Saturday, 31 March 2012

Saturday 17th March

Two trips over today, one early one late. I did catch up with Blackcap, there were a couple of singing birds. Didn’t hear or see the Willow Warbler – but no problem we will be knee deep in them by the end of next week. I also missed out on Swallow, not once but twice,  once at Shustoke and then again at home where Joy informed me she had one over the garden!

Caught up with the Scaup again, it had been hiding on the small pool, but I located it on the main Reservoir this evening as it and all the Tufted flew in to roost.

I got dropped off this afternoon with the dog near Coleshill Town FC and checked out a few old sites for Tree Sparrow whilst I made my way back to my house. I saw no Tree Sparrows which is rather worrying. Incidently, I came across a road named after a “hit single” on my travels. Any guesses?

Also this morning – I had a busy day, I checked out Coleshill GPs but apart from a couple of Green Sandpiper and Snipe there was very little. Certainly no LRPs, but the site is rather overgrown now, it best days are certainly behind it.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Friday 30th March

Took a stroll around this evening but although the Scaup was reported today I didn’t see it. It was quiet all in all but there were around a dozen Sand Martins. It was nearly dark by the time I got back which will account for the lack of birds.

With this northerly wind, if we get the rain that we are due there should be a good show of migrants turning up over the next two weeks.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Thursday 29th March

Brian Berry had a Blackcap and Willow Warbler today as well as the Scaup and a couple of Grass Snakes. I never see snakes I’m always looking up!!!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Wednesday 28th March

Got over tonight, again it was a fine evening and the Scaup was still present. It was at the western end and was showing quite well. There was a Green Woodpecker on the bank of the small pool and Nuthatch in the area. Four Sand Martin had gone through earlier (Des) and I had two late on whilst going back to the car.

Male Scaup, Shustoke Reservoir

Tuesday 27th March

Caught up with the Scaup at Shustoke – a fine male. Didn’t stop as I wanted to see the Garganey at Middleton. After having my fill of the Scaup I picked up the Captain and we arrived at Middleton shortly afterwards after negotiating the strange four way traffic lights outside of the Hall’s entrance. We started scanning and unfortunately the sun was a problem. I scanned the reed beds as that is where the bird has been but saw nothing. But we picked the bird up at the far end by the dead tree feeding away. It was also in company with a female Garganey but they were far to far away to get any photographs.

Whilst at Shustoke I met up with Steve Haynes who also had seen a Red Kite over the Reservoir earlier in the day.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Monday 26 March

To busy to get over and what happens Steve Haynes find a Scaup!!! It must have been off the car park!!!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Thursday / Friday

It is with regret that I have to inform you that the paved area most loved by visiting (and regular) birders has departed. God knows why. Severn Trent must have thought it was dangerous and fearing a law suit have removed it and replaced it with grass. So no more getting out of your car in carpet slippers and viewing the Reservoir in comfort any more.

Bird wise – the weather has probably been too good. Although last night four Shelduck flew in at dusk to roost. There was a single singing Chiffchaff and a Meadow Pipit but little else.

A trip over on Saturday proved unproductive there were around three singing Chiffchaffs but the site was heaving with people.

Coleshill Quarry was quiet as well but there were a couple of Green Sandpipers and two (or another couple) Snipe.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

March 1994

Confused! In reference to my last post Steve Haynes sent me a copy of his bird notes from 1994 when he saw Jack Snipe. I am sure he won’t mind me publishing them.

March 12  10 Pied Wagtail,  7 Meadow Pipit
March 20  12 10 Pied Wagtail, 5 MP
March 21   1 LRP, 10 Pied Wagtail,  1 chiff chaff
March 22    40 MP,  25 Pied Wagtail ,  poss  Water Pipit
March 24    Jack Snipe,  8 Lapwing
March 30   2 LRP,  15 PW
March 31   8 White Wagtail, 2 Green Sandpiper,  1 LRP (found Merg and Com Scoter on Res)
April  1       3 LRP, 3 Green Sands
April  4       5 Green Sands,  1 Redshank,  1 LRP

After this time my notes mention just the odd Redshank so I imagine that the site dried out.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Monday 19th March

Paid a visit this afternoon and it was really quiet with no Sand Martin present. Although the car park was full there were few people around. It was a pleasant afternoon, ideal for Buzzard and I actually saw double figures, with six bird in the air together at the west end. One wonders how many more Buzzard the area can support, the density must be a close to saturation. A day rarely goes by without seeing one or more in the area. I can remember a time when Buzzard were rare in the region and that isn’t that long ago. In my previous life I birded the Sandwell Valley on a very regular basis for 20 years and saw one solitary bird in all that time. I don’t go back there much now, but every time I have I have seen Buzzard. They must be the success story of the last 15 years. Unfortunately, birds like Little Owl have suffered and one wonders wether they would ever have spread as much as they did if Buzzards hadn’t be persecuted.

Anyway back to Shustoke. The main pool was remarkably quiet with all of the wildfowl from the weekend having moved on. The only duck species of note – which was new for the year was a female Goldeneye.  The small pool was equally as quiet although there were nine Wigeon, five Pochard and four Gadwall. There were few birds singing but I did get my second migrant of the year with a Chiffchaff.

NOTE: Whilst talking with Steve Haynes he was relating a story that many years ago he had a brush with the local Game Keeper who insisted that although he could walk on a public footpath (through the meadow at the west end), he couldn’t stop and birdwatch? That wasn’t the point, the point was he said that he used to see “Jack Snipe” a species not recorded for the Reservoir. Whilst technically it isn’t the “Reservoir” I include it – as well as the field on the other side of the river to the railway plus the footpath alongside the railway and all the fields that lie to the south of Bixhill Lane in my definition of “The Reservoir” So the first addition for the year!!!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Sunday 18th March

This is more like it, two trips over today, although it was nearly dark before I returned this afternoon/evening. This morning Joy and I completed at circuit even though it was raining. We were rewarded with a couple of Sand Martin.

Met up with an old friend who was out walking his dog. As it was that cold and wet, and he had wrapped up accordingly, I didn’t recognise him at first, but when he spoke that Rochdale accent came through sending my memory banks into overdrive.

Bird wise there was flock of around 20 Siskin feeding in the alders but little else in the rain. This winters storms and Severn Trent have taken a toll of the Reservoirs trees. There are quite a few down, the largest of which in Warbler Corner took some of the fencing with it, also gone is the tree that held breeding Marsh Tit a couple of years back. Walking along the north shore a couple of gaps have appeared as trees have come down. There is a gap on the south shore but I’m not sure how that happened!!!

Anyway back to the birds. This evening there was an Oystercatcher feeding at various locations along the west shore – a couple of my friends who read this blog who live in the South of England (Stan) and the East coast of Scotland (Stuart/Winston) will be wetting themselves at the mention of Oystercatcher but it is not a common bird at Shustoke with early spring being the optimum time of year. There were also 14 Goosander, 15 Wigeon, 2 Shoveler, c.20 Pochard, 4 Gadwall but yesterdays Teal appear to have pushed on. It was nearly dark by the time we got back to the car with the only other birds of note being a Sparrowhawk and a couple of Mistle Thrush.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Saturday 17th March

Was busy in the garden and at work but managed to get over late on. I had been abandoned by the wife and kids so it was down to me to walk the dog. Killing two birds with one stone, I headed to Shustoke only to find the Two Steve’s on-site, Mr Haynes quickly hopped up on to the slabbed area, in an attempt to aid identification!!!

They had had Sand Martin and Peregrine before I got there so after a quick chat I left them and headed down Bixhill Lane to the small pool. On the way there were five Goosander, one Shoveler, twelve Pochard and two Gadwall. The small pool held nine Teal and seven Wigeon. A good range of wildfowl, probably the best of the winter.

As it was reasonably late I was a bit short of passerines although a I saw a roost of several Bullfinch.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sunday 10th March

Over early again exercising the dog. The Reservoir was heaving with people so I went round the back and followed the railway track to the small pool. It was rather quiet with little to write home about. Joy picked up a Woodpecker drumming but it was very subdued. We went to investigate and it turned out to be a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, it was on a dead tree and the wood was that rotten it was struggling to get a tune out of it. It then called and was joined by a female and they performed their butterfly display flight. This was only the second time that I have ever witnessed this, the first time back in the late 1970’s back in my old stomping ground of the Sandwell Valley.

The rest of the walk proved uneventful.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Saturday 10th March

I had to go into work this morning so I got over rather early, needless to say the car park was full. I started on my usual circuit but have up after a 100 yards and about the same number of dogs. A Staffordshire Bull Terrier that scattered the duck was the final straw, I changed direction and headed down Bixhill Lane to the small pool in the hope of catching up with the possible Firecrest from a couple of weeks back. The chances of the bird being present were slim but needs must.

Wildfowl although not numerous included a couple of Shoveler, four Gadwall, c.30 Pochard and 18 Wigeon. The highlight however, were a couple of singing Marsh Tit between the pools. Apart from that it is still quiet. Hopefully by the end of next week we should have Sand Martin coming through and the chance of the odd Wheatear.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Belated News

I received an email from Rob Carson who is pretty sure that he saw a FIrecrest around the small pool a couple of weeks back. I have been rather busy at work recently but I will certainly make time to have a search over the weekend. He was watching a group of Goldcrest when he is relatively sure that they were joined by a Firecrest. In my experience the species associate with each other, but we haven’t exactly got a lot of woodland.

I am inclined to think that it is probably a genuine record but having read how rare the species is, Rob is not 100% certain. I have met Rob and he may well be wrong but he certainly isn’t a stringer.

Below is his email, I think even although two weeks have past it would be worth a good look.

I am 95% sure that I saw a firecrest last week , Saturday 25th  Feb ,11am ish . It was a bright sunny day . There were a few goldcrests flitting above my head . They were only a few feet from me . Then what I would say was a firecrest joined them. This was by the little pool.   
I am questioning myself as  .....A. do firecrests and goldcrests mix together ? ....and    B.  just how rare firecrests are !
As you can imagine it was a captivating couple of minutes. 
So,  did I see a firecrest amongst them ??  What do you think?  I was certain untill I came home and read how rare they are.
Cheers ,    Rob C.