Sunday, 11 September 2016

Its Been a Month

Joy and I spent two and a half weeks on Tenerife where we basically chilled out in what has been a stressful year so far. We did a bit of birding but didn’t over do it as there are few bird species available. In fact we only managed 49 species – but as usual the quality was high.

Blue Chaffinch

Bertholts’s Pipit

In no particular order: Bolle’s Pigeon, White-tailed Laurel Pigeon, Spanish Sparrow, Monk Parakeet, Bertholts Pipit, Sardinian Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Plain Swift, Pallid Swift, Canary, Barbary Partridge, Barbary Falcon and thousands of Cory’s Shearwaters.

Back home and Tuesday saw me around the Reservoir where it was rather quiet. A phonecall from Bobby D regarding parking for Shetland saw us mulling over a possible trip to Cornwall for the day. Hudsonian Whimbrel and Dalmatian Pelican had been pulling at me for a while now, and the chance to share the costs proved too much. The outside chance of the Scillies Cliff Swallow relocated to Cornwall also played its part.

4.30am on Thursday we were off! Mammals were impressive with Bobby D seeing Badger, but the mammalian star was my and BD’s first Polecat which ran across the road near Maxstoke. The rest of the journey was uneventful apart from a Barn Owl which flew across the M5 somewhere in Somerset.

We eventually arrived at Helston at Loe Pool but as the Pelican had not been reported for a couple of days we weren’t particularly confident. We parked up and made our way to the south end where we searched in vain. We worked our way along the shoreline but drew a blank. We headed back to the car and were about to leave when I suggested that we try the north end on the off chance. Halfway down the hill we met a birder who had seen the bird, so it was just a straightforward walk and there it was beached up on a sand bar. Although the possibility that the bird will be accepted by the birding authorities is open to doubt, it was certainly impressive and worth the effort if in the area. Anyway, tick wise it is one for the back burner.
Dalmatian Pelican, Cornwall
It was only a short distance to the next site just outside Penzance where we parked on the street rather that pay £4 for parking! We worked out way around the coast and found the Hudsonian Whimbrel with two Bar-tailed Godwit feeding on the tide line in a small cove. The birds immediately took flight where the lack of a white mark on the back was apparent. Fortunately the birds returned within a couple of minutes affording us really good views.

Hudsonian Whimbrel, Cornwall

By this time – 1pm I was starting to feel a little tired and the prospect of the drive home looked a little daunting. We returned to the car discussing our options when there was a commotion amongst the local birds, we looked up to see a raptor flying low overhead, it immediately looked different and it was Bob (bless him) who shouted HONEY BUZZARD. It was the best views I have ever had of Honey Buzzard and it was stunning.

To cut a long story short we decided to call it a day. As it was Bobs wife’s birthday it was probably a wise move on his part! We were back home by 7.10pm and I passed my family a mile from home as they were heading out for a curry and my tea was in the dog.

Fast forward to Saturday. I decided after tea to take a walk over Shustoke with Joy as the rain had stopped. We made our way round and picked up a 1st winter Little Gull the first good bird I have had for ages. We were up early on Sunday and the Little Gull was still present as we made our way around we found a Ruff and a Wheatear, so all in all not bad.

Spotted Flycatcher, Middleton RSPB
Having cancelled Sky Sports (too expensive) we went to Middleton RSPB where we saw a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Dunlin, 2 Curlew Sandpiper and a variety of other birds.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Thursday 11th August

Joy and I took a walk around the Reservoir in the evening and a juvenile LRP was on the western shore, whilst we were watching it a Wheatear flew in and joined it. Then to round off a magical few minutes a Hobby flew through. After months of nothing a few good birds all at once.

We continued round until when scanning through the Lapwing I picked up four smaller waders, two were definite Common Sandpiper but it was too far away to be sure of the other two. I made my way along the south shore the waist high grass but unfortunately the Lapwing flock went up and all I could find were three Common Sandpiper. Although it was too far away to be sure the one bird looked good for Green Sandpiper but that is just an educated guess.

I went over early Friday morning, this time armed with a scope but apart from an adult LRP and three Common Sandpiper I saw little else.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Wednesday 10th August

On Tuesday, I cycled into Birmingham along the canals in search of Black Redstarts,  checking out all the sites we found held the species when the WMBC carried out the Black Redstart survey over 25 years ago. All bar one have now been developed, unfortunately it is the wrong time of year for singing birds but in four trips I have not come across the species. I did however, see a cracking Lesser Whitethroat in the Aston area about a mile from the city centre. I cycled through Birmingham to Edgbaston Reservoir where there were a couple of areas that looked promising, but again I saw none.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I went over the Reservoir and picked up a Great Black-backed Gull coming into 2nd Winter plumage. I carried on around and it was obvious that there were a lot more birds around with Warblers feeding with the tit flocks. In the north-west corner in the bushes by the river there was a Lesser Whitethroat my first for the site this year, as was the GBBG.

There were also c.400 hirundines with around a dozen Swift high over the fields to the south. Again the area between the two pools held a few warblers as well. Severn Trent have had to put up a high fence to stop people messing with the controls on the weir! It looks awful and a potential death sentence for Kingfisher using the river, it must be eight foot high.

I checked out the small pool on the other side of the Railway where there were a couple of Raven but not much else. Then on my way back I saw a Hobby making its way to the Reservoir for lunch!

In the evening Joy and I went to Middleton RSPB where there was still a single Wood Sandpiper, we also saw Green Sandpiper, 2 Dunlin, Ringer Plover and 4 Little Ringed Plover.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Early August

The Reservoir has been quiet yet again with just a couple of Common Sandpiper to hold any interest. A Kingfisher was observed carrying food, so it would be reasonable to assume they have bred on-site, there have been a scattering of common Warblers but it has been really quiet. Today saw two Common Terns fly through but they didn’t linger.

Tuesday I visited Middleton RSPB where there was Garganey, Dunlin and two Willow Tit which were seen near the Canal Scrape but I later saw them over the border in Warwickshire at Fishers Mill Pool.

Wednesday saw me at Ladywalk where a Green Sandpiper and Dunlin were the highlights as well as a ride to Riverwalk hide in the Wardens four-wheel drive!

Friday saw Joy and I travel to Minsmere on the Suffolk coast where we had an interesting day which included seeing the Western Purple Swamp Hen a potential first for the UK. Perhaps more interestingly we saw Honey Buzzard, Spotted Redshank, Stone Curlew along with a host of waders. Also I bumped into Lee Johnson who used to run this blog, he has recently become a father – that will be a reality check if there ever was one. Good luck with the twitching in the future Lee – oh and all the best!

Purple Swamp Hen, Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk


Whilst we were making our way to the Purple Swamp Monster we observed a dragonfly lying on the ground with its wings flapping, we couldn’t make out what was wrong, that was until we saw it had caught a Wasp! The Wasp was in the Dragonflies jaws but the Wasp had managed to deploy its sting and both were locked in a macabre embrace.

There were a lot of Butterflies at Minsmere and I saw my first Grayling. At Shustoke today I had eight species with a Brimstone a little unexpected.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Wednesday 27th July

On todays trip I saw another largish Grass Snake in the usual place. A Green Woodpecker nearly decapitated an unsuspecting lady that I met, but despite that excitement it was rather quiet.

Bird wise I had another Little Egret which was on the river and flew towards Ladywalk. There were also two Common Sandpiper.

My garden had a family party of both Goldcrest and Treecreeper and I think the former bred again this year.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Catch Up

I have been over the Reservoir quite a bit, but have seen nothing of note apart from a couple of Common Sandpipers the other day and unto two Little Egret about two weeks ago. Common Tern numbers have been reasonable with around c.20 birds at any one time.

Also had a week in Majorca for a variety of birthdays including a meal out at a posh restaurant.


Today Joy and I payed a visit to Draycote Water where we saw, c.5 Yellow-legged Gulls and a strange looking individual with a rather long bill, which was distinctly pale based (see photo), I suspect it is a 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull but the bill is strange, reminiscent in length of Caspian but the shape of the bird was wrong! I’m no expert on gulls so please make suggestions.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Draycote Water

Strange looking gull at Draycote Water, presumably 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull?

Also seen were four Little Egret, Wheatear, Common Sandpiper and a few LRP.

I have had a couple of lifers this summer with Great Knot at Titchwell and White-winged Scoter at Murcar GC in Aberdeenshire.

Great Knot, Titchwell, Norfolk

We have also started climbing Corbetts, these are hills in Scotland between 2,500 and 3,000 feet. I just can’t give it up!

The Summit of Mount Battock, the most easterly Corbett

Conachcraig with the cliffs of Lochnagar behind.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Humdrum Life

A woman work is never done. I have been bogged down over the last month or so with cleaning, ironing (once), vacuuming but mainly gardening, with this rain the grass never stops. Anyway I have done a bit of birding, but mostly I have been out on my bike.

The idea was that I would search for Quail and Hobby etc., great idea, but I never factored in that I am nearly deaf and can’t hear Quail! Clocked up a good few miles though. Coming through Kingsbury Water Park yesterday, I saw Alan Dean so I pulled up to speak to him. He look agasp, as a large figure in Lycra, sunglasses and a helmet pulled up next to him. He seemed relived when I removed the glasses and helmet to reveal myself!

Anyway on a return from shopping today I popped into the Reservoir (which has been rather quiet) to be rewarded with not one but two Little Egret! There were also 20+ Common Tern and good numbers of hirundines and Swift. Off to  Scotland for a bit of hillwalking and birding – looking forward to it.