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.