Thursday, 30 May 2013

Wednesday 29th May

With heavy rain falling for most of the day I though I would spend an hour at the Reservoir. I got over about 5.30pm and had the place to myself. Fortunately, no people, no dogs but unfortunately no birds!

There were around eleven Common Tern feeding I assume these are birds that breed at Marsh Lane as I see them commuting over my house heading in that general direction. There is still something exciting from seeing what is essentially a seabird flying over the garden. The only other bird of note was a singing Skylark over Bixhill Lane.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

A weeks Hillwalking and birding

Well third time lucky, with one aborted trip and another abandoned we finally managed a week in Scotland. Travelled up a week last Thursday and the next morning we travelled across Scotland from Perth to Oban to catch the 10am ferry, I had underestimated how long it would take and we were nearly 90 minutes early. Oban harbour held several Black Guillemot on the ferry over I picked up a bird miles away it looked like White-tailed Eagle, but it was just too far away to count.

Me, Joy, Karen and Colin awaiting the Ferry at Oban

Ben More on Mull
We arrived at the foot of Ben More (Mull’s only Munro), it was busy with several cars present. I picked up a year tick by the car with a couple of Twite. Considering it was the first hill of the year we were sitting at the cairn in around two hours, but not before I had another year tick – a fine female Snow Bunting. Didn’t do a fat lot on Saturday but on Sunday Joy and I walked about eight miles down Glen Quaich, we saw Whinchat, Black Grouse and Red Grouse. We went back to my mothers in Perth when I received a text from my birding mate in Scotland Stuart Green, to inform me that he had found a  Scarlet Rosefinch and Red-backed Shrike just north of Arbroath, he didn’t know I was in Scotland!

Joy and I headed off but by the time we arrived it was cold and dull and there was little activity. Mind you between Perth and Auchmithie the Albion went from 5-2 down to United to 5-5 so it was hard to be disappointed. Whilst there I met a local birder Mark Cant who said the Rosefinch was very mobile, we called it a day!

On Monday we were up early to travel to Loch Mullordoch which is west of Cannich – I had arranged for a boat to take us the length of the Loch so we could climb the Glen’s four Munro’s. The seven miles it saved made it do-able in a day. As we were dropped off I had a pair of Black-throated Diver. It was a fair clump up to the top of the day’s first Munro An Socach accompanied by thick cloud. Fortunately because this was a fairly narrow ridge for most of the way there was a good path. We saw a few Ptarmigan near the summit but bird wise that was all that we had. An Riabhachan was next and this took nearly an hour and a half, as the ridge twisted one way then another. It was a big decent and an even bigger rise the to the next hill Sgurr na Lapaich, by this time the wind had picked up and the temperature dropped considerably, I was also starting to feel the pace – this was turning into a big day! On the decent from Sgurr na Lapaich the visibility was poor with the angle of decent alarming, our decent was halted by a snow field, we could not see where it went, the only sign being footprints – heading down! Colin and I used our walking poles and gingerly decended, with Joy and Karen behind, I heard a cry and turning round saw Joy sliding down the slope on her backside followed by Karen. Fortunately, the managed to stop themselves, I thought they were getting a bit cocky, until they informed us they had slipped and not done it on purpose.

Being dropped off by the boat at Loch Mullordoch
The cairn of An Socach 

One of the other four Munro’s that day, the views were the same from them all.
We kept losing height and for the first time it started to clear a little and we could see what was in front of us – the day’s last Munro Carn nan Gobhar, I wish it had stayed hidden as it looked a big climb, as it happened it wasn’t that bad, we were soon on the top and heading down the south-east ridge back to the loch and the car – all in all it took us eleven hours.

The next day I fancied a days birding in Angus, Joy and I arrived at Auchmithie and I was rumbling around in the boot when Joy shouted to me “What’s That” I looked up to see a stunning male Scarlet Rosefinch, no sooner had I got it in my bins it was off, and we never saw it again. We had a good day although we didn’t see any significant birds apart from a Marsh Harrier at Montrose Basin. I did meet Simon the man responsible for the RSPB’s Scottish Reserves at Ethie Mains whilst we were searching for Red-backed Shrike, I had met him last year at Ethie Mains whilst looking for – you guessed it Red-backed Shrike.

Beinn Bhrotain from Monadh Mor

The summmit of Monadh Mor
With the weather forecast going down hill we decided to hill walk again on Wednesday in the Cairngorms. Joy and I needed to two to complete that area and Colin and Karen one hill. Fortunately both hills started at the same point so we travelled up together. They headed north to Beinn Mheadhoin whilst Joy and I went west to Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor. What should have been a straightforward day got off to a bad start when we lost the path and lost a bit of time. We got to the outlying top of Carn Cloich-mhullinn and headed north-west to Beinn Bhrotain. It was then that I realised I had made a mistake, I had taken a larger more detailed map, but due tothe gale force winds I couldn’t open it, we could hardly hear each other speak. Looking ahead there were two humps we headed for the one on the right which proved to be the north-east spur, it wasn’t too much to recover and we were sitting on the summit in little more than four hours.

Joy was starting to panic as we were hit with a snow storm but it cleared a little and I at least got a peek of Monadh Mor and its layout. We set off but by the time we hit the plateau of Monadh Mor it was covered in thick cloud, following the compass we marched north-west, I knew that if we had to we could head north and take the escape route down into Glen Geusachan, something I didn’t really want to do. We were only 100 yards from the summit when the cloud cleared and we had stunning views. We decided not to stop and eat but to head back the way we had come. On the way back I had a stunning female Dotterel just before we were hit by another snow storm. We arrived back at the car in just over ten hours, that night the Cairngorms where hit by blizzards with roads blocked, we were lucky, but it was the end of hill walking for the week!

We travelled home on Friday to find a large Oak tree in the garden lying on its back, I have spend the 24 hours since trying to move it!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Monday 13th May

I got home from work and the heavens opened, thinking I would have the Reservoir to myself I went over. Steve Cawthray was on-site just getting ready to leave, the 1st summer Kittiwake (Steve Haynes) was still there although distant feeding at the east end. As we talked a Hobby buzzed through, but surprisingly it didn’t head straight into the Swifts etc, and disappeared as fast as it had arrived.

I continued round and Steve left for pastures new to search for waders at Kingsbury. I had only gone a couple of hundred yards when I picked up a Ringed Plover (my first for a few years on-site). The wind was really screaming but the bird seemed settled enough. I left it and continued around. A Severn Trent worker who had been in the car park talking to us earlier went to search for the Kittiwake camera in hand. I met up with him half way around and he said he had got some shots. He was very enthusiastic and ran though his pictures – on seeing them I realised he had photographed a Dunlin. The said bird was found at the far end on the only bit of shoreline available. I met up with Steve Haynes back at the car park and yesterdays male Yellow Wagtail was again on show. A Kingfisher worked its way towards us, seeing us it turned 90ยบ and worked its way quickly through the gardens to avoid us.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Sunday 12 May

I had a couple of trips today, first early morning where it was pretty much the same as yesterday with the singing Garden Warbler performing really well behind the Sailing Club. Yesterdays Wheatear had gone but there were close on a dozen singing Blackcap on site. We avoided the Reservoir itself and walked along the path adjacent to the railway.

Later, I checked out the Coleshill Quarry, but although there is lots of water it is now completely overgrown and there is no muddy edge so loved by waders. I did however, come across 3 singing Reed Warblers. I popped into Shustoke on the way back as Steve Haynes had seen Arctic Tern earlier in the day. The Arctic Tern was still there and I whiled away half an hour with Steve Cawthray seeing a Yellow Wagtail which was by the Shustoke Sailing Club.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Saturday 11 May

Not a bad day today, I caught up with a few commoner species at the Res. On arrival there had obviously been an influx of hirundines and Swift. Although I didn’t count them there must have been over 1,000 Swift. Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins combined neared 600 birds. Ever available perch was in use as a lot of the birds seemed very tired. I saw several Whitethroat, Blackcap, a couple of still singing Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. In the potato field on the other side of the railway crossing there was a probable Greenland Wheatear, I didn’t have my scope with me but it looked large and bright and the late date suggest that it probable was. The highlight for me was a Garden Warbler singing in the hedgerow behind the Sailing Club. It took me 10 minutes but I eventually did see it.

There was a single Common Tern and a single Gadwall but that was about it.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Weekend

Spent most of the time working in the garden but I did get over to Shustoke once. There were more dogs in the water than wildfowl on it. There only appeared to be a couple of Common Tern, they have probable moved on to there breeding sites now. No doubt they will be back when it comes to feeding the young. There were good numbers of Swift but little else.

A couple of walking on Cannock Chase over the weekend saw me catch up with Wood Lark and Wood Warbler. I also saw Tree Pipit and Redstart but strangely no Pied Flycatchers.

Friday, 3 May 2013


Guess where I was last night, a Woodchat Shrike at Brandon Marsh was too good an opportunity to miss – so I didn’t. Also saw Cetti’s Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler there. Also a Lesser Whitethroat was singing as we hit the main road.

A little bit of friendly competition has arisen with the good Captain and myself over our respective year lists. I am a couple ahead of him. So it is too my credit when a Barnacle Goose flew past and he was looking the wrong way, I pointed it out – although I thought twice about it!!!! Having said that it was feral!!!
Woodchat Shrike, Brandon Marsh

Woodchat Shrike, Brandon Marsh

Thursday, 2 May 2013


I am afraid that I have been neglecting my duties at Shustoke over the last week. I have paid a couple of flying visits but have seen nothing particularly of note. Mark Fennell reported Whitethroat over the weekend and there were nearly 20 Common Tern on Saturday evening.

On a personal note I visited Cannock Chase with the Captain over a week ago but most of the migrants weren’t in although we did pick up Redstart, Tree Pipit and Cuckoo. The 1 May saw the Captain and I at Middleton RSPB again it was quiet although I did add Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler to my meagre Year List. And as dusk approached we saw and heard a couple of Garden Warblers at Coton. Then breaking news this morning I walked the dog up the field and had a fly over Shelduck only my second in eleven years. But much more importantly I finally caught up with LINNET! Never in my life have I had to wait until the 2 May to see this species!!!! They are either getting rarer or I am getting lazier!