Saturday, 11 August 2018

Saturday 11 August

This morning for a change I visited Sutton Park. I arrived before 9.00am but the gates were locked, a few people seemed rather perplexed by this and for some reason thought I had all the answers! Anyway I made my way to the main birding area an area of heath with scattered bushes, mainly Crab Apple. As I crossed the model plane flying area, it was obvious that there were quite a few hirundines around with I would estimate by the end of the morning c.150 Swallow, c60 House Martin & c.12 Sand Martin also, there were up to a dozen Swift.

As I reached the first area of bushes I had an obliging Lesser Whitethroat then a juvenile Wheatear. There were birds flitting from bush to bush but I recon I probable only got on about half the birds that I saw in flight. Down in the Valley (Lower Crabs?) I had a single Spotted Flycatcher, unto 6 Blackcap, 2 Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat but strangely not the expected Redstart!

This is another area where the silence is punctuated by people shouting after their unruly Mutts, one dog which was out of control was trying to engage the cattle that roam here into a game of chase, whilst it owner bellowed at the top of her voice. Surely it would be quieter and safer if the dogs were kept on a lead – especially if they can’t be controlled. Not long after I was scanning an area of bushes when a Greyhound tried to mount my leg – needless to say I was too quick for it! The owners thought it was rather funny!

I made my way back to the car toward the end of the morning as things had started to slow down. The pool in front of the entrance held a single Common Tern.


Friday, 10 August 2018

Friday 10th August

Middleton RSPB

This morning Joy and I were the first arrivals on the Car Park and pretty much had the place to ourselves for most of the morning. At the feeders the Water Rail was performing well but apart from Tits the feeders were quite quiet, not surprising for the time of the year.

The West Scrape was dead apart from a couple of Lapwing and a few Teal and a couple of Snipe. Between the two Scrapes a scan of the distant shorelines produced a LRP, Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper, I searched through the wildfowl in search of Garganey but could not connect. At the East Scrape both Wood Sandpiper were present, but fed separately, they were joined on the Scrape by 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Snipe, Common Sandpiper and Common Snipe.

A couple of Egyptian Geese were present and there were @16 Common Tern and shed loads of wildfowl all in eclipse. We stopped at the two benches by the river and scanning across Jubilee I picked up the male eclipse Garganey feeding, pretty soon though it retired to the bank and went to sleep. Then a Green Sandpiper flew past heading towards the North Pit which was our next destination. We couldn’t locate the Sandpiper but with the vegetation there you could hide an Elephant! There were however a couple of Wigeon present, we made our way back seeing a Lesser Whitethroat, then as we stood on the canal bridge a Willow Tit popped up and gave us good but brief views before rejoining the roving Tits and departing.

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper


Shustoke Reservoir

Having failed to locate the Black-necked Grebe for Joy last evening we went over again this evening after the rain. I scanned from the Car Park with my scope but drew a blank, Joy and I proceeded to walk around but it was generally devoid of birds apart from a build up of hirundines and a couple of Swift.

Normally at this time of year the pond weed attracts lots of wildfowl and bird in general but with the Reservoir being cleared of the weed bird numbers have plummeted. In the far south-east corner – some weed has gathered and there was a Common Sandpiper along with a Dunlin feeding. That was my first Dunlin of the year, which is poor for a species that was regular.

We made our way back to the Car Park and I tweeted the Dunlin out plus the that I hadn’t seen the Black-necked Grebe. I then realised there was a message to say the bird was present! We got back to the car and I fetched the scope and scanned again, again no sign of the Black-necked Grebe. I hopped over the fence on the promontory and the bird was feeding right up against the waters edge, therefore difficult to see from behind the fence. It was getting a bit of stick from a couple of Great Crested Grebe but was still present when I left.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Thursday 9th August

Got to the Reservoir early this morning but was soon disillusioned with the number and behaviour of the dog walkers with none on leads and some encouraging their dogs into the water by throwing balls for them to swim after! This behaviour is a major contributor to the lack of birds at the Reservoir in recent years.

One arrival, the dull weather helped, with good numbers of hirundines for the first time this year, although there were only c.150 this was made up of 50% Sand Martin, 35% Swallow and 14% House Martin. Also unto a dozen Swift dropped in. As I made my way round I picked up a distant Grebe which I was certain was a Black-necked Grebe, although I wanted a better look before I put the news out. After straining my eyes for a while it flew from the east end up towards the Sailing Club. I followed it back there and got marginally better views, both in flight and it was probably 100 yards closer. I put out the news and continued on my way.

Black-necked Grebe, Shustoke Reservoir

Black-necked Grebe, Shustoke Reservoir
Black-necked Grebe, Shustoke Reservoir
Black-necked Grebe, Shustoke Reservoir
I saw little else although there were c.150 Tufted Duck with two broods one 3/4 grown and another with much younger chicks. When I got back to the car, Nick Barlow was scanning with his scope and we located the Grebe again, this time in the middle of the Reservoir.

This afternoon saw me visiting Ladywalk for the second time in a week. Last week Joy and I saw Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Water Rail, Green Sandpiper, Marsh Tit and Little Egret during our visit.

With news that there was a Wood Sandpiper at Ladywalk I spent the afternoon in the company of Pete Sofley as we tried in vain to locate the bird. As the batteries in my hearing aids expired on the way I had trouble hearing him, never mind any birds. We did see 3 Green Sandpiper, 1 LRP and Redshank. They have also started work on a new scape which will continue the impressive work that Pete and his team have carried out over the years.

I picked Joy up from work and returned to Shustoke were despite having my scope I could not relocate the Black-necked Grebe. The sailing club was open and they may have had boats out this afternoon.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Sunday 29th July

Well the weather has finally broken, with the first substantial rain in nearly two months. During a break in the deluge Joy and I took a walk around the reservoir, it was a little disppointing, it was just as busy as usual which was a surprise.

There were three Common Tern and four Common Sandpiper plus another brood of Tufted Duck, not quite sure how the last brood got on, hopefully well.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

What a Summer

Its been a while since my last post nearly three months, I have been so busy with one thing and another that I have found it difficult to keep the blog up-dated. I have been over the reservoir a fair few times but there has been little to report.

Last week however, I saw my first Red Kite for the reservoir and now that the water levels are dropping the post breeding Lapwing flock has arrived but not in any great numbers with @30 birds in total. There have been unto four Common Sandpiper and today there was a Common Tern. I have also seen a Little Egret in recent weeks. Amazingly breeding success among the wildfowl seems good with Mute Swan (1), Tufted Duck (1), Mallard (several), Little Grebe (2), Great Crested Grebe (3), Coot (several), Moorhen (3) raising broods. Canada Geese however, don’t appear to have been successful.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Scotland 17th May to 20th May

Thursday 17th May – Little Glen Shee

It took us most of the day to drive to Perth as we hadn’t started early. After tea we decided to visit Little Glen Shee. It’s a short drive from Perth being a small glen with low summits holding a small grouse moor. We parked and walked up past the game keepers cottage with the sound of Red Grouse ringing in our ears. A Red Kite drifted over the hillside whilst the stream held a Dipper which quickly disappeared around the bend in the burn out of sight.

We walked a good way down the glen as it was a fine evening, we saw what we expected on the bird front with lots of Red Deer on the skyline. A couple of Short-eared Owls provided us with entertainment as did a pair of Whinchat, we didn’t stay long but it was a good start to the week.


The view down Little Glen Shee

Friday 18th May – The Angus Coast

We had originally wanted to go climbing today but we were both tired so we decided against it and choose a little birding along the Angus Coast instead. We started at West Haven, Carnoustie where unfortunately the tide was a good way out, so we continued to Red Head picking up Puffin and other Auks plus a Peregrine was seen hunting along the cliff edge. A singing Corn Bunting and a good number of Tree Sparrows were both new birds for the year.

On the journey back we popped into West Haven again where we saw upto five Whimbrel, plus a few commoner waders. Just as we were leaving a couple of Sandwich Terns were seen up on the rocks by the car park.

Saturday 19th May – Meall Tairneachan and Farragon Hill

Today we were well rested and travelled the short journey from Perth to these two Corbetts, which stand around ten miles north of Aberfeldy. We parked opposite the track to the a Baryte Mine that lies between the two peaks and started the march up through the forest following the track to the mine, and although steep we were soon out of the forest and approaching the base of Meall Tairmeachan in little over an hour. From the road it was little more than a quick 15 minute slog to the summit, where the views were extensive with Farragon Hill looking worryingly distant.

The summit of Meall Tairneachan
The summit of Meall Tairneachan
Meall Tairneachan
We dropped down to reach the road which eventually led over a ridge to the Baryte Mine which was deserted, I assume due to it being the weekend and not the fault of the Royal Wedding! The track led over another ridge and then the view ahead was filled with the bulk of Farragon Hill. We headed up the slope to the south following a break in the heather then traversed along to reach the base of the hill.

It was then a steep climb to the summit avoiding a few crags, soon we were sat at the summit admiring views and eating our lunch.

The summit of Farragon Hill

Meal Tairneach with the Baryte mine the visible scar below the summit.

The summit of Farragon Hill

The final slopes of Farragon Hill


We followed a faint path off the summit and were soon lost a lot of height, we looked back to see two other walkers standing at the cairn the first people we had seen all day. Like buses another walker met us coming the other way. We soon covered the rough ground and rejoined the track and past the mine, then over the ridge to Meall Tairneach and then back through the forest and the car..

Bird wise there were good numbers of Willow Warbler near the start in the conifers and a Hen Harrier flew overhead, but as a general rule apart from Meadow Pipit it was devoid of birds.


Friday 27th April

Not working today, so Joy and I though the Reservoir would be quiet due to the heavy rain that was falling. We arrived approximately 8.30am and proceeded to walk around. There was a single Common Tern that passed straight through, plus a single Common Sandpiper.

There was @ 20 to 30 hirundines the majority of which were Swallow although I did add House Martin the Reservoir list for the year. The rain brought out at least Song Thrush which were seen feeding at different locations. A single male Shoveler was unexpected but apart from c.50 Tufted Duck and six Gadwall there was little of note.

This afternoon I visited Wishaw area where I saw a single Wheatear, a couple of Yellow Wagtail and a selection of commoner birds.