Little Grebe.

Met a really helpful employee of Severn Trent today who was interested in what I was looking at if he gets in touch I may be able to get access to the pool on Watery Lane, which would be nice as I don’t think it gets covered at all at the moment.

Lastly, may I wish all my readers a Happy New Year that is bird filled 12 months to come.




Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Wednesday 23 November

Managed to get a morning out today so I decided that I would try for Hawfinch just outside of the village of Upper Longdon on Cannock Chase.

I arrived at a little after 10am and was a little unsure as to where the birds had been showing. They hadn’t been seen for a couple of days, but with the way the weather had been, I wasn’t surprised. So with a steady drizzle falling I had a search along the rides to the north of the road, but without luck.

I tried the other side of the road and there were a couple of birders, so I assumed I was getting a little warmer. However, there was no sign of Hawfinch although good flocks of Siskin and Redpoll were pleasant, that together with a couple of Brambling in with the Chaffinch looked like the highlight.

I met up with three birders making their way back to the car park and they said they had heard Crossbill further down the track. So I decided not to head home and went in search of Crossbill another species I haven’t seen this year. At this point the weather took a turn for the worse with a steady drizzle falling. I made my way back to the car, I was nearly back at the car park when I picked up a bird in the tree ahead of me, it looked the right size and shape and there it was a Hawfinch. It wasn’t alone however, I counted seven birds I watched them for several minutes until my bins got too wet. Unfortunately I had to walk under them to get back to the car and the flew towards the village. As they seven flew they were followed by another two birds which I also thought were probably Hawfinch, so there were seven or nine!