Saturday, 21 January 2012

Saturday 21 January

Took a walk over this morning and the recent storms have resulted in one of the large trees near to warbler corner coming down and blocking the path, it is passable but only just, it has made a bit of a mess of the fence as well!

It was quiet today but I did have a flock of finches which included around 50 Siskin, I couldn’t make out any Redpoll amongst them but light conditions were poor. A couple of Goosander flew over but all in all it was quiet.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Mid January

I haven’t been able to get over recently with work and family commitments, I have managed so far this year to walk from work at lunchtime past Coleshill station and down the Tame past the famous Outflow. There has been a bit about with Green Sandpiper and Snipe on the river and last week I had two Little Egret fly over.

Up to four Chiffchaff have been reported by the outflow but I am yet to connect with them. Though I did have a flock of 30 Lesser Redpoll in the area. The river in this area has held Pintail in the past but all I have seen so far this year is Teal, Mallard and Tufted Duck plus the odd Gadwall.

I met Steve Haynes who informed me that there have been c.40 Goosander roosting again at Shustoke and an email from Steve Cawthray who had seen and adult Yellow-legged Gull.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Saturday 14th January

Took a stroll around the Reservoir on Saturday morning, in all honesty not many birders bother much with Shustoke in the winter as it can be very quiet. However, it was a wonderful morning with bright sunshine, but as I have posted previously the low sun at this time of year causes its own problems.

Most of the wildfowl were on the small pool with 12 Wigeon, c.60 Pochard but not a lot else. The River held two Kingfishers but there was little activity in the passerine department – either than or I just didn’t connect with a flock of anything.

Severn Trent have been busy, they have cleared the edge for the most part, but I wish the would remove the Willows from the South shore, as that tends to be the only area that attracts waders that isn’t disturbed. If anyone from Severn Trent reads this blog I would be quite happy to remove them myself if they would give me permission. It is nearly impossible to view that area now! The same goes for the stretch of shoreline between the car park and the sailing club.

I paid a visit to Coleshill Quarry on Sunday afternoon and was surprised how much of the vegetation has died back. It has started to flood again and it might be good come passage time. Unfortunately if it dries out the vegetation will have taken over again by the time the main wader passage happens at the end of May.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Monday 9 January

Unfortunately my plans for the weekend evaporated before my eyes. My son found a car and press ganged me into taking him to see it, unfortunately for me it was in Manchester, bloody internet. Then on Sunday I had to remove a tree that had been blown down in the storms earlier in the week as it blocked my dog walking route. This morning my shoulders are tender. I did receive an email in response to a ringed Black-headed Gull that I reporting during last winter, I will copy in the email.

Hopefully I will get over later in the week. Anyone who knows me well will understand the confusion!!!

Dear peter.
You may remember reporting a BH gull with the ring number "60HZ" . I am sorry it has taken so long to get back to you but some detective work was required. Tjhe ring 60HZ has not been used ,but as sometimes happens we think you have read the ring upside down i.e it is 2H09.
I have attached details of 2H09. This bird was ringed as part of a project studying BH gulls breeding in the cotswold Water Park on the Gloucestershire/Wilts border.
I have also attached a copy of a report. We are in the process of preparing a new report and I will put you on our mailing list

John Wells

Recapture History
Ring Age/ Capture
number Type Date Init Details
Black-headed Gull
EW24409     N 1 09/06/06 Cerney Wick, Gloucestershire
O 3 Sighted (R) 22/06/06 Cokes Pit, Somerford Keynes, Gloucestershire (5 km, WSW, 13 
O 3 Sighted (R) 23/06/06 Cokes Pit, Somerford Keynes, Gloucestershire (5 km, WSW, 14 
R 6 Recaptured 02/04/10 NA Cokes Pit, Somerford Keynes, Gloucestershire (5 km, WSW, 3 yrs 
S 4 Sighted 18/01/11 shustoke, Warwickshire (94 km, N, 4 yrs 223days)

Friday, 6 January 2012

Friday 6th January

First visit of the New Year and it was typical haul of species. Couldn’t locate the Redpoll from last year but there were good numbers of Siskin, all of the Fieldfare and Redwing appear to have moved off and I saw neither species today.

Wildfowl were as last year poor with c.150 Pochard and four Wigeon seen. I have been walking from work this week along the River Tame near to the Hams Hall outflow which is a reliable site for Chiffchaff in the winter. As much due to this weeks high winds as anything else I drew a blank in my search. Typically I saw my first wintering record of Chiffchaff today at Shustoke – you couldn’t plan it.

There were also several Common Gull seen today but it is a quiet time of year, surprisingly there were still a lot of insects on the wing which is amazing for the first week of January.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The New Year and all that

After a successful New Year’s Eve at the Swan in Whitacre, I got up on New Years Day with a bit of a sore head! I had a cup of coffee in bed and watched the bird feeders seeing the usual birds, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Greenfinches and Goldfinch. The McSparrowhawk’s was still open and was the best bird of the morning – but this time he went hungry – I think the locals are catching on!

I then had to head to West Brom for a 12.30 kick-off – 12.30! I can hardly believe it. I sat there through a game that no one wanted to be at, players, officials and especially fans, there was a great selection of hang overs on show. After 15 minutes it started to rain and I was wet as well as cold  Sky Sports have a lot to answer for. The next day the Captain picked me up and we headed for the best that Staffordshire could offer. After an hour of standing on a freezing cold hillside with no Great Grey Shrike on show, we decided to cut our losses and head for Gailey and return later.

At Gailey the eagerly anticipated Med Gull and Black Redstart we no shows, I was running through scenarios where I could bump off the Captain and get away with it. I am sure I could plead mitigating circumstances and surely no jury in the land would convict. When the details of numerous failed twitches were published I might even be in line for an MBE or an OBE for services to birding. We are both of to Goa at the end of January and if his form doesn’t improve – he ain’t coming back!!!!

After a walk around Gailey with Julian during which I lost my footing and stacked it – I was beginning to wonder how much I would get for all my birding gear. An old chap coming the other way wished me a Happy New Year as I lay on the ground,  I made his day at least. On the way back the Captain, yes the Captain picked up the Black Redstart flitting around the boulders on the shoreline and whilst we saw the bird it wasn’t for long and it soon did one.

Back at Cannock Chase whilst the Captain played it cool and poured himself a coffee I wandered onto the hillside and instantly picked up the Shrike, this was more like it, the bird was very active and during the next ten minutes it tried out a variety of perches all over the hillside. Next was Wishaw were we drew a blank, but there were lots of Thrushes in the field behind The Cock.

Next we went to Coton for the Gull roost, there were a few people already there including Alan Dean, whilst he might not regard himself as a Gull expert, everyone else does. He pointed out a leucistic Black-headed Gull. I am beginning to develop a liking for gulls but it is hard to learn in the presence of greatness as everyone stays stum. A normal session for birders of my standard is look Yellow-legged Gull, must be, look at that white head and its darker on the back, and look its bigger than the Lesser black-backs only to be met by “No you prat that’s a Greater Black-backed” or “ It’s a British Herring Gull” or the favourite “Get back to Shustoke and find us a Little Owl”

Anyway it was relatively quiet then an adult Med Gull appeared as if by magic. As Eric Morecambe would say, we got all the right birds – but not necessarily in the right order!

Leucistic Black-headed Gull

Med Gull

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

I have been over Shustoke a few times over the past week but unfortunately it has been rather quiet. There are still a few Redpoll around and winter Thrushes are in good numbers.

The wildfowl numbers, as previously reported have been very poor this winter, and over the course of the last week I have only seen 1 Gadwall, 1 Teal and up to four Wigeon but on New Years Eve there was only one.

The only significant report is that we seem to be going through a purple patch with Raven and I have seen up to four birds over the holiday period and have recorded them on every single day.

On a whole last year was a little disappointing even though there was a record number of species recorded. I will need to check but I think 132 species were seen. We don’t seem to have missed many of the commoner species but there were few highlights especially on the wader front.

I remains for me to wish everyone a Happy New Year and hopefully a bird filled one.