Sunday, 27 January 2013

Sunday 27th January

I abandoned Warwickshire yesterday opting instead for a day out of the county with the Captain. We started out at the Sandwell Valley, where I met Pete Hackett my old birding buddy, in fact we have known each other over 40 years having been in the same class at school when we were 11 – Scary. We didn’t linger long as the underfoot conditions were dangerous. Next stop was Stubbers Green where we  had a scan through the gulls but we couldn’t find the required targets.

Next stop was Whitemore Haye where we were a lot more successful. As we had coffee by the car we had the first of our year ticks when a couple of Greylag flew overhead. Scanning the lake (which has acquired a visitors centre since I was last there) there were around 400 Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Goldeneye. We followed the road around and one field held nearly 100 Golden Plover and a flock of 20-30 Skylark. We then bumped into another birder who I know, but whose name escapes me, and rather than guess I will omit it! Then the Captain hit a rich vein of form first picking up a Little Owl closely followed by a male Merlin which sat up nicely on a fence post. By the time I got my camera out and sorted it had gone, it wasn’t the only time that was to happen today.

There were a small group of Tree Sparrow which are not common now in the Midlands. The Captain then had a Little Egret which showed briefly before landing out of sight. That was about the end of the excitement, a stubble field held a few Fieldfare and Yellowhammer but it was clear we had peaked so we headed back to the car. We had a search around the lanes for Fridays Bewick Swan but saw none.

We then headed to Chasewater for the gull roost. First we checked out a pool near Cannock which is good for loafing gulls. We had a 1st or 2nd winter Glaucous Gull, it has hard to tell as the bird was back on to us and backlit by a setting sun. We also had two adult Yellow-legged Gulls. Thinking we wouldn’t see much extra in the roost we checked out the Swag instead seeing two more Yellow-legged Gulls and a scattering of wildfowl.

Today I was rather busy but managed to check Shustoke out briefly from the car park, the Scoter was still there and a male Peregrine flew over the west end. Also on Saturday before I went out I had a Raven fly over the house.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Friday 25th January

Haven’t been over in the last couple of days but the Scoter was still present yesterday with the report of a White-winged Gull. Hopefully, the weekend should find me birding the area.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Tuesday 22nd Janauary

Another lunchtime walk, good exercise but not much on show, so it came as a surprise when I returned to the car park to find Steve Haynes and Steve Cawthrey watching a male Common Scoter. Must try harder.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Monday 21st January

Had a walk around at lunchtime, there were three Dunlin the usual wildfowl and a nice flock of Siskin, these hasn’t been much cold weather movement as I would have expected but there is time yet.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sunday 20th January

Took a walk around again in the snow, the reservoir was surprisingly busy. As I pulled up I saw a wader flying in towards the edge. Getting out of the car I located the Dunlin feeding just off the car park and it seem settled. As we walked around after about a 100 yards there was another Dunlin. I checked back and scanned the edge and the original Dunlin was still there so there was two.

There were near enough the same wildfowl that have been present for the last few days and apart from a couple of Meadow Pipit and a small party of Siskin we saw little else.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Saturday 19th January

Had a walk around with the Captain this morning, I was a little warmer than yesterday but not much as I had left my hat at home.

The two Goldeneye were still there with around 100 each of Pochard and Tufted. Around 20 Goosander, three unmentionables whilst the small pool held 22 Wigeon. The large flock of Siskin/Redpoll were still in the same general area and there were five species gull, Gt Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed, Common, Herring and Black-headed. There were still a few Meadow Pipits and a more winter thrushes than of late.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Friday 18th January

Well the weather resulted in an early closure at work, so the wife and headed out and checked the res. I thought there might be a few more birds than there were, but I was wrong. The snow was falling pretty thickly and the wind was biting. It looks like it was too much for the last remaining Great Northern Diver, I couldn’t locate it, it might still be there but I searched pretty thoroughly.

There were however a male and female Goldeneye, 29 Wigeon, c.100 Pochard c.100 Tufted Duck. Passerines were thin on the ground but there were several Meadow Pipits at the waters edge.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Wednesday 16 January

Had a spare hour today, so off I went. For the second time this week I could only locate one Gt Northern Diver so it is save to assume that we are now down to one. There was a flock of c.40 Lapwing feeding on a nearby field. Whilst on the reservoir there were three unmentionables, 6 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, c.110 Pochard, c.140 Tufted Duck and 18 Goosander.

Very few passerines around but there was a small mixed flock of thrushes with 5 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle c.20 Fieldfare and around a dozen Redwing.

The fields off Moat House still held a good number of birds with at least one Brambling.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Monday 14th January

Took in the reservoir this afternoon at short notice. There appears to be only one Great Northern Diver present, I say appears, as they can be surprisingly difficult to pick up when they are feeding, but in the near two hours I was there I only saw one.

I thought there may have been a bit of cold weather movement but I was wrong unless it was outward bound. However, there were 32 Wigeon today which is the highest count for a while, but the only new birds were three Greater Black-backed Gulls and a couple of Common Gull. The only other new bird for the year were three fly over Rook.

I met Steve Haynes on the car park and we wished each other a Happy New Year, apparently we had fallen out with each other, strange as it was news to us! Personally I don’t fall out with anyone, I sometimes wish that I did – especially GOSSIPS!

Sunday 13th January

It was BTO wildfowl count day the counts were as follows:

2 Gt Northern Diver
5 Mute Swan
24 Canada Geese
21 Wigeon
128 Pochard
5 Gadwall
54 Mallard
109 Tufted Duck
10 Goosander
99 Coot
4 Moorhen
2 Grey Heron
23 Little Grebe
25 Great Crested Grebe
6 Cormorant

The Captain also heard a Chiffchaff calling but on the whole it was rather quiet.

The setaside field on Moat House Lane was good with 200 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling (at least) 40 Yellowhammer, 40 Fieldfare, 30 Redwing, 3 Mistle Thrush, 1 Song Thrush, 30 Blackbird plus Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Starling, Gt Spotted Woodpecker, Kestrel, Buzzard, Pheasant and Red-legged Partridge. The year before last there were good numbers of Tree Sparrow, Linnet and Reed Bunting in with them. There is time yet of course it is certainly cold enough today.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Saturday 12 January

Haven’t been over today but a stubble field on Moat House Lane held 2 Brambling, 150 Chaffinch, 50 Fieldfare, 30 Redwing, 50 Starling, 2 Fieldfare and 30 Yellowhammer.

No Tree Sparrow though!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Thursday 10th January

Had the afternoon off work and took a walk around. It was grey, dark, foggy with little wind. The two Great Northern Divers and now well into their third month and look very settled. There were over 100 Pochard and two Gadwall present. There were two other birds there (but if I told you I would have to kill you).

Passerines were thin on the ground I did encounter a flock of Siskin/Redpoll that flew overhead but i didn’t catch up with them.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Sunday 6th January

Had a good search around this morning with the Captain in rather poor viewing conditions. The highlight of the day was a female Peregrine. Wildfowl numbers are down on last month by about 50% but there were nine Wigeon.

The Alders by the railway/small pool held a mixed flock of around 150 Lesser Redpoll and Siskin the largest mixed flock I have had for years on site.

Oh, and the two Great Northern Diver are still present – I nearly forgot them!

Friday, 4 January 2013

Friday 4th January

The two Great Northern Diver area still present today and seemed well settled and are now in their third month. Goosander are roosting with between 20 and 30 bird most evenings and early mornings. But it is a little quiet at the moment regarding other wildfowl.

Locally I saw two different Long-tailed Ducks yesterday at Lea Marston viewable from the bridge, there is also a female Scaup.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

2012 – That was the Year that Was

A very brief resume of the year past, not a classic by any means with just 117 species seen plus White Wagtail. There was I believe just one new species added – Grasshopper Warbler.

Wildfowl in general were down in numbers there wasn’t much coverage in all honesty but on the 6th a wintering Chiffchaff (PF) was found, whilst the 19th held a Yellow-legged Gull (SC).

A possible Firecrest was reported but never pinned down with (SC) finding Smew and Med Gull during the month.

A bit more activity with the first Sand Martin on the 17th. A pair of displaying Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (PF) on the 11th. Goldeneye on the 19th, four Shelduck 22nd, and a male Scaup (SH) on the 26th with a Red Kite (SH) on the 28th.

The 1st saw the first Swallow and Blackcap, 2nd saw Wheatear, the 3rd LRP and four Reed Bunting. The 7th Common Sandpiper. Whist the best bird of the year so far on the 9th was a Scandanavian Rock Pipit. A White Wagtail followed on the 13th with House Martin and Whitethroat the next day. A Little Gull on the 18th (KW) was joined by Arctic Tern (SH & BD) and a Peregrine. The first Cuckoo was on the 24th with Arctic/Common/Black Tern plus Little Gull, Swift, Marsh Tit, Redshank & Oystercatcher on the 25th. There was a Yellow Wagtail and the reservoirs first Grasshopper Warbler on the 27th (PF & KW).

Scandanavian Rock Pipit – Dave Hutton.

It was very quiet with a Black-necked Grebe (PF) on the 7th and three Little Egret (PF) on the 10th.

The 2nd saw a Little Gull (SH) with a Common Scoter on the 14th.

Common Scoter – Bob Duckhouse
Very quiet with a Lesser Whitethroat and another Med Gull the highlights.

A Red-breasted Merganser on the 26th was followed by my first Slavonian Grebe (PF) for the Reservoir was joined briefly by a Knot (SC).

Slavonian Grebe – Pete Forbes
A Gt Northern Diver on the 26th was augmented with another bird the following day. A Smew briefly on the 27th was joined for a few days by another Common Scoter (PH).

Great Northern Diver – Dave Hutton (Thanks)

The two Gt Northern Diver where present all month joined on the 26th by a feral Barnacle Goose a flock of around 80 Yellowhammer were adjacent to the main road and Redpoll were seen with the Siskin flock towards the end of the year.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Wednesday 2 January

Reality bite hard today and it was back to work. However, it wasn’t all bad and I added another species to my year list. I walked the dog into Shustoke this evening and saw and heard a Little Owl, the first one I have come across in a while.

Roll on the weekend.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Years Day

Up before dawn and at Shustoke with the Captain just as the sun peeped over the horizon. The two Gt Northern Diver were still there and around a dozen Goosander. But it was the first day of the year and it was time to move on after ten minutes.

Next stop Lea Marston. Quick scan and the Long-tailed Duck was picked up distantly. Back in the car this time to the Wishaw area. We picked up Green Woodpecker on route and we were into a rich vein of form. We moved slowly down Blindpit Lane scanning for Grey Partridge when we put up a female MERLIN that was sitting in the field by the side of the road. It didn’t hang around and headed south in the general direction of the canal. We looped round and parked by the church and were we had Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Redwing and Fieldfare.

Next stop was the Hams Hall outflow which is always good for Chiffchaff. We had at least four birds, plus Bullfinch, Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit. We had a quick coffee and headed towards Ladywalk. As we drove back over the river we stopped and picked up a Green Sandpiper.

At Ladywalk with time running short (Baggies on the TV) we missed Willow and Marsh Tit but picked up a number of year ticks ie: Shelduck, Wigeon, Shoveler, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Greenfinch and Redpoll.

As we made our way back to the car park a text informed us that there was a Firecrest at the outflow. So it was a short diversion there and almost immediately the bird appeared give good if distant views.

Just time for a quick stop on Hollyland where we added Yellowhammer and Red-legged Partridge. We scanned through nearly 100 Chaffinchs but no sign of any Brambling or Tree Sparrow. All in all a good day out (68 species) – certainly better than the football!

Next time I will stay birding.