Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Years Eve

Took a couple of walks around Shustoke today didn’t see the Scaup but the other two were still present, the Scaup was probable around just didn’t see it.

A Little Bustard in Yorkshire may prove to be a bit of a pull tomorrow, looks like I will be having a quiet night.

I also include a photo of the Coton Whooper Swans.

All seven of the Whooper Swan at Coton

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

30th December 2014

Joy and I trailed around the Reservoir today seeing exactly the same as yesterday. Try as I might I can find no more than one Tree Sparrow a species that was once regular in the area. I thought the cold snap might have moved on the Common Sandpiper but it was still present – as were the other two!

Monday, 29 December 2014

Monday 29th December

Not a bad day today with the Three Amigos still present (aka Common Sandpiper, Scaup and Red-crested Pochard. Nearby I saw upwards of 12 Yellowhammer, 1 Reed Bunting and at least 1 Tree Sparrow my first for at least three years at the site.

At dusk I checked out the Finch roost and there were upwards of 20 Greenfinch but no Brambling. Eight Goosander flew in five male, three female.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Saturday 27th December

Needing to walk off the Xmas festivities I took a morning walk around the Reservoir. The Scaup and Red-crested Pochard which have been present for around a month were both still around with both to be found on the small pool. I had a site year tick in the form of several Yellowhammer in the sheep field on the other side of the railway. I also had double figures of Snipe at a couple of locations along with a pair of Meadow Pipit.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Saturday 20 December

The three amigos were still present the Scaup, Red-crested Pochard and the Common Sandpiper. The duck had relocated to the small pool whilst the CS was feeding on the edge of the main pool like it has been for nearly three months (it might not be popular at the moment but give it 10 days or so).

There were a couple of Nuthatch and the usual passerines but not a lot else.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Monday 8 December

Not a bad day with a couple of Jack Snipe and around 30 Snipe the cold weather obviously moving the birds on – there were none last week in the same area. The Red-crested Pochard and the Scaup were still present and there was an impressive c.350 Tufted Duck, 27 Gadwall and c.60 Pochard,

Friday, 5 December 2014

The rest of the week

Wednesday – Shustoke the Common Sandpiper was still present, along with the Scaup and the Red-crested Pochard – new for the year was a Woodcock. On the whole, not as good as yesterday but still not bad.

Thursday – spend the day at Middleton Lakes, highlights were c.350 Golden Plover, Green Sandpiper, 8 Shelduck, Water Rail several Stonechat and a good supporting cast of commoner birds.

Friday – Joy and I were up early and 10 minutes after dawn we started the Malvern Ridge a Castlemorton Common nearly three hours later we saw the Snow Bunting again at Worcestershire Beacon also seen were a few Stonechat, Raven, Bullfinch, 20+ Meadow Pipit and a first – a Mistle Thrush feeding on Mistletoe Berries!

Sitting at home knackered after a near 15 mile ridge walk!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Tuesday 2nd December

What a day, probably the best I have had birding at the Reservoir for years. It started well with a Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper together in the north-west corner, I thought I had peaked early. But at the far end the drake Red-crested Pochard and the 1st winter male Scaup were still present, a great haul for Shustoke. I had to make my way along the south shore to see the Scaup as I needed the sun behind me. When I confirmed it was there I made my way back to be greeted with a male Merlin which flew past. I only saw it for a few seconds but it was unmistakably.

I then made my way around the small pool seeing a large flock of Goldfinch which contained a few Siskin, then I saw Willow Tit again in roughly the same area. A large female Peregrine was soaring in the direction of the Gryphon. When I checked up and had seen 58 species in the morning, which quite a few glaring omissions.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Wednesday 19th November

Spent the morning around the Reservoir and had a reasonable time. There were four Goosander, two Goldeneye, 42 Pochard, 9 Shoveller plus 40+ Lapwing and Common Sandpiper.

I saw two Willow Tit today as well the first time I have seen two for quite a while. There were still a few Meadow Pipit in the area but all-in-all it was the usual suspects. The gull roost appeared to have ceased as there were very few birds this evening.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Monday 17th November

Took a walk around late afternoon and found that the Common Sandpiper was still present, that really is a late date. Also the first Goosander with three females on site.

As promised Snow Bunting

Female Snow Bunting, Malvern Ridge

Thursday13th November

Finally found time. Thursday saw the return of the Shag as well as a Little Egret, generally though it was quiet with the passage of thrushes from the previous days drying up.

Walked the Malvern Ridge of Saturday in poor weather but did see the Snow Bunting at the Worcestershire Beacon (photo’s to follow).

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Monday 10th November

Had a couple of walks around today, with the highlight being a Common Sandpiper, however I could not find that on Tuesday. I saw two species today for the first time this year at the Reservoir, Tawny Owl and Nuthatch. There are still good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing passing through and a few Meadow Pipit remain.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Thursday 6th November

Got over just after 8am this morning and the Shag was present but I could not locate it later, it was tucked into the south shore. It was a good day overall with over 2,000 Wood Pigeon moving south. There was a steady flow of Fieldfare and Redwing with a few Meadow Pipit and a couple of Skylark all heading south as well.

On the lake there were a good variety of wildfowl with 3 Goldeneye, 5 Pochard, 2 Gadwall, 4 Teal, 12 Shoveler, c.120 Tufted Duck, c.80 Mallard and c.600 Coot.

Monday, 3 November 2014

10 Red-crested Pochard in a day!!!

Last Friday saw me in Cleveland ticking Eastern Crowned Warbler, two ticks in a week! With having plenty of time in the week I don’t cover the Reservoir as much at weekends now, but Sunday saw my first flock of Fieldfare for the winter with around 40 birds flying over.

I had to drop my son off in Rugby (new job) so I spent most of the day at Draycote Water, I had an enjoyable time the highlights of which were Raven and four Red-crested Pochard, this small group were joined by another male on my second walk around. I received a text from Steve Haynes to say there were five at Shustoke. When I got home Joy and I took a stroll around the Reservoir seeing the said five RCP, 4 male, 1 female. The Shag was back, it was sat on top of the boat moored in the centres of the Reservoir, don’t know where it keeps disappearing too.

We will have to see what the predicted change in the weather will bring!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Another week another Shag!

After a gap of seven days (yes a week) the Shag reappeared, I don’t know where it has been hiding in the meantime but it was a welcome repeat. It had been rather a quiet walk around with just a couple of Redwing to speak of. The on the small pool another reappearance with the two Red-crested Pochard seen for the first time in three days.

The Shag was ridiculously close sat just off the disabled parking bays, unfortunately it was late, but at least one person managed to get there before dark, fortunately he had a camera – take a bow Steve Haynes.

Shag – Steve Haynes

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Wednesday 29th October

I have been around the Reservoir a lot recently and this morning there was still a Common Sandpiper present the Red-crested Pochard weren’t to be seen but they were there on Monday, I think they are commuting! Also today were a couple of Raven. This week has seen a scattering of Meadow Pipits but I have had no more than half a dozen at any one time.

Monday saw a Peregrine spending the late afternoon making sure the gulls didn’t get to settled. Also there was a Chiffchaff with the Long-tailed Tit flock.

Where did I find the time?

I cannot believe how little time I have since I was set free. On Thursday night I found out there was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in Cornwall. I dismissed going for it, but Joy insisted that we go and spend a couple of days in Cornwall (something we try to do most years). After the life changing events of last Friday I though you know what, lets go for it.

We got up early and with no real urgency we made out way down the M5. We hadn’t got much past Exeter when we heard the bird had made it through the night – someone must have helped it. (Gladis Knight!). We arrived at Porthwarra at about 11am and it was murky with a combination of low cloud, fog and a steady drizzle. We followed the directions and three birders one of whom looked familiar appeared out of the gloom. Mr Archer looking like an extra from The Hobbit with full beard but minus axe. He put us on the correct bearing as with the visibility being that poor a compass was called for.

We eventually came across the crowd or gathering, the bird wasn’t showing and you could tell who had seen the bird and who hadn’t – the one’s that had were all talking – rather loudly! I managed to bite my lip for a while but eventually I turned round and asked if the bird was deaf, as I rather hoped that it was as I wouldn’t quite mind seeing it! Sarcasm just went over their heads and they carried on talking away!!!

Eventually after an hour a birder around a 100 yards away started waving and we made our way round to where he was standing and enjoyed great views of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo at one point it landed on a dry stone wall and just sat there for a minute of so. Joy really enjoyed it and gave me a peck on the cheek! Bob Duckhouse one of my flatmates from Shetland was there as well, unfortunately the rain returned so we made our way back to the car park.

We had a walk in Nanquidno valley then we went to Pendeen but the winds were wrong so with daylight at a premium we went to Drift where we walked to the hide and had good views of the female Ring Necked Duck.

We had booked a hotel room for the night at the Penzance Hotel. B&B normally costs £65 for two so at £85 I thought it would be a bit more comfortably. It was great, the staff couldn’t do enough for us there was an excellent restaurant and the breakfast was excellent. I will be staying there again.

The next day, we birded around the Hayle Estuary seeing a couple of Firecrest and a Lesser Yellowlegs plus a variety of other birds. Then we slowly made our way back stopping at a site in Devon where we saw Dartford Warbler.

We arrived home early evening having enjoyed a great weekend.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Porthgwarra, Cornwall

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Thursday 23 October

Spent the morning at Ladywalk, didn’t really see much but it was a pleasant morning. This afternoon Joy and I took a walk around the Reservoir, it didn’t look promising with one sailing boat and a speed boat out on the water. We were about a quarter way round when a Cormorant caught my eye, I pulled up the bins to see a Shag the domed head and long slender bill were obvious, but the small size was what attracted me to it. Almost immediately it took flight it looked like it landed near the car park so we carried on. About half way down the Shag flew past us and disappeared over the trees flying east parallel to the railway line until lost to view. We checked out the small pool but it wasn’t there, but the two Red-crested Pochard were present on the raft in the corner.

I was hopeful of a seabird this week but Shag wouldn’t have been in my personal top ten. I am not sure but I think it might well be a new species for the Reservoir, I will look into it. It is certainly a new species for me.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tuesday 21st October

At a bit of a loose end today! I spent a pleasant morning around the reservoir. The wind was gusting a bit and at first I had the place to myself. On arrival six Skylark flew overhead but that was the only significant sighting apart from the two Common Sandpiper that seemingly don’t want to leave.

On the small pool were 120 Tufted Duck and the two Red-crested Pochard, I also ran into a tit flock seeing Treecreeper, Coal Tit and Goldcrest.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Monday 20 October

Last Friday saw me turn 58 plus probably more significantly unemployed/retired no sure which as yet. So it is safe to say I could be doing a bit more birding from now on. It also explains why I was such a stroppy mare on the Shetland trip – sorry lads – stress does funny things, including putting me off the beer!!!

There have been a couple of Common Sandpiper on and off now for a fortnight and the two Red-crested Pochard were still present this morning. A Swallow was seen yesterday.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Saturday 11th October

Up early and round the reservoir early. The two Red-crested Pochard were still present and there were two Common Sandpipers. A single Chiffchaff was seen but little else.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Thursday 9th October

Had a text yesterday from Steve Haynes that there was a Red-crested Pochard at Shustoke, I didn’t have time to walk around and the bird was tucked up out of sight. I tried again this morning and didn’t see the bird – again though I didn’t have time to walk around.

There are a tremendous number of Coot at the moment, the week before I went to Shetland I counted over 550 and there appears to be more now.

I saw several Swallows passing through this morning and a group of 19 Shoveler. Hopefully I will get over later this afternoon.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Shetlands 2014

Saturday 27 September
Good first day with Arctic Redpoll, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Wood Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler all seen. The flat was good the Fish and Chips even better. Bed early knackered.
Arctic Redpoll

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Sunday 28th September
Took the ferry via Yell to Unst birded the Norwick area. First up was a Temminck’s Stint basically the back of it as a Photographer got too close and flushed it. Then with a bit of a gale blowing Wryneck on the beach we had a search for other migrants but apart from Brambling it was a little quiet. Next stop produced a Common Rosefinch.

Stopped at a cafe for a coffee just after we had ordered – news broke of a Swainson’s Thrush two miles away. Hastily drunk coffee then great views of my first tick of the year. We were all buzzing on the way back we stopped at Yell to search for a King Eider – no luck the light was really poor.

Swainson’s Thrush

A few familiar faces, the Swainson’s twitch

Monday 29th September
News broke of a Yellow-rumped Warbler near Virkie, we headed down there but it was not seen, the weather was really poor with drizzle most of the day. The Captain and I headed back to the flat for a coffee joined an hour later but the rest of the crew. As the weather cleared up a little we went in search of a Barred Warbler eventually we saw the bird quite well.

Tuesday 30th September
Last night news broke of a White’s Thrush so we were up early(ish) we all had great views of this bird in a walled garden as it fed out of the wind. As we were driving away news broke that yesterdays Yellow-rumped Warbler had been relocated at Grutness we were heading in that direction and were only a couple of miles away. There were less than a dozen people present when we got there and had stunning views as it fed in yet another walled garden. Went for breakfast at the Airport then I don’t remember now what we did for the rest of the day, frankly it didn’t matter!
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Wednesday 1st October
A return visit to Unst stopping off at Yell where we dipped the King Eider again. On Unst saw Eastern Sub-alpine Warbler but in the wind it must have been wishing it was an Alpine Warbler. Its not going to be happy when it finds out Unst isn’t anywhere near Africa! Had great views of Barred Warbler as it was chased around by photographers the sight of a dozen middle-aged to old men crouched down inching forward to get closer was funny, the sound of the creaking bones was enough to flush the bird. The Captain got a brief sighting of a rather elusive Rustic Bunting which I may or may not have seen as a bunting like bird flew over me. As I was peeling an Orange at the time it was a missed opportunity. We also had reasonable views of a Marsh Warbler.

After an interesting day we tried for the third time for King Eider, this time success, but the bird was distant and the strong wind didn’t help.

Thursday 2nd October
Had a search for a Little Bunting today, I saw the bird briefly on the ground before it took flight, there was also a Yellow-browed Warbler here. Stopped at a cabbage field where the eagle-eyed Julian found a Richards Pipit, but although there were loads of birds in the field but the wind kept the birds low.

In the afternoon we saw a Pectoral Sandpiper in the south of the Island.

Little Bunting

Friday 3rd October
We went for and had much better views of the Little Bunting then birded around the Voe area for a while. We went back to the flat again for lunch and decided to search for a Corncrake on the west coast. We got there and searched either side of the burn but didn’t see the bird.

Back at the car Bobby D’s pager said there was a MEGA on Shetland but the message had broken up, no-one else had any phone reception so we headed back to civilisation to find out what was going on. As I appoached the main road Julien in the back screamed out “******* H*** a ********* Siberian ******** Ruby*******throat at ******* Levenwick” I have never heard such language!!!!

The next 10 minutes happened rather fast, “left, left, left, 1st gear, 2nd gear, 3rd gear two seconds later 80mpg and 4th gear. Two minutes later “**** we are going the wrong ******* way” Much slamming on of brakes, reversed into a gateway and headed back the way we had come. Parked up and over the next two hours some brief – some good – some tremendous views of my second tick of the week a stunning SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT.

Back at the flat we were all buzzing and I had my first drink of the week – well it had to be done!! If you can’t have a drink after a bird like that you never will!!!!

Saturday 4th October
This was the worst day of the week with heavy rain falling we didn’t do a lot but bored we headed out to search for a Rose-coloured Starling but all we got was wet. Late afternoon it started to brighten up and a report of a Pallid Harrier got us out again. Not for the first time this week we were in the right place at the right time as the Pallid Harrier was at the north end of Tingwall Airport – we were at the south end. A couple of minutes later we were watching the bird. We still had time to fit in a Bluethroat before dark – another good day!
Rather distant Pallid Harrier

Sunday 5th October
Our last day we were up early and some of us cleaned the flat! We had another try for Rose-coloured Starling this time with success. An act of kindness from Tom who drove down to pick The Captain and I up as we had wandered off in an attempt to locate the bird, which turned up where the car was parked. We then went back for and got really good views of the Siberian Rubythroat then with our time on the islands running out we headed to Sumburgh were we saw Jack Snipe, Lesser Whitethroat and another Yellow-browed Warbler. The flights when to plan and I was sat down at home just after 10pm.

Rose-coloured Starling

It was a cracking weeks birding without the crowds, I really hope Shetland stays like that, but with birds like this is seriously doubt it!!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Friday 26th September

Took a walk around this morning and saw 2 male White Wagtail, the Ringed Plover was still there but there was no sign of any Ruff for the first time in two weeks. There was also a Common Sandpiper which has been around for a while.

The highlight was my first Willow Tit for a couple of years in with a flock of Long-tailed Tit behind the  small pool. There were two Swallow briefly and two Raven.

Earlier in the week I had my first group of Siskin of the winter with a small flock of around 16. There were also c.20 Swallow on Wednesday.

I am off to Shetland for a week and normal service will be resumed.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Tuesday 23rd September

After having had my dog put down last night, I didn’t sleep particularly well so I was up early. A bonus for Joy was breakfast in bed! After 14 years of walking the dog first thing we decided that a walk around the reservoir would be a good idea.

There was still one Ruff and the Ringed Plover was still present (they must be fearless). There were three species of Wagtail including two Yellow Wagtail, one Grey Wagtail and around 40+ Pied Wagtail. Also there were five Shoveler. It was a bright morning so it was difficult viewing conditions but I might try and get over again later, I will be at a loose end again no doubt.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Sat 20 & Sun 21 September

When round early on Saturday and saw four Ruff and a Common Sandpiper but the visibility was very poor. Later in the day the Garganey was seen as well as a Ringed Plover and a Greenshank (D Hutton).

I went around early this morning but the disturbance was amazing, dogs in the water people shouting at their dogs etc., etc. Amazingly there were still two Ruff and the Ringed Plover was also seen. I went back around this evening and the same birds were still present. Had a couple of Chiffchaff and a Blackcap.

I was working in the garden today and there was a Raven flying high nearly all afternoon calling he must have been nearly as knackered as I was by the time he had finished.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Thursday 18th September

Popped in briefly and the Garganey was just off the car park showing really well, probably as I hadn’t taken my camera. There were still two Ruff in the same area – the others may well have been down the far end but this was just a flying visit.

Phew, still British!!!!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Wednesday 17th September

Although I didn’t go over today the Garganey and the Ruff were still present. I had a little meeting planned with Little Stint at Middleton RSPB.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Tuesday 16th September

The four Ruff were still present as was the Common Sandpiper. New in were 9 Teal and a female type Garganey which was asleep on the causeway at the Sailing Club. Yesterdays seven Shoveler had dropped to two and the five Pochard had dropped to one. There were still five Gadwall present.

The only other significant sighting was a flock of c.20 Meadow Pipit which flew over and five Swallow.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Monday 15 September

I took a trip over tonight, and the four Ruff were still present, also there were a Redshank and a Common Sandpiper. There were seven Shoveler and five Pochard.

Also in the hedgerow by the sailing club was another Spotted Flycatcher, it has been a good autumn for this species in the area.


I had a relaxing ten days in Tenerife, didn’t do a great amount of birding – but enough. I managed to connect with all of the endemics and saw a few more birds besides.

Blue Chaffinch (male)

White-tailed Laurel Pigeon

Bolle’s Pigeon (top), White-tailed Laurel Pigeon (left)

African Blue Tit

Island Canary

Southern Grey Shrike

Barbary Partridge

Blue Chaffinch (female) and Island Canary

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Friday 12 September

Having got back from Tenerife (more to follow) I took a walk around the Reservoir on Friday evening. After a break of a couple of weeks there seemed to be more birds around. I counted nearly 40 Little Grebe and upto a 100 Lapwing on the South shore.

As I was making my way down the north shore something caught my eye landing on the shoreline behind me, I nearly dismissed it but decided that it was worth checking out, I made my way back and lo and behold there were two Ruff. This is practically the only wader species worth talking about this year, a year that has been particularly poor for waders. I left the birds and carried on only for them to fly  past me and land in the south-east corner. There were also a couple of Shoveler and the first Pochard of the autumn.

On Saturday I didn’t get around until late but there were three Ruff which were all showing really well.

Ruff, Dave Hutton

Friday, 29 August 2014

Thursday 28th August

The Little Gull was still present joined by a Black Tern (Bobby D) in the evening there were also two Common Tern. It was too windy for any warblers so I didn’t see too much in the way of passerines.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Wednesday 27th August

Took a walk around this evening and a 1st winter Little Gull and a Spotted Flycatcher made the trip worthwhile.

The Spotted Flycatcher was just to the left of the car park through the gate and was on the edge of the car park wood and the hedgerow adjacent.

There were c.100 House Martin, c.40 Sand Martin and several Swallow. Also seen were Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Blackcap.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Sunday 24 August

After a rather busy time of late Joy and I headed to Middleton Lakes more for the exercise than the birds, which was just as well because there weren’t that many birds. Saw a couple of Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Hobby but missed the other birds on offer.

I walked the dog up the field this evening and found a Redstart in the hedgerow only my second ever.

This evening it was round Shustoke there was very little on the Reservoir but quiet a few warblers with several Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Monday 11th August

Popped over for half an hour tonight and it wasn’t too bad with a Green Sandpiper, 5 Common Sandpiper, Raven and a Peregrine.

Sunday 10th August

With strong winds blowing I popped in briefly in a lull between paint coats to see a couple of Common Sandpiper and a brief Common Tern. There has been a Sabine’s Gull in Warwickshire today (Monday) that would be a very welcome addition to the Reservoirs bird list!!!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

30 July

I have been over a few times and it is still rather quiet, the LRP is still on the shore by the sailing club as were two Common Sandpiper last night – there are usually three.

Black-headed Gull numbers are starting to build up but I haven’t managed to find a Med Gull amongst them as yet, but I will keep on trying. There are still a few Gadwall in eclipse amongst the numerous Mallard.

With this fine weather looking like it might break this weekend there might be a little movement over the next week or so.

I have seen Hobby locally but not over the Reservoir.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Yesterday – a big day for the area

Joy and I decided to go to Middleton Lakes early on Saturday morning. As we were getting ready to go I received a text to say there was a summer plumage Golden Plover on site! I should have checked the text more carefully we had been walking around 10 minutes when I received another text to say it was a probable American Golden Plover. We walked a little quicker.

On arrival the only other birder present was Geoff Williams he pointed the bird out and it appeared to be American Golden Plover, occasionally there seemed to be a trace of a white line on the flanks but I though that might be down to moult. It soon became apparent that others thought it was Pacific Golden Plover and it turned out to be the case. Even checking my photographs now, the bird looks more like AGP than PGP, but I have seen other photographs that confirm that it was in fact a PGP.
Pacific Golden Plover

Pacific Golden Plover with a hint of a white flank line

Pacific Golden Plover

Friday, 25 July 2014

At Last

I visited the Reservoir yesterday twice and it is still quiet, the 3 Common Sandpiper and LRP were still there in the morning but I didn’t see them in the evening. However, the highlight for me came shaving this morning – I was talking to Joy when I saw a shape in the distance going over the field, I immediately rushed past her to see a Red Kite sail over the field, it seemed to be following the pylons (possibly looking for carrion) it went so far them turned and following the pylons disappeared over the horizon.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

NIght Heron and Mystic Joy

Trying very hard to get used to going back to work, and it wasn’t helped when I received a text from TP to say that a Night Heron had been seen Seeswood Pools just this side of Nuneaton. Joy and I headed there early evening with not a lot of expectation – fortunately I was proved wrong and the bird was showing really well out in the open.

As Joy had posponed a quick trip to Morrisons to accompany me on my quest, she kindly dropped me off at the Reservoir so I could quickly check from the car park. I am glad she did there were 3 Common Sandpiper and a juvenile LRP, two Greylag but not much else. It is the first in many years when we haven’t had any Common Tern feeding here. In previous years we have had good numbers throughout the summer but not this year.

Anyway, 20 minutes later Joy turned up and said I bet you have seen 3 Common Sandpiper and a LRP, I was mystified – it turned out she had met Steve Cawthray at Morrisons who had popped in before me!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Saturday 19th July

After a day of rest we took a walk around the reservoir this evening but it was quiet although I did see four Common Sandpiper.

Thursday 17th July – The Completion

On Wednesday we booked up a B&B in Poolewe in the north-west corner of Scotland we were up at 5.45am and after a hasty breakfast we made a very short drive to the beginning of our final walk. We had left the best until last with A’ Mhaighdean considered to have some of the finest views from a summit in Scotland. It is also 12 miles from the nearest road! In our discussions we had decided that in actual fact we would climb Ruadh Stac Mor last, basically because it is easier to pronounce!

We walked into the farm at Kernsary then through a muddy forest trail onto the open moorland then worked our way for a further seven miles to the secluded bothy at Carnmore in the middle of the last wilderness in the UK. The weather at this point was fair but low cloud was shrouding the hills but the forecast was for an improving picture during the day.

Not that it was uppermost in my thoughts on this day it was quite good for birds, with Black and Red-throated Diver seen plus lots of Dipper and a Cuckoo being fed by couple of Meadow Pipits.

We crossed a man made causeway across the Dubh Loch then started a ascent on a good stalkers path until we reached the stream flowing out of Lochan Feith Mhic-illean. Unfortunately due to yesterdays heavy rain this was in spate and we had to remove our boots and wade across!

We then climbed to the col at 750 metres between our two final hills, it had taken over five hours to get this far and the cloud showed no sign in lifting. We then started to follow the path south-west up the slopes of A’ Mhaighdean and 40 minutes later we were standing by a cairn with another cairn 30 yards away. Neither were substantial and I was not happy, visibility was really poor so I headed off 400 yards to north-east to make sure we were in the right place, the ridge just fell away, I went the other way and it also dropped away. The others were convinced we were at the summit – I wasn’t entirely happy but well you can’t loose a summit can you!

On top of Ruadh Stac Mor looking a little chuffed, 10 minutes later it was a different story!

Ruadh Stac Mor

The view from the summit of Ruadh Stac Mor
Well it has taken us 20 years to get to this position, we descended to the col and started to make the short but steep climb to the summit of Ruadh Stac Mor, I have often wondered what would go through my mind at this point and to be honest it was just a case of concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. Then it was there, the climbing stopped and 40 yards away was the summit and the trig point. We joined hands and walked to the cairn and touched it together, that was it finished! Joy and Karen shed a tear or two, I felt a little emotional myself (didn’t cry though), I really did feel a sense of achievement, then as if someone from above had smiled upon us it cleared and we had some tremendous views. We managed to get mobile phone reception and we phoned our sons and parents. We took loads of photographs and after about 20 minutes we thought about our walk back out. At that point I took a photograph of A’ Mhaighdean for my records. I was horrified, as it came out of the mist I could see were we had been and off to the north-west was a obviously higher, outcrop with a cairn sitting on top of it!

Emotionally I am quite stable but I have never had them switch from elation to disappointment quite so quickly. What a cock-up! The look on the faces of the others when I pointed out that we had to climb A’Mhaighdean again was something else, Colin’s face resembled a startled Pollock! Joy nearly ripped my head of my shoulders pulling the binoculars to her eyes. The Munro’s were having a final laugh at our expense!

Surprisingly the climb back up A’ Mhaighdean wasn’t that bad and when we got there we realised what had happened we had just carried on climbing until we stopped whilst a faint path snaked off to the north-west. However, when we got there this time in contrast to 90 minutes earlier the views were absolutely stunning. I would be lying if it wasn’t an anti-climax and there was none of the emotion of earlier but in a strange way it was more satisfying. By now it was just after 3pm and we made our way back down to the col, half way down Joy just screamed out “Yes, we’ve done it!”

A’Mhaighdean with summit centre left and where we were the first time centre right!

The view from the summit of A’ Mhaighdean

The end!
As we descended from the col we met a walker on his way up with his dog, I had to resist the temptation to shout out we had just completed the Munro’s! We had to un-shoe again to cross the stream then made our way back down to Carnmore and the causeway. On the way down we met a German lad coming the other way, he had left Kinlochewe this morning without food, drink and a map. He was completely lost and was heading to the centre of the Letterewe which is the middle of nowhere.

Ruadh Stac Mor & A’ Mhaighdean in the late evening sunshine. (They are about three hours away)
He was in a bit of a panic and didn’t speak much English. We got him to join us back to Poolewe where he could stay in the hotel for the evening. He said he was ex German army and came from a village outside of Hamburg. After about an hour we realised he hadn’t eaten or drunk anything so we gave him a bottle of water and some sandwich’s and a Snickers. To say he was grateful was an understatement. Colin took Braun and went ahead dropping him off at the Poolewe hotel and driving the mile or so back up the road to pick us up. When we got back to the car it had taken us six hours from the summit of A’ Mhaighdean. It had been an epic 14 hour day but it will live in my memory for ever!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Birding whilst awaiting COMPLETION

The next day we mainly rested but in the evening we went down one of the Glens near Perth but it was poor apart from Red Kite and a Short-eared Owl.

On the Tuesday Joy and I went birding, the intention was to work our way along the Angus coast and then take a trip up Glen Clova looking for eagles.

At Arbroath we were searching for Med Gull and anything else, but it really was the wrong time of the year. A local birder (English) came over and introduced himself and told me that it was really quiet but that there was a Ring-necked Duck at Murton Loch. He gave us perfect instructions and we followed them arrived at the site only to find out it was closed on Tuesdays! Anyway, he done us a favour as it gave us more time in Glen Clova. We walked about three miles from the car park seeing two Goldies but not a fat lot else apart from a Ring Ouzel which was buzzing the eagle high on the ridge.

Later than night we walked along General Wades military road in Glen Quiash seeing another Short-eared Owl and a Twite.

Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg

Well this was it – my last week climbing Munro’s. The weather was looking mixed and we changed our original plans so that we could watch the World Cup Final. We had intended to leave Ben Nevis to be our final hill but logistically it would have been difficult to accomplish this and watch the football.

We were up early and arrived at the Ben Nevis car park at 8.45am but the sky looked heavy and I realised that I would be getting the compass out on more than one occasion.

There was a really good path that after an hour and a half took us to half way lochan. We left the tourists and tourist route and headed north to cut back around under the cliffs of the north-west face of the Ben. I have seen these before and they are mightily impressive. However, today they were shrouded in cloud and clag. We arrived at the CIC Hut got the compass out and took a bearing east and started the 90 minute grind up the west face of Carn Mor Dearg, it was just a case of putting one foot in front of the other and keep on stepping!  I was more than chuffed when we hit the ridge about 20 yards from the summit, I tried not to look surprised and marched to the cairn – three left!
Carn Mor Dearg from the Arete

Joy and Karen on the Arete

The four of us on the summit of Carn Mor Dearg

We met a pair on the summit that had come up the east ridge, he was old (older than me) and had a military bearing – and posh. The other was younger and was probable Canadian. They were a little confused and about to go down the ridge we had come up. He got his map out and realised he was about to go the wrong direction. It is surprisingly confusing when visibility is so poor, as we would find out later in the week!

We then headed south along the ridge then along the narrow arete, Colin and I followed the crest whilst the girls took the bye-pass path. It was quite exhilarating and enjoyable but took a fair while. We eventually crashed intothe east face of Ben Nevis and it was then just a case of picking our way up over the boulder field to the summit – two left. There were quite a few people, not many had followed our route, and most were not equipped properly, this is not a place for ill equipped day trippers!

The descent followed a good path and there was still a bit of snow around. It took close to three hours to get back to the car then we had the drive back to Perth. We were showered and sitting down to food and only missed the first five minutes of the football!
The summit of “The Ben”

Looking towards Fort William from about 2,500ft
Bird wise it had been poor, mainly due to the weather but we did see a couple of Snow Bunting one was sitting on a wall at the summit amongst the tourists.

Monday, 7 July 2014

An interesting Swift

Joy and I took a walk around the reservoir on Sunday evening there wasn’t too much around but I did see a very interesting Swift. It was partially albino, but was was interesting was it had a large white belly patch not unlike an Alpine Swift. There is no question that it was a partially albino Common Swift but an interesting bird nonetheless. I would not be surprised to see reports of an Alpine Swift in the area!!!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Saturday 5th July

Spent most of the morning over at the Reservoir, it was remarkably quiet! Hightlight were a pair of Little Egret which I picked up in flight, in all honesty they were nearer to Coleshill than Shustoke – but they count!

There were lots of family parties around and it was a reasonably interesting day considering the time of year. The first returning Common Sandpiper was seen but when I went round later in the evening I could not see it.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Monday 23rd June

I have paid a couple of visits to Shustoke but there is very little around. Even the flocks of Common Tern from previous years are not present at the moment.

There is a pair of Hobby locally and I had a Little Owl today sat out in broad daylight on one of the local road, that is the first for quite a while.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Glen Affric – Part 2 – Day 4

After returning knackered from Knoydart and the weather not looking great I was contemplating going home. But we all expressed a wish to try and walk again rather than return later in the year for a weekend. Later that day the weather forecast improved so we sat down and decided that we would go for it, and that finishing the Glen Affric Munro’s would be our priority.

Cairn Eighe from Mam Sodhail
The summit of Cairn Eighe
So on Saturday we were up at 5.00am and on the road by half past, it made a difference and we made Inverness in 1hr 40m. It took a further hour to get to the Glen Affric car park but we were well motivated and were on the move straight away. 

The summit of Bheinn Fhionnlaidh
Bheinn Fhionnlaidh
This was going to be another long day we worked our way up Gleann nam Fiadh climbing steeply to the col and over the three tops to the Munro of Carn Eighe, the pinnacled ridge was brilliant and easy walking. When we arrived at the summit cairn it had taken us 4h 15minutes.

The summit of Mam Sodhail and our ninth hill in a week
Mam Sodhail from the summit of Cairn Eighe
The clouds were high and there was a good wind blowing but it didn’t hinder us. Beinn Fhionnlaidh didn’t look too far away and we were soon down at the col and at the cairn within an hour. On the return we picked up our ruck sacks were we had left them and traversed across eastern flanks of Carn Eighe before the final push up Mam Sodhail which was relatively easy. That left us with a long walk back to the car. We arrived in the car park at 6.20pm unfortunately it started raining at 6.15pm!

So that is now twelve Munro’s climbed this year leaving just four hills left to climb which will take two walking days. One is a 14-16 hour marathon in the Fisherfields and the other is CMD and Ben Nevis!

I am so looking forward to writing about the birds that I have seen, so please excuse my indulgence, I am fully aware that most of the recent reports have a been about hills and not birds!

Knoydart – Day 2

I eventually awoke to find a bright morning – no curtains, the snoring was still going strong, I felt quite refreshed although I felt I hadn’t slept much. I got up walked through to the kitchen to find my brother on his second cup of tea, I went to the loo to find Joy on her way back full dressed. On returned to the kitchen I had some cereal and coffee looked up at the clock and it was 4.50am! What the hell is going on! We decided that we could probably climb Ladhar Bheinn and get back early enough to get the 5pm boat back to Malliag, which after last night appealed!

The view down into Barrisdale Bay from the summit of Ladhar Bheinn

We started walking at just after 6.00am and the biggest problem was finding the path out of the village, which we eventually found (old map). It took 90 minutes to get to the ruins of Folach were we followed a path which climbed up to the west ridge of Ladhar Bheinn then it was a steep pull west along the ridge to the summit.

The summit of Ladhar Bheinn

The trig point on Ladhar Bheinn

The weather was supposed to be really poor but it was really good the opposite of yesterday. The views were stunning and we lingered a bit longer than we normally do. It took nearly as long to get back.

I went to the Quay to arrange the boat and we had a leisurely afternoon then caught the 5.00pm boat back to Malliag. Arriving back in Perth at around 8.30pm. We now had down three of the six walks that we had left with the most awkward one’s done and in the bag.

The Old Forge

If I look sad it is because I am outside of the pub and it is closed. I could have murdered a drink