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.