Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Monday 21st May

I had a really busy weekend, left home at lunchtime Friday drove to Perth, up at 5.30am the next morning drove to Glen Arkaig, climbed three Munro’s (17 miles) got back to Perth at 10.45pm up at 8am the next morning and drove home. There is life after twitching!

The three hills were mammoth, a really serious day out in rough terrain. The Knoydart hills are quite rough walking, more so with the amount of snow on the tops. The descent off the first hill Sgurr nan Coireachan was scary, very steep and covered in wet snow. The second hill of Garbh Chioch Mhor just went on for ever whilst the last hill Sgurr na Ciche was a steep slog. It took us seven hours to get to that point. We were then faced with an eight miles hike back to the car. There were a few people on the hills and we met a couple from Castle Bromwich which I found amazing. The only bird of note that I saw was a single Ring Ouzel.

I was going to pay a visit to Shustoke late on Sunday but decided against it. However, I received a text at work on Monday from TP to say that a Nightjar had been found at Ladywalk (J Alton), so the grass had to wait. The Nightjar was showing very well and seemed rather settled.

At Shustoke things are rather quiet although the Black-necked Grebe was still there on Saturday, the Potato Field still held a Wheatear last night, will try and get over to the Reservoir at some point and catch up.

Garbh Chioch Mor and Sgurr na Ciche

Me and my brother on Sgurr nan Coireachan

Sgurr na Ciche

Nightjar, Ladwalk, my best effort

Nightjar, Dave Hutton

Nightjar, Dave Hutton

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Tuesday 15th May

There was a report of a Black-necked Grebe yesterday although I didn’t see it, I took the dog with me yesterday so I stayed at the periphery of the Reservoir. It was quiet with a couple of Whitethroat, Skylark, two Common Tern and the Teal. I also saw the demise of a Great Tit, it dived into cover only for the Sparrowhawk to follow it straight in and despatch the bird – that’s nature for your – Tooth and Claw!

However, this morning (Wednesday) there were seven Wheatears in the potato fields and I had only my third record of House Sparrow for the garden today as well – but I was more impressed with the Wheatear.

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Weekend

Didn’t get over much the weekend apart from Saturday evening. Cannock Chase was hard work with quite a wind blowing and a low sun that was in my eyes on the approach walk to the Stepping Stones. I did score with all three target species, Wood Warbler, Redstart and Pied Flycatcher.

The Reservoir was rather quiet, on arrival there was a Cuckoo in the large trees by the entrance to the sailing club. That was probably the highlight, I doubt there will be much wader passage this spring as the water level is as high as I can remember. Again it was windy and rather cold for the time of the year, consequently there were very few birds singing. Two Skylark over the fields adjacent to Bixhill Lane were the next best thing.

My potato fields produced even more Wheatear with three on Saturday and one still present on Sunday. Surprising really as this is one of our earliest migrants. I am knee deep in gardening at the moment and found a Red-legged Partridge nest under one of my hedges whilst weeding the borders. The sitting bird exploded from cover scaring the life out of me. I may end up gardening with a DeFib if it happens again.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Thursday 10th May

I haven’t managed to visit but the Black-necked Grebe is still present, it can be tricky as it is continually feeding and spends more time under the water than above!

The Potato fields produced four Wheatear last night and there was still one present this morning. There have also been three or four singing Whitethroat along the length of hedgerow where I walk my dog every morning.

I was talking to one of the villagers on Wednesday who reported seeing Red Kite in the last week or so, I still hold out hope of connecting with one which I did over twelve years ago over Maxstoke Golf Course before I covered the area properly.

I have my annual trip to Cannock Chase planned for Friday evening so I hope to cover the Reservoir more over the weekend and I will try to pick up some of these pesky warblers that I keep missing, that is of course if the sun comes out and they start singing.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Wednesday 9th May

With the rain easing, I decided to try my luck. In the car park there was a Cuckoo calling away, as I walked along the west shore a Common Sandpiper flew in – not bad! There were a lot of Swift, and a good number of hirundines but not as many as there has been. The Black-necked Grebe was still in its usual spot at the east end and was feeding energetically, anoyingly it never came close, sticking to the centre of the reservoir the whole time. Whilst watching the grebe two Mistle Thrush noisily saw off a Cuckoo.

I tried my luck around the small pool, but by this time it had started to rain rather heavily, as a consequence there were few birds singing. As I made my around the other side of the fishing pool three Little Egrets flew overhead flying east god knows where they were heading (possibly the fishing pool behind Daw Mill).

The rest of my trip was rather uneventful the grebe was still there but still as far away as it was possible to get. There are still nearly double figures of Common Tern and a pair of Gadwall. Breeding is underway with a pair of Canada Geese down to one goosling already. The Mallard seemed to have faired little better.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Tuesday 8th May

Apparently the Black-necked Grebe from yesterday was still there. I have had a couple of Hobby locally and the potato fields off Castle Lane held a couple of Wheatear again this morning, that is my fourth sighting so far this year. One was suspiciously similar to Greenland Wheatear.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Monday 7th May

Nothing ever turns out like you expect, firstly what a waste of time delaying my holiday for the Albion game last weekend, boring, apart from Hutton playing basketball on the goal line and the Referee proving beyond any doubt that he was blind, it was dire – thats enough of football.

Hill walking was a mixed bag, after last year where we had terrible weather, last week was exceptional. The plan never materialised, the first part did, we climbed Gulvain but it was harsh, it completely destroyed my legs. It was around a five mile walk in, then straight up – it was one of the steepest ascents I have ever done and in retrospect too much for a first hill of the year. I could hardly move my legs when I got back down they were completely cramped up and I still had a five mile walk back to the car! Its funny but I can tell my wife a joke and she hardly smiles, hit my thumb with a hammer and she’s in stitches. That 90 minute walk back to the car kept her well amused.

The second part of the plan didn’t happen I was walking like a polio victim so on Tuesday my brother his wife and Joy climbed three of the Fannichs that I had done years ago with my two lads. I drove and had a days birding on the north-west coast near Guirnard Bay. There were several Great Northern Divers, but no White-tailed Sea-eagles. I carried on round the bay and had the pleasure of watching an Otter for over an hour. There were few migrants around and it was rather quiet but I did pick up a few year ticks during the day.

I travelled to Fife of the Wednesday seeing a good few birds including Whimbrel, Long-tailed Duck, Common and Velvet Scoter but not a lot else.

On Thursday we climbed Sgurr Mor which is north-west of Fort William down a long glen called Glen Arcaig, it took ages and the road was more like a ride at Alton Towers. We had to climb into Glen Kingie and then another steep pull saw us at the summit in around four hours. The views from the top had to be seen to be believed. You could see over to Skye and as far as the Cairngorms away to the east. There were also a couple of Ring Ouzel near the summit.

Anyway back to Shustoke, after spending nearly all weekend and the bank holiday gardening Joy informed me she was going shopping with No.2 son, so I snuck out and did a quick circuit. It looked really quiet until I picked up a summer plumage Black-necked Grebe at the east end. Hopefully it will hang around.

Gulvain, we had been walking nearly an hour at this point.

The summit of Gulvain with my brother and his wife.

Ben Nevis from the summit of Gulvain


On the summit of Sgurr Mor with the one I love and the wife! Please note I always have binoculars with me