Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Tuesday 25 April –A busy few weeks

Firstly, on a personal note, Joy and I have finally moved from our house in Shustoke, in a way I will miss it, but it was way too large for us. With the kids having both left home we really were rattling around. Also the garden was a full time job with nearly an acre of garden to look after. Whilst I can copeat the moment, in a few years time it may have been a different story.

I saw a total of 96 different species in our 15 years, with highlights being, in no particular order: Woodcock, Osprey, Goshawk, Merlin, Short-eared Owl, Barn Owl, 3 Whinchat, 6 Stonechat, Wheatear not to mention breeding Spotted Flycatcher and annual Hobby.

Anyway back to birding, Shustoke (I still intend to cover it) has had nothing unusual, over the last month there have been steady passage of Sand Martin with, in recent weeks more and more Swallow and during the last few days a scattering of House Martin and yesterday a few Swift.

Warblers have been slow with Blackcap appearing at the beginning of April with several singing birds now present. Chiffchaff, an earlier arrival peaking at six singing birds. Whilst yesterday saw my first Whitethroat and Willow Warbler. Normally there would be several Common Sandpiper but the water levels are the highest I can ever remember with very little open shoreline to attract waders. A CS was reported over the weekend and I saw one yesterday on top of one of the green floats by the car park.

RSPB Middleton has been good and over the past month there have been good birds on offer with nearly 100 Black-tailed Godwit in the past week. There have been showy Grasshopper Warblers and a good showing generally of warblers. But the bird of the year so far for North Warwickshire was a male Green-winged Teal which I missed despite spending the morning on-site – I did have a Osprey over. When news broke I returned in the evening and eventually the bird showed quite well if distantly.

I used to bird down Castle Lane but as the years moved on it became a bit of a rat run and I never felt save walking along the lane. Now I have Wishaw on my doorstep with a network of paths and quiet lanes I am looking forward to exploring this site further. These fields are well known by birders, mainly for two species that appear to be no longer present or at best very difficult Corn Bunting and Grey Partridge.

On Sunday Joy and I walked along Blindpit Lane and saw both Whinchat and Wheatear.  I returned yesterday afternoon but there was no sign of the Whincat. I walked through the field towards the Cock Inn and in a vast field with stubble had seven Wheatear on it. There could have been any number as I only had my binoculars. There were 100s of mixed corvids and 40+ Stock Dove. I carried on walking to return via Hempit Lane, it was rather windy so I didn’t find any warblers but a Peregrine went over and as I got back to the main road there were a further 5 Wheatear and 3 Yellow Wagtail.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Monday 3rd April

After two Egyptian Geese on Sunday, this morning saw four fly through, they thought about landing but in the end headed off in a southerly direction.

Other good birds today included my first Oystercatcher of the year, again it flew through and my first Common Tern, which, you’ve guessed flew through.

Other species of note were eight singing Chiffchaff and two Blackcap as well as a Kingfisher on the river.

This evening saw a flock of c100 Sand Martin accompanied by a single Swallow.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Sunday 2nd April

Got around relatively early and it looked quiet on the birds front, the reservoir was busy with a “Boot Camp” training session going on, I haven’t seen that much stretched Lycra in my life!

There were c.30 Sand Martin but most of the flocks move straight through at this time of year, especially if the weather is good. As I was making my way round two Shelduck flew past but didn’t land, then I picked up a new species for me at Shustoke, I can’t remember if it has been recorded before at Shustoke I suspect it has, but anyway two Egyptian Geese were new for me, my first new species for a couple of years. Unfortunately, like the Shelduck they went straight through headed east.

I had another singing Blackcap between the two pools but as it was dull there wasn’t an awful lot of birds singing.

The locals give their opinion on the introduction of parking charges.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Saturday 1st April

Most of the week as seen a steady trickle of Sand Martin with my first Swallow seen on Wednesday which also had a Blackcap singing from the Car Park. Tuesday saw a single adult Little Gull which had morphed into upto six by the next day.

The best bird of the week was a Great White Egret, which unfortunately was seen flying over Blythe Bridge not at the Reservoir.

I went over this morning in the drizzle and there were c100 Sand Martin and several Swallow, there was also another Blackcap.

I look forward to the forthcoming week as things start to hot up. Hopefully we should have a few Warblers coming through and maybe a few Terns.

Keith Barnsley emailed to say he had seen c.26 Sand Martin and a distant Peregrine in the direction of Hams Hall. Plus the Skylark in the lane were still in full song.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Monday 27th March

At Long Last, a little to get excited about, Sunday saw two Shelduck and Lesser Spot with at least 6 singing Chiffchaff.

Today was even better, I was surprised to see the two Shelduck still present, but they didn’t stay long and departed in the direction of Ladywalk. At the far end there were c.60 Sand Martin wheeling around but try as I might I couldn’t find a swallow.

Back at home I was washing up when a bird in the recently ploughed field caught my eye, I got my bins which confirmed a female Wheatear, something I was expecting.

This evening Joy and I took went around the Reservoir again and we were rewarded with a Little Ringed Plover 150 yards from the car park. But the best was yet to come when I picked up a Little Gull resting on the water, it was an adult moulting into summer plumage, it was soon up and flying around. There were still c.30 Sand Martin late on, with the good news being that at last things are starting to happen.

The traffic this evening has been carnage, good luck trying to get to Shustoke.

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!