Monday, 28 February 2011

The Weekend

Didn’t do much the weekend, due to nursing duties, so I concentrated on taking photographs of the birds in the garden (photos to follow). I had had a Brambling in the morning so after doing the shopping, washing etc (a woman’s work is never done – ain’t that the truth) I settled down to take some photo’s. I sat and sat and sat but the Brambling didn’t reappear so I went into the kitchen to make the wife a cup of tea and came back to be met with “You just missed the Sparrowhawk on the birdtable!”

I walked the dog down Moat House and the mixed Finch/Bunting flock was still present and there was a load of stuff, it is very difficult to view but there must have been c.100 Yellowhammer, 12 Reed Bunting, c.50 Chaffinch,  I also picked up Linnet and Greenfinch amongst them. It will be worth checking in the future as it might drag something half decent in.

On Sunday I took in the Gravel Pits and had Snipe, Gadwall, Teal and a fly over male Peregrine.

I didn’t have the heart to go to Shustoke but will try and get over later in the week – work permitting.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Thursday 24th February

Took a walk over this morning and the site was rather quiet (people wise), that soon changed and it became increasing busy. For the life of me I don’t understand some people, Severn Trent have put signs up at every entry point around the reservoir and yet, not one dog today was on a lead – what is it with some people!

It was quite good bird wise today and I recorded a total of 45 species. Spring was in the air and there was a lot of activity amongst the resident species. At least 3 Goldcrests, 6 Song Thrush, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Gt Spot, Green Woodpecker amongst others.

It was when I returned to the large pool that I had todays highlight in the form of a couple of Oystercatcher which lasted until – you guessed it – they were put up two of three times before settling down on the causeway of the sailing club.

Walking the lanes tonight with my dog (I dare not take him to Shustoke) I came across the Little Owl again plus an impressive roost of Yellowhammer in the Holly Land/Moat House Lane area that numbered c.40 birds, quite impressive. It will not be long now before the first summer migrants start to arrive and the year gets started in earnest.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Tuesday 22nd February

I have been informed by Steve Haynes who has been in contact with Severn Trent that Severn Trent are now seriously considering closing Shustoke Reservoir to members of the public. Despite a campaign to persuade selfish dog walkers to keep dogs on a lead and clear up after them the majority have taken no notice of their appeals whatsoever. This no doubt will upset dog walkers who behave responsibly (including myself) but maybe it is the only course of action left to them.

From a personal point of view it does grate that dogs running around the shoreline and going into the water  undermines my enjoyment of the reservoir, as waders (rare anyway) tend to be flushed by the first dog walker around. I was also informed that a Mute Swan was killed by a dog recently – so maybe it will be for the best. It remains to be seen wether birders will be allowed to purchase permits to bird the res – I hope so.

Unfortunately the Neds and Ejeets that have disregarded the signs probably don’t care and will move onto pastures new where their “little darlings” can do their thing!

Walking the dog around the Shustoke area tonight I saw a Little Owl and heard another bird in the same general area that I had birds last year.

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Weekend

I paid a vist over the weekend but it was rather quiet although I did have another Brambling this time in the woodland between the two pools. There has been an increase in the number of birds singing now and spring is well on its way.

My garden has been disappointing this winter although this morning (Monday) there were over 40 Goldfinch feeding on the ground on Niger/Nyger seed (it is gratifying to know that the birding community hasn’t been bypassed by Political correctness). I hope they go all the way and amend all the atlas’s now!

Anyway, Nyger/Niger seed being small doesn’t interest the larger birds that dominate my feeders and they discard it onto the ground. I have developed a system of moving my table a few yards ever week or so and this attracts the Goldfinch and Chaffinch to ground feed. I had my first Siskin of the winter as well this morning. One addition to my bird table this winter that hasn’t been so welcome, have been my neighbours chicken flock (Junglefowl) they just hoover up everything going. When that rooster starts crowing at 4am I can see the oven beckoning! I must get some tips from the hunters of Cyprus!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Friday 18th February

Had an Email from Steve Cawthray who spent a few hours at Shustoke today.

Email as follows:

Had Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling from pine trees alongside the small pool.
All 3 Woodpeckers around plus 4 different nuthatchs and several Goldcrest.
20 Odd blackbirds and 2 Redwing in paddocks.
40 Goosander, 60 Pochard, 14 Wigeon.
Searched every tree around for Little Owl but no luck.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Wednesday 16th February

A trip around the reservoir this morning with Captain Daylate, there was nothing unusual but it was a pleasant few hours resulting in 46 species.

Lots of passerines today with c.40 Blackbird, 3 Redwing, 2 Mistle Thrush, 3 Song Thrush, Treecreeper, Green Woodpecker, 3 Gt Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Bullfinch and a singing Goldcrest.
There were in the region of 200 Pochard, 13 Wigeon and 53 Goosander.

Severn Trents appeal for people to keep their dogs on leads and under control is falling on deaf ears with todays score in The Shustoke Doggy Soccer league.

Dirty Dog Heads 11 v 3 Leeds.

Finally, to the group of 3 Neds that turned up with their Staffordshire Bull Terriers that they allowed to run wild “Mind your Knuckles on the Step”. They were worthy of more study than the birds. The “Missing Link” is alive and well and wearing Burberry!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Monday 14th February

I paid a late afternoon trip and if I thought yesterday was poor then today wasn’t much better – or so I thought!

A quick scan of the Reservoir produced around 30 Goosander and gulls were starting to gather for the roost. I had walked almost the whole of the way round not seeing a single passerine (Corvids don’t count). At the back of the small pool my heart missed a beat when I came across five Great Tit and a Mistle Thrush. There was a flock of 120+ Jackdaw and Rook in a recently tilled field on the other side of the railway.

I was beginning to give up hope and was within 50 yards of the car when I found today’s star bird or birds. I was trying hard to get Chaffinch on the day list and the hedgerow behind the Sailing Club usually hold a few roosting birds and today was not different. As I scanned I picked up a Brambling then another, then another and there were three in total with one being a male moulting in to full breeding plumage (I hope they are there a bit longer), unfortunately no camera. These were the first that I have seen since 2000 and I haven’t heard of any other record but I am sure there must be some.

Sunday 13th February

What a day, I think it rained continually all day. It was unfortunately, the BTO Wetland Survey count day. I find it really frustrating that we have some good numbers of wildfowl during the week but at weekends with sailing and Shustoke being generally popular there is little left to count. But the whole point it to get an accurate picture.

The only species that was new for the year for the Reservoir was a flock of around 20 Lapwing flushed from Ladywalk that flew our way before retuning.

It turned out to be one of my poorest visits, the weather, strong winds and time of year meant that I struggled to see 28 species about 15 down on an average flying visit. I didn’t even come across a Moorhen!

BTO counts

Mallard 74
Wigeon 9
Tufted Duck 88
Pochard 141
Canada Geese 8
Coot c.318
Great Crested Grebe 10
Little Grebe 4

No Goosander, Shoveler and Moorhen?

As regards the Canine Footy, I give up, the Dirty Dog Heads are winning hands down and I fear that is an Omen for next Sunday!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Saturday 12th February

Felt a bit guilty today, with the sun shining I thought I should probably make a start on the garden. With the weather the way it was and sailing taking place I didn’t think I would miss much.

However, I did walk the dog over Coleshill Quarry. It was good surprisingly, with two Little Egrets, two Shelduck and a fine male Stonechat. As I made my way towards the far end there was what appeared to be a birder with a tripod standing on the top of the far mound. I was miffed a little as he was standing on the skyline and all the birds looked spooked. I though this bloke knows nothing about fieldcraft! I was a little surprised as well as he didn’t appear to be watching anything. I soon got my answer as I heard the distant sound of a steam train coming through Coleshill Station. My “anorak” burst into life filming a GWR train and carriages as it chuffed alongside the quarry giving great views. He was that busy filming it, I don’t think he actually saw the thing.

It was good to know I wasn’t the old saddo at the Quarry today!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Wednesday 9th February

Firstly last night I walked the dog around the Reservoir from 5.15pm onwards, listening for Owls and drew a blank, however, I did count 92 Goosander in a large raft which is brilliant, there may have been more but it was really dark before I got to the far end.

This morning, looking out the window it was dull and dank and I hesitated before deciding togo. However, at 8.15 I was on my way around, the car park was empty (always a good sign). There were a couple of joggers running with their dogs but generally I had the place to myself. There were still in the region of 40 Goosander present and 160+ Pochard.

The highlight for me – and a Shustoke tick was a female Pintail that flew through. I assume it’s the bird that has been present at Ladywalk for a while but was a bonus on a dull morning. There are still a few Siskin around and the first signs of spring are beginning to appear with a buds starting to appear on the hawthorn. I also heard six singing Song Thrush around the reservoir.

As far as dog walkers taking notice of the new signs, todays result was

Wolves (Dirty Dog Heads) 2 v 1 Leeds

work it out!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Sunday 6th February

Rather windy again today with the reservoir proving rather popular. Severn Trent were on site but it didn’t seem to put people off putting there dogs on leads and I saw more roaming free than tethered!

Bird wise wildfowl were well down with sailing taking place with most duck on the small pool. The roving tit flock held 12 Siskin, 2 Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Long-tailed Tit with the wind I didn’t think that was so bad.

Highlights for January

January was generally quite although there were a few bits and bobs, from a personal point of view I had one new species “Barn Owl”. The best bird of the year so far is the female Smew of which there aren’t too many records, all the other species seen you would expect to see during the course of a year but they are:

Barn Owl, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Smew and Willow Tit.

The week that was

I have a couple of short visits in the last week but with the strong wind and short days, I have to say that I have seen nothing out of the ordinary. At the start of the week the reservoir was half covered in ice but there were just around 40 Goosander, and little else. The gull roost has been poor especially for large gulls but there have been good numbers of Common Gull, a feature of the winter so far. As far as passerines are concerned I had a group of 20 Pied Wagtails, and that has been about it. I do intend to go over this afternoon and will update the blog then.

One good thing to some out of the week is the appearance of signs from Severn Trent appealing for dog owners to be more responsible on site, as dog walking is under review around the reservoir. That can only be a good thing, but I see not real evidence that it is actually happening.

I visited Coleshill Quarry on Saturday and saw Jack Snipe, Common Snipe and Skylark there were also 40 Teal and a few Meadow Pipits.

And this morning whilst having a coffee in bed I made eye contact with a male Sparrowhawk which perched up on my bird feeders for a couple of minutes. Might be why I am down to two Tree Sparrows at the moments!