Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Tuesday 8th December

Yesterday saw me doing my usual walk around the Reservoir and surrounding areas, it was, as it has been for most of the year, quiet.

However, I did flush a Woodcock, which was the first for the year. The Common Sandpiper was still present, strangely is was associating with a small flock of around a dozen Meadow Pipits. Apart from around eight Snipe it was quiet. I went around this afternoon seeing very little in addition to yesterday apart from a couple of Raven.

The approach road to Blythe Mill has been providing good views of both Short-eared and Barn Owl. Access isn’t easy as the footpath from Water Lane is probably the best, although parking might be a problem. Get as far as the bridge and scan the rough area back towards the Mill and the main road. I was there this afternoon and there was a Short-eared Owl although this was tempered by the sight of a Mute Swan flying into the pylon cables and plunging to its death! Put the mockers on a good day.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Tuesday 1st December

After a week in Scotland this was the first opportunity to get out since I got back. The Common Sandpiper was still present and there were close on 70 Pochard, 3 Shoveler, 9 Gadwall and a fly over Raven.

The wet meadows held nine Snipe but no Jack Snipe.

Early evening saw me at Coleshill Quarry where I caught up with the Short-eared Owls that have been around for a week or so. They were showing particularly well just off the approach road to the Mill. They were joined by a Barn Owl later on.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Monday 16th November

A Hen Harrier was seen locally on a couple of occasions last week close to Coleshill Quarry I made a couple of visits but only saw Barn Owl and a Stonechat.

Today I spent the morning at the Reservoir adding Goldeneye to my year total which now stands at 110. That is probably the poorest I have accumulated in recent years despite a lot more visits!

There were a good number of birds around today which was in part due to the wind dropping no doubt. There were a few Redpoll which were the first of the winter, also seen were 20+ Siskin and a lot of winter thrushes. There was a fly over Raven as well.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Wednesday 11th November

Again I have been birding most mornings, Monday saw me at Draycote Water where I walked the whole way around, it was rather poor until the last mile or so – I will walk the other way round next time. The wind was howling but it was quite mild for the time of year. Highlights included Scaup, 4 Red-crested Pochard, Pintail and @6 Tree Sparrows.

Tuesday saw me spending the morning at the Reservoir, the wind wasn’t quite as strong but most of the passerines were keeping their heads down. I saw over 50 Fieldfare and a lesser number of Redwing but the numbers of wildfowl were low apart, or course for Coot there were over 500 of those. The highlight was a Common Sandpiper normally unusual for this time of year, but with one wintering last winter, maybe we are due a repeat experience.

Wednesday I spent at Middleton Lakes RSPB and whilst I quiet enjoyed myself (I always do) there was little in the way of Avian interest.

In the afternoons I have been walking my sons dog as he and his partner are very busy. I have been taking him along the trail on the River Cole in Shard End. I have to say the footpath heading towards Babs Mill looks fantastic and whilst I haven’t seen that much it has potential, a calling Tawny Owl is my best so far.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Tuesday 3rd November

I spent the end of the week and the weekend in Norfolk where I finally beat my record year total for the UK. I added Water Pipit, Red-necked Grebe, Firecrest, Spotted REDSHANK, Velvet Scoter and Bewick Swan to my year list.

In Norfolk we only spread our wings as far as Titchwell and Holkham and as usual we did a fair bit of walking other good birds seen were Rough-legged Buzzard and Black Redstart.

I haven’t been to the Reservoir much in recent weeks but when I have it has been rather poor. I dragged myself over yesterday and the most eventful thing that happened was that I was set upon by a dog! The couple had been walking behind me for a while and I could hear them shouting at a dog most of the way, I was rather miffed as it had been a pleasant quiet day to that point. Then I heard a louder shout then this bloody mutt tried to take a chunk out of my leg. It was snarling and showing is teeth and trying to get at me. The couple said hysterially “He doesn’t normally do that!” I retorted with “well if he was on a lead it wouldn’t be a problem” It would appear that remarked upset them a little, as there was a lot of puffing out of shoulders and aggressive mumbling as they went past, the dog then went off to harass someone else who had there dog on a lead – some people!

Bird wise there was a good scattering of wildfowl with around 15 Pochard, 8 Shoveler, 8 Gadwall and single Wigeon and Teal.

I’m sitting here and the fogs lifted so I’m off out – the hounds are hungry.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Tuesday 20th October

Spent the morning at the Reservoir and the water levels have dropped a bit during the last week. There was a dearth of wildfowl on the main pool apart from Coot, Little and Great Crested Grebe. However, there was a Common Sandpiper and a single Swallow plus two Raven flew overhead.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Monday 19th October

Spend the morning at Middleton Lakes RSPB saw 63 species the highlights included 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Green Sandpiper, Ruff, 12 Golden Plover but that was about it.

Shustoke hasn’t turned up much in the last week although I did have my first Pochard of the winter last week.

Going to give it a go tomorrow but it doesn’t look promising.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Friday 9th October

Joy and I spent a pleasant morning at Middleton Lakes RSPB, the weather was gorgeous way too good for any decent birds. In short the best bird was a presumed feral Blue phase Snow Goose, I’m pretty sure this bird has been knocking around the Midlands recently.

Other birds were a single Dunlin and four Stonechat. Wildfowl numbers are starting to build up but I think the vegetation needs to die back a bit.

We decided to go back over the Middleton Lakes this evening and we witnessed a bit of weird behaviour. Three lads probably late teens early twenties (all had full beards) were on the lower path at the Southern Meadows, they were rather loud but out of sight behind the trees. As we walked further up and looked back they were actually in the field with the horses.

To cut a short story shorter they were trying to – well to be honest I don’t know what they were trying to do. They appeared to be trying to catch a horse, they were chasing them around the field with lots of arm waving with one of them armed with a tennis racket! They may have been the same three I saw earlier in the year using Fishers Mill Lake as a Coconut Shy, lobbing rocks at the Swans!

Needless to say they didn’t catch any horses, they were obviously the wrong colour Indians!!!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Wednesday 7th October

Firstly, I set up my winter feeding station yesterday and within 5 minutes I had two Nuthatch stealing all the nuts! I didn’t see 1 last year, strange! But better was to follow, a Little Egret flew over the house at about 5.30pm only the second I have seen the other was a few years back and was closer to Ladywalk than my place.

I am lazily trying to beat my rather modest years best total of 240, after Shetland I am three species short, so with a potential new species for the year at Middleton Lakes RSPB in the form of a Great White Egret I headed out after dropping Joy off at work. There was a Siskin on the feeders there and I played it cool checking out the southern meadows first where I saw 5 Little Egret together, there was also Chiffchaff and three Swallow. I arrived at Jubilee Wetland at the same time as a work party, so I moved on – as did most of the birds. There was no sign of any GWE and the north pit didn’t look promising as it is rather overgrown, great for birds but not for bird watching.

I had a pleasant morning and on my way back there was a Spotted Flycatcher near the first bench which was showing really well.

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

I did a few hours gardening later finding out that Bittern and the Great White Egret had both been seen so I decided to go back before dark to have another look. Joy decided to come with me and we made our way out towards Jubilee Wetland. There was no sign of the GWE but a Ruff flew in and landed in front of us. We checked out the other side of the river – Dosthill Pits, I was surprised just how much this area has changed, and not for the better.

With no sign of the bird here so we checked out North Pit, I had just about given up when the Great White Egret flew over the hide and dropped down onto one of the small pools behind the bund. As we made our way around the bird took flight and headed south towards Kingsbury Water Park.

Monday 5th October

Had a good walk around on Monday seeing around 10 Swallows in total the only other remaining summer migrant was a lone Chiffchaff. Steve Cawthray had counted around 1,100 Coot last week and I got to around 900 but it is hard to be accurate as they seem to congregate at either end.

Along the River however, I had two flocks of Siskin which totalled over 40 birds but generally it is quiet, its been rather a poor year so far so I am hopefully of a couple of rarer bird this autumn, but I’m not holding my breath!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Shetland Week

Have just returned from a week in the Shetland Isles with The Captain, Bob, Tom and Julien. It all went well and we had a good week of birding. It wasn’t up to the high standard of last year but nothing was going to match the birds we saw in 2014.

It got off to a good start when a Lanceolated Warbler turned up at Vale of Walls but as we were within a mile of an American Golden Plover we went to see that first. There were around 40 birders present when we arrived at Vale of Walls, like a lot of places in Shetland it has more letters than houses. The bird was being pushed around a fair bit, but unfortunately that is the name of the game in Shetland! There is so little cover but the birds use it well. This bird was running around on the ground in amongst the long grass like a mouse! The next day (Sunday) we went south again to Toab where were saw Blyth’s Reed Warbler and this bird was being pushed as well and we only got flight views.

The garden of the house we were staying in had a Sycamore in the front garden “The Tree of Dreams” and it held a Lesser Whitethroat for the whole week, whilst the back garden had a Yellow-browed Warbler. In a way the bird of the week was Yellow-browed Warbler, every tree in Shetland seemed to have one and we must have seen in excess of 50 during the week, more than I have seen in 35 years of birding.

Monday saw us on Unst where our luck changed missing Arctic Warbler and Pallid Harrier, to compound things a Grey-cheeked Thrush turned up on Mainland! Unfortunately wrong place, wrong time.

Tuesday the wind had increased and we went for and missed the Grey-cheeked Thrush which had moved on overnight, we then missed a Eastern Subalpine Warbler then a possible Icterine Warbler, it was starting to be a recurring theme. In the afternoon with the wind blowing a gale The Captain and I spent a couple of hours at Quarff where we saw a couple of Red-breasted Flycatchers and several Yellow-browed Warblers.

Wednesday started with a trip north to look for a Pechora Pipit that was seen late last night, we were lucky and connected with the bird straight away. In the afternoon it was again very windy and birding was hard work, The Captain and I birded around Boddam where we were given a verbal volley from a women when we were in the garden of a derelict house! We found a Woodcock sitting in a field and there were bird coming in off the sea with Redwing, Snipe and Swallow all arriving looking knackered from fighting the wind. We did however catch up with a Bluethroat and a Pied Flycatcher further South.

The rest of the week drifted but we really enjoyed birding some of the settlements in the south we didn’t find anything rare but it was enjoyable just birding and not chasing rare birds (although a chance would have been nice).

There was a bit of a mix up with flights on the way back with one of the party missing an earlier flight and being stung over £300 to get home, but that is airlines for you.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

23 September

I have recently returned from 17 days in Tenerife. The first week was with three birding colleagues, we cleaned up on the endemics in three days leaving us scratching around for the rest of the week. It was good fun and we all enjoyed the experience. Highlights include: Bolle’s Pigeon, White-tailed Pigeon, Blue Chaffinch, Island Canary, Canary Island Blue Tit, Canary Island Chiffchaff, Plain Swift, Barbary Falcon, Barbary Partridge, Monk Parakeet, Spoonbill, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Spanish Sparrow, Lesser-short Toed Lark, Spectacled Warbler and Sardinian Warbler. Plus but by no means least 1,000’s of Cory’s Shearwaters.

I dropped the lads off at the Airport with Joy arriving on the flight they were returning on. She needed the rest having had a hectic week at work. We generally just relaxed although we did a little birding only really adding Knot and Common Sandpiper. In fact we didn’t even use the car for the last few days. But I really enjoyed it.

Today at Shustoke I had a year tick with a Little Egret, there was a bit of passage today with 50-80 hirundines a fly over Yellow Wagtail, 2 Blackcap, several Chiffchaff. It was good to see getting on for 50 species – to put it into perspective in the 17 days on Tenerife I only managed 55 species.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Wednesday 26th August

It was a bit bleak this morning more like October than August but I enjoyed it. Not long after I arrived a juvenile Arctic Tern flew through and just carried on going. There were really good numbers of Wildfowl which included

61 Shoveler
57 Gadwall
5 Wigeon
125 Tufted Duck
140 Mallard
48 Little Grebe
54 Great Crested Grebe
676 Coot although Steve Haynes counted 781!

Passerines were thin on the ground and after the good numbers of Warbler on Monday I was down to 4 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcap and a single Whitethroat – but it was windy.

There were a few butterflies around with Common Blue, Painted Lady and Small Copper the highlights.

Painted Lady

Small Copper and Common Blue

Monday, 24 August 2015

Monday 24 August

Med Gull at Shustoke last week
For the second time this year I have seen Greenshank at Shustoke Reservoir! For the second time this year I put the news out! And, for the second time this year the bird flew off just after I put the news out!!!

It circled for a while before landing on the carpet weed but within minutes it had gone. There were still two Common Sandpipers on the edge despite disturbance from dog owners who refuse to put there dogs on leads.

There were a lot of warblers around today with double figures of Chiffchaff and Blackcap, plus I saw a few Whitethroat and a single Willow Warbler. On Saturday evening I had only my second Garden Warbler for the year.

Two Wood Sandpipers, Middleton Lakes RSPB

Two Wood Sandpipers, Middleton Lakes RSPB

Friday, 21 August 2015

Thursday 20th August

Reaping the benefits of getting all my chores out of the way during the summer. Yesterday, though I was a bit pushed for time during the day, so I made a brief visit in the morning just to see if the Med Gull was still present, it was and with the farmers ploughing the fields locally the numbers of gulls have increased dramatically. I didn’t have time to walk around but a quick look from the car park saw really good numbers of Gadwall (30+), Shoveler (12+), Wigeon (3) plus over 60 Little Grebe when you add that there are two pairs and a few youngsters on the small pool there are getting on for 70 present.

Generally it appears to have been a really good breeding season. Two broods of Mute Swan, numerous Mallard, 1 of Gadwall and Great Crested and Little Grebe appear to have had a lot of success. There are at least two Gt Crest and one Little Grebe on eggs even at this late stage and two nests of Tufted Duck which tend to nest later in the season.

For a change Joy and I went to Middleton RSPB and amazingly had the place to ourselves apart from two lads on Trial Bikes buzzing around the reserve. Birdwise there were 2 Wood Sandpiper, 3 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 3 Ruff, 1 Dunlin, 1 Garganey and 2 Mandarin Duck.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Wednesday 19th August

Not a bad day again today, I walked around from 8.30 onwards but the Ruff were no where to be seen. I made my way to the Sheep Paddocks and there was still one Whincat. I heard Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but the highlight was my first Lesser Whitethroat for the site this year – a long time to wait.

With rain forecast for early afternoon I thought I would get over later and check the gulls as their numbers were starting to increase recently and in previous years there have been Med Gulls amongst them or maybe even a Yellow-legged Gull. I arrived, set up my scope and the first thing to grab my attention were the 3 Ruff, I could have could swear they weren’t there earlier.

Unfortunately most of the larger gulls had departed but there were good numbers of Black-headed Gull around, for something better to do I started to search through these until I came across a juvenile Med Gull, almost immediately the rain increased so I departed. Not a bad day though.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Tuesday 18th August

Not a bad day at all today. There were double figures of Gadwall and Shoveler plus four Wigeon. I also counted 80 Lesser Black-backed Gulls with half a dozen or so Herring Gull. I walked under the Railway to check out the Sheep Paddock and saw three Whinchat, I think it is only the second time that I have come across this species at Shustoke.

This evening Joy wanted to see the Whinchat so I found myself once more at the Reservoir, as we were walking round three Ruff flew in, landing on the carpet weed that is covering a large part of the Reservoir. Fortunately the Whinchat were still there.

Also this afternoon I had two Hobby an Adult and fully grown youngster from the garden.

Two Hobby near Shustoke

Friday, 14 August 2015

What! No Black Terns

I’m not a betting man, but with Black Terns seemingly all over the Midlands I thought with the rain falling it would be a banker that there would be at least one at Shustoke Reservoir. After all it is one of the best sites for the species in the Midlands, plus I haven’t seen one this year.

Anyway early afternoon arrived and the rain eased so I headed off, Bobby D was in the car park but he had seen none. There were three Common Tern and a couple of Common Sandpiper so I decided to leave Bob and walk around but apart from a Wheatear there was little although there must have been 300+ hirundines – mainly House Martin. These must have been what attracted the Hobby that I saw.

It was still wet and apart from the odd Chiffchaff and Blackcap I headed home sans Black Tern.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

So far this week

I have been over every day so far but whilst it has been enjoyable there hasn’t been that much to shout about, certainly not since the fireworks of Sunday (fireworks being a relative term).

There have been up to four Common Sandpiper, a single Wigeon and up to five Shoveler with nearly double figures of Gadwall. There are still family parties of Whitethroat and Blackcap and I saw a couple of Kingfisher on Wednesday. The post breeding Lapwing flock is hovering around the 60 mark but I haven’t seen a Swift since Sunday so most of them have moved off now.

I saw this on the internet (link attached) it is a species that has always intrigued me.


Monday, 10 August 2015

Monday 10th August

Took a walk around this morning and it was rather quiet, so back to usual then. However, there were 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Wigeon, 8 Gadwall and 5 Shoveler. There were 20 to 30 Blackcap frequenting the elderberries between the two pools but there was little else.

I also had a further sighting of a good sized Grass Snake in the usual spot.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Sunday 9th August

I was sitting watching the football at home and was bored stupid so we brought our planned 6pm walk forward by an hour or so. We decided to walk, and from the garden I saw a Hobby high over Shustoke Reservoir.

We got there and all the Lapwing went up as a juvenile Peregrine spent a good 15 minutes playing with them, she didn’t seem serious about taking one! We decided to sit down on one of the benches to take in the spectacle and after a few minutes I picked up two Black-tailed Godwit low over the water. They flew around for about 15 minutes attempting to land on a couple of occasions but aborted just when it seemed they were about to land. Eventually, however they departed high to the east.

I hadn’t seen Hobby at Shustoke this year and was keen to see one. We checked out the small pool and Warbler Corner but there wasn’t much around. A phone call from Steve Cawthray had me regretting not putting the news out that the Godwits had departed. We were just about to make our way back home as the local blackfly seemed to be taking a liking to my legs and being eaten alive wasn’t something I was looking forward too. Suddenly a Hobby appeared high above us and made its way slowly west.

A couple of the paths need clearing around the Reservoir as my legs will testify – Note to self be careful where you wear shorts.

A week in Scotland

Firstly, for the first five days the weather was poor with rain every day. Joy and I walked the Corbett Broad Law near Moffat on our journey to Perth. It was pretty easy and an enjoyable walk but the summit held a Radar Station for Ediburgh Airport plus a couple of masts so it was a bit crowded really. Bird wise there were the usual Meadow Pipit, Wheatear and Kestrel, plus around 50 Golden Plover.

Saturday saw us walk a couple of the easier Munro’s looking for Ptarmigan but the weather changed dramatically and I have never been so wet. Needless to say it was my fault!

Sundays weather wasn’t an improvement but I was tied up painting the outside of mums house (I thought I’d got away from decorating). On Tuesday we all went to Glen Shee with the intention of walking three Munro’s, the forecast looked a little better, but on reaching the summit of Glas Maol visibility was down to about 20 yards so we called it a day and retraced our steps, fortunately on the way down I eventually saw Ptarmigan for the year.

I was invited by Stuart Green a local birder to join him and Chris McGuigan one evening to trap and ring Storm Petrels at Montrose. We arrived just as it was getting dark at the Lighthouse and set up the nets. Chris played a tape of Sandwich Tern for half a hour but we had no luck. He then put on Storm Petrel and Leach’s Petrel calls and within 15 minutes we had caught our first bird. It was processed and I had the honour of holding the bird on the palm of my hand for a couple of minutes until it was ready to fly off. After about a minute it fluttered off into the night sky. On returning to the nets we had two more, we followed the same procedure. Then on returning to the net another bird was found. It was around 12.30am at this time and the moon had risen, things then went quiet for an hour of so. At 1.30am we decided to pack up only for another bird to appear. By this time the moon was quite bright and not really the dark conditions that are ideal so at 2.30am we called it a night. I then had to drive to Perth and eventually got to bed a little before 4.00am.

It was however, one of the best evenings I have had birding and would like to thank the pair of them for that, and hopefully I will join them again next year.

Storm Petrel

Storm Petrel with the white underwing bar.

What a cracking bird.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Monday 27th July

I have made several trips over the last few days but the birds have remained stubbornly similar with up to four Common Sandpiper present for most of the week. Sunday saw large numbers of Swift and assorted hirundines forced low due to the weather conditions.

Monday morning saw much the same although I did find the male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in a familiar area. I watched it for around 30 minutes hoping it might not be on its own but never saw any juveniles whilst I was watching.

I have seen good numbers of Butterflies especially towards the end of last week. I am no sort of expert on butterflies but I saw roughly.

1 Painted Lady
3 Tortoiseshell
numerous Gatekeeper
numerous Large White
good numbers Small White
6 Green-viened White
good numbers Small/Essex Skippers (I’m sure at least one was Essex Skipper)
20+ Ringlet
numerous Meadow Brown

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Thursday 23rd July

I have been over a few times this week, generally it is quiet with three Common Sandpiper still present today. I saw a fly over Raven and strangely there were a few Linnet, not a bird that I have ever seen here in July.I was clearing the brambles out that were coming into the garden from the field this afternoon and for the second time disturbed a Wasp nest, not something I recommend. The first time I had a coat on and only got stung once on the ear, I ran inside with about a dozen wasps on my thick coat. This time I wasn’t as lucky, I am sitting here after receiving several stings, I’m throbbing like a good ’un, not recommended. Mind you I might make the next Olympic Team I was a blur as I ran back to the house!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Monday 20th July

Finally finished all my decorating, now I have a lot of gardening to catch up with. However, this morning saw me walking around the Reservoir. The amount of weed is encouraging as it will attract waders and there were 3 Common Sandpiper and an Oystercatcher amongst the numerous Lapwing. Later in the day Steve Haynes also saw a Dunlin. It was relatively quiet, which is to be expected at this time of year, there wasn’t much singing but I had a pleasant morning.

I was a bit perturbed as the last time I looked the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker were feeding young, I checked out the nest hole and it appears to have been enlarged somewhat, I hope the young got out before the Great Spot got in!

Hopefully now I will have a little more time to get over, but I imagine it will be a few more weeks yet before it starts to liven up.

On the climbing front I cannot believe it was just over a year ago that Joy and I finished the Munro’s and I have to say I really miss the excitement that we used to feel every year as we planned the walking season that lay ahead of us.

Monday, 29 June 2015


I have been so busy in recent weeks with decorating and a quick trip to Scotland I have hardly picked up my bins. I did however managed to get over and see the Melodious Warbler near Marsh Lane.

Melodious Warbler

Joy and I spent a week in Scotland and managed to climb three Corbetts, the weather wasn’t great and on the Monday we spent the day on Speyside where the temperature was 8ÂșC in the early afternoon, it was warmer than that here at Christmas. There was also permanent drizzle which made birding difficult and the only bird of note was Crested Tit.

On Tuesday we drove up the A9 parking at Dalnaspindal from where we tackled two Corbetts, one on either side of the Glen. We climbed Meall na Leitreach first following a good track to the top, there were at least four pairs of Golden Plover. The slog up The Sow of Atholl was quick but tiring, but quick coming down. There were some great views from the top looking up the Glen towards Dalwinnie.
The start of both walks with Loch Garry behind

Meall na Leitreach

The Sow of Atholl

The view from the summit, looking along the A9 to Dalwinnie

The next day we walked again this time it was Ben Vrackie which lies behind Pitlochry. The hill has the best path that I have ever used on any hill, it was practically a staircase. All in all a good week even if the weather was a little dodgy.
Ben Vrackie

At the summit of Ben Vrackie

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Tuesday 2nd June

Received a call from Steve Cawthray that there was a Little Tern at Shustoke, unfortunately I had just  taken the first bite of my evening meal, so I couldn’t get over straightaway, that proved a miscalculation as by the time I did arrive the bird had gone.

But I did get to see Arctic Tern a 1st Summer in what is known as Portlandica plumage. As a general rule Common and Arctic Terns don’t breed until there 2nd year and the 1st summers spent there time at sea, but occasionally they turn up, as this one did.

I did a circuit but the wind was really strong and there was not much to see or hear. So until I hear of further goodies to distract me – it’s back to decorating for me!!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

31st May

I received the news today that Eric Phillips has died. He and John Fortey where stalwarts of the birding scene when I started birding back in the early 80’s and were always keen to help young birders. I remember them pointing out a Glaucous Gull to Pete Hackett and myself at Blithfield back in 1981.

I saw him for the last time at the Sandwell Valley Great Reed Warbler just over a week ago and he looked in remarkably good shape for his age. Early last year I saw him when he was twitching a Two-barred Crossbill through the Wyre Forest and he was using a walking frame as he had recently come off his motorbike – he will be sadly missed.

Bird wise it has been quiet LRP seem to be in the habit of dropping in late on at the Reservoir and I have seen them a couple of times. I have mainly been gardening and have had Cuckoo, Hobby and Common Tern fly over.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

A trip to Hampshire

We decided to have a break on the coast and chose Hampshire, not least because there was a long staying Greater Yellowlegs a rare American wader that I had never seen in the UK. We got down early but unfortunately it was raining hard on arrival and as it turned out departure too!

We had a look from the road to try and locate the species but drawing a blank we went on to the Reserve of Titchfield Haven, at £4 a go it was a bit expensive but it was a pleasant visitor centre with friendly staff which is run by the Hampshire CC. We were given the low down on the bird and its habits but I was sceptical as the bird had flown at 1.30pm the previous day and if it wasn’t for the fact we were spending time down here I probably wouldn’t have bothered.

We were directed to the best hide overlooking the river where the mud was just starting to be exposed. We sat quietly in the packed hide for a couple of hours seeing little apart from a Med Gull, Avocet and a Greenshank. The only excitement came when I received a phone call and the Ramones – Surfin Bird came blasting out as I had forgotten to turn down the volume, fortunately apart from the odd chuckle no one bothered. Eventually people started to drift off and Joy and I decided to use the facilities as I felt the need for a coffee. The cafe was good value and the coffee was one of the best I have had. We were deciding what coarse of action to take and decided to check out the hides on the other side of the reserve just in case. We had just reached the gate when a birder coming out of the visitor centre shouted us to say the Greater Yellowlegs had been relocated, Result, we headed back to the hide and saw the bird it was feeding just upriver of the hide but was showing well albeit from a bit of an angle.

The spent the rest of the time in the New Forest where during the course of our stay we had some brilliant birding with a displaying Honey Buzzard, numerous Woodlark, Dartford Warbler and possibly most impressively a displaying Hawfinch. All in all a great trip.

Monday, 18 May 2015

A Return to Old Haunts

Having spent most of the morning tidying up the garage news of a Great Reed Warbler (A West Midlands first) had me waiting anxiously for the rain to stop. It eventually did so picking up my old mucka Pete Hackett on the way we headed to Swan Pool in the Sandwell Valley.

There were a lot of familiar faces there including royalty in the form of Lee Evans. Erik Phillips was also present I would hate to work out what the average age of the birders present was but old Sam was there and he’s knocking 90!

Anyway the bird showed quite well then a squall hit and we all got soaked. Eventually the bird did show and quite well until I left around 4pm.

Great Reed Warbler, Sandwell Valley.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

A week in Norfolk

We have just returned from a really good week of walking and birding in Norfolk. I am glad to get home for a rest!

We were based in Thornham which was an excellent base as Titchwell RSPB and Holme NNT reserves were both walkable. I added nearly 20 species for the year, including Dottrel, Spoonbill, Temminck’s Stint, Little Tern, Little Gull, a variety of waders and a few other bits and pieces.

Little Tern, Titchwell, Norfolk

The highlight, was without doubt the 2nd Citril Finch for the UK. News broke at around 9am whilst Joy and I were cooking breakfast. The news didn’t look promising at first so we didn’t rush. It soon became apparent that the bird was present and fortunately we were amongst the first on the scene. There were around 40 birders sitting around not doing very much. Within 5 minutes a unfamiliar call had me scouring the heavens and the bird flew overhead. It then disappeared in to a sandy depression filled with vegetation. After about 20 minutes it suddenly appeared feeding on the ground and stayed just long enough for us both to get views through my scope.

Turtle Dove, Holme NNT

It then flew again and was relocated on a sandy ridge in a stand of buckthorn. After an hour the number of people starting to increase so we decided to leave the bird and head elsewhere.

During the week we bumped into Steve Cawthray, a phone call from him the next day had us travelling the short distance to Holme NNT were a Wryneck had been reported. We searched for an hour without success and decided to try successfully for Turtle Dove a short distance away. On our return the Wryneck had been relocated, we got flight views but the bird remained stubbornly elusive. With the wind sapping our energy (a feature of the week) we called it a day. We met Steve later in the evening to search for Nightjar (two heard) and saw numerous Woodcock. The next day we met up to search for Stone Curlew, after a couple of clumps of earth had been claimed (I’m not entirely convinced my clump didn’t have an eye!) one bird suddenly appeared. Next we saw a Red Kite and a Little Owl in quick succession.
Stone Curlew, Norfolk

Little Owl, Norfolk

We rarely moving from this stretch of the coast, we ventured as far as Sheringham once. I parked up in the council car park which was empty, I kid you not, there were about 100 spaces and at most six cars in the whole car park. I was amazed to get back and find out I had received a parking ticket, I was furious, I phoned the number give only to be given another number? I phoned them and although I had 15 minutes left on the ticket. It turned out my back wheel was six inches over the white line. Welcome to Sheringham – I don’t think I will go back!!! It turned out to be a costly day, we went for a meal on the evening. I chose the wrong meal and really hated it, three slivers of Pork belly on a bed of cabbage (which I hate) with a few butter beans was not what I regard as value for money for £16!! Coupled with £11 for two drinks put the top hat on the day.

The wind eventually dropped on Thursday leaving a pleasant day but not quite so many birds.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Thursday 7th May

Had a couple of trips today ended up getting soaked on the first of the day. Bird wise still not much singing but there were four Common Sandpiper and a couple of LRP (first for the year – for me anyway).

Off to Norfolk for a week which I’m looking forward too. I received a message that there had been a cuckoo locally, I haven’t seen one at the Reservoir yet this year. But I have seen both Cuckoo and Hobby locally, and if I could just see them at the Res that would take me to a 100 species for the year for Shustoke.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Tuesday 5th May

Had a busy weekend with a early trip to Cannock Chase with Joy, we saw the usual suspects and enjoyed a good six mile walk. On returning home I got straight back into the painting. On the evening we took a walk around the Reservoir and added a new form of disturbance to the many other when I picked up someone in a wet suit swimming around the Reservoir!

This morning I took my normal morning walk and a group of around 40 Swift were seen just ahead of the rain. There where a couple of Common Sandpiper (5 last night) and a Common Tern. But with the weather showing no sign of improvement I headed home.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Thursday 30th April

Spent the morning at Middleton RSPB, it was cold and windy with a few squally showers, and I am so glad that 400 yards down the road I turned around and went back for my coat.

Anyway, there wasn’t much singing and by the time I got to the first screen I hadn’t seen much. However, by the first screen there were five Dunlin and a Black-tailed Godwit, it started to rain so I didn’t bother looking for the Whinchat and headed for the hide instead. From the hide the Avocet was showing and there were four Wigeon. After a bit of snap I headed out seeing another 3 Dunlin (possibly some of the ones seen previously) four Ringed Plover, numerous LRP and a couple of showy Sedge Warbler.

The rain looked like it was returning so I headed back and scanned from the edge of Fishers Mill to look for Garganey. I couldn’t find said bird so decided to head home. I got involved in a conversation with another birder who asked me a question thus delaying me for a few minutes. I had barely taken two steps when I glanced behind me picking up a large raptor above Fishers Mill Pool, it looked to the naked eye like an Osprey and thats what it was. I even managed to get the scope on it. It steadily gained height then headed north.

Black-tailed Godwit


Sedge Warbler

A Game of Two Halfs

Start at the beginning. On Saturday news broke of a Hudsonian Godwit in Somerset. Bad news I had committed myself to buying a new carpet! I was cool, the bird will hang around I thought. Wrong, it flew off later that evening and was not seen on the Sunday or the Monday or the Tuesday. I wasn’t wracked with guilt, you win some you lose some. Someone (can’t remember who – symptom of age) asked me wether I had gone for it. No I said seen loads abroad! Later thinking about it I realised that I was thinking Marbled Godwit. So it wasn't just a UK tick it was a LIFER!

Fast Forward
Wednesday I went over the Reservoir and there were around 10 Common Sandpiper and 4 Yellow Wagtails I had a good morning seeing 55 species and a bit of exercise. I had arranged to go shopping at lunchtime so I picked Joy up did the business and took the shopping home and put it away. I wanted to check something on the computer so I quickly looked at RBA to see what was around.

Bloody Hell the Hudsonian Godwit had only reappeared! I thought Second Chance, quoting – Still Game “He who hesitates gets He Haw”. I phoned Joy to tell her I was going and more importantly could she get a couple of hours off. Ten minutes later we were on our way. A little over two hours later we were watching the bird. We enjoyed it for half an hour then left the crowds and did a bit of birding seeing Bittern, Egyptian Goose, Hobby, Marsh Harrier and Swift. We headed home just before 6pm when the traffic had eased and we were sat down just after 8pm with a glass of Lagavulin and a Chinese. You don’t often get a second chance and I’m so glad I took this one.

Hudsonian Godwit, Somerset

Hudsonian Godwit, Somerset

Monday, 27 April 2015

Captain Web (The Woodpigeon)

On Saturday I was doing my usual round of the Reservoir when I picked up some splashing going on in the middle of the lake. My first instinct before I looked was that a Pike fancied a little crispy Duck. I was a little surprised to see a Woodpigeon on the water using its wings to pull itself to the shore. It was surprisingly buoyant and sat really high up on the water when it stopped to rest. It my well be a coincidence but the shoreline it was heading too was down wind. So with a combination of sail and breast stroke it actually made it to the shore.

It was knackered when it got there and unfortunately didn’t live long, what was left of the carcass had been picked clean by Sunday evening!

The four Dunlin on Sunday were a group of three and a single. The three flew as I passed the other just sat there staring at me. I assume it was of the Scottish race Calidris alpina cujimmyi.

I am also in the process of clearing my loft and have a few spare copies of a book I co-wrote, designed and produced to give away. The best selling Birds of the Sandwell Valley if you would like a copy let me know. I’m not posting them so it will be pick up from my home or an arranged meet when I am out birding.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Sunday 26th April

After waiting all day for a carpet fitter who didn’t arrive until 5.30pm I didn’t get over the reservoir for my daily walk until late. However, it proof worth while with four Dunlin and seven Common Sandpiper. Let’s see what next week brings.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Friday 24th April – A RANT

This has been a really good week for me I have been out most days and I covered the Reservoir most days. Yesterday I saw 64 species in two visits to the Reservoir. Including: 1st Willow Warbler! 2 Oystercatcher, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Shelduck, 2 Goosander and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

Now the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is breeding, common knowledge amongst local birders (not information spread by me). In a way its a good thing as there is a natural barrier in the form of the river to stop anyone getting too close. I have met people sat opposite the nest hole on the river bank and I have gently suggested that it wouldn’t hurt to move to the left or right where there is more cover.

However, this morning I went over and a photographer who I thought knew better had forced his way through the undergrowth to get closer. To say I was angry was an understatement I asked him to leave and then walked away in disgust. I returned 15 minutes later and he was still there so I asked him to leave again. He apologised and made moves to leave and so did I.

Apart from anything else he was sat in an area that he know held singing Blackcap and Whitethroat. Its not for me to police birders/photographers and I don’t want Wyatt Earp sacked so I can become Sheriff but birders and bird photographers have got to be more responsible.

Apart from anything else Lesser Spot is a Schedule 1 species and whilst I can understand people want to photograph birds (I do it myself – not very well I might add) but with digital photography and digiscoping now, you don’t even have to be in the same county as the bird!!!

I must admit that I was really proud of myself, not that I insisted that he left but that I didn’t swear once! Suffice to say if I catch him again – I will name and shame.

Photographer in front of the Lesser Spot tree.

Can I just add that this guy will not be known to most birders, I don’t want any of the regular bird photographers getting twitchy!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Wednesday 22nd April

Quick note that an Arctic Tern flew through (Steve Cawthray). I personally jammed in on a Grasshopper Warbler which gave me incredible views, unfortunately half an hour later it could not be relocated. I went back over in the evening but still could not find it.

Apart from that there were 6 Common Tern, Common Sandpiper, 4 Whitethroat and several Blackcap.
There seems to be a general shortage of Willow Warbler this year, I don’t know if its just me or not but I have only heard two so far, and one of them was in Scotland.

Monday, 20 April 2015

I've been busy

I had a week in Scotland where having finished the Munro’s things were a little less hectic. I did some birding in and around the Perth area seeing Black and Red Grouse, Hen Harrier, Dipper and Whooper Swan amongst others. Migrants were thin on the ground but there were a few Wheatear in the glens.

I spent a day in Angus most of which was on the coast where Puffin, Razorbill and Guillemot were seen and in Lunan Bay several Red-throated Diver and Long-tailed Duck. I also picked up Great Skua and a few Sandwich Tern. Down one of the Glens I had my first Willow Warbler and a Common Sandpiper.

We also climbed two Grahams (mountains between 2,000 and 2500ft) in Perthshire which was a short but interesting day, made all the better for a male Hen Harrier.

On Friday evening I had a short walk around Shustoke seeing lots of hirundines and my first Blackcap for the site.

I had to cut the holiday short as I had a house to view but it proved to be a good move with the arrival of two Black-winged Stilts at Middleton RSPB, I was a bit pushed for time so after having my fill I returned home.

On Sunday evening I returned to Middleton RSPB where I saw a Whinchat but the wind was quite strong and I struggled to hear any Grasshoppper Warblers.

Today, Monday I spend the morning at Shustoke where I had all three species of Woodpecker, hirundines appeared over the water and the clouds rolled in and there were double figures of singing Blackcap. I heard a distant Willow Warbler but on the whole it was rather quiet.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Friday 10th April

Again not much around but I heard Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch are nesting. There were good numbers of Chiffchaff singing with nine birds heard. There were also a pair of Oystercatcher on the south shore but it was really quiet in both senses of the word with very little singing.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Thursday 9th April

It has been really quiet of late, that coupled with the fact that I have been rather busy. I have been over the Reservoir a few times but there has been very little. I have seen the occasional Sand Martin but I haven’t seen Swallow there yet. My first was a bird that flew over my Conservatory about a week ago.

I have been to Middleton Lakes a couple of times meeting an old friend for the first time in years. I first met him when myself and a friend met him in the Sandwell Valley (before it was called that) and we found a remote controlled plane in the top of a Silver Birch, that must have been back in about 1970!!! Anyway Steve what happened to that plane?

Bird wise there were a couple of Avocet on Monday. I spent the morning at Middleton again today and the day got off to a good start with five Swallow over the car park and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker drumming. It was generally quiet on the Reserve but at the North Pit hide a distant Curlew on closer inspection turned out to be a Whimbrel. I never learn I am going to have to start taking my scope with me. On the way back I saw my first Blackcap of the year.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Saturday 21st March

I took a good walk around today. The Reservoir was quite quiet apart one couple and their three dogs who never stopped barking the whole time they were there, I was glad to get to the quieter area to give my ears a rest. There wasn’t too much on the main reservoir but last night in a brief visit there had been two Shoveler and five Teal both first for the year for me at the Reservoir.

There were obviously good numbers of Chiffchaff as I counted at least 12 in the sheltered areas out of the cold north wind. I did see two Sand Martin but they went straight through.

In the Sheep Paddock there were two Tree Sparrow and around a dozen Yellowhammer and four Reed Bunting. Although, last night there were at least 20 Yellowhammer and I saw three Linnet.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Thursday 19th March

At a loose end for a couple of hours the Captain and I decided to pay a albeit brief visit to Ladywalk. It proved to be an inspired choice of venue. From the main hide the Curlew was still present with good numbers of Goosander and a Water Rail.

We made our way towards Hide B where we saw a Willow Tit as we were watching that a Woodcock flew overhead! We then searched the area where I had seen a female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker earlier in the week. Before long the bird started drumming and I picked it up as it drummed on a small stump. The guy we were with (apologies for not introducing myself) put his scope on it and offered us a sighter. The he started to film the bird, cheekily I asked if I could drop my phone on it for a record shot of sorts. He agreed (see results).

All in all a very good hours birding.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (male)

I cannot remember ever seeing three different Lesser Spots on consecutive days!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Wednesday 18 March

I though with the sun up and the temperatures on the rise I would take a break from painting a 15 bloody, glass panelled door, which after two coats looks worse than it did when I started, I did tell her, but she wouldn’t listen!

Anyway, there was a report of Lesser Spot at the reservoir yesterday, and feeling lucky after seeing said species yesterday at Ladwalk I took my time. There was a good variety of birds with pairs of Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest and Nuthatch all looking like they might grace the reservoir with breeding attempts.

Around the back of the small pool I dallied and amazingly a female Lesser Spot gave itself up and I got good views before it disappeared deeper into the small copse. I have had high hopes for what I call the “Sheep Paddock” which lies north-east of the reservoir on the other side of the river. At first glance it seemed quiet. As I made my way up the field I picked up a Wheatear in the top of the hedge off too my left, it quickly dropped from view but I was well chuffed. Then at the top of the field off to the right was another Wheatear atop a fence post, I was surprised to say the least when a male Stonechat landed next to it.

As I was walking I started to make my way home seeing Skylark then a pair of Raven. So all in all a good day.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Tuesday 17 March

Exactly five months since I joined the ranks of the unemployed/retired and it has flown by. Yesterday (Monday) I arrived early at Middleton Lakes RSPB. It was good but bloody cold, we might not have had much of a winter but the shorts are staying pack away at the moment.

Bird wise it was good with a smattering of waders, not major but not to be sniffed at. A distant Godwit I found on Jubilee Wetland turned out to be a Black-tailed when someone dropped a scope on it. It was feeding in deep water so the leg length wasn’t obvious. There was also Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, 2 Oystercatcher and 4 Redshank.

Today I had to drop the car at the garage and so I walked along the river and spent the day at Ladywalk. There were good numbers of Chiffchaff singing with at least ten birds, but they may well have been the birds that have been there all winter.

On the Reserve there was a Curlew, Redshank and two Oystercatcher. I also saw a Willow Tit outside B hide and I then made my way to Riverwalk hide where I met Bob Duckhouse. Another gentleman in the hide said he could hear Lesser Spot drumming. I found out that Bob and I have something in common – we are both deaf! I already knew that I was! I could vaguely make out something distantly so after spending a further five minutes discussing what car or cars to get in Shetland we both decided that we had better check out this drumming! As we made our way around, it started again this time two things 1. We were closer, I could hear it; and 2. It was Lesser Spotted Woodpecker as species I hadn’t seen so far this year.

Another 100 yards and the drumming was really close it could only be coming from a couple of trees then I picked up a female as it flew from one perch to another. The drumming continued but I just could not connect with the male, but with time pressing I had to move on, but left satisfied.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Sunday 15th March

A couple of walks around the Reservoir today, there were still five Sand Martin and a couple of Chiffchaff. The Wigeon flock this winter has peaked at one! It is still there. Most of the Pochard have started to disperse but the dozen or so Gadwall that have been present most of the winter are still there.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Saturday 14th March

I spent the day at Draycote Water yesterday seeing my target Iceland Gull (2) and Glaucous Gull all adults. It was a good day and we followed our usual routine of walking around twice. I though there would be a good chance of Wheatear or Sand Martin but saw neither, there were however around 6 Chiffchaff.

I received a text whilst there to say there were around a dozen Sand Martin and a Stonechat at Shustoke – typical.

Anyway, this morning I took a walk around the reservoir, the two Oystercatcher where present but took flight as the activity started at the sailing club. Over the water there were around 25 to 30 Sand Martin and I saw a couple of Chiffchaff – so it is official – Spring is here.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Thursday 12th March

Firstly Tuesday was brilliant, it look like there should have been some birds around but as is often the case – there weren’t.

My son was working from home and I was amazed when he asked if I fancied a walk around the reservoir! The last time we did that I think I was holding his hand. We walked and talked but it was rather quiet.

This morning I had another look for any early migrants and drew a blank but there were a pair of Oystercatcher resting on the jetty in front of the sailing club.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Monday 9th March

Took a walk around the reservoir this morning but apart from a couple of Kingfisher on the river it was pretty quiet.

On Friday I had a day in Norfolk with Joy and her sister we did quite well with Bittern at Titchwell, two Rough-legged Buzzard and Great Grey Shrike plus three Barn Owl and a ringtail Hen Harrier.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Tuesday 3rd March

There was a male Stonechat this morning on the north-east shoreline it was showing well but was continually being moved along, but seem reasonably settled. There were a few signs of Spring today with a few birds singing. I also saw nearly 20 Common Snipe but the highlight was seeing the Tree Sparrow again.

Sunday, 1 March 2015


You have probably noticed that I have been rather busy recently. I have done a bit of birding but haven’t seen much in all honesty. I did have a morning out around the Reservoir last week but apart from a couple of Peregrine there wasn’t too much around. Hopefully with Spring just around the corner  there might be a little more around.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Monday 26th January

Spent the morning at Shustoke, on the way I checked out a few sites that used to hold Little Owl, yet again I found none. The Reservoir was quiet with a count of 24 Gadwall the only sighting of note. The Lapwing flock flew over c.40 birds but on the passerine front it was very quiet.

The small pool held 65 Pochard and I found the Red-crested Pochard tucked away asleep on the bank, that might account for it being so elusive. I didn’t see the Scaup or the Common Sandpiper but they may be around.

I kicked up a Jack Snipe from a wet area and there were still around c.30 mixed Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting. The highlight was the reappearance of “Billy” the Tree Sparrow in the same general area as it was before.

I went over again this evening to check through the gulls and there were 10 Common Gull, 8 LBB Gull, 2 Herring Gull and c.1,000 Black-headed Gull. Also five Goosander came in but I didn’t stay late so I imagine more came in later as I have counted upto 17 recently.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Sunday 25th January

Took a walk today with Joy with my son dropping us off at Baxterley and we made our way home through the lanes around the back of the reservoir and home, eight miles in total. It really was for the exercise but I did get a year tick out of it with a male Brambling.

The other bird I was trying hard to see was Little Owl but I drew a blank. In a brief look at the reservoir I didn’t see any of the 3 Amigo’s but I wasn’t trying particularly hard.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Thursday 22nd January

Had a day out with the Captain, this morning we covered Middleton Lakes, it was a crisp sunny morning and not quite as cold as I expected. We saw 58 species but the best was when we were nearly back at the car. In an attempt to add Collard Dove to the day list I was checking around the farm when I noticed that all the Sparrows weren’t all House! In amongst them were at least three Tree Sparrow a scarce species now in the area. God knows how long they have been around, I for one tend to walk straight past that area.

This afternoon we took a walk around Shustoke. At first it looked like it was going to be a quiet one, there appeared not to be much. Then a party of finches landed in a larch alongside the river and it was made up of around 20 Redpoll and a few Goldfinch. We then had four Siskin fly overhead. Then as we made our way to the Sheep Paddock a flock of c.35 Golden Plover flew overhead. That was the start of a bit of a purple patch with a mixed flock of c.30 Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting, c.20 Meadow Pipit, plus 3. Mistle Thrush, 40 Redwing and four Song Thrush all in the paddock area.

Back around the Reservoir we checked the fields off Bixhill Lane to see if the Golden Plover had landed but found a flock of 40 Lapwing instead. Then back at the carpark we set up the scopes and located the Scaup and the Common Sandpiper but there was no sign of the Red-crested Pochard. There were around 200 Black-headed Gull plus 11 Common Gull and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Monday 19th January

Monday – Shustoke Reservoir.

The 3 Amigo’s were still present as well as three Redpoll and Willow Tit. There was a Kingfisher on the river and there were good numbers of winter thrushes on surrounding fields. All in all I saw 55 species during the course of the morning, not bad.

Tuesday – Maxstoke Area

I spent the morning looking for the possible Ferruginous Duck at Coton I searched the best I could but the edge of the lake is completely overgrown, so after two hours in sub-zero temperatures I went home for a hot drink. The best I could manage was a couple of Water Rail.

I took a walk around the rounds searching for passerines and to see if I could relocate last years Little Owls, I drew a blank on both counts but I did see my hundredth species for the year when I found a Tawny Owl roosting is a hole in a tree.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tuesday 13th January

Took the usual morning trip around the reservoir the only excitement was someone who’s dog tried to mount my leg before moving off swiftly for the next victim. The owner walked past without a word, I didn’t say anything I was lost for words!

Anyway, fortunately it didn’t try to mount the Common Sandpiper and that was still on the main pool. The small pool held the Scaup and Red-crested Pochard and I also saw a single Jack Snipe and Common Snipe. I saw around a dozen Yellowhammer, 6 Reed Bunting and 14 Meadow Pipit. As the rain headed in around lunchtime I headed home.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Friday 9th January

Joy and I decided to go for a walk around Draycote Water today in way of a change. It got of to a great start with a visit to the cafe and a coffee and bacon sandwich, I should do it more often!

Bird wise it was ok I didn’t see any of the geese that had been present but still two Common Scoter, Pintail and Smew isn’t at all shabby. In addition there were four Little Egret, double figures of Tree Sparrow and impressively, over 200 Great Crested Grebe.

By mid afternoon the weather had started to change and with the wind picking up we decided against waiting for the gull roost to develop.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Thursday 8th January

Took a walk around with the Captain today, it was quiet the “The Amigo’s” were reported but we only saw the Scaup despite searching. There are still c.20 Gadwall and a pair of Goosander today. There were good numbers of Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit to be seen.

A Nuthatch made a quick appearance before departing but on the whole it was rather quiet.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Monday 5th January

I didn’t get over until the afternoon and I went with the specific intention of relocating the Tree Sparrow that I saw just over a week ago. I searched the area but drew a blank there were some interesting numbers of birds in this specific area: ie: 15 Pied Wagtail, 14 Meadow Pipit, 5 Reed Bunting and c.12 Yellowhammer. Strangely this area held good numbers of thrushes a week ago but I could only find Song Thrush today.

I had a bit of a panic when I realised that I had dropped my keys on-route, I retraced my steps and was fortunate enough to find them again.

I looks like the Red-crested Pochard has gone and I didn’t see the Common Sandpiper but it could well be still around. The Scaup seems to favour the small pool during the day and thats where it was when I saw it.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sunday 4th January

Took a walk around Wishaw today seeing a couple of Grey Partridge, six Corn Bunting and a Skylark. Also seen were c.100 Golden Plover and a Green Sandpiper flew overhead. I walked from there through Curdworth seeing a Merlin flying across the A446 at the Faraday Avenue island heading towards Hams Hall.

I came home across Coleshill Quarry where I saw Green Sandpiper, 4 Goosander and a Green Woodpecker.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Saturday 3rd January

After the heavy rain of this morning I ventured over this afternoon. With sailing on the main lake it looked a good bet that most of the birds would be on the small pool – and so it proved. Although I didn’t see the Common Sandpiper the Scaup and Red-crested Pochard were on the small pool.

Other highlights were 20 Common Snipe and a species that I haven’t recorded at the Reservoir for a few years Stonechat.

There are very few gulls roosting at the moment but there were two Common Gull late on and 16 Goosander.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Friday 2nd January

Had an early night on New Years Eve we had nothing planned so apart from being woken by fireworks at midnight I had a sound sleep. Joy and I were up at 6am and on the road not much later, we reached Bridlington at around 9.30 having seen no more than around a dozen cars. It really was that quiet. With Little Bustard such a rare bird I was expecting thousands and a bit of a struggle to get parked. On arrival there were only around a couple of hundred birders around. It was about a mile walk to where the bird was and it was showing quiet well although it was keeping its head down for the hour we were there.

There was a bit of a wind blowing and the site was a little exposed so when we got back to the car we headed back via the Blyth’s Pipit near Wakefield. That proved just as obliging and we were in the car and back home by 3pm. Not quiet what I was expecting for New Years Day, normally the Captain and I just bird locally.

Today I stayed local taking a walk around the Reservoir a couple of times. The Scaup, Red-crested Pochard and Common Sandpiper were still present along with 18 Goosander this evening. I searched for but was unsuccessful in relocated the Tree Sparrow but there were still a few Yellowhammer around.
Very poor shot of Little Bustard, Bridlington