Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Wednesday 31st October

Was over early this morning and there didn’t appear to be any sign of the Slavonian Grebe from yesterday. I made my way around and it was quite quiet but I came across the grebe at the east end feeding close in. There were quite a few birds around for a change with six Pochard on the main pool. There were a lot of Fieldfare and Redwing going over and flocks of Siskin were around in numbers with well over 50 counted.

A flock of 13 Lapwing went over heading west. I met Dave Hutton photographing the grebe and I joined him before leaving and checking out Bixhill Lane. I was scanning the field when a distant call caught my attention, I saw a bird drop in at about 200 yards distance. I was thinking it was probably a pipit so I set my scope up and worked the area. I picked up the head and shoulders of what looked like a Lark with a obvious supercillium  almost immediately in dropped down. It was either a young Skylark with a pronounced super, or a Woodlark. The supercillium looked too marked for a Skylark but Woodlark is a big call in Warwickshire. I saw Dave making his way back past me. I told him what I had seen and suspected so we decided to walk over. As we arrived in the general area first one Skylark when up followed by three other birds probably Skylark,  I don’t know if I was relieved or disappointed!
Slavonian Grebe, Pete Forbes
Slav Grebe, Dave Hutton

Slav Grebe, Dave Hutton

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Tuesday 30th October

At last, finally a good bird, for me anyway. I had a few hours off work and as it was a cracking morning thought I would take a walk around the reservoir. There was a Bullfinch in the car park, worth mentioning considering the dearth of birds recently. As I made my way around the west end I picked up a distant Grebe, it look larger than Little and black and white in colouration. My first thought was bloody hell another Black-necked Grebe (I have found five in the last couple of years).

But as I got closer it didn’t have the correct head shape and looked quite large, when I caught up with it unfortunately it had the sun directly behind it, but it was an obvious Slavonian Grebe. At that point I received a phone call to inform me that there was illness at work and I had to leave!! I put out the news, and left. This is the first Slavonian Grebe that I have seen at Shustoke, I am sure there have been others but not for a while. I am not aware of any in the West Midlands this year, so it might be a better bird than I thought.

On the way back to the car park there were double figures of both Fieldfare and Redwing and a couple of Lapwing flew in.

Afternoon, apparently there was a Knot (Steve Cawthray) this afternoon briefly. Also Lynn Wimbush may have seen two Slavonian Grebe yesterday (Monday).

Upper two Slavonian Grebe, Paul Lathbury

Slavonian Grebe,  Bob Duckhouse

Monday, 29 October 2012

Sunday 28th October

Managed to get over early afternoon just before the rain came. There was little of note, a group of Wigeon (17) flew over heading west. There were no other wildfowl of note. We saw around six Goldcrest but that was it. There seems to be a general dearth of birds around at the moment, as I have mentioned before it must have been a very poor breeding season all around.

Red-breasted Merganser – Bob Duckhouse (thanks, I will ask permission when I see you)

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Saturday 27th October

Over at sunrise this morning but no sign of the Red-breasted Merganser, in fact although it was a beautiful morning there was little of note, there are however good numbers of Fieldfare around with around 40 in a tree by my house.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Friday 26th October

There have been a few Fieldfare and Redwing over in the last few days. I notice on Rare Bird Alert that there was a Red-breasted Merganser reported from the Reservoir today (Friday).

Apart from that thing have been rather quiet.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Quiet Thursday

There was a report of two possible Red-crested Pochard but the finder was not sure, as they may have been Wigeon. As there had been two Wigeon around recently I assumed that is what they were. Having a spare hour I thought I would check the Reservoir anyway.

I didn’t seen any RCP or Wigeon for that matter in what must rank as the quietest trip I have ever had, and believe me I have had some quiet days here recently! Apart from a few Common Gull coming into roost there was nothing, I don’t think I got much about double figures of species. On a good day in the past I used to get close to 50 species seen.

There has been a immature male Peregrine knocking about the fields around Castle Lane and I watched the bird as it attempted to land on the pylons without success. It eventually gave up and landed in a nearby tree.  

Sunday, 14 October 2012

A weekend in Cornwall

I will start this with the statement “I don’t twitch much”. That said I have become aware that this was the first year since I started birding (which was when the world was Black & White) that I haven’t had a new species for the UK. I could have had a couple of ticks this year but I it was either too inconvenient / or I couldn’t be bothered with the driving / or just too expensive, but mostly a mixture of all of them.

Anyway, on Tuesday a Paddyfield Warbler turned up in Cornwall and it was still there on Friday so I or should I say we (the Wife) decided that a weekend in Cornwall would be nice. So Saturday morning at 5am we were up and away. We arrived at 10.30ish at Church Cove with no news either way on the bird but having seen the weather forecast I was hopeful that the bird would still be there.

I was right, and after an initial 15 minute period of no activity the bird performed really well for the 20 or so birders present. After having our fill we went for a wander having heard that there was Red-backed Shrike in the area. Someone gave me directions but we got lost and decided to make our way back to Church Cove, by accident we ended up dropping onto the bird. The rest of the day was spend birding the Cot Valley and Pendeen but we saw nothing unusual.

On Sunday we spend the morning at Nanquidno Valley and had a great morning without seeing anything unusual. But there was a Peregrine, Chough, Blackcap and a few Chiffchaff. We decided early afternoon to start making our way home after an enjoyable trip.

Paddyfield Warbler, Church Cove, Cornwall

Paddyfield Warbler, Church Cove, Cornwall

Red-backed Shrike, The Lizard, Cornwall

Red-backed Shrike, The Lizard, Cornwall

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Wednesday 10th October

Met Steve Haynes going through the gulls at Shustoke yesterday evening so I joined him for an hour. Although there were good numbers of gulls there was little of real interest. There were around 2,350-3,000 Black-headed Gull, 500 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 60 Herring Gull and 4 Common Gull.

Whilst we were standing there we saw Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker and a Jay.

The guy who lives opposite got talking to us, and although not a birder has a reasonable knowledge of birds and covers the reservoir more than I do. He was saying that he had seen Ruddy Duck recently and that Tawny Owl had been regular, neither of these species have been recorded this year. Steve Haynes has also seen Hobby so that is three species added to the year list.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A Request for sightings

Went over last night, apart from a Wigeon and a lot of gulls there was little of note. However, I have started to tot-up this years sightings and there are some gaps. We are nearly 30 species down on last year.

Although not scientific, it is fair to assume that this years breeding has been rather a wash-out as there have been few warblers around this autumn. Generally bird numbers seem well down not just at the Reservoir. Waders have been a complete disaster, the high water level and overgrown condition of the shoreline being the main factors, coupled with disturbance and general lack of waders generally has seen the lowest number ever recorded at this site.

I am in particular looking for records to fill in the gaps, obviously anything rare that I haven’t heard about with the only good birds I am aware of being Scand Rock Pipit, Black-necked Grebe, Smew, Common Scoter and Med Gull.

But I am looking in for records for this year of the following: Hobby, any waders apart from Oystercatcher, Redshank, Lapwing and Common Sandpiper. Garden, Sedge or Reed Warbler. Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer.

Hopefully, someone has had a better year than me.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Monday 8th October

I haven’t managed to get over today but there was a Common Tern @2pm (Steve Haynes)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

6&7 October and the last week of Hillwalking!

I managed to get over a couple of times over the weekend and it was again rather poor but at least I had a couple of species that I haven’t seen for a while. Off the car park there was a single Common Gull whilst I had a couple of flyover Skylark. In the woods there was a Treecreeper in with the Tit flock but not much else. The only migrants were two groups of Swallow which totalled seven.

In the afternoon Joy dropped me off near Water Orton I made my way alongside the Sewage Outfall which has proved interesting in the past. However, at the start of the walk there were a number of examples of flytipping which didn’t help my mood. Worse was to follow as the path that runs towards The River Tame was muddy, wet and uncomfortably to walk along, in no small part to the amount of people that had been up there on Trail bikes, the path was that badly churned up that I was covered in mud by the time I got to the end.

Following the river to Ladywalk I had a single Chiffchaff, whilst at Ladywalk itself there was a single Little Egret, good numbers of wildfowl and I had around half a dozen Swallow through, whilst the feeders had both Willow and Marsh Tit. I also met up with a couple of old friends who were interested on my Munro’s challenge was going (they regretted asking).

I have added a couple of photographs of what will probably be my last hillwalking trip of the year. On Saturday 21 September we tackled the Fisherfield Mountains a remote area of Scotland about the size of the Lake District (unfortunately there are no roads or vehicular access – I should say fortunately) the only other person we met that day was wild camping overnight. We being soft southerners hiked in and out in a day. We started walking around 8am and got back to the car at 7.30pm just as the sun was setting. It was an impressive landscape and very remote.

I managed a days birding on the Angus coast on the Tuesday as there had been a big storm overnight with lots of trees down in the Tayside area. The gale was unusual in that the wind was easterly which is good for the Angus Coast. Unfortunately there were showers during the coarse of the day but I managed a 50 or so Manx Shearwaters, two Sooty Shearwaters, Arctic Skua and Bonxie. The highlight though was a Grey Phalarope which flew past me very close in at Arbroath. I have seen quiet a few Grey Phal over the years normally on puddles I have even seen a couple at Shustoke but I have never seen one flying properly and let me tell you they are quick! Much quicker than I was expecting.

On the Wednesday we tackled the impressive mountain of An Teallach (it is a massive mountain that contains two Munro’s – complicated I know) if you have ever been towards Gairloch via the road to Ullapool it is that frightening beast that fills the sklyline as you drive down Desolation Road towards Dundonald. The cloud was rather low and visibility was poor, and as daylight was at a premium we decided that we would only tackle the two Munro’s rather than the ridge and a succession of tops. Fortunately the Munro’s are at the same end of the ridge and we avoided any difficulties as a result. It was a shame as the weather was that poor that we never got any views.

On the Thursday my brother dragged me out for a game of golf (not a game that I play). Fortunately there were around a dozen wrecked Guillemot on the River Tay off the North Inch a strange sight!

Loch a’Bhraoin with our Munro targets in the centre still several miles away.

Sgurr Ban in the Fisherfields

The view west from Beinn Tarsuinn with what is known as the “Tennis Court” on the ridge

Joy and I on top of Beinn Tarsuinn just the ten miles back to the car!
Todays earlier hills Sgurr Ban & Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair from Beinn Tarsuinn

Four days later and totally different weather. Bidein a’ Ghlas Thuill on An Teallach

Sgurr Fiona on An Teallach

Thursday, 4 October 2012

It doesn’t get any better

At a loose end I thought I would pop over and look through the gulls. There were plenty of them with 800 Black-headed Gull, 140 LBB Gull, 30 Herring Gull but little else – that is a little inaccurate I meant nothing else – gull wise. I was expecting Common Gull but didn’t see any never mind the fact that I was looking for Med Gull!!

Just for once I only got as far as the car park as it was too late to walk around, the only other species of note was the pair of male Wigeon.

It has got to get better soon – hasn’t it!!!

Monday, 1 October 2012

28 to 30 September

Again it is very quiet there were a couple of Wigeon on the main reservoir but near enough a complete lack of wildfowl. Again passerines were not very evident although there were small numbers of Swallow passing through on a steady basis. There were a couple of Greylag in with the Canada’s but that is really scraping the barrel.

On Sunday we went over with the wind speed increasing it was a pity it was south-west rather than south-east or north-east for that matter. Again there was little around although I did have my first sign of winter with a small flock of around 16 Siskin flying over.

A week or so ago there was a Med Gull briefly (Steve Haynes).